He found her sitting on a rocky cliff high above a shoreline, looking out in the general direction of where Balamb Garden
crashed and sank below the surface of the water. When she had heard the news that her friend, and squad leader had died she
had withdrawn into herself.
Knowing this he didn’t say anything when she didn’t acknowledge his presence. In silence he sat down and handed
her the bouquet of flowers. When she didn’t take them, he started to take a flower out one by one and toss it into the
rough white waters below the cliff.
"Stupid." She said as she grabbed a flower and started to pluck the flower petals of a rose and watch them float away on
the wind. "It was stupid of him to think he could take on that Bomb by himself."
"..." He didn’t say anything and crumpled the wrapper from the bouquet and stuffed it into his pocket.
"He was a fool..." She whispered as she lifted her head and looked at the lazy clouds drift over head.
"No, he was brave." Jay said as he swiped his left hand through his blonde hair.
"Go away." The brunette said as she pulled her knees up, to rest her chin on them. "It’s your fault he’s dead."
"Oh for the sake of Shiva!" Jay spat as he grabbed her arm and forced her to look at him. "Every person who takes a Garden
Exam willingly puts their life on the line, to do their duty. To fulfill an oath, to do what’s right!"
"It’s still your fault." She spat back angrily, her eyes thin slits barely hiding the rage she felt when she looked
at the blonde youth before her.
"Crystal right?" Jay asked as he let go of her arm. "That’s your name right?"
"Yeah, what’s it to you?" Crystal asked as she shifted her feet kicking a stone off the cliff.
"I heard his last words. At least his last spoken words to a person." Jay explained after a few moments of silence. "He
said, he would personally see me to an evacuation boat, even if it killed him."
Jay sighed and turned to look in the other direction as he continued to talk. "Look, you can blame me if you want, I really
Crystal turned to look at the back of Jay’s head and closed her eyes, biting her lip before attempting to speak her
mind. There were just too many emotions to deal with.
"Andrew was my friend." She said finally. "Devin, Amalia, Andrew and myself, all came from Timber. All of us lived in the
lower slums, so when we were offered the chance to start schooling in Balamb Garden, we took that chance. We made a promise
to each other."
"What promise was that?" Jay asked as he looked at the waters below, and rested his left elbow on his left knee, his face
relaxed as he listened to her speak.
"We promised, we would all try our best, and graduate in the same class." Crystal explained as she picked up a pebble and
threw it out into the air.
"That’s," Jay said, "a really dumb assed promise."
"Jerk." Crystal hissed.
"Ouch, you wound me deeply." Jay mocked as he looked at her and smiled. "Look, I realize that most people want time to
heal, and grieve over those they lost, but we have to face the facts here. People die, and we shouldn’t make such huge
deals about it. Sure we have those nice happy Phoenix Downs, and we can channel life energy into a person who dies and bring
them back, but when you go to the core of the problem if you’re too late they won’t come back. Ever. Life wasn’t
meant to be tampered with."
"You’re very cold hearted." Crystal muttered.
"I’m not that cold. If I were, I wouldn’t care if your friend lived or not. Fact is I’d probably be dead
if it weren’t for him. He saved my life. I just came here to pay my respects." With that Jay stood and patted Crystal
on the shoulder. "Life’s hard, but in order to move on you have to become strong."
It was in silence that Jay left the girl alone, still clutching the steam of a now ruined flower, and it was in silence
that Crystal made to herself a vow.
It was black again, and the voices of the others were very far and distant. He could still hear them but as time passed
the voices faded more. After what seemed like an hour in his own personal hell of darkness and loneliness the only voice left
was that of Seifer.
[I know you’re there.]
[So what now?]
[Some leader you are.]
[Seifer, you’re a pain in the ass.]
[Whoa, is that your first insult?]
[A really big pain.]
[Must be, you usually stay all silent and emotional.]
[You’re right. This really does suck.]
[Not often we agree on things is it?]
[True, it must be the end of the world.]
[Then what the hell are you doing here in the darkness?]
[Thinking, waiting. I don’t know.]
[Oh come on. Know what I think, loser?]
[I’m not a mind reader.]
[I think we should WAKE UP!]
There was a small slit of light.
"Take it easy man, we’ve been asleep for several weeks y’know."
"Yeah, no kidding, and sleeping beauty there was the last to wake up." Seifer said while grinning at Raijin and Fujin,
who was stretching her arms over her head.
Squall sat up and rubbed his head, and looked around. Sitting in similar beds around him, were Ellone, Raijin, Fujin, and
Seifer. Next to Squall on two chairs were Pence and Olette, as they idly chatted to Hayner who was sipping a glass of water.
"Where are we?" Squall asked, looking around at the surroundings they were in.
"Esthar City, man. The kids there, say that while we were all in la-la land that Balamb Garden was attacked, the Training
Center doors were blown open and Cid gave a final order to evacuate, and then they crashed the Garden on an ice burg." Raijin
explained as he rubbed his shoulders.
"Not to mention, that Balamb Garden was blown up, to ensure that all the Training Centers monsters were destroyed." Seifer
Squall took this news in, and flopped back down on the bed. "What else?" He asked already feeling the weight of the tragedy.
"Cid, Edea, and Zell are dead. As well as most of this years Cadet Classes. Only three survived." Seifer said rather flatly
as he eyed the call buzzer resting on the night stand next to his bed, and snatched it up. "I think we’ve been in this
hole long enough." He said more to himself as he pressed the small white button several times. "What does it take here to
get a darn nurse here?!?"
"Seifer.." Squall said. "Do me a favor."
"Oh, and what’s that?" Seifer asked as he tossed the call button back on to the night table.