[personal profile] arghmuses
Title: More Than Time and Space
Characters/Pairings: Seifer Almasy, Tietra Heiral
Rating: PG
Warnings: Game Violence
Word Count: 3863
Series: Final Fantasy VIII/Final Fantasy Tactics



When Time Compression hit, his stomach twisted. Seifer had the sneaking suspicion that it was trying to crawl its way up his throat and out of his mouth. Furthermore, the feeling of someone tilting his world and shaking it like a snow globe wasn't helping matters.

If the person responsible was anyone else besides Ultimecia, he'd have punched them. In the nuts. Being as it was his former Sorceress who had launched him through Time Compression, he couldn't. But oh how he wished he could have.

As he fell through time-- he assumed, because one couldn't really tell if the big blobs of gelatinous-looking metal were time or not-- his mind wondered if Ultimecia's powers and presence were actually gone from his mind. Sometimes, he wasn't so sure, but this was the first time, in a long time where he wasn't craving that magical contact she gave him. Sometimes his mind would offer up something that felt very much like her powers, then other times, he'd never felt so clear headed.

After much more pondering, Seifer decided, with almost utmost certainty, that he was no longer within Ultimecia's magical grasp. That thought was swiftly eradicated when he felt her magical signature stomp through his mind. But it passed almost as fast as it came and left him back at square one.

He wasn't sure if his mind was playing additional tricks on him. Sometimes, the bubbles seemed to display images: things and scenes not from his world. Either this was Ultimecia's doing or... he just needed a good night's sleep.

And he thought of the others; the Ex-Knight wondered if they fell in what felt like forever and a day, or if they were already home. He was pretty sure he'd gotten the short end of the stick and was stuck in this odd free fall, and that everyone else was already at home. Probably fishing.

And he continued falling past the weird bubbles. The scenes moved around in the semi-mirrored surfaces like fish in their bowls. There was Balamb harbor in one, Trabia Garden - fully operational in another, Esthar in yet another, another with a castle and Tonberries in the gardens, another with wild chocobos, yet another with a huge reactor with a bright red logo painted on it, and another with a huge mammoth creature in the sky with a tail that reminded him of a sword hilt. There was a scene that came up often: snow falling on a fort he did not recognize.

Out of his vocabulary, Seifer found "surreal" to be the word that fit best. Yes, it fit the whole damned thing like a comfy and well-worn glove.

Suddenly, he caught a faint scent: gunpowder. He couldn't see where it was coming from, but he knew it as well as the callouses on his hands. He eventually realized that it came from the scene with the fort and falling snow. Over and over, snow and gunpowder. They were tied together, but he couldn't make out any more than that.

A globule wobbled past him. The scent came again, stronger this time. He could hear something, a flutter of wings and the cawing of a bird. Vaguely, he could hear echos of a conversation, jumbled as if people were talking over themselves. For a moment, Seifer hoped the voices talking were of the Orphanage gang, or Fuu and Raij. Maybe he could get home, wherever that is now.

It was put to the back of his mind as he fell straight into one of the time-globs with a startled swear.

There was a pressure on his body as if he was being forced to walk through a thick wall of gelatin. Panic flew through him like a bird just caged as he was unable to breathe. The voices were getting louder-- maybe they were shouting now-- but he couldn't tell and it wasn't on the high list of priorities. The lack of breathing, however, was up there. Near the top. Very top, right under "Try to stay calm."

The voices spoke again and they said something about a hostage, something about how things need to be made right and how she'd be let go afterward. A sneer went over his face. Hostages normally were never let go, even if the intentions were there. If he was a person who needed a hostage, he certainly wouldn't let them go until the last minute and he knew he'd have everything he wanted. And if he was evil, he'd just kill the hostage anyway. But even in books, or theater plays, the hostage was rarely let go, or saved. It's just how it was.

Finally, leeway-- something gave just a bit, as if he was stretching through a wall, or... being held back by membrane, and... pushing through a small pinpoint of a hole. Again, his mind went to the bowl of gelatin that was left to sit for far too long in Fuu's fridge. Then something didn't just give, but broke. Seifer fell only a small way before collapsing on another body. They wore armor from what he could tell, and the blonde was vaguely aware of pain from the fall he took.

With a grunt, he moved. Rather, half-rolled off the person he fell on. There was a noise, much like a whimper, and the Ex-Knight craned his head to see who made it. He was certain there was some sort of etiquette about landing on someone after being hurled through Time Compression, but to hells if he knew what it was. Somehow, Garden curriculum just didn't cover that.

Whoever she was, she was young and startled. And blushing. Seifer rose his eyebrows in amusement and uncertainty. Then he felt it: a cool breeze going over most of his skin; a quick glance down informed him of the state of his clothes. They were chunks of cloth barely being held together.

He could see why she would blush when he was almost in his full naked glory.

Since 'try to stay calm' and 'breathing' were no longer on the top of the panic list, a new set of priorities popped up: Check to see if the poor bastard he landed on was okay, then find clothes, then find out where he was.

With a practiced hand, he checked the pulse of the man he fell on, frowned when he couldn't find one. Seifer glanced at the girl then cast a look back to the fallen man.

"You knew him?"

Seifer watched her swallow, eyes flicking to the body then to his face. Her voice started with a little bit of a waver to it as if she was holding back emotions, but she promptly calmed herself as she spoke. "Gragoroth Levigne. Leader of the Corpse Brigade. Or one of them. He kidnapped me. He also filled the Fort with gunpowder. I believe he was going to ignite it at some point."

That would explain the gunpowder and the yelling. Seifer also realized he'd have to answer the question of 'where in Hyne's world was he' later. Since his clothing was nothing more than literal rags, the chill of the stone floor and a sneaky wind found his skin easier. He was freezing, and started stripping Gragoroth. The girl's expression flitted briefly with something that might have been disgust, but she said nothing.

"What? He's dead and I need clothes." Annoyance traversed Seifer's voice, as if she should see that he was naked and standing in a chilly room. "I normally don't do this. But I don't know what or who I'm going to encounter when I walk through that door and I'd like to be a little bit prepared. Or at least have my bits covered." He added, a bit more softly. It wasn't the girl's fault that his clothes disintegrated.

The girl hesitated for a moment, as if weighing the pros and cons of what was said. She nodded and knelt to help strip the dead man.

"I do not condone this action. It is akin to theft but given the dire circumstances, it is a need."

Undoing a strap, Seifer glanced over at her.

"What's your name? How did you become a hostage? What the hell is going on and even better - where am I?"

"My name is Tietra Heiral..." Tietra explained the situation as she knew it. This included what the Corpse Brigade was fighting for and how she got into the predicament she was in. As she started dressing him in the clothing, Tietra quickly summed up the state of the country "Ivalice" at large and how things were progressing... or, seemingly not progressing.

As Tietra's last words fell from her lips, Seifer heard a noise outside. He stood and peeked through the door's opening. From his position, he spotted a blonde boy with hair parted to the side who carried a crossbow. There was another man, taller who wore finery. Seifer sneered and secretly dubbed them both Dumb Asses.

While he watched the two Dumb Asses, Seifer had a sinking feeling in his gut that neither Tietra or the now-deceased Gragoroth were supposed to leave here alive. That bothered him.

If he understood correctly, the man he fell on was fighting for equality. Normally Seifer would say, "screw those who can't help themselves"-- but backing someone into a corner and making them feel like they have no other alternative besides bombing a fort, that wasn't the way to go.

Or, admittedly, that's how he felt right now. He was currently standing in said powder keg, after all. Seifer rolled his eyes at himself, wondering if this was from the fire to the frying pan or the other way around.

There were a few things he did pick up at Garden: defense (although, he was more of a 'take charge and kill with gusto' sort), and tactical thinking. After all, he did launch motorcycles off of a moving Garden for an attack. A person couldn't really say they saw that coming.

Taking what little scraps he had from his clothing, he told Tietra to bind them under her clothing. The look she gave him was close to horror at the thought of stripping in front of a strange man, but he quickly explained while he tried to open a crate that sat near by. Hearing the plan that it might act as armor against a possible oncoming arrow, the girl quickly changed her mind and stripped to the waist, binding the material around herself.

Seifer found a bit of felt from his rummaging and gave her additional padding. Tietra made as if complain but was promptly silenced. "If we live, then you can yell at me. Only if we live, and I do not plan to die today."

He gave Tietra quick pointers on how to breathe if she got hit in order to reduce the pain-- and, if she did get pierced, to not remove the arrow. He checked his stock from his rapidly-disintegrating trench coat pockets: his much coveted Phoenix Pinion, and a couple of Elixirs. He prayed they would be enough, then prayed he wouldn't have to use them.

Before he could barge his way out the door, Tietra stopped him. He glared and sneered at the girl, to which she blinked and gave him a deadpan expression that clearly stated she was not impressed.

"You need to change your manners, for they are naught of a commoner fighting for rights he's been denied. They are more of nobility and those who witness it will see quickly that you are not what you seem to be. If you wish for any chance to save us, heed my words."

"Show me, then."

He had gave her pointers; now it was her turn. She did so in haste, using her words effectively and bluntly. Seifer attempted to change his mannerisms and was rewarded with a head shake and more suggestions. He did this repeatedly until Tietra nodded that his actions were passable.

After a few moments, he pushed the door open and held Tietra close to his side. He wasn't sure what to say and would have opted to keep his mouth shut until he felt Teta's fingers pinch at him. The blonde with the parted hair was looking at him, eyes narrowed.

Tietra pinched him again, and he called out to them.

"Get out of here! What if something happens to her? Is that what you wish?"

The man in the finery called back. "The Hokuten will never be threatened by you!!"

He was confused by the terminology but managed to not let it show. There was more commotion to the side that stole attention away from them. More shouting ensued:

"Brother! Argath!!"

"Tietra!" A dark haired man was watching Seifer and Tietra, his eyes moved to her as he called out.

"Delita!" She yelled back to him and Seifer tightened his grip, just a bit, so she wouldn't slip and fall.

He wanted to warn these new people, the dark haired man and his friend. He didn't want to tip his hand and say the Fort was filled with gunpowder. Not yet.

"Get out! Now! All of you!" The threat, while intimidating, fell flat. There was nothing he could threaten them with unless Seifer told them of the rigged Fort. With his luck, one of the enemies might set the fuse themselves. Then they'd all be shit out of luck. And dead.

He wasn't sure how things were going to play out, and telling the enemy that everyone was basically sitting on a powder keg might make things easier for them. One well-aimed shot with an arrow and the majority of the work would be done. They'd go in and slaughter the survivors with hardly a scratch of damage.

The man in the finery bent his head and spoke to the blonde with the crossbow, his eyes firmly on Seifer and Tietra. Seifer watched the crossbow shift in the blonde's hands. Watched as two bolts were moved.

He whispered into her ear. "He's going to fire. Remember what I taught you: breathe."

Tietra's hair moving against his arm was the only hint that she had heard him.

"Go on, do it!"

The younger blonde-- who Seifer supposed was this "Argath"-- responded with a hearty, "Yes, sir!" He took aim and shot at Tietra. Inwardly, Seifer sighed at how stupidly predictable it was going. The Ex-Knight was glad he found extra material for padding for the girl, or she would be dead.

Tietra screamed when the bolt hit her; Seifer watched it lodge into her dress fabric. The scream was convincing enough: a cry for the dark-haired man named "Delita." Seifer glanced down, worried that he was too cocky and didn't prepare her enough. Fear rushed through him-- he may have gotten an innocent girl killed. He should have left her inside. Now, that was the smart plan, but hindsight sometimes came at the perfect moment for you to curse yourself, your gods, and swear up a storm.

From below, Delita cried out Tietra's name. He reached as if he could grab her. The look on his face is akin to horror and grief.

Argath took aim again, and Seifer felt the bolt hit home-- just past a chink in the armor. For a long moment, all he knew was heat and rage. Seifer stumbled and fell with the blow, trying in vain to lessen the damage.

A knight stepped up to speak with the Tall Dumb Ass. Seifer blinked past the pain, catching snippets of the conversation about how there were more enemies on a mountain path. Tall Dumb Ass then made his leave, trusting the remainder of this battle to Argath. Delita rapidly advanced upon him.

He could hear them yelling and arguing over the sounds of battle. The long-haired blonde, sounding so naive. Delita, furious. And Argath, being a Pompous Dumb Ass. Secretly Seifer wanted Delita to take the snot-nosed little brat's crossbow and beat him with it.

Seifer rolled his eyes at how moronic everyone was coming across. It seemed like a bunch of showboating and if he had his gunblade, he'd jump down there and show them how it's supposed to be done. But maybe that was the pain and his own brand of grandstanding. He closed his eyes and gingerly felt around the arrow shaft, still listening.

"Tietra is Delita's sister!!"

"Is it not time you awoke to the fact that we are different from them? They are of lesser birth, and so meant to play lesser roles in life! Such is the nature of fate, Ramza! That commoner and his sister ought never have been here at all! Had they been mongering flowers on some street corner, she would yet live. ... What of you, Ramza? Why do you now raise arms against us? To turn your blade on us is treason! You would turn your cloak and name yourself a traitor to the Order of the Northern Sky?"

It was that comment that proved to Seifer that Tietra's words were true.

More words were said-- people accusing others of using others for personal gains and Seifer could only sigh. He cautiously made his way back towards the door, half-pulling-half-dragging Tietra under his leg. Part of him prayed that he wasn't doing more damage to her body. He'd look later, when they were safely away from the others. The way they screamed at each other, Seifer was feeling like they all had common sense knocked out of them. Of course, it also wasn't his fight so he didn't feel very passionate about it. For the moment it wasn't his concern.

Seifer made sure that their entrance into the Fort was with small motions. There wasn't a need to draw attention when he had other things to do at the moment.

From outside the Fort, Argath screamed out in anger, or frustration, a question of how he could have been beaten by weaklings. Seifer rolled his eyes, muttered an unheard response about Agrath being a Dumb Ass while he knelt over Tietra's body to check for a pulse.

It was there-- faint, but there. He gave a sigh of relief then bitched at her prone body. "Don't scare me like that Tietra. Don't need that shit."

The Ex-Knight moved, hissing in pain. With startling clarity he remembered the bolt in his side. Quick fingers undid the majority of the armor, dropping it to the floor with a clatter. Fingertips checked the depth of the arrowhead and found that while it wasn't terribly deep, the wound was bleeding a lot more than he'd like.

It would have to come out.

Seifer was not looking forward to this. He recalled having to do it in the past; someone was in weapons class and decided to try a bow and arrow without knowing how to handle one. The arrow landed in his thigh, the cadet landed in Infirmary.

But now, there was no cadet to threaten, and the rage was long gone. There were no endorphins running through his system. The lack of natural pain killer would leave him feeling a whole load of hurt when the arrowhead comes out.

Laying the Elixirs on the ground beside him, Seifer knelt. He'd have a shorter distance to the floor if he fell over from the pain alone, he reasoned. He did a couple of quick breaths, trying to psyche himself up. And outside, he heard noises; voices were getting closer. They were angry, and he was wounded and without armor. A sword was within reach but he longed for his gunblade. Seifer wasn't even sure if he could get it at this point. He'd have to try later. Now was not the time. He resigned himself to wrapping his fingers around the sword's hilt.

What a sad sight he must make. Sitting on the floor, with an arrow's bolt sticking out of his bloodied side in stolen clothes. In addition, Seifer could barely lift the blade without brushing against the arrow. With a frustrated grunt he dropped the weapon.

The blade clanged to the ground; his fingers found the shaft of the arrow, and he pulled. Seifer couldn't stop himself from crying out in pain, eyes shut tight against the searing burn he felt, as if to stop it from racing through his system.

"You should have asked for assistance." Tietra's voice held chastisement in its tone but it was gentle.

Seifer smirked and glanced at his companion. There was no bleeding that he could see, and hoped that the most of the damage would be a bruise. "You were passed out. Glad to see you're not dead. We need to get out of here. I don't like sitting on a powder keg."

Tietra nodded, then picked up a discarded scrap of cloth and began to wind it around Seifer. Just as she was reaching around him again, the door banged open. Delita stood in the doorway. His expression went from worried, to joyous, to suspicious in the span of a couple seconds. A cold blade was against Seifer's neck.

"If it's not one thing, it's another."

"Hold your tongue." Delita snapped at Seifer then turned his attention to his sister. Seifer watched an extremely fast transformation play out on the other man's face. "Tietra, how did you survive? Are you well?"

"Brother, yes. If it were not for him, I would have died when Argath released the bolt. Do him no harm."

There was a pause that seemed to stretch back into time. The moment froze for all three of them, it felt. Seifer really didn't feel like dying today, but he held still as he could feel the cold steel against his neck. But eventually the blade was lifted and put back into its sheath; the moment shattered and time resumed its regular march. A hand came into view and the man named Delita gave a small smile of gratitude.

"Come, let us heal you..." Delita's eyes glanced over Gragoroth's body, questioning.

"I landed on him." It was the only explanation that the Ex-Knight could give. Anything else would seem far too insane, even though it was what really happened.

Delita narrowed his eyes in thought but said nothing, still offering his hand. Seifer clasped it and was hauled to his feet. There was a flurry of potions being uncapped and the familiar but different sensation of the liquids doing their work. Seifer poked at the wound; Tietra smacked his hand away and administered more potions until the Ex-Knight could only feel healed skin.

"Let's be gone from this place!" Tietra picked up Seifer's Elixirs and handed them to him before leaving hastily.

Delita turned after his sister, trusting Seifer to follow him. And he started to, before he noticed something beneath Gargoroth's leg that he didn't notice previously. He tugged, revealing the mechanism that stowed his gunblade away when it wasn't in use. Seifer gave an experimental shrug and managed to pull his weapon out of it. It was there, and still intact it seemed.

With a happy smile, he quickly followed Delita. He'd worry about getting home later.



Author's Notes: I realize that Seifer and Teitra shouldn't be able to understand each other. Magic, or something makes it happen? If I feel like working on it again, I will work that in there.
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arghmuses

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