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Title: Echoes
Part: 44 & 43
Fandom: Final Fantasy VIII
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Squall/Zell eventual, Full Cast
Rating: M overall
Summary: Squall draws a strange spell from a strange beast, but when he casts it, nothing seems to happen -- until the next day...
Notes: 2007's NaNoWriMo fic, edited. May contain gratuitous butchering of game mechanics and also, lots of Shiva. Some of this has been posted randomly in unfinished forms. ^^;;

"How do I know I'm not just imagining you?" Squall asked as he stretched, yawned, scratched and rolled out of bed into an uncerimonious heap. "I mean, that I've not just made up my own little head-voice for you and am listening to that?"

Shiva didn't say anything, which neither proved nor disproved any point either of them may have had.

"Yeah, I thought so." He didn't know what he thought. "So what should I do today?"

No answer.

Heading into the bathroom, Squall glanced in the mirror. No horns, scales, kitty ears, measles, or new grey hairs, despite being fairly sure that if he should be developing anything, it would be grey hairs.

He turned on the water and waited a minute for the water to warm up. He wasn't quite ready to face Zell again. There were only so many times he could fall off the same damned horse. Maybe it just wasn't worth it. Maybe, for as tolerable as dating Zell would be, it just wouldn't work out and this was an early clue.

Stepping under the water, he tried to fathom all the possibilities for things he could do that wouldn't just be repeats of the same damned things he was always doing with the day. He already knew how to solve every problem other than his own (though he'd forgotten about the kids with their Aching Need CD - maybe someone else had broken that up). There had to be something to do.


Still no response.

"Very funny. What would you do if I slipped and cracked my head open on the towel bar?"

Finally, some chatter.

"Thought so."

Once through the shower, he dug around in his sparse dresser for his Triple Triad deck. He was fairly sure that between Rinoa and himself, they could clean up.

Halfway through the evening, Squall decided what to do with the next day - he'd just help Selphie.

Rinoa was leaning against him, sorting through the cards she'd won. No one was bothering to come up and challenge either of them anymore - they really had cleaned up.

"We should do this more often," Rinoa remarked. "I'm sorry we just didn't work out as a couple, but you're still fun to be around."

Squall almost smiled.

"I mean it," Rinoa continued. "Why do you think I stay here? It isn't the food."

That made him chuckle. But it wasn't quite what he wanted to hear.

"I thought you'd decided that you have a purpose here," Squall said bluntly.

"I do," Rinoa replied as she shifted and sat up, meeting Squall's gaze with her own. "But there's a difference between having a purpose and enjoying it."

"I suppose."

A very daring student came up to them, holding out his own deck.

"I think I'd like to try," he said as he stared at Rinoa.

She smiled and nodded before looking at Squall one last time.

"Still, we should do this more often."

Squall nodded and watched her play for a few minutes before he was challenged himself.

He fell into bed at what he thought was a reasonable time. Without the book to read, he felt a little odd. He wasn't sure any extra sleep carried over at all, but he really didn't want to be awake at the reset point. Just the thought of that sounded dangerous.

So he'd help Selphie. And maybe he could take a day to clean out everything old and nasty in the Training Center. With Quistis and maybe Xu. Because Xu had a mean right hook and she was probably even better with a weapon. The problem was the he wasn't sure he could add anything in or out of his spell collection, which might make for at least one awkward moment if they all lacked decent spells.

But the worst things in there were the handful of monsters imported from Esthar and they could handle those.

His eyelids were growing heavy. He wondered if he had any other books around to get through.


Squall yawned and stretched, trying to decide what to wear to spend the entire day with Selphie. Normally he didn't put any amount of thought into his wardrobe, but if he knew he was going to spend the day hauling things around and generally getting covered in debris, he planned for it.

He stumbled towards the bathroom, barely remembering to turn on the light before turning the taps on the shower. Stepping back, he stared at himself in the mirror. He needed a haircut.

"If I get a haircut, will my hair be back tomorrow?" he asked. "Or a tattoo? Or nipple-rings? Not that I want nipple-rings."

No answer.

"I could dye my hair blond."


"Maybe I do want nipple rings."

He got into the shower.

"No, no I don't."

He paused.

"But I could."

About a half hour later, wearing old, paint-splattered jeans and one of his usual white t-shirts, Squall had a cup of coffee in his hand as he made his way towards where Selphie was setting up the scenery and stage and whatever else she was doing for the production of... He'd never asked. He actually had no idea what she was working on. Xu had been the one to go over all that paperwork and Selphie was always mostly responsable with everything so he never audited it. He just signed the checks and never questioned.

Maybe he should find out what she was actually doing.

He grabbed some bagels on the way.

Selphie flopped down down on the middle of the stage.

"This is so great," she said as Squall walked over to stare down at her. "Hey, I can see right up your nose."

Squall stepped back.

"Nothing freaky, don't worry," she said with a giggle. "I can't believe that just the two of us got all that done."

"So what exactly is the idea behind all of this?" Squall asked as he sat down beside her. He'd started to figure it out, but mostly he'd been nailing and hauling wood around.

"Okay, I found a book in the library about old superstitions and rituals and stuff," Selphie explained. "Some of it is sorceresses and stuff, but there's ghosts and faeries and all sorts of other things."


"We're going to decorate things all creepy, like an abandoned house, maybe, though has any of us seen an abandoned house that wasn't in a movie?" Selphie questioned. "Oh well, doesn't matter - they're probably not as creepy in real life as in the movies. Maybe we can get someone to run around with an axe and try to scare people, um..."


"Right, so we're going to do some skits and stuff, and have a costume contest..."

"Everyone's going to dress up?"


"And when is this happening?" Squall asked. He really did need to pay more attention to the social aspects of Garden. He just didn't normally get into them at all.

"Next weekend," Selphie explained. "A bunch of students are supposed to come after class to help with everything you just helped me with, so I think we can start painting and stuff."

"Tonight?" Squall unfolded his legs and lay back beside Selphie.

"Yeah," Selphie said. "Will you go into Balamb and get paint with me?"

"Sure," Squall said. "You driving?"

"Of course, Commander! Let's take something sporty!" Selphie sat up, pumping a fist. "Wait, do we have anything sporty?"

"We do," Squall assured her. "Can we make another stop while we're there? Shiva had to put up with that useless spell and I'd like to get her a little something."

"Aw, the Ice Queen has... wait, hold on... The Ice Princess has... No, I have to call you 'Ice Prince' for it to work, don't I?" Selphie asked with an evil giggle. "You really know how to ruin a joke."

Squall brought up one of his arms to cover his eyes.

"Wake me when its over," he mumbled. But inside, he was actually having fun. And Selphie had been filling him in on all sorts of interesting things that were happening all of Garden. Obviously he didn't let enough interesting gossip into his life - not that he normally would. But maybe he could - it was an option. He wouldn't have known where Seifer, Raijin and Fuujin were otherwise.

Until Selphie had said their names, Squall hadn't thought about either one of them in quite awhile. Sure, he thought about Seifer in a non-distinct sense every morning when he looked in the mirror but that wasn't so much a thought as a generality of being. He was there, his scar was there, Seifer made the scar but that wasn't worth the time to think about.

Seifer had left, and that had pretty much been that. It was a good decision and as long as Seifer didn't regret it, then it wasn't a big deal.

Besides, Seifer actually sounded happy. There was something to be said for that, because a few years ago, Squall would never have associated 'Seifer' with 'happy' unless it had some sort of negative adverb shoved in.

"You're no fun," Selphie said as she rolled over and flopped half on top of him. "We're so gonna have fun with this."


"Yeah, you volunteered to help with everything."

"I did?" Squall questioned. "I don't think..."

"I'll even help you make a costume. I don't think we need to do all creepy things, but just something different. I want to be an evil nurse or something, all covered in blood with a big ol' needle. And maybe earrings with little skulls on them..." Selphie trailed off as she sat up again. "I should make a list before either of us forgets all of this stuff."

"You have a junction in?" Squall asked curiously. Most of the current instructors and older operating soldiers had them, but there weren't always enough to go around and aside from Shiva, he generally thought that they were common property.

"Siren," Selphie replied. "Didn't see any reason to let her go yet, I guess. I think I work a little quicker with her around."

"I've been with Shiva for so long that I don't know what I'm like without her," Squall admitted. "We're a team."

"Which is why you're gonna buy her treats," Selphie said with a smile. "I'll get something for Siren while we're out, too."

She got to her feet and stood over Squall. He could see right up her skirt, but he didn't comment on that.

"Come on, Commander, let's go!"

He figured he'd remind her about various abandoned houses they'd visited while she drove.

Squall flopped into bed thoroughly exhausted. He'd wanted to buy a book or two, but it wouldn't have done him any good and there was no way he could fit book shopping into every single day just to finish a story or two. He had to have something around. People liked to give him things but he mostly just put them in cupboards in the tiny kitchen area because he never cooked. Pretty much he just made coffee and sometimes bought a bit of cereal in case he woke up at night. The fridge probably contained a half-jar of mustard, some baking soda, and something Rinoa had given him which should have been thrown away a year or so ago. He hadn't wanted to touch it. And if he did it at present, it would only reappear to be disposed of again.

Which was about the silliest reset-related thought he'd had all day.




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