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Title: Echoes
Part: 47 & 46
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. ^^;;

"Forty-seven," Squall repeated as he stretched. Yawning, he crawled out of bed and headed towards the bathroom. Even if he was the only one who remembered Zell's hands on his body and Zell's mouth against his, it was okay.

He turned on the shower and stared at himself in the mirror for a few minutes. "I am so pathetic."

Shiva launched into a triade on something and he brought his hands to his ears.

"Not just yet," he said with a shake of his head. "I'm not awake and I'm... you know, maybe I need some alone time. As in, me and my hand."

Shiva simply did something akin to a giggle and headed back to her afterthought space. Squall frowned. Either no one else was as... in tune with their GF or they just didn't talk about it. He could well imagine everyone dealing with invaders in their headspace driving them near mad but no one saying a thing about it because they didn't want to be the only one.

He chuckled as he climbed into the shower and let the water wash over him. And he didn't even think about what the day would bring.

Squall thought he'd done fairly well with the day, but that was mostly because Zell was starting to inch a hand down into his pants and everything was beginning to spin.

And then it struck him - if Zell was there with him, no one was helping Selphie. He'd gotten all caught up in what he wanted and hadn't remembered to ask someone else to take over stage material duty. He'd meant to ask - He'd meant to ask everyone, actually, but he hadn't.

"Shit!" Pushing Zell off of him, he scrambled for the door and ran.

"Squall?" he heard Zell call, confused.

"Come on!" Squall yelled, not bothering to slow down. He wasn't sure if Shiva helped him with speed but it certainly felt like it.

Why hadn't she said anything? Would he have listened? Shiva began chattering loudly and Squall mentally chided her. He made it to the makeshift stage just in time to see one of the students climb up near where Selphie was.

"Aaaah!" Her hand caught on a nail that hadn't gone in all the way. She railed back without thinking and began to wobble.

"Hang on!" Selphie cried as she reached out. And Squall ran.

He thought he'd made it. He heard a cracking noise. Something felt heavy. Everything felt dark.

"That was either exceptionally noble or exceptionally stupid."

"Did Xu punch me?" Squall asked as he sat up. His head felt remarkably clear. And he was naked. Very naked.

"No," the voice replied. A moment later, Squall could see her - Shiva, beautiful as she stepped through the void that seemed to have formed around them. "Xu didn't punch you."

Squall shook his head. "I'm dead."

"Mostly, yes," Shiva said. "If you woke up, there wouldn't be anything I could do for you. You'd probably never walk - maybe never speak again. Your kind is so fragile."

She knelt down beside him and kissed his forehead. "Are you cold?"

"No," Squall said. "I'm not... anything. But I am naked. You're probably used to that."

"Contrary to what you think, I don't spend all of my time watching what you do," Shiva replied. She stepped back, bangles around her arms and ankles jingling together as she moved. And she spun, pulling ice and snow from the void and making it into a tapestry that she handed to Squall in the form of a robe.

"What do you do, then?" Squall asked as he stood and took the robe.

"I create," she said with a smile. "And I destroy. I try to find comfort in containment."


"Squall, I chose this path knowing only that I would eventually be bound to a human who would do great things."


"You are interesting and I enjoy my time with you," she continued. She began walking and Squall followed a step or two behind. There was no wind in the void and he could hear her perfectly. Somehow, he did not feel as though he should walk at her side as an equal. "I do not regret a thing."

"But you're always..."

"I wish you could understand me," Shiva said with a sigh. "I would tell you so many things. I'm always sorry to take your memories."

They walked in silence.

"I keep them," she said after a moment. "I keep every single one. Your youth, and Edea and Ellone and everything that is only white space to you... I keep every single one."

Squall felt himself tearing up. He... didn't cry. He wouldn't. A tear began to slide down his cheek.

"You know, when we're finally released from this spell, I'm going to have to take every single memory of what happened," Shiva said without pausing to look back. "I can't let you keep them. I'll lock them away and..."

"But what about Selphie?" Squall asked.

"Squall, you never know what's going to happen next," Shiva replied. "What if you save her today only for her to fall tomorrow? Would you feel any different? You can't prevent every bad thing that's going to happen to your friends."

"I know that," Squall said firmly. "But..."

"I'm not entirely against you exploring your options for the next forty-six repeats of this day." Shiva raised a hand to brush away her hair, sending dozens of bangles clattering together. "But I don't know if I can watch you do some of the things you've thought about and seriously considered."

"Because you'll remember," Squall stated. It made sense. If she consumed his memories, then... All of it would be inside of her.

"I'll remember forever," Shiva said.

"Can I keep anything from you?" he asked curiously, almost catching up with her.

"Would you want to?" she asked in response, looking down at him. He'd never realized that she was so tall.

"Touché. I'll just pretend you're my icy conscious then..."

"I'm your everything," Shiva said with a smile. "I'm keeping you alive til midnight."

"Forty-six?" Squall asked. "I wish there was an easier way to speak to you."

"You just need to learn to listen," Shiva said. She kissed him on the lips softly, chastely, and then stepped back. "Forty-six."

Squall bolted upright in bed, thrashing at his covers and gasping for breath.

"Shiva?" he asked. "Forty-six, right? I'm alive?"

There was a happy chattering, but he still couldn't make out words.

"Thank you," Squall whispered before pulling the blankets back over himself and trying to settle back to sleep.

Finally, after an hour of staring at the wall, he succeeded.

Yawning and stretching, Squall did his best to roll over and go back to sleep, shower be-damned and coffee be-damned and breakfast for Xu and seeing Quistis in the hallway and everything else be-damned.

He slept without dreaming.

Finally, when he did wake up, it was to weight on his bed. Groggily he opened his eyes and glanced down. Ellone was sitting beside his feet, one of the library's books in her hand.

"Oh, so you can wake up," she said with a smile as their eyes met.

"I didn't sleep well," Squall said. It was definitely the truth. "I didn't think anyone would mind if I slept in."

"Actually, everyone was getting worried," Ellone admitted. "Anything spell-related?"

Squall shook his head, trying to hold in a yawn. He stretched.

"Are you sure?"

"Do I have horns or scales or something?" Squall asked in return. "I feel fine."

"No horns," Ellone replied. "But you'd be cute with horns."

Squall smiled.

"Why didn't you sleep?" Ellone asked a few seconds later. "Worried?"

"Weird dream," Squall said. "I think. I don't really remember. And then I was just staring at the wall for awhile."

"I can put you back to sleep if you'd like," Ellone commented.

"Why don't you lay down too?" Squall asked as he glanced over at the empty side of his bed. "Relax a little."

"You're either sick or crazy," Ellone said with a giggle. "Are you sure you're feeling okay?"

"I am," Squall said. "But... you've been here for how long and we haven't spent any time together. Let's just lay in bed and talk."

"Okay, so far the spell has made you totally, um... passive and friendly," Ellone said as she circled around to the other side of the bed. "I should probably keep an eye on you."

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you the truth," Squall commented. He wondered what Ellone would do if he tried to explain was going on.

Shiva chided him, but not loudly - more of a 'you know, this is only temporary...'

Well, in the long run, it wasn't going to mess anything up.

"And what is that?" Ellone asked as she settled in.

"Well," Squall said with a smile. "See, um, once upon a time the spell really did do something but I have no way to prove it.

"So what amazing thing happened?" Ellone questioned.

"I've been reliving the same day over and over," Squall said. "But everything resets, so I can't prove anything."

"Of course," Ellone said contentedly. "Very creative. So what have you been doing?"

"You don't believe me?"

"Squall, even considering time compression, there's no possible way for that to happen," Ellone explained. "So no, I don't believe you."

"Quistis has a pile of papers to grade, she might have tried bribing someone with cheese and crackers to help her, Xu likes bagels, Zell likes me, Nida's working on something for your White SeeDs, and you spent the morning in the library," Squall said as he ticked things off on his fingers. "And if I don't ask someone to help Selphie with scenery, a student will slip, Selphie will try to catch her, and at the very least, Selphie will die."

"That's not funny."

"Never said it was," Squall said. "But that's later. Want to go back to sleep, Sis?"

He felt really, really awkward doing it, but Squall managed to stay in bed and read.

Just pages away from the end of the book that Cid had given him, there was a panicked knock at Squall's door. He frowned - apparently he was the interfering force when it came to Selphie.

Crawling out of bed, he wondered who had come to rouse him. He was not expecting Ellone, out of breath and clutching her chest.

"Squall," she said as she looked up at him, tears streaming down her face. "I went... I got there... I saw..."

"Don't worry," Squall said as he offered her a hand. "It's okay. Everything isn't really happening. In a few hours, it'll all reset and I'll make it right."

"You'll make it right," Ellone repeated. "You're... You weren't lying."

"I'd never lie to you, Sis," Squall said before helping inside.

"But I saw..."

"It's okay," Squall said. Ellone collapsed half on top of him on the sofa. "It's okay."

He closed his eyes as he held her, letting her cry.




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