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Title: Echoes
Part: 49
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-nine," Squall said to himself as he did his usual bit of yawning and stretching. Apparently that was one thing he just couldn't change, because he was never quite awake enough to consider it.

"Next time there's a weird spell, I'm drawing three of it. Or less."

The thought of going through the same day again wasn't as interesting as it had been the day before. He wondered if he could take care of everyone's solutions in the morning and then...

Nah. That wasn't even worth doing. He was going to Balamb.

But first, he figured he did need to at least take a shower.

Pulling his night clothing off, he thought it might be interesting to go to sleep naked to see if he woke up clothed. The thought of ice cold water was not appealing, so he simply turned the taps to where they needed to be for nice, warm water and stepped back to look at his reflection in the mirror.

Still no horns, nor a third eye.

Getting into the shower, Squall leaned back against the wall and just stood there. Some of the things he could possibly do with his repeating day were so completely off the wall that he'd never consider actually doing them. Except none of this was actually happening - or, it was but it wasn't. It would be wiped completely clear at midnight and would start over.

Shiva started chattering.

"Either give me ideas or be quiet," he muttered as he straightened up and started to wash his hair. "We're going to Balamb today. I'll buy you treats."

He did know her happy noises rather well.

Instead of heading towards his office or anywhere near Quisits, Ellone or Xu, Squall took his cup of coffee and headed towards the garage area. He wasn't even going to bother signing out the car - he was just going to take it. After all, it would be totally unstolen next time around and no one would be any the wiser.

The nice thing about most of the Garden cars was that they were totally unmarked and were of various makes and models. Cid had gotten them all second-hand, according to some of the paperwork Squall had found at one point. That wasn't to say there was a thing wrong with them - after years of mechanical classes, they were in excellent condition. Besides, being in a slightly older, nondescript vehicle made it much easier to arrive places undercover. And for group missions and times when a 'military look' was necessary, there were the trucks as well.

Squall stared for a minute, trying to decide which car he wanted to take. He'd worked on a green mid-size the most as a student, though it was mostly enough that he could change tires or do basic engine work if it was ever necessary - he hadn't taken any of the more advanced repair classes because he didn't think he'd ever need them. And so far, he hadn't.

There wasn't anyone else in the garage when he headed over to the key board and grabbed the keys for a red convertable. After all, no one was looking and he was doing the sorts of things he wouldn't normally do just because, well, he could.

Shiva began chattering again in her usual, faint way.

"GF Goodies," he reminded her as he opened the car door and eased himself in. He couldn't remember the last time he'd actually driven anywhere, and after starting the engine (and buckling his seat belt), he decided that it didn't really matter and probably just involved something silly like dinner at Zell's Mom's house.

He rolled down the window as he left the garage and breathed in the air - all these repeats of the same day and he never really got outside, other than helping Nida with the White SeeD training and that had been far too rushed to enjoy. There were probably entire weeks that he never left the confines of Garden. Maybe he could urge the students to go outside more, though he assumed that they made their own trips to Balamb and, well, wandered around outside now and then.

The trip to Balamb wasn't actually a long one - took only about ten minutes by car and that included finding a parking space in the shopping area that didn't involve parallel parking. Not necessarily that he couldn't - Squall just preferred not to. And besides, the best parking space he could find was right in front of the weapon modification shop and they had angled parking that was both easy to enter and exit, something that Squall had always found somewhat amusing. After all, what mercenary who needed quick weapons mods had the time to bother with parallel parking?

Squall grabbed his gunblade and crawled out of the car, remembering to put the window up and lock the doors as afterthoughts. Maybe he did need to get out and drive more often. They'd taken a plane to Trabia, with Selphie piloting, and he'd mostly poured over the reports that Trabia had sent and played cards with Zell. Couldn't really roll down the windows on a plane and let the wind mess up one's hair, after all. And Zell hadn't lost too horribly, so it was a nice challenge that took enough of his time that he wasn't bored.

The sun was sinking low on the horizon by the time Squall turned around and headed back to Garden. He had his own Aching Need CD to listen to for the next few hours, had eaten really, really good food and had made a half-dozen ridiculous and extraneous purchases, all on credit. Everything would simply reset, things would disappear, and it would be as if he hadn't done anything at all.

If he had to keep repeating the same day, Squall was damned determined to do a little something special with each passing day. There were plenty of things to try, people to get to know, places to visit. He could probably even get to Esthar or Galbadia or back to Trabia if he wanted for at least an evening or afternoon. The possibilities were limitless - or at least limited to the course of a day for the next forty-odd days.

Squall sped up a little, pushing the engine just a bit harder than he had been. And then sped up more, because the road was clear and he'd turned his headlights on and he was probably just going to go crazy but he was going to have fun doing it.

Yes, he was going to have fun.

Turning up the sound system, he put the pedal to the floor.

The hallways were oddly devoid of both students and staff as Squall hauled his things to his room. Either something awful had happened or Selphie had rounded everyone up to help her.

Finally, just before he got to the hallway his room was in, Squall ran across a lone student who was sitting in the hallway, arms around her knees as though...

She looked up when he approached and a second later flung herself at him, grabbing his coat and sobbing.

"Hey, what's wrong?" he asked as he gently let his bags drop quietly to the floor.

"She... she... Huh?" the girl looked up, revealing a tear-stained face. "You weren't...?"

"I took a personal day to have my gunblade modded in Balamb," Squall admitted. He tried to pry the girl away from him but didn't have much luck. "What happened?"

"You've got to head down to the clinic," the girl stammered as she finally let go. "Miss Timitt was working on some scenery with some students and one of them lost her balance. Miss Timitt tried to save her, but they both fell from really high."

Squall's stomach dropped out on him as he put together the pieces. Every single day he'd either helped Selphie or sent Zell to go help, which had relieved the situation so that no one was placed in hypothetical harm's way. Selphie was... well, probably dead and it was because he hadn't been there.

Shiva began chattering at him and he frowned. He wanted to yell at her, say all sorts of things like that she should have known or sensed something but how could she? She wasn't even a part of this world.

"I need to go," Squall managed as he gave the girl what he hoped was a comforting pat on the shoulder.

And he ran like he was fairly sure he'd never ran before. Even if Selphie was dead this time around, she'd be fine in the morning and he could just assign Zell to help her immediately after getting up which would take care of that except Zell and Ellone probably needed to interact and...

"This can work," he said more to himself than to anyone else living in his head as he turned the corner near the clinic. And that was where the people began. There were candles everywhere and finally, in the midst of it all, Squall saw Xu.

"Where were you?" she hissed as he made his way over. "We were looking for you all day. Ellone was near out of her mind - she thought you'd just vanished in your sleep because of some wacky spell."

"Xu," Squall said as calmly as he could. "You know how sometimes people say that everything will be okay and you think they're being idiots and want to smack them?"

Xu looked at him and nodded.

"Tomorrow, everything will be right back to normal."




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