Final Fantasy - All Series Fan Fiction ❯ My Sanctuary ❯ Fall Apart ( Chapter 8 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

My Sanctuary
Chapter 8: Falls Apart
I slam my fist into Seifer's jaw and he stumbles back in alarm. Apparently he didn't think I'd come back to mind so fast. Standing up from the bed, I prepare to slaughter him right here and now.
"Get out! You have no right to be in here, Seifer!" came the snarled order. Like a smoldering fire, Seifer exits and doesn't even spare a glance back at me. Cloud slams the door shut and turns his heated gaze toward me. Defensively, I take a step back and my legs hit the edge of the bed. "What did he say?"
"Why don't you tell me about your little conversation earlier?"
"Squall..." The Guardian Angel's features soften as he lunges forward and wraps his arms tightly around me. "I…I want you to leave."
"No! I won't leave you to the mercy of that homicidal maniac!" Moisture rolls down my neck as I realize what all he could've threatened this man with. If only Sephiroth knew that Cloud was an orphaned Angel, then what could Seifer have found out? "Cloud... Tell me." I sit down and let him take the spot right beside me with his head lying on my shoulder. Evened breaths admit to the end of the release of emotion.
"I grew up here. I didn't know anything until I was 13. Up until then, I admired Sephiroth. He was powerful, majestic and...breathtaking. He could be very sweet at times and acted like I was his very own son. He even taught me all forms of fighting by himself up until...well, when he found out. Then Zack took over that.”
"When Sephiroth saw that my wings were indeed a Guardian Angel's, he shoved me to the side in order to find the heir that he needed. Coincidently, a neighboring Dark Angel fell and his son fled with his protectors. Seifer came here and Sephiroth immediately devised a plan. By letting me fill the quota for the time being, Seifer could take reign over his rightful place. So when the Savior came to free the people, I'd be the one on the end of a sword and Seifer could rule in double.

"I had never known and if I did I wouldn't have defended Sephiroth as I had, even if he treated me like his own. Once I proved useless to rule, I was nothing but a commoner to him. I was devastated and did everything to make his life hell up until the day you killed him.”
"Seifer came to me earlier and confessed that he knew about Zack and Aerith being my rightful parents. He said that in due time he would turn the tables. The exact words were, `In a few weeks, you'll have nothing. I'll take away everything you cherish and I mean everything.' Hearing that, I knew that I had to get you four to safety alongside Rufus, Reno and Zell. So, will you please go?"
"I'm sorry Cloud, but I just can't up and run away. That's not how I've been taught." His muscles tense and I sigh heavily. "I refuse to let you face him alone. We'll set a trap and kill him. All we have to do is get rid of those lackeys of his."
"Someone's going to get hurt, I know it. I don't want that to be you, Squall."
Pushing him away at arms length, I smirk. "Seifer couldn't kill me even if I was already dead." Cloud chuckles and plops down on the bed as he kicks his boots off. Patting the empty spot on the bed, I slide in next to him. "Are you sure it's okay?"
"It's not like I care what they think. You're mine, not theirs." Shaking my head, I smile as I take my spot. Cloud wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me close. "I love you Squall."
I lie there in silence and can't help but smile into the darkness. Nothing will happen just yet. It's too early in the game.
I'm jolted awake by someone barging into the room screaming. The instant light blinds me temporarily as Cloud climbs over me and stands up straight as best as he can. Huffing, Vincent appears pale in the artificial lighting. "Vincent, what's wrong? What happened?"
Leaning against the doorframe for support, his gaze never wavers. "Zack is dead."
Cloud falls back down onto the bed and I sit up to support him. Seeing him unable to say anything, I take over the situation. "Calm everyone down for the time being and keep everyone away from the scene until Cloud and I can get dressed."
Vincent merely nods before stumbling out into the hall with a reason to stay calm himself. I scoot off of the end of the bed and begin to pull on the clothes from earlier. Once done, I move to Cloud's drawers and grab a pair of jeans and a blue-gray shirt. I help Cloud step into everything and put his boots on before ushering him out the door with the shock still evident on his countenance.
A set of guards block off the room down the hall, but at the sight of the two of us, they part. However, I still feel their angered and confused gaze on my back as I ease Cloud into the luxurious room. Curled up in a chair in the corner is Aerith; her usual braided brunette locks fall loose around her in disarray while soft sobs rack her body. Vincent stands beside her rubbing circles on her back, looking a bit awkward in the position.
I seat Cloud on the bed and turn to the raven-haired man. "Where?"
"Not in here. Follow me." Vincent leaves Aerith's side and leads me out the door. We travel down the stairs and he explains as we go. "It's only about an hour before Cloud usually gets up along with guests. It's so we can secure the perimeter and the castle, to make sure no one snuck in."
"So, I'm taking it that on one of the rounds Zack found a rat?"
"No. Someone in this castle did it and I have a hunch, but I need evidence to confirm it before I can go any further." Vincent stops before large double doors leading to a ballroom where extravagant parties were once held. "I fear that Aerith is in danger."
Without further delay, Vincent pushes the doors open to reveal a horrific sight. A large puddle of blood lies fresh in the middle of the beautiful designs of gold on black tile. A trail leads us to the farthest columns where I have to look away and catch my breath for a minute.
Pristine and well-crafted swords impale Zack through his heart and stomach while also attaching him to the column. Since it is still fresh, blood continues to slowly seep out of the wounds as enraged blue eyes glare forever at the person who had done this.
"Who found him?"
"A maid saw the doors ajar and since we haven't opened this room in…well, since Sephiroth found out about Cloud, she investigated. She told me that she didn't scream, but came and got me. I was outside walking the grounds when she informed me."
"Where is she now?"
"Most likely in the maids' quarters' resting; that was traumatizing to say the... Why?"
"If the killer is still in here and knows that she found him, he might try to get rid of her. Are you sure that she told you everything? What else did she say?"
"Just to not be left alone. That she was afraid. I sent her back to her room though."
I begin striding toward the exit. "Aren't you supposed to be smarter than that, Vincent? That girl saw the murder!"
Vincent catches up to me and we sprint toward the maids' chambers as fast as possible without sliding into walls when going around turns. A heavy iron door seals off one of the rooms that would house at least a minimum of four servants. Nodding for him to continue, Vincent yanks on the handle and rushes in.
There lying on her bed is a maid with a noose around her neck. Blank eyes stare straight up at the ceiling even when Vincent towers over her bedside. On the other hand, I whip around and jog back up the stairs. "Squall, wait! Come back!" Vincent yells after me. From ahead, I hear him giving orders to a random group of guards that he passes.
I have to get back and keep Cloud safe. This killer is one step ahead of us and I won't let anyone else get killed just yet.
I skid around a corner, barely missing hitting the wall and a stray servant. As I pick up speed, it's almost as if time slows and I can't get there fast enough. The hall comes to my line of sight and the pile of dead men at the threshold captures my attention instantly. I snatch up a discarded sword and charge into the bedroom.
A leather clad body idles in front of a forlorn Aerith. Her fingers desperately curl around those of the man's, which remain locked around her throat; medium lunar hair drapes over the attacker's turned back. I quietly, yet swiftly, approach him, but Aerith's eyes flash over his shoulder.
He drops her to the floor, spins around and fires a shot at me.
My grip on the blade tightens despite the pain surging through my right arm. Another shot rings through my ears and I know I've missed my chance to strike. I've failed to save a life.
Fury flows through me and a low growl escapes my lips, giving him the only warning he deserves. I shove the tip forward as it breaks through the thin material covering his stomach and he drops like a rock the same time I drop to my own knees.
Slender fingers reach for the fallen pistol at his side, but he stops short and falls on his side. A smirk replicates on his face, like a child that beat himself up and plans to get his elder brother in trouble. It vanishes from his face and he groans as footfalls come closer. Realizing my time to dispose of him is short, I yank up the handgun and shakily rise to my feet. Carefully aiming for a more painless shot, I begin to put pressure on the trigger when I'm knocked off my feet and the wind from my lungs.
From the corner of my eye, I watch as men lift the assailant to his feet and rush him out. The guard trapping me pulls both arms behind my back, earning a muffled scream from my already burning lungs. As my face is buried in the carpet, I catch the hint of Vincent's worried voice.
"Where's Cloud and Aerith?"
The next thing I know, the guard is pulling me to my feet and Cloud darts into the room. His arms wind around me in complete disregard for the facade he had worked to establish for these people. "Oh Squall, are you okay?"
"A...a little lightheaded."
Backing up, he catches sight of the blood spewing from my shoulder. Before I can object, I'm being cradled in his arms and rushed down corridors. Cloud shoulders a door open and places me on a white bed.
The infirmary, I guess.
A doctor that avoids my line of sight peels off my shirt and begins cleaning the wound. I hiss at the disinfectant, angry that it hurts, but relieved that I know it's doing its job. The man wraps the bandage under my arm and across my torso before declaring my okay to move. He must have given permission to enter when he left because Vincent hurried in just as Cloud took a seat on the end of the bed.
"What the hell where you thinking, running off like that?"
I forced a snappy retort to the back of my mind as I tried to collect my thoughts. "That guy that I stabbed is the killer. He murdered Zack, then the maid that saw it happened and could identify him, and he was going for Cloud and Aerith next."
"Thanks to your stunt, the guards that got there before me think that you were the one pulling this off."
"That man wasn't even in official attire! Who would they believe?"
"The strange man."
I dig my nails into the sheets and begin taking deep breaths. Cloud shakes his head in disbelief. "Vincent, have their room cleaned and bodies prepared and buried. I...I don't want a funeral. Just...once that man is treated and deemed healthy, I want him locked up."
Vincent turns without another word. However, his departure is delayed by Seifer and his two lackeys entering the room. The two automatically take their place by the door as Seifer comes forward. "I see you were hurt trying to finish the job and kill the suspect."
I swing my legs around Cloud and come to my feet to stand my ground, even if I still sway slightly. "You're the one behind all of this, you filth! You wanted his parents dead."
Seifer stands there slightly shocked as a lowly butler peeks his head into the room. "Any orders, Sir Vincent?"
"Clean everything up. I'll be there shortly."
I wish I could just leave this little gathering, but that would mean submitting to Seifer's power to cause absolute chaos.
Cloud touches my good shoulder and I take the hint. I begin to exit when Seifer growls. "By dusk I will have your head on a silver platter, Squall."
I scoff and turn back to face him, placing Cloud safely behind me. "You say that as if you could actually hurt me. It's a shame that you're all talk and no action. All you are is a de-clawed pussy cat."
Rufus once told me that it's not all about hitting first when it comes to convincing others. Sometimes it's easier to play the victim than to stand up for oneself.
I shove Cloud away and duck down instinctively so that I don't have to fall too far to hit the ground. Seifer lands on top of me and slams his fist into my jaw once and only once. I throw my arms up to shield my face as Fuujin and Raijin latch onto an arm of Seifer to drag him off of me. Vincent extends a hand and I gratefully take it. As I'm pulled back to my feet, Cloud marches over to a still fuming Seifer.
"You've hired someone to kill my parents and you attack the man I love. You are to leave the second your things are packed!" he orders and turns around, grabbing my wrist and tugging me away to safety.
Any person would be shocked speechless if they were in my shoes. One, Seifer is most likely leaving today. Two, Cloud is definitely planning on showing this man to the world as a fraud. Finally three, he said he loved front of them. Talk about almost having a heart attack because of happiness.
Vincent keeps pace with Cloud as he walks behind me, as I myself am being pulled along. Finally, Cloud stops after entering the security of his room. Collapsing onto the bed, I do the same. He rubs the back of his neck before sheepishly daring to look up at Vincent.
"That was uncalled for. I know that's what you want to say, but tonight I'm going to announce it to these people. They deserve to have their prayers answered. I know damn well that Seifer will be staying the second he catches wind of this and he'll try to kill me. That's why I'm doing it, so don't say a word about safety. I have to kill him first. He got to shed blood to start the war and now I'm going to put an end to it. Make sure that everyone is there to watch...and I mean everyone in the city."