On Earth as it is in Hell Chapter 23

Time Tomorrow

By Caleb Nova

"The Garden festival was one of those events that you half looked forward to and half dreaded. The cons were 'volunteering' to work on actually putting the whole affair together, the fear of getting a bad date and the added fear that your friends might force you into getting a bad date. During the weeks preceding the event everyone always tried to lay low. If you could make it past that trial time without problem, you were free to enjoy yourself at the party."

-Irvine Kinneas, The SeeD and the Sorceress

A shut in.

That's what he was.

The whole fucking Garden was gearing itself up for a wild bash and he hid in his dim room, lifting weights like his life depended on it. The weights had been transferred from the gym for his private use under the bullshit excuse of, 'avoiding conflict with other students'. Really, he felt that a good fight would make him feel better. He needed to hurt something besides himself. He need something to distract himself from thinking. Books. Video games. Movies. Porn. Anything. Weightlifting was dull enough to allow his mind to work.

So boring.

Nothing to think about.

Nothing but-

The gun flashed twice and he was momentarily dazed by the proximity, ears ringing with the piercing sound of the twin blasts. The brutal sound of impact soon followed and shiny gray hair mixed with brain matter and blood blew over the couch-


The barbell flew across the room, smashing into the dresser and splintering several of the drawer fronts.

Seifer sucked in a deep breath and slowly exhaled, the memories blowing away with the air. He wouldn't go down that road again. He was stronger than that. Strong enough not to snap a second time.

There was a fighting spirit that drove him, that demanded he go against the grain. Oh, he would love to see the looks on everyone's faces if he strolled into the Festival with some babe on his arm. That would show them. The idea quickly fell flat since he knew there was no one who would consent to be his partner. Oh well. Maybe next time.


He had worked hard lately. On everything. On his workouts, training and tests. He didn't know why. Maybe he really felt this was his only chance at redemption, and that he should use it well. Maybe if he somehow pushed himself beyond the darkness he had slipped into he could find the light. Maybe he had nothing better to do.

The jarring buzz of the doorcom shook him out of his reverie, and with a grunt he pushed himself to his feet. After a quick look through the peephole, he resigned himself to the torturous few minutes ahead. Reluctantly, he keyed open the door.

"Hi Seifer!"

Selphie was, as usual, far too cheerful. Her mood gave him the exact opposite feelings. Now he wanted to break something even more. He didn't dignify her greeting with an answer.

"So, anyway," Selphie started, constantly hopping from one foot to the other, a small habit that drove Seifer mad. "As you probably know, the Garden Festival is coming up soon, and I need to take a roll call to see who's coming. Also, if you are coming, which I hope you are, it would be great if you would donate some small sum of gil to fund all of the hard work everyone has put into the whole-"

"Goddammit, will you stand still?!" Seifer exploded, startling her out of her speech. She stared up at him, green eyes wide. Forcing himself to calm down, he settled back into 'impassive mode'.


Selphie nervously started again, making sure to stand completely still. "...So, I was wondering if you were coming...."


To his fury, she once again starting jumping back and forth. "Are you sure? It'll be great, we've got a real band from Balamb coming in, a big catering service, a bunch of fancy lights and the stage looks really cool this year-"


"But I promise you'll have fun if you just-"

"And again, no."

Selphie gave up, turning to go down the hallway. "Okay, but just remember I asked you myself!"

"How could I forget."

Seifer keyed the door shut and walked over to the dresser, studying the damage. Not too bad, only the bottom drawer was inoperable. There was nothing in it anyway. Checking the clock by his bed, Seifer saw he had half an hour before Trepe would be after him with more work. Sighing, he went to shower.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"....Den, Den come in. This is Serpent."

"Copy Serpent. Verify."

"McDonald's, Britney Spears, Coca Cola."

"Copy Serpent. Status?"

"The party is tonight. Lots of preparation outside visible, I saw what looked to be a catering service pull in and there's a lot of buzz on the street. In order to confirm I bought a ticket. We're good to go."

"Copy that Serpent. Follow you're extraction procedure to Timber. We'll have a car waiting for you there."

"Copy. Serpent out."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

..........You're awake.

You already said that.

Things haven't changed since then.

Why did you say it?

Because you were doubting.

Who are you?

It doesn't matter.

.....I guess not.

Wait, then where's the tech?

Right next to you.

I don't see him.

What do you see?


But you're not sleeping.

I know. I died.

No, you didn't.

Then what?

Things are changing. You won't have to wait long.

For what?

The end.


I hope it happens soon.

....Are you near me?


Maybe I could see you.

No. You couldn't.

Can you get me out of here?

I am here.

...I know, but can you get us both out of here?

I am here.

You don't understand-

No, you don't understand.

I am here.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Scott nervously looked around the corner, scoping the area for any signs of Selphie. Clear. Taking a deep breath a keeping his head down, Scott walked quickly across the commons, trying to stick to whatever groups of people he could. Without incident he made it across to the dormitory entrances.

And of course just when safety was in reach, the telltale flash of yellow came barreling down the stairs and halted right in front of a dismayed Scott.

"Hey Scott!"

"Oh glory be, if it isn't Selphie."

"You bet!" She said, giving him her trademark 'v' for victory. "Guess what?"

"You've decided to let me be dateless."

"I've got a girl lined up for you!"

It didn't matter that he had been expecting it, his stomach dropped to his feet. No doubt Selphie had told this girl that he wanted to go to the Festival with anyone, which meant that unless he wanted to hurt someone's feelings, he was screwed.


"Oh, c'mon! You'll have fun!"

"Just tell me who it is."

"Not until you smile!" She said, wagging a finger at him. "You don't want to make her feel bad, do you?"

A low blow. Damn you Selphie. Damn you to hell. But he didn't say it.

"Please, just tell me."

"It's that one girl you like, Michelle Tranell!"

"Sweet mother of God."

"You should go talk to her, I think she's filing stuff down in Storage. It's a room right off the Library, just ask one of the staff. Talk to you later!"

Of all the people he could have been forced to go with, it had to be someone he knew and actually liked. Now what lay ahead was not simple humiliation, but a mental ass raping. What was he going to do?

"What am I going to do?"


Scott turned around to see Irvine walking up, heading towards the stairs. Irvine looked around in confusion.

"Were you talking to me?"

Scott shook his head. "Just muttering to myself."

"Ah. How come?"

"Selphie, uh... 'Helped' me get a date for the Festival."

Irvine winced sympathetically. "I know. I've been there. Well, actually, I haven't, but I've heard about it."

"What, she didn't bother you?"

"I get my own dates."

"I see."

"Hey, don't feel bad. Not everybody enjoys this kind of thing. You're just not a 'party' kind of guy."

"How is that possible? Back home I'm know as Scott 'Party-hearty' Keyor."

Irvine laughed, punching Scott in the shoulder. "I don't know then. Maybe it's just the air or something. Clearly, your party animal instincts have been dampened by inter-dimensional travel."


"So... Are you going to talk to Michelle?"

"Crap. The word's out, huh?"

"Oh yeah. I'm afraid you'll be getting winks all day. Often from people you don't know."

"This is my burden to bear."

"'Fraid so man. Maybe if you try to have fun, you will."


* * * * * * * * * * * *

As far as Quistis could tell, the only good thing to come out of Festival week so far was that her Seifer troubles paled in comparison to the hectic activity. At least Seifer was only one man, if uncontrollable.

Business had always come before pleasure, and she always paid the price for this lifestyle come party time. She would rather stay alone in her office than go with some random stranger Selphie found for her. And it wasn't so bad, really. It was hard to miss what you never had. Hard, but not impossible. She found things were much more comfortable if she didn't think about it.

It was too much to hope that Selphie understood her feelings on the matter. So far she had avoided the irrepressible girl, but it couldn't last forever.

What if she enjoyed going with a blind date? What was keeping her from just trying to have a good time? You don't know what a good time is Quistis. You never bothered to find out, she thought bitterly. And now everything she had become was nothing but a facade.

Buried deep as you can dig inside yourself,

And covered with a perfect shell,

Such a charming beautiful exterior.

Laced with brilliant smiles and shining eyes,

Perfect posture,

But you're barely scraping by.

But you're barely scraping by.

Well this is one time, this is one time,

That you can't fake it hard enough to please,


Or anyone at all, or anyone at all.

And the grave that you refuse to leave,

The refuge that you've built to flee,

The places that you've come to fear the most,

Is the place that you have come to fear the most.

Buried deep as you can dig inside your self,

And hidden in the public eye,

Such a stellar monument to loneliness.

Laced with brilliant smiles and shining eyes,

And perfect makeup,

But you're barely scraping by,

But you're barely scraping by.

And you can't fake it hard enough to please,


Or anyone at all, or anyone at all,

And the grave that you refuse to leave,

The refuge that you've built to flee,

The places you have come to fear the most,

Is the place that you have come to fear the most.

Is the place that you have come to fear the most.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Time now. Time for action. The ships were in motion, the men were onboard. The unnatural war machine had drawn its first breath and the battle cry had been sounded. Time enough for reflection later. Little time to succeed. And succeed they would.

Hendrow had not wanted to take part in the assault, but Julian had been adamant. While they wouldn't take part in the fighting, they would watch from offshore until the Garden was secure. Too close for Hendrow. He would be far more comfortable hearing a report about it later. Julian always had been a front man.

And now there was only to see if they would win.

The final test of everything they had worked to make happen. Hendrow tried to calm his fluttering stomach, and settled in for the ride.

Chapter 24

Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic