Not going back
by KaiserVonAlmasy

"I'm not going back."

I stared at myself in the mirror.

"I'm not going back."

There's a certain power in this world. You can feel it, just a piece of it, when you make a vow.

"I'm not going back."

I said it again. I enjoyed the sound of it. There was conviction in my voice. There was certainty in the words. My vow to myself brought structure and order to my chaotic world. It was the only thing of which I could be certain. There are no constants in this world except a man's word. Everything else can waver, wither, and die, but not a vow. I don't know what my future will be. But I do know I won't be going back there, not ever.

I'm not going back because I can't. As far as I'm concerned, I've burned that bridge beyond repair.

Maybe one day, they could forgive me. But I can't forgive myself.

Everything seemed so certain. Everything was clear. For the first time in my life, I saw everything clearly. I knew what had to be done, and I knew I could do it. The answers were simple, and plain, and directly in front of me. Everything had finally clicked. Everything made sense.

That's why I became The Sorceress' Knight.

I would do it all again, too.

That's why I can't go back to Balamb.

Those people don't mean anything to me anymore. I walked away from them. I've fought against them, I've tortured them, and I've tried to kill them. They are nothing to me, and I must be less than nothing to them.

It still stabs me in the gut, waking me up in the middle of the night. A knife slashes at my bowels and writes FAILURE in bold red block letters with my blood. I don't regret anything I did, only the results. I was a bad Knight, incompetent and ineffective. That's what still hurts me today. I'm ashamed of my execution, but I'm not ashamed of my intent.

Maybe, one day, they could forgive me. They shouldn't. The thought of them forgiving me makes me want to vomit. There are some things that should not ever be forgiven. What I did to them ... tried to do to them, anyway ... ranks in that category. I'll admit what I was doing was heinous. But I don't apologize for it, because I knew it was right. I saw it clearly.

I don't repent. Therefore, they cannot be allowed to forgive.

If I went back, they would, eventually. They'd say "welcome back" and take me in, and try to rehabilitate me, make me one of the gang again. It makes me sick. I'm not one of them. I never really was like them. I certainly won't be now.

I can hear them, you know. "It's okay, Seifer. It's okay. We don't blame you for what you tried to do. You were confused. You were used. It wasn't your fault. Come home. We forgive you."

Shut up.

Shut up, Messenger Girl. Shut up, Chicken-Wuss. Shut up, Mediocre Instructor. Shut up, Cowboy. Shut up, Squall. Shut up, Rinoa, and don't give me that look.

Shut up. You don't understand. You can't understand.

They are sentimental weaklings, who would forgive even me, who hates them. I who would have killed them. How such weakling saps defeated me, I will never know. It's embarrassing, to lose to them of all people. Lovey-Dovey simpletons, the people I turned away from. The people from the life I discarded, coming back to thwart me, the Knight.

It's the only time in my life I was ever truly humiliated.

That is why I can't go back. That is why I won't go back.

Even Fujin and Raijin got weak at the end. Sentimentalism is like a virus, and Squall's friends infected my friends. Then they deserted me. They went back.

They seemed so strong, too.

But, clearly, they're not strong enough, or else they would have broken away completely, like me.

Well, to hell with them, then. They lack the vision. They cannot see things clearly. They're brainwashed by that paralyzing softness of feeling. Thus, they aren't of any use to me anymore. They'd just get in my way, and slow me down.

I won't miss them. Friends leave you. That's the nature of the world, summarized in a three-word sentence. Everything fluctuates, especially personal relationships. Friends desert you. Relatives die. Neighbors move. Classmates drop out, or graduate. Even cities, countries, societies fall apart on you eventually.

Only your commitments to yourself can stay constant.

You have to honor your vows. You have to keep your word, because nothing else lasts in this world.

"I am not going back."

It sounds self-evident now. Of course I'm not going back. I can't go back, and I wouldn't want to even if I could. The reasons why are obvious.

Nobody can recreate the past. So, really, nobody can go back to anything, because what they want to go back to isn't there anymore. The Balamb Garden I went to is just a memory now; it doesn't exist in the real world. It isn't there to go back to. There's something else in its place, and that something else is saturated with messenger girls and chicken wusses and instructors who are my enemies.

She's there too.

I still have her picture. I don't know why I've kept it. It's a stupid thing to keep, and I don't even really like her anymore, either. I tried to kill her too. She's an overemotional fool just like the rest of them. Sorceress or not, she's an overemotional fool.

I hate this picture of her, more and more, every second I look at it. I know she'd be the first one to forgive me, and that's what makes me so sick as I look at her picture. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to take it out of the frame and burn it.

Just like she burned me.

I turned on her, along with all the others, but she turned on me first. She fell in love with him. She dumped me for him. It was the ultimate insult, and she must have known that.

God, I hate her. I hate her even more than I hate Squall, now.

Maybe that was my mistake; when I had her in my grasp, I got drunk with pleasure. Just before I flung her forward into Sorceress Adel so they could merge, I had been squeezing her arm in my hand. I torqued that arm in directions it was never meant to turn, and I heard her scream, and I heard her hiss in agony. I felt her strength leave her. She slumped to the floor at my feet, crying. I made her suffer. I tortured her.

And I don't regret it, except that I held her for so long her friends were able to regroup for a counter-attack. If that was the mistake that led to my defeat, I regret that. But I don't regret hurting her. After all, she deserved it. She did the same to me. I couldn't possibly let her get away with that.

She'll do it to me again, too, if I give her the chance. I'll admit this much: she know how to hurt me. She knows my sore spots. That's why she'd make it a point to be first in line to forgive me for all I've done to all of them. Rinoa, the saint. Rinoa, the malicious, predatory, scheming, malicious, sadistic Saint, who forgives because she knows how much the forgiveness hurts, angers, and shames the one who is forgiven.

Forget about tomorrow! I'll burn the picture now, frame and all. What's one photograph after so many bridges? The picture will only try to lure me back, anyway. She gave it to me that summer. She's in her favorite white dress, her hair is straight, black, and perfectly shaped. She's smiling. She's smiling in that way that makes her eyes sparkle through diminished slits as her eyelids narrow. It's her "stay" smile. It's the smile that says "come back, Seifer. Next summer, come back and stay with me."

It's next summer, but I'm not coming back. I'm burning your picture. Take that.

Your perfect black hair is now a sickly gray ash. You're dead. Goodbye.

I don't know what I'll do with myself now. I don't know what's waiting for me in my future. I only know there's a few people, and one place, that won't be there. Because I've made a vow to myself. And a man's word is the only sure thing in this world.

One more time, I look in the mirror and I make my vow.

"I'm not going back."