No single second was the same as any other, because every moment that ever was lay here, contained within the diamond of compressed time that was Ultimecia. All was one, and nothing was static.
Change was inherent to existence. The mind usually just experiences this slowly enough to not become stunned by it.
, her every living moment occurring at once in a single, shining discontinuity. She was her childhood days and her dying breath, first kiss and last meal. She was eight and breaking her arm falling from a garden wall, forty-four and running for cover from a fast approaching rainstorm. Sixteen and learning to drive, eighteen and- still- learning to dance. A moment of combat with her friends from SeeD.
Free-floating in space.
Standing before Sorceress Edea.
Eighteen and kissing Edea in a back room of her orphanage, the day of her discharge coming with the onset of legal adulthood, the whole wide world at her back and waiting but the warm pressure of her Matron’s body against hers too much to give up willingly.
… But that…
‘... Never happened. But it might, dear one. Anything might. All we are now, is might.’ ’
Ultimecia’s attention was as though a spotlight could
, a brilliant dazzling beyond light that held Rinoa pinioned, pressure like the clenching of titanic hands resounding backward through days she had already lived, and forward through days that might yet come. Rinoa had never so much as suspected that one could squeeze her
sense of desire
, but the time compression had taught them all so very much; she could feel her mind struggling to learn more even now, as the Sorceress moved through her past.
It was all so easy for her.
Just a few changes, pieces moved across a board that spanned the universe.
An accident to leave her another parent down, a shuffle of social structures to have her landed in the right place.
Now she had been there all along, had grown up in the shadow of Matron Edea, and the kiss meant more than anything else in her short, young life. The taste, the scent, the feeling of being so close, all things Rinoa’s eighteen year old self now committed to memory, and in the eternal now that was all there ever had been, she remembered it still.
‘Do you like this, Rinoa?’ Ultimecia, the eternal woman, spoke from out of some implacable future. ‘I can make you like it…’
And then she is taking Rinoa apart again, ratcheting through the pieces of her soul and adding new ones where she wanted; chemical and personal changes made it so that she preferred women, had
preferred them, even as new memories bubbled to the surface. There was Edea, her beloved Matron, doting on Rinoa specifically for a span of years that had not even existed mere moments ago. Edea, who had always been there to hold her and tell her things would be well. Edea, staunchest ally and protector when her nature as a Sorceress had started to come on early. Edea, the only mother she had ever known.
That kiss was now a turning point in her history, the moment that Rinoa, fearful of having to leave, to make her way alone in the world, had spilled all her trepidation and longing to remain to the one woman she knew would understand. To tell her how she really felt, after so many years of thinking herself too young. It was a new memory. It had always been there.
Potentials split off from that moment in a rainbow of new futures, dewdrops that contained entire universes suspended in Ultimecia’s black light. The Sorceress Supreme sent them spinning down a single one of these, the thousand little tragedies of the ones they ignored going unnoticed in the new past that bloomed up to meet them.
Here, Edea reciprocated. Here, the dream came true.
Rinoa’s heart nearly burst with the joy of it, of the Matron returning her kiss, inhibitions breaking down and her hip pressed into the kitchen counter by the force of it all. Edea had been so gentle, so accommodating, so endlessly careful that some time had gone by before the older woman had taken her to bed, and by the time it finally happened Rinoa had become so nervous she felt sure that she would fail in some spectacular way, ruin what had begun before it truly could.
But her Matron was patient and kind, and she knew how to deal with her. Her eyes were friendly, patient, as she sat the girl down and asked her, one final time, if she was sure this was what she wanted. There was-
had been, will be-
a note of hope in her voice, a wish that things might be called off now, the complications inherent in it avoided. The two of them were now locked in a shared orbit, drawing together toward a single point on this bed, an inevitability that only Rinoa could call off.
did not. Would not-
but she could have. In accepting Edea into her arms, allowing the older woman to run practised fingers into the place between her shirt and her skin, Rinoa had set them both on a course of heartache, of confrontation with Cid and awkwardness with the others at the orphanage that would last too long, hurt them both too much.
And in that awful moment, fully in the knowledge that the memory was a new one, the years of that history rewritten, Rinoa wore that hurt as a badge of pride. She would not have changed a moment of it.
In the infinite moment it was all happening at once, every kiss and caress and moan. Every whispered flirtation and private smile that communicated more than speech ever could. Their first time was at once a fond reminiscence and an absolute immediacy. Rinoa’s heart was racing. It was happening.
It was happening.
Dark lipstick printed itself against Rinoa’s neck as Edea left a skilled kiss there, hard enough to leave a mark, a brand of newfound ownership. In for a penny, in for a pound: Rinoa was
, now, and if it would be so, then it would be seen. She was on the bed beside her young charge, hands constantly in motion, smooth and graceful. She swept the bottom of Rinoa’s shirt up, and the top of her skirt down, granting a slim passage of access to the pale skin beneath that she attacked with gusto.
Before Rinoa knew it, Edea’s fingers had skated the length of her belly, slid up beneath her shirt and drawing down the cups of her bra. Long fingernails ticked at the hardening points of her nipples, exploring a space that Edea had never seen before, and for the moment seemed content to navigate purely by touch. Rinoa drew in a harsh breath through clenched teeth, her fingers coming together in her lap, filled with a needy energy she didn’t know what to do with.
She was a virgin. This would be- had been, will be- her first time, and though she did not know how much experience Edea had with women, Rinoa did know that it would be more than enough to encompass her own. All she could really do was be along for the ride, learning what she could and blessing her lucky stars that someone like the Matron would turn her attention to her in the first place.
And Edea had so very much to teach…
Memories that were experiences that were yet-to-bes drifted past Rinoa’s static, endless now: here she was tasting a woman’s juices for the first time, there giving Edea an orgasm that curled the older woman’s toes and had her gripping Rinoa’s hair so tight her scalp burned with it. The pain of it had been-
was, still is-
something that even then she had been proud of, a sign that she had brought the older woman to the edge of her control and then over it. The taste of that climax on her tongue, the clenching pressure on her fingers was
even as she recalled it and viewed it as its own prophetic vision. It was promise and experience and blessed memory all at once.
Sometimes, moments collected like water droplets coming together in great silvery rivulets, unified by some common theme that Rinoa felt all through her being at once. Every kiss had before they had gone public as a couple, lips together and holding that weighty secret between. Every kiss afterward, freeing and wonderful. Every moment Edea had placed her hand in the small of Rinoa’s back, drawing her young charge gently but firmly wherever she desired.
Every ounce of the control that Matron had-
will have, always had-
over her, running through the threads of her body in a cosmic harmony that Rinoa found herself resonating with.
It had never happened. It had always been. She needed it to be.
Reality slipped sideways, the torrent of moments stolen and mutilated from her life changing direction all at once, like raindrops on the window of a car taking a steep turn. For a moment Rinoa’s history was a freefall, a singular possibility in which nothing at all had ever happened to her; she wished that the wrenching pang of losing Edea would have killed her, but it could not.
Nothing ever could, here.
Now she was with Quistis, the older girl taking advantage of Rinoa’s youth and naivete to get a little action whenever she wanted. This was something Rinoa understood perfectly in retrospect, though it was happening to her now. She was, again, eighteen and needy, aching for the attention of someone more experienced, one who had more control over their life than she had of hers. Quistis knew so much, had more to teach, it seemed, than her young mind could ever absorb.
She taught Rinoa about ropes and bondage, how to tie a girl tight and keep her that way, how to tease, how to make her want things that earlier she would have begged to avoid…
But the knowledge collected in its own set of caveats, the things that Rinoa had been asked to accept that, in her youth, she had surrendered to; that they could not be together publicly, that Quistis would distance herself from Rinoa the moment Squall was around…
That, fundamentally, Quistis’ relation to her was a selfish one, the lessons merely a byproduct of the blonde’s taking.
The aching dissonance of knowing all this, yet feeling so very keenly the attraction and strange romance of falling in love for the first time as it played out in past, present, and future simultaneously, was its own sweet music. Possessive love-bites and cruel words and evenings spent in furtive rutting all blended together, a complex relationship of years all hitting Rinoa in the span of a second that never ended.
Now she was older, her world rewritten so that Selphie stood at the heart of it, the pair of them now steadily traveling through their forties together, away from everyone else and living in their own sort of paradisiacal seclusion. The cottage they shared was small, quiet, and wonderfully isolated; neither one had to fear keeping the curtains and windows wide open, no matter what they intended to do.
Tantalizingly, the image of Selphie sat upon her lap came to Rinoa, the girl she had once known now middle-aged, with all the heightened complexity and exquisite beauty that came with that. She was naked, as was Rinoa herself, her skin pale and freckled, curves made plush and womanly by the passage of time. Rinoa’s hand had worked its way into her hair, drawing Selphie’s chin up so that her throat was exposed and the larger weight of her breasts heaved in time with her panting breaths.
Her other hand worked tirelessly between Selphie’s legs, her voice- coarsened but still recognizable- pouring out a torrent of loving imprecations to her newfound-
When Selphie came for her, shuddering and gasping in Rinoa’s lap, it was at once a familiar thing she could have replicated with ease, and something new and perverse, lending to the scene a strangely voyeuristic quality.
Rinoa had never thought of Selphie that way before… and yet, here, it had never been otherwise.
Reality in seizure, now it was Ultimecia herself who had her, Rinoa at the end of her leash and kneeling at the foot of a throne that was, itself, the jewel of a high castle that rested at the center of an empire. What better pet for a Sorceress than another of her kind?
It had always been so, though conflicting memories of Selphie, of Quistis, of Edea and a thousand other lives beyond still lingered in Rinoa’s mind. This had been her life now, reared as the Sorceress Supreme’s living weapon, unmoored from linear time and comprehensible space entirely. This life was a fractured one, where moments of battle on the front lines of Ultimecia’s war against the rest of the world blurred seamlessly with the blinding, shameful ecstasy of the Sorceress’ personal attentions. Cause and effect meant nothing, it never had, and there was only her Sorceress.
The time she spent knelt between Ultimecia’s legs affected a battle a thousand miles away. A fight that she had personally attended had caused, through some linkage that Rinoa could never have explained, an orgasm in her the night before, laying in the Sorceress’ bed and allowing her magic to splay open the pleasure centers of her surrendering body.
‘Show me the fruits of your study, Rinoa dearest…’ Ultimecia spoke into the eternal moment, addressing every conceivable version of her that there was. Tenderness filled her voice like the most virulent of poisons. ‘Cast me the spell I taught you.’
There was but one thing Rinoa’s magic was truly for, her powers as a Sorceress bent and shaped for Ultimecia’s purposes alone. Her eyes downcast, Rinoa reached for the spell with her mind and her soul, giving all of what she had to the tall, white haired beauty. It was all there, lurking, waiting for her to take hold; Ultimecia’s body called out to the core of Rinoa’s magic, the motivating force from which she would cast her spell.
The leash grew taut between them, the collar about Rinoa’s neck constricting as Ultimecia stiffened, her arms drawn up by invisible lines of force. Relaxed, somehow dainty and poised even while magically bound, they rose above her head, drawn to the top of her throne by the first workings of her pupil’s magic. Then came the legs, spread open at the insistence of Rinoa’s binding spells.
This was the first thing she had been taught, the essential center of her witchcraft that her Mistress had teased out of her lesson by unforgettable lesson. From its very birth her magic had been made to interact with the Mistress, to interlock and weave between the intersections of time and space that permeated Ultimecia like a shroud. There was an armor to the Sorceress Queen that only she could penetrate, a key to Ultimecia’s lock that could bind her and give her that which she craved.
Of the magics Rinoa had been taught, the first of all had been Pleasure.
She bound her Mistress to her throne, knowing that she had no hold over her at all, that at a single word Rinoa would undo what had been done. Only to someone over which she had complete power would Ultimecia hand such a compromising position. The leash never left the Sorceress Supreme’s hand.
Their magic spoke, in words that were not words, a conversation that they had had more times than Rinoa could count. Ultimecia shuddered, arched back against her insubstantial bonds, painted lips parting in an O that Rinoa longed to kiss and slap in equal measure. Her power stroked along the nerves of the Sorceress’ clit and cunt, working through the fabric of her gown as though it were not there.
Spellcraft that could level cities burned through her, and Rinoa bowed her head, pressed a wet and worshipful kiss on the bare inside of Ultimecia’s thigh, working her way upward and inward as she went.
‘Is this more to your liking? My kept little toy?’ Ultimecia mused, speaking not to the Rinoa of the moment, but the eternal, time compressed woman that stood beyond and within it all. Reality itself was a stage curtain that the Sorceress could draw back whenever she liked, now. ‘No?’
Worlds upon worlds slid by faster now, a deck of cards the span of reality being shuffled by a disinterested goddess. It was dark, and she was in a back alley somewhere, neon light slanting down only to highlight the deep pools of shadow all around. Someone was feeling her up, but Rinoa could not tell whose hand it was down her pants; they were behind her.
People passed by at the mouth of the alley, closer to the pair of them than Rinoa would have wanted. The details of the new life she had now always led came to her slowly, and she pressed herself back into Ellone’s body, trying her best to acclimate herself to the new age she had become. There were three fingers inside her now, and that took up the bulk of Rinoa’s attention no matter
life she was currently occupying.
‘You’ve gotten awfully quiet,’ Elle whispered, her words a hot wash of breath that smelled like expensive scotch against Rinoa’s ear. ‘Am I pressing your buttons?’
Dazzled by the change, Rinoa ground herself mindlessly down against the base of the strap she was wearing, reacting to the pressure as Quistis sank herself down onto the blue rubber shaft. She was naked now, they both were, and kneeling on a bed with rumpled, expensive-feeling sheets. One hand was a tight fist in Quistis’ blonde locks, pulling the older girl up off of all fours with a level of aggression Rinoa simply was not used to.
She let go, muscles releasing out of sheer habit, and though the strap-on remained inside Quistis, she fell forward onto the mattress, doing her best to keep her shapely ass raised. Blue eyes cast back over her shoulder, regarding Rinoa with a nervousness that she did not like.
‘What’s wrong, Miss?’ Quistis stammered.
No, no, this was too much-
-too fast, she couldn’t keep up...
Edea had returned, though not in the history that Rinoa recognized, that first altered timeline that had occurred at once a thousand years and only one second ago. This time it was she who was the younger party, barely recognizable to Rinoa had she not been whispering the young woman’s name to her in the midst of a rather intense orgasm.
Heedlessly, knowing she only had a scant few moments, Rinoa clasped the other woman to her, intent on riding out the rising pleasure as it crested, boiled up within her and-
Rinoa cried out in frustration at its sudden absence, the sound muffled by the insistent pressure of Julia Heartilly’s tongue in her mouth. As the pangs of dying sensation left her, she had only a moment or two with which to consider what twists of fate had led her to be here, kissing her mother, when-
-that too was snatched away. Oh, please…
‘I… I can’t’ Rinoa’s voice shook, hitched with the beginnings of a sob that she was sure would continue in another timeline. Before her, Fujin paused in the process of taking off her shirt, and looked at the raven-haired girl quizzically.
Histories slid past, faster and faster, barely a few moments passing between one and the next now. Bodies and persons and pasts raced across the surface of Rinoa’s existence faster than she could comprehend them, first Quistis then Edea, first Ellone then Squall then Adel then-
They were, all of them, in the throes of some form of passion, their bodies writhing or grinding or simply pushing into Rinoa’s, their lovemaking-
fucking, hate sex, whatever-
a singular spark that kindled within Rinoa’s continuous consciousness and trailed along behind her as she went like the tail of some lustful comet.
And still down, down she went, cast through the layers of reality by the watching Sorceress, who held it all in the grip of her palm.
They spoke, but communication meant nothing anymore. Their words faded before a full sentence could be uttered, flickering past in a rushing tide of breasts and lips and tongues, always upon Rinoa’s luminous form but never there for long enough for her to enjoy it.
More and more. And in the gaps between worlds Rinoa began to hear it, partially at first, but once she knew what to listen for…
There were words
the words, one sentence being picked out, world by world and mouth by mouth, as Rinoa dropped past them. Every voice panted, every word belonging to a different person, a different version of a friend or lover or enemy, but they spoke with one purpose, to one meaning.
‘Oh, no more, please! I can’t take it, Ultimecia!’
Much as she hated it, Ultimecia’s arms, the first
contact she had had since this began, anchored Rinoa back to what was left of reality. She allowed the architect of her suffering to embrace her, tall and lithe and all-encompassing. They hung in the void, the silence still ringing with the throwaway voices of a thousand potential lovers, and Rinoa tried her best to blink back tears.
When the Sorceress spoke to her next, she would not be crying.
‘Didn’t find one you like?’ Ultimecia crooned, and there was an especially despicable form of sardonic teasing in her tone. She tilted Rinoa’s chin up with the crook of one finger, so that she could regard her young-
old now, so old-
charge with deeply familiar eyes.
Rinoa knew those eyes so very well.
‘That’s okay. I only do this out of love, you know.’
She had seen them every day for eternity. Watched them through a trillion parallel histories that now never existed at all. Rinoa had seen every stripe of emotion it was possible for those eyes to wear.
‘And besides, we do have an abundance of time…’
She saw them in mirrors, whenever Ultimecia allowed Rinoa to look upon herself.
‘... My dear, dear Sorceress.’