This was inspired in equal parts by yaoifantasy's Star Light and by
a VH1 special on the formation and popularization of "grunge"

Disclaimer: I do not own FF8 or any characters/storylines contained
therein. Darn. The song lyrics are copyrighted to any number of
bands, and I'll include that information as it becomes relevant.

Pairing: Not sure on this one, but I've been itching to try a Squall/Irvine
ever since Rinoa went bugfuck in space and left Squall to his own
devices. ;)

The musical style is sort of a cross between A Perfect Circle and
Ours, only in my little world Squall can sing like a demented Jeff
Buckley. Don't know who any of these people are? Go get a Napster-
clone and research!

The Hollow
Chapter One: To Cater to the Hollow

Here's the thing about the music industry.

They *use* people.

You're genuinely depressed and genuinely ready to snap and they fucking
*market* that as an image.

You're backstage shredding your skin for a pint of sanity, and they make sure that
someone photographs the scars and broadcasts the details of your "dysfunctional"

You just want to die and they just want to sell the story of your pain.

It's a machine.

Your death would fucking *profit* them.

So no talk of psychiatric counseling, no talk of preventing your suicide/breakdown/
descent into schizophrenia.

Just the machine.

The machine and the music.

And the music is the only reason you don't just blow it all away.

Wanted the Ocean to Cover Over Me
Dormitory Single #13
Balamb Garden, Balamb
One and One-half Years to the Present

He came in wearing a snug black T-shirt that screamed "Butt Honey" in a stark
white scrawl, accompanied by the squeak of his customary black leather jeans.
No one else was home, as per usual, except for his cream and grey cat.
Apparently summoned by the clank of his keys and the rustle of discarded
folders and files, she immediately attacked his ankles; he resurrected his weary
smile as she wove through his legs in a moving figure eight.

"Hey, kitten," he said in his soft monotone, leaning down tiredly to scratch her
ragged ears. She meowed in response, looking up at him with startling, leaf
green eyes. "Hungry?"

She meowed again, a sharp, high pitched sound like a dying grat, and trailed
through his legs toward the kitchen. Well, kitchenette. Okay, half-fridge and
microwave. He had a sink, at least. And a can opener, of course.

"You'd think the Commander would get better rooms," Squall smirked to the
cat, leaning down in a jangle of belts to empty the tin of food into a bright
yellow dish. Kitten meowed her agreement, setting on the food with quick,
scissoring bites that would, Squall knew from experience, empty the dish
in a matter of minutes.

He rested there for a moment, gloved hands braced on his knees, before
arching his back into a painful-sounding stretch. "Waiting for a bottle of truth,"
he sang absently. "I'm just a lonely guy in my youth . . ." He straightened up,
letting his back settle with a loud crack. "Waiting for you is all I want to do . . ."
He trailed off rather suddenly, and moved to the half-fridge, rolling his shoulders
and rubbing his neck; he crouched before the dim light with another heart-felt
sigh, a sigh that turned into a groan as he catalogued the contents of the fridge.

"Empty," he said, as though it were a curse. "I'm going to have to go to the
cafeteria, kitten," he continued dryly. She made a small, inquisitive noise,
abandoning her food to twine around his knees. He scratched her ears again.

"It won't take long," he reassured her, closing the fridge and standing up. "I'll
be back before you even miss me."

She followed him to the door, meowing pitiably as he shrugged into his leather
jacket and hit 'open'. The panel *shush*ed up, and he stepped out into the
barren hallway. "See you later, kitten," Squall said, letting a tiny smile tug at
his lips.

"Talking to yourself again, Squally?"

Squall sighed, forcing his face back into his working mask.

"Irvine," he acknowledged the man quietly, turning around. The cowboy was
smirking at him, an almost lascivious gleam in his clear violet eyes.

"So, you got some chickie in there?" Irvine grinned, raising chestnut brows in
a sort of mock attempt at mockery. Squall nearly smiled at the familiar routine.

"You want to say hello to Kitten?" he asked, turning back to the door.

"Naw," Irvine shrugged. "You headed to dinner?"

Squall paused, fingers going to the bridge of his nose. He was hungry, but . . .

"No," Squall answered, thumbing the door open again. Kitten meowed eagerly
from somewhere inside the apartment, actually sounding surprised that he was
back so soon.

"Hey, wait!" Irvine caught his arm before he could step inside. "You aren't going
to eat?"

"I'll eat here," he said shortly, trying to wish his arm free. His head was beginning
to hurt again.

"You don't have any food," Irvine protested. "You never have actual food in there."

" . . ." Squall glared up at Irvine, finally meeting his eyes.

"Come eat," Irvine said softly. "I promise, no one will hassle you tonight."

Squall broke the stare, casting one look into his rooms. Lonely, but . . . alone.

"I don't think so," Squall said, with what he hoped was finality.

"Yeah, well, I do," Irvine grinned, tugging gently at his arm. "C'mon, 'Commander',
every SeeD needs to keep up his strength!"

"And *her* strength," a voice called down the hall. "Squall giving you trouble again?"

"Hey, Selphie!" Irvine called, waving with his free hand. He'd successfully dragged
Squall away from the door, which had immediately *shush*ed closed. "Yeah, he's
sulking again."

"I'm not sulking," Squall said quietly, pulling his arm free. "I don't sulk."

"Sure," Irvine snorted. Selphie giggled at Irvine's expression of doubt, and latched
onto Squall's other arm. Squall sighed.

"Whatever," he muttered, his eyes closing.

"C'mon," Irvine said, grabbing his other arm again and ignoring the glare Squall
sent his way. "I've heard they've got hotdogs tonight!"

"I'm not Zell," Squall protested as they lock stepped him through the halls. "*You*
are not Zell."

"So?" Irvine sailed around a corner, his voice back to its usual careless tones.

"I don't even *like* hotdogs," Squall muttered, almost to himself.

"It'll be okay, Squall," Selphie said, just loud enough for Squall to hear. He turned
to meet her bright green eyes. Her eyes looked like shallow ocean water, sun-shot
aqua. "It always works out in the end."

"I don't want to talk about it, Selph," he answered after a moment. "Not yet."

"Hey, what are you two talking about?!" Irvine asked, pasting on an aggrieved look.
"You bringing Squally-boy down again?"

"Hush, Irvy," Selphie demanded. "It's only been--"

"Three months, fourteen days, and twenty-one hours." Squall broke in quietly. The
three stopped, Irvine and Selphie turning to look at him incredulously. Squall kept
his head down, apparently staring raptly at his feet.

Irvine broke first, moving his arm to Squall's shoulder.

"That bad?" he drawled quietly. Squall shrugged.

"Doesn't matter," he muttered. "It's fine. I'm fine." And he shrugged off their hands,
continuing on to the cafeteria.

Selphie and Irvine were left staring blankly at one another. Selphie suddenly broke
into a scowl.

"I wish I could kill that sorceress bitch," she growled, the anger looking foreign on
her usually smiling countenance.

"I second that motion," Irvine returned, staring after Squall's retreating back with
worry in his eyes.

"Is he gonna be okay?" Selphie asked, sounding very young just then.

Irvine nodded, smiling reassuringly. "Yeah, kiddo. He'll be fine. He just keeps losing
people, is all. I thought, this time . . ."

"Bitch . . ." Selphie muttered, apparently unable to think of another, sufficiently
derogatory word to describe the sorceress.

"Yeah, we all hope Rinoa rots in hell for that one."

"Hopefully, she already is."

They both paused to appreciate the thought in full Technicolor daydreams.

"Let's go, darlin'," Irvine said after a moment. "I don't trust Squall to get there on his

"Can you really blame him, though?" Selphie asked, kicking at the tiles as they
walked along. "I mean, he really cared about her . . . Her death nearly destroyed

"It may yet destroy him." Irvine said grimly. "It may yet."

A/N Well, that seemed like a good place to end; I do so love dramatic revelations. :)

Time is obviously very important in this one, as I'll be skipping around a lot. So pay
attention! Those time/location tags are there for a reason!

Hmm, lets play the 'What's been changed?' game! This is an AU, but it all stems
from the question: "How would Squall have turned out if Ellone hadn't gone to the
orphanage with him? If he hadn't had a Sis to lose?" And things snowballed from
there. So anything that seems OOC has its purpose. Patience, grasshopper, all
will be revealed in time. For enough reviews, I'll post some more! Preview of
coming attractions: Rinoa's death, in-scene battles, Squall's father revealed
through science, Irvine's philosophy on life, and more! :)

Credits: Song lyrics taken from "Black" by Pete Yorn. Chapter subtitles taken from
"Round Here" and "Time and Time Again" by the Counting Crows, and from "The
Hollow" by A Perfect Circle.

One line was stolen from an episode of "Due South"; whoever finds it get a cookie!