I thought I was a man.  I could take care of myself.  I needed no one.  I ruled Garden.  I was respected, feared yes, but respected.  I was the one Cid thought could handle the role of leader of the Disciplinary Committee.  Fujin was tough but not too vocal, and Raijin was intimidating, but none too bright.  Us three were thrown together, and formed a friendship of sorts.  I had leadership, I had domination, and I had friends.  I was a man.

            And then that sorceress came and made me doubt myself.  She called me a boy, told me I wasn't a man on the inside.  I believed her, believed that being her knight would make me a man.  I wanted so desperately to prove to her, to prove to myself, that I wasn't a little child. 

            I almost believed it during the parade, on the float with matron.  All those people cheering for me, boosting my ego.  I was in my element, and then Squall showed up with all his buddies.  I held my own for as long as possible, but Leonhart had purpose.  I accepted defeat; in the end I was always defeated.  But I was still a man.  Or so I thought.  Stupid of me to believe I wasn't a boy right up until the moment Raijin and Fujin, my posse, my friends, told me what I was doing was wrong.  The look in their eyes, the pity and hurt, it was all too much. 

            I let Squall defeat me; let him defeat the sorceresses without interfering.  During Time Compression I saw Squall walking by himself.  He had just defeated Ultimecia; he was my idea of a man.  But even he looked lost and alone.  I called to him, but he couldn't hear me.  Then he disappeared.  I was left alone in the bleak desert by myself.  I had started to cry, but forced myself to stop.  Men don't cry.  All of a sudden the silence overwhelmed me, and all I wanted was my posse.  I began running, looking for them desperately.  Then suddenly everything went bright, and the desert disappeared.  I was standing on Balamb dock with Fujin and Raijin, who looked as lost as me.  I surprised all of us I think when I grabbed them both in a big hug.  After the initial shock they hugged me back tightly and we the three of us succumbed to tears. 

            The three of us, Balamb Gardens finest and most feared students, stood together and cried for the lost lives, cried for lost innocence, cried for friendship, and cried because we were free. 

            That was almost a week ago, and today Raijin wanted to fish.  I've been staring at my fishing line for over an hour, thinking these thoughts.  Not one single nibble has graced me.  Out of the corner of my eye there is movement.  I glance over to see Raijin dancing happily with his third fish of the hour. 

            I threw down my rod in a fit of temper.  Fujin noticed the cause of my tantrum and kicked Raijin off the dock, into the cold water below.  I threw back my head and laughed, not at the scene my big friend made, but because I realized we were behaving like little children, the source of all my trouble, and I found I didn't care.  A shadow fell over us, and we looked up, Raijin hanging onto the side of the dock.  The Garden was passing overhead.  I remembered Squall and how he had looked like a boy.  I realize we are all children on the inside.  No matter how old we get, we will always be that little boy or girl we once were.  Squall will always be searching for sis.  Quistis will always be bossy little Quisty.  Zell will always be cute little chicken wuss.  Selphie will always be vibrant and lovable.  Irvine will always be, well, Irvine.  And I'll always be the temperamental insecure bully searching for someone who cares.  I smile peacefully up at the up at the Garden.  Matron was right.  I am just a little boy.  And that's just fine with me.