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Teacup Sized Hope

By, Nicole Silverwolf

"Been a long road to follow
been there and gone tomorrow
without saying goodbye to yesterday
are the memories I hold still valid? "
-Excerpt from 'Gravity' by Yoko Kanno

It wasn't exactly easy finding a quiet place in this tiny world. That fact was only exacerbated as more and more refugees from destroyed worlds made their way here. It wasn't much like his home had been at all, the young man reflected.

'But then again,' Leon mused, 'it won't be the same even if we do get back.'

The late afternoon, nearly evening wind responded at that, gusting and blowing long strands of his hair into his eyes. The roof of the hotel they had called 'home' for the last nine years was the only place that Leon had ever considered relaxing. Of course he could never let his guard down, he hadn't let it down since that day nine years ago, when lightning that wasn't light struck the earth, and the monsters that hid under his bed when he was four came to life.

But for him, it was relaxed enough. He was sitting--which was rare in and of itself--on the tiles of clay still warm from the afternoon sun. The gunblade wasn't missing from his side, but he did hold it in a relatively loose grip. One that would allow action if necessary, but wasn't tightened in battle readiness. A hand was propping most of his upper body weight up and his face, though still alert, was possibly a bit softer. Though one could not tell if it was by design or simply a trick of the light's long shadows. For whatever reasons one could think of though, these brief moments were what Leon considered his only opportunity to take a breath. Most days, he felt like he was holding his breath--however slightly--however hard he was fighting. Maybe it was more of a chance to wind down a little. His shoulders weren't tensed and bunched at least.

There was a sudden and seemingly ridiculous craving for tea in that moment. Back on Garden, when he had been feeling particularly down or overly self indulgent, Squall had sought out Dr. Kadowaki. It had often been in the late afternoon/early evening, when her office was quietest, and she had always had a pot of tea for him at the ready. He seemed to remember it being Jasmine, very mild in any case and that he could never figure out how she knew when he was coming. He supposed it was some sort of mother hen doctor instinct she had. The visits had been infrequent at best and often they had never talked of anything. It had been nice though, curled up on a sofa, or upon one or two occasions at her kitchen table, just listening. To chatter, or to the clink of pots and pans, or to the birds from the open window.

Of all the things to miss about his long gone world, he missed tea the most in this moment. Why Rinoa didn't jump to his mind, or any of his friends, he didn't know. Perhaps because it had been his little secret, one he was certain the middle-aged doctor had never told a soul about. She had been like that. Like this place had become his secret.

Because the moments of remembered longing had never been something constant. At least not after a while. Of course at first it had been hell, everything he looked at or touched; everytime he picked up his gunblade some similar situation sprung to his mind from home. But there had been Yuffie to take care of because even though she claimed she was all grown up, she had only been nine. And Aerith had been in pieces, Cloud was flat out gone, and Cid had been doing all he could simply to keep the ship they were in functioning long enough for them to find somewhere safe. Enter Traverse Town, which was no where near safe, and hadn't exactly opened their doors with welcomes. There was no time to mourn, and Leon was determined not to lose anyone else or to be kicked out of any place ever again. So he had fought and been the person who forged ahead because there was no one else.

There hadn't been a real lull in action from that point on.

For the past nine years.

And so the constant ache for home, or Rinoa or the bizarre craving for Jasmine tea had to be shuttled away. He was in charge now, no matter the fact that he had never liked commanding anything and certainly wasn't ready to at the age of seventeen. He had done it anyway. It was his job now. His atonement if he was into that self pity kind of thing.

Three or four roofs away, though he couldn't be exactly sure from this angle, he caught sight of one of the few bands of warriors who stopped here to relax a bit between travels. It was nice to know that he wasn't the last stand against the darkness. Especially with that still stinging realization that he was not meant to wield the Keyblade. Even though he had tried and failed to use it quite a while ago, the rejection implied-–even by an inanimate object-—hurt a bit. Sora had been destined to hold that weapon; that was painfully obvious in hindsight.

And these warriors, a young man and woman he could see, the former with dark skin and the latter with a braid to rival Aerith's in length and color gave him a little hope. He had heard they were from distant lands, and were quite good at their self appointed mission of taking out Heartless. But that their homes were both gone, and in theory what they were fighting for was gone as well.

The similarities between them, leant him the belief that what little he was contributing, wasn't for nothing.

That even though his home was gone, that maybe Dr. Kadowaki had escaped to another world--in one of his more adventurous fantasies--with Rinoa. Somewhere out there, they were drinking tea and wondering if he was alright. And perhaps, just maybe, he could get there too someday. He didn't dare to think of Balamb being returned to him. Or of all his friends being fine, whole and back together how they were nine years ago. That was too much to think about getting back...but little things, like tea in worn white and blue cups with koi on the side, he could hope for.

It didn't hurt too much to hope for that.


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