To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.
The sun was slowly sinking down, already half of its size disappeared behind the horizon. It casted a red-orange glow to the air and ground. In fact, the solitary island of Esthar seemed to have a constant pink glow to it. Often, he had asked his father about that. Or tried to before Laguna said something totally idiotic or had an important business issue to attend to.
Squall Leonhart was a loner at heart. He had no solid mother or father figures when growing up. So he became dependant on himself and made sure he was left out of activities with his fellow cadets. At times he had envied the connections they had. How they had friends and laughed over the stupidest things. Once he reached the age of 14 he realized that he was the way he was because everybody in his life left him. Ellone, his adopted sister, his idol, left. He never knew his mother. Matron disappeared. Laguna chose running Esthar over the responsibility of being a father.
Maybe that was why he 'disliked' Laguna with a passion. How immediately after they met Squall called him a moron. When Laguna revealed he was his father the world seemed to stop and Squall went into an ignorant state. When Laguna wanted to be part of his life Squall kicked him out. After all, he wasn't there when he needed him most…so why should he be there now?
For a year and a half, Squall had rebuffed Laguna's efforts to be a father. Despite Rinoa and Ellone's disapproving looks and 'lectures', he had treated him colder than he had ever done to any other human being. For anyone else, they would have backed off. They would have given Squall his space and perhaps ignore him altogether. But Laguna kept pushing.
Squall was a constant remainder of Raine. He did look quite a bit like her. Laguna loved her and in his mind…if he could have a healthy father-son relationship with Squall that maybe, Raine would forgive him for leaving her when she gave birth to Squall; when he wasn't there to hold her hand on her deathbed. But most of all, he thought that if he could be accepted by his own son he could give him the family he lacked.
For those reasons did Laguna hide Squall from his friends. From Rinoa and Irvine. Quistis and Zell. Selphie and Seifer. From the Garden…from the world. And in return, Squall had given him something that Laguna had never had before….
"Who knew that you'd be hiding in Esthar?" A familiar voice asked casually, with a hint of amusement. Squall turned his head to the side ever so slightly and looked out of the corner of his eye before looking at the sunset again.
"Whatever." he answered blankly, taking a cigarette out of his pocket and lighting it magically.
"You taking up smoking again? I thought you quit when you were 16." Zell stated, stuffing his hands in his blue baggy pants. He walked around the cement hand railing and went up the stairs.
"Sure." He said again, not taking his eyes off the sun." Zell sat on the middle step, beside Squall.
"Ah…I was wondering where monosyllabic Squall went…" he remarked.
"Isn't that a bit of a big word for you chicken-wuss?" Squall said emotionlessly. The martial artist was taken aback.
"Squall…what's with you!? I haven't seen you in a month and you ridicule me?! Damn…you've been spending too much time around Seifer." The gunblade wielder looked at him levelly.
"Whatever." Squall muttered, dropping the cigarette on the stone stairs of the Sorceress Memorial and grinding it up with his foot. He began to walk into the Memorial, getting lost in the shadows already.
"Where are you going Squall?" Zell asked harshly. The former commander turned back in surprise…the martial artist didn't even face him. "You going to run away again? Like you've been for your whole life?"
"Whatever." Squall spat out. "You don't know me-"
"Of course I don't know you!! You haven't given me the chance to!!" He stood up and went up the stairs, the shelter for the memorial covering him, fury clear on his face. "Hyne, what abou-"
"Don't say that!!" Squall raged, standing in front of Zell. He matched Squall's glare eye for eye.
"Don't say what? Hyne! OH FUCKING HYNE!!" Suddenly, the air was knocked out of him. He felt his back hit the wall. Zell landed somewhat steadily, kneeling with one leg up. He rubbed his back all the while giving him a regretful grin.
"Are you ok?" Squall muttered lowly, turning away. Zell began to laugh sarcastically.
"Why do you care?! You know…for a while I actually thought you were my friend. You were our leader." He stood up, and walked unsteadily towards the brooding gunblade wielder. "Until you left us. Until you left Rinoa! Do you know how hard she cried?! Hmmmm?? …Squall think about that! Fuck it Squall….face me!" Slowly, Squall turned around. His face as emotionless as a stone wall. "Do you know how much time we had to spend with her so she wasn't alone?! So she wouldn't kill herself?!" That caught his attention. His eyes shot up in disbelief. Zell silently challenged him to say something. "It took two full weeks to get her to have hope. To trust us enough to know that we'll find you!!" Zell shoved him, all his strength going into it.
"I heard you…you promised her…you promised to save her! All you did was break her into pieces! You promised to be her knight!! But what did you do?!? YOU LEFT!! And WE have to pick up the pieces." Zell shook his head in disgust. "You know…I used to look up to you. I mean, you were strong and honourable. You didn't cheat…you were brave; you grew up before any of us. You became more responsible." The martial artist slid down the stairs via handrail and gave him a steely glare. "Squall…for once in your life…why don't you fucking be a man and face her….instead of leaving a fucking letter." he said harshly, disappearing out of sight.
For a full minute Squall looked out into the sunset. The sky seemed to be a light violet. He began to light up again. A cigarette already between his lips. He breathed out, the smoke escaping. "I'm sorry Rinoa." he murmured, taking another drag of his cigarette.
"When Zell told me you used to smoke I almost believed him…but now…I can just picture…" Her hands went up, gliding sideways. "'Squall….THE REBEL!'" She finished a bright smile on her face. The darkness began to overcome the light. Her shadow was long and unproportioned but he knew it was hers.
"What are you doing here?" Squall asked gruffly, but his voice was somewhat gentler than it was with Zell. She slowly began to climb up the stairs, almost unsteadily at first.
"What? Can't a sorceress see her knight?" Rinoa asked her face coming into view. Squall almost gasped in surprise. Almost.Her complexion was pale. Naturally, it was pale but it was almost a sickly yellow. Her hair was the same but it contrasted with the sunlight, something like a halo above her. Her eyes were shining, as if she were about to cry and the redness below them confirmed it. The one thing that surprised him most was how skinny she was. Before she was slender..but now she looked too thin. But she showed signs of eating more. Her joints didn't poke out severely. But her clothes were still baggy. But…in Squall's eyes…she was beautiful still.
"I told you…I…" His eyes locked with hers. "You shouldn't have come."
"I know." She said softly, standing next to him. "But…I need you. For days…I couldn't sleep…I couldn't eat. The strangest thing was that Seifer took care of me actually. But I missed you so much. Why won't you come back Squall?" His hand instinctively went up to his forehead.
"I can't tell you."
"Why not? She demanded, not missing a beat.
"Because…you wouldn't understand!"
"The hell I won't!" Rinoa put a hand on his arm. "Please?" Looking into her eyes Squall couldn't refuse her. So much vulnerability…so much pain…
"Fine…did Seifer tell you what happened at the orphanage?"
"Yeah…I just…I don't know why you left…"
"I left because…well….something happened…and I'll hurt you…I'll hurt everybody if I stay." Squall turned away. He paused mid way, as if he was forcing himself to speak. "It's just…Ok…So…Fate took some of your powers. But because she was a dreamer, it wasn't in the form of physical magic. It was spiritual. But when she died it…" He hesitated. "It transferred to me…and so…yeah. It shouldn't have…but Seifer killed her with the wrong gunblade so…yeah." Rinoa looked as if she was punched in the gut.
"So…you're a…sorcerer?" Squall closed his eyes and nodded, smoking long forgotten. "Holy Hyn-"
"Don't say that." He interjected firmly.
"Okay…fine…How do you know all this?"
"When I blacked out…Hyne told me. He came to me and said, 'I am the almighty Hyne! Blah blah blah!!' and he told me everything." he said blandly, swing the cigarette in the air.
"But…why would you hurt us? I mean…I'm a sorceress and…well…sorcerer's are the same as sorceresses aren't they?"
"See Rin…that's where you're wrong. Sorceresses are Hyne's Descendants. A sorcerer is Hyne himself…reincarnated. Well…technically, I'm not reincarnated, the powers just passed to me…but that still fucks up my life. So don't you see? I can destroy the world at will!! But the worst thing is…Sorcerer's slowly go crazy because there are no such things as 'knightesses'." The words seem to just flow out of him. But his tone softened. "I'm going to hurt you whatever I do."
"So you're going to run away again?! You're going to leave me alone…without a knight?!"
"What? Seifer can take your place? Squall…no one can take your place!! I love you and you just don't understand that I mean it!! I'm not going to just let you go so easily anymore!!" She practically shouted into his ear.
"Rin.." He breathed after her tirade had calmed. "It's just…my powers…they're different from a sorceresses. For one thing…they're more powerful…they're more dangerous and if someone links with me..they can take it away with or without my consent." He whispered slowly. Rinoa stepped closer to him, her hand resting on his chest. She peered up, tears in her eyes.
"You hear me now and you hear me good….I love you and I am not going to let you leave me or go crazy. I'll protect you. I promise." Squall smiled a small smile and brushed his lips against hers. Rinoa looked surprised for a moment but smiled. He seemed to be in indecision for moment before dropping his eyes down the ground then looking up at her again.
"Ok…I'll come back to the Garden." He whispered. In that instant, her face brightened and beamed out. Rinoa closed her eyes, concentrating on something. A bright light enveloped her but quickly dimmed away. She was now in the air, her white, feather wings flapping lightly. She was at least a meter above the ground. Her hand was held out downwards. But he didn't take it. Squall just looked up at her. Black, leathery wings appeared and he floated up. Where Rinoa's was pure white and resembled an angel's wings, Squall's were large like a dragon's. He floated up slowly and took her in his arms.
"How'd you do that?" She breathed in amazement.
"I can't tell you everything I do can I?" Rinoa blinked tears away for a moment then smiled.
"Tell me you love me."
"But…you know that I do…they're just…they're just words."
"Ok.." He said softly. "I love you." Just as night took the world, they kissed. And in that moment, a promise was sealed forever. That promise would last for all eternity.
Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.
Final Author's Note- For those few readers who have not played Final Fantasy 8 Hyne is a great guy who like…made the world. I made up a lot of stuff…but yeah. I would like to thank Ki-Kiri for her wonderful beta-ing skills and the reviewers especially. But don't forget to REVIEW!!!!!