. . . Tesseract . . .

Tesseract: A fourth dimensional hypercube. Oftentimes thought to be a multidimensional link. Looks like a cube swallowing another cube.

He's watching that young man again.

Even though I don't know where his heart ever lies (stop hiding, please, stop hiding) I know that look he gives that young man. It's nothing romantic, or wanting... it's a strange look. Like some part of himself just walked through the door.

I couldn't help but see the connection the first time he walked in here (too young to be in a bar, I know, but there was something there, something something). Dark and brooding, maybe, that's why I noticed him. I always seem to notice broken men; they always seem to come here.

But he's not so broken, every little chance he comes in here, and I can see it. And each time, he watches him, with an increases fascination playing in his too old eyes. The young man never notices, just sits in the back booth and orders a soda water from me (who ever comes to a bar to order a soda water?) and gives me a nod. No smiles, but there's a flicker of something in his eyes, and he always seems so fascinated with my hair.

Neither of them talk much to me. But one is a stranger and the other is an enigma.

"Why do you always watch that one?" I finally say, it's been months, but I could never keep certain things away from him. He looks at me and I want to tell him everything (he's gone but you're still here, why, why keep coming here when all you do is fool me?). I don't expect a reply, he comes here and drinks his slow poison and generally forgets me, I think.

"He has promise," he says in that voice that should get more exercise, and I want to jump over the counter and hug him (you spoke! Please be human, be human). My eyes must have bugged out because his eyes flash with... amusement. Maybe Cid has been talking to him again.

"P-promise?" I stutter out, and am assaulted by the utter and full and crazy glance that his eyes produce (like blood, like wine, can you look for a little longer?). And he looks over at the man again.

"I used to have blue eyes," he sighs, more than speaks, and I can see it spilling out of him, and I can only wonder (why now? why me?) at how long he's been waiting to say that.

I squint and overlap the pictures of the two of them and I can't quite see it, it's all half developed and fuzzy. They just won't combine, the once-man before me and the forming man off in the distance won't fuse.

"I don't see the resemblance," I say, before I can really think any more, and something twitches (no more cape, I suppose that's progress) with his mouth. Cid must have been talking to him, there's a humor underneath all that fading-ness (words are failing me, aren't they?).

A dry sound. A laugh? More like a scoff, but maybe he's trying.

"Vincent...?" I say, wanting to pull him back into conversation (no one talks with me, why am I always so desperately holding on?). And he looks at me, and I realize my hand is on his sleeve and he hates to be touched. I pull back.

"Something almost broke him," he whispers, and yes, this is conversation, from all the observation he must know so much. I look over at the young man again, and he's idly tracing the edge of a glass, waiting maybe (aren't we all just waiting?) looking irritating and so annoyingly young. I notice the scar for the first time (did I ever look at him?) and it's angry and slashes a perfectly good face. Could that be what almost broke him?

"...The scar?" I ask, and realize that this isn't polite, talking with a stranger about an even stranger man (wait, it's the other way, isn't it?). The dry sound again, and he's still looking at me. I'd been trying for weeks to get him to look at me, and I hope he doesn't look away...

"No," he says, he's warming up to this (hope, do I see hope? or are we stumbling again?), "The eyes. They aren't always blue."

They aren't always blue? It feels like poetry when he says it (stanzas and stanzas of poetry will never compare to when you speak, don't stop). There's something hidden there, and he's still looking at me, and I realize that blue eyes would look terrible on him, he'd be too much like (you still can't say his name, can you?), like sunshine. He's shadow, isn't he?

"Are you always this observant?" I say, to steady the beating of my heart, the sway of my mind when I realize he hasn't looked away (beautiful is for little girls and storybooks) and he's so terribly scarred, even more obviously than the boy (for that's what he is, no doubt) when you dare to look. I'm daring myself now, staring so cluelessly.

He blinks, and for a second I'm free of the grasp of his gaze. For a second my eyes flick over to the boy, and I see it, as he scowls into his drink like he'd just lost something. Ironic that in the loss I can see the resemblance, and I can fool myself into thinking he had blue eyes, and shorter hair (wasn't that a photograph, that he burned once?) and a proud bearing. And now I can see why he watches him so closely.

Are we always such beggars for redemption?

But the moment's gone, and I can see those red red irises (you make me stare in the mirror at my own, which threaten to turn red any moment). He's quirking that mouth again, and I'm looking at it because of the movement, and I feel like perhaps I own him, while he's sitting in my bar, drinking his poison slowly...

Blue. It flashes so quickly in the corner of my vision that I think it's pink (how long have you been gone, my dear friend) and my breath hitches in my throat. It's not her, it can't be, she's been gone for so long now. So I look at the blue full on...

And it's a girl. A girl-woman, from her bearing and the look in those dark eyes. I'm staring at her intently, trying to see why such loveliness would walk into a place like this. For she's deliriously lovely (so much like Mom, isn't she?) and glides into the room wearing blue and pale and black.

Vincent's seen her too, and his brows furrow for some odd reason. Since when did we become so interested in strangers?

She walks over to... no, she can't be... and I have to serve her because she's sitting down. I have to play good little barmaid for a while (what else are you, what else?). I don't have to indicate to him what I'm doing, he doesn't need a pat or a wave like most people when I do my business, and walk over. The distance is nothing when you walk these shabby planks every day.

"...Squall, sorry I'm late..." her breathy voice is the first I hear, and I can't help but think that maybe I could have been that, in another time. Lovely instead of... of... what am I again? They don't notice me until I clear my throat. (then again, who would notice you, you shell, you...). Blue eyes (aren't they so blue now?) and dark warm brown ones glance up at me.

"What would you like?" he says to her, and I can catch the subtly inflected warmth in his expression while speaking to her. Of all the people Vincent had to watch, he had to watch this one (he was in love once, before he locked himself in a box) and I can see this promise sitting with a light lily smile.

The souls of Hell always envy the angels in Heaven.

"I'll have what he's having," she says, directing her mirthful gaze on me, and quickly flicking her eyes back to him. So she loves broken men too, for he was broken once, maybe, almost maybe. I smile at her, and she doesn't see it, but I can't help smiling at youth and beauty, they never really hurt anyone on purpose. I can't blame my... my... on a silly young woman (girl-woman wasn't it?).

While I'm clasping her drink in my hand, he sees me, and he can see the effect (stop it! you can't wear them on your sleeve!) and I can't read him, I've never seen him look like that. Has he stopped being so selfish? Have I?

"Potential is wasted on the young," he whispers, as I skitter back over there, the beading sweat of the drink trailing down my fingertip, and quickly put it on the table, ready to leave.

"Thank you," she says, pulling her attention (so undivided, she looks at him like so many things...) away to look at me. And there's the barest hints of a frown and it's so electric because I think she knows she sees the whispers of unbecoming that follow me like Aeris's ghost.

"What's your name?" she asks, all amusement and wonder and terrible curiosity. The young man, Squall, shifts in his seat, like he can see my discomfort, like he knows that simply seeing them is breaking me (I'm already broken, can you break anymore?).

"Tifa," I reply, unbidden really, my old friendly attitude returns with a vengeance sent to destroy me.

"Pretty name," she says, and extends out her hand, "I'm Rinoa." I grasp it for an instant (so smooth, not the calloused fighter's hands I must have) and something sparks and my eyes go wide. We both stare at each other for a moment and I can see the wings, black wings, and accents, and losing it, losing it...

I nod to them before I practically run back (hiding, I ask him not to, but what am I doing?) to the shelter of the counter, where he's looking at me, eyebrow raised in question. I know that when I look at him, he'll know everything, he'll know that my eyes once were simply brown that the fall put that reddish tint in them, that I stare in mirrors and cry that I...

"Were we ever like that?" I ask, steadying the shaky hands attached to my shaky arms, "Besides... you know..." That full on gaze again, and I realized that until today he's never bothered to look at me, just hovers like a ghost in the corner. She, blue and everything, she's affecting this, isn't she?

"If it were another time," he says quietly, he's always quiet, even if his eyes are shouting. And I smile at him, not quite knowing why, wishing they would just leave already and I can do something that I've been wanting to but only think...

"You would look terrible with blue eyes," I admit, and finally steady myself, walking over to do something useless with a glass. I know he's looking at me, and I don't care.

"Blue is not really your color," he replies and the gaze is gone, directed on less fragile things.

AN: This came about because I stared at Turk-Vincent's Eirgheiz portrait for too long one night. And the fact that I'm avoiding writing the Lab Report of Doom (c). I couldn't help but see the physical similarities in those two pictures (don't you see it? Turk-Vincent looks ever so much like Squall) and Rinoa and Tifa always looked similiar in my mind. Not saying that Vincent and Tifa are even remotely like Squall and Rinoa... but my mind likes to play with things. And I've wanted to put Squall in a fic for a while. So here you go. Please don't stone me.