Foreword:
Hi everyone! I hope that Dreams of Knight is going over well with most of you! And thank you so much to those who have reviewed what little I've posted so far! I'm glad to know that I'm at least doing something right. Seriously, if even just one person enjoys what I've done here, then that's success enough for me.

Anyway, here's a very special treat. I present a side story, one that will progress alongside DoK and will be updated as that story progresses. But because I don't want to spoil too much, I'm not going to tell you what the whole deal with it is. (Although I'm sure you'll be able to catch on very quickly.) You should read Dreams of Knight if you want to get the most out of this, but as long as you keep an open mind it isn't really necessary.

All right then, I hope you enjoy it!

Oh yeah, and I don't own Final Fantasy VIII, everyone understand that? Yes? Good. ;)


Finding Time for Rain
by Liminal Raz

Part I - The Apology

It turned out to be such a gorgeous day. What a turn around it was from earlier that morning. Dark saturated clouds had begun to roll in at dawn and it seemed as if a storm was imminent. Thankfully however, the radiant Balamb sun persisted and broke its way through the thick blanket of gray, clearing the skies completely.

Perhaps that was a sign.

She'd heard about the two students in the mountain trails, how they were nearly killed during training. It was a fortunate thing that one of them was still able to call it in. She was shocked when she heard the cadets here talking about it; some were acting as if it was the highlight event of the semester, while others were simply horrified by it. Despite that all of her knowledge surrounding the incident was mere gossip, the simple fact that accidents such as that even happened at all was a scary thought to her. She knew what this place was, who SeeDs were and what they did, but somehow, it never really hit her just how real all of it was. Not until she heard the names of the two cadets involved; Seifer Almasy, and Squall Leonhart. At that instant, it hit home and it hit hard.

A cool breeze swept passed her picking up the scent of her perfume, and carrying in its gentle grasp a few stray flower petals. She continued to sit on the mossy wooden bench at the edge of the courtyard, allowing the elements to tickle her senses for a little while longer. She just loved the crisp mountain air, and the fresh scent of spring. God, how she had missed that simple pleasure for so many years.

But that was not what had drawn her to this place. She wanted so desperately to right the wrongs in her past, and maybe even find the absolution she needed for her troubled heart and soul.

Would he remember her?

She remembered him, as a boy. He had such a handsome round face, his eyes always so deep and engaging, even though he was so young. It was an image she'd never forget. Although they'd been apart for so long, she had a feeling she'd be able to recognize him immediately if she were to cross his path today.

But what would she say to him? How could she even begin to explain? And how could she ever ask for his help, which she needed so badly? Maybe, just maybe, the act of seeking help itself would be the means of explaining the past. She could not do it with words, she already knew that, so perhaps she had to do it through actions.

She took a deep breath and held it in as she closed her eyes. Reluctant to leave the serenity of this small garden, she exhaled slowly and tried to lose herself. The sounds of birds excited her ears in that moment and another breeze whisked passed her, leaving goose bumps on her bare arms.

In that moment, she let her mind drift, taking her back in time to a place she held dear in her memories. Those memories of childhood brought both comfort and sorrow. There were so many holes, so many questions she needed answers for. And of course, there was the sacrifice she was forced to make. It was something for which she could never forgive herself, even if was not her decision to go. Even if she had absolutely no choice in the matter, it was still her fault. The hurt in their eyes, in his eyes, it would haunt her forever since. She could have at least said good bye.

The sound of voices snapped her back into reality, dragging her consciousness into the present. She opened her eyes, but could see no one else in the courtyard with her other than the two men in white. But they were too far apart to be talking. No, the voices were coming from an open window behind her, and one of them, she just knew, belonged to him.

A sudden surge of anxiety filled her nerves. She hadn't expected to see him so soon, but a part of her begged it, even if she was not ready for it. With their souls so close, she could not in good conscience let the opportunity pass her by.

Slowly rising to her feet, she turned toward the window and realized just where he was; the infirmary. So, he was all right then, thank goodness. She couldn't bear the thought of losing him, especially when there was so much left unhealed. She needed his help and his forgiveness, and he needed to know the reasons behind her actions back then, and he needed to know how much she cared; how dreadfully sorry she was.

There was so much they needed from each other.

But how could she face him?

It didn't matter. It wouldn't be easy, but it had to be done. Just start simple, there was no need to rush into this. Time was on her side.

The electronic door slid open at her presence and she immediately felt the warmth of the Garden air surround her. Those two men in white followed her inside, but aware of her intentions, they hung back as she proceeded into the hallway. They would allow her this time with him, they knew how important it was.

The silence was too much, and it made her every move audible, even the steadily increasing rate of her heartbeat.

He was so near, she could feel him now. How was she ever going to do this?

And there he was...

She stopped by a window, the frame taking up the full height of the wall in front of her. Behind the glass she could see him rushing out of bed. The sight was a humorous one, the way he threw the blanket off and cringed after touching the floor with his bare feet. What was his hurry?

His head was wrapped in white bandages, and his clothing replaced with a blue hospital gown. The poor guy, he must've been in a lot of pain as a result of his accident.

She could only stare at him. "My, he's certainly grown over the years," she thought to herself. She was amazed at how fit he was, but she didn't feel a physical attraction towards him. It was spiritual, and she knew with every fiber of her being that this young man was the little brother she'd left behind over a decade ago. He'd become a man, completely shattering the image she'd preserved of him as a child. But that was ok. She, too, had grown after all. But... would he recognize her?

She couldn't take it anymore, she had to make contact. She couldn't know what was going to happen, how he'd react, but it was worth all the risks. He had to know she was here. He had to know she was back. "Squall!" she shouted in a playful tone. Perhaps the lightness of such a mood would ensure a smooth encounter. God, did she hope so.

He turned and faced her, but there was little more than sheer confusion written in his expression.

She chuckled briefly at his behavior. "Where are you going like that!" Did he recognize her? Did he know who she was?

He only stared back at her, his expression turning into something not far removed from anger. No, he did not recognize her; that was now painfully clear. But, maybe that was best for the time being. Just start by saying hello. Just start small. She was doing fine.

Yes, time was on her side, she didn't need to rush him. She couldn't let herself hurt him again by forcing something he didn't want or wasn't yet ready for.

This was difficult, but necessary. "Well..." she said. "It's good to see you again." Too much time had passed between them, he didn't know her anymore. She had to understand that, and she had to be careful.

Raising a hand to her cheek as she felt herself begin to blush, she swallowed dry and wished to heaven that she could have undone all the wrongs with one simple apology. Using the same hand, she reached out to touch the glass wishing even more to just hold him. Maybe that alone would make the pain melt away. If only that were true. "I'm sorry," she said. Her eyes grew heavy with tears she held back. She had to leave before she went too far. "I hope you can forgive me."

She turned and walked away, never once receiving a reply from her estranged friend. She didn't blame him, she didn't even give him the chance to respond as she sacrificed that opportunity. It was better that way. There would be another time.

Wounds such as these... just took time.