Author's Note: I'm pretty sure there are not many people here that would remember this story from the first time around. It was originally posted on ffnet 10-31-02, four years ago! I've decided to take it down, totally revamp it, and post it again, because I don't feel I paid enough attention to it first time around. Thank you those who have reviewed this story before, hopefully (if you are reading) you'll enjoy this updated version a lot more.
Damned To Me
Chapter One: Remember Squall Leonhart
Squall swung his silver Gunblade over his shoulder. To anyone else, unaccustomed to a Gunblade, it would have felt heavy on the skin, but to Squall it simply felt right to have it there. It was his only security, his only friend. It was also the only thing they hadn't taken away from him.
The heavy rain crashed onto his long black trench coat, spraying back up into the air when it failed to find a way inside. The ground below him was fast becoming a watery soup of mud and leaves, an earthy smell rising from every drenched plant or bush. The grass was straining under the weight of the water, desperately to remain upright, and looking down it reminded him of his own fate. He himself was weighed down under their dirt, still trying to find a way out, still trying to stand tall.
His heavy boots moved from the muddy plains to the patterned stones of a path, as he made his way back to his lodgings. He passed through the town gates, looking down the road where nothing had changed since he had first set eyes on the places, years ago. He had been in the town of Balamb for over a week and already he was sick of it. Nobody ever broke the rules. There was no crimes, vandalism, or raging drunks on the streets. In fact Squall seemed out of place in such a town.
He was a criminal. Or so they said, so everyone believed. If crime hadn't been a way of life before, it was the only way to survive now. He'd steal to make ends meet, steal to feed himself, sneak into places he wasn't suppose to be, and when there was nothing to be stolen other than drink, he'd drink to forget the hunger in his stomach and the pain in his heart.
Soon he found himself living only for the adrenaline rushes that came from the satisfaction of being almost caught. For someone who had once lived their life full of discipline, he realised too late that he was setting himself on a road to destruction. Without orders to follow, his days passed by in a series of random events that made him feel even more lost than before.
Returning to Balamb had been in a moment when his thoughts were unclear. He remembered breaking into a house one morning, taking some break out of their cupboards and finding on the kitchen table a ticket to Balamb Town. The ticket had been waiting for him, or so he thought at the time, and leaving the bread half eaten he'd taken the ticket instead.
Even though the ticket he had found seemed to point him his direction, Squall could still not find the courage to take the next step. He knew in his heart that he had to return to Balamb Garden, that that was where his life could be reclaimed, but it was not something he was ready to do. So many memories would greet him upon seeing that place again, and it was the painful ones he wanted to avoid. Desperate as he was to see what had happed to his former comrades, his mind was still locked in the dark prison that they had put him in.
Someone had told him once that the secret to knowing your own thoughts was to write them in a diary. This had seemed like a stupid idea at the time, but now he wasn't as sure. The owner of the hotel let him stay in return for free shifts in the bar and for shifting numerous crates out the back, and he in return helped himself to the free items left for guests in the rooms. Among these free gifts were some pens and writing paper, in case the guest wished to write home. As soon as he retuned, Squall fetched the paper and began writing.
Two years have passed, and still I have not returned. People complained at first when I was sent away, they thought it was an outrage. My case had the biggest news coverage of any 'criminal' in history; something that at the time I had thought would work to my advantage. But people forget, once so loud they have all fallen silent. Something new must had come along, and the collective attention turned on something else.
I am not allowed to go back, I was banished. Thrown out of my home by a liar. This liar, thief too, stole my life, my home and the only person I learnt to trust.
A year and a half I have spent in the Galbaldian prison, and not a day more. My sentence was supposed to be three years, but I was let out on good behaviour. Even though I served only half the time I was sentenced too, it was enough. Damp walls were all I could look at; sometimes the guards allowed me a crumpled picture of my Angel, Rinoa. But even her sweet face couldn't keep me from slipping into depression. That long tunnel of darkness was no stranger to me. Everyday I fell deeper into it. One time, one year into the sentence, when I was in danger of loosing my mind, a soft voice called me from despair and gave me hope.
My saviour was my sister, the only one who stood by me throughout it all. She had never believed for one moment that I was guilty, and had defended me until the very end.
My Ellone. She saved me in more ways than she will ever know. She made me remember who I was, and told me I would return to Balamb to take my place as commander once more. She was right, I had to return, my life and that place were linked, and there was no Squall Leonhart if he did not belong to Garden.
Returning to Garden is not a perilous as you might suspect, for no one would recognise me anymore. I have changed so much. My brown hair is now cut short and coloured a dark blonde. They shaved my hair when I was in prison; it was uniform dress code they told me. I then found that short hair was much easier to live with when you mostly lived rough. The colour I roughly applied anytime I had the money to do it, even I didn't recognize myself most of the time. Even though I looked nothing like myself, it was worth the hassle for being invisible.
I changed my clothes too, not that I had a lot of choice, they released me in prison garb and took everything else. I had always thought Seifer Almasy was mad for wearing a trench coat, but I realise now that I couldn't have lived without mine. I hid under it as much as I could.
Almasy see what you did to me!
Squall placed the paper down on the table and put his pen on top of it. He didn't really feel all that different for writing anything down, in fact he felt tired. But one thing was clear; he wasn't getting anywhere staying in this room. He had a choice, stay in this disguise all his life, work at the hotel for peanuts, or return.
In a week's time it would be recruitment day once again at Balamb Garden, everyone who wanted a place arrived hopeful. Squall had one week to make up his mind, and one year of waiting around if he missed it.