Walk Away

Every time you walk away

I pretend that I'm okay…

She clutched as his fingers, her tear-filled eyes locked on his stormy ones, trying so desperately to see beyond the stormy clouds in his eyes to see what exactly was racing through his silent and observant mind. But she found nothing but the same dark blue and gray depths that were there every time she looked into them. And it hurt her all the more.

It had been nearly six months since Ultimecia's demise and yet he was still closed off to her. She had worked so diligently and lovingly to get him to break out of his shell and just enjoy life but something had happened during time compression that had shoved him right back into it, except he was locked away even tighter than before. Despite the laughs, the tears, the hugs, the kisses, the love... Nothing could bring him back to her. She had even tried to threaten him with leaving but nothing worked. He was lost to her.

He pulled his hand away, almost angrily, but did not turn to look at her, instead choosing to keep his eyes locked on the bloody sunset from where they sat on the balcony of Balamb Garden. He had slipped away from the stressful day and she had found him here, as always. The tears slipped from her eyes but she quickly wiped them away. What was the point on wasting her tears anymore?

"Squall… Please talk to me… Tell me what happened in time compression…." When the words 'time compression' passed through her lips, she saw lightning flash in his eyes and he hung his head, dragging his gloved hands through his chestnut hair.

"Why do we have to go through this again, Rinoa? What happened, happened. It doesn't matter anymore…" She scrambled to her feet, her fists balled at her side and the tears flowed more freely, despite her determination not to cry again.

"Doesn't matter? How can it not matter, Squall? Look at what it's doing to us!" And that's when he said it. She had always thought of bad things, but never this. She never thought that it would come down to this. The rejection hurt more than the isolated love…

"What us? There never was an 'us', Rinoa." The sun slipped beneath the horizon and Rinoa faded to the ground, a shadow of the bright woman she used to be. Arrows ripped through her heart and she found that she was unable to breathe. He had been the only thing in her life that she had ever truly cared for. The Forest Owls had just been a child's plaything, a way to rebel against her father. Her father was merely a place to stay, not even a great environment. Seifer had been merely a means to get to Garden and its mercenaries. Squall had been the only real thing her life, the only thing that she thought about with a smile. The only thing that filled her insides with that warm, fuzzy feelings. He was her first and only true love.

And now here he was, crushing her so hopelessly, so horribly. She folded her hands in her lap, trying to keep them from shaking so bad. But she soon found that she was trembling all over, inside and out. She buried her face in her hands and her lap, letting out all of the built up tears, pain and desolation she had tucked away in the last six months. She had always hoped, dreamed, planned that everything would get better, that everything would be as sweet as honey between them and that all of the bad things would just slip away over night.

When she finally lifted her face, she saw that Squall had climbed from the chair and had his back turned to her. Please don't walk away… Whatever you do, Squall, don't leave me… She felt like a needy child, a toddler feeling what it felt like to leave your parent for the first time. And as Squall took that first, second, third step away from her, she knew that it everything would be different from this moment on. She would be a whole new person. One unaffected, unloving, unhappy.

And as she watched him walk away, she realized something. That she was going to be just like him. Closed off, tucked away, hiding from the life that we are forced to suffer, but are too afraid to leave. But who would be there to try and pull her from her shell? She was so utterly alone.

But as he walked away, she climbed to her feet, dusting off her jeans and wiping away the tears. She leaned against the balcony, her eyes settling on the sprinkling of stars across the night sky. She could pretend that everything was okay. She could pretend that she was okay. After all… Squall had done it his whole life. The foolish game of pretend. But no matter how hard she played the game, everyone would always know the truth. That she was dying inside. And this was what blackened her heart, leading her to inevitable fate…