a room somewhere
Squall carves out his own life and identity after SeeD and finds himself back where it all began. Post series, Squall/Rinoa, .
a/n: This fic has an interesting history. The first part was finished much earlier, the second half was finished on a tiny notebook in the passenger seat of a used car with no radio or air conditioning in-between Texas and Oklahoma. Unfortunately, just as I was about to post it, my computer ate the first part, thus it had to be re-written. The title comes from a song from the musical My Fair Lady
It might come out as being disjointed due to all the fluctuations it's been through. Also, apologies for any run-on sentences – I edited as much as I could, but I doubt I was able to get past them all. Bad habits die hard, I suppose.
Squall never imagined his life after SeeD. His mind was far too preoccupied with today, surviving, the simple breathing that sustained him. He never considered what he'd be, how he'd live, life was simply living. The next mission, the next day, the next breath.
With the world at peace, SeeD is but a distant memory.
He tries on jobs as part of himself, testing their fit like gloves over long fingers. Porting, driving, a night job waiting tables at a café.
Guarding, fighting, his life has been one of pure mercenary work. If he worked hard enough, he never had to think about tomorrow; he could lose himself in the present, the now.
The apartment is unglamourous, barren and pockmocked with dents and bruises, but for now, it is home. As Rinoa reminds him (often), he could afford more than this apartment, which is little more than one room, the utter bare necessities.
He could, but for this moment, Squall doesn't desire it. This space is his own and that is enough.
He could live in a city far away, where lights and the brightness reflected of ladies' earings lit up the night. She is, if possible, more at home in this element. The parties, the socialites. Her childish sense of wonder and hope is addicting to such a jaded crowd.
But Squall declined. In a room like this, he can't help looking out, beyond, farther away.
In the end, all of his identity seemed tangled up with the past. When women ask what he does, he can't reply.
At night after a long shift, Squall stares at the tiles on the ceiling. The days go by unnumbered, work settles into more work. He'd never realized just how much wider the world was beyond SeeD's walls.
Even now he thought it was much too wide.
Squall drifted. He never stays at any job long, a few months at the most. And yet he returned to this same apartment, barren and dilapidated, his temporary home.
He's rarely alone, if she has anything to say about it.
Rinoa accepted that Squall is finding himself, but that doesn't mean she won't give a little helping hand (or shove) whenever possible.
Sometimes she can't help but sigh and shake her head, her expression more amused than exasperated.
Without her guidance, who knows what that boy would get himself into.
"You can't stay cooped up here forever, there's a whole world outside I haven't even had a chance to show you," she said.
"You promised," she said, with that enigmatic smile.
He quit another job, it was no big loss. She waited for him outside the walls of yet another failed attempt, another possibility cast aside.
Somehow, he only felt relieved to be free.
White lights adorned every tree and storefront. She was wearing the same dress as the first time he'd seen her, the same pale yellow folds of cloth. This time, however, Griever lay beside her mother's silver ring, nestled in the hollow of her throat. That she was beautiful was a given, Squall never felt the need to say it. Still, she asked, if the dress suited her or if it made her skin too sallow.
"It's fine," he said.
Questions of clothes seemed redundant, she would be beautiful to him even if the dress was of an unflattering cut or if grey streaks appeared in her dark hair as unwelcome as weeds in a garden. She was a beauty he never sought to define with words.
"We'll have to take more dancing lessons, hmm? Maybe a tango next."
He imagined her then, in a in a red sheath of a dress dancing around him. Their whole acquaintance was a whirlwind of a dance, her hair fanning around her as she spun, filled with ideas and wonder, a type of antidote for his shell-shocked loss of feeling.
"You don't want to be a wallflower, do you, Squall? I bet you have plenty of talent, you just need to practice"
This time, so similar to the first, except one thing:
she didn't have to drag him to the dance floor, this time, he came willingly.
She is like rain in the desert but still rarer. Squall at times tries to imagine his life without her presence, her warmth, but all he sees are empty landscapes , arctic tundras devoid of any light.
Little by little, he gets used to this world. To the rush of noise which has nothing to do with gunfire. Sometimes he's stunned by the unrealness of it all, a quiet room with no promise of drills and violence to follow.
On Saturday morning Rinoa takes him (see: drags) on a picnic, with a basket full of food she made herself – the sandwiches are only somewhat soggy, the lettuce a little limp, the cake a bit hard. She has improved somewhat over her other kitchen disasters. This time, the food is just shy of perfect..
She wears a filmy short dress that flutters in the almost-summer breeze. The dress is filled with delicate rosettes, her hair flows long and unbridled in the same wind, in time with the dress. She looks wild and undomestic, untamed. He longs to touch her, just to prove that she, and this moment are real.
As if reading his mind, she smiles and takes his arm. She leads him back. She doesn't let go of his hand.
His blood is that of a wanderer, it is never long before he changes his surroundings, the names, faces, and rough constrains of the buildings falling away as lasting as rain-wet paper lanterns. Yet, for this moment, the apartment is something solid, something lasting.
The walls are less bare now, every time Rinoa visits pictures sprout up unexpected where there once was nothing but long tails of white. Flowers, scenery, dogs player poker ("Look, that one looks just like Angelo!") and even the flimsy row of photos from the photobooth from last march when she dragged him to play in the snow, then to the nearest shopping center. Rinoa's cheeks are rosy and her head almost obscured by a ridiculously large red pom-pom hat with white Scottish Terriers. Squall's expression os stolid, unchanging, except for the last picture where one could just make out the hint of a smile.
They are all bending and folding, finding themselves in a world far outside what they once knew.
Selphie plans weddings, parties, festivals, gatherings. She lives out with Irvine in a small house in the lower east side of Balamb. Irvine is between jobs, content to just to be, exist as he isin this picturesque white house, his own suburban kingdom. Someday, perhaps he will tire of this lovely inertia, but Selphie has promised she'll hit him, hard, enough to bruise when that day comes.
Quistis teaches, far away in an elite, private girls school. She proves that even burned with failure, she could once again take on a role she once thought lost. She writes at times, but Squall is bad at writing back and always has been.
Zell works at a never-ending assortment of jobs: a cook until he's fired for mysterious hot-dog shortages, docksman, porter, cabdriver. He moves like a spark, never settling in one place for too long.
Seifer works in some military establishment, Squall can never remember where. Time may have healed over, but he has no thoughts of seeking out Seifer's company, he never has.
And Squall is finding pieces of himself, slowly, in hotel rooms with sterile white walls, in books carefully selected. In a line of jobs, endless locales that flash before him momentarily, fireflies with short lives. He is unhappy sometimes, apathetic, and cynical, but they are becoming more and more uncommon these days. Squall's world once was only in dull shades, but he has relearned things – color, how to be happy, the scent of a woman's hair in the morning, just after showering. Like all things in this stage of his life, the apartment is a temporary sanctuary. Six-months to the day, he packs his things and all the things that are hers that have scattered among his possessions, his life. It was a comfort, a space to call his own.
When he is done packing, the rooms look hollowed out, a shell, a soulless corpse. A twinge of regret hits him, but he bites it down. He's already got a place in mind, a larger one, a better part of town. One that could easily fit two, even three people. Everything changes in this river-like part of his life, the images flower together, soon even this new home might be tossed away for another that might show an inner glimpse at his lost self. There is throughout this, one thing that has stayed the same. The glint of sun on water, filmy sundresses with floral patterns, the feeling of her skin, the curve of her back leaning against him.
Squall makes his way though the dark and she dances ahead, a candle to light the path, a hand to guide, a bit of wonder to realize., a memory of love he had forgotten for so many years.
He has been found