Title: Unbreakable Links
Disclaimer: Dissidia Final Fantasy © Square-Enix
Pairing: Eventually Cloud Strife/Squall Leonhart
Rating: T (PG-13) for now
Warning: BL, spoilers
Summary: Post Dissidia. Thinking that it is over and everyone is supposedly home, Cloud finds himself tumbling into Squall's dimension only to learn that something is not what it should be.
Note: Since I'm more familiar with the Japanese version of his name, I will call Firion 'Frioniel' in this fic. The same goes for Terra as she will be called "Tina" here.
Chapter 2: Cold Droplets
A little boy sat alone on a stone staircase – far away from the source of the still ringing joyful laughter so that no one didn't disturb his solitude for the time being – even if fully knowing it was never far enough. For he didn't know where else to go and where else he could be. The only thing he could do was…to wait…and wait for Sis to return.
From where he sat, the sea was fierce and churning, big, powerful waves continuously crashing against the once golden shore – now darker in color and seeming to lose its former gleaming brilliance. Everything looked so dull, being under the veil of the storm. Even that particular exotic-looking lamp in Matron's room everyone was so fond of didn't shine as brightly as he remembered in stormy nights.
He used to be afraid of storms – so scared of those thunderous roars as they terrifyingly rumbled. He hated the sound of harsh wind as it crooned against his bedroom's windows, sounding as if it would never stop. Yet…what he hated the most were those mercilessly cold droplets, for fearing their coldness would seep into his skin, creep deeper and deeper into him…and never out.
Yet…it wasn't like that anymore.
He was…entirely wet. His chocolate brown tresses were flat and clung to his skull as more cold droplets dripped from the soaked bangs down his pale face. His skin was as cold as the stone staircase he was sitting on itself as his clothes – thoroughly drenched – could no more giving him warmth. Small hand shook a little before firmly moving to grab the slippery stone step, as if for resort, as the dark gray sky rumbled.
He was still sitting there.
Gray blue eyes stared helplessly at the maddening ocean, trying to pierce through the thick curtain of rain, hoping to find any ship.
He used to be afraid of storms, fearing every of their roar as he quietly hid under the blanket or huddled close to Sis so that she could sooth him to sleep.
He then realized how selfish he had been; remembering that it was that one night Sis had lulled him to sleep that he woke up in the middle of the night to find her disappearing. No, she didn't disappear. She left. Some ship must have taken her away. And even if Matron said otherwise, he felt convinced enough that it was his fault.
Maybe if he hadn't been such a weak, clingy little boy, Sis wouldn't have left him, would she?
His gaze suddenly started to get blurry yet he fought back the tears, telling himself to be strong just in hope that she would one day come back. He wasn't afraid of the storm. He wasn't.
The harsh wind blew against his face, crooning and he could taste the salty tang of the sea it carried…mixed with his own unwanted tears.
Mako blue eyes glanced momentarily out of the window. On the far horizon, he could see almost vividly even through the rain splashed window the ferocity of the storm as it bestowed its mighty rage upon the dark sea. And he had to admit the sight was quite impressive and a little…frightening. Having grown up in a mountain village, the sight of the so-called beautiful blue ocean was foreign to him …even now – almost like a fairytale when he was much younger.
He remembered Tidus laughing lightheartedly at him when he spoke of that one night while he, Frioniel, Cecil and the ever cheerful boy were travelling together. It had become a ritual for them back then when the day had been forced to end with a needy call for a long break – even if it was never long enough – that they should talk about something – mostly sharing their experiences – to keep reminding themselves that there was still a place each of them would like to return to so that they could keep themselves sane in the long battle that seemed never-ending.
Unlike him, Tidus was pretty familiar with the sea. The boy spoke of his hometown named Zarnakand – the city that never slept as it was always lit up with lively light by machines – machina he called them that. He spoke proudly of how he had grown up and become one of the star Blitzball players there and he often mentioned his father – old man – even if he didn't realize that as he was babbling.
But Cloud liked to listen anyway. It was like a delightful and even amusing break from the thought of everything else that was bothering him.
The thought of Tidus and his overactive cheerfulness brought a small smile to his lips.
He watched as the dark surface that was the sea under the veil of the storm churn – waves after waves rolling as if having minds of their own – as the sky above rumbled. Large droplets of clear water continuously splashed against the window. He couldn't really tell apart if it was night or day.
Shrugging slightly, he tore his gaze away from the raging storm and settled it instead on the boy now sleeping on the bed. One strong hand tugged the blanket so that it covered the boy's lithe form properly.
"…" Come to think of it, this was really the first time he had seen Squall asleep. During those times they had come across each other, it was like they were having a childish albeit silent competition of who could stay up and do the better duty of guard watch.
Actually, Cloud hadn't slept – hadn't wanted to – because he had feared some shadows from the past would suddenly resurface there in the unguarded realm of his dream where he had almost to none safety and imprinted those sinking feelings of desperation and guilt in him so vivid that even if he tried to forget, he couldn't and wouldn't forgive himself.
But he didn't really know much about Squall.
The boy didn't speak much about himself and even if he got along, surprisingly, with Zidane and Butz well, he still kept his distance and didn't talk about himself much – that was if he did talk at all.
Taking a good look at him, realization hit him like a crash of Leviathan's tidal wave at how young the boy really was.
A boy indeed.
For he wasn't yet a man.
With the frown constantly marring his face gone, his feature seemed pretty much softer and strangely…innocent. Lying motionless there, the boy looked so fragile…so vulnerable as if he could easily break – even if in reality, Cloud remembered how deadly a fighter this boy could be.
The boy slept like death. The shadow of the storm seemed to cling to him, making him look even paler – even his blatant scar was almost invisible in the dimness – as if the grayness could drain every color from this raining world…as if it could make everything fade aside from sorrow…even if sorrow was what was unneeded in such world.
In his but also not his memory, he remembered a girl, whose sweet smile and beautiful laughter he held so dear, saying she was afraid of the sky. And then a guy standing next to her just answered, with that confident and cheery smile he remembered always plastered on his face:
"One day, I'll take you to see a beautiful sky, the real sky. It's not frightening at all."
Thunder crackled loudly, jolting the blond back to the present. Brilliant blue eyes narrowed slightly as he had just realized how tight he was holding that soft white sheet he still didn't let slip from his hand. He didn't know why he suddenly felt afraid of the storm. Perhaps it was because…
He feared this storm would take something important away from him, blowing everything he held so dear away…again.
Maybe I'm thinking too much...
...It is already over, isn't it?
Slowly he let the remaining of the white sheet he was still grabbing slide away, promptly removing his other hand he had just noticed lingering far too long on the sleeping boy. He was ready to move away and took his place instead on that small chair Squall had previously occupied before they fell asleep.
Yet it seemed he wasn't blessed with the luck to really switch place…
It continued to rain heavily.
And through the blurry vision, as if to mock his childishness – cruelly bestowed upon the abandoned child with hope, only to eventually again take everything away – fate had taken the shape of an illusion, fashioning itself in the form of 'Sis'.
'Sis' was walking on the sandy ground that was the beach. She looked as if she was again leaving. Only there was only maddening sea she could walk into. The fierce storm was roaring and the little boy knew that if he didn't catch her now he might lose her…perhaps forever. So he ran. He ran as fast as his little legs could carry him. Yet it seemed…
He never could reach her.
It was as if he was running but never progressing forward. And he called out, his small hand reaching, trying to get to her. He called out again and again…until his throat parched and his voice died yet it seemed as if in this raging storm, his desperate voice was just a meaningless whisper.
She was again leaving.
His vision then became more and more blurry. And he blinked, trying to get the water – whether it was the rain or his tear – out of his eyes. The sky suddenly flashed as lightning illuminated his vision, momentarily making everything as bright as day.
Instead of 'Sis', there, standing so close to the raging sea as one tidal wave came approaching was a figure of another woman with longer hair as black as the raven and…she wore a smile – the most beautiful smile he had ever seen albeit it was…sad. Vaguely, the little boy wondered why the smile he had seen seemed so familiar…even though…
In his – or maybe not his current self – that smile was usually playful, sweet…and much happier.
And the boy found himself yelling, trying once again to reach this strange woman now that it seemed he was successfully making forward motion. He was close to her now, his small hand reaching out…
Still, it was too late and what he could grasp…was only the remaining droplets sprayed out from the crashing of the tidal wave…so cold against his skin.
The heavy sound of the rain pouring diminished, reducing to mere soft drizzle. Strange. For it was this soft drizzling that seemed so clear and real in his ears instead of the violent downpour his younger self was reliving. And this gentle drizzling seemed to be calling, beckoning him back from the twisted dream of worried present jumbled with past along with the presence of something warm and…comforting.
Slowly long, fine lashes fluttered open, revealing gray blue orbs formerly hidden under pale lids.
"…" For the first few minutes, the boy lay still in bed as if taking his time pulling himself back to the present. Warmth seeped into him as if that numbing feeling of cold droplets was just an illusion. Even his hand, touched by those last sprays of massive coldness, was now…very warm. Squall blinked.
He was in the infirmary…Kadowaki locked him in…and…
His eyes widened in realization, now knowing exactly his hand was pretty warm for a certain reason.
He quickly freed his hand from Cloud's, glaring…only for the sake of his dignity.
The blond just looked at him with those strangely glowing cerulean eyes of his, dismissing the thing as not a big deal of matter.
Still, he asked. "Are you alright?"
Frankly, Cloud was quite surprise. Knowing full well himself how dream could be terrible enough to disturb reality, it wasn't ordinary – at least from what little knowledge he knew of Squall's nature – for the brunette to just desperately reach out and clutch to his hand like there was no tomorrow like that.
Squall didn't reply. His gray-blue eyes stared past the blond and seemed to glue to the blankness that was the wall for a moment before finally drifting to the slightly ajar window. And suddenly, that lingering look of innocence on his face was completely gone, replacing by that usual brooding frown.
"Close the window."
Without any objection, the blond silently complied, mako blue eyes never leaving the other.
Before another question was asked, the door slid open and an overly happy girl bounced in, immediately throwing herself at Squall, almost tackling him.
"Oh Squall! I was so worried about you! When I notice Ragnarok wasn't in the dock, I was thinking you would leave us for good! Oh Hyne, I'm glad you're still here!"
"Me and Ragnarok," corrected Squall sternly and knowingly as he pried the girl off him.
The girl smiled at him sheepishly and pouted. "Well, I was worried about you too!"
"Whatever," came the trademark reply; however, despite the plain and cool voice, those storm colored eyes didn't look as icy and that was enough to make the girl beamed in delight.
Another girl then entered the room, she looked a little bit older than the first one and had that air of authority, Cloud observed as she warned the other girl in an almost sisterly tone. "Now Selphie, you shouldn't really tackle him like that. Squall haven't rested well this past week and would-"
"Oh, I know, Quisty. But I am happy." The hyperactive girl cut in, sighing softly.
And Quistis couldn't help but understood her. It had been a week since Rinoa's disappearance…
No. Actually, the young sorceress had told her beforehand she would soon be leaving for Esthar and had asked Quistis not to tell Squall about it. But after Rinoa had left, she hadn't received any contact from the girl again. To tell the truth, it was rather from the power of guilt than normal responsibility that drove her to keep working non-stop in order to find the missing girl.
She had promised Rinoa not to tell and she didn't want Squall to have a problem with Laguna considering their relationship was more than just a little bit straining to say the very least.
"Is there any news?"
Quistis was taken aback when Squall suddenly fired a question – straightly at business. And it seemed she too overworked herself that she had just noticed the strange blond man staring at her with strangely glowing blue eyes. She glanced at him, unsure if saying talking in front of his presence would be alright, but with Squall saying nothing about it, eventually she gave in, eyeing her friend and commander wearily all the while as she spoke.
"Laguna has just phoned in, saying he has something important to talk to you."
"Tell him it isn't the time."
"…It's about Rinoa."
Gray-blue eyes stared at her. Clearly enough it was that well-known stubbornness she had seen in those eyes before it was gone in a flash. The Lion's shoulders slumped in defeat as he finally gave a nod.
Quistis let out the breath she had been holding in relief. Still…
She glanced at the strange blond man standing there just next to the window, her gaze as scrutinizing as his even if he tried not to look really interested.
Squall seemed to notice this and decided he should say something.
"Quistis, Selphie, this is Cloud Strife. He is…" Storm colored eyes briefly met mako blue before the brunette finally uttered, "He is…a friend of mine."
Quistis' eyebrows shot up in surprise on hearing that. Still, she nodded even if she didn't truly accept that – not right away – and gestured to the other girl.
"Selphie, can you please guide Mr. Strife around a bit? I'm sure it has been quite a while since we have any outsider as a visitor."
The girl turned to give the addressed man a look and the moment after, a bright smile – too bright for the ex-SOLDIER's taste – crept upon her face as she cheerily bounced toward him.
"Hello, my name is Selphie Tilmitt. I will be your guide around here! You can trust me!"
The first impression Cloud Strife had of Selphie Tilmitt: another Yuffie Kisaragi.
Seifer Almasy was enjoying his latest favorite hobby – aside from annoying one pretty boy who had become the world's favorite hero – that was fishing. Having been perceived as the 'evil' sorceress knight by the world, even if he didn't really care what people think of him that much, peaceful solitude had become something he had come to lately adore.
Even if he knew Balamb Garden would admit him back without condemnation, despite him and the pretty boy SeeD commander hating each other's gut, he was too prideful to just accept their offer of this so-called 'kindness' he deemed as 'pity'.
So…here he sat, taking the most peaceful time of his life, waiting for some lovely fish to take the bait.
Yet as he sat there and patiently waited, his ever sharp eyes caught sight of something he wouldn't call ordinary. For there, ahead of him, instead of the indigo sea spreading itself as far as an eye could see, happened to be an island so big he should normally have noticed it long before now.
And if it wasn't his instinct telling him what he was seeing was real, he would have thought this was either a hallucination or another sorceress' magic, for it was so there and vivid one moment, and blurry as if looking through the surface of rippling water the other.
The ex-sorceress knight squint his eyes and decided to move and get a closer look.
It was in that unguarded moment of his curiosity that…a blue ball with white and teal swirls caught him straight…in the face.
To Be Continued
I promise that there will be no Rinoa bashing here. There is a good reason the girl left. And I'm not making Quistis a bitch here but I personally think with her concerning nature, she is not easy to trust someone she has just met, especially when Squall claims that Cloud is his friend because it is only natural Quistis believes Squall doesn't really make friend easily.
Of course, beside Tidus, the other DFF heroes will show up in the fic sooner or later, for I still remember well this is Dissidia category I'm writing in, so don't worry. ;)
Again, reviews are very much more than welcomed. :D