Edit: Fixed page breakers since my old one was removed. =/ Also fixed spelling mistakes. LOL
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I apologize for the length of this supposed one-shot. I wasn't expecting it to span nine pages when I wrote it! I'm a little new at this "writing stories" thing…
Anyways, about this! I've actually had this kind of idea for a while only because I was a nerd and continuously played through Squall's story. Then again when I played Shade Impluse Chapter 2. I realized Squall mentioned something about a "promise" (Squee! FF8 references! :D) to Onion Knight and wanted to make some sort of background story of why he just remembered it. This takes place after the 589 trio gathered their respective crystals and before Squall's conversation with OK in SI Chapter 2 (which BTW, had FF8 references all over!).
So I came up with a theory that Squall probably lost his memories (have you seen the sudden reverted attitude change in the game?) and therefore forgot his promise during the events of time compression in the original game (probably because of the overload of memories). I also thought that he came into the Dissidia world by means of getting lost in time compression and goes back to his own world at the time where Rinoa finds him on the ground during the ending sequence (it was time compression…time was flowing differently between the two worlds…). But this is what I think anyways. =P
Now then, I hope you'll enjoy the story. Please don't forget to review! I'd like to know where I can improve (the length is bothering me)!
Oh! And as a little warning, this might be a little heavy on the FF8 references. Just warning you…
DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything from the Final Fantasy universe or its characters or some of the quotes that appear in the story. The only thing I do own is the written work and the idea of it.
Waiting on a Promise
"I've been a believer for a while now. I remembered this promise I made…There's someone waiting for me."
"Hey Bartz, I bet you can't jug down this entire water bottle within ten seconds!" Zidane grinned at Bartz as he flippantly held the water bottle in his hands.
"Ha! You kidding? I can down it within five!" Bartz replied, equal determination on his stupid grin.
"Oh yeah? I'd like to see you try!" Zidane challenged. A smirk crossed his features. He was formulating an idea that merited some form of silly entertainment, "In fact, let's have a competition! Winner gets to hang out with Squall for one hour; one-on-one!"
…Meaning someone was going to annoy me more than usual for one hour of my life.
"And the loser," Bartz continued, holding up his water bottle, smirking with as much intention as Zidane had, "has to be Squall's training dummy for one hour!"
I covered my face with one of my palms. There was no reason for me to waste energy if the other party wasn't even willing to improve his own skill.
"And go!" they both started with excitement as they drained their water bottles.
I let out an annoyed sigh. Why in this chaotic world did I end up with these two? I mean, I have accepted them as valuable…friends on this journey, but there were times when I questioned my sanity.
It's probably been two days since all three of us were able to meet up with each other again. Surprisingly enough, we were all able to find our crystals. With that in hand, I suggested to meeting up with our remaining comrades as soon as possible. Bartz and Zidane gave no reason to argue and agreed with my proposition. We started travelling in hopes of seeing a familiar face but to no avail. When it got late and everyone needed to rest, we settled our camp in a valley where the moon shone brightly. It was spacious despite the numerous cliffs that surrounded the area. Hopefully we could find someone tomorrow.
Zidane was worried that it'd probably be a while before we'd actually see another Cosmos Warrior, but Bartz assured him that we'd find them in no time. All I did was silently agree, but I understood how they must've felt deep down. We all wanted to go back to our own world. To our lives, to our homes, to the people…we left behind. I shook the thought out of my head. There was no use thinking about that right now.
I looked at my two travelling companions. It was taking them longer than what they intended to in drinking down a bottle of water. Too bad they were really big bottles of water. …What a waste of water…
"I'm going to patrol the area," I numbly said as I got up from where I was sitting. I didn't wait for either of them to give me their consent as I walked away, my gunblade in hand.
I was far enough from the camp that I could barely hear their voices shouting out who won and who lost their little game. I couldn't distinguish the voices apart, but I really didn't care. As much as those two were capable of defending themselves, it amazed me that they easily let their guards down. A manikin could come in and ambush us without warning. Therefore, I was always the one volunteering to survey the area not only for enemy forces but so I could take a breather. Sometimes I needed a break from the pair's antics. Peace and quiet once in a while was just what I needed and doing a patrol rewarded me with that.
I took a deep breath as I let my mind relax before I started thinking about the issue at hand. Somehow, I was irritated more than usual. I tried to feign a calm demeanor around Bartz and Zidane, but inside, I was getting frustrated that we've yet to encounter another warrior. I hated the idea that I wasn't able to go home yet; to forget about this whole war. I hated the idea that I couldn't…remember much about myself.
I could recall my name and fighting capabilities. And guessing from how I acted from time to time, my mentality was able to remember what was considered to be my normal mannerisms. All I can remember when I woke up in this distorted world was that I was told to fight as a Warrior of Cosmos. In my mind, I knew I wasn't from this place, but I cooperated if there was an off-chance that I can go back to where I belonged.
I looked at the sky, then down at my gunblade. Fighting… Is that all I've known? I've always felt that fighting was part of my routine. Why? Was it the only thing I was useful for? No, it's only natural that I can fight. If I wasn't able to, I wouldn't be here, fighting for Cosmos. Besides, it's the only plausible way for me to defend myself and protect the others…
"Do we…have to fight? Isn't there another way? Y'know, to avoid any bloodshed?"
Stop thinking about that already! I scolded myself. One of the downsides of having peace and quiet was that I begin to think about things that aren't relevant to my current situation. And thinking about my world is one of them.
I decided it was time for me to go back to camp. The distraction coming from the 'hyper duo' would be good for me. I didn't want to think about…such depressing matters. The sooner all the Cosmos warriors got together with the crystals, the sooner I could leave.
As I continued to walk back to camp, my mind went back to looking at the night sky. There was always something about looking at the stars that calmed me. It was like there was a story I could remember when I looked at the twinkling dots on the blackened canvas. Of course, I never actually knew what story it was that I could recollect…
"You know... You're always too deep in thought."
I stopped walking as I quickly got into a defensive position. That voice caught me off guard as I took a quick search at my surroundings for anything suspicious. …Whose voice was that?
"Why don't you lighten up a little?"
I looked around again, but I realized quickly enough that this voice was in my head.
"It's not good to think too much."
"Who are you?" I questioned aloud, even though I knew no one was around.
This is ridiculous… I deadpanned to myself. This was the first time I was hearing voices in my head. Was I starting to go insane? No. But that voice…why do I want to hear that serene voice again?
All of a sudden, I felt as if something suppressed in my mind flashed before my eyes.
"…you don't even make a sound… I want to hear your voice," I said in a quiet whisper. I was desperately hoping a sound of any kind would be made as I glanced down at—
I clutched my head with one hand as I tried to focus, "Is that…a memory?" It felt real, but it ended abruptly. I didn't get a chance to see who else was in that room with me.
Why was this happening now? Was I starting to remember the memories that were long forgotten? Memories… But of whom? When I felt that I was okay again I ran my hand through my hair. I took a deep breath and then released it, I must be going crazy…
I looked to the starlit sky once more. Was something about the stars triggering these relapses?
"Yo! Squall!" I snapped out of my reverie when I heard Zidane's voice.
I looked over and saw Zidane and Bartz a little further away from where I was. Zidane was waving one of his arms in the air to grab my attention and Bartz was beside him. I could see from even the distance that he let out a sigh of relief.
"Sheesh. Making us worry," Bartz sighed as he shook his head while placing the backs of his hands on his hips. He looked at me then with a playful smile and shouted, "You were taking so long we thought something bad happened to you!"
I guess I did take much longer than I should have, I concluded after thinking about what I was just told. I felt a little guilty for leaving them alone for so long. I guess I lost track of time because of that…little moment.
"Sorry," I replied to them as I shrugged a little, grateful for the distraction, "I guess I wandered farther than I intended to." I began walking again towards my two companions.
"You know, you just surprised me. You looked and sounded so happy to see them."
It was happening again…That familiar voice…
Zidane grinned as he placed his hands behind his head, "No worries! Just curious as to where you went; that's all. Besides, we know you wouldn't just disappear without saying anything. We trust you."
"…I trust you."
I stopped in my tracks when I felt something being triggered again.
Bartz, catching on that I stopped, teased with shadowed concern in his voice, "C'mon Squall! Don't make us walk to where you are lazy bones! We'll wait for you right here!"
"I'll be here too. It's a promise!"
I felt my legs go weak as I fell to my knees. I heard my gunblade make a loud clatter sound when I dropped it to clutch my head with both hands. My mind…my thoughts were out of control.
"Squall!" I heard Bartz cry out, the concern in his voice no longer hiding.
"What's wrong!" Zidane followed up. His worry was on par with Bartz's. I heard their footsteps getting louder, but their voices no longer reached me. Why was I feeling this way? What was happening to me?
Although the thoughts in my head felt like they were getting twisted and muddled, I chanced upon getting a glance of the sky. I wanted that sense of tranquility I felt whenever I looked into the night.
And that's when it happened. A streak of light pierced through the darkness. A shooting star…
"You're the best looking guy here. Dance with me?"
"SeeD is here!"
"SeeD members dance quite well, don't they?"
"Don't you even worry about or even think about the well-being of your comrades!"
"I was scared…"
"You look so adorable, sleeping like a baby."
"Oh my gosh! You're turning red! You're so cute! Taking it so seriously!"
"Come on, Squall, how old are you? You're still a teenager. Why don't you act like one for a change?"
"…You can't handle everything on your own."
"Maybe someone really smart can come up with a way, so we wouldn't have to fight anymore…"
"Hmm…great strength…pride… Kinda like you, Squall."
"We're still listening. Squall, we want to know how you feel."
"Squall…Thank you. I heard your voice."
"…Squall you're the one that gives me the most comfort. Comfort and happiness… And annoyance and disappointment, too!"
"I've…become a sorceress. I can't stay with you anymore, Squall."
"I want to stay here with you…"
"Squall! Let's go home! Where are you!"
"SQUALL!" Bartz and Zidane shouted in unison, snapping me out of my trance.
The flood of memories finally halted. I lowered my view from the sky to where my two friends were. They were kneeling beside me. Zidane had his hands firmly on my shoulders. He was probably shaking me earlier, but I didn't realize it. Bartz was right behind him, readying himself in case another episode happened. I could clearly see the anxiety in their eyes. I must've been out of it for a while.
"Are you alright?" Bartz broke the silence, asking about my condition in a whisper. I think he was afraid that I might revert back to that state of mind. I wasn't able to find my voice at that time so I just quietly nodded.
Zidane looked at me, the uneasiness never leaving his face, "Are you sure?"
As much as I was silently thankful that they worried, I didn't like impression they gave me. They made me feel weak.
"I'm fine," I tried saying with an irritated tone. However, I was so shaken up that I knew I didn't sound believable; I could tell they didn't think so either.
"But Squall, you-" Zidane persisted. I wouldn't have it.
"I said I'm fine!" I stressed once I regained my senses, I shrugged off Zidane's hold on me. I wasn't going to stand for this.
When I felt confident that I could stand again, I quickly got up and pushed my way through Bartz and Zidane, ignoring their surprised faces. I knew I acted insensitive, but I didn't care right now. If there was one thing on this journey that I was trying to avoid, it was showing weakness.
"Squall, hold on!" I heard Bartz exclaim over my shoulder.
As exhausted as I was of this entire situation, I wasn't able to keep the irritation out of my voice as I turned to face them again, "What?"
"You haven't noticed?" Zidane interrogated, daring to take one step forward towards me.
I wasn't in the mood for a guessing game, "What haven't I noticed?"
Bartz looked at me seriously, all trances of goofiness was gone, "The tears…Your tears."
I raised my eyebrows in disbelief. My tears?
"I don't cry Bartz."
Bartz rolled his eyes and added sarcastically, "I'll say. 'Squall Leonhart doesn't cry.' Can you just drop the 'tough guy' act for a while? I'm being serious here!"
I scoffed, the tip of my tongue itching to say the one word that could verbally show I was annoyed. But I wanted to prove what Bartz was saying. I touched my face with one of my hands. Almost immediately, I felt something I never thought I would: I felt moisture on my face. I looked at my fingers and confirmed that I really did shed tears. But why?
Guessing from how confused I looked, Zidane starting to fill me in, "By the time we got to you, you were already zoned out. You wouldn't look away from the sky."
"You didn't respond to us either. But you were definitely…crying," Bartz continued, his voice sounding laidback than before. He crossed his arms, "I think you may have…remembered something important."
I was quiet for a moment, my eyes never leaving my tear-stained hand. He was right. I was remembering things. But it wasn't an important something. It was an important someone.
I could remember everything so vividly: Her touch, her face, her smile, her voice. Her. I went through hell being with her. For her. I remembered how we met, how we argued, how we found solace in each other's company, how I…fell for her. Everything was about her. Going back to my world was always for her. To me, she was home. And the promise I made with her…
"I'll be waiting for you. If you come here, you'll find me. I promise."
She looked up and graced me with her breathtaking smile, "I'll be here, too. It's a promise! Thanks, Squall!"
That promise…I couldn't keep that promise.
"Squall?" once again Bartz's voice broke my train of thought. I was frustrated and it was probably showing on my face. I couldn't deal with this anymore. I needed space. I needed time to think.
"I'm going back," I announced as I quicken my pace back to camp. I hastily wiped my face of the tears while hearing them calling me, but I just didn't care then. All I could think about was how I wanted to go back to everything I knew.
Go back…to her.
It was awkward between us the morning after. We took down camp and continued on our search for the other Cosmos Warriors. As we travelled, I always stayed a pace behind Bartz and Zidane. It was eerily quiet and I was surprised that neither of them tried to pull me out of my reverie. I guess they were trying to give me space. They only talked to me whenever they wanted to confirm the direction we should take.
In all honesty, I wanted them to talk, to make trouble even. But I wasn't sure how to bring it up; especially since this was me of all people. Somehow I missed hearing the random comments Bartz made or Zidane's so-called knowledge of the opposite sex. I felt like I had to do something to make things normal again. It wasn't fair that they had to deal with my…mood swings.
"Umm…" I began, although I really didn't know what I was going to say.
They stopped walking to look at me.
"What's up, Squall?"
"Got something on your mind?"
Great, I got their attention. What now?
"Uh…I just…" I stammered as my eyes darted anywhere but them. I probably looked like an idiot. Should've kept my mouth shut…
I heard Zidane give a low chuckle and Bartz sigh with understanding. I glanced at both of them. They turned to each other and nodded. After their silent agreement, they both looked at me, sincerity in their eyes.
"Ya know, everyone misses home once in a while. I know I do," Zidane began, looking to the sky as he stretched his arms, "In fact, there's a special princess I have to go back to. I can only imagine how mad she'll be when she sees me again!"
As much as it surprised me that Zidane openly admitted a girl waiting for him, it amazed me to think of how calm he was about it. I was sure that he was missing the people he cared about as much as I was. Why wasn't he just as anxious to get home?
"Our friends can't be there for us right now, but you know, we can never really be apart right?" Bartz grinned. He took a moment to enjoy the light breeze that passed by us, "We're always together, just by remembering even the simplest things and the times we shared."
Bartz surprised me too. He was able to look forward without leaving the memories of those he knew. He didn't try to ignore the things that reminded him of his friends; he embraced them. He looked to them for strength and encouragement.
"We'll get back home if you have faith!"
"Sooner or later, it'll be like we were only gone for a few minutes!"
I thought about what they said and it made sense. Every one of the Cosmos Warriors had something or someone they were fighting for. We were fighting for a reason so we could go home. If it got hard to move forward, the memories you found precious would give you the desire to see things through. I sighed a little at my foolishness. It was the promise I made that should keep me going; not cause me to falter when I'm so close.
I felt the corners of my lips turn up slightly. I think I startled the duo when it happened, but I pretended not to notice their reactions. I looked out to the distance adjacent my two companions and took a deep breath then slowly released it.
"I wasn't always one to go by faith. Waking up as a Warrior of Cosmos, finding the crystal, fulfilling my duty here…I thought there wasn't a point if there were no merits. But," I looked at them, genuinely appreciative to have such valuable friends, "I think I can move forward now. And find the way back home without regrets."
Both Bartz and Zidane quickly replaced their shock with happiness and they both grinned. They came up to me and started with the teasing.
"Aww, even I knew a cold guy like you had a little lady in waiting!" Zidane smirked as he nudged me tauntingly, "So what's she like? Spill! Gotta be a babe!"
"Why do you think he was thinking about a girl?" Bartz laughed as he patted my shoulder, "Anyway, what's your world like Squall? Anything interesting you wanna share?"
I smiled to myself inwardly. But of course, old habits die hard.
I gentle shook them off me as I began walking forward. I dusted myself off to emphasize my point that I was back to normal, "Like I'd tell you guys. You'd drive me mad with even more questions."
I heard them whining behind me. It was there that I smirked. "But the really question is…" I turned to them, hiding my amusement, "Who was the winner of the water-jugging contest?"
"Oh! That was me!" Zidane grinned as he proudly to himself with his thumb.
"What! You're delusional, Zidane. I was obviously winner!" Bartz retaliated, then pointing to himself in the same fashion Zidane did.
"No way! I think you got a little bit of amnesia, Bartz!"
"Seems like someone has the small case of 'sore loser syndrome.'"
I made a palm-to-face gesture as I shook my head and placed one hand on my hip. They never change, I sighed with contentment, and I hope they never will.
After they couldn't agree on the winner of their contest, they decided to do a new one.
"First one to that tower! Winner take all!" Bartz stated the 'rules' as he pointed to a tower off in the distance.
Zidane grinned playfully as he ran ahead, "Already there!"
"Hey!" Bartz shouted in mock anger as he tried to catch up.
I could hear them laughing as I continued to follow them at a walking pace. There was no way I was going to waste energy on their childish game.
When I took another step forward, I felt the wind gently blow behind me. I could've sworn I heard a whisper.
"I'll be waiting…"
I stopped to turn around. I saw the wind blowing through the lush grasses. Gazing at the sky, I let the warmth of the wind envelop me. I closed my eyes and concentrated.
Wait for me. I'll come back to you soon…
I felt myself stirring slightly. There was warmth of someone's body encircling my own, like I was being held in their arms. A soft breeze was blowing over and it carried a familiar scent. I slowly open my eyes and could faintly see the clear blue sky as flower petals danced in the wind. But my attention was immediately drawn to the person holding me. She didn't even realize I was looking at her. She was distracted by the surroundings of our whereabouts.
My heart smiled when I saw her. She was as breathtaking as when I dreamt of her.
"Rinoa…?" I quietly asked, hoping this wasn't another dream.
She looked down at me, shocked at first but smiled as if her worries were over. It was as if she was going to cry.
"You're here…" she spoke softly, her voice a little shaken by the tears that threatened to fall.
I smiled at her tenderly as I leaned into her embrace, "I had to keep my promise."