Troubled Lion

For a moment, I opened my eyes to see the moonlight reflecting off the mirror. The same one I could see her in. She was looking outside at the stars. Gazing into the heavens… with a look of sadness only I could understand. I know she is awake. She often is. Sometimes I wonder what she is thinking about… hey wait a minute… Who exactly are you?

I suppose if I told you to go away… you wouldn't listen?

Yeah. Thought so.


So, I guess I'm expected to talk to you now? Fine. If you leave me alone afterward… let's get it over with.

Rinoa, right?

All right… let's start at the beginning. It's just easier that way. The SeeD Graduation Ball. Oh yes, the source of many rumors and controversy… First of all, let me start out by saying… I think these parties are possibly the most pompous, arrogant, wasteful events around. We take the money of mere peasants to defend them from invasion, then turn around and throw extravagant parties.

Way to go SeeD.

That's a good way to stretch a dollar; people may be starving in Dollet, but let's take their Gil and buy imported champagne. There has only ever been one good thing about those parties.

Meeting Rinoa.

Yes, I was standing against the wall. Where else was I supposed to be, mingling with a group of male SeeDs discussing who my next major conquest was going to be? And of course, I was drinking… hell we all do. There are no legal drinking restrictions on Garden property; it's one vice they allow. Call it a trade off for killing people for reasons you don't understand… call it therapy.

So anyway… I looked up and saw a shooting star… My first thought: 'there goes another celestial mass into oblivion.' Yeah, I know not the romantic thing. But shooting stars are nothing more than asteroids and fragments burning upon entry to our atmosphere. Simple. It's a form of death. Well… that's how I used to look at it.

The first thing I noticed about her… her eyes.

God, I felt like she was looking through my exterior into my very soul. Nobody had ever looked at me quite like that. It's still unnerving to think of to this day… those stunning brown eyes. Honestly, the second thing I noticed was her skirt… did you see how short it was? Hell, I'm a guy. I mean how could I not notice?

I know the SeeD cadet uniforms are short… yeah… a little strange if you ask me. I'm wondering now who designed them… Cid or Norg… both possibilities are frightening.

Yeah, I know I'm off the subject again. Now you know how the inner mind of Squall Leonhart works… always jumping from one subject to another, and never being satisfied with an answer. Get used to it.

Okay… back to the dance. So, she walks over… and again, the skirt. This girl actually asks me to dance… unbelievable. Doesn't she know who I am… or who I'm supposed to be? Looking back now… damn her. She did, more than I knew. So, I do the normal 'Squall Leonhart' thing… ignore her. A tried and true method. Wrong. She only stood there longer waving her hands in my face mumbling something about liking her… yeah; I liked her… and her skirt.

Okay sorry… it's really late tonight and that darn dress keeps flashing in my mind.

Then she 'drags' me to the dance floor. Oh trust me, most of that was for show. Do you think it would have looked normal if I'd walked out there with her willingly? I worked hard to get that reputation. I can't lose it one simple night over a gorgeous girl. Trust me; her strength couldn't have ever made me move from that wall, it was actually her presence that moved me. I was drawn to her like the irresistible force, the immovable object.

So, I went out to the dance floor.

Truthfully, I can't dance. That wasn't a lie. I had been forced to learn basics… stupid etiquette lessons and all. I just never had a reason to dance… until her. Oh, that first part wasn't an act. I sucked. Never had a reason to try before, but hell she didn't give up on me. Soon as I stopped trying to think, and just felt, it came naturally to me. For a short while, I was lost in the music, lost in her. There was nobody else.

I hated that.

It wasn't me. It was as if I lost control of my body… on autopilot. Or far worse, she had the control. That was the first night I have ever felt like that… Then she left without a word. Honestly, I only had one thought as I watched her and her short skirt walking away. 'Bitch.'

There I said it, you happy?

But please understand… that was before I knew her. But strangely… not before I loved her. It's as if I always had. I know it sounds corny; hell, it sounds stupid to me. It was like that night our souls reached out to each other, long before our minds and bodies ever did. I mean she just walked away… what was I supposed to believe? It was easier to think of her that way, then to face the reality… I was nothing more than a simple dance to her. Somebody to fill in time… somebody to use.

So, I called her a bitch.

But, I never meant it in my heart. I don't care what you think. From that moment on, under the heavens, our souls would always be one… it just took us more time to realize that.

Oh yes… then came the infamous 'talk to a wall' incident. Okay, fine. Yeah, I feel guilty about saying that now. But back then, what should I have said? I knew Quistis Trepe liked me… who didn't? I mean my instructor just asked me to go to the one area in Garden that people… well you know what they do there. Secret place, my ass. Oh, don't think the Garden Masters and Cid didn't know about it… they knew. I guess they figured to let us… okay not me… but let the others have their fun. So, that's two vices they allowed us.

Alcohol and sex.

That does sound blunt, I know. However, you have to realize that the average SeeD is killed during battle by the age of twenty-three. Trust me; you'll never see that on the recruiting posters. Doesn't make the program seem too glamorous, now does it? Hell, I was given the order to assassinate at the age of seventeen. Most teenagers are worried about prom and acne… SeeDs are worried about having their hearts ripped out in the middle of the night.

Yes… I know my mind is wandering again. Hey, you are the ones who wanted in here; you'll have to suffer the consequences.

Quistis. She is beautiful. Whoever says she isn't must be blind… but there is more to love than beauty. I think it was because we were too much alike. Both hiding behind masks of who we were… both worried about how others around perceived us. I took the approach to be distant and uncaring… it's easier not to get hurt that way. She chose the opposite, always worried about other people, trying her best to help. Even if it did get annoying, hell she tried… more than I can say about any of my instructors.

But, did I love her… no.

I walked away from her that night. Simple. I could have had her right then; she would have been more than willing. But, that wouldn't have been fair to either of us. I didn't love her, and she didn't love me. It was no more than a crush, an infatuation, which derived from past feelings. That's it. She had a crush on me. Hell, I had a crush on my magic instructor when I was ten… but who hasn't? Yes… Squall Leonhart thought about girls.


I'm only human. But 'thinking about' and 'acting on,' are two different subjects all together. I never acted on my emotions until… well… until space. Yes, Rinoa again.

For the first time, I let my feelings take over my logical side. From that moment, I never looked back. Damn, I love her. I'm not even sure if love is the right word… it's more as if she is the extension of my being. I feel her heartbeat in my chest; I feel her breath in my lungs. I was right when I mentioned our souls earlier, they are now intertwined… and we are one.

So, that's why it kills me it see her like this.

Trying to hide the fact that she is miserable at Garden. The pain others cause her. I'm not even sure how to handle it anymore. It started way before we killed Ultimecia… it really started getting out of hand when I carried her to Esthar. Yeah, that single event caused more speculation than even I realized. 'She had me under a spell, Ultimecia was controlling me, and I was the father of her child…' Oh, I heard all the rumors later. Shit, I hadn't even kissed her yet… but gossip already had her pregnant and controlling my future.

So, they all hated us. Because, after years of turning them down, they couldn't handle the fact that I wanted to be with somebody. Trust me, the fact was foreign even to me… but somewhere along the line, I grew to accept it.

Even appreciate it.

She has to live with the rumors and gossip everyday. Every time I hear something, I grow that much more bitter toward Garden. The place that I thought I belonged. Now I understand that neither of us belongs here.

A few months ago, I went and told Cid my decision to leave. Yeah, I know I should have told Rin first, but she would only try to talk me out of it. Her intentions were to never keep me from my dream. That's a laugh. Like I had a dream? This place certainly wouldn't be it now.

Oh… back to Cid. He pleaded with me to stay. I gave him a few ultimatums, not truly expecting him to give in. Yet, he did.

Rinoa stays at Garden.

Her dog stays at Garden.

She has the same rights as any SeeD here.

We live together.

Oh, what were the chances of a forty-year-old man allowing two teenagers to live together… when the rules strictly prohibit it? Not like she hadn't been sneaking in my room for a while, or me hers. I guess 'sneaking' isn't the right word either. I freely walked into her room, not caring who saw me. Or what they said.


I don't know. Maybe it was defiance. Maybe it was to show everyone one that I still didn't care about how they felt. Maybe it was because I needed her so much… and I wanted to let everyone else know that too…

I need Rinoa Heartilly.

And Cid is scared of that. At first, I didn't understand why he allowed us so many freedoms… but now I do.

That man has gone through the same hell… with Edea.

He knows that we are more dangerous outside Garden. Here he can monitor us, and know what we are doing. Out there… we are free. And that scares him. He knows how strong our bond is… stronger than theirs ever was. He is also afraid for us… the bitterness each of us is feeling will someday turn against them… and SeeD.

So, I know what we have to do. Leave. Before this eats at both of us.

Start over. God, starting over at eighteen… how pathetic is that? Well, money isn't an issue. I have nearly two million Gil saved up from our little adventure, and that doesn't count what Rinoa has in her accounts. So we are going to leave this place… and the people behind.

Honestly, I thank them for all they have done.

I wouldn't be where I am today without SeeD. I wouldn't be with her. Every day her smile grows a little less bright, and every day it rips my heart a little bit more. It's peculiar that I never thought owning a home and raising a family would be the kind of life I wanted. But both of our parents were involved in the military, and you can see where that got them. Nowhere. Alone.

So my only desire now… is to live the life our parents never had.

Call it my 'romantic dream' to paraphrase an old friend.

With time away, her smile will return. And so will mine.

Well… a few minutes ago she tensed up, and I put my arm around her waist. With the contact, she seemed to relax, it's a comfort only I can bring. I wonder what she thinks about at times like this? I could ask her, she would tell me… But honestly, it's better that we don't say the words. They only get in the way of our true emotions. So, if you don't mind… could you please leave now? I really need to be with her… yeah… I'm thinking of that damn skirt again.

What is it to you?

It's ironic how I spend my life trying to find a place in this god-forsaken world to call my own. It's not as a Commander, a SeeD, or even a knight. It's as Squall Leonhart.

I found my place in this world. With her.

Author Notes: I know this was a little different from my normal writing style. It was more an exercise, but I enjoyed working on the piece all the same. I tried to treat them as normal people, and convey some of their faults… I need to thank both Wayward Tempest and Th' Lady Shadow for helping me with editing, you two are wonderful! Again, thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I could not do this without you… and I am truly thankful.