Cascade

Final Fantasy VIII

Time is

Too slow for those who wait,

Too swift for those who fear,

Too long for those who grieve,

Too short for those who rejoice,

But for those who love,

Time is not.

~Henry Van Dyke 

Blossoms in spring, lilacs, and the gentle softness of sunbeams on my cheek.

I think of you.

When the morning breaks over the earth, as the year turns and the fresh breeze brings in new beginnings, when the sweet smell of renewed vigor lingers and life surges once more through sluggish veins, I think of you.

But here, there is the brightness of light against chrome instead of upon rippled water, the muted throb of engine instead of the untroubled trill of nightingale, the harshness of pavement instead of brushing fields.  In the early darkness of dawn there is only the thin haze of smog over the skyline, and if I look hard enough I can almost feel the saturated mist clinging to skin in early morning stillness as we make our way through a village suffused with sleepy expectations.

It is an age ago, another lifetime.  Places have changed, and people carry more cares than they once did.  In this city of brilliant lights and transparent bridges there is only incessant haste, and blood pounds through veins like quicksilver.  There is no time for moments, no time for pause or respite, and I have already long forgotten what promises the languid sprawling beneath carefree sunlight might hold.

            Winhill was a dream. But I have not forgotten you.

            How can I make you understand that I think of you, every waking moment, with every breath I take, with every beat of my heart, I can see your face; those clear, pretty eyes looking up at me, their depths giving me the world.

            It doesn't matter. You understand anyway; you always understand. Even when I didn't understand myself you understood me, and you knew me better than even I knew myself.

            Time wheels past us, slipping through our fingers on translucent wings of memory, and once we have a tremulous grasp upon it, ever so fleeting—we find ourselves staring back down the road to our beginning.   

            My limbs were once filled with vitality and the bountiful energy of youth.  I was once restless, reckless, filled with a fiery determination to change the world.  I wanted respect, I wished for success, I yearned for inspiration, influence.  I was a blundering fool.

            Now the years have flown past me and the threads of my life are strewn at my feet.  Through eyes filled of irony I find myself in the very same position as that of others I once ridiculed—faded, old men with the prime of their lives left behind them, faces wearied with regret. 

            Regret is a heavy word. 

            Since the days of my youth I have found respect, more than I could ever know what to do with in this lifetime, and success is mine also, and though another has since taken over my principle role in this city, my influence continues to be valued in high regard.  Although circumstances have changed, the road to my beginning remains true. 

I am still a bumbling fool.

It's funny, the way I look back now, how I realize that out of everything I could have once wished for, I never thought to look for happiness. 

Maybe I never dared to hope for it.

            You were my inspiration.  More than that—you were my happiness.

            There.  It isn't so hard to say that, now, is it?  It's funny how the words would never come out under the cool shade of sun-dappled leaves, when chestnut hair rested sweet under my chin and the scent of lilacs was in the air. 

            And I wonder now why I could never say it, never made it clear how much you meant to me, how much I needed you.  I was never good at articulation, prone instead to stumbling over my own feet and fumbling over half-words and strands of muddled prose.  

            It was so clear to me that one night, under a sky dipped in an effulgent sprinkle of stars, hazy stalks of grass nodding languidly in an ocean around us.  When I asked you to meet me there, the luminescence of the moon gave you an ethereal crown, pale skin a milky softness, wide eyes bright with enchanted wonder and delight.  Then your lips petal soft on mine, breath a sigh upon my neck, scent of lilacs lingering on skin and dainty form cradled against me, and it was a heaven I hadn't known before, a bliss I'd never hoped to look for. 

            It was a happiness so tangible that the only way I could possibly hope to express it was to slide the cool band over slender fingers and watch your eyes light up, brighter than the constellations dancing high above us.  Then you were in my arms, face buried in my neck; and as I tasted the crystalline salt of your joy it felt so right, the way it should have been always and always, and for a startling moment of clarity I knew I had the world encased within my arms.

            Maybe I have not forgotten, after all.

            I still remember the gentleness of the hands that first healed me, their softness kissing my face, nurturing a constant vigil.  After that the days spent with you were a contentment I had never known, each dawn bringing with it a fresh discovery of exhilaration and joyful thrills.  Under sunshine we would roam, golden beams warm upon our backs, petals from blossoming branches carpeting the earth our feet tread.  When the weather turned gray and the rain of your name would splatter down, our laughter would fill quiet houses sitting low on cobbled streets, and I would memorize the curves of your body and breathe in the scent of lilacs, always.    

            But like the fool I was, the restless spirit inside of me stirred once more, and I went out in search of the world, unable to comprehend that I had already cradled the world in my arms.

            I left you.  Just like that, off to fulfill some ridiculous ideal I had envisioned; deserting the frightened little girl clutching your side and abandoning the promise of life you carried within you. 

            I have seen him, you know.  He comes to visit me sometimes, willing to sit beside me and listen to an old man ramble and complain of long-ailing cramps.  You named him well: quite, brooding, cool gray of tempest eyes—the storm of his name, a backdrop to the gentle rain of yours; everything that I am not.

            I can see you in him. The slope of your chin, the tweak of your nose, the flawless skin, and if I look close enough—in stormy eyes the depths of your soul.

            He is not like me at all.  He is of your flesh and your blood, and he is no fool.  Not a coward like me, he does not shy from his fears nor flee from his burdens; he has strength and honor and pride.  He has already proven this to the world countless times, but even if he has not, I would still know the spirit that lies within him.  It is your spirit.  He is like you.

            I am sorry.

            I gave you a ring, I made you mine, and in the end I left you.  I was frightened of soothing spring days and the tranquil murmurs of Winhill, frightened of what would happen to my heart and soul if I stayed with you.  So coward that I was, I fled, my whispered vows to protect you, to return to you, left hanging upon warm summer nights. 

            I did not return to you.

            Not to you.  When my steps led me back to the cobbled streets of our quiet village, you were gone, and I was too late. 

That was the day I realized that time does not wait for those who run, and a heart can never be fully mended.

You understood the emptiness of my promises, yet you said nothing, watching with a tender smile under sad eyes as I walked away.

Can you feel these salty tears of mine running their course down my face now, because I am sorry, I hope you can forgive me, I hope you can understand, and I am crying, even though nonchalant fools aren't supposed to cry.

I loved you.  These are the words I could not say, even as they pour forth now, pounding of my heart the wetness of my soul quickening of my breath; because I love you.                   

            Blossoms in spring, the scent of lilacs in the air, though there are no longer sunbeams on my skin but rather the soft pitter-patter of moisture tumbling through the skies.   

            Now it is time, as the haze descends upon me within your gentle caresses, and I shall walk through my (raine) to find you on the other side.

~*~

A/N: Interpret as you will. I owe this to nothing but a muddled mind and troubled thoughts. Sir Laguna's usually such a happy guy, though, isn't he, and my sincerest apologies for any bouts of melancholy wistfulness.