Chapter 1: Recovering To A Wounded State
(You, now I see, keeping everything inside)
(You, now I see, even when I close my eyes)
-Linkin Park:With You
“Where is Squall?” Quistis asked Irvine.
“I dunno.” Irvine replied, half-heartedly as he made another attempt to put his arm around Quistis.
“Irvine! If you do that again, I swear I’m gonna beat you down!”
“Okay, okay, calm down.” Said Irvine, “I go for Selphie anyway... Most of the time.”
“Did he say anything before he left?”
“He said he was going to a... Confessional?”
“Confession? What, confessing his sins? Squall had been an atheist for the most of the time, the only time I heard him say ‘God’ or ‘Hyne’ was when Rinoa was about to die.” She stopped. Thinking about Squall’s situation now, it seemed all too logical.
Squall..., Quistis thought, I know he feels bad, about Rinoa leaving and all, but confession? It’s just too absurd to think Squall in the chambers, actually talking to someone, exposing his fears, doubts, troubles, sins.
“How much time has it been since he left?” Quistis asked.
“What am I, ‘Where Is Squall Detector’?” Irvine asked, “I’m curious over this, maybe even more than you do.”
They stood in curiosity and silence, none of them said a word. Quistis was staring at the gates in an expectation. She was eager to mistake any and every stranger in black clothes as Squall. She looked around some more, and sighed, knowing Squall would come when he would come and her actions wouldn’t speed him up.
It was around Autumn, and the wind was gently blowing, cooling Quistis down as she hanged on to her long trenchcoat. Quistis looked at the gates, thought about it, then looked at the gates some more. She then started to walk up and down, her fingers twitching in nervousness.
“Irvine, what if he has done it again?”
“Again!?” Irvine asked, “He has been using any and every kinds of help since then! It’s been what, two months?”
“Two months and two attempts so far.”
“I wish Squall could just... Get over her.”
Quistis swallowed up her anger for Irvine, and picked up her pace of walking up and down again.
Think, girl, think! Where could he have gone without telling anyone anything? Off to a back alley? To a cliff? To a car-renting service and then a bar? To a gang fight? To Timber? To... To The Island Closest To Heaven? Hell! Where!?
“Look, Quisty, I am as curious as you are too, but don’t beat yourself up. Squall wanders around a lot lately, so he probably-“
“Yeah, right!” Quistis snapped, “He wanders around a lot lately, my ass! He’s trying to ease his pain, dammit! It’s hard to have someone you love more than anything leave... Especially when you’re Squall.”
“What do you mean?” Irvine asked.
“Did he ever have a lot of love, to give to take?” Quistis asked.
Silence fell again. They both were under the heavy burden of the things that could happen, things they knew did probably happen. Both of them were too scared to voice their doubts, because it would mean to voice a possible truth too hard to imagine.
Possibilities were racing around Quistis’ head. Irvine was calm, he was keeping on his “cool cowboy” mask on his face, while secretly, somewhere deep down, worrying about Squall. He knew it had all started with Rinoa leaving; the unthinkable happenning.
I will never forgive her, Quistis thought, for putting Squall through so much hell, after all that has happened between them! How could she do such thing? How on earth could two people like them seperate? I mean, okay, totally impossible relationship, anti-social, no-bullshit, straight soldier with an over-ratedly social, emotional, independent resistance leader, but we thought all the things they had been through would make them work it out.
Quistis turned her gaze at the gates again.
And there was the figure at the gates, wearing a leather, black trenchcoat that came to a level at his knees, carrying a gunblade. At once, Quistis noticed that his steps were unwillingly taken, he was forcing himself to take one step after another, just to reach to his resting place, or salvation.
“Squall! Finally!” Quistis said, almost running up to him. When Quistis got close to him, she saw his eyes- like dark pools of mystery, taking everything in but never letting anything out. A piece of the soul behind those eyes was missing.
Squall didn’t say anything. He just continued to walk.
“Where have you been?” Quistis asked, “I’ve been going-“
“She’s been going really really upset over here, man.” Irvine said, “I think you need to just leave a message somewhere so we can find you.”
“Why?” Squall asked, simply.
“Well, cause-“ Irvine stopped. He just couldn’t think of a reason why.
Bitterly, the quarter of a smile appeared on Squall’s face, and he continued his unwilling steps.
“I know a reason!” Quistis said, like a general conquering Esthar, “Because we’re afraid that you might do something stupid again!”
“Something stupid?” Squall asked, “Look back to all the things I’ve done so far, which one makes sense to you? Assassinating a sorcerss, clashing with NORG, siding with Cid, battling against Matron, risking my own goddamn life for someone that can turn away from me so easily! Which one of them makes sense!? I’ll tell you- none! So get away from me!”
He continued his steps, as they gained up a speed of anger, and Squall marched to his dormitories.
Hyne be his support, Quistis thought, seriously. He’s about to fall apart again, and I came on him? It was a dumb move. But what was I supposed to do, eat my finger nails down to the roots until someone told me he was coming to Garden in a body bag?
“Quistis, I don’t think you should... Y’know, ‘come on to him’.” Irvine said.
“Oh, you shut up!” Quistis snapped and walked away.
“What are you mad at me for!? I am not the one we had to save twice!”
“Irvine, just how badly do you want your head ripped off with a chain whip?”
“Not so badly, thanks, Quisty.”
“Don’t call me that!”
Quistis walked away from Irvine, her temper rising up. Irvine sighed at himself and looked up to the sky. The evening was gently falling, and the colours of the sky seemed too bright to think about what Squall had done to himself over “such little issue”.
Man, Irvine thought, what is so hard about letting go and moving on? Hasn’t he ever heard about an in between relationship? Why doesn’t he just get his ass up and find himself someone to sacrafice to his aftermath depression? Does he always have to turn his problems into massive bodycount math?
What makes his problems bigger than ours?
Irvine decided he wasn’t about to reach to an answer. So he decided to go back into the Garden and hang around with girls, or if Selphie was around, with just Selphie.
As Irvine strided into the Garden, he saw Selphie on the corner with one of her friends, in a deep, deep conversation. Though Irvine knew Selphie wouldn’t mind a sharpshooter that would ruin the whole conversation, he percieved it as an opportunity to hang around with someone that wasn’t Selphie.
Irvine made his way into the Garden, and stopped by the fountain. He looked up to the sky, looked around... But there was hardly anyone. Knowing his moves would look awfully suspicious if he even tried to get close to the trio hanging out over the Cafeteria doors, he decided to stay right where he was and think.
Damn. Somehow, nobody gives a lousy damn about me or Quistis or Selphie. I know he’s a leader, a hero, etc. Etc. But why do people take him a lot more seriously than us? He has the mind of a kid! He can’t just let go! I’m sick of it! I’m absolutely sick!
Irvine looked around again, to see less people was on the hall.
And if I have to see him in the Infirmary again I swear I’m going to kill him.
As Irvine thought about these, and if he should approach to the girl that had just arrived the Garden and that was on the hall, his ‘main target’ had just entered into his cloister.
Squall looked around in his plain, simple, single dormitory room. It was neat and tidy, chambermaids took care of everything, and Squall didn’t need to worry about his clothes being ironed or his bed sheets changed.
Squall undressed, and went over to the bathroom to take a shower. Feeling the water wash away the tiredness a little bit, Squall felt a little bit more relieved. He got out of the bathroom, and put on his pyjamas- he wasn’t expected to sleep in his regular outfit, was he?
As Squall got to the bathroom to force down his set of anti-depressants, he found himself, staring at the razor in front of him. Squall noticed that he needed to shave. He reached out for the razor and the soap. He started to shave, and as he did, he got surprised how bad he looked in the mirror. His hand slipped, and he cut himself a little bit, a droplet of blood came running down on his cheek.
Squall catched himself, staring at the droplet, as the scene in his head contained more and more blood with every passing second.
Throwing the razor into the sink, Squall took a step back. He looked down and noticed that his hands were shaking.
Great Hyne, Squall thought, help me. Hyne, help me get over this, just help me. I need help. I can’t make it alone, not again, not when I found what I need! But why? Why do I have to be the one to fall, always? Hyne, do you ever give up torturing me!?
Squall decided to end his shaving session quickly, and did so. He didn’t even look at his little cut, he left it there, blood coming out of it. Just to save himself from getting infected, Squall took a piece of cotton, got it wet and pressed it on the wound. He got to the bed, and sat on it.
Hyne... Why do I always keep placing my faith with you? I should’ve known my faith should lie in myself, cause I end up being alone. Nodoby wants me. Not even... Her.
Great. Two months, and still, I can’t say her name. I hate it. Am I untouchable? Unreachable? Or am I just a burden? A burden, that passes from the first carrier onto the next unfortunate soul? A disease taking one victim at a time? A virus in their system?
Squall stared at his hands. He then, managed to move up the sleeves of his pyjamas, to reveal himself the wounds he had opened up.
Hyne, you want proof that I’m falling apart? Here. I gave myself physical pain, and it calmed me down for a while. And then, I find myself in questions again. It doesn’t hurt anymore. It doesn’t help. It never helped.
No, the real help always came in when I least expected it.
Squall laid down on his bed to think about it.
It had all started with a letter Squall had found on his bed when he got back from a mission. Rinoa’s pretty and curved handwriting was on the letter, and it said,
To Squall Leonhart.
Squall had picked up the letter and opened it up.
If you’re reading this letter, it means that, I’m gone.
I’m sorry, but that’s the way it has to be. Maybe you will think of it as a betrayal, but let me explain before your rage or despair takes control.
We’ve been through a lot. I owe my life to you, so many debts I have for you. I owe you more than my life, for I know (and you should know too) that my heart is just for you.
But things have changed, Squall. Changed too deeply for me to say I can keep up with it, or get used to it.
After Ultimecia’s defeat, six months passed with incredible speed; parties, publicity, Balamb Garden’s re-establishment on Balamb Island, medals, all sorts of stuff we endured together. We stood strong against everything, just like we did before.
But the support beams of my bridge was crumbled to dust by things.
Maybe it was just me being a sorceress, but apart from our group, (you know who I’m talking about, you and the rest of the orphanage gang.) everyone grew cold against me. Girls started to conjure such wild gossips, that some, my level-of-politeness won’t let me expose. And as for guys, it got them scared, cause they thought, if you got jeolous, their lives will be on the line.
And now, Squall, I found out, that I don’t belong in here.
My place, I believed, was where you were. But our group, especially you don’t even have a moment to stop and breathe. Selphie’s off to Timber, while Quistis goes to Tear’s Point, Irvine is sent to Trabia Garden, and Zell is off training cadets on martial arts.
So who does it leave? Me and you. And you are constantly on missions, apart from the one-day breaks you get, and you decide to keep that day to yourself mostly, and I have to come and make you crawl out of that room, to enjoy the sunset or the full moon around in the ‘Secret Area’, and you always, (I’m smiling as I’m writing this) complain about violating the curfew.
Okay, so who is left? Me. Whom do I have apart from our gang? Noone. Not even Nida or Xu. Or Zell’s girlfriend, Amy. I tried, you think I didn’t? I tried to communicate with others. As long as I’m asking the questions or starting the talking, it doesn’t matter, but noone tells me anything as I sit lonely somewhere, waiting for someone to walk up on me.
Cause I’ve given up trying some time ago.
Please, understand me. My place is where you are, but I’m not allowed on missions, cause I may jeopardize them. And there’s me being a sorceress, noone trusts me. Cid didn’t say anything, and I think he’s what I had closest to a father. A real father. And I’m here, trying to live day after day, inhale breath after breath just for you.
Do you remember, when you came back from a mission, I had a mail from the leader of Forest Chicobos, telling me they are going to be meeting up to discuss the gains and the losses we came across, we laughed when I said it would be like serving an innocent angel to a lion?
But what you probably missed, Squall, was you were laughing harder than I was.
I’m sorry, I decided to leave to Timber, to get back where I started.
Why? Cause I can’t stand being alone anymore. I’m pretty sure Zone and Watts are alive, those two always get away, though I can’t figure out how. Because the silence I have to endure everyday, and sometimes, even when I’m with you, tells me everything. You never said ‘I don’t care, this is where I need you’...
Because Squall, I can’t become a SeeD, yes, cause I’m a sorceress. I’m a sorceress, which makes me face (kinda) racism. So who do I have left?
Myself, but I’m not as strong as you are. I need someone to go on. And though I’m not religious, I prayed last night. For us. For our future, present, or past. I just can’t keep this up anymore, I’m so sorry.
Remember our promise. You promised to be there. At the flower garden, and please let our promise bind you from now on. Bind our fates, our souls. I want you to go on with your life, and call me sometimes. I still love you.
So I’m dancing on the ashes of the bridges I burn.
And with the letter, came the duplicate of Squall’s ring, the one Zell had made for Rinoa.
Squall had found himself in shock. He was walking, talking, eating, doing his missions, but not feeling. After the numbness went away, Squall found himself in a depression. Zell had saved Squall from a kamikaze attack he went on to a T-Rexaur couple-in a mating season. Selphie and Irvine, together had saved Squall from dying in a Grat den, of poisonous gas.
But the thing they all missed was, how careless Squall was.
He didn’t talk about it as if it was something important. Squall sounded like he didn’t even care.
And then, one evening, Quistis had walked in from the doors of his dormitory room to find him in the bathroom, on the ground, pale, both of his wrists slit.
Quistis had managed to take Squall to the Infirmary and get him all patched up, and an awful truth had sank into the people closest to Squall. They had all become convinced he was depressed deeply.
Another day, ironically, Quistis had walked in from Squall’s doors again, to find him on the floor with a little pill container in hand, totally empty, and Squall passed out. Calling upon Irvine, Quistis had managed to save Squall, yet again, from death.
But Dr.Kodowaki had said that, she had found cuts and bruises on his arms.
Making Selphie cry in despair for Squall and hate towards what Rinoa had done, Dr. Kodowaki had said that these wounds were his own work. And she had managed to prescribe a couple of anti-depressant pills for Squall. As Irvine had noticed, Selphie was spending the nights uneasy, because she knew Squall was experienced in suicide attempts.
Coming back to now, Squall found himself in the bed, staring at the ceiling, lights out, and his eyes were closing.
Hyne, help me.
...Squall opened up his eyes to find out that it was morning. As he got up from his bed, he heard someone in the shower. Knowing it was his private room, he got ready for a battle and walked in from the door of the bathroom, only to find Rinoa in the shower.
“You!?” Squall asked.
“Who did you expect, Leviathian?” Rinoa asked, cheerfully.
“Rinoa, you’re here!” Squall said, his voice almost hopeless. Getting out of the shower and putting on a bathrobe, Rinoa said,
“Why do you sound so surprised? I’ve been here the whole night.”
Squall stared in shock.
Great Hyne... She didn’t leave, she’s here! With me! Thank you, Hyne, thank you for your blessing!
“Squall, I need to talk to you.” Said Rinoa. As she and Squall sat on the bed, Squall felt so relieved. He was willing to listen to everything Rinoa had to say to him.
“Squall I... Don’t belong here.”
“What?” Squall asked.
“I mean, I’m so lonely... They always go out on missions, and I don’t have anyone else but you and our group.”
“Balamb Garden is overflowing with students, Rinoa. Just go to them.”
“They don’t want to accept me as part of them.”
“I’m a sorceress, remember? I can’t be a SeeD. It’s too late to begin the training anyway. So why should I even stay here?”
“To stay with me?” Squall asked.
“Maybe.” Rinoa said, “But you’re always out on missions, cause you’re the commander and all.”
“I can ask Cid a week off.”
“But you always keep the most of the time to yourself when you have the week off!”
“And I have to make you get out of your room!”
“Rinoa, look, I will talk to Cid. And I’ll ask him to give me some more freedom of all the missions.”
“You can? I thought he was your commander, and you were just too obedient.”
“I can do anything. Anything, just don’t leave!”
“If you’re going to be here more often, I won’t leave.”
“We have a promise, Squall. Be at the flower garden and I’ll come eventually.”
“But you won’t leave now? You will stay here, right?”
“I will, of course I will.”
As Rinoa got dressed, Squall looked at himself in the mirror. For once in two months, he had been truly well. He even managed to smile at his own reflection.
Squall got dressed up completely, as Rinoa appeared, fully dressed as well. Squall looked at her, feeling all the feelings he had for her force his throat. Even looking at her, it was making him suffocate. Drowning under the mixed feelings he had inside; love, confusion, despair, fear, anger, pain.
“Squall, why are you looking at me like you’re gonna eat me alive?” Rinoa asked.
“Just looking.” Squall said as he reached out to her and pulled her in a hug. Wrapping his arms around her, Squall felt his feelings explode inside.
“I’m so happy that you’re here.” Squall said, his eyes in tears.
Opening up his eyes, Squall saw the ceiling, staring back at him. Judging by the light in the room, it should’ve been about 7:30. Squall remembered the scene. He listened in.
There was no one else in the room but Squall and silence.
He buried his face into his hands, cracking up, and crying for the first time in his life. As his shoulders shook with sobs, Squall realised how the whole world was leaning on him.
Every night... Squall thought, every goddamn night I find peace, I find her. I find the happiness I’ve been longing for all my life. And every damn morning, I get up... To listen in to the absolute silence in my room.
Just to hear the silence, as whispers and echoes of what she said races around in my head.