Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 8

Lights in the Sky

by LunaManar 1 review

Squall wrestles with the responsibility of his new command, and the confusion Rinoa is causing in his life.

Category: Final Fantasy 8 - Rating: G - Genres: Angst,Drama - Characters: Squall - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2014-09-05 - 2399 words - Complete

Lights In The Sky
by Luna Manar


It was a quiet night.

Finding it difficult to know how he felt about the change in ambiance, Squall pretended he didn't notice it. Inside Balamb Garden, the lights were on. The water still flowed beneath the walkway beneath his feet. SeeDs and students still walked the pathways.

He stepped into a darkened room where the air more closely matched the surroundings. There was a hush about that was out of place in the cheery brightness of the central ring. No matter how little had changed within Garden's walls, the fact remained that outside, there were no more fields, no more forests, and no mountains.

Only miles and endless miles of shifting water surrounded them now, and even if one cared to look out a window or off the edge of a balcony, the light of the great propulsion ring beneath the water's surface revealed only a few hundred meters of the ocean's cold, black surface. If they were moving at all, it was hard to say.

Squall looked up, through the skylight that had once graced the ballroom's grand expanse with celestial brilliance. There were no stars for him now, nor even a sliver of moonlight, and he shook his head at the irony. Here he was, alone and in the dark, the perfect witness to such a sky in an environment just as perfect for viewing it: the ballroom was abandoned, the lights were turned down and there was no golden glow to overwhelm the cold purity of space. But far above were clouds so black, they forbade even a single beam of light from passing through.

That's the way it is. When you're there, nobody's paying attention, and when someone is, you're gone.

A sneer's twitch tugged for a moment at the edge of his mouth, but the expression never formed, the emotion behind it too muted to matter; just a hint of contempt, born of the notion that this was some kind of predictable tragedy. No one thinks about it, because it has nothing to do with them. It's nothing. Just a convenient backdrop.

He sighed, confused about his own thoughts and not sure where they were coming from. He was driven by an intuitive nagging to a nearby corner-a familiar corner, out of the way of all the empty air. It was the corner that had started all this...

Why do I think that? he wondered with an agitated gesture at the corner, glowering at it as though it had done him a great injustice. Then he stepped into its shadow and turned his back to it, slumping in it, his arms folded against his chest. Restless, he let them down by his sides as he shifted uncomfortably against the wall. This isn't helping. Why did I come here? He cast about the huge, empty room, its hard floors and towering walls echoing his breathing back to him in answer.

This place had seemed important to him just minutes ago, but he didn't know what answers he thought he might discover by coming back. He'd thought he could trace the path of events that had led him to be in the position he was in, now:

Leader. Of all this? Is Cid crazy? Is everyone just that stupid?

Who was he kidding, after all? He wasn't a natural; he was good, but all things considered, he was just as lucky; that they'd all returned in one piece, that Garden had started up after who-knew-how-long sitting idle in the ground, had as much to do with simple chance as anything else.

Not hope, not passion, not greatness or goodness would ever have saved any of them, and to insist Squall Leonhart possessed any of these qualities was a fallacy, pure and simple. Cid was wrong. Quistis was wrong. They were all so wrong!

This is a mistake. He put his hand to his face again. I'm going to get everyone here killed.

How had this happened? For the past several days he'd not had a second to think, too busy doing, and far too much of that action had been reaction, running instead of fighting. What had happened just a few days ago? They'd jumped a train. Before that, he'd sent three friends away, and likely to die. Before that...

Flashes of witches and catacombs and bullies jarred him and warned him not to remember; some safeguard in his mind insisted it would serve no purpose but to further incapacitate and confuse him. But before the mental reel was cut short, one last image flickered across his eyes.

Squall blinked, breaking his reverie to find himself leaning forward slightly, his arm halfway outstretched and his hand partly open, as if to almost reach for another hand, or stop himself from nearly falling. He startled and stumbled back against the wall, gripped by the queer feeling of one who has fallen out of bed, so sure that the last image of the dream was real, heart pounding as if the floor had dropped out from under him.

It all kept coming back to her-screaming for him as he fell, smiling at him as he stood here. Her face, her bright, infuriating eyes. Before her, everything had been fine. Everything was just fine...

That's a lie. He laughed humorlessly at himself, then frowned at the place on the dance floor where Rinoa had stood. "It all has something to do with you," he muttered. "I don't trust you. I don't like you." Another lie! He growled softly at himself through a tight jaw. "I don't trust myself around you."

That was it. That is what had started here, in this corner. When you're around, I do stupid things.

Suddenly, the ballroom was as bright as it had been when he let her drag him away from his safe contemplation, a flash like a camera, framing his memory for a split instant in blinding, washed out light. Squall looked up at the sky again, his mouth parting slightly as he watched a claw of lightning rip at the blackness. Thunder tore the silence as if unable to stand it any longer; the lingering vibration made the monolithic walls tremble as if ready to break.

For a few minutes, Squall watched the storm roll in through the limited view of the window, white light drawing ragged, temporary tears in the apathetic clouds. He listened to the roaring and crackling, and felt something like relief, some kinship with the chaotic din. I know how you feel...

But he knew the storm felt nothing, and quietly, he was envious of it.

If he felt nothing, he could think clearly. If only he could penetrate the fog in his mind with the apathetic clarity of lightning and tell himself that these were the right decisions, that this was the best he could do.

If only he didn't need to be here, in this room, contemplating the weather like an idiot.

I can take care of myself, he brooded, but other people? How can I be responsible for them, too? It's... One hand tightened to a fist at his side. No. Not too much. He had to find a way to deal with it. Somehow...

Another flash on the dance floor, another flicker of that girl's face in his mind. He shook his head at himself. He'd made a joke of himself in this room with her. His first SeeD assignment helping her childish excuse for a resistance faction had been nothing short of an insult. Her foolishness had nearly gotten her killed by the Sorceress.

That sorceress... He squeezed his eyes shut and knocked his head once against the wall behind him. Why aren't I dead?

The whole thing made no sense. Dances. Harebrained pacifist guerrilla movements. Ill-conceived congratulatory parties over a job position he wanted nothing to do with. He didn't even know the girl, and yet, she was all over him. No matter how he looked at his problems, Rinoa was in the middle of them. He wanted to rip her out. He wanted it all to have nothing to do with her. But she was so wrapped up in his thoughts, so stuck in the middle of all these problems, problems, that removing her from them didn't solve them at all. It only left him with problems that had holes at their center.

So solve it. Solve her. He had to get her out of his mind, out of the way so he could concentrate on himself, again.

He gazed sideways at the entrance, knowing he wouldn't see her walk through the big double doors. She wouldn't think to come here when it was dark. She was too much of a social animal; too much like everybody else. He found himself stifling an angry, desperate urge to go find her, right now, and drag her down here, into the dark, back to the dance floor, just to see what she would do. "Does it look the same to you in the dark?" he growled quietly to the air in front of him, to her in the fantasy.

A particularly loud boom shook the floor beneath his feet, drawing his attention to the skylight, again. He watched the storm blast against the glass. The lightning, splintered by the water, reminded him of fireworks, and the contrast seemed appropriate; glittering colors of artificial noise belonged to the golden warmth of celebration. He liked this better, this natural, stark light that clashed violently with the world instead of fizzling away into irrelevancy. I doubt you'd like this as much, he mused with more than a little cynicism. Rinoa, would you be afraid of it?

He lowered his eyes. You know, you probably wouldn't be afraid. You're naïve, but you're not a coward. He didn't know why that mattered, but accepted the fact without fanfare, just a nod to himself, to the empty space in front of him. You probably just think it's too loud. You don't like stuff that's this chaotic. "Think I feel the same way?" He cut the air with one hand. The floor in front of him did not answer.

The void bothered him. The discomfort he had felt wasn't a feeling of being displaced, he realized-it was a feeling of incompleteness. He was in the right place, but something was missing. Again, he was gripped with the urge to bring her here, but not to judge her; just to show her! I don't want the things you want.

He didn't know what purpose it would serve. All that had nothing to do with anything. It would not help him solve the most pressing of his problems: I'm not cut out for all this. What do I do, now? He shook his head and folded his arms. Somehow, whatever just didn't work anymore.

The light seemed colder and the thunder more hollow as the storm went on and on. Squall slumped a little against the wall and watched how the flashes of light divided the room into black and white. As the storm got angrier, his eyes narrowed.

I can't afford to be like this, anymore.

He waited out the storm. At last, and so suddenly it enticed Squall to lift his eyes to the ceiling one more time, the clouds broke open, just a little, just enough to let one beam of moonlight, then another, then a steady glow. Though the thunder still rumbled, and the lightning still flashed, suddenly it didn't seem to flash so violently, and the room he stood in grew a little brighter. He scanned the room with his eyes, his brow lifting just a bit to see the shadowed walls gilded in celestial silver, cool and fragile-looking in the stillness of the air. The lightning lent flashes of brilliance to the weak moonglow. The two complimented each other, no longer alone in lighting the darkness.

He remembered, suddenly, the fleeting streak across that moon he had happened to see, a single instant in time that not one, but two people had happened to be staring at the same part of the sky, just at the right moment. It meant nothing magical, Squall thought, not what others might want it to mean.

Still, it had happened. She had been there, when he was. It hadn't been so bad, really, not at the time. The dance had come and it had gone, and he would have been content to leave it at that, a pleasant memory. I guess it happens, sometimes. It's nice when it does. You just can't count on it.

Eyes open, staring up at the angry sky, he wondered if he was missing a point somewhere. At the moment, the lightning's wrath, this impending war that weighed on him, daunting and immediate, felt less profound a metaphor than the fleeting glint of a dance and a shooting star. Both were just as brief, and perhaps the storm was far less beautiful, but there was so much lightning.

Or maybe just the same raging bolt, bashing itself fruitlessly against the world over and over again.

Squall sighed quietly. He was getting nowhere, and it was late. It didn't matter what he thought. It was the way it was. He was in command. It was time he started thinking the part, instead of just acting it. He hadn't the slightest idea how he would manage that, but he knew he had to. The puzzle Rinoa presented him, that glint of madness in the tempest of his worries, he would have to work out as he went, as he had the time. He let his arms rest at his sides, squeezing his hands in to fists once and then letting them hang free. He shook his head and turned away from the corner. Can't fight it. Just let it come, and do what you have to do. He took a few steps, paused and cast one last look over his shoulder at the sky and its shrouded moon. He waited, holding his breath, just for a moment.

Nothing happened. No falling star, just the flicker of violent air. There would be no miracles, tonight.

The thunder growled, powerful and distant. Squall stood straight and walked back to the lobby, unable to shake the feeling he had left someone behind in the darkness.
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