What do a tooth, a tattoo, and a friend have in common?

An excerpt from something I wish I had written. Wanna know why I love FFVIII so much? The way it deals with emotions and interpersonal relations are so real and life-like. Don’t believe me? Read on…

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With a little help from the FH techs and a lot of prodding from Irvine, Selphie had pulled off the Garden Festival surprisingly well, considering that she’d had less than a day to do it. A stage had been erected next to the mayor’s house, and SeeDs and SeeD candidates had flocked out of Garden to join the party and dance to the music. Why Selphie had picked out an old-fashioned jig, Squall had no idea, but it sounded pretty good. She was just lucky that Quistis and Irvine could play the instruments she’d given them.Squall had never known that Zell could tap-dance.Rinoa was the one who’d dragged him out to the party. He’d meant to take advantage of the event to rest, but left to his own devices, he found himself getting restless. Even… bored.

That was when Rinoa had found him, dressed up for the party and coaxing for all she was worth. Even if he’d refused, she’d have pestered him until he’d agreed to put in an appearance. He let her drag him out to the concert. Irvine somehow managed to clear out the area near the stage, so that the two of them could sit in peace.

It quickly became clear that Rinoa had something more serious than the concert on her mind.

“What is it?” Squall finally asked, when it began to look like she’d be all night getting around to saying anything of importance.

“Umm,” she began hesitantly. “Well, it’s about your promotion.” She paused, not quite meeting his eyes, before venturing, “Things are gonna get real tough for you, huh?”

He didn’t want to think about that.

Something must have shown on his face – or else it was his silence that gave him away. “Squall, I’m sure there’ll be a lot of difficult things that you’ll have to deal with from now on. We were talking about that, and saying how you’ll probably try to handle everything on your own.”

I probably will, he thought, but kept that to himself.

Rinoa smiled, noting, “They know you too well. I do, too, although I haven’t been around you that long. Y’know, when you start thinking, you tend to frown like this…”

He’d hunched forward, propping his elbow against his knee and resting his chin on his hand. When he glanced aside, he realized she was mimicking his posture. He swiped a hand at her irritably, but she rolled nimbly backwards and hopped to her feet, laughing delightedly.

Oh, perfect. “I’m out of here,” he grumped, preparing to get back to his feet.

“Oh come on! I’m sorry!” she protested, making him hesitate. “But really, we were saying that…well… You can’t handle everything on your own.”

As she was saying this, she strolled casually around behind him, creeping up behind his back – and shoved him off the ledge he was sitting on, down onto the array of solar panels below. As he shot her a killing glare, she hopped down after him, meeting his inarticulate growl of frustration with a triumphant look.

“That’s it!” she exclaimed, holding out both hands in an almost pleading gesture. “Just let out anything! Anything… We want you to talk to us a little more. That’s all.”

When he tried to turn away, she followed him, persisting, “Y’know, if there’s anything you want to tell us, or anything we can do, don’t hesitate to let us know. I know it’s not easy, but I wish you would trust us and rely on us a little more.”

Squall couldn’t think of anything to say. Am I that untrusting…? he wondered to himself. Maybe I’m this way because I’m scared. Nothing lasts in this world.

It feels great to have friends who believe in you, and adults you can rely on. That’s why it’s so dangerous, especially if you become used to it. Someday you’re bound to lose everything. Everybody around you will be gone. Then what are you left with? Nothing. Nobody… It’s so miserable.

And it’s inevitable. It’s so hard to recover from something like that. I never ever want to deal with that again. I can’t. Even if it means being alone…

…for the rest of my life.

“What a night,” Rinoa mused cheerfully, breaking into Squall’s grim thoughts. “Great music… Good-looking guy… Not only is he good-looking, he’s the sweetest guy… a great listener. Right now, he’s seriously thinking about what I said. He’s shy and doesn’t say anything, but I know.” She turned to him now, smiling. “So, what do you think?” she asked brightly. “None of our business?”

Squall sighed, shaking his head. “I appreciate your concern,” he began. “But…”

“No ‘buts’!” she interrupted him sharply. “Just think about this. This might be the only time we’ll all be together. So, as long as we’re together, we might as well enjoy each other’s company and… just talk, right?”

“…Just for now, huh?” he muttered, a little sourly. “Forget it. I don’t want friends who won’t be around tomorrow.”

“Gosh, you’re such a pessimist,” Rinoa complained on a half-laugh. “There are no guarantees in the future. That’s why today, the time we have now, is important. Squall,” she insisted, “we wanna help you, as much as we can, for as long as we can. We all love you.”

He blinked at her, caught more than a little off-guard by this pronouncement.

“There,” she added, a little wryly, “I said it. Please don’t freak out. We just wanna live, y’know, live through this time with you, together.”She’d unbalanced him. He wasn’t sure what to think. “…Together…?” he echoed uncertainly, half to himself.

“Keep it in the back of your mind,” Rinoa told him gently. “Call on us whenever you need to. We’ll be waiting. Like I said, who knows what’s gonna happen in the future… but I have a feeling we’ll be together for a while.”

They were both quiet for some time, while cheerful music drifted in from overhead.

“So,” Rinoa spoke up at last, smiling again, “what’s on your mind? Do you have any dreams, Squall? Anything you want to do with your life?”

He’d never actually thought about it. The only goal he’d ever had in his life was to become a SeeD. Now that he’d done that… “That’s something I’d rather not talk about,” he told her. Then, a little less stiffly, ventured, “What about you?”

“…I don’t know,” she admitted. “I guess I’d rather not talk about the future, either But right now…” She looked up at the night sky, where the stars glittered down at them both. “…I wanna stay right here…” she murmured, “…like this.”

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quistian

An incorrigible Gen-X cynic who writes too damn much

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