Author's Notes: I wrote this on the Great North Eastern Railway. If the possibility of moogles being romantic disturbs you, then go read Squinoa or something. :) Oh, and there is angst, of a sort - though it is still quite pink and fuzzy.
This is set in Lindblum a few weeks before the FFIX canon starts rolling. Stiltzkin's POV.
By Athene Miranda
The Diary Of Stiltzkin
When you get right down to it, there's two sorts of people . Two sorts of people with two sorts of life. You can sit in one place, nice and comfy, with everything you need just within reach. You don't need to go anywhere, because everything you really need will come to you. You can be very, very happy with that life, if it suits you.
Or you can hit the road and keep running till they catch you.
I'm a traveller. I've always been a traveller, ever since the day I was made. It's not my fault if they don't understand what a traveller really is. It's not just about going to strange places and doing strange things - it's about wanting to go, needing to wake up in a different place every sunrise. It's about spreading your wings. I could never be in one place forever - my feet couldn't, and my head sure as hell can't. It seems incredible to me that so many people will do that - chain themselves to one place, one way of thinking. But they will... They all live in their own little worlds, and me, I just visit as many of them as possible. And I love it. Not just the being-there, the seeing-them, but the journey itself as well. The ground beneath my feet is one thing, but the road inside my heart is another.
The wind whistles past, trying to rip my pompom from my head. It's exhilarating. I peer over the rail, and the green countryside flies along below me, hazed in cloud and Mist. This is home. I'm twenty thousand feet above sea level, travelling faster than I could say, and I couldn't name the green land far below me, but I am, in spite of that, at home.
I wish we spoke the same language. Because we don't. You can say the same words as me and mean something totally different, and we both know that by now. You've tried so hard though - harder than anyone ever has, and I appreciate it more than I could ever tell you. But you'll never understand it, because you'll never be someone like me.
Your hand touches mine, underneath the worn wool blanket. "So...when are you going to be leaving?"
"Tomorrow morning," I reply, staring out of the window at the burning red moon. I don't always wake up in a new place every sunrise. Sometimes, I wake up here.
"Why?" you ask, a minute later. "Why do you have to go?" No one's making you leave here. No one's making you do anything. Why can't you just stay here, even for just a few days?"
I sigh deeply, and I pull myself further up the pillow till I have a better view of the city. I stare out at the messy backstreets of the Industrial District and the wild towers of the castle beyond, and I try to find some words for you, something you will understand.
"Because...it's not right for me here. It's your home, and I know you want it to be my home too, but I don't have a home like this. I can't. If I did, then I wouldn't be me any more. I'd be someone else, someone who stays in one place and never goes further than the end of their chain. You wouldn't like me any more if I was like that."
"Maybe not," you reply, and you shift your warm body up to mine, resting your head on my chest. "But...it's not my home, you know. It's just a place I've lived a while. I think my home's somewhere else, but - if you were here, it could be my home, I know it. Don't you - don't you know what I mean?"
I roll over, take both your paws in mine, and I plant a soft kiss on the tip of your nose. "I do. I know what you want to say to me, completely. I understood all of it, except for one word." Another kiss, this time on your mouth. "Home. That's not a place I know. It's not a place I want to know."
I watch the moonlight fade from your eyes, and I wish I didn't have to hurt you. I wish I knew how to tell you the truth, but there aren't words for it in your language. And now it's your turn to look away, to pretend that you don't want to curl up and cry on my shoulder. I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry...
Your voice is half-muffled in the pillow and so wistful I just want to weep. "I - I wonder if it would be different, if you were in love with me..."
I don't reply. I can't reply. There's nothing I can say that wouldn't be a lie to you. I am in love with you, but it's not like you want it to be. I love you like I love a thorn in my foot. I love you like a snakebite. You can't possibly understand the way I feel... I'm a traveller, and that means I've seen a lot of things happen around me. I see a lot of people live their lives, and wherever I go, I'm never more than a visitor. I don't have a life, I have a journey. So it washes off me. I can watch and watch and wander and wander and none of it gets through to me. I don't change. But you changed me - like a scar across the heart, you changed me. And I'll bear your scar forever, but forever doesn't mean the same for me as it does for you.
It's these scars that make me special. That make me Stiltzkin, instead of just a second-class traveller on an airship to anywhere. Your name is carved into my soul but that doesn't mean we can be together.
It doesn't mean anything at all.
Stations are very, very depressing places. Actually being on the wing, or the wave, or even just the chocobo carriage, is great fun, but nothing good can happen at a station. I spend a lot of my time in stations.
You shouldn't've come with me this morning. It was sweet of you, and I love you for it, but it made me feel guilty when I shouldn't feel guilty because I know I'm doing the only thing I can. Two worlds meet inside Lindblum Castle Station - the earth and the air, the local and the foreign, the south and the north; you and me.
I stare up at the noticeboard, scanning over the available destinations and wondering which one to hit. I can feel you standing behind me, arms folded morosely and sad, sad eyes boring into the back of my coat. Dali, Alexandria, South Guinitas... "So where are you going?" you ask softly.
"Alexandria," I say confidently, wondering if you know that I said it on a whim. I could go aanywhere. It doesnít matter. I can go anywhere on Gaia but I canít stay here with you..
"And where will you go after that?"
I turn my head, raise an eyebrow. You do know, donít you? You understand, even if you canít tell me you understandÖ And you seethe eyebrow and blink and step back and mutter "I just want to write to you, okay?!" and set me wondering all over again.
"I donít know. Iím going to go on a journey, a long journey. I want to know whatís happening out there over the seas. I donít think Iíll be back in Lindblum for quite a while."
Your mouth shakes up and down, as if Iíd slapped you. Do you think Iím rejecting you? Do you think thereís anyone else in the world for me? Or do you know the truth and hate it as much as I do? "Th-thatís alright, Stiltzkin. Iíll be leaving soon myself." I nod, and yes, I think I understand you. Itís best to leave somewhere if something painful happened there, which is maybe why I wind up leaving everywhere.
I scan the board again. Departure to Alexandria in fifteen minutes Ė itís a cargo shipment, but I bet I can talk my way onboard. I set my staff on the floor and turn towards the dock.
Your hand catches mine, and my eyes fall to yours. Youíre burning Ė youíre torn by what we are, and I can only try to understand how you feel. You take my other paw, weave our stubby fingers together, and you whisper fervently into my lips. "Take me with you. Please, will you take me with you? I donít need to take anything, I can leave right now and come on your journey with you Ė please?"
I raise your left paw in my right, and kiss it, stroke the fur against my lips. "No. I canít ever do that. If I made you come with me Ė made you turn into something like me, something that had an airship ticket instead of a home, something that always always wanted to be somewhere else Ė then you wouldnít be you any more. And itís you that I keep coming back to, over and over again."
I drop your paws, and I take your chin in my hand, staring into your eyes and trying to make you believe me. Thereís tears gathering in the corner of one of your wide, brown eyes. "Youíll come back to me?"
"Yes. Wherever you decide your home is, Iíll come back there and Iíll tell you what Iíve seen. I promise."
You nod. You understand me? "Right. ThenÖIíll be waiting for you, I promise. "
I smile, and turn away, run off to see if I can hitch a lift on the airship. I donít care, you know. I donít care if you roll yourself in the gutter and lay every moogle on the Mist Continent Ė Iíll still come back to you.. Youíve scarred me, lover, and itís something I can never, ever forget, and I can live with the fact that youíll never understand, because I know that I wonít either.
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