Written for tempsmort's Moon Challenge, in 78 minutes out of the allotted 90.
Post-game Squall reflects on the moon. And maybe the moon reflects a little on him too.
There was nothing like a Balamb moon. Nothing in the world. Nothing compared to standing on the end of the dock and looking up into the night sky. A huge milky orb settled in jet black and it’s wavering reflection in the deep cobalt water below. The stars were nothing to laugh at either, but the moon always seemed so much closer in Balamb. Farther down. It seemed possible to reach up and touch it, even though deep down you knew that you couldn’t.
Sometimes you needed stupid ideas like that. Just because.
The moon was something Squall had missed these past few months. It was invisible in so many places. It was impossible to see the moon in Deling. Or in Esthar. Too many lights. You couldn’t see it in caves, of course, and many of the forest canopies were too thick. In the desert the moon had been visible, but much too strange and foreign looking for his tastes. It had stood out too much, the only object in the stark emptiness that surrounded them. It had made him feel smaller than usual.
He had always felt a special connection with the moon. The moon was something that everyone was fascinated with. Something everyone romanticized, even when they knew it was just a cold, dead rock. Nothing more. A pretty rock, certainly, but still cold and dead. He felt much the same way. Outward beauty has nothing to do with inner beauty. Rinoa once told him he had the eyes of a poet, an expressive mouth. What did that have to do with anything? He had no words outside of the ones flitting through his head, and those words certainly were not beautiful. His mouth had nothing to express. He was so rarely anything but completely apathetic!
Rinoa had no idea what she was talking about. She never did, really. And she was a Sorceress now. One of the most powerful beings on the planet. That was enough to make even Squall want to laugh. Rinoa. Beautiful, vivacious Rinoa. More beauty than brains. More spirit than common sense. Almost the opposite of quiet, composed Matron, or the more capable and demure Ellone. Rinoa had the power to destroy a building with a wave of her hand and she might do it entirely on accident. When Matron and Ellone had taken her away on their ship to train, Squall and the rest of the Orphanage Gang couldn’t hide their relief. Rinoa had been their friend and they certainly hadn’t wanted her to be sealed away or killed because of her Sorceress powers, but as their adventure progressed it had become increasingly clear that Rinoa was a danger to anyone around her.
Squall felt the loss of her presence as keenly as he could feel anything. He missed her unflappable optimism, her giggle, the was she made him feel like he belonged. But he hadn’t loved Rinoa, whatever the others thought. It didn’t work. He made the choice for it not to work. Loving Rinoa was like loving a song. Beautiful. So beautiful it could make your heart break. It made you feel things you didn’t think you could. But a song isn’t something tangible. It isn’t something you can hold in your hands. A song playing across the surface of the moon only makes the moon realize how much more alone it is when the song ends. How much more empty. How much more cold. Better not to hear the snatches of music. Better to have your frosty heart still complete than shattered in warm pieces.
Quistis would have loved Squall, if he had given her the chance. He wouldn’t even give her half the chance. She had been his sister, once upon a time, and now she was even less. They were all less. They had been a band of heroes, brought together to save the world. And once they’d saved the world, there had been no need to stay together any longer.
Selphie had gone back to rebuild her precious Garden, and Irvine had followed. Quistis became an Instructor again. The ‘leadership qualities’ she had been lacking beforehand had suddenly appeared. Zell... Squall saw him every now and then, between missions. Eating hot dogs in the cafeteria, regaling cadets with stories of all the places he’d seen and monsters he’d fought.
They seemed happy.
He watched them from afar. Still aloof. Still too quiet. So very Squall. He spoke only when spoken to, and sometimes not even then. His silences were noiseless screams, only he wasn’t even sure what he was screaming for. He found himself unable to sleep, and he came to Balamb to stare at the moon. It was only a short walk to the town, and the monsters that came out at night were barely powerful enough to warrant his attention. The dock was almost always empty. He didn’t care or notice if it wasn’t.
The moon was always constant. It waxed, it waned, it waxed and waned again. On the nights there was no moon, Squall sat on the edge of the deck and stared at the stars. He thought that perhaps that was the phase of the moon he liked the best. When there was no moon, just before the new moon. Because the moon was there, but you couldn’t see it. It was so deep in shadow it was lost. That was how he felt. Deep in the darkness. So deep he was lost yet couldn’t bring himself to care.
He barely remembered the last time he felt any different. There were small moments with Rinoa, where the warm feeling inside had been quickly overshadowed by something else. Her smile had broken something inside him, had made him want to smile in return, but then suddenly, so suddenly – he couldn’t. That, too, had become a constant. He tried to open his heart to her again and again, only to find the pain was too fresh.
Emotional pain was nothing like physical pain, he could admit this easily. Squall had broken so many bones in his life, spilt so much of his own blood. He’d watched his own stomach slide out of his body, watched his ribs poke through skin as if it were paper, seen his arms bend ways they were not meant to bend. The painful tingle of Cures and Potions was oftentimes just as agonizing as the injuries themselves. But he never cried. Never. The Iceberg does not cry.
But emotional pain was more potent than physical pain. He could admit that easily as well. He had felt such pain only twice in his life. When Ellone had left him. When Seifer had left him. And he had cried bitterly both times.
Seifer had been a constant too, a long time ago. Seifer had fought with him, challenged him in a way no one else could. Seifer seemed determined to crack the ice that had surrounded Squall. Determined to do it in whatever way he could. Insults were his weapon of choice. Wisecracks, sly remarks, jokes, outright name-calling. Whatever he had thought would work.
Love is a more potent weapon by far.
It shouldn’t have happened. Seifer should have hit him again that day, not kissed him. Squall should have fought back coolly, not kissed him back. He certainly shouldn’t have kissed him back with emotion. And if he had, it should have happened once. It should have been written off to proximity and hormones and adrenaline. It shouldn’t have been love. It shouldn’t have been love, especially when it had hurt them both so much. How could it have not hurt? It was too dysfunctional to do anything but hurt. No one wants to fall in love with the moon, and Squall had only been slightly more accessible. Seifer could hold Squall, kiss him, fuck him, do whatever he’d wanted to him. He still received as much silence in return. They had fought, and sometimes it erupted into a fistfight or a kiss and both. But Squall shouldn’t have found himself falling asleep in Seifer’s arms, in Seifer’s room, or waking up along in his own and being vaguely sure that he had dreamed of Seifer. Seifer shouldn’t have understood that silence can say more than words. He shouldn’t have understood that Squall liked to be hurt, just a little, because that could make him feel. He shouldn’t have known that there were days where touching Squall would result in drawing back a bloody stump. He shouldn’t have conquered Shiva and then given her to Squall “just because.” They shouldn’t have been able to play dual roles so easily. Playing both lovers and rivals should have been harder. Falling in both love and hate shouldn’t happen. But when it did, did it have to be so easy?
Squall thinks now that Seifer was the only one for him. He was the only person who ever made Squall want to change. Rinoa had tried to wrench changes out of him, and to a point, yes, it had worked. But Seifer... Seifer had made him want to speak. Made him wish that he could talk outside of his head, made him wish that something in his demeanor would change whenever Seifer entered the room. He wanted Seifer to be his sun.
He wouldn’t mind being the moon then, if he could reflect on Seifer.
Le sigh. Squall really does have the soul of a poet. Why? Because I said so! Shoo! Go away and review!
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