In the Shadows

Chapter 2 - The Baby

By Kursed SeeD

I find it a bit ironic that a person can be torn apart by an announcement that should normally make them joyous.

That was the case with Squall when Rinoa announced her pregnancy.

I could see the faint flicker of pain in his eyes. It was a pain that no one would notice unless they knew to look for it.

I knew why there was pain there. A child would be sealing his fate. How could he ever leave Rinoa if she had a baby? With those three little words all of Squall's secret dreams and hopes had been washed away.

 And I knew he wanted to die.

He smiled at her though, hugging her tightly. I knew he did not blame Rinoa or the child, who did not ask to be created. He would love his child with all of his heart, as he would Rinoa, even though it was killing him inside to do so.

His dreams would go on a back shelf, as they always had.

Seifer's reaction was quite different from Squall's, though. I had spared him from having to hear it from some stranger, and had told him myself.

I will never forget the look of utter confusion and pain that went across his features. "What...why?" The only words he could manage. He too realised that it was the end for them.

I could see the tears in his eyes. The tears he desperately tried to blink away. The tears that would not stop.

I held him close to me, aching alongside him. I knew it was only out of shock that Seifer had allowed me to be this close to him. Ordinarily, he would have pushed me away.

He had looked into my eyes, silently pleading for an answer.

How I wished I could give him one.

Instead, I had just sat there, holding him, until he had pulled away from me, wiped his eyes. "I guess I should go congratulate the lucky pair." He had said bitterly, walking away from me.

The months that followed were indeed hard ones.

Squall, who should have been bursting at the seams in joy of this occasion, had merely sunk even further within himself. Of course, I suppose Rinoa had not helped matters any. She was always crying out for him. 'Get me this.' 'Get me that.' 'Do this for me.' 'Do that for me.' Over and over until I myself began to question my own sanity. He took it though, caring for her meticulously, as Squall would always do.

Seifer, not surprisingly, began to get in even more trouble. He was picking fights with anyone over anything. It didn't matter to him, as long as he could get some of his pain out. I do not know how many times I had to appear before the Garden and plead his case. I also do not know how many times I almost got myself into a lot of trouble defending him.

But it was all worth it.

Anything to keep them from falling apart.

........ And then it had happened.

The child had come.

It began early in the morning, Rinoa's screams echoing through the halls. Squall, always at her side, comforting her, encouraging her, trying to at least look like he was playing the part.

I remember idly wondering who would comfort him... who would encourage him...

We had all been there, when the child was born. Rinoa had considered it such a grand event that every one of us had been invited. Even Seifer.

To this day I can recall every motion when the child was born.

I can recall Dr. Kadowaki telling everyone it was a girl.

I can recall Squall holding her for the first time... whispering her name... the joy finally filling his features as the little girl, who would be known as Raine, wrapped her hand around his finger...

Even Seifer had been stunned by the child's beauty. She looked like some mythical goddess come to earth to bless us. Truly a gift from Hyne.

And then Rinoa had asked Seifer if he wanted to hold the baby.

Seifer had looked scared, sick and confused all at once, but had gingerly taken the baby, cradling her in his arms. He had stared at her, amazed by her every movement, her every noise.

Seifer's eyes had met Squall's in that instant. A million emotions shone through. I knew perfectly well what they were thinking.

'This could be our baby.'

And, oh how I loved them for being able to keep themselves under control, to wrap themselves in the happiness of this occasion and not the sadness.

They did not speak in the shadows that day, as they had done years ago, but I knew that it wasn't necessary. They already knew.

In their deepest of hearts... it was their child.

Nothing could change that.

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