Authors Notes: Jeez, this chapter is long. Had a lot to write about.
Chapter 4 - Of Wind and CD Players
The wind was especially strong that night, whipping his dusty brown hair about and into his eyes, at which point he would curse and brush it back. As if things weren't bad enough, the universe decided to remind him that he needed a haircut. Well, fuck you too. And the wind replied with another hair-induced blindness.
Squall's life totally, completely, and utterly sucked. That's all there was to it. Just when he was absolutely sure it had gotten as bad as it could get, they took Shiva away from her. Add one more to the list. And now he was alone again. I should be used to it by now. Good knows I've had enough practice.
All alone on a bitter cold night barely kept at bay by his jacket, with his chest pounding in agony and no pain pills at hand. The bottle had been misplaced long ago, and he had forgotten to buy more. At least the chill somewhat dulled the throbbing, though it only made the stinging headache worse. Rubbing his arm absently, he gazed out at the black horizon with a bitter expression. At least no one would bother him, since he had locked the door to the Observation Deck.
Shiva had always been the one to stop him when he got too depressed, reminding him of his self-worth. Now he was alone in his own head, and the sensation was vaguely disturbing. Without his ice goddess to keep his thoughts in check, they spiraled ever downward. Figures she'd be taken from me too. It's not as if I deserve having someone love me or anything. I mean, look at me. I'm pitiful. He clutched his jacket closer to him as the breeze picked up. You have to be pretty screwed up to deserve having everything you care about taken away.
If he had had a mirror at that moment, he would have seen a skinny pale boy trussed up in leather, scars attesting to the sad quality of his life, with eyes that held the weight of the world in them. Good thing he didn't have a mirror. That would've just made him more depressed.
And the pain just kept getting stronger. It surged like molten led in his chest and head, throbbing with his slow heartbeat. Occasionally a sharp spike of agony would stab in him, driving his breath away as spots danced in his vision. Hyne, make it stop...it hurts too much...It was worse now than it had ever been before. And without the pills, there would be no relief from it tonight.
Briefly dizzy, he leaned against the railing and gazed downwards. Many hundreds of feet below the black ocean swelled and frothed as the Garden hovered over it, the dark water stretching in all directions until it connected with the moonless sky. Besides the dim stars that blinked futilely above, the only light came from the windows of the Balamb Garden itself. That it was such a black night fit well with his mood.
I hate my life. I'm never going to be loved by anyone, am I? It's pathetic how much that figures. I wasn't even good enough for my own father; why would anyone else want me? Agh, it hurts... He rubbed his chest viciously, but the ache could not be driven out. ...Make it stop...Just make it stop...
Rinoa didn't love me. Laguna didn't love me. Matron didn't love me. Ellone left, Shiva left, Seifer left...Damnit, why do I deserve this?! All my life I've done only what other people want me to, and it's never good enough. It'll never be good enough. I try my hardest to be good enough, to be worth caring about, and it's never enough.
And if Shiva was here, she would tease me for using the words 'good enough' too many times. He shivered, the cold seeping into his skin. But she's not here. Nobody's here. And nobody ever will be here.
As the world sailed by, a small thought worked its way into his mind. It's never going to get any better. This is my life. Damnit, I hate this life. I'm never going to have someone love me, never going to have someone stay. And the worst part is, it figures. I should have seen it coming. I'm not worth caring about. Maybe it would have been better if I had never been born. Maybe it would have been better if I had been killed at birth.
Maybe it would be better if I jump.
Staring at the expanse below, it took him a moment to realize what he had just thought. Great, now I'm thinking about suicide again. Leaping to my death. Huh, would probably be more dramatic than slitting my wrists. And cleaner than shooting myself in the head. More reliable than taking too many pills... I already take too many pills. Wonderful. Won't happen, though. I always think about suicide whenever I'm depressed, but that doesn't mean I'll actually go through with it. After all, I don't want to die, do I?
And in the silence of the night, the answer came to him.
Yes. Yes I do.
Thinking about it logically, considering the distance he would fall, the impact with the ocean would surely snap his neck or spine. It would snap something, definitely. And if that didn't kill him, he would drown, unable to swim with broken bones. Foolproof. Which is a good thing, since I'm a fool.
He had only ever attempted suicide once before, the day that Ellone left. He hadn't known much about dying at the time, being so young, and had tried to kill himself by stabbing himself with one of Matron's kitchen knives. He hadn't known why it didn't work until he studied anatomy at the Garden and found out that, oh, the heart is on the other side of the chest. As he had lain in his own blood, unable to move, he had felt his mind slipping from him, and had thought vaguely, But I'm just a kid, I'm too young to die.
Shiva had kept him company all through that night, whispering nursery rhymes and songs from ancient long-dead civilizations to keep him awake. Matron had found him in the morning when she came to make coffee, a pale little boy lying helpless on her clean kitchen tiles, surrounded by a small pond of sticky redness. After the momentary panic, she had assumed that he was stealing her knife to play "Sorceress' Knight" again, as Seifer was wont to do, and had accidentally stabbed himself. Squall hadn't corrected her. After that day, he had decided to wait until he was an adult to die, but time had passed, and he had forgotten all about his previous suicide attempt.
And then Time Compression had dispelled the affects of the Guardian Forces and now he remembered everything.
Getting up the courage to kill himself wasn't the problem. Once he had made up his mind to do so, he would simply go through with it. The problem was deciding if he was absolutely sure that he wanted to die. Life's not going to get any better. I'm going to feel this miserable forever. But if I jump... it ends. No more pain, no more loneliness. It'll just end.
Would anybody really care if he was gone? Rinoa probably wouldn't even notice. Seifer might be upset that it wasn't him who did Squall in. Ellone would be sad, of course, but she was all the way over in Esthar, and they barely ever saw each other these days. She would cope. Selphie would probably cry, but Irvine would comfort her. Matron would be sad, but she had other orphans to worry about. Laguna might be upset about losing a chance to get to know his alienated son, but frankly Squall didn't want to get to know him. Cid would probably make some big speech at his funeral and put everybody to sleep, and then move on with his life. Zell would... well, probably mope. Quistis wouldn't let it affect her too badly, but she might get good and drunk over it.
Shiva would care. She would probably miss him a great deal, but she was an immortal. People she cared about were destined to die someday anyway. She would move on. He hoped.
He suddenly realized that he was thinking as if he had already decided to do it. Well, why not? Live or die, either way you're only hurting yourself. And frankly, right now I'd rather be dead than feeling like this.
He was going to do it.
Now, how was he going to do it? Have to jump pretty far. Don't want to hit the Garden on the way down, so I need to jump outwards. Can't jump outwards over this railing. Maybe if I get up on top of the railing, standing on it. That would work. I think I could hold onto the roof until I'm ready. Using the wall of the small box-like deck, he carefully climbed up onto the railing, reaching up with one hand and pushing against the roof to support himself. Good, the railing was really thick, providing plenty of room to put his feet. Walking like a tightrope, he made his way to the center of the railing, then turned to face the sea. Okay, I'm gonna do it. Give myself a count to go on, then leap. Not so hard. Okay, on three. One... He took a deep breath and let it out, steeling himself for the fall... two... He let go of the ceiling and tensed his muscles, ready to jump... thre-
And the door chimed as it opened.
Yessir, tonight was going to be special. He was going to sweep his lady love off her feet and into his bed. He was going to smooth talk her until she kissed him senseless. He had everything ready, he was set to go.
He was going to do it.
Come on, Irvine, you can't back out now. Selphie'll be here in less than half an hour. That gives you enough time to set everything up on the Deck and get a hold of yourself. Where had all his suave self-confidence gone? It was like fate didn't want him to make up with Selphie, or something.
Fumbling with his armload of items, he managed to shift them all so that his hand was free to use the card-key. The card panel indicated that the door to the Observation Deck was locked, which was strange for this time of night, but which was the situation he had appropriated the key for in the first place. Sliding it through, the panel shone green and the door chimed as it opened. Great, now to just set all this stuff down inside so that he could-
And there was a Squall on his railing.
Irvine dropped everything in surprise, wincing inwardly at the sound of the CD player breaking. What the heck was Squall doing here? And what the heck was Squall doing? The idiot Commander was standing on top of the deck railing, just standing there as if it was a perfectly normal thing to be doing. Looking closer, Irvine noticed that Squall was watching him with an absolute look of shock and panic on his face. Okay, that was weird. Squall never showed that much emotion.
Sweet Hyne, didn't the guy know how easily he could fall? One false move and he would trip and go over the edge and...
You know, I was kind of expecting Murphy's Law to step in and have something awful happen to ruin this night, but I wasn't expecting the something to be a suicidal Squall.
Stepping over his broken supplies, he slammed his hand on the 'door lock' panel, and the door behind him slid shut. He moved towards Squall, but the anxiety that action brought to the boy's face made him pause. Slowly lifting his hands in a 'surrender' pose, he spoke quietly and calmly, not wanting to scare the already-tense Commander. "Squall, easy, I'm not going to tell anyone, just come down from there and we'll talk it over." Mogtrotters, Squall had been about to jump. As in, if Irvine had been a few moments slower, the door would have opened to an empty Observation Deck.
Squall made no reply, not shifting in the slightest.
Sweat beaded on Irvine's brown. If he screwed this up... Squall's death would be his fault. "It's okay Squall, it's okay. Just come on down, okay? Please come on down."
Squall turned his head away from him to face the sea.
Sure that the other man wouldn't notice, Irvine inched a little closer, planning to grab and pull Squall down if he refused to cooperate. "Squall, at least tell me why you're doing this. I think I deserve that much, yeah?"
Squall glanced back, and noticed how much closer Irvine was. His hand involuntarily went up to hold the ceiling. "Stay back. I'll jump."
Irvine froze. From here, he could tell just how upset Squall was. There was a look to the stormy blue-gray eyes that didn't seem all that sane. "Okay Squall, okay. Just stay calm. I'm not going to do anything you don't want me to do. Just tell me why you're doing this."
A frown creased the deep scar on his forehead. "You wouldn't understand."
Irvine knew that his response was supposed to be 'Yes I would' or 'Try me', but frankly, he didn't want to go down that cliché path. Besides, Squall was right. Irvine couldn't fathom any reason why someone would go that far. "Probably not. But I know that, if you're gonna kill yourself, you at least owe me a explanation to give the police when they interview me. Don't screw me over, Squall." If he knew Squall, he knew that the man was very sensitive about being a burden to others. Hopefully playing on that would get a positive response, positive being that the moron would get the heck down from that painfully narrow ledge.
"I'm not screwing you over. I'm not hurting anyone." Squall looked away, clearly trying to convince himself more than the cowboy.
Good, now I've got him doubting. "You really think that? You know how many people are going to be upset if you die? A whole ton. What about Ellone? Do you want your Sis crying over your body?"
Squall made no reply for a moment, then, "Nobody will care."
"I sure as hell will, I can tell you that much." Damnit, Squall's convinced himself that that's the truth. I won't be able to make him see otherwise. Better take a different tactic. "Yeah, and if you die, what will the Garden do? You'll just be abandoning us, leaving us without a Commander. You're the reason we're still alive, you know. Guess what happens if you die. We die."
That got a flinch. "Quistis could be Commander. Or Xu. Or Seifer."
"Not like you they couldn't. We're a mercenary force, Squall. We need a great Commander, or we don't stand a snowball's chance in a Fire Cave."
"I'm not a great Commander. My decisions got people killed." Squall turned to face the sea, letting go of the roof and letting his hand fall to his side. With the brisk wind brushing his hair back and the lights from the Garden gleaming on his face, Squall was quite a pleasing sight. As cute as Trent anyday. Irvine winced at that thought and drop kicked his inner voice. Not thinking about Trent. Not thinking about Trent.
"You really think that? Fuck, Leonhart." Great, now I sound like Seifer. "Your decisions are what keep us alive. Any other person running the show, and we'd all be rotting corpses right now. Or slaves under Sorceress rule, which could either be a step up or down from decaying. And for Hyne's sake, hold onto something, will you?" The fearless gunblader was scaring the wits out of him, standing up on that thin rail without support. If he hadn't known that Squall was suicidal, he would've assumed he was insane.
After a long, nervous moment, Squall placed his hand back against the ceiling to steady himself. "You still haven't given me a reason not to do it." Irvine couldn't see his face at this angle, but Squall's voice sounded... broken.
The thought made Irvine shiver. "Well, what do you want me to do?" I've given it my best shot. I can't think of anything that might... wait a minute. It's risky, but if it works... "I think I can find something that'll make you change your mind."
Squall turned to halfway face him, curiosity warring with misery on his face. It was an interesting war to watch. "How?" he said finally.
Taking off his hat and coat and dropping them beside the pile next to the door, Irvine went over to one wall, grabbed the railing and said wall, and carefully hoisted himself up. Hm. The railing didn't look as narrow from up here. Placing his hands on the roof in imitation, he slowly walked over to his leathered companion, who was currently looking at Irvine as if he had lost his sanity. "This," he said, turning to face the sea and oh my sweet Hyne that was a long drop, "is how I'm gonna prove to you someone gives a shit about your existence."
"What are you doing?!" Squall hissed, obviously not pleased with the turn of events.
Irvine shot him a cocky self-smug grin, which was the rough opposite of what he was feeling. "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm gonna jump."
Squall's eyes narrowed. "No you're not. You're not even suicidal."
Irvine mocked an angry frown. "One of my friends is trying to kill himself, and you say I'm not depressed? At least this way I'll know I gave it my best shot." When Squall made no reply, Irvine let go with one hand and lightly nudged him. "So, are we doing this are what? Cause I'm getting kinda bored up here."
Squall squinted at the cowboy, weighing his seriousness. "You wouldn't jump."
Irvine knew for a fact that he was the world's greatest bluffer. It was about time he used it in the name of good. Focusing all his energies, and his eyes as well, on Squall, he gave the man the most dead-serious look of his entire life. Not including the time he had promised Anette Tribusky he would still respect her in the morning. "You better believe it. You jump, I jump. My death will be your fault." And the sledgehammer hits home.
Squall's eyes widened a touch, and he visibly flinched, pain filling his face. Yep, Irvine knew just how to push his buttons. Must come from watching Seifer push them when they were little.
"Well, Squall? Are you going to jump or not? It's your idea us being up here, after all. How I give us a count to go on, ne? Say, on the count of three. You ready? I'm ready. One." Carefully letting go of the ceiling, I don't want to accidently do this for real, he took a deep breath as if building up his courage. "Two." He tensed his muscles and bent his knees a little, eyes locked on the horizon he was 'aiming' for. Squall wasn't showing any signs of preparing to jump, but if he did, Irvine would be in a prime position to save him. Okay, I'll say three, then grab him and shove him back onto the Deck. "Thre-"
And Squall grabbed him and shoved him back onto the Deck.
Lying on the cold metal with a headache and a Leonhart on his chest, Irvine felt himself grinning foolishly. Well, that worked out pretty well. Looking up into Squall's eyes, he was surprised to find that his Commander was scared shitless, panic written all over his pale face in bold ink. You know, he's rather warm. Must be from wearing leather all the time. Conserves body heat, and all.
To disprove that this scene couldn't get any more bizarre, there came a rapping at the door. "Irvine?" the love-of-his-life's voice called. "You in there? Why is the door locked? What are you doing?"
This just wasn't his day. Quick, think of something... "Well, for one thing, hon, I'm certainly not horizontal on the floor with Squall Leonhart."
Brain, I am going to have you lobotomized.
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