Disclaimer: I don't own the characters; they belong to Squaresoft, yada yada. I'm not sure that this isn't really odd, though. Inspired by an English Lit. lesson and some random musings about acceptance. Anyway, enjoy.

To Sink A Ship Over

By Almasy

It's dark in the room. The shadows threaten to engulf me because I'm too afraid to shut my eyes; to give in. This is why I hate night time. The sun falls from the sky and suddenly, I become internal because there's nothing left to stop me from my obsessive reflection. I go back to the cold, over- analytic stranger I was a few years back. I can almost feel my blood freezing as I lie there, awaiting the first tinges of sunrise. I can sense the retraction as it grips my every muscle, tight and frightening. There's nothing but the pale moonlight through my open curtains and my inner monologue for company, and I guess when it comes down to it, I don't like myself very much. Such a self-pitying cliché, that, but that's not the way I mean it. I guess it's a comparison thing. I've grown up around people I've come so much to respect, and though it's difficult for me to tell them that, I often find myself musing over the peculiarity of the situation when I found myself their leader some years ago. Hyne.if I had half Seifer's intoxicating bravado, a quarter of Irvine's sensual confidence, even an eighth of Selphie's bubbliness, Quistis' cool head or Zell's sweet craziness.I'd be.happier, I guess. I'd feel more secure within myself. I'd not be lying awake at 3.37am, wondering why the hell I can't fall asleep when I haven't got any in days. Sleep, I mean. I don't think I'm a bad person, necessarily. I make mistakes, I screw up, but I'm not malicious. It's just that I don't even feel human most of the time.

A few years ago, I was reminiscent of an iceberg looming in dark waters; I had all these thoughts running manic in my mind, but the mere act of trying to translate them into verbal compassion or even conversation was too difficult for me. I've never been the talkative type, and I suppose some of you Freudians out there would hazard a guess that it has a lot to do with my childhood, or lack of one. Maybe. Maybe not. The reasons don't matter to me so much now; they're gone, lost somewhere within the hazy grey of the past. I rarely spoke much as a child, and it was a habit I found hard to break as an adult, so I hardly tried, banishing myself to my own thoughts more often than not. It wasn't that I preferred listening to myself; it was just that it was easier to bear the criticisms I lumbered on myself than work up the courage to leave myself vulnerable to somebody else. So I remained cold and distant, trying to separate myself from everybody else, staying alone, staying lonely. I thought I was as close as I was going to get to happy, then. Something about my wintry ways was comforting, much as I'd have given anything to be as blasé as Seifer, or as warm as Selphie. No, I only came to hate this inner monologue as I learnt to rely on it less and less. When I changed. When I began to thaw.

Seifer. A name that can still reduce me to chills on occasion. He who blowtorched his way through all the icicles lining my soul and gave me back my humanity. A lot of the detail is actually quite indistinct to me, as if time has clouded over it. I remember every memory in rushes of emotion, huge amounts of change at once, instead of a trickling alteration from iceberg to flames. The small details I don't recall. I remember feelings, huge bursts of emotion brought on by the little things, that's probably a better way of describing it. Like when Seifer first held me. I think he had intended to give me a hug, which was probably an unwise idea from the outset, given my pathological dislike of human contact. But he was Seifer, and we'd grown out of the rivalry that somehow seemed so tedious in the face of what we'd suffered. Yes, I forgave him. He fell under the spell of a sorceress, and in some ways, so did I. Rinoa just wasn't who she appeared to be, and we all become blinded to someone at some point. So when Seifer returned, as far as I was concerned, nothing had changed, but the rivalry was gone. I had no concern to fight with him after all we'd both gone through, and he seemed to have a mellowed respect for me; no longer taunting me with the immature jokes he'd been so prone to showering me with. No longer did he seek me out to swap the clash of gunblades.

It was more neutral at first; exchanging nods with each other in the corridors, in passing. Sometimes he'd smile a casual grin that I came to adore much later on. His light eyes would shine in this wicked little blaze that was sort of infectious, and I couldn't help but smile back. I think I'm getting off the track, but then, that's another affect Mr. Almasy tends to have on me. The first time he held me would have been a while after he returned, and I was slowly descending into lethargy. Whatever my relationship had been with Rinoa, she expected more than I'd been prepared to give, and her frustration was very much vocal. I soon began not to care, tired of trying to fulfil others, exhausted with being denied the chance to find out who I was. It was a joint effort, that one, I guess. I was as much to blame for not breaking away and doing some soul-searching as much as she was, but at the time, I felt so low that bitterness had begun to seep in and she took a hell of a slab of blame in my head. It was on one of the peculiarly cold summer evenings, the night she left. Slamming the door so hard it rebounded and touched the wall. I closed my eyes and tried not to care. Really, really tried. The room soon became cold from the open doorway emitting draughts, but I was breathing so hard trying to choke back tears that I barely noticed. All I wanted was a little time, a little space, to try and sort out the mess that I'd got myself into; the invisible tangle that had no beginning or end, that had crept up on me from nowhere and prevented me from opening my heart. I felt like my life was going to fast, everything flashing past me at the speed of light, with no time for me to absorb what was happening or change the pace. I was a motionless, helpless passenger on a runaway train, and it was exhausting. Rinoa leaving felt like the final straw. I was so scared, then, why.I don't know. It felt like another loss I couldn't prevent, another absence I caused and yet had no explanation for. It was another occurrence in my life that I had no control over, and I was frightened, standing by the window, finally relenting to an expression of emotion that I reserved only for when nobody, nobody was present. Nobody saw me cry.

It was only when I heard the slight husk of footsteps that I realised he was there. Seifer. He'd heard Rinoa storming away, he'd heard the knock of the door, and he'd seen my room open. He'd only wanted to check on me, he said, but I barely heard him. I was consumed by cold sorrow. Self- pitying cold sorrow, maybe, but I was miserable all the same. He approached me like a mouse does its food, cautious, looking carefully for threat of violent retaliation or attack. I was too tired to give him the satisfaction. I no longer cared whether he saw the trails of liquid on my cheeks, the swollen red of my eyes. It meant nothing anymore. He could have mocked, laughed or ridiculed me and I wouldn't have flickered. Just too tired. In any event, he didn't do either of those. He gently touched one shoulder, as if warning me of his presence, in case I hadn't already heard him. I blinked, almost in recognition, and he studied me tenderly. I remember his gentle gaze not making much sense, and we stood in calm silence for a few seconds, tears running slowly down my face. Evidently, he couldn't stand to watch me any longer; I assumed his movement away from me to be disgust. Thus, I was surprised when he gathered me soothingly into his arms and held me. Never would I have acted as I did but on that day; I was so desperate for comfort that I buried my head into the crook of his shoulder and cried softly, feeling his hand softly stroking my hair, the kind sounds being whispered to me. We stood like that.I don't know how long. A while. I remember looking up at him, gulping away the last sobs and wondering what the hell was going on. His eyes were loving, not cruel. His touch was soft, not malicious. I didn't understand. Perhaps I still don't.

"Why?" I asked in a hiccup.

"You have enough problems to sink a ship over, Squall. Forget Rinoa. Don't let her add to the cargo. She's not worth your tears."

I accepted the response, tired from crying, tired from living, and rested my head on his shoulder wearily. It was only a week or so later that I realised there was something else in his embrace, and over time, he helped me to discover that. Gradually, under the charismatic influence Seifer had over me, I began to come out of my shell and almost absorb part of him. The endless nights we had where he touched me, got so far inside me that I was convinced he'd just have to stay there, sure that he'd touched my soul inside, something in them moved me in a way I'd never known before. Sometimes I'd cry because the emotion just hurt too much. The way he'd hold my face, the way he'd hold me afterwards, as I lay gasping and completely plummeted. All of it meant the world to me, and slowly, everything I'd once been began to evaporate. The iceberg began to melt, and he helped me unleash the fires I'd kept hidden inside me. I began to laugh again, smile again, and my introduction to love helped me to leave behind the emotionless stranger I once was.

But.I guess he's still there, festering within me. My life, my relationship with Seifer, is a progressive arc in leaving him behind, and every day I'm forgetting him a little more. But every night, he returns with his morose monologue, and I, his victim, must listen. For some part of him is me, and even Seifer can't take that away. Gentle, rough, caring, wicked Seifer. Lying beside me now, one warm hand protectively on my stomach where I like it most, breathing quietly. Seifer who sleeps like a human should. Seifer who has no idea of my insomniac musings, deep into the night.

One day, maybe I'll tell him. Tell him that while he makes my days brighter than any sun I could think of finding, but my nights still need some work. Maybe. The future is a mystery to me; but I'm not afraid anymore. It's just that there's a cold part of Squall that I'm reluctant to forget, so whatever happens, I have to learn to like him.

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