Place In This World
[03.28.02] » by Ashbear
I do not own Final Fantasy VIII or any of the characters.
I watch as the moonlight reflects off the dresser
mirror. The room, filled with a calming
serenity that can only comes when one least expects. It's an hour of peace, an hour of
understanding. Sometimes you can do the
best thinking in the middle of the night amongst the brilliant stars. The entire world seems to stop revolving and
all the problems disappear, if only in your mind.
Not too long ago I was searching for my place in this world.
We are all lost at one point or another, the key is to find
ourselves before time runs out. Nobody
is standing with a stopwatch, checking every movement that we waste. Instead, we are all to blame for every
exhausted second, every wasted minute.
Nobody knew that six months ago time would halt for all of us. Not the end-result of a deranged lunatic, but
more the result of an erroneous soul, who never found their place in the world.
My story however, begins before those broadly publicized
Some thought a resistance fraction in Timber was useless,
never could we accomplish an achievable goal.
Well, maybe they were right, but that is beside the point. The simple fact of the matter is we did something. We tried.
Is it better to sit on the sidelines complaining, as others determine
your life and fate? Win or lose, we
could always fall back on our pride.
What satisfaction is there in hearing about the sunset, instead of going
outside and experiencing the miracle yourself?
The Timber Owls.
Squall never believed in us, but that doesn't mean that he
didn't believe in me. By gods, there is a difference. Maybe we didn't make a change, but maybe, I did.
It's in how you perceive the situation.
Stupid, childish, amateur… I
heard every adjective describing our group.
Compared to SeeD, this might have been true, but that didn't mean we
cared about the circumstances any less.
I can look back on those days with dignity; with pride that
others in Timber spoke of, but never acted upon. Yet still, I wasn't happy.
They called me Princess.
It was a nickname I grew to despise. Oh, don't get me wrong, at first, I thought
it was sweet… and truthfully, it made me feel important. But that's when I first joined the fraction,
right after leaving my father. I found
the attention from the other members that I so desired from home. For once, I was the main attraction and not
the fucking Galbadian army. Maybe some
of my hatred toward their governmental rule stemmed from my fathers commitment
to them… but never to me.
Nevertheless, I was the good princess. Always being who
they wanted me to be, acting the way they thought. Let's face it, we all wear masks… Zone and Watts hadn't
had the easiest life; both lost their parents to the forces of Galbadia. Neither had siblings, or family to speak of…
so I became what they needed. A princess.
Maybe it gave their life meaning, being valiant knights to protect the
kingdom. Even if their kingdom was no
more a reality then I, their princess,
Ergo, I became what they required. Still strong, still independent, yet just
enough reliant to make them feel significant.
I believed in the cause, but did I ever believe that I was a princess… no.
It was a title bestowed upon me, by people who needed even greater
purpose in life then I did.
This leads me to SeeD.
I learned of an organization that could help us, for the
right price. Little did I know that day
would change my life… forever.
Oh please… I had
heard of SeeD before, being the daughter of a General and all. But my views on their purposes were
completely different… until I met Seifer.
He explained how they were dispatched all over the world, and may be
capable of helping the Owls. This was
not the story told by my father… political propaganda is seldom accurate.
Thus begins the next chapter of my story… yes… the 'famed' graduation dance. It was only by chance I met him. And yes, this is where the rumors throughout Balamb
Garden started, and trust me… they
never stopped. Oh, I heard the gossip,
much later, about that night. Hyne, some
of them even thinking about make me
blush to this day. Where do these people
get their information?
Every one of them a lie… well almost.
Yes, I had very little money with me. I never thought that Cid would agree in
helping, for the pocket change offered.
But, I had to try… on principle alone.
So, I go to this 'dance'
that's just a glorified excuse for these military people to socialize and
drink. My father was with the armed
forces… remember? I had more than enough
of these biased gatherings. Yet,
upbringing did help, I learned to play their little political games; and
learned very well, I may add.
The fact I was female helped; I could always fall back on
charm, or that 'helpless woman'
thing. Playing that card was more a
disgrace than anything, but if you'd seen the suffering I had, you would do about anything to help.
Now let's define 'about
anything'… no, I wouldn't sell my
soul, or my body. I did not sleep with Cid, Norg or any Garden Masters… Again, the thought makes me ill. Yes… all rumors I heard. Sometimes we must bend our principles, but I
would never break them. Wartime is not pretty, neither is the pain
caused in its wake.
So let me sort out a few facts pertaining to that evening.
For the record, I want
us all to be clear about this.
Yes, I did dress up hoping to charm my way in the door. The smile that I greeted security with, no
more than strategic tactics. That part
worked just fine. Even the talk with
Cid… pleasant, sweet, the perfect angel with the admirable cause, also worked
great. Tossing in my fathers name did
help… at least the bastard was good for something. Sorry, being hostile again… we are now on
speaking terms… I'll get to that
Through the swirling rumors, let me assure you what happened
with Squall… I never planned. If there was one thing about that night that
wasn't fake, it was meeting him.
Maybe when I walked over to him, I never thought about
future consequences. I wasn't trying to
seduce anyone or steal him away. Hell, I
was down right irritating looking back on it now.
This is where the notion of me putting him under-a-spell
comes into play. I now, or have I ever,
known any love spells or charms. Nor did
I pay anyone to put him under a
curse, or my personal favorite 'I spiked his drink with some kind of drug'.
That one still gets me.
I went over to a guy, who was by himself, and asked him to
dance. Basically, he said 'no'. Me, being
me, wouldn't take that as an answer.
I grabbed him by the hand, leading him to the dance floor. Now let's think about it, if he really didn't
want to go, there is nothing I could have said or done to get him out
there. I'm not that strong or that
So we danced.
It's that simple. I
didn't take him from Quistis; I didn't take him back to his room and screw his
brains out. I danced with him. More
importantly, he danced with me. If he really wanted to leave, he would have
been off that dance floor in 3.5 seconds.
Maybe he was just playing the innocent as I had done countless
times. Maybe we were just two people in
one moment, both needing each other… and not realizing it. Maybe our souls knew something our minds didn't.
Now when I look back on that night, the only thing I regret…
But once I set my mind to something, it becomes an obsession
with me. Right then, Timber was still my
only priority. Maybe I thought that in
aiding with the liberation, I could find that place in the world, I was so
desperately searching for. Where I could
feel complete; where I was whole.
I never had that feeling in my life… yet searched for it for
Now we all know what happened from there. I'm not going to bore you with the
details. Instead, we are going to go
forward to what happened afterward. Yes,
we saved the world… defeated Ultimecia and stopped time compression.
Great for me… yeah
After I found Squall in the flower fields, we returned to
Garden, in what appeared to be a non-stop line of publicity and parties. Again, I found myself back in the middle of
political games and false pretenses.
What I spend my whole life trying to avoid was suddenly thrown into my
lap once again.
At least this time, I wasn't alone.
One morning I woke up, and everything stopped. Finally, the press was leaving us alone, no
more 'medals of honor' and other showy affairs.
I could walk down the streets, and not be harassed by people… most of
So, I got up and then it hit me… what am I doing? I had nowhere to go. I was not a SeeD, nor did I ever intend to
be. I liked my independence, the thought
of someone paying me for his or her values made me sick. Again living at a place, in which I could not
support the beliefs… just as at my father's mansion. His home, not mine.
So began the ultimate paradox.
I thought of going back to Deling. Yes, my father and I were working on our
relationship. Key word being 'working'. If I went back there, it would be more of the
same old bullshit; now only I would be a major player in it. I love my father, but that's exactly what he
is… a father.
Not a 'dad'.
Cid has been more the dad
to me the last few months than my biological father ever could. Even then, I am stretching to call either one
of them family.
So the next logical option was Timber. I could go back and reclaim the title of princess. Yet, that wasn't who I was anymore,
well… I really never was. Zone and Watts were
truly the closest thing I had to family for those years. But, we all move on. Timber regained their freedom from Galbadia's
tyrannical rule. So there wasn't
anything for me back there either but a superficial title. One I didn't want.
This left Garden. I
had friends here… yes they are truly my friends. I trust each with my life, and so much
more. We had gone through so much
together… some bonds cannot be broken.
But here I am, not one of them. Breaking every rule that had been enforced
since the creation of the academy.
No pets… I had
No outsiders… well I'll let you fill in the blanks
No being in the male dorms…
I'll plead the fifth here.
No staying the night in others dorms… see above.
No sorceress'… okay maybe that wasn't a written rule. But come on,
they were trained to kill us, unbeknownst to them. Luckily, that little tid-bit was only known
by a select few. Those who I could call
my friends. Those who I trusted.
Heck, I don’t even believe in most of the ideals
Garden stands for. Yet my boyfriend commands them, go
figure. Boyfriend? I hate that
term. It seems so childish after what we
have gone through. But 'soul mate' seems a little too
clichéd. I guess what we have is
indescribable in mere words… but we know the truth.
Even though I don't believe in Garden, I believe in him.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't hear some rumor
or gossip about us. Let's see there is
the 'Rinoa is a slut' thing. Oh yes, I'm such a slut… I had one boyfriend before Squall, for Hynes
sake. Most of these younger classman
running around have had six by the time they are fifteen.
Granted, it was Squall's rival, but we can't help whom we
fall in love with. I never meant to love
the guy standing against the wall… but I did.
I wouldn't change it for fifty-million Gil.
Neither would he.
So no, I never slept with Seifer. Really, it's none of your business, but I
just felt like clearing the air on that one too. I said once that 'I thought I loved him'. I
can tell you one thing now… if it's the only thing you get out of this
conversation. I love Squall. I don't have
to think about it. If one has to think,
then they are not in love. Deal with it,
cut your loses, and move on before anyone gets hurt.
Just for the record, I haven't slept with anyone else at
Garden either. Trust me, I hear the
rumors… so does Squall.
Nida, the janitor, the entire card club, oh… don’t forget about Laguna… yes, I
have actually heard that too.
That's just wrong on so
One week I was supposedly even having an affair with
Selphie… okay not going there.
I just wonder how these things get started. I think they hurt Squall more than me. Not for the fact, he believes them, but
simply for the fact, nobody will let me be… me. It kills him to see others treat me in this
manner. I know he is trying to protect
my feelings, but he doesn't have to. I
know they are not true; so does he.
We love each other, nothing else matters.
Oh… while we are on the subject of rumors. Let me dispel the Quistis one right now. She is one of my best friends. We do not hate each other, nor do we have
catfights… in the shower. Again, another rumor she heard. Yes, the
instructor freely admits she had feelings for Squall at one time. But heck, hasn't each of us fallen for someone
in our lives? I mean whether it's your
third grade teacher when you are nine, or your brother's best friend. It's simply a part of life. Everyone does it.
If we didn't have crushes, we wouldn't know what the real
thing feels like. Again, the difference
between Seifer and Squall. So yes, she had feelings toward her former
Trust me, she has moved on.
Even she feels horrible about how the Trepies have treated
me. It's ironic that they don't want the
object of their affection with another, but they hate the person who they think
'stole' him from their perfect idol.
So basically, that's about it. Yes, I left out a lot of stuff in
between. I know that. But see, when it gets down to it… it doesn't
really matter. What matters is the
present, not our past. Everyone has
certain things they would like to forget, and things they never want to lose
sight of… mine is Squall.
I lift up my head to see the slightest glimmer of sunrise
through the window. Again, I look at the
mirror and watch as the room slowly turns from the dark abyss of night to the
first signs of dawn. For a second I feel
like crying… no, not because I am sad.
Far from it.
A few moments ago, he put his arm around me. Squall was deep in sleep, yet somehow he
sensed that I needed comfort. Another
day has started, and I realized something tonight. No matter where I live, no matter where I
call home. People can say whatever they
like about us; we know the truth.
I have found my place in this world. With him.
For a moment, I opened my eyes to see the moonlight
reflecting off the mirror. The same one
I could see her in. She was looking
outside at the stars. Gazing into the
heaven… with a look of sadness only I could understand. I know she is awake. She often is.
Sometimes I wonder what she is thinking about… hey wait a minute… Who exactly
I suppose if I told you to go away… you wouldn’t listen?
Yeah. Thought so.
So, I guess I'm expected to talk to you now? Fine.
If you leave me alone afterward… let's get it over with.
All right… let's start at the beginning. It's just easier that way. The SeeD Graduation Ball. Oh yes, the source of many rumors and
controversy… First of all, let me start
out by saying… I think these parties are
possibly the most pompous, arrogant, wasteful events around. We take the money of mere peasants to defend
them from invasion, then turn around and throw extravagant parties.
Way to go SeeD.
That’s a good way to stretch a dollar; people may be
starving in Dollet, but let's take their Gil and buy imported champagne. There has only ever been one good thing about
Yes, I was standing against the wall. Where else was I supposed to be, mingling with a group of male SeeDs discussing who
my major conquest was going to be? And of course, I was drinking… hell we all
do. There are no legal drinking restrictions
on Garden property; it's one vice they allow.
Call it a trade off for killing people for reasons you don't
understand…call it therapy.
So anyway… I looked
up and saw a shooting star… My first
thought - there goes another celestial mass into oblivion. Yeah, I know not the romantic thing. But shooting
stars are nothing more than asteroids and fragments burning upon entry to our
atmosphere. Simple. It's a form of death. Well… that's how I used to look at it.
The first thing I noticed about her… eyes.
Hyne, I felt like she was looking through my exterior into
my very soul. Nobody had ever looked at
me quite like that. It's still unnerving
to think of to this day… those stunning brown eyes. Honestly, the second thing I noticed was her
skirt… did you see how short it was?
Hell, I'm a guy. I mean how could I not
I know the SeeD cadet uniforms are short… yeah… little
strange if you ask me. I'm wondering now
who designed them… Cid or Norg… both possibilities are frightening.
Yeah, I know I'm off the subject again. Now you know how the inner mind of Squall
Leonhart works… always jumping from one subject to another, and never being
satisfied with an answer. Get used to
Okay… back to the dance.
So, she walks over… again… the
skirt. This girl actually asks me to
dance… unbelievable. Doesn't she know
who I am… or who I'm supposed to be? Looking back now… damn her. She did, more than I knew. So, I do the normal
Squall Leonhart thing… ignore her. A
tried and true method. Wrong. She only stood there longer waving her hands
in my face mumbling something about liking her… yeah; I liked her… and her
Okay sorry… it's really late tonight and that darn dress
keeps flashing in my mind.
Then she 'drags'
me to the dance floor. Oh trust me, most
of that was for show. Do you think it
would have looked normal if I'd walked out there with her willingly? I worked hard to get that reputation; I can't
lose it one simple night over a gorgeous girl.
Trust me; her strength couldn't have ever made me move from that wall,
it was actually her presence that moved me.
I was drawn to her like the irresistible force, the immovable
So, I went out to the dance floor.
Truthfully, I can't dance.
That wasn't a lie. I had been
forced to learn basics… stupid etiquette lessons and all. I just never had a reason to dance… until
her. Oh, that first part wasn't an act. I sucked.
Never had a reason to try before, but hell she didn't give up on
me. Soon as I stopped trying to think, and just felt, it came naturally to
me. For a short while, I was lost in the
music, lost in her. There was nobody
I hated that.
It wasn't me. It was
as if I lost control of my body… on autopilot.
Or far worse, she had the control.
That was the first night I have ever felt like that… Then she left without a word. Honestly, I only had one thought as I watched
her and her short skirt walking away. Bitch.
There I said it, you happy?
But please understand… that was before I knew her. But strangely… not before I loved her. It's as if I always had. I know it sounds corny; hell, it sounds
stupid to me. It was like that night our souls reached out to each other,
long before our minds and bodies ever did.
I mean she just walked away…what
was I supposed to believe? It was
easier to think of her that way, then to face the reality… I was nothing more than a simple dance to
her. Somebody to fill in time… somebody
So, I called her a bitch.
But, I never meant it in my heart. I don’t care what you think. From that moment on, under the heavens, our
souls would always be one… it just took us more time to realize that.
Oh yes… then came the infamous 'talk to a wall' incident.
Okay, fine. Yeah, I feel guilty
about saying that now. But back then,
what should I have said? I knew Quistis Trepe liked me… who didn't? I mean my instructor just asked me to go to
the one area in Garden that people… well you know what they do there. Secret
place, my ass. Oh, don't think the
Garden Masters and Cid didn't know about it… they knew. I guess they
figured to let us… okay not me… but
let the others have their fun. So,
that's two vices they allowed us.
Alcohol and sex.
That does sound blunt, I know. However, you have to realize that the average
SeeD is killed during battle by the age of twenty-three. Trust me; you'll never see that on the
recruiting posters. Doesn't make the
program seem too glamorous, now does it?
Hell, I was given the order to assassinate at the age of seventeen. Most teenagers are worried about prom and
acne… SeeDs are worried about having
their hearts ripped out in the middle of the night.
Yes… I know my mind
is wandering again. Hey, you are the
ones who wanted in here; you'll have to suffer the consequences.
Quistis. She is beautiful. Who ever says she isn't must be blind… but
there is more to love than beauty. I
think it was because we were too much alike.
Both hiding behind masks of who we were… worried about how others around
perceived us. I took the approach to be
distant and uncaring… it's easier not to get hurt that way. She chose the opposite, always worried about
other people, trying her best to help.
Even if it did get annoying, hell she tried… more than I can say about
any of my instructors.
But, did I love her…no.
I walked away from her that night. Simple.
I could have had her right then, she would have been more than
willing. But, that wouldn't have been
fair to either of us. I didn't love her,
and she didn't love me. It was no more
than a crush, an infatuation, which derived from past feelings. That's it.
She had a crush on me. Hell, I
had a crush on my magic instructor when I was ten… but who hasn't? Yes…
Squall Leonhart thought about girls.
I'm only human. But thinking about and acting on, are two different subjects all together. I never acted on my emotions until… well…
until space. Yes, Rinoa again.
For the first time, I let my feelings take over my logical
side. From that moment, I never looked
back. Damn, I love her. I'm not
even sure if love is the right word…
it's more as if she is the extension of my being. I feel her heartbeat within my chest; I feel
her breath in my lungs. I was right when
I mentioned our souls earlier, they are now intertwined… and we are one.
So, that's why it kills me it see her like this.
Trying to hide the fact that she is miserable at
Garden. The pain others cause her. I'm not even sure how to handle it
anymore. It started way before we killed
Ultimecia… it really started getting out of hand when I carried her to
Esthar. Yeah, that single event caused
more speculation than even I realized. She had me under a spell, Ultimecia was
controlling me, I was the father of her child… Oh, I heard all the rumors later. Shit, I hadn't even kissed her yet… but
gossip already had her pregnant and controlling my future…
So, they all hated us.
Because after years of turning them down, they couldn't handle the fact,
I wanted to be with somebody. Trust me, the fact was foreign even to me…
but somewhere along the line, I grew to accept it.
Even appreciate it.
She has to live with the rumors and gossip everyday. Every time I hear something, I grow that much
more bitter toward Garden. The place
that I thought I belonged. Now I
understand that neither of us belongs here.
A few months ago, I went and told Cid my decision to
leave. Yeah, I know I should have told
Rin first, but she would only try to talk me out of it. Her intentions were to never keep me from my
dream. That's a laugh. Like I
had a dream? This place certainly
wouldn't be it now.
Oh… back to Cid. He
pleaded with me to stay. I gave him a
few ultimatums, not truly expecting him to give in. Yet, he did.
Rinoa stays at Garden.
Her dog stays at
She has the same
rights as any SeeD here.
We live together.
Oh, what were the chances of a forty-year-old man allowing
two teenagers to live together… when the rules strictly prohibit it? Not like she hadn't been sneaking in my room
for a while, or me hers. I guess sneaking isn't the right word
either. I freely walked into her room,
not caring who saw me. Or what they
I don't know. Maybe
it was defiance. Maybe it was to show
everyone one that I still didn’t care about how they felt. Maybe it was because I needed her so much…
and I wanted to let everyone else know that too…
I need Rinoa Heartilly.
And Cid is scared of that.
At first, I didn't understand why he allowed us so many freedoms… but
now I do.
That man has gone through the same hell… with Edea.
He knows that we are more dangerous outside Garden. Here he
can monitor us, and know what we are doing.
Out there… we are free. And that
scares him. He knows how strong our bond
is… stronger than theirs ever was. He is
also afraid for us… the bitterness each of us is feeling will someday turn
against them… and SeeD.
So, I know what we have to do. Leave.
Before this eats at both of us.
Start over. Hyne,
starting over at eighteen… how pathetic
is that? Well, money isn't an
issue. I have nearly two million Gil
saved up from our little adventure, and that doesn't count what Rinoa has in
her accounts. So we are going to leave
this place… and the people behind.
Honestly, I thank them for all they have done.
I wouldn't be where I am today without SeeD. I wouldn't be with her. Everyday her smile grows a little less
bright, and everyday it rips my heart a little bit more. It's peculiar that I never thought owning a
home and raising a family would be the kind of life I wanted. But both of our parents were military, and
you can see where that got them.
So my only desire now… to live the life our parents never
Call it my 'romantic
dream' to paraphrase an old friend.
With time away, her smile will return. And so will mine.
Well… a few minutes ago she tensed up, and I put my arm
around her waist. With the contact, she
seemed to relax, it's a comfort only I can bring. I wonder what she thinks about at times like
this? I could ask her, she would tell
me… But honestly, it's better that we
don't say the words. They only get in
the way of our true emotions. So, if you
don’t mind… could you please leave now?
I really need to be with her… yeah…
I'm thinking of the short dress again.
What is it to you?
It's ironic how I spend my life trying to find a place in
this god-forsaken world to call my own.
It's not as a Commander, a SeeD, or even a knight. It's as Squall Leonhart.
I found my place in this world. With