Are and Are Not
Title: Are and Are Not
Fandom: Final Fantasy VIII
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Squall, Ellone
Summary: In which Squall and Ellone realize things.
Notes: From ff_exchange.
Nearly three weeks had passed before Ellone had realized that Squall was not avoiding her in any way. Instead he had simply been pulled from person to person and activity to activity in such rapid succession that Ellone was fairly sure that Squall hadn't noticed that three weeks had passed and that she was still waiting patiently for him to seek her out.
But after three weeks of watching from the hallways and sometimes accidentally through other eyes, that didn't seem likely. Squall fell into deep, dreamless sleep quickly, and while she had thought of just walking in on him there, that felt like more of an invasion of privacy than just walking in on a meeting and demanding he speak to her.
He had been the one to ask for her presence to begin with.
Ellone sighed as she walked through the corridors of Garden. Truly, the facility never slept - even during the night activity barely dropped off. A group of students dressed in black with night-vision goggles marched by, Quistis following behind them with a tight smile on her face.
She and Ellone smiled as they passed, but didn't speak. Ellone knew Quistis could be more intuitive than she let on, but somehow a heart-to-heart with Quistis seemed like a silly venture.
No, Ellone would just have to talk to Squall. She was fairly sure of the subject matter, and maybe that was part of why she hadn't pushed, as well.
Three weeks, however, bordered less on 'trying' and more on 'ridiculous'.
"Squall," she whispered under her breath as she entered into the guest room that had been assigned to her. Two of the White SeeDs had been with her, but after a week she'd sent them back to help in Esthar with the remaining monsters from the Lunar Cry. They had, for that week, shared a suite, but now that she was alone, it felt helplessly big and empty with only a few of her things scattered around.
"Squall," she said again, taking off the jacket she'd put on earlier in the evening, somewhere between dinner and playing a game of cards with some of the younger students. For someone who could do so many things with time and memories, the little details tended to escape her but she would never admit to it. And if she needed to, well, she could probably just play back through...
Ellone wondered if perhaps she had been the one to influence Squall to spend too much time thinking about things that tended to be unnecessary.
Closing her eyes as she sat down, Ellone was a little unsure if she could even find Squall and if he'd let her in. But it was worth a try, at least, and if she didn't succeed, she could always just try to edge in before breakfast and demand some of his precious time before anyone else could grab his arm and lead him away.
Somehow, Ellone wasn't really surprised that she had walked right in once she saw what Squall was dreaming about. There, surrounded by a field of flowers, he had his desk and a never-ending pile of paperwork and a ringing phone. He couldn't get a moment to himself - even asleep.
Squall didn't seem to notice her when she marched up to the desk. And only briefly did she glance down to see herself in a SeeD uniform.
He looked up, and everything changed.
His desk was gone, leaving only two slight folding chairs at angles nearly towards one another.
"You have strange dreams," she said as she sat, careful of the knee-length skirt as she did so.
"That really is you," Squall said, frowning for a moment. "I didn't know you could do this."
"It's not something I practice," Ellone admitted. "Everything I can do... is an invasion. But... Squall, I've been here for three weeks."
"Three weeks?" Squall asked. He shifted in his chair for a few seconds. "Are you sure?"
Ellone couldn't help giggling just a bit as she reached over to ruffle Squall's hair.
Squall sighed. "Maybe that's how I deal with things. With everything. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you wait."
"Well, I know that," Ellone said. "But at the rate you were being pulled off in different directions, I'd be waiting until next year and your mind would be off of her and..."
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about," Squall interrupted. He frowned again and leaned back, stretching his arms and letting one rest on Ellone's shoulder. "Sorry."
Ellone reached up to rest her hand on his. "I came to help you. You should let me, you know."
"I know," Squall admitted. "Three weeks - are you sure? Sometimes I... lose time."
"And memories," Ellone added. "I know."
Squall looked around at the flowers and at the lack of anything other than flowers for a few seconds.
"I'd offer you something," he said quickly. "But I just have flowers. Nice ones..."
"You dream about paperwork," Ellone noted.
"It's disappointing in the morning, when it isn't done," Squall commented. He almost smiled. "You know, I didn't think you'd show up."
"In your dream?"
"At all," Squall corrected. "But you look good as a SeeD. A little old, but..."
She cuffed him in the shoulder, just like any sister would, effectively silencing him.
"How are you?" he tried a moment later. A gust of wind caused all the flowers to bend and bob in waves, and Ellone's hair sailed around her but she couldn't actually feel it. The lack of sensation bothered her - it reminded her that she was somewhere she was not supposed to be.
"I'm fine," she said. She let go of Squall's hand, fairly sure she'd already done so moments before. "You?"
"I'm beginning to realize a few things," Squall replied. "About... everything."
"Everything," Ellone repeated. The sky that had been as blue as Squall's eyes was turning a perilous grey. "Squall?"
But Ellone only had time to guess, and to pull herself back into her own body.
"Wake up," she whispered to herself as she struggled to stand. The first thing she grabbed was her jacket as she stumbled towards the bathroom for a glass of water. The faintest traces of sunlight were leaking into the room from behind thick curtains.
The few times she'd walked into Laguna's dreams, he'd never remembered, but somehow she couldn't help but think that Squall would take something from the meeting, if only a feeling.
She was still in the bathroom, contemplating running a hot bath because she was still cold, when there was a knock at the door.
"Sis?" The suite door opened slowly - Ellone frowned for a moment before assuring herself that she hadn't locked it.
"Here," Ellone called. "Don't worry, I'm decent."
Squall appeared in the doorway a moment later, a strange smile on his face.
"I didn't know you could do that," he said. "I thought you could only move in time."
"I can only invade the privacy of those I know," Ellone corrected. She smiled anyway. "You remembered?"
"I hit the snooze button for the first time ever to see if you were still there," Squall admitted. "But you weren't."
"Has it really been three weeks?"
"Then it's been nearly a month, then, since Rinoa... well, Rinoa did the right thing."
That statement surprised Ellone just a bit. She expected Squall to be a little more upset, unless there really was something deep within him that...
Well, he had begun to realize a few things. About everything.
"Rinoa," Ellone echoed. She smiled as she spoke, a little unsure as to why.
"You cold?" Squall asked as he glanced down to where Ellone still had the jacket pulled tight around her. "We can go get coffee or something."
"Yeah." Ellone stood, taking the hand that Squall offered her. At least being a knight had taught him a few things. "And you can tell me everything you've come to realize while being so ridiculously busy that there's probably a search party forming for you right now."
"Everything?" Squall asked.
Ellone nodded. "Coffee. And everything."
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