Fire Petals Chapter 2


By Edenne

The soft sound of waves crashing against Balamb Garden was unfamiliar yet soothing, and still the youth laying on his small twin bed could not sleep. The sound only escalated the growing throbbing in his head. His eyes refused to shut, grey-blue saucer-orbs in the black night, wanting only to rest, yet refusing to try. Laying on his back, he ran a hand through his medium-length gold and copper hair and heaved a heavy, shaking sigh, watching reflections of moonlit waves on the small dorm ceiling.

Ellone was gone. The only family he knew had been taken again, right from beneath their noses, and he felt horrible about it. All he could think about was how guilty he felt. She had taken care of him when he was young, had comforted him when he cried, and he couldn't even keep her from being kidnapped by couple of rebel nobodies.

A valuable member of his team was sleeping or in a coma or something, nobody knew. He didn't want to think about Rinoa now, not when so many other things were in need of his attention. She confused him to no end; she acted as though she cared about him but seemed to remain angry with him. Too confusing --the fate of the garden was much more important than his social life.

He was supposed to be the leader to this stupid garden now. He still couldn't believe that the Headmaster had left this immense responsibility to him. He couldn't be more worthy of the job than Zell (no, too violence-oriented and spontaneous), or Irvine (no, he was from another garden), or Selphie (no, she was too immature), or Quistis (no, she had been demoted from teaching because she "lacked leadership qualities"). Damn. I just proved myself completely wrong. Still, he was sure that someone was more capable than himself.

The teen looked around his dimly moonlit, pasty room, hoping to find something interesting. His blankets lay in a heap on his floor, a result of his frustration at them being to hot to lay under and to cold to lay on top of. Now he was freezing (too much air-conditioning) in only boxers and his grey t-shirt. It was impossible to get comfortable, and even harder to think straight. His fur-lined jacket lay in one corner, his pants in another, and the two belts he wore criss-crossed around his waist dangled from a hook on the back of his door. And he had no damn clue where his boots were. The clothes looked like small monsters lingering in the dark, waiting patiently to devour him whole. He cringed at the thought -- not only was it completely stupid, but it also caused a little twinge of fear in his gut.

He stood up and took his gunblade out of it's case, sat on his bed, and began to mindlessly play with the sharp blade, admiring the lion emblazoned on the side as if looking for advice. Griever, why do I expect you to know what to do?

When he realized he was asking it a question, one that it could not answer, he threw it to the floor, making a loud clang. He jumped and cussed. The sound made his growing headache explode into tingles of pain behind his eyes. "What the fuck am I supposed to do??" He whispered loudly at himself, falling back onto his bed and making it creak loudly in protest. He could feel tears begin to sting his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. He hadn't cried, even when alone, since Ellone left the orphanage when he was a child.

Great Squall, great. Just throw a fucking temper-tantrum. That's the way to solve all your problems.

There was a knock at the door. Wonderful. This night just kept getting better and better. He ignored it and remained still.

"Squall? I know you're in there." Zell. What could he want?

Squall stood up and looked at the clock on his way to the door. Squinting out into the bright fluorescent lit hallway, he asked, "What the hell are you doing here at three in the morning?"

"I came to ask you what the racket's all about." To Squall, his voice was much too loud, even more so than usual, and he winced.

"Will you be quiet?" he whispered, "I have a gigantic headache and you're not helping one fucking bit."

"You don't need to be so whiny about it." Zell put one hand on his hip and leaned on the doorframe with the other. His tall blond spiked bangs graced his strong arm as he cocked his head, "What've you been up to in here?" He peered at Squall with innocent yet piercing grey-green eyes. He looked genuinely worried about his leader, which for some reason made Squall quite angry.

"I dropped my gunblade. I was about to clean it. Anything else?" He asked hastily.

"Jeez guy! I'll admit I don't know much about gunblades, but couldn't that thing have gone off? 'Sides, you're gonna wake everyone in this whole place up!" Zell hadn't lowered his voice at all. The black tattoo on the left side of his face reflected his personality perfectly -- loud and strange: bold bolts of lighting radiating from and mirroring the depths of his being.

"It's not loaded." Squall tried to close the door to avoid any more confrontations, but Zell stopped it with a red-sneakered toe.

"Why aren't you sleeping? It's gonna put you in a worse mood than usual if you don't catch some Z's. I don't want to have to put up with that." WHO didn't want to put up with WHO? The idea nearly made Squall laugh. Zell crossed his arms, waiting for an answer.

"I've just got a lot on my mind."

"Like what?"

"You wouldn't understand."

Zell leaned forward and grinned defiantly, "You won't let me."

". . . . . Whatever."

Without warning, Zell laughed. It began as a chuckle, then grew into a guffaw.

"What the hell's the matter with you?" Squall demanded.

"You . . . are so . . .damn . . . predictable!" Zell declared between dying giggles.

"Why aren't you sleeping?" Squall retaliated smartly. "You're all dressed. What gives?" Yes, Zell was dressed, though his clothes were wrinkled and dishevelled as if he had, in fact, been asleep. His black-and-red jacket was tied haphazardly around his waist and his black tank top was untucked from beltless, knee-length, baggy blue shorts.

"Well, for your information, I was sitting in the infirmary with Rinoa for the last six hours. When people are in a coma you're supposed to talk to them. Helps 'em want to wake up." Zell replied as a worried expression almost began to cloud his face.

"We don't know she's in a coma." Squall replied. "You're probably wasting your time."

The muscles in Zell's neck and arm began to tense up as he squeezed the doorframe wothout realizing it. "Whatever's wrong with her, she's my friend and I want to see her pull through." He actually seemed to be getting angry with Squall, "You may not care, and that's fine with me, but I want to support her."

"Look, I didn't say I don't care. There are just more important things--"

". . .Than looking after someone you care about?!" Zell's voice became even louder, "I don't think so."

Geez, this guy must have a crush on her or something. Squall thought, He sure does like her. He felt a twinge of . . . something in his gut at the thought of Zell and Rinoa together. Something that wasn't right. He laughed it off silently and pushed the thought out of his mind.

Zell was still going. "Oh wait, Squall, I forgot, Balamb Garden's resident iceberg doesn't know how to care about people."

Squall just stared at him. Was that the impression he had on people?

Zell must have noticed that his words had hit home. His frown disappeared and he began to relax.

Squall faked a yawn. He had to get out of this heated discussion to think this crap over. More crap to think over. "Look, I think I do need to sleep. You should go."

"That was a fake yawn. You suck at acting." Zell replied with an awkward smirk. Suddenly the door was shut in his face. "Hey!" He rubbed his nose, which had received a harsh whack. "What the hell was that?"

"I'm going to sleep now. Go away." Squall picked up his gunblade and put it in it's case.

"Squall," Zell continued through the door, "You should try it."

"Try what?" Squall asked, becoming genuinely annoyed. He pulled his blankets up onto his bed and tried to get comfortable.

"Talk to Rinoa. You need to talk to someone, but you always hate it when they reply. She would be perfect for you right now."

"Go away."

"Fine. Bye." Zell sighed loudly, and Squall could picture him drooping over at the waist in his trademark admittance of defeat.

His footsteps grew fainter and fainter as he headed back to his room. A door opened and closed. All was silent.


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