chaos_anomaly: (Fanart Dissidia ♞ Squall; Evil's Throne)
C. Anomaly ([personal profile] chaos_anomaly) wrote2009-11-03 11:32 pm

Fiction | These Empty Halls; DFF; Gen; G

Title: These Empty Halls
Author/Artist: Cyr Anomaly, [ profile] chaos_anomaly
Pairing: N/A; Gen
Rating: G
Warnings: N/A
Word count: 1465
Summary: It should never be like this.

A/N: You know how the stages are based on each FF? What if there were "sanctuaries" of rest in Dissidia that remind our heroes of home? This is one such fic. Blink and you'll miss the 7x8 pre-slash.

He walks through the empty halls and thinks that there should be explosions and screams, of weapons clanging, bullets discharging, fists pounding flesh. There should be cries of pain and sorrow. There should be wails of anger and vengeance. There should be life in these halls, not silence. Anything but silence and yet—

There is only silence.

All life is gone. Squall knows that it would. What life there was now lies in the crystal in his hand. He holds it gingerly, examining the sharp planes. If he holds it at an angle, he can almost make out the silhouette of a gunblade. Otherwise, it is only a bundle of feathers. His crystal is not like the others. It is different, unlike anything he has encountered before being summoned by Cosmos for her war.

Cosmos. The thought of her brings a frown to his lips. He remembers her expression, her words, her death clearly, not that time had passed much since her demise.

This place, this imitation of his Garden, is one of hers. A sanctuary to remind them of home and their duties. It is the same for the fields of battle he and the others roam to fight manikins and their personal enemies. This is not the first sanctuary they found.

Finding a sanctuary at all is a blessing, their rations are dwindling and they need rest. Despite that, Squall does not see it as much. He sees this place as a mockery with its cold hallways and lack of warmth of any kind. He feels nothing but anger and sadness.

Squall did not tell the others that this place is a representation of his home. He does not want to tell them that he doesn’t feel warmth and happiness here. He feels the despair, the devastation and mayhem of the Sorceress War. He hears only the sounds of battle, not the harmonies of life before he became a SeeD. He sees this place as a mockery with its cold hallways and silent rhapsodies. There was once a battle, or two, he fought inside Garden. Each fight bringing a vibrancy and splendor of noise and heat but now—

It is quiet, too quiet. Too cold. Too lifeless.

That alone gives a stake of fear into his heart. Garden was never a quiet, cold and dull place.

Each room he passes in the dormitory wings reminds him of the lives he is responsible for, the lives he lost and failed to properly lead. He thinks of the deaths of students and teachers and SeeDs from the fiasco that happened after he escaped from D-District and of the casualties from the Battle between Balamb and Galbadia Gardens.

He moves from each wing to the next. He lingers in the infirmary, eyes settled over the bed he used to occupy when injured. He remembers Dr. Kadowaki and her voice, stern but parental. Squall leaves after touching the wall Ellone once leaned against during their first reunion, one where he was only half conscious.

Squall doesn’t know where the others are. He left them behind to walk these halls of silence, of despair.

If Ultimecia won, then Garden would be like this. Barren and desolate, Squall thinks as he goes to the cafeteria.

There is no line at the counter, no Zell bouncing on both feet for his favorite food. There are no cooks readying meals for the students and faculty. There is nothing but bare tables and dust covered chairs. Squall walks over to his usual table and stares at the chair he uses when eating here. He reaches out and pulls the seat back. He doesn’t sit down. Instead he caresses the backrest before nodding to himself.

He drifts into the quad. He stares at the plants, frozen in time. Still green and vibrant, Squall scoffs at the mockery. There is no life here. It is all fake.

His friends are gone and only he remains, fighting a war to save the world, to defeat Ultimecia and Chaos to return everything back to normal. He walks off when the silence becomes too much for his ears. He feels confined and claustrophobic, even in such a wide space.

There should be streamers from Selphie’s last Festival but there are none.

In the Library, Squall picks up a book from the shelf and reads to himself. It is one he read before. A fairytale of a knight saving his princess from a deep sleep and a sorceress that dares to stand between him and his beloved. The story is short. The rest of the book is only stories and myths. He replaces the book and walks to the checkout desk out of habit. If he tries hard enough, he can imagine Zell trying to woo the librarian girl.

Squall leaves the Training Center for last. He enters the Garage instead and sits down on the concrete. He studies one of the cars in front of him. He drove that once. It stalled once during a mission and he swore to get the Headmaster to buy Tempests instead; not that ever would suggest that in person. Tempests were expensive and Garden couldn’t afford such frivolous charges. Trabia was still in need of funds for its reconstruction.

Even so, Squall loved the handling of that car, even as he was focused more on getting to Edea to kill her.

Pushing himself off the floor, Squall heads off into the Training Center. He sees the rest of warriors lingering there. He takes the other way around the center and emerges out into the secret balcony. He leans over the edge and takes his first look of where Balamb is.

The ocean air smells real but there are no gulls or anything else other than the waves. Squall takes a deep breath and revels in something finally authentic. In the distance, he can almost make out the stone lighthouse and Centra architecture of the Orphanage.

A sound behind him causes Squall’s had to fall onto the hilt of his Revolver. He turns his head to see who it is.

“We shouldn’t be separated,” Cloud says in the way of a greeting. The blond swordsman walks to the edge of the balcony and peers over the edge. “We don’t know what’s in this place.”

Squall looks at him for a moment, “I do.” It is the first admission that this place is his.

“It’s Garden,” Squall says simply, arms crossed as he leans over the balcony.

Cloud looks at him for a moment before he nods.

They remain quiet for a while as Squall listens to the roar of the ocean and breathes in the salt of the air. Squall thinks of the first time Balamb moved, of how they drifted until they crashed into Fisherman’s Horizon. He thinks of the reunion with the other team he left in Galbadia. He thinks of the concert Selphie organized for his benefit.

He thinks of Rinoa.

“Any monsters?” Squall breaks from his musings to ask.

Cloud shakes his head before pushing himself away from the balcony wall. “None yet.”

“Hn.” Squall follows the blond back into the Training Center and walks back to the group. “The dorms are this way. We can rest there.” Without a glance back to see if they follow, Squall walks back to the dormitory wings, a hand loosely on Revolver’s grip. He almost wishes a T-Rex would appear jus t so the silence would be broken.

He hears laughter behind him. Squall stops and half-turns back. He sees Zidane throwing his head back, a grin evident on his face. Bartz stands with hands on his hips, voice low in some impersonation. Tidus smiles wide and Cecil chuckles softly. Firion’s form is relaxed and Terra covers her mouth, stifling her giggles. The youngest of them all retorts back to whatever joke Squall missed. Their leader watches them all benignly. Cloud, Squall sees, is the closest to him in distance and is able to see his expression.

“Don’t ask,” Cloud answers Squall’s unspoken question. There is quiet mirth in his eyes and a twitch in his lips.

Squall nods and turns to hide the brief smile that appears on his face. Their laughter echoes in the Training Center and the halls of Balamb Garden. Squall thinks that this is how Garden should be.

He clenches Revolver tighter and pauses. He nods briefly to himself. They will win this war and break this endless cycle of conflict. He will stop Ultimecia from ever making Garden into a desolate place like it is now. He will draw his sword against the God of Discord. They will defeat Chaos and go home, back to their own worlds.

And then, Squall will make an effort to always keep laughter in the halls of his Garden.