invocations: (Squall)
[personal profile] invocations

Title: His Ghosts
Fandom: FFVIII
Characters/Pairing: Squall/Rinoa
Rating: PG
Warnings: It's a Halloween prompt, 'nuff said.

Notes: For [ profile] bottle_of_shine's Trick or Treat ficbit meme, prompted by [ profile] alyssame. This one came out of nowhere!

I was walking with a ghost; I said please, please don’t insist.
          – Tegan and Sara, “Walking With a Ghost”.


He keeps dreaming of the sea. There are pounding drums- or is it the blood pulsing in his head down to his chest, his fingers?- and there are waves assaulting the grey sand with cymbal crashes. And there, wavering perilously near the rocks, is a bundle of cloth that is too stark against the grey. His dreamself steps through the cold sand, tripping over dried carapaces and dark seaweed gloves that clutch at his ankles. It takes him a long time to reach the shore, for his steps are mincing and the wind pushes strong against his bare frame, but after what feels a lifetime of walking, he stops to regard the shape.

It is a burial cloth- how he recognises it as such he does not know- but it is rough to the touch, tightly woven and as strong as sailcloth. It gives slightly beneath his fingers when he touches it; a small minnow trips out from beneath a wet fold, startled. He watches it dance in fits and jerks before it dies in the sand by his feet. A wave clatters in and nudges the cloth, turning it sarcoid, pale skin punctuated with holes and cuts. They are all washed out and greyblue, from the unshuttered, clouded-over eyes to the skinflaps peeling from the deep incisions to the bitten toes and he stumbles backwards with a small cry. There are rings around the neck- two mottled fingers still hooked on the chain near them- and a ring for a mouth, open and accusatory.

Another wave pushes the supine body completely out of the cloth. Black hair flows out like ink and seaweed; at his touch, she spills to ashes.


She wakes to his hoarse cry and tangled sheets, and so wakes him. He flinches, seeing her bent over him with her hair spilling over her face and tickling his cheek, feeling her sleepy mental presence nudge his mind. His heartbeat spikes again to see her hand creep to her chain in her usual manner of puzzlement, and he snatches up her hand in his. She tilts her head at him before sliding herself down to the edge of his pillow.

—You’re cold, she murmurs. He hears a rustling as she shuffles her other hand from the underside of the pillow and presses it to their twined hands. She is warm, solid, the only cloth being the quilt over her shoulders, and his bare legs hook around hers. She is real. He watches her eyes, hooded with sleep and moonlight in this witching time of the night.

—Keep dreaming of you, he begins by way of explanation. But where to go from there?

—You were shouting. Almost.

He sighs as her eyes close and her lips still somehow find a damp spot near the corner of his eye. He, too, closes his eyes, trying to tune out the dull roaring in his ears. Her unspoken question hangs there like a heavy thing until he opens his mouth again to speak.

—You’re always dead there.


—The sea.

But where was she before the water and the cloth? Beneath the nebulous film of her fatigue, he feels her thoughts turning; does the residue of his dream stay with her, now? He lets her quiet breathing overtake his thoughts and the warmth seep into his bones. One of her hands unwinds itself from his and into his hair; he does not mind. Her wrist pulses against his ear, a small drum beat.

—Were you scared?

He swallows. There is a grey taste in his mouth and he bites down hard on his tongue because blood tastes better than ashes. He is scared to kiss her, suddenly, should she dissolve under his lips. He was taught to rend, not to hold. —I. I’m always scared.

He is glad, secretly, that she leaves her wrist where it is as he shifts closer, his gunblade arm circling her like a shroud.

Date: 2007-10-24 05:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
An excruciatingly vulnerable portrayal of Squall. I love it, so, so much.

Date: 2007-10-25 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He needs a good cuddle. >_> I mentioned somewhere else that I think absence and loss are the things that most shape his thoughts and behaviour. Thank you for commenting! ^^

Date: 2007-10-25 04:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Gorgeous. Out of curiosity, what exactly inspired you to tie Rinoa to the ocean like that?

Date: 2007-10-25 04:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! And that's a good question. It all makes some jumbly sense up there in my head, but I’ll try and explain.

It’s a series of images that got me first- the sea pulling in and out, always scraping the shore clean (the word ‘penance’ comes to mind), a steady incantation. It is timeless, and so is sorcery. There was a line I read in a poem once, speaking of the author (who is trying to invoke a word) and the sea- “The word is: ever. Why add salt to salt?”- and to me, it suggested the futility of the trivial when there was something bigger and eternal. A drop in the ocean. That reminded me of Rinoa. To make the analogy cheesier, I’d say water would represent her well- fluid, rolling with the punches, able to tirelessly wear away.

(Then you have in-game ties, like Edea living on the water and in a lighthouse by the sea, the Lunar Cry/power association and in turn its association with the moon and the ocean’s tide, and of course the rushing opening that pans over the ocean. The story closes over the ocean as well; circular, which is fitting.)

I apologise for the rambliness! Thanks again for leaving a comment and for getting me to try and word my thoughts. ^^

Date: 2007-10-25 07:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, that was amazing. Your portrayal of Squall is amazing, so vulnerable and believable. I can almost taste ashes now. I read your previous comment and I think the idea of associating Rinoa with the ocean makes a lot of sense, and it really worked well with this fic.

Random: I love the song you're listening to. 'Mezzanine' crapped all over '100th Window', I have to say, but whatever. Great band.

Date: 2007-10-25 12:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, thank you for your kind words! I'm happy that you find Squall believable, because popular opinion seems to say that he is notoriously difficult to write. Double-glad that the connection between Rinoa and the ocean made sense and that it suited this story. ^^ I can always see her coming back to it, somehow.

I have to agree with you there; I prefer Mezzanine to 100th Window as well! "Teardrop" and "Inertia Creeps" are my staunch favourites. From what little I've heard, I'm also a sucker for their earlier stuff; I've had "Unfinished Sympathy" in my head for the better part of today.

(P.S. You're in Melbourne- rock!)


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