Author's Note: The characters belong to squaresoft but everything else is mine. The characters may be a little off from their game-selves, but there is no way I can rip them out and put them in our world without severely changing their backgrounds, and if you change backgrounds, well, you change personalities. This story is inspired and influenced by works of Sodoshiin, Race Ulfson, Emily, and several others. Oh, and a lot of the pictures I had described are heavily inspired by works of the wonderful Japanese artist Maxim. Again, feedbacks are welcomed, both good and bad ones. (and flames still are laughed at) Thanks for all the people who liked Barbed Wire and provided feedback for me.

Connecticut

Chapter One

By Jamaica

He frowned slightly at the unoriginality of his future home for the next 4, perhaps even 8, years of school. Being born and raised from the midst of uptown New York, he had always accepted the jagged constructions of his neighborhood as the norm. He knew the move to this medium-sized town in the state of Connecticut would bring different surroundings to his sight, but never anything *this* close to ordinary. The scenery was quite peaceful. Hard to imagine he stood only a couple of miles outside New Haven.

He wasn't used to this. At all. In fact, he was supposed to be standing on the dirt of New Haven in the first place. The city of Yale was not very different in atmosphere from where he had stayed for the past 18 years of his life. But the financial situation forced him to abandon the goal, which he had almost achieved when he received the acceptance letter from the top art school in the country, and retreat to a smaller, more affordable institution near his dream.

The failure of a scholarship and too much hope. His current school wasn't bad, no, not slightly. But it did not compare to Yale in any way close. His sister had told him the program was wonderful, and usually she didn't lie. But how much could a pianist, who had focused on nothing else but her specialty, understand about paintings? About sculptures? And oil on canvas? Still, she had 4 more years of experience under her feet than he did. Like previously stated, the school wasn't bad. It just wasn't Yale.

"Finished with the detail-absorption yet?"

He looked over his right shoulder, at the direction of the soft voice dripped with tease. "Yes. There's nothing here." He replied sourly.

She chuckled and shifted her weight, apparently getting uncomfortable with the heavy suitcase in her delicate hands. "Would you like to ring the doorbell or should I?"

He shrugged. She shook her head slightly, then stepped up to push the red button carved into the wall. Moments later, the door swung open, showing the figure of a girl with a warm smile.

"Ellone!" The girl exclaimed as she hugged his sister. Her natural blonde hair was pulled into a ponytail and secured with a wide clip. A few face-framing strands rested on her shoulders. She was wearing a dark red hoodie with laced-up sleeves and a pair of denim. True blue eyes twinkled as her smile grew wider. "I didn't expect you to be here this early. I thought you're going to arrive some time around dinner."

"Well, I had to take care of some registration problems." Ellone replied, smoothing her long black skirt before turning to gesture for him to come closer. "And that's my brother."

The expression on the girl's face when she saw him was enough to convince him that her previous images concerning his appearance were incorrect. True, who would think an old-fashioned sweetheart like his sister was related to the gothic walking artwork like him. He absentmindedly pressed his black leather jacket closer to his firm stomach, picked up his other suitcase with a gloved hand, and walked up to the front porch. The girl stepped aside to let him in and set down the heavy trunk. Her eyes never left him.

"Find something you like?" He gave her a look. Women.

The girl's smile didn't fade. "You know, you have really beautiful eyes."

This time it's his turn to be surprised. Out of all the responses he received from observers (and believe him, they were of various contents and quite numerous), no one had ever complimented his facial features before, especially the eyes. They were mostly concerned with his outfit, and the make-up. "Uh . . . thanks." He uttered.

"No one ever told you that before?" The girl appeared bewildered. "Shame. Hm. Oh, where's my manners. I'm Quistis. Quistis Trepe." She extended her hand.

"Squall Leonhart." He shook it firmly, waiting for her next obvious question.

Before she could say anything else, though, his sister interrupted the introduction. "I better go. Julia's probably there already." Julia was her roommate in the sorority house Phi Xi Epsilon. One of the many advantages of being a senior in that sorority was guaranteed low-price housing, which his sister gladly accepted. It was also the reason why he had the luck to live in a house shared by 3 other people near campus instead of the freshmen dorms. Throwing in the fact that one of the tenants grew up with a very rich background and happened to know his family, he practically paid nothing to be renting a room in this north-of-modest house.

"Okay. Itís really good to see you, though." Quistis called out the door as Ellone walked back to the beige Toyota Camry. She waved as the car sped off and nearly skidded at the obscure stop sign ahead. A good driver Ellone was, a slow one she was not.

"Squall . . ." Quistis closed and locked the front door. "That's an interesting name."

"So is yours," he pointed out.

She glanced at him sideways with a semi-annoyed expression, "It's not that uncommon if you live in Northern Europe."

"You live there?"

"No, but my parents did spend their honeymoon in Norway." She said good-naturedly, confirming that her previous irritation was merely an act. "Why is your last name different from your family's?"

The inevitable question every time his surname was mentioned. He usually meet people through his sister's many connections, and the Loire/Leonhart issue never ceased with someone new. "It's my mother's maiden name." He said in an automatic tone. He was so tired of repeating the same thing over and over again. His father was a soldier during Vietnam. He had been transferred a few times and lost contact with his mother during a recovery from injury. His mother believed his father was dead, and named Squall with her own last name instead of the family one. Ellone was already four by then. Two years later his father returned, fully healed and anxious to reunite with his family. But the name stayed. "Can we get out of the doorway before I explain this again?" He gestured at the two suitcases.

"Oh, sure. Don't worry about explaining it, your sister told me enough for me to figure it out already." Quistis dismissed it with her hand. "Your room is upstairs on the left."

"Have the others arrived yet?" Squall glanced around.

Just as that inquiry was spoken aloud, he heard the lock of the kitchen door turned and squeaked. The rush of outside air brought in the scent of plants, as the door swung open quickly.

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