By Fyre Byrd
They lay together on their backs in the dew-dampened grass embraced by a silence filled with neither animosity nor true companionship. The stars shone in the sky clearer and sharper than the edges of the gunblades sheathed and discarded between them on the ground. They were separate, but willing to share this space beneath the evening sky peacefully for now. The man with slicked-back blonde hair stirred a bit in the twilight and then lifted his arm.
"A falling star," he said.
The shorter man beside him didn't speak, but continued staring up at the sky as though there were no one there at all. Seifer frowned and continued speaking, turning his head where it rested on his arms to stare at Squall.
"There was a woman with dark hair in a stone house once. She said that when a star falls from the sky, it means that someone is dying somewhere." The wind sighed through the grass and the leaves of the trees, mimicking the sound of the sea, which fretted and wailed not too far distant.
"That's nonsense," Squall said. "They aren't even stars, they're meteors. Don't you know anything? They're made up of rocks and dust and ice."
"Like you?" Seifer prodded at Squall's side with a mocking kind of fondness. Squall didn't respond to the taunting because he was used to it and he knew that the petty jabs Seifer took at him would burn against the surface of his calm and disappear. "Oh, be like that then." Seifer said sharply. "You haven't got a shred of romance in your soul, you know." As if to demonstrate the fact, he dropped a single blade of grass on Squall's nose, disrupting the silent man's reverie.
"What, and you do?" Squall asked, brushing the grass from his nose with an irritated little gesture.
"Sure do," Seifer replied, grinning in the moonlight which gleamed in his eyes. "I'm going to be a knight and do great deeds," he proclaimed with mock seriousness.
"On a white horse." Squall added in a sarcastic monotone.
"Of course. And when I become a knight everyone will hear about it and then . . ." he raised himself up on one elbow and turned towards Squall menacingly. "I'll challenge you to a duel."
"Yes, like so." Seifer moved to slap Squall across the face with his glove, which he'd covertly slipped from his hand while he was talking. Squall's hand shot out and intercepted the gesture. He gripped Seifer's wrist tightly and returned it to the blonde man's side.
"A duel," he repeated drily, "but how would you find me?"
"I'll be here." Seifer said casually.
"I'll be waiting here."
Squall placed a hand over his forehead and sighed louder than the grass or the leaves or the sea. "For what?"
"I'll be waiting for you," Seifer said, as if it were obvious. "So,if you come here, you'll find me." He grinned again and managed to bring his glove down across Squall's face. "I promise."
Leaning on a cold, stone balcony, Squall gazed up at the sky, able to contemplate it quietly for the first time in a long while. A girl with dark brown hair turned her liquid brown eyes on him. Her face lit by a queer little smile, she pointed up at a meteor as it fell with its last brief burst of light and was extinguished forever in the earth's atmosphere. Squall smiled at her action, remembering a rescue in the depths of that black sky and she leaned in and kissed him. The smile on Squall's face crumpled away to lay discarded among the expressions he rarely wore. As the moon loomed huge overhead he remembered other things, a promise and a star. Before he had made nearly the same promise to Rinoa in a field full of the cloying scent of thousands of brilliant flowers Zell had said something about not knowing that Squall was a romantic. He wasn't. Seifer was the romantic, head in the clouds or even higher than that, drifting off in space with the satellites. Somehow the words he'd said to Rinoa in that field had come too quickly to a mind still crippled from using unreasonably powerful magical forces. Pushing Rinoa away from him, and holding her at arm's length he looked at her grimly, forcing himself to meet her eyes.
"What's wrong, Squall?" she asked breathlessly, her dark brows drawing together.
"Falling stars, they aren't for wishing on" he replied.
She held tightly to his arms still, shaking her head, "I don't understand."
"When a star falls, it means something is dying," he said evenly as he removed himself from Rinoa's arms, changing the adage to suit the situation. As Squall walked away from her, he recalled that Seifer had always told him that he had no imagination.
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