Grazhir :: Final Fantasy :: Providential :: 01 :: Greens

02 • Greens

“Yes, we kissed. A rather important kiss, actually, as it told me how I actually feel about something.”

“I don’t understand,” Rinoa protested.

Squall gave her a blank look rather than one of frustration, or of anything else he might normally show. “Simple. I felt like I was kissing my sister.”

“What!? How can you say that?”

Squall shrugged one shoulder, then jutted out his hip and placed a hand on it. “It’s the truth. Would you rather I lied? Betray your trust?”

“Uh, no, of course not. But, Squall, I . . . love you,” she said rather desperately.

Squall shrugged again, ignoring when her mouth tightened. “I like you a great deal, but I’m not in love with you. I don’t think I could be. Again, would you rather I lied? Made your life miserable when I consistently failed, time and time again, to meet your expectations? Hurt you so badly that eventually you left me to find what would really make you happy?”

“I—” She bit her lip, then said softly, “You’re so cold.”

“Yes,” he agreed readily.

“You—” She paused, frowned, then whirled and stalked out of his office.

Squall was grateful for two things: it was impossible for anyone to slam the door to his office, and she hadn’t cried. In retrospect he added a third. It was over. After touching his fingers to his forehead in a reflexive gesture, he shook his head and went back to his paperwork.

Several hours later he was back in his suite, glad to be seated at his lonely little table eating a huge salad, and, though something tasted slightly odd about it, he shrugged it off and made a mental note to toss his bottle of dressing and replace it. Once he’d rinsed his dishes and left them in the sink for morning Squall went to bed.

*

He woke up and stretched luxuriously, then relaxed with a sigh. A few moments later he sat and opened his eyes, then frowned, his eyes darting around the room in bewilderment. He had no earthly idea where he was, or how he had ended up there. Cautiously he slipped out from under the covers and stood, walking slowly out of the room to investigate further. His feet made no noise as he moved around, glancing at the few objects he could find that must have belonged to someone. Him?

It was when he chanced upon a mirror after stumbling into the bathroom that he realized something even more important. He had no idea who he was. After staring at himself for quite some time he shrugged slightly and proceeded to take a shower and take care of other morning business. At least the shampoo was scented with something he could tolerate, and the toothpaste was likewise decently flavored.

Afterward he stumbled out to the sitting room and flopped onto the lone couch. Not particularly wanting to investigate beyond the confines of the suite, he glanced around long enough to score the remote, then began watching television.

It was much later when a knock at the door dragged his attention away from the screen. With a philosophical shrug he rose and went to open it, fumbling only slightly when it came to figuring out how. Standing outside was a young woman with blond hair and glasses, staring at him quizzically. “Squall? Where have you been?”

“Is that my name?” he asked, tilting his head to the side.

“Squall?”

“Is it? I woke up here and I have no idea where I am, or who I am. So, is that my name?”

For some reason she looked horrified. A second later she pushed him back into the room and barged in after him, exhaling when the door slid shut behind her. “Is this some kind of a joke?”

He spread his hands helplessly. “I’m sorry if I’m upsetting you, but I really don’t understand what’s going on.”

“Dear Hyne,” she said under her breath. “Why don’t you have a seat, okay?”

“Sure,” he said agreeably.

Once she sat beside him, angled to face him, she said, “Your name is Squall Leonhart and you’re the Commander of Balamb Garden.”

He gave her a politely clueless look. “If you say so. Who are you?”

“My name is Quistis Trepe. I’m an instructor here at Garden and one of your friends.”

“That’s good to know. Are we close?” He was mildly surprised to note that she looked ready to cry for some reason.

“Squall. . . .” She sighed and bit her lip before muttering, “This can’t be a joke. I’m not even sure you have a sense of humor.” In a louder voice she said, “You don’t remember anything?”

He shook his head. “Not that I know of.”

She eyed him carefully for several moments. “You don’t look like you’ve been hurt. Are you in any pain?”

“Nope,” he said cheerfully, which seemed to startle her. He was beginning to wonder why she was reacting so strangely, and what that said about whoever he was.

“Squall, I’d like to take you to see Doctor Kadowaki. Maybe she can help make sense of why you don’t seem to remember who you are.”

“If you think so. What’s a Garden, by the way? And what am I Commander of?”

Quistis bit her lip again and massaged her forehead. “I think Doc ought to see you first, if that’s okay.”

He shrugged and nodded. “All right.”

She stood up and moved toward the door, pausing to hit a few buttons on an odd-looking panel. After several beeping noises, a screen flicked on to reveal a young man’s face. “Irvine? I need you to do me a favor.”

“Whatcha need, Quisty?” he drawled.

“First, keep your mouth shut on this. We have a situation. Get over here to Squall’s quarters immediately.”

“Sure thing, babe,” he drawled, then the screen went black.

She turned back to him and said, “As soon as Irvine arrives, we can go. Do you—no, never mind. You wouldn’t have any idea.” She started glancing around, then darted forward, grabbing a card of some kind from a nearby table. “This is your door key, Squall. Don’t lose it, okay?”

He took it and then paused. He had no place to put it considering he was only wearing a pair of boxer shorts. Without saying anything he wandered back into the room he had woken up in and started opening drawers at random, looking for clothes. As he was dressing he heard the outer door open again, but ignored it for the moment. When he wandered back out the card key was safe in a pocket and the young man from the screen was present.

Quistis whipped around from her hushed conversation and said, “Squall, this is Irvine, also a friend of yours. I’ve asked him to check your rooms for anything suspicious, okay?”

“Okay, sure, if you think it’ll help.” He smiled at Irvine, who blinked and then tipped his hat briefly.

“You still have your key?” she asked.

“In my pocket,” he said with a nod.

“All right. Irvine, be thorough, but try not to pry into anything private, please. I’m trusting you to be discreet. I’m taking Squall to the infirmary so if you don’t see us in a bit, try finding me there.”

“Sure thing.”

“Come along, Squall.”

*

Quistis was beside herself. Squall couldn’t possibly be faking. She wasn’t even sure that he knew that many words, never mind how to be cheerful and smile at people. She had even caught him waving at people who called out to him on the way to the doc, which weirded her out more than she could express in words. It was with great relief that they entered the domain of the doctor and she could blurt out what was wrong.

“How interesting,” said Kadowaki, eyeing Squall carefully, who was smiling and looking around curiously. “I believe I’ll need to run a few tests. Squall?” she said, catching his attention. “Would you be so kind as to take a seat?” She gestured at a chair.

“Okay!”

Quistis flopped into another chair and sighed. It was almost like seeing Laguna, actually, now that she had a chance to think about it. And as much as she might have liked to see Squall open up a bit to her and their friends, his current persona was scaring the hell out of her. She watched anxiously as Kadowaki ran a multitude of scans and did things like take blood samples, wondering what in the hell had happened to do this to him. He obviously couldn’t function as a member of Garden in this state. It took long enough that Irvine showed up with a small white bag in one hand.

“What’s that?” asked Kadowaki, looking up from her charge, who had been telling her all about the show he had been watching earlier.

“The only thing I could find that was remotely suspicious was in his refrigerator, Doc. I think you should run some tests on it.”

She nodded at one of the counters. “Drop it there. I’ll get to it in just a moment.” Turning back to Squall she said, “I’m going to put these samples in the analyzer, so you just hold on. We’ll figure it out.”

Quistis watched as Squall gave her a trusting smile and wanted to scream. How was she going to explain this to Squall’s father? Or, was this a good thing in a roundabout sense?

Irvine dropped into a chair and tipped his hat back. “Having fun yet, ladies?”

Before anyone could answer, Squall asked, “Why are all the clothes in that room black, grey, or white?”

Irvine let out a laugh and shook his head. “Because that’s what you prefer.”

“Really? Not even a splash of blue? Seems kind of depressing, you know? Blue might go nice with my eyes, don’t you think?”

Quistis took a deep breath and smiled at him. “I think so.”

Kadowaki made a tutting noise and turned to face them. “Either there was a strange mistake, or someone played a rather nasty prank on Squall. I have no way of knowing exactly what happened, but it seems that he’s ingested a fair bit of . . . amnesia greens.”

Quistis gasped. “Those have never been tested on humans!”

“They have now,” Kadowaki pointed out. “And I think the effects are obvious.”

“How long, Doc?” asked Irvine as he absently fiddled with the lapel of his jacket.

Kadowaki shrugged. “I have no idea. For that matter, I have no idea if it’s affected his Guardian Forces. I don’t think Squall is in any immediate danger, but someone will need to keep an eye on him, and he’s obviously on medical leave as of now, indefinitely.”

“Yes, of course,” Quistis said. “I’ll inform Cid, and start a quiet investigation. But. . . .”

“Irvine,” Kadowaki began, “I think you could handle this, if you’re willing. Would you consider bunking with Squall for a while?”

“A roomie? That could be fun,” Squall commented with a bright smile at Irvine.

“Uh, sure, Doc. I don’t mind.”

Quistis arched a brow at the odd tone, then said, “Irvine, we’ll need to get a second card key made. Why don’t you take Squall to your rooms so you can pack up some things and I’ll see you later at his to drop one off.”

“Anything for you, darlin’,” he replied impudently.

“Are you two a couple?” Squall asked.

Quistis groaned and aimed what she hoped was a smile at Squall. “No, we aren’t. I’m going to get things rolling. Irvine, please behave yourself.”

Irvine gave her a mock salute.

*

Squall jumped to his feet and bounced a little, eager to see more of this Garden place, and smiled when Irvine rose smoothly and nodded at the door.

“I’ll keep ya informed, Doc,” Irvine said as he followed Squall out. A moment later he was at his side. “Like the lady said, we’ll go to my rooms first.”

“Okay. How come Quistis keeps making such odd faces?” Squall asked as they walked around the central column.

“I don’t think she’s used to seeing you like this, Squall. It’s a bit different from the norm.”

“Is that bad?”

Irvine gave him a sidelong glance. “Just different. Nothing to worry about. I think we need to keep you out of the limelight, partner. There’s no telling what people might try and pull with you like this.”

“Huh?” Was Irvine worried about something?

“Squall, if you can’t remember who anyone is, you won’t know the best way to react to someone. And, considering that it’s likely someone pulled a nasty prank on you, I think it’d be safer to keep a very close eye on you.”

Squall had to walk faster to keep up given that Irvine had increased his pace as he spoke. Well, it was true that he had no idea about anything, but he was confident that Irvine would be a good friend, so why argue? “What are amnesia greens?”

“They’re used to get a Guardian Force to forget an ability. Apparently, in humans, they make you forget quite a bit.”

“Okay. What’s a Guardian Force?”

“I promise, I’ll answer everything I can once we get me settled into your rooms, Squall. The halls aren’t the best place to be having this discussion.”

“Oh.” He felt rather let down, and wondering if he had done something wrong. To be on the safe side he stopped talking. They reached Irvine’s rooms, so Squall waited on the couch as the other man packed up a number of things, then silently followed him back to where he had woken up, pulling out the key card and using it the same way Irvine had used his own earlier. Inside, he sat on the couch and folded his hands in his lap.

“I didn’t mean for you to clam up on me entirely, Squall,” Irvine finally said.

Squall looked back over his shoulder. “How am I supposed to know,” he said a bit petulantly. “How would I know anything?”

Irvine sighed and took a seat next to him. “I’m sorry. I know this must be hard for you. Tell ya what. How about I give you a condensed version of events for the past year?”

Squall smiled and nodded. “Great!”

By the time a harried looking Quistis arrived Squall had heard quite a bit and was having trouble believing he was that powerful. That didn’t stop him from calling out a cheerful hello to her as she flopped into a chair with absolutely no grace.

“Hello, Squall. I trust that Irvine has been keeping you entertained.”

“Definitely,” he said firmly.

“Anybody been wandering around looking guilty?” Irvine asked.

She shook her head. “By the way, I’m acting Commander. I’ll go back up shortly and start checking the security tapes to see if anyone managed to find a way into here yesterday. When you left your office you were fine, Squall.”

“Security tapes?”

“There aren’t any cameras in here, Squall, but they do cover the corridors. They’re just very well hidden. Most people don’t even realize they’re there.”

“So what happens if you find out who did this?”

“We ask them why they did it,” she said reasonably, then turned at the sound of a knock on the door. “Oh, Hyne,” she muttered, then called out, “Who is it?”

After a pause Squall could hear a female voice through the door say, “Rinoa.”

“Is she another friend? Irvine mentioned her in his story.”

“I’m . . . not quite sure how to answer that, Squall.” Quistis rose and headed for the door, opening it with a touch of her fingers. “Yes, Rinoa?”

“Is Squall here?”

Squall couldn’t quite see around Quistis to get a good look at the mystery girl. He thought she sounded a bit strange, though.

“Now isn’t a good time, Rinoa, I’m sorry,” Quistis said as she stepped forward and out of the room.

The voices became muffled once the door shut, then faint. Squall came to the logical conclusion that they had either lowered their voices, or, since he could no longer hear them at all, moved away. He opened his mouth to speak but Irvine cut him off. “No, Squall, Rinoa isn’t a SeeD like us.”

“Then why is she here?”

“You know, that’s a good question. I’ll have to take a gander at Garden regula—” Irvine was cut short by an unholy screaming coming from outside. Seconds later the door whooshed open and Rinoa was pushed through, stumbling, with Quistis right on her heels.

“How could you!?” Quistis demanded.

“It was just a joke, I swear!”

“A joke?” Quistis shrieked. “Did you even have any idea of what it would do to him?”

Rinoa flushed bright red and toed the carpet, dropping her head so that her shiny hair swung down to hide her face. “Um, no? I thought he’d just have to, you know, make a special visit to the bathroom.”

“You stupid girl. He doesn’t have any clue who he is! Who any of us are!”

Squall’s head was turning back and forth between the two girls as they spoke, finally getting that they were referring to him, and that it was Rinoa at fault. The girl’s head shot up at Quistis’s last statement, her face a study in horror. “What?”

“You heard me,” Quistis said gratingly. “His memory is shot to hell because of what you did.”

“Quisty,” Irvine interjected, “maybe this isn’t the best time, but don’t Garden regulations say that—”

“Shut up, Irvine. As for you, Rinoa, you are in a world of trouble. You’ll be lucky if all Cid does is ship you back to your father.”

Rinoa paled and started to wring her hands. “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal!” she cried. “I was just—”

Quistis placed her hands on her hips and stared. “Just what?”

“Um, nothing.”

“I see,” she said icily. “Irvine, I’m sure you have things well in hand, so Rinoa and I will be leaving now to have a little chat with Cid. I’ll check in on you later.” Then she advanced on the other girl and prodded her back out through the door.