Silence and Motion

by Tenshi

"It's short for Guardian Force," Squall explains, as he snaps fresh cartridges in his gunblade's chambers, deftly sliding each gleaming shell into place with a practiced motion of his gloved thumb. "They used to call them Summons back during the Sorceress Wars. Have you used one before?"

"No." Rinoa rests her hand lightly on the pinwheel strapped to her arm. "I'll be fine with just this, really."

Squall looks at her, a level gray gaze from beneath lowered brows. "They're nothing to be afraid of."

Rinoa remembers a howling wind erupting from an empty summer sky, the prickle of magic and fear down her spine as something bright and colorful and terrible tore through the filmy surface of dimensions and was born in the middle of the air.

I just found it, Seifer had said, and in the creature's reflected light, their eyes were the same alien blue. He had laughed at the monster tethered to his mind, admiring it as if it were a cute new pet. It's just the thing for one of my men back in Garden.

"I disagree," Rinoa says to Squall, quietly.

"Are you sure?" In the corner of the Forest Owls' train car, Zell is retying his sneakers for the umpteenth time. "I mean, they're really super helpful. You can use magic, draw it right out of your enemies and send it right back to them. You don't have to use any cheap Odine spell-focuser helmets like the Galbadians do. It's a lot faster, a lot more powerful. Just, one little 'c'mere baby,' and BAM!" He bares his teeth and his fists, and a crackle of lightning dances over the studs on his gloves as he clashes them together. "Wanna see my baby bird?"

"Nobody wants to see your bird, Zell," Selphie says, wrinkling her nose. "And nobody wants to see Quetzalcoatl, either."

Zell's embarrassment, while enough to get a chuckle out of Zone and Watts, does not bring so much as a flicker of humor to Squall's face. Rinoa remembers him at the party in Balamb as having a nice face, maybe a little self-conscious, maybe quiet, but still one that smiled a little. Once she had even made him laugh. But now his face is as still and hard as that of one of his monsters.

Squall clicks the chamber closed in his gunblade, and steps up to Rinoa. "Do you want to save Timber?" he asks her.

"Of course I do," she says, at once. "But those creatures... they frighten me."

Something thaws a little in his cold eyes. "At Garden, we're used to seeing them early on. And if you're junctioned to one that isn't compatible, it can be disastrous. A lot of work goes into the forces selected for us, and the ones dispensed by Garden are more manageable than ones caught in the wild. I have an extra one you can use."

"A manageable one?" Rinoa asks, ashamed of the way it comes out of her, in a scared little-girl voice.

"Nope," Squall says, with a smile that's not too nice as he peels off his glove. "I caught this one wild. But I think it'll suit you. It's a status-type, not an attack-type."

"I don't even know what that means," Rinoa protests, but then his warm fingertips are against her forehead, and his heavy silver ring glitters in her vision. They even wear monsters on their skin, she thinks, and then a strange yellow flash blots out her vision. There is music, from somewhere, and she instinctively relaxes. Music has been her friend since she was a little girl, pecking out melodies on the vast, dusty piano in her father's house. Even earlier, she recalls her mother's fingers flickering over the keys, the instrument rumbling out thunderstormy passion or gentle lullabies. This music is something in-between, and Rinoa's mind is filled with the feathery brush of dazzling wings, the gentle lap of the tide. The music is so beautiful that it makes her want to stay quiet and listen, to never speak for fear of interrupting the spell. The creature says her name, and Rinoa opens startled eyes, realizing the power Squall has just given her.

"Siren," she says.

Squall nods in satisfaction, and then busies himself getting his glove back on.

Zell gives a low whistle. "That the one you got from the monster in Dollet tower? Man, good luck, Rinoa. I tried it for a while and all it did was give us both a headache."

"Because you're too loud for her," Rinoa says, before she has a moment to consider the words. How did I know?

Zell is shocked into rare silence and Selphie jumps up and down in an impromptu cheer. "Oh, it sounds like a good match! Way to go, Squall! Great pick!" She takes Rinoa's hand. "C'mon, and we can practice trading spells a little. Siren's great for a beginner, she can bind spells to your endurance and it makes you feel so much stronger right away. I did a report on her when I was a junior classman..."

Selphie yammers on about her schoolwork and her life in Trabia, and Rinoa lets herself be carried along on her enthusiasm. The creature inside of her nestles down, Squall shoulders his gunblade, Zell flexes his powerful fingers. Rinoa thinks about the monster on Squall's ring and wonders if she'll ever feel as comfortable with such things. She is no SeeD; she's not even a mercenary. She is a little girl who ran away from home to fight against her father, and she is often afraid. Though she will never admit such things to anyone, Siren knows them now. Siren knows everything.

Don't tell, Rinoa thinks, and feels her summon smile in response.

I won't say a word.


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