In a person's life there's room for all emotions, the good ones and the bad ones. There're moments to feel each one of them, even moments that are only to feel grief, guiltiness and sadness.

Excruciating pain

By Galkimasera

DISCLAIMER: FFVIII it's not mine.

He feels strange and out of place. So many familiar faces, the faces of those people who he had seen a million times, he has seen them laugh, worry, hesitate, smile… familiar faces that suddenly seemed empty, their blank expressions disturb him and it's making them look like strangers without feelings. He doesn't recognize them.

Those steel stares, devoid of emotions. Precise, studied perfect movements. All antiseptic and emotionless. Feelings buried deep, as deep as possible, where no one can find them.

Laguna looks at those kids, because yes, they're still children, acting so frivolous that his heart sinks in his chest. He looks around, everything is so calculated, from the expressions on their faces to the decoration of the cemetery. All perfect. Cleansed. Sterile. There are no tears in a SeeD burial, just that surgical precision. The same one that they use to negotiate, to fight and to kill. It's what makes them so lethal. They are elite fighters, right? But at what cost?

Rinoa's brown eyes meet his for a moment. They both have sad gazes with red and swollen eyes from crying. The only ones in that place. The young woman clings to Squall's hand so tightly that her knuckles are white. In her free hand she's holding a silver chain with a metallic seashell. Laguna recognizes the jewel, he remembers seeing that necklace on the neck of the girl who piloted the Lagunamov when they met, more than five years ago. The man can't say that he knew Selphie well, but he remembers her: energetic, cheerful, friendly. Invincible.

Who isn't at 17? He knows things about her, he knows things that he shouldn't because, although they met on several occasions, they weren't friends. Maybe acquaintances, but not friends. Even so, he knows so many things and it feels false and a little treacherous, it makes him feel as if his presence in the burial was a fraud. He knows things about her because he is interested in Squall's life, his lost son. His son who isn't his son, because he doesn't know he is. Laguna knows things about the people around Squall and his friends and his work, so he knows about her, about the cheerful 23-year-old girl that's being buried today.

Selphie Tilmitt exploited the time she lived. He's sure of that, but it's been too little time and he sees the coffin go down into the hole in the cemetery floor and feels once again the weight of how unfair life is. Why is someone like him still there, alive, watching the coffin of that joyful happy girl? Watching his young son bury a friend? That's not the natural course of life.

It feels so surreal and it's so unfair. The SeeDs stood there with their inscrutable, emotionless, cold marble faces with all that structured, well-built perfection around them… as if it were one more mission, only that this one is to bury a loved one. Laguna wants to scream. He wants to yell at them what he feels, even though he's not sure of what it is, because he feels so many things at once that he wouldn't even know where to start. He's sorry to be alive and that that girl who has not even reached twenty-five isn't. He's sorry that his child is burying a friend. He's so sorry that life has twisted their lives and has put them all in that position.

He feels it and he wants to scream it all. He wants to tell Squall all those things that he's not yet dared to say, despite having had so many opportunities, but when he looks at him he's standing there with his steel cold gaze to the coffin that now lies at the bottom of the hole. His arms limply hanging at his sides, even the hand that Rinoa grips tightly seems devoid of life with his fingers dangling immovable, without returning the squeeze to the girl.

Then, because of that insignificant detail, Laguna realizes that Squall's coldness is nothing more than a desperate attempt to build some kind of defense around him. It isn't apathy, but the pain that prevents him from looking up from that polished black surface, that prevents him from exchanging gazes with anyone else, that prevents him from grasping the hand of his loved ones. He's there, burying the corpse of a very close friend, lost, alone and terrified.

Laguna knows how much it hurts to lose a loved one and knows that Squall has experienced it before, too. Another stab of pain at remembering that and, with it, another pang of guiltiness. He was too young when he experimented his first loss. Squall was just a baby when his mother died and just a child when Elleone disappeared, leaving him completely alone in a cruel world. The excruciating pain of his loneliness has always gone hand in hand with the young man.

Laguna feels guilty and responsible and he just wants to put his arms around Squall's body. He wants to embrace him, strong enough for him to know that he's alive, that he's not alone anymore.

But he is. Like everyone else at that funeral. Each one of them with their own pain buried deep down, like that coffin. Like his own. Who is he to judge that surgical precision that SeeDs use to hide the pain? Wasn't he doing the same with his silly jokes and easygoing attitude? However, the pain is always there, throbbing and threatening. For Raine, for Elleone, for Squall. For all that could have been but never was.

He looks up at the sky and wonders if things could have been different for everyone… and how much of it is his fault. He doesn't know if he can take it anymore, that excruciating pain, that excruciating guilt that crunches his soul. He's getting old and he's tired but he will keep the silly jokes and the lighthearted mood because that's his way of coping with all the loss that he's lived.

Maybe one day he will be able to talk about it, maybe even with his son. Not today, but soon. In Squall's line of work, no one knows whose corpse will be the next to bury and Laguna couldn't stand having another thing to regret.

NOTES: Sorry if there're grammatical errors or something incorrect, English it's not my first language. I hope it's not too bad to enjoy it!