Squall Leonhart had decided that he liked fantasy much better than reality. In fantasy, there didn’t have to be a nagging Quistis or a pestering Selphie. There didn’t have to be an annoying Zell or a frustrating Seifer. There didn’t have to be a Rinoa, bitching and whining her way through the days. In fantasy, he could have what he really wanted; he could know what he really wanted. He could make snap decisions for himself and trust his instincts. In fantasy, things went the way they were cosmically supposed to, not the way people thought they would or should.
In his fantasies, Squall would not have been getting married in four days.
It was stupid, really; he’d been able to admit this after months and months of thought. He didn’t want to be married. Oh, Rinoa was a nice enough girl. Undoubtedly, she would make someone very happy…someday, somewhere.
It just wouldn’t be him.
In despair, he leaned his head against the wall of the expansive training center. It seemed like everything he really wanted was just out of reach, and the things blocking his happiness were the obligations he’d made for himself… and the image he was supposed to uphold. People expected things of him. Rinoa. His friends. His father. For a moment, Squall’s eyes became glassy, lost in the thoughts of the moment.
Then he gave his head a sharp jerk to bring his thoughts into the present, carefully focusing on the door across the quad. Because behind that door laid his fantasies, his intimate secrets, his deepest desires. It was almost frightening. He felt confronted somehow, confronted with the parts of him that he desperately wanted kept clandestine and intimate. It was terrifying and shocking and somehow sexual, in a very Freudian way.
And on the other hand, it was just a door. He approached it the same way he did every week. That quiet, unassuming, ordinary door. He approached it and opened it. He stepped through it into a tiny, tiny room. He closed the door. Another one lay before him.
This door was special, however. Steel, strong, password-locked. Squall gazed at it, a faint smile playing across his face. This was the training simulator. This was where the higher-ups of Balamb could program battle situations to perfect their reactions, perform test-runs of new weaponry, and hone their already high skills. A sophisticated, holographic simulator, the TS could be programmed for nearly any occasion, for any battle. Provided you knew how.
Squall knew how. He had perfected his programming skills on battle simulation after battle simulation. Every situation imaginable, in thorough and meticulous detail. But, something had been missing. A simulator is highly fantastical, mired only by the tired thoughts of man and beast. It could be so much more, more that just a learning device, a tool, and instrument of limited power. A simulator was a way to play god, without altering the outside world.
A simulator was the best way to get what you could not have in real life.
Licking his lips in nervous habit, Squall approached the control panel beside the guarded door, hesitation and excitement apparent in his wild eyes. Before punching in his personal access code, he wiped his sweaty palms on the front of his faded jeans. His fingertips made a pleasant tapping noise on the keypad as he typed, and the slight aggression felt satisfying.
Tap, tap, tap.
He kept telling himself that he was prepared and that there was no reason to be nervous. No one would find out…it was secure. He was secure. This was the only way he could ever have what he really wanted and he would never pass up that chance. When the list of his personal programs appeared on the console screen, he quickly found the one he intended on perusing that day. It was the same one he’d picked the week before. And the week before that.
It was labeled: dream01.sim
It was an appropriate name.
He waited a moment, absently shifting his weight from foot to foot while he waited for the computer to process his request. Anticipation of what was to come had clouded his sense of time completely; it seemed to take hours for his program to load.
Yet, when it had loaded, everything seemed to speed up. His own actions became almost frantic his excitement was so great. The lock on the heavy door slid open with a solid ‘click’, and Squall pushed through the door with little hesitation. And stopped.
The door eased shut on its own, leaving Squall at the full mercy of his own program, his fantasies, and his desperate wishes. But all the man could see was darkness, his eyes having not adjusted to the dim light of the tiny room. He blinked once…twice…while waiting for the pupils of his eyes to dilate and accepting the meager offerings of light they were given.