BY : strayscream
Category: Final Fantasy VIII > General
Dragon prints: 526
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Final Fantasy games, let alone Final Fantasy VIII, and am making no money off this piece of fanfiction.

Consider this an experiment in writing; an idea has been plaguing me for some time now, and I decided to try my hand at starting it. If anyone expresses an interest in this, even in just one review, I will attempt to continue it with the actual story of the girl. In the meantime, this will remain a simple one-shot from the point of view of a nameless, vaguely important character.

As a note, this story would be set perhaps a month or two after the Sorceress War.

She had worked in that tiny bar and diner, almost playfully called the Last Resort, for three years now; she served food to the customers who came in (assuming they actually ordered any) and cleaned up the tables, dishes, and pretty much everything else, since she was still too young to be allowed to handle the alcohol at a tender age of seventeen years. The only reason she was allowed to work in a place like that at all was because the owner had lived on the same street as her since she was a baby, and was painfully aware of her situation—her mother was a prostitute, prone to drunken fits of rage, her father a complete unknown, and the child’s prospects for the future were bleak if she couldn’t scrape together the funds to pay for it on her own.

The man who owned the place didn’t really know just what that future entailed; the girl never really went on about what it was she wanted to do, and when asked, all she’d say was that she wanted to “get away from here”, “here” being the poorest streets of Deling City, the slums as it were, a location that belied the perceived playfulness of the bar’s name. There weren’t too many options for her—it was too late for her to begin the kind of education required for any of the truly worthy careers, which left only positions not unlike the one she already had. Still, being a waitress in Esthar was still a far better prospect than being a waitress in the Deling City slums, or so he’d heard: for all he knew, Esthar had the same sort of slums they already lived in here, and she’d just wind up in another trap, stuck with the accumulated scum of the city.

Yet, still, there was that flickering candle of hope. He didn’t know where it came from, or how she managed to keep it flickering, even on the nights when the sounds of shouting and screaming from down the street drew him to his window and he witnessed that could-have-been-beautiful woman chasing her daughter from their apartment for the third time this week with a thrown bottle that only occasionally struck its target. The girl had hope, something that was hard to find here in the darkest corners of the city, especially after the struggles that had followed the Sorceress War. She had hope, and she clung to it with the fierce, grim determination of a hungry animal, refusing to relinquish her thin, bony grip on it even when she came into work early before the bar was even open, because the back of her head was a matted mess of bloody, tawny hair where the bottle had struck her and shattered, and he’d take her to the back and wash the wound and give her a potion in silence as he listened to her not-quite-suppressed hisses of pain.

This was how life was, he told himself. And even though he still had the debts he needed to pay, and the harsh, bitter woman back home he’d promised to take care of when he’d foolishly agreed to wed her, he found ways to slip the girl extra tips of gil for all sorts of contrived reasons. He’d been trapped on these streets since he was a boy, almost born and raised there, and perhaps only once had ever gone beyond them. At some point over the years, she’d become his flickering candle of hope, too, and he needed to see her escape, as badly as she needed to get away. She never thanked him for the kindnesses; merely took the gil, and continued on her way, yet the thought that maybe he’d nudged her one step closer to that glimmering chance of freedom. It went on like that for three years.

Then one day, she didn’t come in to work. The tiny house next door to his apartment stayed silent all night. He did not see her on the streets the whores and addicts frequented as he walked past them to get to and from work, and the briefest of visits to the local law enforcement office confirmed no body had been found that matched her description.

He could only hope.

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