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Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Dear Raine,

Well, it looks like another year has gone by. Another year, another letter, right? It's a New Year's tradition, or something.

I'm sorry. I never know how to start these. It's like how every time I try to talk out loud, I trip over my words, but as soon as you put a pen and paper in my hand I'm fine. Well, as long as the pen and paper isn't writing a letter to you. I guess I'm just bad at talking to people that I love.

It's been a busy year. They're all busy years, in one way or another, but this one's been eventful.

I don't know where to start.

I met our son, Raine. He's eighteen.

Give me a minute to indulge in a little bit of fantasy, okay? I'd like to imagine you picking up this letter, unfolding it, maybe lifting it and sniffing at it to see if I was wearing that godawful aftershave you gave me for Year's Turning the first year I was in Winhill. I'd like to imagine you waiting to open it until everything was quiet, until there was no one in the bar, until you could sit down and put your feet up and have Ellone make you a cup of tea. But neither of us is in our twenties anymore, or even in our thirties. The babies are all grown up, Raine. The babies are grown up, and the bar is silent, and I know that you're never going to actually unfold this letter after all.

Well, I don't know that. But I'm pretty sure.

I'm delaying.

I knew it was him as soon as I saw him. I've been looking for him for so long, and he turns around and just walks right into my palace, plain as can be. He's got your face. That's how I knew. His eyes are his own, though. They might be your color (and oh, how I could see your eyes looking back at me the moment his met mine) but yours were never that cold.

He's grown into being a good man. A little rough around the edges; more like you than like me when it comes to talking to other people, a lot more like you than like me when it comes to communicating with other people. I don't think I got more than four words out of him the entire time he was in my office. I've told you a little bit about the SeeD, and the sorceresses -- well, written you a little bit about the SeeD and the sorceresses, but that's more or less the same thing, isn't it? after all, I've written you almost all the important things I ever had to say. Well, anyway. He's a SeeD, and I nearly choked when I found that out, because it's the last thing I would have expected from someone that you and I brought into this world together. But from what I could see he's a pretty good one, and he's got a lot of pretty good friends, all of whom are nice and determined that he's going to actually go out and live his life even if they have to drag him kicking and screaming.

I mean, what parent could really ask for more?

And we didn't get a chance to talk much, but Kiros and Ward and I went along with him and his friends when they went off to save the world. Because every story should involve someone saving the world, right? If I'd tried to write this whole thing as a story and sent it off to one of my editors back then, though, they wouldn't have bought it. Murdoch would have turned around and bounced it back to me with "Nice try, but a little less fiction next time" scrawled across the top of it in that stupid red pen of his.

They did it, though. They saved the world. ...Or made everything happen so that the world needed saving. I'm not sure. I never really payed attention much in school, and Doc Odine (remember, I told you about him?) can't seem to explain it without resorting to a lot of handwaving and incomprehensible words and he loses me at about the fourth time he grabs a piece of paper and starts drawing equations. So I just decided about halfway through this whole thing that I would just play the proud papa and wait for the right time to have The Talk.

You know. The Talk. For most parents, I guess that it's The Talk that starts with "let me tell you about how boys and girls work". I never got to give that one, and I guess that I'm overall pretty happy about that fact -- can you see me stammering my way through the birds and the bees? But now I get to give the one that starts with "Squall, I'm the father that you've been looking for" and goes from there, and I really don't even know where to start that one. Knowing me, I'd wind up tripping over my tongue and turning bright red until someone told me to sit down before I hurt myself.

I've never been able to talk to people. You remember that, I'm sure.

I still remember taking you out onto that hill and trying to ask you to marry me. It's been nearly twenty years, and the memory still makes me blush a little. Looking back at it, I seemed so young, even though if you'd said that to me then, I would have laughed at you. I was a soldier, after all. I'd seen the world -- well, the parts of it that Galbadia controlled. And I thought I was ready to settle down and fall in love and raise a toddler and maybe have a baby or two with a woman who would always be too good for me but I'd try my best to be worthy of her. And then things happened and I had to go out and do things in the rest of the world again. I thought that all I was doing was finding Ellone and taking her home. I guess world-saving runs in the family.

When it's all over, when it's finally all over, I'm going to look back and count the moment that you said "yes, of course, you idiot, what took you so long?" to be among the happiest of my life, you know? I take it out and run that little clip of mental video whenever I start getting too depressed.

And you know, between the two of us, we made a pretty good son. Oh, I know that there are those who'll say that we didn't have anything to do with it, that we didn't raise him, we didn't have any input in his upbringing and so we can't take any credit. I'm sure that he'd be one of those people. But we did have some part in it. He's got your face and my ... I don't know what he's got from me. No man can look into his own soul, or some metaphysical stuff like that. I leave the philosophy to the philosophers. They get paid to do that; I just get paid to do the paperwork.

So that's what your letter is about this year. I'm sure you know the rest of it, because if I were in your position, I'd be sitting around watching everything that goes on down here on some sort of cosmic television channel. But I want you to know this: I miss you. I love you. And I think that after I put this letter in its envelope and leave it tucked beneath a rock, where you're sleeping on our hill, I'm going to come back here and write a letter just like it to Squall. Our son. Our son.

Sleep well, Raine. I know that you're getting these letters. They're not there when I come back to visit you, after all.


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