Long, long ago, a little boy took cover from the pouring rain, all alone. Cradling his back was a warm house full of friends and other company; in front of him was a desolate, storm-tormented sea. His back was to the warmth: Why would he chose to remain outside, his face and thoughts turned to the dreary rain?
Squall is one defined just as much by his experiences as by his nature. One of the most definitive in his life is the abandonment he experienced as a child that consumed him until adulthood.
Squall grew up in an orphanage on the edge of the sea headed by Matron Edea and her husband Cid. He, like the other children, lacked the conventional household standard many of us take for granted: his parents. Like the patterns that define a kaleidoscope, the children developed disparately, each dealing with the absence of his or her parental figures in wildly different ways. Some, like Zell, were fortunate enought to be adopted at a young age and to take to his surrogate parents well; others, like Quistis, moved from home to home, unable to find a place that truly warmed her heart. Still others escaped the notice of potential outside caretakers and found their home in the crumbling walls of the orphanage, and later the militaristic environment of the Gardens.
Naturally disinclined to socialising, he was distant to all of the other children in the orphanage, save one: the eldest child, a girl named Ellone. Squall was inseparable from Ellone. And he was quite dear to her, too. He called her "Sis" and hardly let her out of his sight.
And then Ellone, the only one that he felt truly loved him and would never leave him, did just that: she left.
Confusion welled up in Squall's young mind like blood bubbling from a sudden pinpricked wound. Where the perhaps barely and rarely attended notion of parental deprivation was a hardened scar, the loss of his more recent motherly figure was a searing gash wrought with assured fabrication. The effect was more stiffling than painful, and the child fought it with admirable denial.
And so one could find the boy waiting in the unrelenting rain, staring through the sheet of drizzle, yearning to spy a familiar frame in the distance, coming home.
As time went on, Squall realised his big sister wasn't going to return. At first, he may have felt afraid: he'd been left on his own to fend for himself, left in the company of people he couldn't seem to connect with, at least not to the degree he'd reached with Ellone. He obsessed with awaiting her return, and when she did not, his feelings turned to anger, and eventually resentment. He begrudged Ellone.
But even more fatally, Squall took this one experience and created a generalisation of human character that he would later apply to everyone he met.
As a child, Squall wasn't equipped with the tools to deal with loss. It was a hard blow for one so young. He couldn't imagine that Ellone would have any reasons for her sudden departure and lack of returning; he only knew his own little world and her place in it, and judged the situation accordingly. And, for all he knew, his parents had done the same thing—perhaps his being left behind was simply a recurring event, one to be expected for the rest of his life.
In reality, this child's perspective was less an understanding of truth than an instrumental factor in the development of a flawed tool he could employ in order to deal with abandonment: the tool was distance, and he thought it would help him avoid the same unhappy ending in other relationships.
Squall is an unfriendly,
introverted guy. It made it easy for me when people perceived
me that way.
Squall thought he'd discovered the holy grail of defenses. It seemed to work well enough. He suffered no more hurt at other people's hands—no deep hurt, anyway, certainly nothing as heart-wrenching as loss. He wasn't completely anti-social: he knew people, interacted with people (to an admittedly shallow degree), talked to people. Even when faced with brutes like Seifer, Squall shrugged off insults with an ease that secretly unnerved those around him.
But Squall was missing out on all of the good things one finds in deep social relationships. With the position of leadership forced upon him and subsequently and suddenly being placed in the social spotlight—and in particular one new girl's insatiable interest in him—Squall, much to his own aggravation, finds himself developing relationships with people that go beyond what had been his comfortable norm.
Slowly, he begins to realise that he needs more in his life than he's convinced himself he does. His self-sufficient ways are just that: sufficient. But with the unexpected glimpse at what meaningful relationships with others offered, Squall could no longer deny a need for interpersonal relationships.
(I'm fine by myself now.
I have all the skills I need.
I'm not a kid anymore.
That's a lie.
I don't know anything.
Squall knows he needs to reach out to people. He knows he needs to stop taking on everything himself, keeping everything inside until it bursts forth in an uncontrolled ventage of misdirected anger. And who better for him to reach out to than the one who had been openly doing so from the moment they met? Tossing away the self-created barrier that had been masquerading as a defense mechanism all this time, Squall accepts Rinoa's freely given interest and care. He smiles, and a new dawn overflows in his heart.