Is all the weakness in me?

            Rinoa jumped off of the train with a spring in her step, she had made it. Her book had sold millions and earned her millions in return. But, that was not what excited her today. What she was pleased about was something even more unbelievable. A couple of weeks ago, she had been offered a job at Esthar newspapers. The small brown envelope containing the news had been left unopened for many weeks, sitting on the telephone table with numerous bills and fan letters.  It had been opened with same amount of enthusiasm as the electricity bill, but after the first second, it had elevated its place in her opinion. The first one to know about her offer was Selphie, who as expected, expressed her regrets that she had not received one also.

            "Wow Rinny, you get to go back to Esthar! Can we trust you this time?" Selphie had asked through giggling. It was common knowledge about her and Squall, mostly thanks to the incident in the office. Rinoa's next working days hadn't been pleasant; she had been the centre of gossip for everyone, and each time the story was told, it gain a little something new.

            "Sure you can trust me, I'm not going to run away am I?" Rinoa had replied scoffing at Selphie's giggles, but more so, trying to convince herself.

            But now here she was, almost half a year since she left, standing in the cold winter weather with only a bag and some references. Pulling her coat around her small shoulders tightly, Rinoa walked towards her taxi promised by the office. The older man in the front coughed and looked at her approaching.

            "Are you Miss Heartilly?" He asked. Rinoa nodded.

            "Yes."

            "Jump in then. I can take you on a tour if you like. There's nothing like a cold winter's day with a black sky." He said fixing the rear mirror so that he could see her.

"Sure why not." Rinoa replied. There was nothing else to do anyway. Another night would be spent in her own company, watching TV in a run down hotel before she arrived at her new office. Working at Esthar had been her only ambition, but of course you couldn't just go and work there, you had to be discovered.

"How long have you lived here sir?" Rinoa asked, trying to start a polite conversation with the driver.

            "Oh, about five years. Me and my wife used to live in Balamb, lovely little town, do you know it?"

            "No, no I don't. I hear great things about it." Rinoa replied gazing out of the window.

            "Yeah. Well we moved here when we had the kids. Better education you see."

            "Do you miss it?"

            "Miss what?"

            "Balamb?" Rinoa asked.

            "Yeah sometimes. But I know I'll see it again."

            Rinoa let the driver open the door and place her bags by the hotel entrance. After thanking him Rinoa looked around at the place she had been deposited at. To her surprise it wasn't as shabby as she thought it would be. In fact after looking inside, Rinoa decided it probably rivalled the president's palace, at least in its decorations anyway. 

            "Hello Miss?"

            Rinoa started, she hadn't realised that she already inside.

            "Hi, um I have booked a room."

            "Ok, name of reservation?"

            "Heartilly."

            "Nope, sorry no Heartilly." The woman said looking up from the computer.

            "What? No there has to be."

            "There's one for 'Esthar Papers' that's all we have, the hotel's pretty empty today."

            "I'm with Esthar Papers, you must have my name there somewhere. Can you check again."

            "Of course. Yes, there is a Heartilly on the papers account."

            Rinoa breathed a sigh of relief.

            "Do I need to pay?"

            "No it's paid for. Room 120, third floor."  

            "Thankyou."

            Rinoa set out her belongings on her bed, and walked to the window to look out at the dark sky. The bright neon lights of the city shone cheerfully in the distance, and Rinoa concluded that she must been on the outskirts of Esthar. Somewhere out there was her new life, and somewhere out there, was the life she had turned down. Rinoa didn't know where Squall had gone after his departure in the helicopter. She didn't know if he was here in Esthar or somewhere else in the world. In fact not much had been heard of him since she'd seen him last.

            No pictures had been seen in any of the Galbadia newspapers, and no sighting on TV. Laguna and Ellone had been in the papers a few times, but generally it had been very quiet.

            The night passed without event, and Rinoa found herself leaving her room earlier than planned. The woman on the desk gave her a friendly smile and Rinoa returned it before walking over.

            "Could I use the telephone?" She asked politely. The woman nodded and pointed to the phone on the desk. After a quick call to her new office, Rinoa took her briefcase into her hand and walked out of the hotel.

            She had two hours before she was expected at the office, and decided to take a taxi into the city to pick up a few things. The streets were just as busy as she remembered them, although the addition of rain coats made the people a little less friendly. It was only a matter of time before what Rinoa had feared, happened. The sky crackled loudly and heavy droplets of cold water landed on her coat and shamefully uncovered legs.

            "Damn." Rinoa muttered dashing into a nearby shop. Looking around she found that she had stumbled into a shop selling things for babies.

            "Can I help you miss?" Asked one of the sales assistants. Rinoa shook her head embarrassed.

            "No, no thank you. I just came in here to wait out the rain." Rinoa answered honestly. The assistant smiled.

            "Yeah, it's the only time we ever get this many people in here, when it's raining." He said before walking away. Rinoa decided since the rain wasn't letting up any time soon, she might as well have a look around. After a few minuets, Rinoa realised having a baby didn't look all that simple after all, especially if you had to buy all this stuff.

            "Miss Heartilly?"

            "Yes."

            "Rinoa Heartilly right?"

            "Yes."

            "I thought I recognized you!" Said an exuberant looking young man with blonde hair. Rinoa let him hug her while she tried to figure out who he was. "It's me Zell. You know from the party, I also took your book..."

            "Oh of course! Sorry I didn't...I remembered the face, just couldn't place your name. How are you?" Rinoa asked after stumbling over an apology.

            "Very well, very well, and yourself?"

            "Yep I'm fine, a little drenched from the rain, but otherwise fine." Rinoa replied, happy to have found someone she recognised. 

            "What you doing in here? Your not expecting are you?" He asked happily, giving a sly look and a wink towards her.

            "Oh no no, I'm just in here to get out of the rain." Rinoa said blushing. Zell nodded. "And what about you?" Rinoa asked curious.

            "My mate's had a daughter, err last week, thought I'd get them something." Zell said awkwardly. Rinoa smiled but didn't reply. "The rain has stopped." He remarked suddenly.

            Rinoa looked out of the window into a cloudy, but dry sky.

            "So it has. Well, I gotta run. It was nice to see you again Zell." Rinoa said looking back over her shoulder at him as she walked out. He gave her a wave before returning to look at bunny booties.

            The sun shone brightly on the pavement, giving the floor a blinding glow as it hit the water. Rinoa held on tightly to her fashionable carrier bags and darted into the shopping mall. Finally inside here she was away from the elements. The mall contained the usual things, shoe shops, places to buy expensive chocolate, designer dress shops and little inside flower markets. The over all picture of the mall, was high technology trying to cover it's self with plant life and paintings. She could see why the people of Esthar liked to go to historic places; Esthar was completely new with no past at all.    

            After buying a few random things, like shoes, and a new handbag. Rinoa started to leave, with a renewed smile.

            Putting her foot on the top of the escalator and her hand on the moving rail, Rinoa sighed and let the weight of her shopping hang on her arms. The people in front of her shuffled from one foot to the other, showing that they too had been at the mall along time and were suffering from aching feet. Her shopping bags banged against her legs, scratching their presence into her bare skin, and leaving angry red marks that faded only to be replaced by new ones. Rinoa looked down at her feet, until a cough from the man in front of her made her look up. After looking at the back of his head as if to say 'you better not give that cough to me mister!' Rinoa gazed over at the other escalator that was going up to the floor she had just left. It was empty due to the mall closing the top floors shortly. But one lonely figure rode it with his face in a 'where are you?' mall map.

            Rinoa watched him curiously, her heart beating faster as he came nearer. She knew who it was, how could she not? It was Squall. But where were his numerous bodyguards? Rinoa held her breath as the moving platform brought him closer, would he see her?

            Squall folded the paper map in half and stuffed in the pocket of his sports trousers. His white t-shirt clung tightly to him, and he straightened it with a tug at each of the sides. Rinoa watched his movements with uncontrollable curiosity. It occurred to her that she had never seen him dressed like this, wherever he was going, it was always suits, suits, and suits. Rinoa wondered what was going on. No bodyguards, no suits, he almost looked...normal.

            Squall stared ahead until a man on the opposite side of him coughed and caught his attention. Looking over he saw the last person he was expecting.

            The moment their eyes connected, in that brief flash, they saw right through each other. The other people around them suddenly became hazy and the sound turned into just one noise. The sickening feeling of not being in control hit them hard, like cold water in their lungs, strangling their breaths. Unforgiving fate was teasing them once more, before ripping them apart. Rinoa almost felt the stinging of tears in the backs of her eyes, could her already so fragile heart take any more of this wicked torture?

            Squall never let his eyes flicker away from hers, and held on tight to her gaze as if it was the only beauty he'd ever truly seen. Rinoa watched the coldness in his eyes melt away, just as she knew she was melting inside. One of his hands disappeared in his pocket and reappeared with something that shimmered in the light.

            Rinoa watched him draw nearer towards her, and with every movement her heart quickened its pace until it began to hurt.  

            Squall held his hand out over the marble plant holders between the two escalators. Rinoa watched as he came nearly opposite to her. Extending her hand out towards him, Rinoa touched her fingers against his. Squall violently grabbed her shaking fingers and slipped the shimmering object into her hand. Rinoa felt the tears prickle once more in her eyes.

            Looking behind over her shoulder, Rinoa watched Squall disappear up on the higher floor. Looking down at the object in her hand and gripping it tightly, Rinoa spread her fingers out to reveal a shining ring. The words on the side looked so familiar.

No more tears

            It was the ring that she had thrown so eagerly to the dirt. The fact that he had picked it up off of the floor and kept it this entire time, made Rinoa feel guilty, but also fuzzy inside. Turning it over, Rinoa saw an added part to the first inscription.

When I see you again   

            Rinoa slipped the ring onto her wedding finger and admired the effect it had. If only he had placed it there, things could have been so different. Was she doing the right thing? But it was too late now; she had chosen the path to take.

Was it the right one? She didn't know. But Rinoa had to conclude, that to rate her conscience over her heart was a cold and merciless thing to do. But it wasn't over, it couldn't be over. She could wait for now, but not forever. She would see him again, and next time she wouldn't be able to walk away. Next time, things would be different and maybe there might be room for their love once more.

The End?

Thankyou to everyone who has reviewed this fic. I won't be writing any more chapters on this one, but there might be a sequel in the near future. Thankyou again!

Rory, Kupo, Lionheart, Grasshopper, The Angel of the Lion, omnitoad, CTHKSI, Angelwingedprincess, little earthquakes, Billie the Wild Angel, CharileGirl, Selphie-Almasy13, Lady Yevon, Hiasha, lionhearted, Black-Mage-woman, Phoenix Blade, RPG Hui, Karla, AngelPrincess29, eiggem3, ANgelish, ima hopeless romantic, Archangel_666, Sakura-Chan88, Jewels14, CLOud, blush, Menchi-Pie.