Chapter 13

He can't take this from us

When Rinoa had returned to her apartment, she had laid on her bed and cried until she could move no longer. She had woken up the next morning to the sound of a television playing loudly next door. It told her that Squall was in a stable condition and that no others had been hurt. Of course she already knew this, but it was nice to be reassured. Looking at the time, Rinoa realized that she had wasted enough of it and stood up to get dressed.

Everything was happening as if it was some sort of bad dream, and that Rinoa was walking without feeling anything. She supposed this is what people called shock, and it was the most overwhelming feeling she had ever experienced. The thought of losing Squall frightened her to her very soul and made her wonder if whether she'd ever survive without him. She knew Squall would never allow her to think that way if he knew, but she supposed those were the feelings that hid in your heart when you were in love. She couldn't live without him.

            Taking a quick shower and stumbling around her flat in a daze, Rinoa left once again for the hospital.

***

            Squall stared at the small television screen that was showing him pictures of his attacker. His was jaw was set against emotion, and he hardly acknowledged Rinoa when she walked into the room.

            "You gave your statement, I suppose," he said, still staring at the screen. Rinoa took a chair from the side of the ward and brought it up to the side of his bed. She sat down upon it.

            "I gave them evidence, yes," she replied. Squall looked over to her, his face expressionless, then returned to the TV. "Oh, Squall," she whispered, taking Squall's hand.

            He snatched it away from her, but it resulted in causing himself pain.

            "What are you doing here?"

            Rinoa startled.

            "I...I came to see you. I was worried. I came to be with you," Rinoa said, trying to reach for him again. He turned away from her.

            "I don't want your pity, Rinoa," Squall said, staring at the wall. Rinoa felt tears well up in her eyes.

            The doctor had prepared her that once the shock had worn off, Squall may slip into a state of depression. She didn't pity him, yes, he was injured, but he hadn't changed, he was still Squall.

            "Squall, nothing has changed," she whispered, her voice shaking from the tears.

            "It changes me."

            "Squall, you beat this before, you can do it again."

            "What do you know of before?" he snapped, turning to face her. "What do know of anything apart from what you want? All this time I have waited for you, and it's only now that you see me wounded that you decide to be with me."

            "That's not true!"

            "Stop it, Rinoa. Stop lying to me," Squall said, turning back to face the TV. His face clearly showed his pain, and it hurt Rinoa to see him so.

            "He told me everything, everything about your past, and what he did. And yes, then I did pity you--I'd have pitied anyone who had to go through something like that. But when he told me about the sniper, I couldn't breathe. It was as if everything I had ever done in my life had been for nothing. What was it worth if you weren't there with me? I couldn't let him win. I'd worked so hard for everything and finally found someone who I loved above it all. Who was he to take it all away from me? And when I arrived back here, I thought I'd been too late. I couldn't think, I couldn't see anything, and I refused to listen to the man in the uniform, who I knew was going to tell me I'd found out too late. But when he told me you were alright, I could do nothing but cry. I'd never felt anything like that before Squall, except..."

            "Except, what?" Squall asked quietly. He had listened to Rinoa's words, first with doubt, and then with more belief. Maybe she really did care.

            "Except, when I look in your eyes, and my heart races and all I can think of is how I want you to kiss me. That's when I know that, no matter what happens, I can't let you go," she said softly, her eyes shimmering with tears that fell slowly and steadily down her cheek. "I love you, Squall, and I am so sorry it took me so long to say it."

            Rinoa looked at him expectantly, but Squall refused to look at her.

            "I am sorry, Rinoa, that you have to see me like this," Squall said, looking down at their held hands. "You should go now."

            Rinoa searched his face and found nothing, it was if he'd retreated into a shell, and all that was left was a shadow of someone she used to know.

            "No. I won't leave until you listen to me. I love you, Squall. I've always loved you, even all those times that I pretended not to. I was a fool to push you away, but I would be even more of a fool if I let you slip away from me now. Squall please, please look at me," Rinoa pleaded, her heart hammering in her chest. He had to look at her.

            Squall dropped his eyes from the TV and looked slowly up at her. Rinoa tightened her hold on his hand and waited, she knew her heart was breaking every second that he made her wait.

            "I love you, too, Rinoa," he said finally, watching her as she burst into tears and buried her face into the bed to cry.

            "I'm sorry for all the games I played you through, I didn't understand what I was feeling before," Rinoa said as Squall tilted her face upwards. "You asked me a question once, and I turned you away. But I am ready to be with you now, if you will have me."

            Squall watched her silently.

            "Are you saying that you will marry me?"

            Rinoa let her last of her tears fall from her cheek to her arm below and smiled.

            "If you will asked me," she whispered, frightened. Squall tilted his head to look at the whole of her and smirked.

            "Well, in that case...Rinoa, will you marry me?"

            Rinoa let out a sob of happiness, and let herself fill with another wave of tears.

            "Yes. Of course I will," she whispered, climbing onto the bed to kiss him. She laughed and laid down beside him as Squall ran his hand down her side and tickled her.

The next few moments past them in a blur.

"What are we going to do now?" she asked as they lay there in content silence.

            "I don't know."

            Rinoa laid her head back down, closed her eyes against the world, and basked in the unexpected feeling of happiness. When she had listened to that screaming and panic on the radio, this wasn't the ending she had been expecting. But then nothing in her life had ever gone how she'd expected.  

***

            There were loud jubilant voices heard outside the room, and Rinoa sat up suddenly to listen. Just as she began to recognize the voices, Squall groaned and pulled a pillow over his head. Rinoa found out why, as the door was flung open and four excited people ambled in.

            "Squall! My main man! How ya doing?" Zell shouted as he carried over the most enormous teddy bear Rinoa had ever seen. "We brought you a selection of get well messages from the public. Look at this bear. It's bigger than Ellone."

            "How're you feeling Squall?" Ellone asked, pointing to a chair that Zell could put the toy on.

            Nobody seemed to have noticed that Rinoa was in the room. Gloria pushed her way to the front and stroked Squall's hair from his forehead, whilst looking at him as a mother would.

            "Your father has been really worried; they wouldn't let him stay the night," she said, smiling warmly, and then straightened up. "Hello, Rinoa dear. How are you?" she asked softly.

            "I'm fine, thank you," Rinoa said, although she felt much better than fine.

            "Good, good. Squall, me and your father have news. Honey, come here and tell your son," she ordered, beckoning to Laguna who was hovering at the back.

            "Yeah, hi, Squall... Well, you see the news is...me and Gloria are getting married in two months," he said, smiling slightly.

            Rinoa dug her fingernails into Squall's arm at the news and looked worriedly up at his face. He still wasn't ready for so many visitors, and Rinoa wasn't sure how he was going to take this new information.

            "In November?" he asked slowly, as if the words themselves were confused. Rinoa bit her lip.

            "Yes, of course you'll be able to walk by then," Laguna said, smiling. Gloria hit him hard in the side and smiled weakly at Squall. "Well...I hope so," Laguna added after realizing what he'd said.

            Squall looked down at his bed, as if looking straight through the blankets and at his unusable leg.  

            "Sounds great," he mumbled. Rinoa looked at all the worried faces around them, and turned to Squall with saddened eyes.

            "Well, I suppose we better leave you alone now, Squall. You get some rest, and we'll come back later," Gloria said, pushing Laguna out of the room. The plan had been to cheer Squall up, but so far they had only resulted in making him even more depressed.

            Squall watched them leave and then looked at his sister.

            "So, how's the world out there?"

            "It's falling to pieces without you. Well, it is for me at least," she replied, walking forward and sitting on the end of the bed. "They traced the sniper back to that Quikstine bloke, he's been found guilty and declared sane. They're going to, um, end his life next week."

            Squall nodded.

            "How nice. And you and Zell are...still..."

            "Oh yes, still..." Ellone said answering the question without having to say anything. "Well, Zell?"

            "Uh, what?" Zell shouted, coming out of his daydream.

            "What happened to those chocolates?" Ellone asked, looking about her. "Zell give Squall and Rin some--they're really good."

            Rinoa reluctantly accepted a chocolate and bit into it without caring about the taste.

            "Thanks."

            Her good mood was slowly slipping away. The room was filled suddenly by an awkward silence, and all looked at anything but each other.   

            "I suppose there will be a lot of people at father's wedding," Ellone said, looking nervously around.

            "Yes, I suppose so," Squall answered in a bored voice.

            "Well, I guess I'll have to buy a hat. I don't have a hat," Ellone said, realizing the conversation was becoming more and more dry with every attempt. "No, I don't have a hat."

            "When is your operation, Squall?" Rinoa asked nervously.

            "This evening," he answered not looking at her. "They are going to replace my bone with a metal rod; it'll take months before I can walk again," he added, informing his sister of what was going to happen. "The operation shouldn't take long, maybe a few hours, at the most."

            "Oh," Ellone said, looking down. "It won't be painful, will it?"

            Squall laughed.

            "What do you think?"

            "But you'll be asleep, right?" she asked again, disturbed by Squall's answer.

            "Well, I bloody well hope so," Squall said, flicking some dirt off of his bed. "Yes, Ellone, I will," he added after seeing her worried face.

            "Oh, oh good." She looked to Zell for help.

            "Err yeah, that's good," he repeated, looking uncomfortable.

            "Thanks for bringing all the cards and things guys. I'll read some when things stop turning fuzzy," Squall said, looking at the bundle.

            "Fuzzy! Do you need a nurse?" Rinoa asked, springing up.

            "No, it's because of the nurse and her drugs that everything's fuzzy. Plus, they won't let me eat or drink until tomorrow morning, not that I'll want to then," Squall said, smiling weakly.

            "We better be going," Ellone said, standing. "I think we interrupted you when we first arrived, and we should really leave you alone now. Me and dad will be back in the morning to see how you are. We won't wake you if you're sleeping. Come on, Zell."

            "Yeah, get well soon, mate. Nice to see ya again, Rinoa," Zell said, holding his hand up in a wave as he was pulled out of the room.

            "Bye," Squall called after them. "So," He said turning to Rinoa. "Where were we?"

            Rinoa hit him softly on the arm and began laughing. They remained there staring at the TV until the doctors came in for Squall.

            "I'll be here when you wake up Squall, I promise," Rinoa said as they pushed her out of the way. A nurse took hold of her hand and led her down the corridor away from Squall.

            "We can offer you a bed for the night if you want to stay," she said, smiling.

            "Oh, that would be wonderful, thank you," Rinoa said, relieved she wouldn't have to leave.

            "However I must know your connection to the patient," she said, readying her pen and clipboard for Rinoa's name.

            "I...I'm his fiancé."          

***

            Squall's operation went without complications, and two days later he was able to leave the hospital and go home. Their engagement was announced a week before Laguna's wedding, and Squall was finally able to buy Rinoa the ring he had always imagined buying her. Suddenly there was too much happiness in his life, and Squall found himself dreading the day when it would all again be taken away. Things never stayed the same for long, but he had finally learned to appreciate each day as if it was his last, as he knew very well how easily it could be.

 But until that day, he was determined to see that both he and his future wife were content, with whatever life might throw.

            Rinoa quit her job the day Squall left the hospital. She gave full interviews for the paper on her involvement in the attack, and gave the money she earned from the story to the ward that had looked after Squall. On announcing their engagement to Squall's family, and to the world, Rinoa received a multitude of presents. But none were as special to her as the gift she received from her friends, Selphie and Irvine. A large book covered in a soft pink material turned out to be a sort of diary with a difference. Instead of a page for everyday, there was a few pages for one entry per month, complete with places for pictures. Rinoa began it with September, and wrote about her and Squall's engagement and all the congratulations they had received. November would bring her and Squall's marriage that one step closer and if she turned a few pages further, she could smile on the day that would be, at last, theirs.

The End.

A/N: More chapters will be on the way soon, but as far as 'narrator' story telling goes, that was the last. The next will be a series in which is told in first person through Rinoa's diary; which will be added in the hope of tying up loose ends so that you won't be plagued by a third story, and so that I can rest easy at night.

Thank you to everyone who has read this fic, and contributed by writing me a review. Every comment made by you (readers) has been greatly appreciated.

Also thank you to Bianka-Chan for beta-ing, and Rinoa Heartilly-Leonhart for sending me a card! :)

Please review!