Chapter 5

Café Squall's new hideout

The important thing is not to stop questioning.

-Albert Einstein-

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'General Caraway. He can't even bear to say that he's my father.'

Quistis sat behind her desk in her little study room, recalling events in the past few days. She placed her mug of coffee on her table so it would allow her to freely lean back on her chair without the worry of spilling the hot substance. It had already been three days since she last visited Rinoa and she had heard nothing from her friend since then. She laughed softly but there was a hint of bitterness in her laugh, instantly she remembered the way Rinoa laughed when she read the note.

'How could I have been so stupid to think that she was over it, though she did look it. But after the note, she seemed distant again.'

As Quistis continued recalling fragments of events, everything lead her back to the car crash. She closed her eyes and rubbed them with her thumb and index finger. She was so confused. All she knew was that Rinoa was not over it and she had to help her. But how?

"Quistis, are you in a hurry? Why are you driving to fast?"

"I'm not driving fast, I'm driving the speed limit, or maybe a bit over."

"Well slow down. If you're not in a hurry then don't drive so fast."

Slowly Quistis opened her eyes again. Rinoa was normally a very alert driver, so why would she have crashed? Was she in a hurry? Why was she in a hurry? Where was she going?

All these questions flooded the blonde's mind and it made her head ache slightly. Suddenly the ringing of her home telephone brought her back to reality as she quickly reached for the handle.

"Hello?"

"What? She's not there?... I'm not sure… Yeah I'll pass that message on for you… Actually I'll come over right now… Okay, thanks Amy… Bye."

Quistis hurriedly got off her chair, placing the handle back on its receiver as she grabbed her car keys before heading out her study room door then out of her apartment. Unbeknown to her, she had knocked down her mug of coffee on her table during the rush seconds ago, spilling all the liquid on her desk.

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She pushed open the door to the little modern café where Rinoa worked and walked around to find herself a vacant seat. The café was well decorated being modern and cozy at the same time. It was not big, but it was enough to keep business going at a high rate. She found a vacant table by the large glass window overlooking the street outside and sat herself down.

A waitress walked up to her wearing a white t-shirt, a pair of jeans and a black apron. She had a pen in one hand and a little note book in the other as she smiled warmly down at Quistis.

"Hi, may I take your order?" She asked. Quistis was surprised that the waitress didn't recognized her seeing that she was always here because of Rinoa, but dismissed it straight away.

"Um, actually I was wondering if Am-,"

"Quistis! You're here!" Amy, the owner of the café, exclaimed whilst walking up to the blonde. The waitress knew at once that she was not needed there; therefore she excused herself and made her way to another table where a couple had just walked in.

"Amy, hi, how are you? How's business?"

"I'm fine and business is running along smoothly. How are you? Oh and how's Rin doing?" the 42 year old asked.

"I'm fine and Rinoa, she's, Amy that's what I've come to ask you about. You remember the night of that car pile up? Well I was wondering why Rin-," she was unable to complete her question as Amy interrupted her.

"Yes I remember. That night I remembered it was extra crowded in here since everyone just seemed to pile in because of the rain. We were practically running around trying to serve the people."

Quistis nodded for her to continue.

"After a while, Rin got a phone call and she went into the staff's lounge. I wasn't too happy about it only because we were already lacking the help but nevertheless, I ignored it. I didn't take much notice after that, but around about ten minutes later she came up to me and asked to leave. Accepting her excuse straight away, I could do nothing but let her go."

There was a slight pause while Quistis was trying to absorb all the information at once. But she found flaws, many flaws. The information Amy provided her with didn't seem to make much sense to her. She furrowed her brows in confusion.

"I hope Rin is doing okay with that fever of hers. Don't want her coming back to work when she's not ready hey doll?"

Quistis' brow furrowed deeper in less than 0.5 seconds, "Excuse me?"

"Yes hun?" Amy asked, smiling a warm smile for she did not notice the confused look on Quistis' face.

"You just said fever. What fever?"

'Fever? What is going on? Does she not know about the car crash?'

"Well you know, the fever poor Rinny's got at the moment. She was so pale when she came up to me to ask me to take the rest of the night off because of it. I just couldn't refuse." Suddenly a male's voice, who Quistis suspected him to be a long time customer, called for Amy, "Sorry darls, work calls. Order anything you like and just put it under my tab." And with that, she walked towards the customer.

After long minutes went by, Quistis was finally able to put a few pieces of the puzzle together.

'There was no fever. She lied. The phone call, it must've brought her important news. She left because of the phone call. She was in a hurry. She crashed. The sudden change of her attitude seemed so much like the time when 'it' happened.'

Slowly Quistis felt herself in arms length from reaching for the answer, but as soon as another question popped up, the arms length suddenly seemed out of reach once again.

'So the car crash and change of attitude is related to 'that'. But closure was already brought to 'that' five years ago. What in Hyne's name did that phone call bring?'

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The hot liquid spilled freely on his documents. Although if he had bothered, he would've been able to save the documents from their watery end, but then again, that was if he bothered. He cursed softly under his breath. Squall knew, he understood, so why did Hyne keep having to remind him? For Hyne's sake he knew he wasn't a morning person.

Calling it a day even though it had not even been two hours into work, Squall quickly dismissed the so called 'important' documents aside and leaned back against his chair, rubbing the area between his eyes. He took a quick glance at the soggy documents and couldn't help but think to himself what an idiot Laguna was. All these documents were mere confirmation about the enhancements concerning hospitals, health clinics etc. No, to be specific, they were re-confirmation. Less than two weeks ago, Squall recalled himself sitting in his office signing non-stop on these stupid documents.

Re-confirming crap like that simply wasn't on the 'I wanna waste my time on this' list for the brunette, yet Laguna still persistently insisted that these were important matters. Right, so these were important yet the Odine matter meant nothing to him. Squall shook his head and came to the conclusion of ignoring all the documents completely.

'Laguna seriously has to expand his horizons.'

A few gentle knocks on his office double doors snapped him out of his thoughts.

"Come in."

Margaret strolled into Squall's office with her regular heart warming smile on her face as her right arm held onto another set of documents. "Morning Mr. Leonhart. I've just been told to hand these over to you to sign. They're re-confirming the chan-,"

"Hyne no more please!" Squall begged exasperatedly, "I think I'm gonna die if I have to sign all these crap."

Margaret's eyes widened at the sight of the flooded documents, "Mr. Leonhart,"

"Squall, Margaret, you can call me Squall."

"Please do not tell me those are the re-confirming docu-,"

"Afraid so."

Immediately she placed the set of documents on his table and leaned over to see if she could revive the wet soggy things, but to her disappointment, all she did was rip them apart.

"Margaret, be a nice person and take the rest of these documents outside will you?"

She complied, but asked, "What am I going to say when President Loire asks for them?"

He sighed, "Just tell him I couldn't be screwed."

She couldn't help but smile, "Right, you were too busy."

"And if he just so happens to come by later on, which I highly doubt, just tell him I'm out of this hell hole for a while."

This time she giggled, "Got it, you've gone out to run some errands." And with that, she picked the documents up and started making her way out of his office. Before she left, Squall said, "You know, you're starting to become my new best friend." He joked with a little smirk on his face.

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He parked his car in a vacant space in the parking lot and turned his engine off as soon as his 'one-shot turn' parked his car perfectly in the space that was provided. Squall got out of his car and looked around him. The streets were crowded with people and the parks were filled with kids yet no one noticed him. No one seemed to stop in their tracks to stare at him or run up to him and question him, and that was why he came here.

He looked around him, clueless of what he was going to do next. Coincidentally, his car was parked right outside a café. The brunette had not bothered to change from his working suit so he still attracted quite a lot of attention from the female population. The thought of being recognized was definitely not one of his aims; therefore he quickly decided that the café would have to do.

He walked into the petite shop and was quite surprised to see the amount of people in it yet it was still able to hold a peaceful atmosphere. He quickly walked over to a table by the glass window and sat himself down, placing his car keys on the nicely polished wooden table. Not long later, an older woman with a black apron on approached him with a pen and note book in hand.

"Hey there darls, can I take your order?"

"Uh yeah, a latte thanks."

She smiled, "Anything else with that?"

Squall shook his head, "No, that will be it."

She smiled kindly at him before walking off and ripping the piece of paper from the notebook and handing it to one of the boys behind the counter. Squall looked around the café and knew that this was probably going to be one of his favorite hideouts. The place brought warmth, or maybe it was just the color. The place was filled with people, yet it did not seem crowded, and that was one of the main things Squall liked about this place. At least he knew he would not be in the spotlight as long as he was here. And what was also important to him was the peace and tranquil this place brought him.

This time a younger female came up to him, "Here you go, a latte and a chocolate muffin." Her eyes lingered on him as she spoke. She was the same girl who had tried to serve Quistis before.

"I didn't order a muffin."

She smiled at him, "You're a new face here, and normally new customers get a muffin on the house. At least that's Amy's rule." She fluttered her long lashes one to many times.

"Um okay, thanks."

He took his latte into his hands and began to drink it when he paused halfway and looked towards his left. The young, attractive blonde waitress still had not left; instead she stood there smiling down at him. His eyes shifted around for a split second before he diverted them to hers and asked, "Is there something wrong?"

She shook her head, "No, nothing, stud " She smiled flirtatiously at Squall, whispering the last word to herself although Squall heard it, before turning around and walked off towards the counter.

As he drank, thoughts of the Odine matter entered his mind. He shook them away instantly and simply told himself that he was going to get on to it once he got more conformation from Seifer.

One problem down. One more to go.

The ball. He was expected to go, not only by Laguna and Ellone, but by practically all the representatives and leaders from the other areas that knew him. But he really didn't want to go. Everyone there always had a false smile plastered to their face the entire night, their laughs and comments were no more than fake and suck ups and worst of all, he was forced to be one of them.

The women who attended these balls were always dressed in the skimpiest dresses and 80 of them always tried to catch Squall's attention. The food was crap, the drinks were crap, the people were crap, the atmosphere was crap, the dress code was crap, everything was crap.

But Squall was going.

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Rinoa sat on her bed as she waited impatiently for Quistis to pick up her cell phone. It had rung countless times yet she heard no signal of anyone connecting to her. Finally, just as she was about to hang up, she heard the voice of the person she wanted to speak to.

"Quistis! What took you so long to pick up?"

"I was in the car. And why aren't you at work today?"

'How does she know?' "I, um, I couldn't' be bothered," she voiced her lame excuse, "Anyway," trying to change the topic and get straight to the point, "After three days of serious thinking, I have decided, I am going to the ball."

There was silence.

"Oh, sorry, was that the queue for me to clap?"

"Quistis! You know that's really important to me and it was a really tough choice." Rinoa scolded.

Rinoa heard the soft giggles on the other line subside before Quistis began, "Okay sorry. Well good on you for being able to make your decision. Just out of curiosity, but you've never attended these balls for the past years, why now?" As soon as the question left her mouth, she wished that she had not asked it. But Rinoa's reaction surprised her.

The raven haired girl sighed, "Truthfully, I… I want to see him. I have the courage now. If I don't see him this time, Hyne knows how long 'till I get to see him again."

Quistis nodded to herself as a smile crept up her face. Although she was slightly worried about Rinoa's meeting with her father, she was still relieved and happy that she was able to pluck up the courage to meet him. Maybe the situation wasn't as bad as it seemed to be.

"BUT!" Rinoa's voice increased its volume slightly, snapping Quistis out of her thoughts.

"But what?"

"But… Quistis, we've been friends for many years now and I've always been by your side when you needed it, or more that you've been by my side and you know, I'm always so nice to you and patient and you know I would-,"

"RINOA! Just ask me the favor already!"

"Can you please go to the ball with me?" she pleaded.

Quistis somehow knew that was coming, she grumbled loud enough for Rinoa to hear, "Do I have to?"

"Well if you want to jeopardize our friendship, then feel free to not come with me."

Quistis could almost hear her smiling from the other line, "Well that leaves me a wide range of choices doesn't it Rin?" she asked sarcastically.

"Thanks Quis! I knew I could count on you! Well since we still have tomorrow before the ball, come over to my apartment and we'll discuss the other stuff. Thanks Quis!" and without waiting for Quistis' reply, Rinoa hung up.

Rinoa picked up the black dress delivered to her and placed it in front of her and looked at herself through the reflection of the mirror. Already she could feel the slight nervousness getting to her, but quickly ignored it.

'I just know that this ball is going to have a big impact on my life, one way or the other.'

Little did she know the confusion, tears, closure but most importantly, the happiness that will be brought to her after the ball.

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An: I know that the past few chapters have been a little depressing, but things are starting to lighten up because Squall and Rinoa are gonna meet soon!! Thank you so much for the reviews. It is so important to me to hear your opinions. Well anyway, please review!