A/N: Here it goes, four years of hard work have led up to this moment. It's almost over, just keep reading! Read and review!
In all of Rinoa's life, few people had ever stood up for her. Guards within her home had stood and watched her be beaten and said nothing, early teachers had seen the scars and the bruises and said nothing. She was sure that that was how her life was going to go, everyone would see and suspect but be too afraid to do anything about it or not care enough to do anything.
She had obviously been very, very wrong.
Somewhere outside a large truck's engine revved loudly and the side of the mansion holding were the windows were was ripped off. Men began yelling, the loud crash of the side of the mansion falling tried and failed to drown them out. Rinoa ran away from the loud rumble and heard a single shot fired, followed by what sounded like a thousand more. White hot searing pain shot up her right arm and she screamed. Strong arms grabbed her shoulders and directed her away from the rubble and onto the ground.
"Stay down and stay here."
That voice…Rinoa spun her head around trying to see who it was that grabbed her but the dust was so thick she couldn't see anything. She heard something glass hit the ground and ignite, the smoke alarm went off. Rinoa jumped up off of the ground and spun around trying to find her way out. Thick black smoke began filling the room.
"Squall!" she yelled as loud as she could over the roar of everything else.
She could see a figure through the smoke approaching her and quickly retreated, holding her arm tightly while trying to stop the bleeding. She felt faint and started coughing from the smoke. "Squall!"
From a thousand miles away she heard, "I'm coming, Rinoa! I hear you, I'm coming!" the smoky figure became Squall as Rinoa's legs gave way and she fell back onto the floor, weak from blood loss. "Shit, Rinoa…" he was crouched beside her and was looking her over. "You've been shot. Laguna! Seifer! Somebody call a medic! Rinoa's been shot!"
Rinoa, despite everything, laughed, "Yeah, I noticed, it kind of hurts." She groaned in pain. "Squall, what the hell are you guys doing here? Not that I'm not glad or anything..."
"I'll tell you after we get out of here, ok? I promise," he coughed hard and took off his top shirt and wrapped it around Rinoa's wound as many times as he could. He picked her up and ran through the smoke and debris, straight into the waiting arms of paramedics. They took her from him and laid her on the stretcher, she grabbed Squall's hand, "Are you coming to the hospital?"
"We all are, yes but you need to go now," he said quickly giving her hand a quick squeeze.
"Come with me, please? I'm scared," she said and Squall nodded.
He looked to the paramedics and they briefly looked up from Rinoa to nod, "You can ride but you have to stay out of the way."
Squall nodded and the paramedics put Rinoa in the back of the ambulance. He looked over his shoulder to see Caraway being drug away by a group of Esthar soldiers and Laguna and Seifer looking on, nodding with silent agreement that they would meet him there. He climbed into the back of the vehicle and the doors slammed behind him and soon they were off in a rush on their way to the hospital. The lone medic in the back taking care of Rinoa was prodding her with needles and wrapping fresh gauze around her wounds, throwing Squall's blood soaked shirt in the garbage. The 20 – something paramedic looked at Squall, "Keep her talking, we need to keep her conscience."
Squall took Rinoa's hand, "It was all Seifer's idea." Rinoa turned towards him. "Seifer came into my room and knew he would hurt you and knew we had to do something. Laguna brought in some volunteer soldiers to help out and we moved as fast as we could to get here and we were almost too late."
She let go of his hand and pressed it to the side of his face, "I love you."
Squall's heart skipped a beat and all of the air that had been in his lungs disappeared, "I love you too, Rinoa and I'm so glad you're ok." He placed his hand over hers and brought her palm to his lips.
Rinoa shook her head, "I wasn't going to let him hurt me. I had to see you again."
"Ok Rinoa, we're at the hospital. We're going to take you directly to surgery to remove the bullet and make sure everything is alright. Ready?"
"Yeah," she smiled directly into Squall's eyes, "Ready for anything."
> > > > > >6 months later
(A/N: Ok, because I don't really know where to put this, Angelo got scooped up by an Esthar soldier in disguise.)
"Oh come on, Squall! Pick one, this china pattern or this china pattern?!" Rinoa said for the umpteeth dozenth time. She held up one delicate plate in front of Squall and then the other. He was sitting on a deep red couch in the living room of their new house.
"For the millionth time, it's up to you! I won't be eating off of them!" he laughed at her playful anger.
After the incident in Deling, Rinoa moved to Esthar and lived in the palace with Squall, Seifer, Quistis, Ellone, Laguna and Angelo. Sometime after the announcement was made that General Caraway was going to be imprisoned for attempted murder for the rest of his life, Squall proposed to Rinoa. She happily accepted and here we find them now, in their new home in Esthar, close enough to the palace for Laguna to visit often but far enough away for them to have their own life.
"I'm not going to eat off of them either! They sit in the china cabinet we have to buy for the dining room and look pretty!" she said, stomping her feet. Squall leaned his head back and laughed as Angelo barked from his spot at the end of the couch as if emphasizing Rinoa's point. "That's right, Angelo! Tell him!" Rinoa put the china dishes back in their box in defeat and sighed, "What am I going to do with you?"
Squall shrugged, "I can give you a few ideas…"
Laguna had kept his word to Seifer and Quistis; they were given their own part of the mansion to call home until they could get out on their own. After seeing the great leader Seifer could be after Rinoa's rescue, he gave him a position of command in the Esthar military. Seifer and Quistis too were engaged, happily planning their wedding. Having just moved from their part of the mansion, they are more caught up in moving than the wedding plans.
"The kitchen stuff went this morning, Quistis. You watched them put it in the truck," Seifer assured her.
Still, Quistis had this nagging feeling she was forgetting something. "Am I going to feel like this forever? Feeling like I've forgotten something?" Quistis asked him, looking at the few remaining boxes by the door.
"No, it'll be fine once we get to Deling, everything will be fine," Seifer said with a chuckle.
With the downfall of Caraway, the Esthar military had temporary control over the city. That was Seifer's position of command; he was going to move to Deling for a while to command the troops there until an election could be held to put a new President in power.
"Oh! I remember!" before Seifer could ask, she was gone down the hallway.
Seifer rolled his eyes, "Come on, babe! Let's go!"
"I forgot your present!"
At that, Seifer put down the boxes he was holding and watched for her to come back down the hallway. She appeared within seconds with a small box in her hands. She smiled as she handed it to Seifer who eagerly tore away the brightly colored paper and bow. When he reached the bare box he shook it, hoping to get a hint of what was inside.
"No, you'll never guess it, just open it," Quistis said, smiling at him warmly.
He removed the lid to find a small black and white photograph inside. Upon further inspection, he realized it was no ordinary picture but a sonogram picture. He looked up at Quistis, eyes wide.
"That third room has to be a nursery now," Quistis said quietly, waiting for the news to sink in thoroughly.
Seifer looked up at his future wife with the biggest smile she'd ever seen in her life, "I'm going to be a dad!" He scooped her up off of her feet and kissed her, "I can't believe it!"
She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him again, "I love you baby."
"I love you, both of you."