Disclaimer: I do not own Squaresoft, Final Fantasy VIII, nor its characters.
Summary: Rinoa had always had a crush on Seifer. So she schemed and pretended that Squall was courting her to get Seifer's attention. When Squall got hold of what was going on, Rinoa did not expect what would be his next step. Squall turned this game into reality.
You are the One for Me
Rinoa had always seen the Almasy mansion from a distance but it was her first time today to be inside this huge house. Since her father told her that he would be the mansion's caretaker, she had been silently praying for the day that they would dwell there. The mansion was huge compared to their small hut. She knew that the Almasys' house was the biggest house in their town.
That was quite true because the Almasys are one of the richest families in Winhill. Rinoa heard rumors that that mansion was just a vacation house of the family. They have a bigger house that was more elegant in Esthar.
"Rinoa, please help me with these things," her mother Julia said.
She took her eyes off the house of Almasys and started helping her mother transport their things from the old pick-up truck that their neighbor lent. The kind neighbor even offered to drive them to make their 're-locating' easier.
Her father who entered the house first carrying two bags of their clothing emerged from the house. "Will you two please move faster?" he grunted.
"Alright, alright," Julia said as she thrusted a wad of gil to the neighbor. The neighbor shook his head. He took the money and placed it again in Julia's hands. "Keep this. You need this much more than I do," he kindly said as he revved the engine.
Rinoa got off the vehicle. When her feet touched the path, she barely heard the pick-up leave. She just stood there with her mouth hanging open. Never in her fourteen years had she seen a house with so much furniture and decoration! Most of the furniture was antique and expensive. She felt like she was in a castle. The furniture looked smooth and strong despite their old age.
Everything that surrounded Rinoa became less antique when her father lit the bulbs that she did not notice earlier and started to shed light.
"Where will we sleep tonight, Vincent?" Julia asked.
"In the room of the old caretaker. The room is big and I know it won't get crowded with the three of us. It even has two beds!"
Rinoa was overjoyed when she heard this news. She was sure one of the beds would be hers. Finally, she would experience having her very own bed. She had slept on the same mat that covered the cold floor of their small house for fourteen years.
Aside from their family, there were also two other housemaids in the house: Nana Rosa and Nana Maria. But both old women did not sleep at the house. When night came, the two maids went home to their respective houses.
Now, the two maids were helping them unpack and arrange the things that the Caraway family brought with them.
Rinoa took advantage of this chance to check the mansion. She was sure that she would have lots of stories about the Almasy mansion to tell her classmates when Monday comes. All her classmates would envy her because she would be living in that mansion.
Can I invite them to come here?she wondered to herself as she walked on the carpeted floor.
Her eyes landed on the wall in the corridor that connected the living room and the kitchen. A lot of paintings adorned the hallway. Rinoa looked at the biggest painting: an elderly couple sitting on a couch.
These must be Sir Seymour and Madam Anna,Rinoa thought as she remembered the names of her father's employers.
She looked at the figure of a young teenager standing behind the couch, smiling at her with his intense green eyes. Like his parents, the young lad had their blonde hair.
She stared at the picture of the young man. He was very handsome. He looked very refined as he stood behind his parents, one of his hands resting on the back of the couch. This was the man of her dreams. Her prince charming!
"That portrait was made when Sir Seifer was your age. Now that he's nineteen, I'm sure he's more handsome now. The girl beside him is his sister Xu. She's also fourteen, like you."
Blushing furiously, Rinoa whirled around and found Nana Rosa standing behind her, looking amused. Even if her cheeks were tinted red because the old lady caught her admiring the young man in the portrait, Rinoa could not suppress herself to ask.
"He comes here a lot?"
"When he was a young boy, he'd visit here during summer vacation with his parents. But now that he's all grown up, he rarely comes here. Sir Seymour and Madam Anna visits here every two months," Nana Rosa replied.
Rinoa brought her eyes back to the smiling image of Seifer. She felt bad. She wished she could see this man in person.
"Is he kind?" she asked again.
"I can't answer that. You know... people change," the old maid answered.
But Rinoa had a strong feeling that Seifer was kind. And if they would have the chance to meet and know each other, maybe he would even be her friend...
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Two years passed swiftly. Rinoa had just graduated at the local high school and, like most girls her age, young men started courting her. But she hated her admirers. She did not like courtship. Even her classmates started calling her the Ice Queen.
Her reason was simple. She only wanted one man to court her. The problem was how would he court her if he did not even know her and they had not even seen each other yet?
Every time she passed by the hallway with paintings, she would sigh as she gazed at Seifer's painting. Every night she prayed to Hyne that, hope against hope, she would finally meet Seifer.
She had a strong belief that all of her fantasies concerning Seifer would all come true. And one day, her prayers were answered.
When she opened the front door, Seifer Almasy was standing there. He was already twenty-one years old and he looked more handsome and matured.
Seifer was wearing a white sleeveless shirt, khaki shorts and rubber shoes. The sun was shining behind him, highlighting his blonde hair. His green eyes were smiling at her.
Rinoa thought she saw a Greek God.
"Hello!" he greeted her with a smile.
Rinoa stood there, speechless, drowning herself in the presence of her prince charming. She thought this was still a part of her fantasy.
"Sir Seifer!" Nana Rosa blurted behind Rinoa. Her mother Julia followed the old lady.
"Nana Rosa! How are you? You look more beautiful!" Seifer said.
"And you're more of a player now, young man! Do you always say that to all the girls that you meet?" Nana Rosa chuckled. "By the way, this is Julia, the wife of Vincent the caretaker."
Rinoa wanted to butt in. She wanted to introduce herself because Nana Rosa forgot to.
She controlled herself as she remembered how she looked. She was dirty. She was currently cleaning the floor and her hands and knees were smeared with was. She was wearing an old dull-colored shirt and shorts that were too big for her because her mother handed down these clothes to her. Aside from that her long black hair was tied at the back of her neck with a band.
"My friends are with me. We'll spend summer here," Seifer continued.
Rinoa's heart jumped with joy. It seemed like her prayers would finally be granted. The next time she and Seifer would meet, she would make sure that she looked great.
She silently walked away from the three people at the doorway. She decided that she would take a bath.
As she passed by the large window, she caught a glimpse of two cars that were parked at the front of the mansion. One was blue while the other was red. There were three guys and two girls standing beside the two cars. The group was busy unloading bags from the cars.
Rinoa was alarmed when she saw the two girls. What if one of these girls was Seifer's girlfriend? Her forehead wrinkled.
So what? She's still just a girlfriend.
Rinoa could come up with many tricks just to get those girls away from Seifer.
Because Seifer belongs to her.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Rinoa made sure that she was at Seifer's side or near Seifer every second. Whatever he needed, she was ready to assist him.
She brought snacks. She got any thing that Seifer forgot from his room. She picked up the clothes he left on the floor. And et cetera. She did everything she could think of just to be near him. She did not even care if everybody found out what her feelings for Seifer are. Heck, even everybody thought that she was stalking him, she would still continue what she was doing. The truth was she wanted to tell the whole world. The only problem was her father. She was worried that he would spank her because her father was a very conservative man.
Still living in the primitive ages,Rinoa thought. I'm a modern woman!
She was delighted that Seifer was also kind towards her and whenever he called her name, it has a sort of sweet note to it.
Between the two girls, Rinoa played pranks on the blonde named Quistis. Rinoa put cockroaches or lizards in the girl's cabinet. There was also a time when Quistis almost puked at the dining table because Rinoa added different kinds of liquids she could find in the kitchen. Rinoa noticed that Quistis flirted a lot with Seifer.
Rinoa got along well with the other girl, Selphie. She learned that the petite brunette was committed to her boyfriend Irvine, the young cowboy who was one of Seifer's friends. Rinoa got information on Seifer from Selphie.
"We all graduated from the same school but Seifer and Squall belonged to the same section. Both of them are very intelligent. They even decided to take up the same course, Business Management, at the same university. Seifer and Squall are both appointed to take over their parents' food chain – a partnership shared by the Almasys and the Loires." Selphie informed her.
Selphie took a sip from the glass of lemonade that was on the table. "Now, both of them have just joined their parents in the business. They see each other at the office," she added.
"Are Seifer and Squall friends?" Rinoa asked. Up to now, Rinoa was clueless as to who was Squall and who was Zell. She was not sure if Squall was the brunette and Zell was the blonde with the tattoo on his face or vice versa.
"Hmm... not exactly," Selphie mused. "I'd rather say that Seifer and Squall are rivals. Both want to outdo each other in almost everything."
"They fight a lot?"
"Fight? No... They are civil to each other."
Their conversation was stopped when Julia called her daughter. Julia asked Rinoa to gather flowers for the vase in the dining room.
Rinoa ran towards the garden. She had already picked four beautiful red roses when she heard male voices. She stopped what she was doing and peeked over the thorn bushes. Near the fountain at the center of the garden stood Seifer's friends. She was going to leave them alone but, when she heard the names of Seifer and Quistis, she decided to eavesdrop.
She walked silently towards the two guys and hid behind the palm tree. The brunette was fuming mad while the blonde man was telling him to calm down.
"Cool down, Squall. Nothing will happen even if you're angry," the man with the spiky blonde hair said.
"And what do you expect me to do? Nothing? He stole my girl!" the brunette roared as he paced back and forth.
"Remember that he won't have done that if you did not bet against each other."
Squall clenched his fists in anger.
"I should have never challenged him! I thought wrong, I though Quistis would remain faithful to me! But just a week here in Winhill and she's already putty in his hands! Fuck!"
"Quistis is just a girl! There are other girls, you know? And they might even be better that Quistis. Eventually, you'll forget her," Zell advised.
"That's not the problem, Zell. I can forget Quistis, but what about my pride? Seifer sure is laughing his heart out when he stole Quistis from me! One day, that man would pay!"
Rinoa wept inwardly. She never knew that it hurts so much to know that the man you love is in love with another girl.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
"Rinoa, always remember not to go out too late at night. Study first before going out with friends. Don't even think of having a boyfriend!" Julia ranted on and on as she stood at the train station beside her husband and daughter.
Rinoa nodded. She had already memorized her mother's lectures. Julia had already talked to her while she packed her clothes.
Vincent was quietly smiling to himself, amused at his wife. He would take Rinoa to Esthar.
Before Rinoa could even step on the train, she saw tears fall down from her mother's eyes. She immediately spun around and embraced her mother.
"Mom, don't worry about me. I can take care of myself. Your daughter is one of a kind... I am a fighter. I don't let others bully me. If a strange man comes on to me, I'd just give him a hard kick between the—"
"Hyne, you'll bring your tough guy act to Esthar?" Julia asked incredulously as she cut her daughter off. She faced Vincent and whacked him on the shoulder. "This is all your fault! My daughter won't be like this if you did not treat her like a boy! Look! She's a tomboy!"
"Julia, Rinoa's still a girl. The thing is boys could never deceive her. The reason I thought her how to fight back is because she doesn't have a sibling to protect her."
Finally, Vincent and Rinoa boarded the train. Rinoa's thoughts started to travel.
She would live at the Almasys' house in Esthar. When she had no classes, she would help the housemaids there. It would be her token of gratitude to the Almasy couple's kindness.
When Seymour and Anna visited the mansion in Winhill, Rinoa got to know them. She bonded with Seifer's mother. Anna even encouraged Rinoa to call her Mommy. Anna saw Rinoa as a second daughter. Anna told her father that she would pay for Rinoa's college tuition. She even said that she would let Rinoa live at their house in Esthar.
With Rinoa living in the Almasy house, she would get to know Seifer better. She would see him everyday.
Seifer, according to his mother, was still single and unattached. He was enjoying his life as a bachelor.
When Rinoa learned that Quistis was Seifer's girlfriend, she willed herself to forget him. She was just starting to do that when she learned from Anna that Seifer broke up with Quistis the following week. Rinoa knew fate was on her side. Even though she still heard from Anna about other girls that had a relationship with Seifer, Rinoa did not get hurt.
Rinoa knew that those girls were just flings for Seifer. Almost all men do that, she decided. The woman that he would marry had not arrived yet.
Because that girl is her!
When they arrived at Esthar and saw the house of the Almasys, again, Rinoa stared at it in awe. The house was twice the size of the mansion in Winhill. The walls around the house were high. They even had guards at the gate.
"I'm Vincent, the caretaker of the house in Winhill. This is my daughter, Rinoa," he began.
"Yes, sir! Madam Anna had already told us of your arrival," the guard said. He started to open the gate.
Rinoa was nervous. She kept fidgeting with the hem of her dress. She was worried that it would have wrinkles. She wanted Seifer to notice that she was beautiful, that she was a woman and not just a girl.
She even spent hours practicing how she would smile at him and what she would say to him when they saw each other.
As the gate opened, a red car pulled in swiftly. The driver was driving the car too fast and did not notice that there was mud on the side of the road.
Mud immediately rained on Vincent and Rinoa. Vincent got only mud on his shoes but, unfortunately for Rinoa, she got mud splashed all over her. She looked like she bathed in mud. Her new light pink dress looked horrible.
All her plans were ruined. How could she face Seifer looking like this?
The car window went down.
The young man glared at them. "What are you doing there just standing and sauntering as if you're in a park? Are you deaf? Didn't you hear me coming?" he barked at them furiously.
All the blood rushed to her veins and Rinoa made a dash towards the driver.
A/N: Hello! This is my third fic. Again, it's another AU and another love triangle between Squall, Seifer and Rinoa. This is not yaoi.
I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to remote_mine for beta-reading this chappy. I apologize for the errors I made... I guess you had a hard time reading and checking the grammar of this fic. Remind me again not too write at 4am. =) Anyways, this chappy would never be possible without you! I'd also like to thank you for the "stalker thing". That was the most appropriate word for Rinoa. =)
To everyone who read this fic, please check out remote_mine's works. Very great fics. I guarantee you that his works are really excellent. Check out Twilight and A Life Unlived. =)
Please R&R! Comments, suggestions and criticisms are greatly encouraged. Thanks!