Disclaimer- I do not, in any way own Final Fantasy VIII, its characters, settings or affiliates. Blech.
This fic contains some coarse language and dark situations. Discretion is advised.
Rating- PG-13 (I think!) It might be—might—be an R…(I hope not…) If it is…tell me…PLEASE!
Author's Note- This was intended to be a one shot, however it turned out to be way too long so I've separated them into parts.
Oh, and I apologize to the Selphie lovers, there's not much of her in here… Anyway beware of OOC-ness, I'm not sure if I caught all the parts…
"Is it important?" A small voice asked from the flowered couch behind him. The raven haired woman turned to face him, the television blared silently. Squall Leonhart ran a black gloved hand through his long, untamed hair. He let out a long tired breath.
"Yes…of course. It's always important." He answered as steadily as he could. He turned around. His hands rested on his hips as he forced himself to meet her brown eyes. Once, long ago, they were filled with life. Life that drew him in and made him feel strong. But now a lifeless sparkle filled the caramel depths. Her eyes sparkled as if they were on the verge of crying. As they usually were. When one crystalline tear fell down her pale face, he was struck with pain that pierced straight in to the deepest and darkest depths of his heart. Squall turned away and roughly grabbed his gunblade case.
"NO! That's not what I meant! Is this mission important to you?" Pain. Deep sorrow filled her words. He stopped in his tracks, not three feet away from his dorm door. No…their room door. The room Rinoa Heartilly shared with him. His sorceress. Only this time, his sorceress was filled with pain. And spite. Rinoa wasn't spiteful before, back when Ultimecia had full reign on Terra.
He shut his eyes tightly and pondered her words. "No." Squall listened as she stood and approached him. Her soft steps creeking against the carpet.
"Then why…why do you keep on risking your life again and again! Hyne Squall, I don't want to wait here for the rest for the rest of my life wondering if you're going to come back to u-me!" The gunblade wielder sighed and realized that it was the wrong thing to do when her footsteps against the carpet began to walk away from him.
"NO!" She shouted through her tears. "NO! I will not stand here and let you make excuses for what you know is wrong!" Lightning flashed against the tall windows.
"I'm coming back for you." He murmured, turning his head to the side ever so slightly. Thunder rumbled in the distance. The loud rolling thunder disguised the shattering glass so well; he only realized that the vase had made contact with the wall when the pieces of porcelain and various flowers fell against the light blue carpet.
He turned suddenly and almost gaped at her right then and there. But luckily, because of his battle experience, he was trained to hide surprise…and have quick reflexes. He barely moved his head in time to miss a picture frame flying over his shoulder. "Rin…what the-"
Her beautiful lips were soft and pink--the lips he had often kissed in the night and at the early morning--curled back into a snarl. But to him, she was still as beautiful as the day he met her. "You might come back for me…but you'll be too late. We'll be gone by then!" She spat and threw a second Estharian vase at him. He quickly slipped through the door and let the vase crash against it. He had no time to wonder about the meaning of 'we'. Another rumble of thunder floated through dark almost smoky sky.
"Bye Rinoa." He whispered before closing the door shut. He winced at the second crash of glass against the door. "I love you." He murmured again, his head bent to the ground, before walking down the hallways of Balamb Garden.
Another crash of thunder boomed at her. But Rinoa paid no mind. She paced along the windows, stopping for a few moments to look out at the dark glittering lights of Deling City. Then she went back to her pacing.
Contemplation. Something that always seemed to make things worse. She wanted to stop thinking! For a moment, she stopped and looked at the phone on the table. Right beside the china vase Xu had given her. At least where the vase used to be. Closing her eyes she swayed in her place. Immediately, a bolt of lightning and a crash of thunder erupted in the distance.
She couldn't really leave Squall…could she? He did promise that it was the last mission. But didn't he say that before? Regardless of his promises, most of them empty, Rinoa knew she couldn't leave him. She loved him and always would. Her eyes snapped open and she ran to the phone. A deep arrow of sorrow buried itself deep inside of her. It seemed like a blur. She barely felt herself press the buttons on the phone. But she did feel her hand travel over her stomach.
As the soft ringing signalled the accepted connection of her call, her left hand began to tremble almost uncontrollably. She looked down at it as if that alone would stop the shaking. In an effort to control her frazzled nerves, she took deep breaths. Control. Her eyes flew to the rings on her finger like paperclips to a magnet. She instinctively balanced the cordless phone between her cheek and shoulder to run a finger over the diamond and band.
She remembered the day he had slid those rings on her finger. But the vows she had said to him, and he to her was as clear as glass. How she longed for those days again! The ones where life seemed simple and the world didn't seem to care. The trembling ceased and a warm feeling washed over her, fighting the chill that kept her on the verge of tears. Thunder rumbled behind her. Startled, Rinoa realized that not matter how much risk involved in being a SeeD she would always love him.
But that didn't mean she had the strength to stay with him. She shut her eyes tightly.
She couldn't take it anymore. She wouldn't.
'Hello? Quistis Trepe speaking.' A soft smile crept its way on her lips.
"Hi Quisty, its Rinoa." Quickly, she ran across the room and dug into the closet, careful to not step on any shards of porcelain. "I need you to do me a big favour."
'Sure I guess. What's up?' She emerged from the closet with three large bags and one rolling bag. Dropping them on the floor she transferred the phone into her hand.
"I need you to help me pack."
The car ride to Deling City was quiet. The driver was too nervous to speak and Squall…well…he had a lot on his mind. For one, he didn't understand why they had to have the mission briefing in here of all places. Hyne, who was he kidding? Rinoa filled his every thought. She appeared with her bright smile in one image, and with tears falling down the next. Several times he almost ordered the driver to turn back to the garden. But he had a job to do. It was his duty. But he swore it was his last mission. It had to be.
It was only when the car turned into the lot beside the abandoned building where he was to have his briefing when Squall realized the risk and gains in this mission. In this whole scenario.
There was always the risk of not coming back to his wife. He couldn't bare the fact that she would mourn. For him no less. Sure, he needed the gil, but he had saved more than enough to buy the cozy house in Winhill Rinoa always wanted. But if he left now, SeeD would hunt him down and mark him as a deserter. As he stepped out of the black car, the heavy air hit him. At the same time though, he realized something. Any risk that involved Rinoa was too big of one altogether. He couldn't go into the face of danger with her face in his mind. He just couldn't. He had to tell Cid that he was leaving. Tonight. He lugged his gunblade case out of the trunk of the car.The thunder boomed out behind him.
Squall stepped into the brick building.
The man who called himself Phoenix chuckled as he added the silencer to his rifle. It wasn't his real name of course. Only a fool would give theirs out so freely. Luckily, his employer didn't care, as long as this Squall Leonhart fellow was dead by morning. Supposedly, the guy was the best gunblade wielder in the world. He snickered and took his spot on the rooftop beside the building 'Squall' had just entered. He's bet his rifle that a bullet would win against a sword any day. Thunder and lightning flashed.
It was unfortunate that the rifle Phoenix had was very difficult to reload. In the event that he missed, he was to use the 'Ice Strike' magic his employer had given him. But just as he told the General, he wouldn't miss. He never did.
He almost let himself laugh right out loud but luckily in time he stopped himself. He felt like he was in a clichéd movie. The man called Phoenix would be the awful, cold-blooded assassin while Squall would be the fallen hero. The guy would also have beautiful wife expecting a child that she hadn't told him about. That wasn't too far from the truth at least. But then again, the name he chose was far from not clichéd. He snickered again. Luckily he was a fan of the cliché.
It was really too bad the old man--Cid Kramer?--played right into his hands. The hunter lay in wait, his prey would spring the trap soon enough. The General was right. Other than the large amount of money the old man was paying, Phoenix hated him. What kind of sick SOB would send out an order to kill his daughter's husband because he hated the guy? Or for the fact that the guy knocked her up? Phoenix might have been playing the roll of the cold-blooded killer tentatively, but General Caraway fit the roll for crazy ass mastermind to a T.
Rinoa…this is crazy…you can't leave!' Quistis yelled through the phone. Rinoa winced and pulled the phone away from her ear. She paused midway in stuffing clothes in one of the bags.
"Quistis…" Suddenly feeling drained both emotionally and physically, she dropped onto the couch. "I'm just so tired. I can't take it anymore Quisty…I can't." She ran a hand through her hair and closed her eyes. She felt a burning sensation behind her eyes. "Hyne I have to leave…"
'Rinoa…why? You have everything you ever wanted don't you? Squall loves you and you love him, you said you liked working for Laguna, writing his speeches and all…' A flash of thunder illuminated the night sky for a moment.
"It's hard Quistis. When I married him, I didn't think I signed up for a life like…like this." She shrugged her shoulders as if her friend could see the gesture. "I guess I should have thought of that huh?" Quistis audibly sighed.
'Rinoa, I know you. I know that you put everything you got into something. Whether it be a simple project or a relationship. But you have to ask yourself--did you really do your best to make your marriage work? Are you willing to start over in your life without someone that you love?' Rinoa closed her eyes. Thunder tore through the unnerving silence.
"For my baby I will." She heard Quistis gasp but waited for a moment before continuing on. "Look Quisty, I can pack with or without you. Your choice."
'I'll be right over.'
Headmaster Cid's voice droned on. True, it wasn't much of a 'droning' type of voice, but Squall had much better things to do then sit around in a darkened room while the older man briefed him about a mission he was convinced not to go on! Already several times he had tried to object, but Cid rushed past him, claiming that he had other business to attend to. He frowned.
"Squall! Squall! Are you even listening!" He jolted out of his thoughts and shifted his eyes towards the man in the red sweater vest, his expression unchanging.
"Sorry Headmaster." He apologized gruffly. Cid laughed whole heartedly. "I've chang-"
"Squall…how many times have I told you to just call me Cid?" For a moment, he scowled but quickly regained his composure.
"Head--Cid, I can't--" The headmaster cut his sentence off with a wave of his hand, his facial features drawn in a serious expression. The slight wrinkles deepened.
"I know what you're going to say Squall, and I don't want to hear it! The Garden needs you to complete this mission! It's your job as a Commander to look out for the well-being of the students and staff." Something he buried deep inside him suddenly resurfaced. His emotions burst like a dam.
"If I remember correctly Headmaster, you're the one who made me Commander without my agreement, you're the one who made sure I couldn't back away from this damn job, so why don't you just fuck you and your damn responsibilities!" Squall flipped open his gunblade case and hefted his synthesized weapon out. He needed to kill something. He stomped out the door, leaving in his wake a shocked silence. Thunder and lightning danced among the ominous clouds.
"You can't do this Rinoa…you can't!" Quistis said fervently, dropping the bag right beside the door. After shutting it, she lifted the small hand bag again and swung it down on the couch.
"You've already told me that. My answer is the same Quisty, I'm leaving whether you or Squall likes it or not." The sorceress answered carefully from inside the washroom, packing up her toiletries. Sighing, the newly re-instated instructor zipped the bag open.
"Fine, I got the gil you wanted. There's about five million in large and small bills. It should be enough until you get a job. But what are you going to do about your identity? When Squall finds out you're gone…" Rinoa emerged from the washroom with her large duffel bag.
"I'm going to my father's. He should provide me with a new identity." Giving her friend a tight and obviously forced smile. "I'll miss you." Quistis nodded and looked around the dorm.
Double dorms were much large than SeeD apartments. But the room looked so much smaller than it was. Rinoa's essence was simply gone from the room. The walls were bare from portraits and photos, the books that used to lie around the room were shuffled away and the liveliness she brought to it disappeared. It was empty. From the looks of it, it seemed the very emotional sorceress saw what Quistis saw as well.
"Call me and tell me where you are. Then I'll be able to bring Angelo to you. Selphie'll be fine to take care of him for a bit longer." Rinoa nodded gratefully in response and dragged the four bags to the door one by one.
"Are you sure you can carry them all by yourself? I can call a couple SeeDs…" Quistis offered, leaning against the back of the couch. She shook her head.
"That's all right Quisty I'll be fine by myself." And with a sigh, the sorceress looked at the dorm one more time. "I'll miss this place…" The instructor opened her mouth to speak. "No Quisty…I'm not staying and that's that." Sighing, Rinoa lifted the bags up and out the door. It closed loudly behind her. Running to the cordless phone on the right of her, she dialled a number. Rinoa couldn't leave. She couldn't.
Squall was halfway down the stairs in the darkened room when a shrill ringing interrupted his thoughts. As much as he hated cell phones, Rinoa made him carry one, just in case she needed to call. It was dangerous to be sure as it could go off during a mission that needed stealth, but regardless, he carried it. He paused and unclipped it from one of his trademark belts and snapped it open.
'Oh thank Hyne you son of a bitch!' A very feminine, very agitated voice shouted through the phone. He winced. 'You bastard, I don't care what the hell you did to Rinoa or what you said, you get your ass back here before she leaves your sorry ass!' Quistis continued on, her voice elevating an octave.
"Quistis…what are you talking about?" He asked carefully, a prickle of fear breaching those high stone walls he had built around his heart.
'Are you really that ignorant? She's leaving you. As I speak, she's lugging her bags down to leave your sorry ass, and I can't say I blame her. She won't stay here so you have to come back!' Those walls crumbled to the ground. Squall cursed several times before running down the stairs again.
"Shit…Quisty stall her, I'll be there in a few!" Snapping close his cell phone, he stuffed it in his jacket pocket.
He did not regard himself as a smart man, nor did he think that his life would turn out like the fairy tale he and his wife had dreamed of. But regardless, Headmaster Cid Kramer thought he knew what was best for his SeeDs. Obviously, he didn't. Especially Squall. Throughout the Ultimecia Incident, he had often received questions concerning his move to promote the gunblade wielder to the position of the Commander. Of course, he knew it was fated to be, he also had ulterior motives. Thunder crashed, signalling the beginning of the down pour.
He felt that Squall had depended on him as somewhat of a father figure, albeit it was only a slight feeling to be sure. But Cid had reciprocated in full force. After all, he had no chances to have children as his own. Edea--Hyne was she beautiful--was unable to bear children as a result of the powers passing to her.
It was unfortunate, most definitely, but the emptiness in his heart was slowly filled with the life that he found in those 6 children he and Edea had taken care of. Especially when she had left him. But that didn't matter, at least at this moment. He thought that Squall needed something to challenge him from keeping himself from getting restless. Obviously, he was wrong. Even as he ran down the spiral stairway he berated himself for it. What Squall needed was his family. That meant his wife and daughter. That was Cid's reasoning when he left to find Squall and apologize.
Internally, he knew that the younger version of himself was rushing down to either work off some frustration or run back to Rinoa. And honestly, the headmaster found no fault in that.
The familiarities between Squall and himself almost astounded him, but he counted it in good favour as, just as he had predicted, Squall was almost out the door. Relieved that he had caught him, he yelled and jumped over the railing. Luckily, it was only a few feet down. His legs could handle it.
"Squall, I have to talk to you!" Cid groaned from the floor. On his landing, his legs stung painfully and buckled under him. He was wrong…his legs couldn't handle it. He was getting far too old for this. Slowly, he leaned on the wall, trying to collect his bearings.
Squall stopped just in front of the doors, one gloved hand on the handle of the door. He seemed to take a moment to control himself. Cid very well expected the man to lash out at him.
"What?" Almost immediately, he was taken aback. No…he was definitely not expecting that. Not at all.
"Umm…I want to apologize for my behaviour. I-I understand why you're so…angry at me, I wouldn't like my life to be turned upside down due to someone else's decision."
"I'm not Cid Kramer!" Squall shouted, stepping towards him. His long, shoulder length brown hair swayed with him. "I don't live my life like you do! Understand this Headmaster: I am not YOU! I am not your little protégé either! I am Commander Squall Leonhart of Balamb Garden!" At that, he pivoted on his heel and stalked into the pouring rain. A large bolt of lightning lit the night sky through the glass doors as if it were day light already. Almost immediately, before the blinding light had a faded, a deafening rumble of thunder followed. But Headmaster Cid Kramer paid it little to no mind. He frowned at the stone floor. Edea would most certainly be ashamed of him. That would be the case if she were living.
"See Zell, I told you that shouldn't trust that hotdog ya bought from that street vender." Irvine Kinneas said smirking as Zell Dincht emptied his stomach into a dumpster. Suddenly, his heaves stopped and he went out of the alley way to face the cowboy who was leaning against a dark and very much abandoned apartment building. Deling City wasn't exactly the best place to hang out.
"I don't care, it was damn good! Besides…how was I supposed to know it was bad for me?" Irvine's smirk grew.
"Zellie boy…" He drawled his accent strengthening. Irvine patted the martial artist's shoulder. "It was green." he motioned forward to Zell's person
"How was I supposed to know I wasn't supposed to eat it?" Zell grumbled under his breath just as lightning and thunder danced over head. The storm began to descend.
"Rinoa!" Quistis called out, running past cadets and SeeDs alike. Many students were late to step aside from her path and were left sitting on the waxed tiled floors, watching as their instructor ran like the winds through the halls. Thunder crashed loudly and darkness covered the Garden.
Squall was unfazed by the huge bolt of lightning which crashed down just yards away from him. If it were not for his battle trained ears, he would not have heard the gunshot ring out, nor would he be able to see the small blur flying just over his shoulder.
It was chaos throughout. Screams of panic and terror erupted through the city as the thoughts of attacks from the sorceress reborn again or even that Esthar was hunting them. The Garden however was just slightly calmer than this. But that didn't mean Quistis had any easier time getting the students back on track.
In the very moment the lights faltered, screams were heard and yells of pleas to be calm echoed out. But she could hear the footsteps of fleeing Cadets and SeeDs. At least, she thought they were SeeDs.
"Get out of our way! We're SeeDs!" Oh yeah…they were SeeDs.
"STOP!" She shouted loudly, her voice reverberating throughout the Garden. Almost immediately, silence filled the air, both tense, and surprised. Taking out the flashlight in her belt, she clicked it on and scanned the area, the bright light landing on the man who she was sure had screamed for lowly cadets to get out of his way. She almost slapped him right there.
"I want everyone to calm down! It's just a blackout, attacks on the Garden have not been happening. Now if everybody would please make their way to the Quad. Also, if two SeeDs are able to make sure all Junior Class men are safe, it would greatly appreciated. Thank you!" She paused for a moment and added, "In an orderly fashion, if I see any trampled Cadets, SeeDs or Junior class men…" She didn't really mean to leave the threat hanging because well…chances were, if a student were found to be hurt due to the commotion, there would be no real evidence to point out who had done the most damage.
"SeeD Wailan! May I speak to you?" Quistis asked sternly. She really didn't want to frighten him…yet. The man was tall and fairly handsome to most women. However, he had a mischievous glint in his eyes. He turned to face her and stepped out of the crowd, then saluted. Another SeeD, judging from her uniform stepped out with him and mirrored his actions. They looked good together. The instructor wasn't exactly sure where her notions had come from, but she thought that nevertheless.
"Instructor." The girl mirrored that also. Quistis nodded tersely and clicked off her flashlight.
"Please Instructor," The SeeD broke in, his throaty voice seeming to sing. The instructor raised an eyebrow questioningly. The expression was mostly faced towards herself and why she had noticed that. Hyne, she really needed a boyfriend! The guy was 2 years younger than her! "Please call me Scott." The girl seemed to sense something odd in him and frowned then proceeded to slap his arm.
"Scotty, stop flirting with the instructor!" She half managed to whisper, half shouted. The man—Scott--flashed a smile at her. A bubble of anger rose up in her. She had always hated these kinds of boys. The ones who thought they were so popular and handsome. Her hand itched to slap him across the face. Of course, it would be dangerous to her career.
"Excuse me! But if you two are finished here, I would like to ask you why you felt the need to yell that you were SeeDs to make others move aside for you. Do you find yourself superior to others?" Quistis broke in with a firm voice. Immediately the girl straightened and the boy's cocky grin disappeared. Instantly, she knew why she both had a loathing to him, and an attraction. Seifer.
"We apologize Instructor but we had an emergency and we required help." The blonde girl reported her green eyes serious.
"What kind of emergency was this?"
"Ma'am, we found the Commander's wife, Rinoa Heartilly, collapsed on the ground, just outside the entrance of the Dorms."
To be Continued…
Author's Note- Hi, this is the end of the Part one and yes, thank you for reviewing :winks: I'm hoping everyone who reads this (Both anonymous reviewers and those with accounts) will review, regardless if it sucks or what not. As long as it's constructive!
All mistakes within are mine. My wonderful beta has not contacted me in quite a bit of time so I decided to let her relax and all…
Also, as a note, I'll update in about two weeks (hopefully) so stay tuned! And as a warning, there are going to be some Character Deaths in here, but worry not, they'll still be in the story.
Edited to rid of Song Lyrics.