Each and every word she spoke felt like bile in her mouth. They were lies, and she didn't think Seifer knew that she was lying to him. But his help was needed if she were to succeed in what she needed to do. It was essential that she get Squall back. Rinoa would not be able to live without her husband, and she wasn't willing to let her child grow up without a father.
If she were to forsake time itself, she would need Seifer's help. So why not let him believe that she was Ultimecia, it couldn't hurt, but of course, she needed to figure out what to do after she succeeded, and she would succeed. She had to.
First, she needed her revenge. Destroying an empty house wouldn't do. She needed to pay her father a little visit.
Zell was shocked. No, shocked didn't describe what he really felt. He was scared. He was frightened more than he had been during the whole Ultimecia saga. Squall's body was disappearing. First it was the insane winds that threatened to lift them away…but now…
Both he and Irvine had desperately tried to break through the barrier that surrounded the limp body, but it stayed strong, like an infinitely strong shell and protect barrier. It reminded him of one of Quistis' Blue Magic Spells. Mighty Guard.
Soon, they would have no body to give to Laguna and Ellone. Soon, they would be accused of the murder of his best friend. With one longing look back at Squall's fading body, Zell Dincht ran off.
His idea of his future crumbled in front of him. He would not be able to find the girl of his dreams. He would not be able to become the best Martial Artist in the Garden. Every puzzle piece he had created no longer fit together. He had to start over again. So he would first go to the person he trusted the most, other than Squall. Ma Dincht.
Strangely, Irvine understood why Zell had run from them, from Squall. Though he had not spoken a word. His opaque blue eyes glittered sadly like stars and spoke stronger than a thousand words could. They would be suspected for their Commander's disappearance, and all their hard work and effort to become SeeDs would have gone down the porcelain by then. Sending an apologetic look at Headmaster Cid, Irvine too ran off.
Selphie was his life. She stayed with him despite his constant lapses of judgement with other women. But this time he would return that trust, that love, back; ten-fold. But wouldn't this incident test that trust again? Likely. But it was a chance he was willing to take with her.
Quistis sat on a tall stone, watching the babbling brook and its tiny inhabitants. The sky was a majestic blue with a bright sun burning in the sky. Not a cloud was seen from East to West, South to North. She snuck a peek at Squall. She was willing to bet her life on the fact that he was not seeing the image she was. But nevertheless, when he turned to look at her, she offered a hand. The instructor was more surprised that he took it!
But soon after the image changed she realized her mistake. She wasn't an instructor anymore. Her life was already taken, from a friend no less, so what was the point of calling herself that? She was an ex-ex-instructor. For a few moments, while she watched the strands of Time pulsate and live, she mused with the idea. Her parents—whoever they were, or are—would not be proud.
An odd idea popped into her head at that moment. If her parents were dead…wouldn't she be able to find them here? After whispering her ideas to Squall, he wrenched his eyes off Rinoa's Timeline and nodded in approval at her idea. Smiling back at him, she patted his shoulder and disappeared into the light.
Time passed as Squall sat on his stone, watching his beloved wife's life. He waited for hours. Or at least what seemed like hours. But soon, someone came to him and patted him on the shoulder, much like Quistis had done. Squall nodded and instantly he knew.
Quistis wasn't coming back. She was happy with her parents. She wasn't coming back. Squall almost cried.
Rinoa didn't walk. She didn't run through Deling City's oddly empty streets. She glided past, her feet just inches from the pavement. Seifer speed walked beside her, gripping his sheathed gunblade tightly with a grim expression. Silence drifted to the air until his thick boots cut through.
Soon, the smoke drifting up into the air beaconed to her. Caraway's house was near. She smiled and watched as Seifer went on the hunt. She made lightning crash down on the earth and Thunder to shake it. She wanted chaos, she wanted death. Especially her father's. The future cackled as Rinoa laughed.
General Caraway used to be a soldier, back about 31 years ago or so. He trained hard, and did his best to actually defeat foes. He had done missions from guerrilla style combat, to gunfights. He knew how to hide from predators, but that didn't mean he was good at it.
Seifer found him easily, for he hid poorly between a thickly covered spot of bright green vegetation. It didn't take long before green was covered with red.
Cid sat in shock beside Phoenix, head in hands. Squall's body had disappeared already. Nothing of his possession existed. His gunblade, his blood, simply was gone. And it seemed, a part of him disappeared as well. Laguna and Ellone, they would most definitely believe him, but would the others? Would the other Headmasters choose him fit to continue to rule over the Garden?
It wasn't fair. He had nothing to live for anymore. Soon, everything he had held dear would be taken away from him. Edea was gone, her spirit up in the heavens. No…she wasn't watching over him, he didn't deserve her guidance.
But she had given it, up until the day she died. She had told him not to send that team of SeeDs and Cadets to Esthar to help clear out the monsters. He had done so, regardless of her pleadings. And now she was dead. He couldn't do a damn thing about it. He shouldn't have sent them. He should have stopped her from going.
Edea had saved lives that day, and for that, Cid was grateful. But he couldn't bare anymore grief than he already had, it was too strong.
She would have been strong enough though. If she was here, he could face anything. As long as they were together. The headmaster wished she was here. If only there was some way to get her back…
However, it was in the past, he had to look out into the future, and make sure no more lives were lost because of General Caraway, or himself.
Squall closed his eyes when that blue strand had fully succumbed to the redness. That soft green line was fighting for its life; he could see it try to hold off the streams of red attacking it. But it was too strong. The evil was too strong. Was evil always destined to destroy good? Or could the forces of evil be held off long enough for heroes to arrive. Squall smiled. He already knew that answer, it was too bad he was going to be on the opposite team this time.
He looked at a clock that floated in front of him. It was almost time to go. At least he would see his daughter before hand. At least Rinoa wouldn't have to mourn.
Seifer came back to her with blood all over his white trench coat. This only gave her confirmation that the deed was done. She had known even before her father's heart had stopped beating that this was to be the future.
She also knew what she had to do, and how to do this. She saw Zell, Irvine and Selphie become a headmaster for each of the Gardens. She saw Seifer's death—by her hands. She saw Quistis happy. She saw SeeDs battle Ultimecia. But most importantly, she saw Squall by her side.
The future would come soon enough. But first she had someone to sacrifice. An eye for an eye. A life for a life.
Life was a fine line you dared not cross, for once you did, you may not ever go back. But it was possible to go back. That is, if you were willing to. Squall didn't want to. He was perfectly fine with spending time with his grown up, yet still unborn daughter. But had no choice in the matter. He would be wrenched from his place in the Afterlife.
It would, in the end, be a curse to all of humanity. Identical blue eyes stared back at him as he began to fade.
"You're going back now aren't you?" Stony faced, Squall nodded and patted the girl—his daughter—gently on the head. She looked so much like her mother! "But isn't it against the rules?" He diverted his eyes. He knew very well that it was against the rules. He knew he would never see his daughter again. Luckily for her, she didn't know that. At least not at the moment.
"Yes it is…" When he was almost translucent, he took off the thick chain around his neck that held the Griever symbol and dropped it in her lap. It immediately clattered as if it were a solid. It was fully opaque. "Keep this Ella, and never lose it. Show it to my friends when they arrive and they'll know what happened to me…" He put his hand in his pocket.
She gave him a slight smile. "Whatever." Returning the smile, he disappeared altogether. And Ella Julia Leonhart knew.
Sacrificing Seifer was a painful process. It took much of her strength, though not all of it. She was more powerful than that! His blood was spilt on the floor of Odin's keep in Centra. Blood patterns decorated the walls like beautiful designs. Nothing was left of the Former Knight's body, save his blood of course.
Squall's ring, Griever, lay sodden in the middle of the round room, covered in bright crimson blood. With this, she would take her husband from the wretched Afterlife, and he would spend all eternity with her and their child.
A bright light burst out from the ring, throwing it up in the air. But Rinoa did not look away. It affected her as little as a slight drizzle of rain would a tree. Finally, the light faded away and before her eyes were the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
Before she could step towards him he gave her that steely gaze and held his arm out, with his palm facing her to stop her in her tracks. It did.
"Stay away from me!"
Humans beings had hearts. Animals—Ruby Dragons, Sphinxaras, Malboros, Grats—they all had hearts. No matter how ugly or inhuman they looked. Every living, breathing thing had a heart. Squall didn't have a heart. Blood did not beat in his veins, or flow from his arteries. His body was dead. His spirit was still alive though. At least he didn't look dead. After taking a quick survey of his appearance, Squall nodded in approval but was quickly detoured; he had another matter to attend to. Rinoa.
He wasn't exactly sure what to do. He was angry at her for tearing him out of his very happy life with his daughter. He was disgusted with what she had become. But she was his wife, and despite everything, he still loved her.
Honestly, Squall couldn't think of the consequences, he just couldn't. He had to follow his heart.
Her feelings were launched into turmoil. Happiness, then a strong sensation of confusion. No…this was beyond confusion…what was wrong with Squall? Why didn't he allow her to touch him? Hold him? Love him? "Squall?" she called out tentatively, stepping towards him. Her dark navy blue gown swayed with her, brushing against the dark floor. She couldn't remember where she had changed into that…but it didn't matter. "What's wrong honey?" He frowned. His face seemed as if it was chiselled out of stone, yet…a frown appeared on his face… "Squall?" His eyes, bluer than she had ever seen before took a survey of the walls that circled around him. Splashed with Seifer's blood.
Suddenly he looked down at his gloved hands and almost gaped at them. His face was still rock. "Squall? Please…answer me…what's…what's wrong? Look…I don't know…" Her pleadings seemed to only anger him more. "Squall?" She put one heeled shoe in front of the other slowly, almost hesitantly but then immediately ran towards him. A light, brighter than she had ever seen blinded her and pushed her back against the intricately designed walls that told the only tale of what had really happened.
Rinoa didn't even have to look to see that blood dripped from her wings. Her eyes were on her revived husband who, stood in the middle of the room holding the hilt of his gunblade. Lionheart in his hands was driven deep into the ground; it's blue and gold twinkling in all its glory. She held a gasp in as he stood impassively, eyes digging into her; through her; reading her.
"Squall!" He closed his eyes and put his hand into his pocket.
Together but apart
She frowned. The voice, his voice rang true and clear but his lips moved not an inch.
Eternity and never.
Life and light
"What are you doing!" She screamed a soft wind stirring. No windows were present in the bloodied room. Nor an open door. "Squall?"
Death and darkness
Twice the sight
May it be not forever.
She ran towards him, her wings giving her some kind of advantageous speed. But she couldn't reach him. Why? What had she done to him that was so wrong! She had only loved him with her whole being…
"Squall!" Dead eyes looked at her. A translucent blue. It took just moments for her to realize that his whole body was translucent. He was disappearing!
"I'm sorry Rinoa…I can't stay…" His voice was hollow, lifeless.
"Squall? Please let me in! Squall! What's happening?" His eyes dropped to the ground in front of her.
"You brought me back from the edge of insanity. You helped me find my home in Limbo. You were a rock that I held onto when Ultimecia tried to push me away into the tides of time. You gave me a family. But this…You resurrect me from a life of…of happiness with Quistis and our daughter! I can't forgive that. I can't forgive you for it either." Tears immediately came to her eyes. He was leaving! He was going back!
"Squall…please don't go…" She cried, putting her hands on the invisible shield holding her back. "I don't understand…Squall!" He smiled at her.
"I'm doing this for the future…" He whispered. Something burst inside of her. It's surged forward in such away, she, herself, was surprised, and somewhat alarmed. What was happening to her? With a single hand, she dispersed the shield separating her from her husband and swept him up in tides of energy.
He didn't even flinch. But that did not erase the fact that he was still disappearing. If he disappeared a second time…then…she wasn't going to let him slip though her fingers a second time.
It was coming, the end—the beginning. The beginning of the end…either one, it was coming regardless. He had no need to prepare himself for the blow; he was already feeling its affects. Would he always be this emotionless? No…he wouldn't…at least not yet…he still had many lessons to learn. For one, how not to love.
Rinoa's eyes burned with fury, accusing him of betrayal. But what betrayal had he done to her, he had let himself leave the afterlife to be with her. He had protected his daughter from the truth, thereby lying to her. Life was not fair. He had learnt that long ago. But all he could think of was how, because of her, their daughter would not be able to. He could not find the strength to tell her of their child's demise. She would have to learn of it herself.
He stood strong, unwavering in his place as a burst of magic flew at him from his wife's outstretched hands. The last thing he saw was the blood of his rival before everything went dark.
I'm so sorry…
Its fine…I'll be okay…
No you won't…you'll just continue to ignore me and be cold to me and…I can't take it anymore!
Of course you can't…I was never cold to you…
Hyne…I know I did something wrong…but I didn't mean to…you made me do this Squall…
Did I? No…I didn't make you do anything. Everything you've done was a repercussion of your past. Of the future. It's all set Rin. We just have to live it out.
Hyne…you've changed already.
I've changed a long time ago…you just don't choose to see it.
I wish I did…then maybe it would have worked out differently. I mean…we could have been happy! You would be standing beside with your gunblade and everything and we could just live out our lives on Centra. Or Esthar with your father and Ellone.
And then what? When you die, and you have to transfer your powers off to another innocent woman. Hyne…Rin, you have three times the powers that previous sorceress' had…you would have ruined the timelines.
What are you talking about?
…nothing. Nevermind, I shouldn't have told you anything.
You'll know soon enough…
It's something bad isn't it?
Yeah it is…but on the bright side, we get to have a jolly ol' visit with the Dad.
What's wrong with Laguna?
SQUALL! Hyne, you're such a bastard, you answer me like I'm nothing to you! Do you like playing games with me!
No I don't. But I have to. I love you.
I love you too Squall and there's no avoiding. We have to talk with Laguna.
You forget a bit of the puzzle Rinny…
I can't object to anything you say. You turned me into Griever remember? Or did you forget…?
Oh…yeah…but you're happy this way right?
I'm happy as I can be Rin…
…Should he have told her the truth? Should he have told her that he was the happiest when he was with her, despite what she had done and what she was inevitably going to do? No…he wouldn't tell her that. Of course he couldn't, it was all part of the plan. Everything made sense to him and eventually it would to her as well. But he knew that it wouldn't be in the near future.
Squall saw everything that she saw. He couldn't very well walk by himself, at least not yet. And it was a definite possibility that they wouldn't be let within a hundred yards of Esthar if he was.
Rinoa walked calmly through the crowded walks. Many were armed well, though it was not often the creatures of the Lunar Cry would traverse past the boarders. Not anymore anyway.
For once, he actually looked forward to see Laguna. He could just imagine the face he would get. Squall would have laughed if he could. But now, he couldn't do anything without his Sorceress' permission. But then again…was he still her knight? He wasn't a human anymore, that was obvious, but…could he still protect her when she couldn't by herself?
Squall would make sure that she would get the proper protection; he was going to protect her, even if it took years to do so. He had to be the strongest GF…the others wouldn't be able to protect her. But the Ultimate GF could.
It seemed Laguna did not take well for his son being turned into a GF. Neither did Kiros…or Ward…or Ellone. Especially Ellone. It seemed everyone was unhappy with her decisions. Everything just wasn't going right!
It wasn't supposed to be like this! They were supposed to go to Winhill and raise a family! They were supposed to live happily ever after. Rinoa needed change! She just couldn't live in the disappointment and disgust her friends would surely throw at her. A way to fix everything was what she had to think of. Maybe…She couldn't change time could she? If she could somehow go back in time…then everything would be alright…
Maybe…just maybe…when they're in the past, she could make time stop so they could live where they were the happiest; when they were the happiest…
Maybe…just maybe if Ellone accepts her proposition, it could work…
Maybe…just maybe, if she could just remember why the idea felt so wrong, she would figure out another way.
But she couldn't remember, no matter how much she tried. And Squall wasn't telling. So Rinoa stuck with the plan.
Time was going to stop, one way or the other. Maybe then she and Squall could have their happy ending.
Author's Final Notes-OMG! It's over! OH well…I'm kind of glad it is, after all, it took waaaay too much of my time to write this. Heck, this was a bitch to edit. But it's all good.
If you're confused, send the questions you may have to me via review or e-mail and I'll try to e-mail back.
Thanks for all the awesome reviewers who had given this darned fic a chance!
Please remember to review, review review! Constructive Criticism is totally welcome! And of course, if Rinoa seems a little out of character near the end, well…it was pretty much with purpose. At least, I HOPE she's out of character a little bit…and I apologize for any other OOC stuff.
Also, if you could, please try and read my other fics! Thanks for everything!