Chapter One: A Kiss Makes It Better
All Standard Disclaimers Apply: I do not own Final Fantasy or anything associated with it.
"Mommy, I'm going to get some funnel cake!"
Julia Heartilly looked over her shoulder and gave a nod of approval at the six year old waving a five gil in the air. Naturally highlighted dark hair bounced in pig tails on either side of a heart shaped face. "All right," she chuckled as her daughter beamed. "Just be careful! Don't run into the fields!"
Rinoa merely rolled large brown eyes and nodded. "I know!" she exclaimed before rushing out of the tent. She grinned, finally glad to be allowed out of her mother's tent. She looked over her shoulder at the beautiful woman going over photographs with some customers.
She hated coming to these tournaments with her mother. She always go so bored and any other kids her age were actually PART of the tournament. Julia Heartilly was a small time photographer who spent her weekends taking photographs at children's soccer games. Rinoa didn't understand why her mom even bothered to work...probably because she liked it, not because they needed the money. After all, daddy provided them with everything.
A big house, a nice car, plenty of people to do their work for them, and all her neat toys. She frowned and looked down as she walked along side a soccer field on her way to the snack tent. She should've brought that portable electronic game device her dad had bought her the other day. That would've kept her occupied.
Suddenly, a voice cut through her thoughts."WATCH OUT!"
"Huh?" The pig tailed girl looked up and her eyes grew large as saucers. A spinning black and white sphere was hurtling towards her. Too stunned to move out of the way, the child stood there, frozen in time as the ball seemed to slow down before descending upon her. Her mouth barely had time to open. "AHHHH!"
She was dead. She had to be.
"OhmyHyne! Hey! Hey!" She was hearing voices in the distance and slowly consciousness returned. She winced.
It was going to hurt. It was going to hurt a lot and she knew it. Rinoa felt like she'd just had a brick thrown at her. Slowly, she tried to open her eyes and grimaced as a dull throbbing pain shot through her left eye. Almost instantly, she burst into tears.
"MOOOOMMMMMMMYYYYY!" She shrieked tearfully as she her left eye began to swell. She could barely open her right eye - the good eye - through the tears as she struggled to sit up.
"Rinoa! Rinoa!" a female voice was screaming in the distance.
"Mommy!" Rinoa screamed again as she felt hands on her, trying to keep her from kicking and screaming as more pain made itself known with consciousness.
"Oh my Hyne! Rinoa!" Julia swept through the crowd that had gathered around her daughter and gathered in her arms protectively. She reached down, kneeling right next to the fallen child as she gently caressed the loosened dark bangs out of Rinoa's bruised face. "Oh, baby...what happened?"
Rinoa couldn't stop crying. It was hurting so badly. She could feel it with every beat of her heart. All she had wanted was to get some sweet tasting funnel cake...perhaps with some whipped cream, sugar, and strawberries. Not to get hit by a soccer ball.
"Squall! Squall! Get over here!" a male voice barked with authority somewhere behind her. "Apologize!"
Rinoa's tiny shoulders were heaving up and down as she struggled to stop her hysterical crying. Julia cradled her little girl in her arms, gently assuring her that everything would be okay as she screamed for someone to get her baby ice for her eye.
"It's okay, baby," Julia told her softly as she rested her cheek against Rinoa's head. "It's okay..."
"It hurts!" Rinoa exclaimed in her high pitched voice.
"Someone call the medical tent! And will someone just get my daughter some ice! NOW!" Julia growled protectively, not bothering to keep her glare up long enough to watch some people run off in all directions to get assistance.
"Mam," a deep voice said above her. Julia looked up, still cradling Rinoa against her. A tall, skinny, dark skinned man stood above her, embarrassed. "I'm sorry about that. It was one of my boys that kicked that ball." He was apparently the team's coach from the way he was dressed and how he held a clip board with one hand.
Julia merely nodded dumbly before returning to her attention to her daughter. "What's done is done," she said with a stern frown. "But you should not be the one apologizing."
"I'm aware of that," the coach said. He looked down sharply to his right and reached down to grab the collar of one of the boys. "I'm sure HE has something to say as well."
Julia looked up and saw a skinny brown haired boy frowning miserably as he was shoved forward. He turned back and shot an angry ice blue glare back up at his coach before looking down at the woman. "Sorry." he mumbled quietly.
Julia rolled her eyes. "Your apology goes to my DAUGHTER, not me." she told him matter of factly.
The brown haired, blue eyed boy let out a heavy sigh and looked back at his coach. "Kiros-"
"Apologize to the young lady, Squall. NOW." Kiros ordered sternly. Squall winced, knowing that when his father found out, he'd be dead.
Grumbling to himself, Squall turned back to the little girl locked in her mother's embrace. "Hey," he said in an annoyed voice. "Hey! I'm trying to apologize!"
Rinoa was still shaking. Her eye hurt and worse yet, she couldn't open it - it was so swollen. 'I'm never going to see again!' she thought to herself, horrified.
"Baby...he's trying to say he's sorry..." her mother's soft voice told her.
Reluctantly, Rinoa turned her head and through her blurry vision, saw the little boy standing there. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. He didn't look like he wanted to apologize. Instead, upon seeing her bruised face, he wrinkled his nose and frowned. "Sorry about your face."
"Oh Hyne." Kiros sighed exasperatedly as he ran his hand down his face.
"Yeah!" another little boy's voice shouted behind Squall. Rinoa could barely make out the blond head of a little boy on the same team as the one that kicked the ball in her face. "Sorry it's so ugly!"
"That's it! Seifer, you're benched for the rest of the game!" Kiros growled.
"What?" the blond boy gasped with shock. "Why?"
"You KNOW why, young man! Now get your butt on the bench!" Kiros ordered. Seifer growled and threw the ball, the one that probably hit Rinoa, on the ground violently as he stalked off the field.
"I didn't even do anything, Squall was the one who hit the girl! Why do I have to get punished?" he snorted as he passed them. "This isn't fair!"
Squall looked up at Kiros with a glare. "You can't take him off! He's a mid fielder!"
"You are, too! Don't worry about it. Zell will take this place," Kiros told him. He glanced back at Rinoa. "What else do you have to say?"
Squall let out another resentful breath and turned to Rinoa. "Yeah," he said with a frown. "Watch where you're going next time."
Rinoa's good eye widened and before Kiros even had a chance to reprimand the young player, Squall was tackled to the ground by a furious five year old girl. "You big meanie! You're the one that hit me and you can't even say sorry! I hate you! I hate you!"
"Rinoa!" Julia shrieked as she jumped up and scrambled towards her daughter.
"Get her off of me!" Squall shouted as he lifted his arms to block Rinoa's weak hits. He was breathing hard after she had knocked the wind out of him. He was laying on his back, Rinoa on sitting on his stomach as she threw her fists at him angrily. He could hear his teammates cheering him on, telling him to fight back and not let a little sissy girl beat him.
"Okay, that's enough!" Kiros said sternly.
The weight was lifted off of Squall and he lowered his arms to find at the little girl's mother had pulled her daughter off of him and had fallen back on her butt. The little girl didn't seem ready to give up her fight and was still trying to claw at him. "Rinoa!" her mother told her sharply.'
"Get up," Kiros said. "Mam, I'm really sorry-"
"No, no..." Julia sighed tiredly as she shook her head. "Rinny has such a temper...I'm sorry for her tackling your player."
"Meanie!" Rinoa yelled at Squall one last time as he got up off the grass and brushed himself off. "You'll pay for this!" She added, trying to sound intimidating like her daddy.
"Rinoa, can you get up?" Her mother's voice reached her ears and Rinoa looked up. She nodded slowly and teared up, nearly bringing herself to tears as the sudden movement sent another wave of pain from her left eye. "Come on, baby. Let's get you to the first aid tent."
Rinoa nodded and with the help of her mother stood up on shaking legs. She looked down and frowned. Her white overalls were stained with green from grass after she was throw backwards by the force of the ball. Julia took Rinoa's hand and slowly began leading her away. She turned her head back slightly and glared at Squall one last time.
Squall watched as the little girl left. She was lucky she had a mom who took care of her like that. He didn't mean to hit her, but she was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Her flushed red face, stained with tears would go away by the end of the day, but the bruise the ball left over her eye would take a while to heal.
"Squall!" he heard Kiros' voice call him from the distance. "C'mon! Let's go! We have a game to finish!"
The stoic little boy merely nodded his head. As he turned around, he saw a small wad of gil on the grass. He narrowed his eyes and vaguely remember the little girl heading in the direction of the snack tent.
"Squall!" one of his other teammates shouted. "Let's GO!"
"Coming!" He swept down and grabbed the money, shoving it behind his shin pads before running on to the field.
Rinoa sat on a chair in the corner of her mother's booth. Julia was about to pack up and leave, but Rinoa said she was fine. She knew how much her mother loved spending her weekends outside at her little side job, even if it was unnecessary. And if nothing would Rinoa hurt more than her bruised eye, it was the disappointment she knew her mother would feel for having to leave her photography stand. And no throbbing pain of Rinoa's was going to make her mommy sad.
Instead, she sat down contentedly licked the remainders of an ice cream off her pink lips. One of the people in the first aid tent bought her one and soon everyone was buying the poor little girl sweets to eat. Rinoa smiled to herself. Maybe it wasn't so bad...
"Just let me finish up this order and then we'll pack up and go home, okay, baby?" Julia asked as she looked over her shoulder.
The swelling in Rinoa's eye had gone down since that morning and Rinoa had spent several hours laying down on one of the spare tables, over her mom's jacket, with an ice pack over her eye. At one point, she thought her eyeball had frozen over and she spent a few seconds poking it until she felt feeling again.
Her stomach grumbled and she frowned. Candy and sugar would only take her so far...and she never did get what she had set out to attain. Her eyes looked out past the soccer field and to the funnel cake tent, which was being taken down. Now she'd never have a chance to get one.
"Here," a voice said suddenly. Rinoa looked up from behind the table she was sitting in front of and saw a paper plate holding a fresh, hot, whipped cream topped funnel cake in front of her. "That's what you wanted, right?"
Crystal clear blue eyes were looking at her curiously and Rinoa jerked her head back defensively. "What do you want?" she snapped.
"Do you want it or not?" Squall asked as he pushed the plate with a fork stabbed in it closer to her. "Well?"
Just then, Rinoa's stomach grumbled and she dropped her head slightly. She took a deep breath and looked up proudly. "Why?"
"What do you mean?" Squall asked.
"Why'd you get me cake?" she fumed. Mommy was right, boys were dumb. Obviously they couldn't comprehend simple speech.
Squall rolled his eyes. "That's where you were going, right? Before I hit you with the ball? I found your money," he said as he dug into his pocket. He lifted his hand and showed her the wadded gil she had left behind. "Here." He lifted up his hand and held up the gil in his palm.
Rinoa tilted her head to the side. Reluctantly she reached over and swiped the gil from his slightly larger hand before bringing it back in front of her to examine. It looked like her money. She looked up at him. "Then how'd you pay for this?"
"Don't worry about it," Squall told her. "I just wanted to say sorry for hitting you earlier," he admitted as he looked down at his cleat clad feet. "I didn't mean to. I didn't even see you there."
Rinoa looked down at the funnel cake and picked up the fork. She poked into it and took a bite. "It's good..." she admitted. "Thank you."
Squall looked up and watched her eat her cake. "My dad says real men don't hit women and girls," Squall told her suddenly. Rinoa paused and looked up. "But I hit you."
"It was an accident," Rinoa shrugged. "My eye hurts, but it's okay. Mommy says it'll go away soon."
"I hope you get better real soon then." Squall told her. He walked around the table and looked around. His father was still speaking to the little girl's mother and they didn't even seem to notice them. Rinoa was trying to ignore him and tried to finish up her funnel cake before her mother said it was time for them to pack up and leave.
"This is good cake..." she mumbled.
Suddenly, she felt something warm and moist press against the corner of her bruised eye. Her eyes flew wide open and she whirled around to see the little soccer player running back around the table, his face red and downcast. "My Sis says that my mom used to do that to make things get better!" he insisted loudly. "I don't like you anything! Bye!"
With that he ran towards the front of the vendor booth and grabbed his father's hand. Rinoa watched, open mouthed as he dragged his father away from the conversation. Her mother seemed flustered and shook her head as he walked away reluctantly.
"Mommy?" Rinoa asked softly.
Julia looked down at her daughter and smiled. "Isn't he sweet?" she asked her daughter in a slightly sad voice. "He bought you that cake you wanted to say he's sorry...That's a gentleman..."
"Are you okay, mommy?" Rinoa asked. Her mother's face was flushing red. "Do you want some cake?" she asked, offering her mother a small piece on her plastic fork.
Julia shook her head and smiled softly. She knelt down in front of Rinoa and hugged her tightly. "No, baby...no, that's all right..." She buried her face in Rinoa's hair and inhaled her daughter's scent lovingly. She slowly pulled away and smiled. "You finish up your cake while I pack up. Then we'll go home, okay?"
Rinoa smiled and nodded her head carefully. "Okay, mommy!" she beamed before digging back into her funnel cake.
Squall felt his father stop behind him and turned around. The older man's head was turned and looked back at the vendor's booth they were just at. "You did a good thing, Squall. I'm proud of you."
Squall rolled his eyes. "It's just cake, dad."
"No, not just that," Laguna looked back at his son. "Kiros told me that the little girl knocked you to the ground and started hitting you."
Squall snorted. "So?" He asked confidently as he crossed his arms over his chest. "I can take her. I'm a boy."
"You could've, but you didn't," Laguna said as he began to walk again. "I've seen you fight with Seifer... you could've hit that girl."
"I already hit her once," Squall said. "No need to make her other side ugly."
"I'm serious, Squall," Laguna told him calmly. "I'm glad you didn't hit that little lady back. Real men don't hit women...no matter how much they may deserve it."
Squall wasn't paying attention. They had reached the black Bentley his father rode in. One of his father's associates opened the door for them as they approached and Squall scrambled in. "So what are we going to do now?"
The door closed and Laguna looked out the tinted glass once more before looking at his son. "We get out of Galbadia before Caraway finds out that you accidentally gave his daughter a black eye," Laguna told him in a dry, yet slightly amused voice. He pressed a button over head. "Ward, take us home!"
"Will he be mad?" Squall asked. He frowned as he looked down at his hands. Caraway...where had he heard that name before?
"I don't know," Laguna told him truthfully. "But I don't his organization hunting us down as retribution for harming his little princess' face. I'm sure Julia won't tell him, though...it's too much trouble."
Organization...Squall frowned. He let out a grown and ran his hand down his face. How could he had been so careless? He just gave the daughter of the most powerful Galbadian crime syndicate's leader a BLACK EYE. He froze. AND HE KISSED HER! Squall turned red and scowled in his seat. He'd see how angry his father had been when he caught Sis kissing one of their men...and he had just kissed that little girl!
Squall buried his face in his knees. He was dead. He could never show his face on the field again...Not only after he injured General Caraway's daughter, but because he'd been completely off target during the game. 'It's all down hill from here...' he decided. "I'm quitting soccer." he declared miserably.
"What? Why? You love soccer!" Laguna gasped. Squall shook his head.
"I'll take up something else," Squall spat out. "But no more soccer."
"Something else!" Squall growled. Laguna backed down from his son and looked down at his hands. He nodded, understandingly. They drove along for a few moments in silence.
"Your mom used to play the guitar," Laguna told him as he looked out the window. "You should try that."
"I'm FINE, daddy," Rinoa assured the older man as he knelt down in front of her and surveyed her bruised eye. "Mommy said it'll go away."
"You're a tough soldier, Rinny," General Caraway said with a slightly frown. The retired military man and leader of Galbadia's biggest underground organization brushed back his daughter's high lighted bangs. "Just in case, you should see a doctor."
Rinoa paled and shrieked as she ran for cover. "No! No! I don't want to go!" She practically dove under Julia's piano bench in her desperate attempt to escape her fate.
"I told you not to use the 'd' word!" Julia scolded her husband as she crossed her arms. She turned to her daughter. "Rinoa, calm down-"
"Every time I go! I have to get shots!"
"That's because they're your yearly physical, baby," Julia sighed. "If it's down by the end of the week, we won't take you to the doctor."
Rinoa peeked out from underneath her mother's piano bench and slowly crawled out. Her father turned to the door way of the parlor in their massive house and yelled for Rinoa's nanny to come. "Get her washed up for dinner," he told the older woman as she scurried in and took Rinoa's hand. "Julia, what was going through your head letting Rinoa get hit by a soccer ball!" the man said as he turned to his wife.
"You sound as if I put her directly in front of it!" Julia gasped with shock. "It was an accident! Do you honestly think I'd want my baby hurt?"
"Well, obviously, you weren't paying attention and neglecting our daughter. That's just as bad if not worse," Rinoa turned around and heard her parents' voice rising behind her. She winced as she heard her mother reply something sharply. She heard her father growl once more before she was taken upstairs and out of listening range. "That's it, no more vendor business! From now on, you're staying HERE!"
"What?" Julia gasped in horror. "What are you saying?"
"Your main concern should be Rinoa's safety and well being! Not taking pictures of other people's children!" General Caraway told her sternly. He narrowed his eyes at his wife. "Especially not HIS."
Julia took a step back and narrowed her own eyes at him. "What are you talking about?" she hissed in a low, defensive voice.
"Don't try to act as if you don't know, Julia," General Caraway told her furiously. He took a small slip of paper from his pocket and slid it across the top of the grand piano so it stopped before Julia. "What do you think this is? You told me you'd never see him again!"
Julia's beautiful face paled as she looked down at the picture. It couldn't have been taken earlier than a few hours ago. It was somewhat blurry, but it was obvious who was in the picture. The tall, long haired fighter that once worked for the Caraways was standing in front of her. The only thing between them was a table where she had placed the displays for her photographs.
"You had someone follow me?" she whispered in a low voice. She looked up at her husband accusingly. "You don't trust me?"
"And with good reason-" he began condescendingly.
"I didn't even KNOW he was even going to be there!" Julia screeched as she threw the picture back at him. "Hyne damn you, Caraway! Ten years we've been together and you STILL don't trust me!" Tears rimmed her deep brown eyes as she shook her head. "You bastard...!"
"How dare you call me that?" Caraway growled as he stomped over to her. "How many times have you met him already! How many?"
Julia was in tears as his hands clamped down on her slim shoulders. "I stayed with you when everything was going to hell! I stayed with you and gave you a daughter! And the ONE time it so happens that Laguna shows up in Deling City for a Hyne damned soccer tournament and approaches me, you automatically think that I'm cheating on you!"
"How can I believe you?" Caraway demanded furiously, his grip on his wife loosening as her face turned red from her shaken panting. "I'm not so old as not to remember how much you two love each other! Feelings like that don't die so easily, Julia!"
"But I love you now!"
"You expect me to believe that?"
The woman was sobbing now, her head downcast as her shoulders rocked. "I didn't know he was going to be there...it was all a coincidence..." Julia sobbed. She looked up at him and saw the disbelief in his eyes and fury over took her as she shoved him away. "Why don't you believe me?" She cried out. Caraway winced. He hated seeing his wife cry.
"Julia..." he began softly. "I'm sorry...I just-"
"No! You always do this!" Julia cried. "Why? Why don't you trust me?"
The woman whirled around and ran out of the room. "Julia! JULIA!" Caraway ran after her. The men who were guarding the doorway easily stepped out of Julia's way. She was the mistress of the house and their leader's beloved wife, after all.
It wasn't until they heard Caraway's voice calling out his wife's name that they knew something was wrong. Julia burst through the front doors, tears still in her eyes as she stumbled out into the middle of the street in front of their uptown townhouse.
Rinoa ran down the stairs as she heard her father screaming. Dressed in light pink bath robe, about to head to the tub for her nightly bath, she gripped the railing of the marble staircase just as she watched her mother run out of the house.
"Mommy?" she mumbled as her father flew past her.
Screeching tires was heard and Rinoa's body froze at the bottom of the stairs. Her father's men ran out of the house, several almost knocking Rinoa over in their rush. A feeling of dread filled her tiny body as she began to take steps to the door.
"Julia? Julia? Speak to me! Julia?" she could hear her father's frantic sobbing as she reached the open door way.
Her brown eyes widened as she felt her heart stop. Her mother was laying on the cold cement in front of their house, her face covered in blood as her father cradled her mother's body, not caring if his own expensive suit was soiled. His hand grasped Julia's tightly.
"I never betrayed you..." Julia gasped out as blood bubbled out of her mouth.
"I know..." Caraway mumbled painfully as his wife closed his eyes. Her body went limp. "Julia?" He swallowed nervously. "Julia...?"
He heard soft footsteps approaching and saw a small shadow cast by the street light go over his wife's body. He looked up, knowing he would regret it. Rinoa's small figure stood there and she fell to her knees next to her mother's blood soaked body.
She bent down and kissed her mother's forehead. "Get better, mommy..." she whispered, even thought deep down, she knew it was too late.
"Rin..." Her father whispered, his voice twisted with pain.
"It's okay, daddy," Rinoa told her father cheerfully as she smiled up at him. "Someone told me that a kiss makes things get better." General Caraway closed his eyes tighten and draped his body over Julia's. Rinoa lifted her hand to her cheeks. She was crying.
Seventeen years later...
"Mommy! It HURTS!" Rinoa turned her head just as she walked up the steps to the train station. She looked across the street and smiled sadly at the little girl who was sitting on the bench.
A scrapped knee seemed to be her source of pain as she cried, red faced, for her mother to come and make it better. "Don't worry, honey," a soft, calming voice assured the child. Rinoa watched as a woman in jeans and a pale blue sweater knelt down in front of the little girl and wiped her owie with a damn napkin. She lowered her head and kissed her daughter's knee. "See...all better?"
"Kind of..." the little girl whimpered as she rubbed the tears out of her eyes. Rinoa smiled and looked back up at where she was going.
Just as she reached the station's platform, she heard a whistle. "No..." Rinoa mumbled as her brown eyes widened. "No!"
"Please step away from the yellow line," the automated voice said. "Stay away from the yellow line."
In front of her, a train began to depart. "Hey!" Rinoa gasped as she ran after it. "Wait! No! You can't leave! I'm not on you yet!" she cried out in vain.
The train paid no attention to the petite young woman as it rolled out of the station, speeding up as it did. Rinoa stumbled to a stop close to the edge of the platform and panted as she hunched over and tried to regain her breath. She looked up hesitantly and groaned as she watched the train disappear.
It was gone. Rinoa stood up straight and ran a hand down her face before turning around and looking at the clock by the station wall. Sure enough, she was one minute late.
'You just HAD to stop and stare at the little kid, didn't you?' her mind scolded her as she slowly made her way to the nearest bench to wait. 'You KNEW that the train was going to leave soon. You KNEW, but no...good old responsible Rinoa...just HAD to stay and watch...'
"Grr..." Rinoa fell back against the metal bench and laid down over it. She looked at the clock against the wall once again. "Twenty minutes until the next train...great..."
She looked around the train station platform. There wasn't any one else and she sighed with relief. Now she didn't have to feel so guilty for taking up the entire bench. It was ten past twelve at night and she mentally cursed herself for her dedication to her students.
She should've done what Selphie said and canceled or rescheduled on the Strife boy's tutoring lesson for the night. But no...instead of going to the winter holiday party they were throwing at their apartment, she felt it was her sense of duty as a educator to go the extra mile to help her struggling student.
Rinoa sighed as she looked up at the glass canopy that went over the platform and up at the star lit sky above her. Right now, Selphie was probably drunk and hogging the microphone to the karaoke machine, singing some crazed song about trains. Ironic because a train just left her...
Her other roommate, Zell would probably be doing his rendition of his made up super hero - Lamp Shade Man. Zell would turn into Lamp Shade Man once his blood alcohol level reached a certain point. He would grab the lamp shade of Quistis' lamp and put it on his head while singing his 'theme song', which strangely enough went along to the tune of Selphie's train song.
And Quistis would be there, desperately trying to keep things under control. Even while intoxicated, Quistis would act sober and would scold them on what they were doing. She was probably currently chasing Zell around the room, screaming at him to return her lamp shade to it's rightful owner - the lamp. All while trying to get Selphie to get off the microphone before she threw up on it.
Rinoa sighed. "And to think I could be there now with them..." she smiled to herself and closed her eyes. Just as she was about to pass out into blissful sleep, her cell phone rang. She sat up quickly and began to pat down her puffy snow parka like jacket, looking for her phone. She finally found it buried in her breast pocket. "Hello?"
"RINOA!" an over cheerful voice yelled into the phone. Rinoa winced as she tore the little device away from her ear and glared at it. "It's MEEEEE!" a slurred female voice introduced herself.
"Selphie?" Rinoa gasped. She held the phone a little bit a way from her ear. "You're totally drunk!"
"Nuh-uh!" the green eyed brunette at the other end of the line denied. "I'm not drunk! I'm smashed!"
"It's the same thing..." Rinoa mumbled. She rolled her eyes. "So how's the party?"
"Party? What party?" There was a loud crash and Rinoa jumped as she looked at the phone. "Oh! THAT party! It's going good."
"Sounds wild," Rinoa smiled weakly. 'Oh Hyne...tomorrow is going to be a pain to clean up, I just know it...'
"That's just because we let a bunny loose!" Selphie laughed. Rinoa raised an eyebrow.
"Bunny...?" Rinoa asked. "Selphie, we don't have an..." Rinoa's heard stopped in her chest as she jumped off the bench. "OH MY HYNE! Did you let Angelo out of my room?"
"Here, puppy-bunny!" Selphie was cooing carefully. "Come here..., puppy-bunny! Your mommy wants to speak to you!"
Rinoa felt the corner of her lip twitch. 'You have to be kidding me...'
"Selphie, is that Rinoa?" a stern voice was heard.
"No! It's Miss Heartilly!"
"Give me the phone, Selphie-"
"No! It's my phone!"
"Give it to me!" Rinoa winced as the sounds of struggling could be heard. There were a few more crashes and someone let out a whiny 'ow' before the owner of the stern female voice answered. "Don't worry about Angelo, I put her back in your room."
"Thank you, Quistis..." Rinoa sighed. "Are you guys doing okay? I heard...things falling."
"Zell got his head stuck in the lamp shade again," Quistis sighed tiredly. "I honestly don't know why we keep having this parties if all that ever happens is drunken singing and Lamp Shade Man."
"TRAIINNNNSSS!" a voice was singing horribly off key the back ground.
"Selphie! Put the microphone down!" Quistis yelled. She turned back to the phone. "Speaking of trains, where are you?"
"I missed the last train by a minute," Rinoa frowned bitterly. "I'm waiting for the next one. It should be here in a few minutes. I'll be home soon."
"Okay then," Quistis told her worriedly. "Be careful on your walk back here. Bye."
"Bye, Quisty," Rinoa smiled as she hung up her phone. She looked up at the clock and smiled. "Five more minutes..."
She walked towards the edge of the platform and looked down the line to see if she could visibly spot the on coming train. She sighed when she couldn't see it and took a few steps back, tightening her coat around her slim body.
It had been a relatively cold couple of days in the technologically advanced City of Esthar and, upon Quistis' insistence, she had brought with her a heavy jacket and a scarf. Upon putting on both items, she felt as if she were going to play in the snow, not walk to the train station and back. She sighed. It didn't matter, so long as she was nice and warm and safe.
Rinoa frowned. "Today just isn't my day..." Reluctantly, she turned around towards the direction where the screaming was heard and narrowed her eyes.
"I LOVE YOU!" a series of wild female voice was shouting. Rinoa raised an eyebrow in question. She understood the first three screams, but the last one?
From the stairwell, she saw someone's head racing up. He was wearing a baseball hat that cast a shadow over his pale face as he ran up the stairs. Rinoa frowned. He didn't LOOK like a mugger...dressed in almost skin tight leather pants and a zipped up leather jacket.
Rinoa stood there and stared as she heard the sound of footsteps running up the station stairs. Suddenly, the young man who had stopped at the top of the stairs turned and saw her. For a moment, they almost locked gazes as he seemed to be studying her. Confused, the young brunette looked around, wondering if there was something else he was looking at.
The sound of a train whistle blew in the distance and Rinoa turned around and looked back down the track. She saw the train coming up to the station and smiled. It was an Express, meaning she'd get home faster than she originally expected. Just as the train pulled up to the platform, someone grabbed her hand.
"What the-" she began as she whirled around.
"Stop!" A male voice shouted. Rinoa jerked her head back and followed the length of the arm that held hers up to the same man who she had seen running up the stairs.
"Squall! Squall!" His name on the lips of dozens of female girls caught her attention and she snapped her head to the side. Her eyes widened as she saw a large group of young woman approaching him gleefully.
"Stop right there!" the man said. From the sound of his voice and the movements of his body, Rinoa assumed that he wasn't much older than her. He suddenly lifted her arm and she let out a little yelp. "This is my girlfriend!" he announced suddenly. "We're on a date!"
'What.' Rinoa's eyes stared at him blankly, unable to believe her ears. Reluctantly, she glanced back at the crowd of girls and saw that they had stopped in their tracks and were staring at them, slack jawed. Apparently, they couldn't believe it either.
"This is the last call for Train 24 to Western Esthar. It is the last train from this station to the Western Esthar station tonight." the speaker system blared.
Rinoa's eyes darted to the train. "The train!" she gasped.
She felt the young man's eyes on hers quickly before they looked over at the train. A sly smirk went across his lips and he looked back at his admirers. He lowered Rinoa's arm and, without a second thought, pulled her through the doors and into the train car before she had a chance to protest.
The doors slid closed as they landed against a seat across the doors. Rinoa's eyes widened and she looked up. She could barely make out the slight triumphant smile on his face before she pushed herself off of him and stumbled backwards with a sudden jerk of the train.
She looked back towards the closed doors as the warning bell rang. Through the two window panes, she saw the shocked jaws of young women, staring confused at them. The young man who had dragged her into the train with him stood up, his lips in a smirk as the train started moving.
Rinoa looked around and grabbed on to the metal bars to help herself up. She looked at the young man and frowned. "Okay-" she began, ready to question him.
"Sorry," he said immediately as he turned to look at her. His hat shielded his eyes from view, but she could make out dark bangs. "I didn't mean to get you involved."
Rinoa narrowed her eyes and looked at him suspiciously. "Involved in what?"
"They've been after me for two blocks," the young man admitted reluctantly. He lowered his head and rubbed the back of his neck nervously as his other hand held on to a metal rail. "They just wouldn't let up. I just needed something to stop them enough for me to slip away."
Rinoa's eyes widened. 'Oh my Hyne...he ROBBED something!'
"I didn't steal anything," he added quickly. "If that's what you're thinking."
'Whoa...freaky...how'd he know what I was going to say...?' Rinoa studied him with untrusting eyes. She nodded and jumped as the train hit a bump. She frowned and looked down at her free hand. She had used it to brace some of her fall when they jumped it. She raised and stretched it out. "Damn..." she mumbled as she tugged her glove off to examine her hand.
Her only other companion on the train frowned. "Did I hurt your hand?"
"Huh? Oh, no, I just hit it when we jumped in..." her voice trailed off as he reached out and took her hand in his. She watched with interest as he lowered her head. 'Is he going to...?' Heat shot up her body from her hand as lips grazed the back of it softly. Her mouth suddenly went dry as her face flushed. "What..."
"My mother used to say that a kiss would make it better," he said sheepishly. "I hope it gets better."
Rinoa stared at him as he slowly released her hand. She drew it back slightly, noting the tingly feeling that lingered. "Thanks..." she whispered.
"I'm sorry...this must be very awkward for you," he mumbled. He lifted his free hand and lifted his baseball cap off his head. He ran his other hand through thick brown hair and lifted his head. "But thank you for earlier."
Rinoa found herself lost in ice blue eyes. She swallowed unconsciously as she took in the sight of his face for the first time. For a few seconds, her mind was vacant of all thoughts. She opened her mouth and silently prayed that nothing stupid would come out. "I'm Rinoa Heartilly," Almost immediately she regretted her words. 'Oh yeah...slick, Rinoa...slick...' She offered him a beaming smile.
A shy smile graced his lips as he kept his eyes on hers. "I'm Squall Leon-" he began, but was suddenly cut off.
"First Street Station," A pre-recorded voice echoed through the otherwise empty coach and the locked gaze between the two was broken. "First Street Station. Next stop Western Esthar."
"My stop," he stated simply as he took a step closer to the door. The train was slowing down and it rolled into the station smoothly. He looked back at her as he put his cap back on his head with a firm tug. "Thanks."
"No problem..." she mumbled. She lifted her hand in a feeble wave as the doors slid open and Squall stepped out. He took a few steps away from the train as the doors closed behind him.
She watched his fleeting figure turn around and offer her a little wave as the train began to move away from the station. She smiled slightly and waved back.
Squall watched as the train left the station and shoved his hands into his pocket. Just as he began to walk down the stairs, his mobile phone went off and he quickly retrieved it. "Squall." he stated simply.
"Where are you?" an annoyed male voice said. "You're missing one hell of a party, Squall!"
"I'm on my way home, Irvine." Squall told him calmly as he walked down the street.
"WHAT? Since when? You got out of Nida's watch? How the hell did you manage that?" Irvine gasped in surprise. In the background, Squall heard pumping music and people yelling. "Nevermind. Are you coming back?"
"No," Squall said as he looked up at the darkened sky and frowned as he saw the massive sign just over head. His face looked back at him with a cold glare, one he usually wore. "I've had enough excitement for one night." With that he snapped his phone closed and tossed in nearest trash can.
Author's Note: Hi! Me again. Yes, I wrote something new. I have absolutely no idea where I am going with this...it's a short story, so it shouldn't reach chapters in the double digits. Once I figure out where this is going, I'll continue. Questions? Comments? Concerns?