A/N: Well, I'm not sure what /everyone/ thought of the last chapter so far, but I know I hated it. I know, it was very rushed, probably because I only spent an hour on it just whizzing through the whole thing, but I needed to get it out. I needed to get the story back on track because I was sort of just lolling about with the whole thing and I needed to make it clear the direction the story was headed. However, as I said, I really didn't like how the last chapter went, it seemed that the beginning rushed into her father's amnesia and then suddenly transitioned to something else. I feel I should have added more filling moments between that, which I'm sure some of my more critical reviewers will agree. Anyway, this is a learning process, because though I have other Final Fantasy VIII fanfictions which I believe are much, much better (by far) than this, this is undeniably the most popular.
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VIII belongs to SquareSoft/Enix, not me.
Chapter Forty-Two: Goodbye
It was several hours later when Squall finally awakened. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he turned to get out of his bed and jumped at the sight of Rinoa leaning against his wall, staring at the ground. She seemed to notice his movement, and quickly sat down next to him.
"Hi," She said quietly. Forcing aside the lies Gabriella had tried to give him, he smiled faintly.
"…hey, Rinoa." An awkward silence followed, before Rinoa finally grabbed his hand in hers.
"I went to visit my father," she confessed suddenly. "I had to visit him again, I was feeling… insecure. I thought that…" Her voice was trembling now, and she looked away from him. "I thought that if I saw him, it would make this anxiety go away. That I'd be sure nothing bad was going to happen."
"And did it?" Squall asked quietly. He heard her sniffling, and with a start realized that she was crying. She threw her arms around him, burying her face into his chest. He put his hand on her awkwardly, unsure of what to do.
"No! Oh, Squall… the doctor said there was a risk of him getting amnesia, but I never… I never thought it would happen! But it did, he doesn't remember anything!" She cried hysterically. Amnesia? So suddenly? Well…
"I'm sure he'll remember soon," Squall tried to assure her, though he didn't feel very confident in his statement. Rinoa leaned back and stared at him, wiping the tears from her face.
"You don't understand," She whispered. "You can't… possibly understand. He can't sign the papers, which means my stepmother can tell him anything she wants and he'll believe it! He might never remember any differently! If he doesn't… I won't be able to go back to Balamb with you and your family. I don't want to stay in Deling!" This started the tears again, and she stood up and backed away from him, falling to the floor and burying her face in her hands. "I can't," She moaned. "Not now."
They remained that way for what seemed like eternity, Rinoa crying in her own embrace and Squall staring at her blankly from his bedside. After awhile, he got up and knelt down next to her.
"That… that won't happen," He promised her. She looked up at him.
"It won't happen," He repeated.
"Then… then you'll help me?" She said suddenly, staring at him hopefully. He wasn't sure what he was getting into, but reluctantly he nodded.
"I— yeah. I will." I… don't know what you want me to do Rinoa, but I can't leave you here. But… "It's like she said," he whispered suddenly, feeling confused.
"Sorry?" Rinoa said, having heard him speak.
"N-nothing." It doesn't matter what Rinoa's stepmother said. I… trust Rinoa. I wouldn't be here if I didn't.
Squall breathed on his hands and rubbed them together, trying to keep them warm. Rinoa had gone inside the hospital again to talk to her father, while Squall stayed outside to keep watch for her stepmother. If he saw the older woman at all, he was to try and delay her. Rinoa was going to try and talk to her father to remind him of the promise he had made her, as a desperate attempt to reach him before anyone else could. Squall wasn't sure how well it would work — the way Rinoa had made it sound, her father had been frightened at the sight of her and was very confused about everything that was going on. It wasn't healthy for him to have someone trying to force him to remember things, but telling Rinoa that in her current state had ended up getting him nowhere.
I wonder if she really did take acting lessons, he thought after awhile. She's never mentioned anything about it before… ugh, what am I doing? Allowing someone else to think for me? To manipulate me? Since when have I ever allowed that? This isn't me. I can't lose sight of… who I am. I won't be controlled, by anyone, and I won't be brainwashed.
The parking lot for the hospital was fairly empty due to the time, so when Squall heard the sound of footsteps, he immediately turned to find the source. It wasn't long until a figure was stepping into the light, and Squall saw that it was none other than Devin. He narrowed his eyes and turned away, ignoring the unwelcome teens presence.
"Excuse me, have you seen— oh! You're… Squall, right?" Devin said suddenly with a grin. Squall glanced at him for a moment, before turning away. "Oh, right, forgot. You were the one that doesn't like to talk, Rinoa warned me about that. Oh! Which reminds me. Have you seen her anywhere?"
"No." Squall lied, walking away. Devin was soon cutting in front of him, and Squall was forced to come to a stop.
"Well, if you see her, can you give these to her for me?" Devin held out a bouquet of flowers with a note attached to it. "I know it's not her birthday or anything, but they're her favourites and I figured she could use the boost with her dad's situation. Maybe I'll go see the general," Devin added as an afterthought.
Squall didn't grab the flowers, so Devin put them down on a bench next to him and walked towards the front entrance of the hospital. After several moments, Squall finally turned to the bouquet and unable to resist, grabbed the note attached and opened it up.
always be there for you, Rinoa.
Love always, Devin.
Squall put it down and sat next to it on the bench, leaning back and staring at the sky. Since when had his life gotten so complicated? He didn't believe that Gabriella would have been telling the truth, not knowing how much she wanted to make Rinoa unhappy.
He wasn't sure exactly when Rinoa had come out of the hospital, but when he saw her, he found himself glancing at the bouquet again.
"He was so confused," Rinoa said sadly, coming to a stop in front of Squall. "He didn't even realize who I was again, I spent half the time trying to make him remember that much from earlier today and by the time I had, he was so tired I couldn't bear to force him to stay awake. Oh!" She noticed the bouquet and picked it up gently. "I… don't suppose this is for me?" She asked shyly.
Seeing her so happy, as if she had been expecting this from Devin, suddenly made Squall feel very sick, and very alone. She wasn't even bothering to pretend in front of him anymore? Rinoa… you never meant it. None of it. Ugh, and I was stupid enough to think I liked you. He began walking away, but Rinoa grabbed his hand gently.
"Where are you going, Squall?" She asked.
"Away," He said tiredly. "I need time alone." She withdrew from him, and he suddenly stopped, wondering if he had actually hurt her. She'd need to care to feel hurt, he told himself. Why am I doing this to myself? To her?
Time alone was sounding like a better and better idea.
Rinoa was unsure what she had done, but she felt as if something had changed while she was in the hospital. She looked back down at the bouquet of flowers after Squall left, and read the note she held in her hand. Devin? She thought after reading it. I forgot he was in Deling, ever since Squall and I saw him in my father's study. Squall… is this what's got you so upset? She smiled at the thought of Squall being jealous, realizing he must have misinterpreted the meaning of the bouquet. He was with me when Devin received orders from my stepmother, why on earth would he possibly think I'd want anything to do with him?
It seemed she had some explaining to do, and it was probably best if she did it soon. She felt torn, however, knowing Squall needed his space. He was used to solitude, and her chasing after him would probably only anger him now. I'll talk to him when he gets back to the mansion, she decided. For now, I… have to figure out what to do. Daddy won't listen to me, and the lawyers won't talk to him in his current state.
She decided that the only thing she could do would be to head back to the mansion and go to sleep. It was late, she was tired, and it had been an extremely long day.
When Rinoa awakened from her sleep, it was so early that it was still dark outside. She considered lying back down on the bed to rest a little longer, but knew immediately that she would be unable to fall asleep if she tried. She decided instead to go down to the kitchen and have an extremely early breakfast, or at least a snack. Maybe food would tire her out to go back to sleep.
The light was already on in the kitchen when she entered it, and she saw Squall sitting at the table, stirring a bowl of cereal around. She smiled and kissed him on the forehead lightly, hoping it would be okay.
"You're awake awful early," She commented cheerfully. He looked up at her, before turning back to his breakfast. She made a face but decided to ignore his reaction – it was really early, and she knew from experience he wasn't much of a morning person usually. She poured herself a bowl of cereal before sitting across from him at the small table.
They both ate in silence, Squall seeming to deliberately be avoiding her gaze which was worrisome to her. Finally, she put her hand on his when he went to take another spoonful of his cereal, stopping him.
"Squall, what's going on?" She asked him. He put the spoon down and got up, intending to walk away, but she wrapped her arms tightly around him. "I'm not letting go until you at least try to explain," She warned him. With a sigh, he pried her arms off him and turned to face her.
"What do you want from me?" He asked her.
"What do you want from all of this?" He rephrased. She pulled her hand back.
"I… don't know what you mean, Squall. What have I done?"
"Nothing. I… I can't do this, Rinoa." He couldn't even look at her now, and she felt hurt. "I need to go back to Balamb," He told her after neither of them had said anything for awhile.
"Then take me with you," She begged, reaching out for him again. He pulled away.
"I can't, Rinoa."
"Please, you have to! You can't… you can't leave me here, Squall! I need you, I need the people who care about me." Zell, Selphie, and Quistis back at home… I can't just forget about them, I can't leave them behind.
"Then you don't need me." He said firmly. She felt a chill run through her body at his words, and she shook her head.
"You don't mean that, you're upset, I did something and I'm sorry—"
"You didn't do anything. I just realized that…" He turned around, clenching his fists. "This isn't me. None of this is me. I was… confused. I'm not anymore."
"Squall, don't do this. You're right, this isn't you, what you're doing! I don't know what happened, but you… you don't mean this."
"I do," Squall countered, turning back to her and pushing her against the counter. "I mean it, Rinoa. I want my old life back, I want everything back the way it was before… before you came."
Do you regret me coming to live with you that much, Squall? What happened? I thought… you cared about me. All those times we were together, even before you knew of any feelings I had for you. I hate it here, I hate it so bad! Nothing good ever comes from being here for me, nothing. I can't… I can't…
"I can't lose you." She whispered, not caring if he saw her cry. "I can't, Squall. If you're confused, I'll wait for you to figure this out, but you can't leave me here. You can't run away from the problem to make it go away."
"Maybe not," He admitted. "But… I can try."
A/N: I don't blame you guys if you hate this chapter x.X I find it better than the last, though, if nothing else. Anyway, we're really getting into the main course of events, the stuff I've been planning since… well not since day one but for a long time. Squall's returning to Balamb, Rinoa's father has amnesia and her stepmother is going to make her stay in Deling away from all her new friends she's grown to love. R&R, and thanks to everyone who has reviewed the last chapter thus far.