A/N: Yay, final chapter.
-- End --
Squall Leonhart, ex-commander of Balamb Garden has been pardoned today by the courts, after his wrongful arrest and jail sentence last year. The latest suspects await sentencing today after a bizarre confession made in court last week.
Seifer Almasy, renowned for his involvement in the last sorceress war has been sentenced to five years behind bars. The other person, who we cannot name for legal reasons, is serving two years of community service, five months of which will be a prison sentence. This was originally a one-year prison sentence, but it was lessened it to community service, in light of new evidence.
We sincerely wish Commander Leonhart all the best in the fourth coming years, and we hope that he might accept our apologies over, what has been, a terrible time.
This has been Stella Hope, reporting for Balamb news.
Squall stopped the tape, and rewound it back to the beginning, when it clicked he turned off the TV. He'd watched the recording a hundred times or more since he had returned.
They had made him Commander once more, he'd accepted because he'd wanted something to take his mind off of things, but as the time went on, it grew harder to do. He was reluctant to take on too much responsibility as yet, he delegated as much as he could.
Dr Kadowaki had been and gone already today, he could still see the meal she had brought up for him on a far table. But he wouldn't touch it. The doctor had told Rinoa that she was concerned, but Squall wouldn't take any notice.
"Squall hasn't been outside for awhile now, I think it would be good for you both if you took a break from here. You know, go and visit some nice countryside or something, it would do him good Rinoa," had been Dr Kadowaki's words last night, and yet so far no one had been able persuade him to venture outdoors.
He preferred the office, looking through files, and watching the SeeD cadets hard at work. He was aware that he'd fought hard for where he was now, and he was wasting his days, but he couldn't seem to think straight, not after he had lost Ellone.
The phone rang at the side of him, Squall gazed at it lazily and then reached out his arm, with what seemed like a huge effort, and answered the call.
"Yeah, Hello?" he asked. He knew it was unprofessional to answer a call in that way, it might have been someone important, but he was past caring.
"Squall, is that you? It's Ellone….I need to talk."
"And he still won't leave?" Selphie asked over her fizzy drink. Rinoa shook her head.
"He just sits there, staring at the TV, or in the office reading stuff over and over. Yes, I understand that he's been through a lot, and for it to be suddenly over is a bit of a shock, to say the least. But I'm worried Selphie. The doctor already told me he needs fresh air," Rinoa replied, her tone desperate and worried, she was losing sleep over Squall, but she had never once blamed him for his reaction.
"Rinoa for as long as I've know Squall, Dr Kadowaki's always been worried about him," Quistis said, Irvine scoffed at this and tried to retain a laugh. "But you're right, this time he needs to listen to us. He's going to make himself ill."
"We should get him drunk, everyone feels better after a few drinks, " Selphie suggested, her face lighting up. Zell shook his head.
"Until they remember why they're drinking," he said solemnly.
"Or a buffet lunch," Selphie muttered to herself.
"Well I'm going to go see him now. Maybe I can get him to eat something," Rinoa said, the exhaustion showing through in her voice, and as she walked, her movements were lethargic.
"I'm so sorry Squall, I just wanted to help, I never meant for it to turn out like it did," Ellone said.
Squall could hear the tears in her voice and could imagine them on her frightened face. He couldn't stand the thought of her being in on of those cells; she'd been in there for two months now.
Ellone had been found to have been unduly influenced by the rebel organization, and as such had not been fully aware of the repercussions of her actions. This in a way had rendered her an innocent party; the information she had offered in court had all been learned after the events had taken place. However, it did not free her of charges, as she was deemed to have acted recklessly. This had lowered her sentence considerably, but the loss of her was still too much for Squall to bear.
"Ellone I…" Squall started but stopped, what could he say? He couldn't tell her that it would be alright, because he couldn't be sure that it would.
The laws that protected SeeD from being sent to prison for murders, had saved Seifer Almasy from a life behind bars. As SeeD, it was assumed that there would be a certain number of casualties along the way, and as such, there was a sort of get out of jail free card for members of Garden.
Although Seifer had not been a member of SeeD at the time, he had been contracted and paid. The court saw the employers as the villains of the piece, and the hunt was now on to find the members of the resistance fraction.
There wasn't anything he could say; the silence was speaking for them. It was as if they could read each other's minds. Squall wanted to say how much he missed her, even if they had never really been near one another before. It was just the knowledge, that he had a sister, and that she was happy somewhere in the world that had settled in Squall's heart. To think that she was crying in a dark cell somewhere caused him too much pain to think of.
Eventually he put down the receiver, her time must have run out as she had hung up long ago. He had only changed positions because there had been a knock at the door.
Rinoa looked at his face, her eyes filled with worry. In her hands she held a sandwich she must have bought for him at the cafeteria. She stepped towards him slowly.
"I've never seen you cry," she said softly as she came closer.
Squall remembered the tears in his eyes and wiped them away. Suddenly Rinoa began to cry also, but not silent sad tears like Squall's, despairing sobs that spoke of the world's end. The sight of her so broken cleared the fog from Squall's mind, he realised how selfish he had been to shut out the world.
He was hurting the only person he had ever loved, Rinoa, who he had fought so hard to find. He stood and walked towards her. Rinoa accepted his offer of comfort without any thought, wrapping her arms around him and crying into his chest.
"What would I have done if I had lost you?" Squall whispered, holding her closer.
She looked up, wiping her eyes on the back of her hand. She smiled when he continued to look down her. She closed her eyes as he leant in to kiss her, and her tears started to fall again but this time she ignored them.
She'd been so afraid that she was loosing Squall all over again, losing him to his inner demons. She clung to him tightly, kissing him as hard as she could manage, never wanting to let him go, lest he should disappear again.
"I missed you so much," Rinoa whispered when Squall let her go. "Don't ever leave me behind again."
"Never," Squall promised.
There was a feeling of expectation in the air, they knew where the moment was leading, but were too shy to admit it. Rinoa felt herself blushing as she moved her hands gently over Squall's chest, feeling the heat of his body through his shirt.
Moving her hands up his chest and over his back, Rinoa managed to drop his jacket to the floor. Squall remained passive, allowing Rinoa to dictate what was to happen. He allowed her to lead his hands around to her back.
Suddenly Rinoa laughed, carefree and happy. Her laughter took their minds back to when this had been normal, before their world had been turned upside down, where they had spent every night together.
After that moment everything became easy again, it was if they had never been apart. Their kisses found their old rhythm, and their hands traced familiar paths, but this time their hearts hammered with a deeper intensity. Knowledge of what it felt like to lose the other, and how they would rather die than live through that again.