The hardest part is remembering to breathe.

With everything spinning so fast, the world seems to fall apart before it's even begun. It's like being trapped. No... It is being trapped. No like, and that's the scariest part. If she can convince herself that this is only kind of like dying, instead of oh god I'm going to die then she can make it there (not that there's anywhere to get to, but that's just part of the lie). The hardest part is remembering that she can still breathe, that for right this instant, she's still alive, even if it's only for a moment or two.

Even if she's about to die, for now, she's alive. And the hardest part is the waiting, the feeling blood rushing down to her limbs and into her heart and knowing that soon, it'll all be over, or as good as.

The hardest part isn't knowing that she's about to die - it's that she hasn't, yet.

Everything seems to be moving outside, and she's trapped, sectioned off, sterilized to keep everyone else safe (as though it's some sort of infection that they can't cure, so instead they're getting rid of the evidence). It's all a little cloudy, a little unreal, like she's just about to wake up and none of this will have happened, all the way back to her mother dying, before Squall, before Seifer, before Edea and Adel and Laguna and Quistis and her father and...

She's crying. No one sees, nor would they care if they did. She is something inhuman to them, unfeeling, unthinking, devoid of love and life and dreams and pain and fear and worry. They can't understand that she's no different, and that last month, she was just like them. Five minutes ago, she was just like them. They think her a murderer, or a potential one, but they can't convict her of a crime she only might commit.

Everyone would be a murderer, then, or a rapist, or a thief, or a terrorist or... It's so wrong, but the worst part of it is that she chose this. Squall would have gotten her out of there, he would have saved her (like he always does, which might have been part of the reason she made him let her go), and she wouldn't be here, struggling to breathe against blinding tears. There are so many questions - Will she know where she is? Or how she got there? Or who she is? Will she forget everything of herself, and become another Adel, or will she still be Rinoa who loves Squall and used to train puppies for spare change and doesn't really hate her father but never got a chance to tell him that? So many questions she doesn't really want answers to.

She's scared.

And the hardest part is telling herself that this is okay. It's okay to be crying, afraid, worried - it's okay to regret. This is the end, and it's almost expected that she, the emotional one, is going to cry. This is it, all right, all that's left (and it's disappointing to die like this, sterile and locked up and hidden and alone, disappointing and terrifying) and there's no shame in the tears.

But there's still shame in it, as if she's somehow let them win by breaking down, by tearing up, by being here at all. She isn't strong enough - she can't go down with dignity and grace. Instead, she's going to die with tears and regret and fear. And that knowledge just makes it all worse, like pouring salt into an open wound - not only are you terrified and crying, but you're also going to be remembered forever for it, as a weak little girl who wept as she was sealed.

She closes her eyes, and the panic sets in. She doesn't want to die. Not here, not now, not like this. And so she screams, silent to everyone but herself (and ringing unbearable in her own ears), pounding on the glass, willing it to break, crying uncontrollably, shrieking like an animal. The tiny space is turning hot and suffocating and oh god oh god I'm running out of air.

She can swear she hears voices, far-off, from somewhere inside - stay close to me. She wants to be saved, princess-in-a-tower, knight-in-shining-armor type of saved, where she rides off into the sunset on a white steed and if she closes her eyes hard enough, she can even picture Squall's face, blurry and indistinct, but there all the same.

It isn't comforting. She tries to picture the others, but they don't come to mind at all.

She screams again, screams because someone must be hearing her, because maybe if she screams loud enough, Squall will come to her rescue, and she won't have to rely on a blurry and faded and unnerving image. Pounds against the glass, crying, sweating, screaming, gasping for air -

By the time she is saved, she's hoarse and tearstained and shaking all over, and somewhere deep down, she resents them for it, for not coming sooner, for not saving her before she became so desperate. But she doesn't say anything about it, because that would be inconsiderate. And they did come, after all.

They were just too late.
(A/N: I wrote the vast majority of this forever ago, and decided to finish it off. Make of the ending what you will. Review if you like.)