I don't own Final Fantasy VIII

I don't own Final Fantasy VIII

Chicken or the Egg

Chapter 9

Satisfied With Your Best

With all the force he could muster, Zell shot his hand out, sending the large debris that was made as he crashed through the cafeteria table flying a few feet through the air. His face felt completely numb and upon rubbing his hand over it, trying to regain his senses, noticed it was bleeding profusely. He wasn't sure where the blood was coming from, but he could feel it running down his face and taste it in his mouth.

Letting out a huge moan of pain, Zell rolled over onto his stomach, looking around at the room. He managed to crawl, using his elbows to push his body as his legs felt completely beyond repair, a few feet over to the closest body. He grabbed the closest thing he could reach, the bottom end of a khaki trench coat, and pulled on it fiercely.

"Irvine…Irvine…man, you alright?"

No response from his fallen comrade had Zell's entire body trembling in fear. Instinctively, he pulled on Irvine's coat with all of his force, actually dragging Irvine's body across the floor a few inches.

"Irvine…Irvine…Hey!"

Zell let out a huge sigh as Irvine replied with a deep moan that echoed off the hard cement floor his face was lying against. Slowly, Irvine managed to roll over, lying completely still and flat on the floor as he let deep breaths fill his lungs with air.

"Fuck, Zell, …what the hell happened…what's wrong with Squall?"

Zell tried to raise his body up by putting doing a motion similar to a push-up. Quickly, his arms gave out and he fell back down to the cold floor with a thud. Zell scrunched his face up in disgust as he swallowed spit and tasted blood.

"…Man, I don't know what the hell…just…"

Within the same instant, Zell and Irvine's mind fell on their fellow friends who suffered the same fate as them, both of them snapping their heads around the room. Zell pointed at a figure that he noticed lying, motionless, only a few feet away from both of them.

"Oh fuck, Quistis!"

Irvine glanced over, and then returned his head so he was staring up at one of the ceiling fans that spun slowly from the ceiling, pounding the bottom of his fists into the group with force again and again.

Still lying on his stomach, Zell covered his face with both of his hands, sobbing into the ground, refusing to look any more at the blank stare of Quistis as the pool of blood around her head continued to grow.

"…Ahhh fuck! …Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…ahhh!!"

Coughing caught both Zell and Irvine's attention as they looked over to the opposite end of the cafeteria. Maneuvering her way through countless debris and bodies, Rinoa came towards them with Selphie's hands thrown around her neck, holding on for support, as blood seeped through her shirt at a rapid pace. As they got closer, Irvine and Zell noticed Selphie was coughing up considerable amounts of blood.

As softly as possible, Rinoa laid Selphie's body down to the ground, Selphie grabbing onto her arm with all the force she had left in her body. Rinoa spoke to Selphie, her voice almost commanding Selphie in a serious tone as Rinoa grabbing the side of Selphie's face trying to get her attention as her body started to go into shock and her eyes froze, looking up blankly at the ceiling.

"It's okay, it's okay Selphie…you're going to be okay!"

As Zell and Irvine watched before their eyes as Rinoa's sorceress powers started healing Selphie's possibly fatal, if unattended wounds, they tried their best to lighten the mood. Irvine looked at Zell, nodding his head towards Rinoa.

"…He didn't touch Rinoa…"

--

Tears rolled down Squall's face uncontrollably as Seifer turned around to face him, giving his best impersonation of a television commentator as a maniacal smirk filled out his face.

"Today…on Hours of Our Lives…Rinoa calls an important, emotional lunch with her closest friends as she tells them about Squall's cheating ways."

Squall only threw his head back against the wall, pushing his eyes shut so hard in frustration that the moisture around the corners formed together, making more tears, as Seifer continued his sick taunt.

"Enraged, Squall ambushes the luncheon, reveals the truth about Rinoa, and appears crazy as he mercilessly…fucks ups all his friends, of course leaving Rinoa relatively unscathed, and even manages to kill one former instructor!"

Seifer exposed all of his teeth in a full-blown smile as he pointed towards Squall, whipping his head back, and allowed his hands to drop down to his hips as he peered at Squall.

"Now, don't tell me…that wouldn't make one fucking kick ass sitcom!"

--

Any normal man would have been bed-ridden for weeks after the beating Squall took, unable to do any strenuous activities without succumbing to massive amounts of pain. However, this was Squall Leonhart, and he was literally sprinting, pushing his badly damaged body to its limit, as he glanced behind him.

We should have never came back here…we should have stayed mobile …fuck!

Looking behind him, he once again saw Galbadia Garden, which he had escaped, well, actually been released from, only minutes before. He didn't know how Seifer got Galbadia Garden under his control again, and truthfully, he didn't have time to wonder. The only thing he could think about was Rinoa, as he continued to sprint along the sole road that led from Balamb, where Galbadia Garden was docked at, to the former position of Balamb Garden, when it was stationary, that it was currently residing at.

Seifer's statement, as they threw Squall's mangled body out the front gate of Galbadia Garden like a bag of trash, was simple. Blocking out the pain that flowed through his body, Squall didn't have the willpower to also block out Seifer's final words to him that continually haunted his mind.

"You have…two hours Squall. Two hours before this Garden, fully prepared for battle, … loaded to capacity with SeeD and Galbadian soldiers, …crashes into you Garden, not ready for battle and severely overmatched, destroying whatever is left in you life that is worth something to you. …Better run…"

Truthfully, it wasn't a first time for Squall; he had to run this road at least once a semester when he was a student at Garden for his physical test. He knew that a one-way trip from Garden to Balamb, or from Balamb to Garden, took about an hour and a half, his personal best time being an hour and seventeen minutes. Unfortunately, that was when Squall was well rested, not bleeding internally and severely injured.

He kept the pace he needed to be at, if he was to have any time to warn Rinoa and the others, but he wasn't even halfway there yet, Galbadia Garden and Balamb finally out of view, and he felt like he already ran for hours.

The physically pain was almost bearable in comparison to the emotional pain. First off, Squall was a SeeD and used to having his body being broken and battered. Also, he never allowed himself to become attached to anything in the past, when he was a lone wolf. For the first time since he met Rinoa, as he felt all the emotional pain he had in his brain and heart, along with all of Rinoa's thanks to their bond, he wished that he was the old Squall and cared about nothing.

Please Rinoa, hold on…I'm coming…don't let your pain and emotions take over…

Squall felt Rinoa's pain as she attempted to save Quistis, and found out she was already too late. He felt her pain as she witnessed students, who's only crime was wanting to get some lunch in the wrong place at the wrong time, get pronounced dead by Dr. Kadowaski. He felt her pain as she remembered what the fake Squall had said to her, all of the things that made her feel alone and that her knight, boyfriend, and love of her life had abandoned her. He felt countless things, to many to describe, and it became exponentially harder for Squall with each step and each emotion he felt travel between Rinoa and him. All the while, Rinoa thought that he was actually responsible for all of this.

Rinoa…I'm on my way…I'll find you and everything will be okay…I'll explain everything…if …you… …let…

Squall immediately stopped running, throwing his lead leg for his next stride into the ground so hard that his ankle actually buckled slightly. He stood there, quickly glancing towards Balamb, then towards Garden, over and over again. Squall grabbed his forehead with both hands, clenching his teeth, as he began to breathe heavily and unevenly, on the verge on hyperventilating.

Fuck, fuck, fuck! Shit, I can't…I …fuck!! If I go back and you see me your going to feel betrayed, maybe think I have come back to finish you off! Fuck!! These emotions you feel…I feel…are overwhelming …and that's not even with me confronting you when you think I did all of this!! I can't imagine the emotions that will conjure up…how likely it is you might fall…I might fail…

Squall fell to his knees, hands still on his forehead, lost in thought and not sure what he should do.

I can't not face you though…if I do that I'm allowing you to get ambushed and killed because you don't know…AHHH, FUCK!! If I do get you to understand…we still have to prepare for their attack, it's a losing battle…is Quistis really dead?! …I know you'll believe me …right Rin! We love each other, you have to believe me, you know I wouldn't do—AHHH FUCK!!

Squall refused to think any further, standing back up on his feet and throwing his hands out to his sides as he slowly spun around in a circle, weighing his options.

I have to try…

Doing his best to block out everything: physical pain, emotional pain, thoughts, and worries, Squall sprinted towards Garden.

--

Rinoa leaned forward in the cushioned office chair, emotional distraught, as she allowed her tears to fall down into her lap. She tried her best to listen to Cid but she had just lost a good friend and the most important thing in her life in the same morning. She felt betrayed, angry, upset, ready to give up, and many other emotions, some of which she didn't even know why she felt and she wondered if they belonged to her, were Squall's, or were coming from deep inside of her.

"Nothing will change, darling, I promise you that. I don't know what's happening with Squall, I can only speculate, but I give you my word Rinoa, we will find out! This is not easy for any of us, especially you, I'm sorry."

Rinoa raised her head, nodding slightly, about to speak, when Nida rushed into Headmaster Cid's office. Immediately, he stood at attention and saluted Cid.

"Sir, we got Squall on our cameras!"

Rinoa jumped out of her seat, both Cid and her exclaiming, "What?!"

"Yes, he is less than a minute from the front gate, running full speed, …he seems injured…badly, sir."

Cid stuck his hand out towards Rinoa, as if to say "Hold on," and began to pace and speak at the same time.

"Something…is not right…not at all! I can't put my…Rinoa! Wait!"

Cid's screams were in vain as Rinoa ran towards the elevator, towards Squall, not sure what she was thinking, feeling, or going to do. As she felt the elevator begin to sink down through its shaft, fear and uncertainty sank to the pit of her stomach.

--

Not sure of how much time he had left, but knowing he was running out, Squall surprised even himself, hurdling the entrance gates to Garden, scaring the old man who worked them and causing him to almost fall out of his seat. Sprinting, Squall quickly approached the directory, stopping to finally fill his lungs with air as he took in the sight before him.

Dr. Kadowaski, along with her two helpers, were spread on both sides of the commons area, kneeling besides what seemed like almost a dozen body bags, each filled with what Squall knew were students that his doppelganger slaughtered without mercy. Squall recognized the two men and one woman that were kneeling beside the body bag to the far left, closest of all of the body bags to the infirmary. The three figures were Zell, Irvine, and Selphie, Irvine had his back towards Squall, Zell and Selphie were facing him and were both noticeably crying.

"Ahhh…no…no…no…!"

Squall's outburst was loud enough that he gained the attention of everyone in the commons area, all three of his comrades standing up. Instantly, Zell ran around Selphie, about to charge Squall with closed fist.

"You son of a bitch, do you see what you've done?! Do you see what you've done to Quistis!! You…motherfucker!!"

Zell was breathing heavily, wounds still apparent all over his body; curative magic could only do so much. Squall held out his hand towards Zell, Selphie, and Irvine, all three about to charge and attack their SeeD commander.

"Wait, listen! I need to find Rinoa, please, where is she?!"

Zell took another step towards Squall, screaming at the top of his lungs.

"Fuck you Squall, you're not hurting anyone else!!"

Squall held out both hands, begging Zell with body language to hear him out as he stayed his ground. His voice held a hypnotic tone, genuine sadness and despair causing his voice to tremble.

"I swear Zell, I didn't do this! I know it sounds impossible but this is all Ultimecia's doing, through Seifer! That thing, that did all of this, looked like me, sounded like me, but it wasn't me!! You have to believe me right now Seifer, that clone of me, and half of the Galbadian military are preparing an attack on Garden right now-"

Squall's tone had Irvine and Selphie believing him fully, both of their hearts beginning to race as they listened to Squall. However, Zell, the hothead of the bunch, refused to listen to Squall and, with betrayal still fresh in his heart, assumed everything Squall said was a lie.

"You lie, you motherfucker!!"

"Zell, I swear I'm not…"

Everyone in the commons area froze as the elevator doors opened and Rinoa ran out, stopping at the top of the steps. Squall stepped forward with both of his hands still out.

"Rinoa…"

Rinoa didn't respond but they met eyes. Squall couldn't explain the feeling, it was as if he was explaining everything to Rinoa just by opening his heart up to her, no words were needed. All of a sudden, as if he was having a nightmare, Squall began to feel as if something horrible was about to happen, something that he couldn't stop.

The face Rinoa gave Squall haunted him; she was fighting, and losing, to what dwelled within her. Squall called out to Rinoa through their bond, hoping he could somehow find her, somewhere, in herself and help her fight Ultimecia. He poured every emotion of affection, every memory he cherished that they had together, and all the hopes, dreams, and aspirations he had for her and himself.

Rinoa…I love you…

Squall…I'll always love you…

With the most sincere look on her face, with tears running down the corners of her cheeks, Rinoa mouthed words towards Squall.

"I'm…sorry…"

Rinoa…no…no!!

In the same instant, Squall stepped away from Rinoa and the directories glass shattered, fragments raining down on Squall, Zell, Irvine, and Selphie. Squall once again shook back the feeling of déjà vu, as his worst nightmare came to be reality. Veins darkened, eyes fogged over, and finally the tearing of flesh was heard as her wings ripped out from her back.

Squall lowered his head, allowing his own tears to slide down his face as the beautiful white feathers began to peel of her back and fall in piles behind her. Squall looked up, once again looking at Rinoa, this time meeting eyes with only darkness.

Rinoa…I'm so sorry…I failed you…

This time…I won't miss your heart…

Squall kept his eyes locked with the sorceress before him, looking through Ultimecia and finding the part of Rinoa that still remained. Squall refused to move, standing there with his hands casually to his side, not even attempting to draw his gunblade, as Ultimecia walked gracefully down the elevator stairs towards him.

Like in their first confrontation, only this time in a different body, Ultimecia raised her hand and flattened her palm, allowing her fingers to curl up towards the ceiling. As the bright blue light began to crystallize, forming a giant projectile that Squall knew from first hand experience cut easily through human flesh, he still stood his ground, even when Ultimecia stopped about 20 feet in front of him.

Don't do it Rinoa…you can beat her…I know you…

Ultimecia began to snap her wrist in an attempt to start the chain reaction that led to a Blizzaga spell being flung at her target at a blazing speed, but halfway through she faltered as lost focus. Her facial expression changed from stoic to infuriated as Squall managed to smirk at this.

You see…I knew you could do it Rin…I always knew you could…

Surprising Squall, Ultimecia flinched her neck, actually causing Squall to take a small step backwards, instinctively resting his hand on his gunblade trigger.

Squall…I can't…I just can't…she's too strong…I can stalemate her for a little…but I can't beat her…you know what…you must do…

I…I won't Rinoa…you know I won't…I…I love you…

Ultimecia took a sluggish step forward, regaining focus as the Blizzaga spell she held continued to grow.

Squall…I love you more than anything in the world…but you have too…you have too!

Squall showed Rinoa and Ultimecia a genuine smile, but shook his head. Tears began to streak down Ultimecia's face as she took another, more controlled, step towards him.

You can do it…you have too because…I won't…

Squall it's so hard…I don't…think I can do it…Please just try…I'll be satisfied with your best…

Squall raised his head, closed his eyes, and held his hands up to his sides.

I am!! …

Squall took in a huge breath of air through his mouth and allowed it to flow through his nose in a giant exhale. Squall let a full smile cross his face, as for the first time in his entire life he felt completely comfortable and willing to trust his life in the hands of someone else.

… … Squall…I love you…

Fearing nothing, Squall opened his eyes, looking directly into Ultimecia's as her magic pierced the entire left side of his chest, going right through him and shattering off the wall of the main entrance behind Squall. As Squall closed his eyes, allowing his world to go dark, one coherent thought crossed his mind before his body fell lifeless to the floor.

…More than the world…

--

Hyne, no! …How? …what happened to you Rin…what happened to your knight…to me?

Many thoughts plagued Squall Lionheart's mind as he collapsed to the barren ground below him. Especially the visions that plagued his mind of what he saw hours before.

That was my ring…that was griever…

He remembered as he fought the feelings of tiredness fight against him, the information he had received on Ultimecia from Laguna. There wasn't much actually but there was a hypothesis on why she turned and let the evil inside of her take over…why she had fallen. Probably about 10 facts, 90 fiction, Squall thought to himself. However, he refused to deny it anymore as he realized the truth. Someway or another, Ultimecia's knight had betrayed her or failed her (which is the same as betraying her he thought to himself) letting her fall to the dark powers within. He had failed her, he had failed Rinoa…and on that fateful day in the past…or future…Rinoa died in a sense and Ultimecia was born.

That was griever Rinoa…that was you too, huh? O hyne no this is all wrong!

He knew from the classes on sorceresses he had taken in Garden about the extreme importance of a knight. They always loved one another, as they were the two most important people in each other lives. Sometimes there was romance, sometimes they were in love, sometimes they loved one another but were merely close friends. Regardless, the constant was the undeniable bond they shared that left they physically, emotionally, and mentally dependant on one another. The sorceress always was more dependent on the knight, as he was the only thing keeping her from giving into her dark powers. When and if a sorceress fail, it was almost mostly because of her knight failing or betraying her. Sometimes it would be willingly as the knight no longer wished to wish his life for her, or found someone else that he loved. Sometimes it would be unwillingly, such as dying protecting her in battle. Basically, if the sorceress lost her knight she lost her love and would usually lose her will to live and to fight off the evil within her.

I failed you Rin…I'm so sorry. What did I do…die in battle for you or did I cheat on you …did I give up on you? No! Squall reprimanded himself for that statement. I would never do that… I would never hurt you…I would give my life for you…ya I must have died in battle for you…but how…

He couldn't stop the tears, as he had held them back for years and they refused to yield to him any longer, not that he any longer cared.

Will I ever get to see your beautiful face again Rin? Will I ever get to hear your beautiful voice again? Will I ever get tell you how I feel?

Squall's thoughts were momentarily interrupted by the waves of overwhelming tiredness running through his weakened form of a body. He knew that he was probably going to die in this place. He knew he probably was never going to see her again…as he slowly let the tiredness take over his body.

Rin…I promise…I won't fail you again. No matter what I won't fail you. I won't let you fail…again I promise. I…love…you Rinoa…I love you

Then he heard her voice.