Chapter 25: The New Day

He began to fee slightly light-headed as if he had consumed too much wine.  The hand he was holding seemed to diminish slightly and his began to have a firmer outline. 

"If you hurt her, I will come back … and you will pay." The voice called out.

***

A man jumped slightly from his sleep.  The last few days he had been having the same dream, over and over again.  He smiled; he supposed it was just his father-in-law's way of promising something unpleasant if he ever hurt her.  Thoughts of her formed in his mind and he immediately looked at the sleeping figure.  She looked so peaceful. 

Sunlight streamed through the blinds to make morning known.  He glanced and the clock slightly.  9:42 A.M. Hm… Maybe he should be thinking of getting up.

***

The President sighed and leaned back in his chair.  No news yet from his son.  Not that he expected any.  They still weren't on speaking terms.  Well, he had succeeded; after all, in keeping his sorceress and as a father, he was proud.

It would only be time that would heal the nations.  It would only be time until everything was settled once more.  It would only be time …

***

Hikari bounced around the room happily.  She was usually constantly happy these days.  There was nothing really to be sad about.  With an energetic movement she opened the blinds and looked at the city of Timber below her.

Timber wasn't a noisy city and it wasn't as boring as Winhill.  Therefore making it her favorite city.  Hopefully her sister would choose to settle here and have a nice normal life.  Not that their lives could really be normal.

She began to sadly reminisce of the events of the past month or so.  She had lost a friend, a brother, a mother and her father.  Her sister was the only family left.  Well, no that was incorrect.  She smiled slightly; she still had a big brother around.

She bounced out of the room happily and into the kitchen.  The scene that met her eyes didn't surprise her.

"Hyne, do you people ever stop?" She shrieked, crossed her arms and pouted.

The couple seemed very startled by this sudden appearance and they quickly ended their kiss.  Rinoa said as casually as she could, "Of course, you just usually come in at the wrong time."

Squall grinned slightly got out a pan from the armoire.  "Breakfast anyone?"

Hikari scowled, "Do not try to change the subject!  I'm going to make rules around here!  First off… Kissing hours range from 11 A.M. to 9 P.M.  If you are caught outside these boundaries there will be consequences."

"Wow, Rinoa. She sounds just like you." Squall smirked and in response got a kick in the shin.

Hikari ignored the comments and continued talking, "And I found you people were quite loud last night.  As in … exceedingly loud."

"Hikari!" Rinoa shrieked, "You were supposed to be asleep!"

"With all do respect that was an impossible task at the time being." Hikari retorted.

"And we are not loud!" Rinoa exclaimed, "I should know!"

"I agree with your sister!" Squall declared to Hikari. "We aren't loud."

"You are too!  It's really disgusting!"

"Why don't you mind your own business?" Rinoa groaned and slapped her forehead.

"I'd love to.  Just be quiet at night and you'll never hear from me again!"

Living in a 4 and ½ roomed apartment definitely had its disadvantages.  For one: Everyone was always in each other's face and things could get ugly sometimes; as was demonstrated over a period of the two weeks they had stayed there.  However they loved each other and that's really all that mattered.

"So why are you people already dressed?" Hikari remarked slightly that she was the only one in pajamas.

"We have to go somewhere today… And you're coming too." Squall informed.

"Basically, hurry up." Rinoa looked up from her plate of eggs.

Hikari stuck out her tongue at her older sister who mirrored the move.  Squall groaned, "I don't want to go see him."

Rinoa rolled her eyes and Hikari piped up, "Who?  Who's him?  Who are we going to see?"

"We're going back to Deling city and getting all our stuff." Then she added hesitantly, "And Laguna is meeting us there."

Angelo tugged on Hikari's pajama pants, indicating that he wanted some of that bacon.  She threw down a strip for him and didn't dare look at Squall.

Squall had never liked his father.  From the moment he had been officially introduced to him.  Squall had never liked Laguna and he had a feeling that this emotion of hatred was certainly not going to change any time soon.

His father had left him to die in a pitiful orphanage.  Why?  The only reason was because 'he couldn't deal with it'.  Little Squall was crying too much at night. 

"What do you mean, old man?" Squall thought sneeringly, "You mean I cried like babies usually do?"

***

Hikari ran her hands along the bedspread.  Her eyes scanned over her toys, her stuffed animals, her dollhouses, and her books.   All that was once her room.  Material goods were never lacking. 

Angelo seemed interested by such a large bedroom.  He sniffed and prodded his nose under the bed.  He entered the closet and followed his curious instincts the way a puppy would.

She basked in sweet solitude.  Pondering about the past, about the present and about the future.  Her past was stained with blood.  No, that wasn't true.  She had lived some very happy moments.  The fact that those moments were short-lived was conveniently excluded from her analysis.

Her past had been a trajectory of lies.  Painful memories.  More lies and blood.  She never wished to live it again.  Although, a part, lying deep within her wished she had more than what she had currently. 

She had reason to be grateful.  A sister that loved and cared for her.  And Squall, the big brother image that took care of both her and her sister.  Yes, Hikari had something to be grateful for.  And she was. 

Although… Although … One more glimpse at her mother's face.  One more command escaping her father's lips.  One more hug from Zell's strong arms.  One more of Selphie's 'Train" songs.  Just once more. 

Just once more, to hate them, to love them.  To make them live in reality and not in memories.  Just once more, to see them smile. 

***

He stared into the eyes full of emotion, making his own turn to stone.  His jaw was set, his mind was made and nothing was to Laguna's advantage.  Squall's fists were closed, ready to land a punch. 

"Well, you've done it." Laguna said cheerfully.

A catalyst to the inevitable.  Squall raised his closed hand and smashed it against Laguna's jaw.  His unknowing opponent recoiled and clutched his forming bruise.

"That's it?" Squall spat, "Is that all?"

Silence.  "Good job!  You've done it, you didn't die." Squall's cynically sarcastic mimics cut though Laguna's heart.

"Is that all, you stupid bastard?" He asked again, secretly thanking the fact that Rinoa had excused herself from the room.  If she knew he was calling his father a bastard (and not just a bastard but a stupid bastard at that), she'd probably smack him good.

"Well, I'd also like you to know that I would like grandchildren." Laguna added.

Squall scoffed, "Trust me, we're working on it."

Laguna grinned slightly, "So then, will you visit once a week and call every second day?"

Squall's face hardened, "No… Hell no.  I have a life, you know?  And I'm still pissed at you."

Laguna lowered his gaze, "Yes, I realize."  Then, as if whisking all the shame of the past years away he looked up to meet the eyes of his son. 

For the first time he noticed every feature of his son.  The brown, messy hair; the blue eyes, the sharp nose and smooth face.  He was wearing blue denim jeans with a white shirt. 

Laguna had turned to face his son, "You know, you look a lot like your mother."

"Good thing I don't look like you." His words were meant to hurt but they fell away into the air.  Squall was slowly breaking.

"So…" Laguna said at an attempt to keep the conversation going, "How is the relationship with you and Rinoa?"

"You have some nerve!" Squall snapped, "It's really none of your business!"

Laguna ignored him, "How's the sex life?  I mean, sometimes that's key in a relationship."

"Yah, you would know!" Squall spat sarcastically.

"Well, if you ever need tips you can come to me.  Remember, I'm your father."

"Ok, ok!  If anything happened, I would never go to you for advice!" Squall waved his arms frantically, "And we're crossing the border to 'Squall's personal zone' here!"

"Are you… Uncomfortable with something?" Laguna said, trying to hide the amusement in his voice.

"Yes, the fact that my father is giving me sex tips!" Squall hissed.

"Ah… that might be it.  Or…" Laguna left his sentence hanging.

"Or what?" Squall was fairly curious and then suppressing his curiosity, "Actually, I don't even want to know."

"Well, that's entirely up to you." Laguna said and held out his hand.

"Exactly, I'm going to go see Rinoa upstairs.  She will call you… To keep you updated on what I'm doing because I will certainly not be calling you soon." And with that he shook Laguna's hand.

The father only smiled, turned around and stopped for a moment.  "Oh and Squall?"

Squall looked back at him, indicating for him to go on. "Remember son, foreplay is your friend."

"OK!" Squall shut his eyes tight trying to not let it sink in, "Right… I'm going upstairs now.  Please get out… You're scaring me."

***

Rinoa looked around her room.  Correction, her old room.  This wasn't exactly her room anymore, nor would it ever be again.  This used to be her room, her home, her… Whatever.  Now her home was with Squall.

She scanned the room, much like her sister had done with her own.  She seemed to take in every little detail.  Every little dusty corner that she had neglected before.  Everything now seemed more… real. 

Suddenly she spotted a small little package.  Wrapped in red paper with a stick on bow.  Her birthday present… From Zell… From her big brother.

Memories flooded her mind.  She remembered.

"When this is all over, you can open it."

It was over.  The war had ended and those in fault were punished.  Is this what Zell had meant?  For her to open the package when all this was over? 

She slowly approached the package and picked it up in her hands.  It felt light.  Making each moment last, she took off the bow.

This was the first and the last present from her brother.  Slowly, she began taking the tape off the edges and corners, noting that Zell wasn't good at wrapping things.

Finally, a tiny wooden box was released from the grasp of scotch tape and wrapping paper.  She stared at it for a while and then decided to open it.  It was a ring.  Golden and smooth on the inside and yet… rugged on the inside.

She peeked into the inner rim and noticed the ruggedness was legible.

"… Those who dare to break their chains from fate's grasp are…" She stopped reading for that was all there was to read. 

Her eyebrow raised in a natural reaction, "That isn't a way to end a sentence." She thought aloud.

"Fuck the end… That isn't a way to start a sentence either." And without looking back, Rinoa knew it was her knight.  She allowed his arms to wrap around her waist and she leaned against him.

"What did he mean?" She asked.

Squall didn't answer.  Almost instinctively, Rinoa's hands went to her neck and she clutched the two other rings.

She looked inside the first ring that was given to her by Selphie.  She muttered, "Those who dare to live,"

Then it struck her, "Those who dare to live, those who dare to break their chains from fate's grasp are…"

Squall kissed her slightly on the cheek and she now reached for the second ring.  "Those Who Prevail."

Then she repeated the sentence, understanding for once it's true meaning, "Those who dare to live, those who dare to break their chains from fate's grasp are those who prevail."

La fin

Sammy: I'M FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!  AAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!  It's been nearly a year since I started working on this and now I am finally finished!  I hope everyone enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it (and coming up with ideas… Tee hee hee!).  I am so happy I actually came up with a semi-decent ending and I hope I have touched at least one person with this fic.

I thank my great friend Heida for her insane support and reviews.

Jocko/CharlieGirl/Erica, I thank you for being my trusted friend and reviewer and newly acquired beta-reader.

Rinoica; because you reviewed every chapter and you are just plain nice ^.^

And last but not least: all my readers and all my friends!  You have supported me throughout this whole project and for this I love you all.  Please, please read and review though!

By the way: Read my new fic!  It's a Squinoa as well and it's called 'Anything'.  It was formerly known as 'Everywhere'.

Oh, and just for the record: I do not own Final Fantasy VIII or any of its characters that rightfully belong to SQUARESOFT.