By Ami Arashi
I had awaken that morning to the rising of the bright shining sun, breathing in the fresh air from the open window on the right of my bed. I could smell the scent of a new day arriving to greet me. It smelled wonderful.
I glanced at the alarm clock on my night-stand. I had awaken at least an hour before my clock would go off. Five forty-six in the morning, a little too early for my liking, but I knew I wasn't going to get back to sleep. It was a little early, but I decided to awaken the rest of the household before they all got too crabby and unpleasant.
I pulled aside the white sheets to my bed and swung my legs over the side. I rubbed my eyes and I felt the stubble of annoying hair growing on my face. I slipped my feet into my black loafers and slowly climbed off of the bed. This new and magical day was waiting to come and give me its surprises and horrors. I hoped for absolutely nothing to go wrong. Perhaps fate would be on my side for once, and grant me the wish I craved to come true.
My eyes came across to my dresser. I sighted my necklace and clasped it around my neck. The cold silver slid down to the middle of my chest, intoxicating me with a slow yet rather pleasant shiver. My eyes circled down to the small wooden box on the dresser and I opened it to find my eyebrow ring. I slid it into my skin and it poked out of the other hole in my skin. I took the chain and wrapped it around the ring gently. As I was confound to pry around with my annoying habit of sliding my fingernail under the gold, my eyes trailed to a soft picture frame that sat peacefully on the dresser.
I smiled. It was the only memory I had of my sweet past. In the picture, was our large group of friendship.
There was Selphie on the far left. She spent two more years within Balamb Garden after the defeat of Ultimecia, then she transferred back to Trabia. I waited a year to hear word from her, and when I finally did, it was a death notice, telling me Selphie had been murdered several nights before and her killer was behind bars, facing life.
Next to her as usual, was Irvine Kinneas. He trained hard to become an official SeeD after Ultimecia's defeat, and within a year he was certified. He spent most of his time before Selphie's death, away on missions. After Selphie had died, he left Balamb. He moved to Trabia Garden where he could spend the rest of his life at Selphie's grave, but I knew it wouldn't be that way. He was married three months later, and he's now got a four year old son named Lawrence. Whom, by the way, almost blew my brains out with a rifle while Irvine was teaching him the ways of a man. Could have fooled me, I thought he was teaching him not to make the same mistakes as his lady oriented father.
Quistis was next to Irvine in the picture, Hyne knows how she put up with standing next to him. However, the smile on her face proved to be truthful and her arm around his shoulder mocked it. Quistis stayed entirely associated with Garden, devoting her life thus far to the elite military force. She reunited with her teaching passion and asked if she could have her old job back. She met and fell in love with a man from Deling City named Dieto Frost four years back and they married. They adopted Seifer's young twin daughters, Kavetina and Fatality, after he was killed along with his fiancée, a woman named Sirea Blackhawk. Quistis was unable to conceive any children.
Zell was on the far right, half stuffed with a chewed up hot dog. He remained with Garden, still making himself useful on missions and proving himself to be a worthy ally. Zell found love but he never experienced what it was like. He had a wonderful relationship with Sirea, Seifer's fiancée. They were together for three years before Sirea's stepfather broke them up, whom she later murdered, and forced her to marry a gentleman. Zell became somewhat of a hermit one could say, and he asked for a leave from Garden just recently, and he hasn't been back since, nor has anyone heard of him, thus spreading rumors that he died or he decided not to come back.
And then, there was Rinoa. My sweet Rinoa...
I closed my eyes and tried to hide my tears.
After Ultimecia's defeat, we rapidly started to come closer. She and I were unbreakable those few weeks, we spent every waking moment with each other, holding hands, feeding each other, sharing warm embraces and kisses...
I could remember all of the days we spent in bed together. We would sit there in bed all day naked, talking about our problems, talking about marriage, talking about anything in general. I remembered we spoke a lot about starting a family, but since with my job, I couldn't get married at the time, so we promised each other engagement and began from there.
We had spent such little time together, me and her. Though the shining sun had set on her time, it began to rise onto our daughter's time. And before she could leave us, she pleaded with her eyes that I would never leave our daughter and that I would hold onto her as long as I could. That I would never let her die like she had, that I would never let her walk the same path, but as I began to protest, my sweet Rinoa's eyes had fallen back, and her last breath escaped through her mouth. I stood in complete silence, until I heard my sweet baby cry out. I hadn't really felt I had understood what Rinoa had last said to me, but as I heard my daughter cry out to mourn for her mother, I could hear the eerie shrill of a banshee in her voice. Only then did I understand.
I quickly covered my eyes as the tears came rolling down. They plopped on the dresser and began to spread. It was so painful... the thoughts of my past...
Every year on my daughter's birthday, it always happened. Always. This year wouldn't be an exception. I would dream of it yet again.
Almost eleven years ago, Rinoa Heartilly, my beautiful fiancée, announced that she was conceived with a child. I could remember it as well as the back of my head. Her eyes shined with happiness and hope, her beautiful sparkling brown eyes begged for me to give love to this child that we had created together and give it the most wonderful life we could offer. She grasped my hands and knelt down to cry in joy. I knelt and embraced her, wrapping my long arms around her slim body and rubbing her back. I couldn't help it but to let a tear fall as well. I seemed to believe that that was the most marvelous day of my life. What couldn't be better than to see my future wife give birth to our child, whom we promised to give up everything for, and give it our unconditional love?
I remembered it was October 2nd, ten years ago. Rinoa went into labor around one o'clock in the afternoon, while we were sitting down watching her favorite movie. My heart nearly jumped into the middle of my throat. This was it. Our son or daughter was on the way. Our child, whom we had prayed and tried so hard to have was finally arriving.
The first thing she said was, "Squall, my water just broke."
I looked down, and sure enough, the liquid had soaked her long skirt and the couch which we sat on. I immediately looked into her eyes and said that I loved her, that I loved her beyond imagining. I kissed her cheek and stroked her hair.
She slowly got up from the couch and turned off the television. "Pray to Hyne that our child will be strong and healthy."
And I replied with soft compassion on my lips, "Pray to Hyne for all of us to safely return home." She smiled sweetly with her white teeth and came to embrace my warm body. I gathered up all that I had inside of me, and smiled as best as I knew how. We clasped together like a gold locket on a chain. I wished I could have remained there like that for an eternity, but our son or daughter was being impatient. Rinoa breathed in as she felt her insides clench together tightly.
I grabbed her suitcase on the floor by the kitchen table and grabbed her shoes. She waddled on over to me, Hyne knows what she would have done if I told her she looked like a cow, and took her shoes to put them on.
Soon, we were both ready and we gathered her belongings for the hospital's stay. We gazed into each other's eyes and slammed the door shut behind us.
But now that I remember this, that was the best... and worst day of my life.
When we had arrived there, Rinoa was already six centimeters and her contractions were becoming stronger. Her breathing was seriously irregular and try as I might, I could do nothing to comfort her. Though we had dreamed for this ever since we fell in love, our child would not come easily. All I could do was tell her to withstand the pain as long as she soon. If she wanted drugs, so be it. We wanted a natural birth, but if it was too much, Rinoa agreed to do anything from that point on.
We went to her room and I helped her onto the bed. The nurse came in to get her dressed.
It was so slow, I thought time was repeating from moment we walked in the hospital. But, as I continued to do my part in that room, whatever that was I can't quite remember what I did, before I knew it, Rinoa was nine centimeters along and the clock had ticked down to six thirty that night. I yawned, fatigued with uncertainty.
I sat in the chair, my eyes rolling back now and then, my head slowly inching back then snapping forward realizing where I was. I repeated it again and again, until as I was sure I would fall asleep, I felt a shaking hand slip into mine.
I glanced over to see my Rinoa, though sore from pain, smiling at me. Her slender fingers curled around my hand and she squeezed. I wished I could have given her more support, but with the look she held on her face, it seemed to say I was doing all that I could. And I was.
"I love you Squall." she said, her face wincing and her lips hissing in pain.
I could only frown with concern. "Breathe." I said, rubbing her hand. "Just breathe. Relax."
She breathed in, her chest coming up quickly and falling back down. She snapped back as pain flooded throughout her body.
I calmed her, as best I could, and soon she was back into my arms, breathing a little more easily. I hushed her, rubbing the side of her face as I felt the wetness of tears. I could feel her tightness as I placed my hand on her side, feeling her uterus contracting painfully. She looked up at me and smiled, telling me how it felt better now that I was comforting her. I looked into her eyes and told her I would be there through all of this, and all of it after.
Rinoa managed a smile at the wrong time. Soon, another contraction disturbed her peace, and she lurched backward again, opening her lips and screaming. I came down to grasp her hand but she had already grabbed the rails on the bed. She spread out her legs further out to try and rid of the pain, but it came in strong overwhelming waves that it couldn't be controlled. Again, she screamed, her body bolting back and slamming into the sides of the bed.
I yelled out to the doctor who was trying to calm her. "Give her the damn drugs! She can't take it anymore!"
His saddened eyes gazed into mine and he replied, "It's too late, she's too close to giving birth. If we gave her anything, it wouldn't take effect in time."
"She's going to scream our child out before you do anything dammit!!"
I lost my temper and I came back over and held her flailing arms down as best as I could.
"Rinoa! Calm down!" I yelled at her over her screaming wails. "You need to relax and calm down, breathe!"
Through her clenched teeth, though I never figured out how, she replied with pain, "It's... not the... contractions!!"
And again she screamed, bringing her body back again with a sickeningly fast force. And just when I though matters couldn't get worse, I saw the long stream of blood come pouring out from the end of the bed. My eyes screamed in horror.
I looked at the doctor for an explanation. "What's happening?"
He gazed back. "She's pushed out the baby to a point where all she needs to do is push one more time. But I'm more concerned with the fact that she most likely has an awful tear in her cervix."
The words seemed to flow over my head like useless data. "And this means...?"
"She needs to give birth now otherwise she'll bleed to death."
I barely took note of the last word and rushed back to her side, where she was shaking in tremendous pain.
"Rinoa..." I said, rubbing her arm. "Let's just push one more time."
And as her head came back to me, I could see the ruins of her once beautiful black eyes, begging to me to end this now.
I ran my fingers through her sweaty, limp hair and watched as it shined under the bright lights of the delivery room. I watched as she gave it one more try, the pain rising into her face faster than fire traveling on gasoline. Time seemed to slow down, as I could barely hear the doctor's pleas for Rinoa to try one more time. I glanced deeply into those dark swirling pools of color in my fiancée's eyes, hoping for the best that this would all come out to be fine in the end, that somehow Hyne would grant us with one last wish or one last chance. But as the birth of our daughter drew even closer, Hyne didn't seem to give a damn what we cared, so he let fate do the rest. I winced. Fate was a cruel word.
"Rinoa!" the doctor shouted. "One last time!"
I gazed toward the end of the bed while holding her hand, hoping to see our future as parents come out to greet us. But all I saw as she pushed, was the uncertainty of our future together. The blood continued to rush out, even faster it seemed, but I did see a small light at the end.
"Again." I said to her. "I see our child's head."
Rinoa tried to nod, but instead obliged by trying once more, and laying her head back as she gave birth to our daughter, our baby girl. Her breath escaped harshly, but soon she was panting with a smile on her face, though weak as it was, she smiled. It was enough light for me.
I grasped her tightly and a tear came down my cheek. "Our baby..."
The doctor quickly cleaned up the child and announced freely that we a charming baby daughter.
We already had a name. Rinoa glanced at me and I nodded.
"Dacera. Dacera Raine Leonheart." we said in chorus.
She winced as the bed went down on its back. Before I could ask what was happening, everyone immediately took a handle on the side of her bed and began to wheel her out. My eyes followed them out of the room but from then on, all I could hear was the squeaking noise of the wheels rolling down the tiled hallway.
I was the only one left, with two nurses in the back of the room, wrapping Dacera up in a warm blanket and placing a pink cap on her head. I nearly jumped to the ceiling as one of them approached to me and whispered into my ear.
"They've taken your wife to the operating room."
The other nurse chimed in from the small bundle in the corner. "The doctor said your wife had a nasty tear in her cervix. If they don't get to work, she could bleed to death. He said you could come in the operating room."
"He wasn't sure how this was going to go."
They tried their best to comfort my thoughts of death, but they were to no avail. Instead, one nurse came over and handed me my small bundle of joy.
With my soft blue eyes I peered down into the eyes of my daughter, Dacera. She whimpered gently in my grasp.
Oh... those eyes...
I felt tears rise and fall to my cheeks. Our beautiful daughter, Dacera. I gazed deeply into her eyes as they opened to the world. She had eyes like her mother. They shined with a dark brown flavor, peering this way and that, grasping a hold of her surroundings. And I watched as she peered up at me, as if almost answering my thoughts in unison. Then she closed her eyes and began to whimper, wriggling within my grasp.
I placed my pointer finger on her lips and told her to hush now, for everything would be all right. She didn't reply, but her cries started to taper off as she yawned with sleep. The nurse came by and retrieved her from me.
"You should be with your wife."
I nodded. I blew a small kiss to my daughter, whom I felt so overcome by love for her, and began to walk to the operating room.
I had always hated hospitals. I couldn't stand them. As I walked down to the operating room, just only four doors down, I winced as I saw nurses running by with trays of needles, scissors, and Hyne what else. I came here to support my fiancée, the one I loved and promised I would be there for. But, as I walked down to that operating room, ugh I couldn't stand it. A drop of sweat fell down my forehead as I smelled the stench of the hospital. Cotton balls, medication, syringes, ooohh I almost felt like vomiting and fainting as I smelled that place.
It seemed like an eternity, but somehow I managed to reach that door, the door I feared would come alive and snatch me up. With strong anxiety, I hesitated to bring my head up to read the sign.
I cringed, oh that feeling came into me and I cringed. I dared not to peer again, so instead I opened the damned doors and walked in.
People were rushing about, people carrying needles and plastic pouches. I blinked hard, trying to rid the fear from my eyes. It was fine in the Delivery Room, I could stand it there next to my wife, but now I felt eerily alone. A nurse saw me, turned and said, "You must be Squall." He pointed to the corner. "Hurry and get those clothes on, your wife's not holding out well."
My mind screamed. What!?
I hurried over, clearing the way for the running staff. I dressed as quickly as I could, fearing Rinoa may not hold out long enough for me. Why did this have to happen? We just wanted to start a family, dammit!
I pushed the doors open, and first viewed everything. It was too bright, it was too loud, it was too scary. I set my fear aside as my eyes made way to my fiancée, resting her back on that long raised cot. I immediately ran to her, as a couple nurses watched in sympathy. I didn't know yet she was going to die.
"... Rinoa?" I said, grasping her hand, filled with tubes and tape. I winced as my fingers ran over the needles, but oh I just wanted to be with her.
She didn't gaze up, but she acknowledged my existence next to her. I could feel the exhaustion in her slow breath.
"It's going to be okay. I'm here."
She softly nodded, trying to smile. I could see the uneasy weakness in her eyes. I looked further down on the bed and the only thing I could see was blood. The dark blood stained everything, the doctor's hands, the floor, the sheets, her clothes... oooh the mess was awful. She was weak from the loss of her blood.
Tears rose to my eyes, but I didn't fight them. She slowly began to droop her head back. The doctors watched as she started to get uneasy. They continued to try and fix the tear, but nothing was doing any good. They knew she would die, they just wouldn't tell me, the bastards.
But she looked up into my eyes quickly before she felt the strains of death coming at her eyes. She spoke with great effort trying to get the words out, and although I couldn't hear them well, I knew the meaning of each one, like a sixth sense.
"... D-Da... cer-r-ra..."
"I know. Sssh. J-J-Just take the lightness, show... it no mercy."
Her eyes, sick with lightness, pleaded to me.
I heard from behind us, as the nurses from the Delivery Room came in with our daughter. The small cart rolled up behind me, its squeaking wheels ringing in my ears.
"Ri... noa..." I said, more tears flowing down my cheeks. "Don't leave me, p-p-please? I need you!" I cried out, my eyes forcing down my sadness.
Rinoa only gazed at me, pleading still with her now sick dark eyes. She took my hand ever so gently and squeezed it before her eyes began to quiver.
"No! Rinoa!" I cried.
But she couldn't hear me. I watched in horror as her eyes, those dark brown eyes that I cherished for those many sunrises and many a dusk, glazed with a white cloud and rolled back into her head. The monitors on the side of her cot went crazy as her heart stopped. The beeping was loud and annoying through the room, but I couldn't hear it. Her hand fell limp into my grasp, her fingers resting still. I watched as her chest fell limp as well, releasing her last breath of life into the air. It dissolved without a trace in the room. As I felt her soul leap out and rise to the heavens, my ears cried as my daughter from behind suddenly screamed.
And with that, my love had died.
Everyone in the room either looked at me with deep sympathy or gazed at my daughter with sad surprise. I ignored them all, telling myself it was only a bad nightmare.
"... Oh Hyne..." I whimpered, my arms wrapping around her deceased body. Though the doctors pleaded for me that it was useless and that I should let go, I blew them off and ignored them entirely. My true love was dead now, and she never would see the true beauty and love between us and our daughter. Again, my eyes began to water. Soon, rivers of my tears were flowing down onto her.
"Hyne! Rinoa!" I screamed in the quiet room. "Come back! Oh H-H- Hyne... come back..." My mind raced.
"It's no use..." a doctor said, coming up to me and rubbing my shoulder. "She's gone now."
I could hear my daughter crying in the background, her pain raging out from deep inside. I softly agreed inside.
"Cry all you want... D-Dacera... mom's not... coming back."
I just turned back to Rinoa. Ooooh... my sweet love... why did you have to leave now? I see so much in our future. Or, at least I did. We don't have a future anymore.
I saw it in my eyes as a game. Life was a game, a challenging game that no one really wins. All will lose, and as I glanced upon my fiancee one last time in that hospital before being carried out, I noticed the final result, and it was hard to miss.
Rinoa just lost.
Oooh... the past was hard. I slowly returned to reality, the image of my lost fiancee losing its clear focus. Rinoa disappeared from me again, like those many years before on our daughter's birthday, I watched her leave again. Every year...
I sighed. I took my hand up slowly, and with much regret, I picked up the picture and put it face down on the dresser. Not today, I didn't need to see this today.
I didn't feel like waking up everyone in the house, but now it was six o'clock. I turned my back to the picture and started to walk across the room. I debated if I should let my father sleep. Laguna had spent the whole night trying to wrap my daughter's birthday gifts, and trying to find the perfect hiding place for them. But then again, he probably would want to watch her open them up.
Well... nah... I'll let him sleep.
I adjusted my loafers and went to open the door.
But, before I could, I saw the door slowly open. I gazed into my daughter's eyes as she stood there in her pajamas. She rubbed her tired eyes with sleep.
"Hey sweetie, you're up early." I said.
She yawned, opening her mouth wide. She took a step closer and asked, "May I come in?"
"Of course." I said, and I let her pass. She nodded and her small feet entered my room. I turned around and watched as she climbed up onto the high bed.
Dacera Raine... my daughter. I wasn't ever able to describe her beauty. She looked almost exactly like her mother, dark eyes, slim body, almost all of it. Except her hair, her hair was a rich brown, like my hair, only it had small waves like her mother's. It puzzled me why she looked almost like her mother, but acted the same as I once did. She looked up at me as soon as she got herself positioned right.
I shook my head at her question. "No, I was just admiring your beauty."
She smiled faintly, lightening her attitude.
Ten years later, and she's still a miracle to me.
I breathed in, started walking to her and said, "Ten years old! My Hyne, you're getting to be a young lady."
"Grandpa says that to me all the time!"
"Well, he has a right to."
She somewhat giggled. I couldn't help but to notice in her eyes that she was holding something back from me. I started to worry.
"Dacera, is everything all right? You look... unhappy..."
That wasn't the word for what I was thinking of, but she understood.
"Yeah um..." she said, fidgeting with her nails, another nasty habit she got from me. "I had a dream last night..."
"Really? Tell me all about it."
She took that as a blow to her face and her head slumped down a little. Her chest length hair started to droop down to cover her cheeks.
"I dreamt... about mom..."
I wished she hadn't said that, because I had just tried to get over it. Was she going to start thinking of Rinoa on every one of birthdays as well?
"Did... did I really scream when she died?"
I glanced at her with surprise. But as her eyes came to me for an answer, I realized she knew it all. She knew the whole story now, about her mother. She knew she died because she lost too much blood, she knew Rinoa died telling me I was now the one who would show her everything in life, and I could tell she knew she screamed when her mother died. Dacera was looking at me for an answer of truth. Dacera wanted a shoulder to cry on.
I pulled her in to my warm chest and I let her embrace me.
"Yes, you know that. You knew everything all along."
I was confused. I had two choices to choose from. Either Dacera found out from her grandfather, whom I would most likely lecture later about telling her those kinds of things, or Rinoa had told her. Yes, I said that right. Or Rinoa had told her. Dacera knew her mother died with sorceress powers, perhaps she had inherited them from her. Perhaps Rinoa had passed them on to her before she died.
Actually, I had no clue.
I kissed her cheek and brought her hands up to her shoulders. "Dacera...? How did you know this? Did Laguna or Rinoa tell you?"
"Mom told me."
I nodded. Perhaps it wasn't the sorceress powers. I don't think they even played a role in this. Perhaps Rinoa was sending me a sign of her affection, for the both of us.
I could still sense her roaming around in both of our souls. I hugged my daughter again, whom we had created together, in the very same bed we were sitting on.
I turned my head down to her.
"Do you think mom will come back on my next birthday?"
An odd question, asked at the right time. I already knew the answer to this one. As the years passed from her death, I never ceased to love my Rinoa. And neither did Dacera.
"Yes. Yes she will."
Ami Arashi's Fanfiction