Crimson Lies Chapter 11
I do not own Final Fantasy or any of its characters.
"Fine, go for it. Tell me what you discovered on your almighty quest for
the bite bugs, what earth shattering news you have quit your precious work
to come back and tell me," Rinoa turned away dreading to hear the words aloud.
"I love you," he replied calmly.
Rinoa could not speak, momentarily she could not move. After a few seconds, the registration of the words she heard hit her. She stood from the metal step, walking into the cargo hold of the vehicle, tilting her head slightly to the side before sitting her body on the brown vinyl bench. Finally, her mind was able to form a word. A simple word. "What?" She snapped, looking deeply into his eyes searching for answers. She found them. Rinoa could not comprehend how she had gone from getting ready to tell him off to wanting to hold him, never letting go. He never answered her question, if it was really a question, with words. Squall leaned down close to her face, she was sure he was going to kiss her. Instead, he brushed his lips against her cheeks and starting slowly tracing kisses down her neck. It had been long since Rinoa experienced anything like this. It was something Squall did not do. Squall did not do a lot.
Rinoa rested her head against the humid cushion, seats where many a SeeD sat for transit to and from battles. She found herself closing her eyes and slightly arching her back at his feathery kisses. As suddenly as he started, he stopped. Rinoa flew open her eyes expecting him to be running away. Instead, he just looked deep through her eyes. They did not exchange one word; words would only ruin such a perfect moment. He took his right hand and pushed some lose strands of hair behind her ears, then with the same fluid motion he continued running the hand down her cheek. Slowly he made his way to her black tank top and slowly started rubbing her shoulder. The summer heat left them both sweaty, but nothing compared to the inner emotions, feelings within their own bodies.
When he had been fighting, heat forced him to remove his shirt, tying it around his waste. She smiled back and looked at his bare chest; slowly she ran her fingers along his muscles. The sensation was one that was foreign to him, allowing someone truly this intimate. He knew one thing. He needed her. Cid once warned him that when a knight and a sorceress were to make love it was a bond, a union so strong, it could never be broken. This fact always weighed heavily on him. For that would mean much more then a physical commitment, but also one of complete spiritual nature. For over a year, he held his sexual urges at bay, afraid of the end results. However, with the thought of losing her, of truly losing her, Squall thought of nothing more then desiring to strengthen their connection. Yes, he did do thinking on his trip, just not the way she envisioned. Most of it involved her not having clothes on; he was prepared for this. He wanted this.
He gingerly moved his hand off Rinoa's shoulder and sat down on the cushioned seat beside her. Taking both hands, he slid them gradually down her waist, never once breaking eye contact. Squall slowly grabbed the sweat-damped tank top and carefully lifted the garment above her head. She continued smiling at him, never abandoning his eyes. She lowered her mouth to his chest, trailing kisses along his right shoulder. Gently reaching around both hands to her back, he outlined her spine with the tip of thumb from her neck down to where her bra tightly fastened. The feeling of the contact made her tremble; the emotions were surreal to her. He tentatively worked at the clasp, trying not to break their closeness.
After a second, she giggled looking up at him. Giving him a quick kiss on the lips, she pulled away and effortlessly undid the restraining bra. He sat fascinated with her every move, every one registering different effects on his body. "You'll get used to it," she teased still not releasing the bra from her shoulders.
"I know," he quickly replied pulling her closer to him. This time it was her turn to surprise him as she quickly sat on his lap, putting on leg on either side of his waist. He watched as she let the bra fall, exposing her breast. For a moment he sat memorized, never have experiencing anything like this before. She leaned forward to close the distance to his mouth; the bare feel of skin, almost too much for him. Never in his life had he thought about this actually happening, dreaming and fantasizing, yes. Honestly, not one of his fantasies ever included a dirty Garden vehicle. Curiously, the same one he taken on the SeeD examine; but right now, everything was perfect and truth be told, he would not have changed a thing.
Before Squall knew, her mouth was upon his. Not the exploratory little kisses she would return when he attempted any sort of awkward contact. This was full-passionate kissing and she wouldn't have altered a thing. Squall held her tight, arms wrapped around the small of her back; then started trailing kisses down her neck once again. This time not stopping, continuing on to her breasts. She arched her back to allow him easier access to her chest, all the time trying to keep moaning from the new sensations. After a few minutes of teasing, she leaned back towards him and again found his mouth. He slowly guided her back down onto the vinyl cushions.
He was slightly surprised that she again took some initiative in the situation. Squall could feel her hand fumbling around his belts. She was struggling; he could identify the frustration. Part of him wanted to make her wait; the other part knew he could not wait much longer. Finally, he reached down and undid them with ease. In between kisses he stated, "You'll get used to it."
Rinoa drew him nearer and whispered in his ear, "I know." The phenomenon sent shivers through his spine; never in his life had Squall Leonhart wanted anything more then he wanted Rinoa Heartilly at that moment.
For in that moment in time, in that instance of life, they became one. Bonded further then mere mortals, a relationship understood by few. They entered into a commitment each would never genuinely understand until years later, until circumstances would test loyalty and love. Nevertheless, in that moment, they were one. Squall looked into her eyes, attempting to place clumps of matted hair behind her ears, gently kissing her cheek with every attempt. They stayed silent for what seemed all to short, neither wanting the silence to end; neither wanting the moment to end.
Time was not on their side; he was expected back with wizard stones in hand. Right now, he collected not one. Squall winced at the concept of moving, but made a mental note never to forget this moment. The feel, the sight, and the smell of strawberry shampoo in her hair dark hair, every detail was perfect.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I love you. I knew what you wanted earlier, and I didn't care about how you felt. Rinoa I don't need children, I just need you. If you want a child, there are always other options. You needed support and I couldn't provide it. Somehow, the talk of commitment, of family, scares me. I don't know what the future holds. But the only thing I do know, you will always be a part of it."
"You love me," she almost giggled at the foreign sound of the words.
"Yes really you don't have to sound so surprised," he countered with a rare smile.
She pulled him gently into a deep passionate kiss, breaking it off she ran her hand through his sweat covered hair. "I love you too," she replied looking deep into his soul.
He gave her a quick kiss on the forehead before sitting up, putting his legs back on to the floor. "Come on, I don't want to leave you behind. Will you help me gather some wizard stones?"
She nodded in agreement as they gathered up lose articles of clothing, strewn all around the vehicle, even outside the vehicle. They continued to dress in silence, when they were fully clothed Rinoa walked over to him, taking her hand in his, "Squall" "Yes," he simple replied.
"I'm sorry for what I said about your father. I didn't mean it."
"Look what he did is wrong. I would never abandon my family."
The fire roared in the small cabin on the Trabian content. Crackles of the logs falling off the fire made her jump out of her trance. The memories of that day would always play over and over, it was so right. They were so right.
Rinoa jumped up and set the stray log back into the fire with the poker. Remembering precisely the words that Squall promised to her on that day, "I would never abandon my family." The thought almost made her nauseous; he lied. The irony of the situation was almost humorous. Not only did the son become the father, but son surpassed father; Laguna would have never turned on Raine. Rinoa was sure of that fact. Squall could have learned something from they loyalty his father possessed, but hoping was all in vein.
She checked the fire one last time before grabbing the small pillow and blanket from the dusty bed. The fire offered her warmth, comfort. She would sleep next to it for two more nights. She had to buy time until the next transport vehicle; hiding in the woodlands was perfect cover. SeeD would be in Trabia, a risk she was not willing to take. Somehow, she had to make it to Dollet; she had to find Alexandra. She had to protect Ally at any cost even her own life.
When given the simple choice of yes or no, I made the incorrect decision.
Somehow, I truthfully thought that a yes could transform my life into the
fairy tale I dreamed. Squall learned to love, now he could learn to love
me. For so many years I watched him grow, watched him mature. I fell in love
with the boy, never the man. I saw him as the child who still desired protecting,
who still yearned for nurturing; I was wrong. I saw him today for the first
time. I saw him through the eyes of an adult, not that of an infatuated
I failed, simply put. Rejection is the hardest part of life; it is human nature to avoid failure. We are taught as children to do our best and that will always be good enough. That is a lie, an illusion created by those around us to hide our shortcomings. Nobody aspires to fail, nobody attempts to fail, yet signs of failure are all around us. Every rejection, every denial drives us deeper into personal solitude. The secret is getting out before it buries you.
Learn from it; move on. But to what do we move on to? That is the unsolvable question. When one has spent their entire life on what turns to be a fantasy, for Hyne's sake, search for the inner strength and just move on. As much as it hurts, as much as it stings, and as much as you want nothing more then to breakdown, just move on.
The ex-instructor sat on the little bed, not fit for even a single occupant. The maritime way of life was foreign to her, as was any other form of existence outside Garden. These crafts were nothing but transport vehicles for military personal. Usually employed by the Galbadian government, the amenities, at best, were meager. It did not carry the luxury as many vessels did, small cabins barely capable to hold the quad bunks. There were still enough rooms on board to give each of the four travelers a separate room. Yes, she was sure that would be questioned later on; rumors were a way of life presently.
The obscurity outside the window only mimicked the feelings in her heart; like a doppelganger staring back directly to her soul. The Griever pendant was heavy around her neck; the weight was a welcome sensation. Occasionally she moved her fingers where her golden band should be, a sign of past memories. Quistis pulled her long hair back into a rubber band, permitting clear vision of the files scattered around the single bed.
Something didn't feel correct. Whether it was the events previously, the overwhelming barrenness, the Bennett assignment, or a grotesque combination of the three she didn't know. What she did know, nonetheless, was that things would be different; her life would be different. Picking up the pieces would be hard, but she was strong. She still held the designation of SeeD, right now that her only comfort. Quistis lifted her head as she heard the sounds of footsteps on the metal passageway outside.
Not waiting for the formalities of knocking, Quistis yelled for the unknown shipmate to come in. Lauren opened the door apprehensively at first, before making eye contact with the cabins occupant.
"Well," Quistis mused to herself, "She is the lesser of three evils."
"Instructor Leonhart," the girl began, before being hastily interrupted
"Quistis," she corrected, she was no longer a teacher, nor would have the title of Mrs. Leonhart a great deal longer.
"Oh okay Quistis," Lauren stated slightly bewildered. "I just received a wire from Garden. We have been informed that Renee Bennett passed away this afternoon."
"Oh Hyne, poor woman, she never got to see her daughter again, before before she passed away."
"Yes, I was thinking how hard that must have been, not to mention how her husband must be suffering. First their daughter abducted, now his wife no longer by his side; he must be miserable."
"Lauren, you're precisely right. I couldn't ever envision going through two such traumatic events. The files maintain his wife had been ill for sometime. I guess the anxiety was too much on her."
"The World Council wanted to notify us that they are stepping up the investigation. I wanted to give Commander Leonhart the communication."
Quistis turned to the shadowy window, "If you're asking me where the commander is, I don't know. My guess would be out in the freezing air, that's just a presumption." The brown-haired SeeD started to close the door. "Hey Lauren," Quistis inquired. "Why are they stepping up the investigation now, after his wife passed away? Shouldn't they have had a full-scale investigation going previously?"
"I don't know Inst Quistis. I just received the communication from Selphie. Maybe the council wants to make sure Richard Bennett has something to hope for."
"Yeah, presume you're right. Just seems that calling both Trabia and Balamb Gardens for an abduction case seems well nonstandard practice. I guess it helps to be a sitting delegate on the World Council, those bastards have nothing better to do then intervene in others lives."
Lauren knew better then to ask details, respect taught her as much. However, she did question Quistis meaning in the last statement. After Lauren left the compartment, she returned to examining the files that lay on her bed. With a renewed interest not only to find Rinoa, but also to solve the kidnapping case, Quistis could think of no greater loss then that of a child, even her situation seemed inconsequential in comparison. Again, she heard footsteps echoing on the metal walkway. Figuring that Lauren forgot to inform her of something, she was assuming the door to open once again; it did. What she did not expect, conversely, was the man standing in the narrow hallway.
"Seifer," she said animosity in her tongue. "Didn't anybody teach you to knock?"
"Yes, but now what fun would that be?"
"You're a jackass," she rejoined pulling papers back into the main file.
"It's always a pleasure to see you too, Mrs. Commander."
"Seifer don't," she begged wordlessly with her eyes.
He walked over to the bed. It was too small for one individual to sleep upon, yet appropriately sized for two to be seated on, if one didn't want to sit up strait that is. He reached his right hand to her shoulder, looking genuinely into her penetrating blue eyes, "I'm sorry Quistis that was uncalled for."
She smiled at him, though only for a slight instant. "Can I help you with something or did you just come by to make my life miserable?"
"Actually," he said smirking at her, "You didn't come up for dinner. Although, dinner would be an overstatement for this floating tin can. More like rations given to military prisoners, bread and water would have been more appealing. But I I didn't want you to go hungry so I brought you this." Handing her a small red apple, avoiding eye contact.
Quistis giggled slightly, "Seifer, I didn't know you cared. Little old to be bringing an apple to the ex-teacher."
"Oh not you too; I think one verbally challenged person in my life is all I can take."
"What about Fujin?" Seifer joked.
Quistis laughed. For the first time in god knows how long she actually laughed. "I stand corrected Mr. Almasy, two verbally challenged people in my life is enough. Honestly, what brings you by, kinda out of the way to come down here? Figured you and Squall would catching up on all those lost years."
"Yeah right, I'm sure he has so much he wants to share with me. Actually, I just left him to mope on the deck; I'm sure that will take up most of his evening unless he makes time for sulking, brooding or pouting."
"Why Seifer, why after five years did you come back?" she asked with complete seriousness on her face.
"I don't know; sure wasn't for Mr. Personality up there. Guess I wanted to help, I have a lot to make up for."
"So after Rinoa vanishes, two years later you show up out of the blue, just when the council is stepping up its investigation? Seems inconsistent to me, is there something else we should know about, another motivation that brought you here?"
"Nothing that you would understand . or in reality, believe," he trailed off diffidently.
"Try me Seifer. Think I would believe anything right now."
"Um well," Seifer was uncomfortable. Even Quistis could tell his apprehension about the topic. Her first thought was one that she fleetingly found herself getting distressed over, upset or jealous it truthfully didn't matter.
"You're still in love with Rinoa," Quistis said flatly. "Join the club."
"I'm not in love with Rinoa!" he corrected with abrasiveness in his gruff voice. "I might still care for her, but I can unquestionably tell you, I'm not in love with her. Somehow, when you spend five years alone, or practically alone, you think back on events in your life. Mistakes years past, mistakes that hound your every waking moment and your every dream, it can be devastating."
"I understand," she spoke sympathetically. "I understand all too well."
"It's the dream part that always seems to get me in trouble." Seifer tried to make light of the situation, "If it wasn't for those darn dreams all the time. First, it was the desire to be a sorceress's knight, at any cost. Now, the dreams are more vivid, more real, not really about any specific title or role, more concerning salvation and redemption. I can't give details distinctively; I just know that Squall, Rinoa, you, and I are part of the visualization. I think we are working together, fighting some species of dragon. Don't ask me about the beast, I couldn't accurately describe it. It is nothing like we have ever encountered before, or anything known to the bestiary world. All I know is its unadulterated evil. The monster is bronze in color, yet the eyes are piercing black. A black so evil, that the orbs steal the very life force around them."
"Is it something from another dimension another time, like Ultimecia?"
"No," the fear notable on his face; something that would upset such a man must truly be revolting. "I don't know what it is or what it represents. For some reason I feel that it more a chameleon amongst us; it thrives solely on the agony of others. I can't explain the sensation, even if I wanted."
"Seifer, are you okay?"
"Yeah, fine. I just wish that the dreams would end, I find myself unable to sleep at night dreading the nightmares to begin again. I just want the torture to end; something has brought me here, of that I'm convinced."
"I'm sorry. I know what it's like to live with such nightmares, although mine are more manifested by the guilt eating away inside. I know this now. I lay awake at night replaying all the events; figuring out what I could have done better. How I could've saved Ellone, how I could've saved Rinoa, and additionally, how I could've saved myself."
Seifer stood from the bed tracing his thumb across Quistis velvety face, as if wiping away tears that did not come. He smiled vaguely, "Two days ago on the beach in Balamb you said that I didn't know what it felt like to be in love with somebody who could never love me back. Maybe I do."
"Rinoa?" she questioned aloud, although internal hoping for another answer. She didn't know why, rationalization was not part of emotion. Something inside her felt comfortable with the man, a sensation unlike any she felt before. Maybe circumstances brought them together, two lost souls trying to find deliverance. Two lost souls looking for the home the never had, in a world completely unique to each.
"You really are stuck on that subject. Let me tell you now that not everybody is in love with her. There are other people out there; I guess it just takes everyone time."
For some unknown reason, even to her, Quistis rose slowly from the small cot. Seifer's hand still on her tender cheek, silently she raised her hand to his face. How long how it had been that someone allowed her to touch them, to get close to them? How long had it been that she wanted to touch someone else in the same way. Before reason caught hold of her senses, she closed the gap between the two, tenderly touching her lips against his. Finally, he could not wait any longer, passionately deepening the kiss. She remembered an ecstasy long lost and forgotten, a feeling so overwhelming that all practical judgment vanished. He too feverishly returned the emotion, pulling her body closer to his.
Lauren found Squall sitting on a bench, where Quistis believed him to be.
He was lost in the stars memorizing every bright fleck in the sky. Looking
for signs of possibility, a long escaped sign off destiny, fate had lent
him the gesture many years ago. The fog had lifted several kilometers back,
revealing a blanket of speckles on the dark cover of night. The air was chilling,
the closer to Trabia they would get, the more dramatic the change of atmosphere.
"Commander Leonhart," Lauren spoke with conviction. "I have received a wire from Selphie."
"Renee Bennett passed away this afternoon. The council wants to step up the investigation; many members will be attending the funeral in three days. Currently they want to double the number of all active SeeD's on the case, they have asked for Balamb to send in further aid."
"Did she suffer?"
"Sir, suffer?" Lauren questioned before the context of the commanders statement was grasped. "Oh, I'm sure that she was in pain from the illness, but they would have given her medication to alleviate the agony."
Squall nodded. "But not nearly as much as she suffered from the loss of one she loved, no drug could counter that."
Squall stood from the bench, momentarily having to regain the sturdiness in his legs. An ephemeral thought crossed his mind, "Why would they double the efforts upon her death; why not before to insure complete coverage?" Just as quickly, as the thought came to mind, he placed it back into the recess of his mind. "Dismissed, Lauren, now go get some sleep."
The tiny stairway in the boat was both awkward and uncomfortable. Squall found himself having to turn side way and duck to avoid hitting the overhang above. These ships incontestably were not designed for any other purpose then minimal transportation for large number of troops. He found the cabin Quistis had been assigned, opening the door. For an instant, he was immobilized. Words escaped him for the briefest of seconds as he stared at the two intertwined figures. Not being one of tact, or one good at problematic situations, Squall announced, "Seifer when you are done with my wife, I need to talk to her." He closed the door still trying to burn the image from his memory.
The two had broken the kiss somewhere during the interruption; neither noticed when the commander walked in, or how long he was present. Seifer looked at Quistis struggling to read the expression behind her eyes; the moment was one awkward and nerve retching. The blonde woman finally broke eye contact with the closed metal door, looking back at Seifer. She laughed. Seifer unsure how to react stood silent until Quistis reached forward drawing him into a hug, placing her head upon his chest, all the time still laughing. Seifer finally gave in to the irony of the situation, as he too, started laughing returning the warm embrace.
The train gently rocked back and forth in a smooth rhythmic motion, lending
itself to aid in the sleep of weary travelers. All though it was only eight
o'clock in the evening, the long journey had worn them out. Irvine finally
drifted to a light sleep as Zell snored aloud. His sleep that not unlike
any other night. In an unconscious state, the martial artist began the terrifying
chain of events he learned to dread the last months.
The dream occurred in the same fashion as any other time, the Balamb plains, the crystal blue pond, and the blood, so much fucking blood. Every detail chiseled in his mind, every fear recalled when he awoke. The dream, the visions, had merged into his waking moments. Zell could essentially picture the events with undocumented accuracy, even when awake. Finally, the last events of the tragic scene played in his state of slumber. He welcomed the escape that allowed him to join the conscious world. Waking up with a jolt, as the train hissed as compressed air was applied to activate the breaks.
This time was different. Never had he had the nightmare been so early, never had the clock read 4:27 in the morning. The red neon numbers became a small comfort after the occurrences. It was the first sign of reality, this time, no digital numbers, no electric clock. As he shook his head trying to get sleep out of his mind, he felt a slight tickle at his foot. Somewhere during the trip, the two ticket stubs had fallen down, causing the slightest pressure on his sock. His first thought, leave the tickets, someone was paid to clean up these things; let them earn their wages. However, good manners prevailed as he reached down to properly throw away the trash.
If by destiny, as if by fate, he chanced to glance down at the stubs something caught his attention. A numerical replacement for the digital clock, the tickets listed the train number as 427. Zell had been the one who purchased the tickets for the wrong train. A sudden feeling ensnared his body, indescribable at best. No longer being controlled by his own thoughts, a force seemed to be guiding him as he shouted to Irvine.
"Oh shit, Irvine this is it! I found it!" Zell wholeheartedly screamed.
Irvine woke from his sleep, giving the martial artist a look of repugnance, "Found what?"
"I don't know, but I know it's here!" Zell jumped from his seat as the train parked at the station. He found himself pushing the crowds of passengers out of the way, heading for what, he didn't know. Passengers were cussing at the hurried man, several even pushed back, but Zell would not tire from his quest; whatever that may be. He reached the forward most compartment, scanning the car thoroughly. A woman was currently disembarking from the train, the conductor helping her to the station platform. He could not see her face, only the auburn brown hair. There was something familiar about her, something drawing him.
He opened the closest emergency exit, setting off alarms and bells throughout the passenger compartments. Running the direction the woman headed, suddenly he stopped as soldiers closed in. Galbadian soldiers? In Dollet now during a time of supposed peace of the nations, guarding the train station at this time? Then it hit him, like a pursuit that abruptly ends after months, years of searching. He was meant to be here, fate decided this.
He continued on forward, taking note of the military positioning within the station. Turning his head around to scan for Irvine, he ran unexpectedly into someone. He started the ritual, unmeaning apology; then he saw her, the same women he had seen on the train. Then he saw them, the soldiers gaining on her position raising arms; then he saw the child, the small infant carefully cradled protectively in the woman's arms. Allison.
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