Crimson Lies Chapter 18
Peace does not appear so distant as it did.
I hope it will come soon, and come to stay;
and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time.
During that time between sleep and consciousness, a thousand wishes are made. Some simple, like five more minutes of sleep; some more complex than a lifetime of eternities. If one could find a happy medium, they are truly blessed. It is also the time, when realization is upon you, and dreams are sorted from actuality. A time when sensations return, and truth is discovered. With every night comes the dawn
Her first thought, how stiff her back muscles were. Lying on her side, she stretched her legs, slightly arching her back. When reality dawned, Rinoa quickly opened her eyes. For a second, she saw only the cabin interior. The fire died down, leaving only smoldering ash. A sudden apprehension took over, when she noticed herself on the bed. Was yesterday one of her vivid daydreams? The thought made her ill; it was so perfect, it was so wonderful .
Morning, a hoarse voice spoke softly from behind.
The smile couldnt stay away, it was real, he was real. Rolling onto her back, she stretched arms overhead as her eyes turned toward him. God, he was handsome, even after all this time; after all the stress evident in his features. Their eyes locked, neither willing to move. Minutes they stayed there, neither saying a word; just taking in everything that was them.
Squall noticed how she matured, her features more the woman than the girl he remembered from his dreams. Her shorter hair highlighted her face, as wispy strands fell into her eyes. What weight she had gained from the child, suited her well. Giving her a more shapely and defined figure, but still perfect. Her smile, her smile hadnt changed, not one bit. She was still the saintly being, his angel, and his savior.
Rinoa found herself lost in his eyes; it had always been his eyes. On the surface, they appeared to be of blue, with hints of brown. However, on the inside they were the stormy river that leads to his soul. His torment, and his sorrow, all shown openly within the tender gaze. She found herself drowning in his eyes, not wanting anyone to rescue her. When he made the slightest of sounds, whether a sigh, or a heavy breath, it brought her back into the truth. All of a sudden, she was no longer looking at his eyes but those of Allison. Tensing at the thought of her helpless daughter, Squall could tell her sudden change in demeanor.
Are you okay? he asked tenderly placing a hand on her silken skin.
The physical contact shot electricity through her veins, as she replied, Yeah, Im fine. I just had a sudden thought about Ally Squall, Im so worried about her.
Sometimes it was hard for him to grasp the concept of Rinoa being a mother. Hell, he only found out yesterday. All that transpired; nothing accurately had time to sink in. For a second, an almost jealous feeling over took him, the child was on her mind during their moment. At that time, he inwardly cursed himself for such a thought, how fucking selfish. Then it occurred to him, the truth that he did not want to face. The truth he was resentful of Richard Bennett was the father, not him. The jealousy was not with the child, it lay within the paternity. That bastard.
Honestly, children were never his thing. The junior cadets at Garden made him nervous enough and they were at least five. Maybe it was their disorder, maybe it was their lack of attention span, or maybe they represented everything he lost.
Watching their carefree ways and childish games made him uncomfortable; so in return, he learned to resent what they stood for innocence. Something lost to him long ago, and something that would be lost to them soon enough.
He told Rinoa once he didnt want children. It was easy writing it off to the job, or the danger of living at Garden in general. But the fact he hadnt faced then, or even now, was the thought of true, unconditional love. Someone that would depend on him, for their survival, for their life. Moreover, something he was afraid of losing or hurting as his father had done him.
Now after so long of not caring, he found himself in a discomfited situation. He would have to come face to face with his fears, for her, and for himself. Allison was part of Rinoas life; he would defend Ally just as he would her mother. The knight would honor his duty as protector of the child, in life and spirit, even if he wasnt the biological father.
His mind raced back to that arid day in Balamb. The one forever etched in both their memories, picturing Rinoa sitting in the passenger seat of the Garden vehicle. That was the first day she mentioned children to him, or any sort of future commitment. Hell that was the only day she ever mentioned children again. Rinoa learned her limits that day, there were lines drawn that even she wouldnt cross.
The fear that overtook him, at the mere notion of naming children, was greater than the child itself. It was a fear of commitment but most of all, a fear of true love. In his mind, at this moment, he heard her once again asking the question, Do you like Allison for a girl and Aaron for a boy? Four years and a lifetime since then, Squall Leonhart finally looked her in the eye, answering the very question that terrified him five years ago.
Rinoa I like the name Allison for a girl.
The statement was so off-the-wall she managed a laugh, through her obvious worry. That was a way of hiding her true pain. Her immediate thought was telling him the truth about his daughter, yet something continued to hold her back. Hell, they had been as close as physically possible last night but maybe that was it. Physically possible something mentally was not complete. The bond was there, not broken, but damaged.
Was it the lack of trust or her shattered spirit still torn between knight and family? A million possibilities flashed through her mind. Then it dawned on her, why must she still separate the two knight or family? Two separate entities, not in union. Why were they not one? He gave himself on every level last night, but the one she genuinely desired. Trust. He was still holding something back and dammit, she knew it. She knew him.
Slowly her thoughts drifted back to him, as he stared deeply within her eyes. If she knew did he know it too? If they were honestly one, there would be no secrets. Yet she could tell he was holding back, and for sanity alone she would too. There would be a time to tell him but not right now. Too much left unsaid.
Plus, she was afraid. Afraid of his reaction; afraid of the truth.
Ah thank you? she said confused, not relating the answer to her question four years ago in Balamb.
Suddenly the entire incident with Richard Bennett flashed in his mind The hostility toward Squall, and SeeD. The picture of Zell and Irvine helping the accused kidnapper, now it became crystal clear. They found out who the child was. They were willing to risk their freedom and lives for the child.
Oh Hyne, he said rolling to his back shocked. They have Allison.
Rinoa sat straight up, all look of contentment vanished at the thought.
Who has Allison? Squall whats wrong?
Sitting up his only intent to comfort her distress, he gently put both his arms around her shoulders. Trying to pacify her fears, he explained, When I went to Bennetts house he was extremely belligerent. The entire ordeal ended up with him on the floor. I had no idea why the man hated me so much. Now I understand. He also threatened the lives of other SeeDs that aided in the abduction. None of the pieces fit, then he handed me a surveillance photo. In it Zell was running with an unidentified woman, and Irvine holding a child they stopped the capture in Dollet.
Gasping for air within her lungs, the thought of them apprehended made her body tremble. He pulled her near as their skin touched Rinoa felt a comfort unlike any other. Resting her head on his bare chest, she listened to the rhythmic sound of his heartbeat. He in return, wrapped his arms around her, silently stroking her hair. His grip, tighter than normal, for a second he worried about her ability to breathe. It had been so long, this comfort so foreign. To him. To her.
He never wanted to let go.
Squall could feel warm tears rolling down his chest, but did not care. Each one traced its own path, letting him know he was alive.
Zell and Irvine will protect her right? she asked through gasping breaths. Already knowing the answer, if her friends had gone into hiding with Alexandra. But for some reason, she needed to hear if from him. Friends? How long had it been since she considered them friends.
Of coarse, Rin they will hold no hard feelings for you against her. They have shown that, I trust them with my life yours and Allisons.
Wait she pulled herself away, again examining his expression. You mean they think I still killed Ellone? You never told them the truth?
He glanced away for an instant, embarrassed the admission slipped his mind during the turmoil. Only he, Seifer and Quistis knew the truth right now and that might be a little hard to comprehend, given her current emotive state.
He ran his fingers through her silky brunette hair, smoothing back the clumps that glued to her face with tears.
Compassionately he explained, Rinoa, I just found out myself. I guess well, I wasnt thinking of anything, but finding you. Ive never been one to share things with people, if it wasnt necessary at that moment. My only thought was you, now that we had a lead in Trabia. Never in a hundred seasons did I imagine finding you this quickly. Though, I can never express my gratitude in doing so.
Rinoa smiled weakly. I understand, empathy in her voice. So how is everyone doing? I really would like to know.
He lay back down onto the bed, pulling her with him. Grabbing her hand, he intertwined their fingers. His other arm holding her tightly, each points of contact of their bodies a wondrous sensation.
Squall turned his head toward her, giving the slightest kiss on the forehead before starting, Selphie and Irvine are doing well although neither really speaks to me unless they have to. I havent been the easiest person to get along with for the last couple of years. Selphie tries to remain cheerful, at least on the outside. Inside I think she is as lost as the rest of us. Irvine made SeeD, but he will really never truly be one in his heart. Which I am grateful for, even if I dont say it. Originality is hard to come by in military standards.
Snuggling closer into his chest, Rinoa gave his neck a small kiss. She knew the commander wasnt the easiest person to get along with, Hyne she knew. She could only imagine how he reacted to the death of his sister and the loss of Rinoa. No matter the circumstances she left under. She should have been there along side him. That is where she was fucking supposed to be. For a minute she tensed in anger about the betrayal how could her friend do that
Sensing her behavioral change, he quickly continued, Zell well, honestly Zell has taken this situation almost as hard as me. He lost faith that day, though he wont admit it. He has been going through the motions, trying desperately to act like himself. But I know, those of us who conceal can tell when others are hiding behind masks.
Smiling up at him Rinoa listened carefully as Squall recalled everything.
Cid accepted a liaison role with the World Council, publicity and that sort of political crap. The kind of shit I hate, but he seems to handle it well. Edea moved back to the orphanage, remodeling. They dont have any children there I dont think they ever will. Nevertheless, its a hope. It keeps her going. She wasnt treaded too nicely after the innocent, ex-sorceress or not feelings of hatred run deep. So, she is alone most of the time, Cid is there on weekends but I know its not enough for her. Oh, by the way I gave her Angelo.
Lifting her head, she looked at him, with a huge smile, Really? He nodded. Squall I just figured that Angelo was well you know she was my dog. I figured after what happened someone would have
He interrupted her statement, Yeah, I did too. Selphie really wanted the dog, even when everyone thought that you were well you know. But threats had been made, and I thought it my duty to protect Angelo, she was a part of you; the only part that remained. When Edea left from Garden after the memorial, she was willing to take Angelo to the orphanage Rin your dog loves it there. All the fields to play in, the rabbits to chase, and the ocean she loves the ocean.
Rinoa leaned in, giving him a quick kiss on the lips, which he generously returned.
Squall, make you a deal. If we ever get out of this we will take Allison to the orphanage. She has never seen the ocean, never felt sand between her toes Squall she has never even seen a dog that wasnt in a book. We will take her, and then Edea will have a child there.
It was a dream, Squall knew that, but it was a dream they both could share. He smiled to her, no words were needed, his smile brighter than a million words. God, did he ever remembering being this content? If so, the memories repressed way beyond reclamation. Pulling her into him, they again started what they had last night. Something so foreign, yet so familiar. Each kiss with more urgency, with more passion.
Both shocked out of actions, when a terrible commotion erupted outside. Squall sat up quickly, verbally cussing out the damn bird. The chocobo that had carried him to the ascetic cabin was now running around in circles. Flapping its feathers, demanding attention in nonverbal urgency. As the chocobo continued its proceedings, a sudden feeling of trepidation took over.
Rinoa, get dressed. Quick.
She didnt answer him, jumping off the bed and started searching for loose articles of clothes. He was doing the same. As Rinoa buttoned her pants she looked at him, eyes satiated with fear.
What Squall whats wrong?
I dont know yet. But that chocobo is trying to warn me of something dont ask please just dont ask.
With a curiosity at the birds tantrum, the mystified woman walked over to the window, spying the yellow creature running in circles. It had worn a path from its previous travels, all of a sudden it darted into the forest as if not wanting to be witnessed. Ample snow covered the ground, the previous days storm made the road to the cabin only visible by the tree lined path.
Her eyes widened as she observed her worst fear. SeeD, she said aloud, then with more urgency, Squall hurry. SeeD is here.
Hyne, how long had it been since she had such a peaceful night sleep? The bed was remarkably small for one person, let alone two. Nor was it comfortable by any means yet she slept. Peacefully. He had actually stayed with her though the night. In reality, she wasnt expecting him there when she woke, but was glad for the surprise.
He, on the other hand, had not woken yet. When he slept, she could see the child within. All traces of evil or hostility gone, in their place the solitude and tranquility one could only find when not seeking it. Maybe this is where her search ended; maybe he was her chalice, her holy grail.
Her mind flashed to the orphanage and between the two boys. Each alike, each different. What separated them and such a young age? What made her fall for Squall over Seifer? She could argue it to be Squalls personality, quiet, shy and dependent in his own way. A way he never understood, but Quistis did. He had not always been like that though not when Ellone was around. In reality, back then, the two boys were extremely similar, especially in attitude.
Nevertheless, the day Ellone left, Squall changed. He became the one she wanted to help, that was her nature. The same thing that led her toward the life as instructor, lead her to Squall. But the day Ellone left permanently Squall changed again. It was more than the loss of a sister, it was the loss of life, both his and Ellone.
This leaves Seifer. Always the other one in her mind, and to all who grew up with them. She realized what drew her to Squall, would be the only reason they were apart. Squall didnt need a sister two years ago; he needed a lover his soul mate. Quistis was neither. But Seifer he needed her. Why had she been so blind from the start? Then again, five years ago they werent meant to be together, each had to learn from their mistakes. It was supposed to be this way. That simple.
They needed to grow, they needed to mature they needed each other.
A loud knock sounded on the door. Quistis tried to sit up, even though Seifer was half on top of her. The noise didnt seem to bother him this guy could sleep through anything. After another attempt to sit up failed miserably, she finally announced for the person to come in. For a minute she pondered any recourse on her reputation being married to the Commander and all. Then she decided she didnt care any more.
Lauren opened the door, visibly surprised to see Quistis sleeping with another man. Fully clothed. But Quistis had told her the full story last night. Outlandish to think her instructor, more importantly the commanders wife, lay in bed with the Seifer Almasy. His reputation at Garden was less than flattering, if not down right hated. Yet still, he didnt seem like an evil tyrant bent on worldwide domination, well at least in her opinion.
Hey Quistis, the press conference is an hour. I hadnt seen you, so thought I would check if you all right I see that you are fine now, she laughed slightly as the woman in bed slightly blushed in embarrassment. Really, its okay. Im not going to tell anyone who would believe me anyhow? Oh, more SeeD members arrived today to look for Bennetts wife er the sorceress and Squall. Still nobody has made a connection that I can figure.
Lauren, her name is Rinoa. I know its strange to say after all that has happened. But its just Rinoa. I promise you, the Commander will no longer yell at you if you say that name.
Thanks Quistis, she replied with a smile. Its just so strange. Everything. Really though, you dont know what an honor it is that you trusted me. I promise to help the four of you, the best way I can. Its my duty as SeeD, more importantly, as a friend.
Quistis tried getting up again. Hey Lauren, as a friend, do you have any idea how to wake him up?
The knock came, they knew it would. Squall motioned for Rinoa to hide behind the door, same fashion as last night. There was only one SeeD, that was a consolation. He would do his best not to harm him, but if it came down to it, he would protector her at any cost. What he did not realize, nor could he. The irony that they were not searching for her, but for him. SeeD was on a hunt for their Commander.
Slowly he opened the door.
The SeeD looked a little upset to see him, almost the tiniest bit of fear. Squall remained calm, letting his leadership instincts take hold.
Its about time soldier, Squall spat out at the man. Who was more than a little baffled.
Sir its about time?
Yes, I sent that distress call over twelve hours ago. I would think that Trabia Garden would be capable of a simple rescue and recovery operation.
The SeeD remained calm, playing along with the Commanders little game.
Oh oh right. We had some trouble triangulating the location during the storm, but I was sent when the storm let out.
Fine let me just get my coat.
The commander walked to his coat and then turned back to the SeeD.
Oh can you get my radio over there.
The SeeD saluted and started to the table he never felt the metal pot hit his head, rendering him unconscious. Squall bent down to him checking his pulse.
Hell be fine. Come on.
He grabbed Rinoas hand and headed for the door, toward the waiting Garden Vehicle.
Each knew one thing. There was no going back for Squall now. He made his decision.
Reports from every corner of the globe circled, like vultures in the sky. Each wanted to ask Mrs. Leonhart questions about her husbands disappearance. She and Lauren walked through the locust, pushing a path leading to the platform. Damn them. Damn all of them. Never had she been so harassed by a group, never had she felt such hatred toward people. The press made Squall the villain. Hell, he was already tried and convicted with out a trial.
She wondered how people could change their opinions so quickly, without a second thought. One minute he was the savior of the world, next a cold-blooded murderer. There was no gray, only black and white. Quistis wished Seifer could have been with her, but hell they would have picked him out quickly. He would already be imprisoned by now. Then it hit her, she was the only one of them left who could walk down the street. Rinoa, Squall, and Seifer their lives, their freedoms were over.
Would time forget and forgive?
Lauren kept most of the jackals at bay, at least the ones she could. Several other SeeD members were present, helping the escort. After what seemed the short eternity they arrived at the platform. She took her seat along side President Mitchell of Galbadia. He looked to her with a smirk, murmuring his apologizes about her husband reassuring her that they were not holding her responsible.
Seifer watched from a snow-covered alleyway. Things had come full circle. Two years ago this week he watched as Squall Leonhart announced the hunt for the sorceress and now he was watching Quistis Leonhart announce the hunt for him. Irony. The fucking irony. Neither guilty, but neither free. He watched her eyes in fear, how he wished that he was standing beside for support. The bastard from Galbadia was talking to her; he could sense her uneasiness from even this far away. That man was the devil, disguised as a savior to many. Seifer knew.
Quistis sat as officials made the artificial allegations. Every fucking one of them, a lie. Still, she didnt waiver. They needed her Rinoa, Squall, and even Seifer. Their future depending on her actions. How she handled herself among the snakes. She sat reading the documents that had been presented, feigning being lost in thought. Trying to think of something plausible to say during her speech. She was to relay the current situation of SeeD; their duties and where loyalties lie, against the Commander.
Suddenly fear shrouded her. Quistis could feel his heartless eyes staring at her. She looked over to President Mitchell to counter his actions. She would not be weak this time. His eyes narrowed in a glare for a brief second she couldnt comprehend the change.
At that instant, they announced President Jefferson Mitchell to take the podium, to the delight of many supporters. Again his popularity was growing, the leader of the famed World Council had ventured to the humble town, to help with the tragic loss of their own delegate. He looked at Quistis reached his hand down to her thigh leaned in whispering the most horrifying word imaginable.
She felt a sudden urgency, as bile began to rise. She heard that word before; she had heard that threat before. Right before the school bus bombing the only thing making her keep the secret, that was drowning her.
President Mitchell turned to her while taking his place among the microphones. A smile with evil and greed. In that moment she knew who they were dealing with.
That bastard knew of Rinoa and that bastard framed Squall.
Nobody was safe.
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