Crimson Lies Chapter 21
Doubt that the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.
The musty wooden crates smelled of mold. The darken interior was only breached by the smallest rays of moonlight that shown through rotten planks. Together they were huddled by an exterior wall of the cargo ship, between the crates large enough to comfortably store an adult Behemoth. Although they were near, she made great caution never to make contact with him.
Rinoa had not spoken to him in almost five hours, a short eternity he was willing to sacrifice. Squall kept his distance, never attempting conversation. He knew better. This was completely her decision; he respected her enough to allow her privacy. In time, she would ask him questions and sitting in this god-forsaken boat, they would have plenty of time.
Reaching the harbor had been easy enough; Squall had parked the vehicle on the outskirts of the shipping yards. His intentions were not to conceal it, rather just the opposite. It wouldn't be out of the ordinarily by the least to have SeeD patrolling the harbors. To purposely try to conceal the vehicle would have been much more obvious.
The only snag they had run across was the "voluntary inspections" enacted by the World Council around a year ago. They were about as voluntary as a root canal, but it sounded good to the citizens. Openly stating, "We're checking your ships so we can tax your asses." From a political standpoint, the latter may have not gone over well. After the customs inspections were finished, the two managed to sneak aboard, all in nonverbal communication.
Leaning his head against the wall, Squall closed his eyes memorizing the sounds of her breathing. It's strange what one can hear without words, in the stillness of the night. The rocking boat was a comfort right now, like a mother in a rocking chair with her child. After he thought he was going to go out of his mind, he checked the neon blue glow of his watch. It was now past midnight. From all best estimates, they would arrive in Dollet somewhere around nine in the morning.
Listening to her breathing Squall could tell Rinoa had not gone to sleep. Not rhythmic and peaceful, it sounded like she was going to blow up at him any moment. He waited.
One could cut the tension with a knife, and she knew that. Breaking the silence, she finally asked him, "Who knows I didn't kill Ellone?"
Exhaling loudly he answered, "Rinoa, before we left I didn't have much time to tell anyone. It was basically a need-to-know mission. I re-instated Quistis to SeeD so she and Seifer could "
Shit. With everything else going on, he forgot about Seifer. Last time any of them had seen him, he was offering Rinoa as a human sacrifice. Oh yes, the day just got better. Even in the dark, he could tell she was looking at him, eyes throwing daggers. And he felt every single on of them enter his body.
"Rinoa please a few days ago Seifer came by Garden offering to help. I have trusted him completely, and so far, he has not let me down. He needs salvation like the rest of us, trust me, he'll come through. It was he that helped lead us to you and Rinoa he believed in you from the start. Something that not everyone can say including me."
Laughing openly, the kind of laughter one reaches when they no longer can cry, she found humor in her situation.
"The only people I have on my side are the woman who accused me of murder, the guy who ordered my murder, and the asshole who actually tried to murder me. Oh yes, fate was laughing at this one."
When put in such simple terms, Squall could see just how desperate her situation seemed within her own mind.
"Rin the others will believe you. Hell, they will want to believe you. Nobody wanted to think you killed Ellone "
"I didn't," she spat.
"I know that. I'm just saying that nobody wanted to believe it in the first place."
"Nobody would have had Quistis not said I did oh that's right, you never asked her did you? Too busy trying to get her into bed?"
"Damn it, you're not being reasonable. I never directly asked her no. Never thought I would have to do something like that. I trusted her to; we were both betrayed."
"Just don't talk to me it's late and I really don't want to hear this right now."
"I know Rinoa but you do realize that you will probably will be seeing her tomorrow."
Curling her knees to her chest, she refused to speak anymore. Tomorrow would be pure hell. What was she going to say? What was she going to do? The only thing that kept her going was the thought of seeing Allison and whether she would admit to herself or not she needed Squall there. By her side. Damn him.
It was a warm night in Dollet, given the time of year. Alex tossed and turned on the hard mattress. When the nightmare came, as it always did, she awoke with a sudden jolt It was her curse to witness the murder over and over. A horrendous event she could never forgive herself for, even though it happened over twenty-five years ago.
Lying peaceful on her side, Allison was tightly wrapped with her favorite chocobo blanket. She had to get out of here, if only for a little bit. When she entered the small living room, both men were still up. When the door opened, both stopped their talking looking directly at each other, then finally to her.
Hyne, she hated secrets. Moreover, she hated the look these two guys were giving her right now.
"Hey, can you guys go in with Allison. I have to go get some air."
"At twelve thirty in the morning?" Irvine asked.
She never answered, just walked out the back door. Never saying another word to either man.
"She's so much fun, isn't she?" Zell sarcastically shot back at Irvine. "Nobody has irritated me that much since "
"Seifer!?" Irvine yelled standing up, looking uncharacteristically upset.
"Yeah Irvine I was going to say Seifer didn't think you would be so upset at the mere mention of the name. Gosh, and they say I have issues."
"No," Irvine pointed to the front door "It's Seifer."
Hard feelings ran deep, and Zell was not much on hiding his emotions. The anger was obvious on his face. Jumping up the martial artist would have started over to the old nemesis, had it not been for Irvine grabbing him by the arm. Up to this point, both of the men had been in momentary shock. Just as they were about to say something, Quistis stepped from behind the ex-knight.
"Don't even start you two," she said in her 'instructorly tone.' The one that basically said, "If you mess with me you will be drinking Jell-O from a straw."
"Quistis!" Zell finally was able to verbalize. "Do you know that is lapdog himself?"
"That is Mr. Lapdog to you Chicken-Wuss," Seifer tauntingly replied.
Turning around glaring at him Quistis warned, "Seifer don't you do this either you promised to be civil. We have much bigger problems then you two needing a referee."
Looking back and forth between the scene unfolding in front of him, Irvine decided to be the voice of reason between the two men.
"Sorry Quistis you have to understand the last person we thought we would be dealing with was him. The message we received from Selphie never mentioned that you would be bringing er company. We will try and remain calm and you explain what he is doing here, before we sacrifice him to the surf."
"Guys, Seifer is helping us. He arrived in Garden four days ago, since then he and Squall have been working to find Rinoa. Seifer helped us please I know it's going to be hell, but we need to get along right now. Face it; you guys in the eyes of the law are no better than he is. If all of us want out of this, we need to work together as a team."
"Hey," Seifer tried speaking as seriously as possible. "I know how you feel. I fucked up. Is that what you wanted to hear? No matter how much I get on my knees and beg forgiveness it won't change the past. The only thing I can change is the present. I want to help Squall and Rinoa. Hell, I owe it to them for what I did I owe it to you guys to help you out of your situation. Let's face it, who else better knows how to slither in the shadows? You guys are in my territory. There is a reason I haven't been caught in five years. I'm good. I need this chance I need the redemption for my mistakes. If you guys at any point don't trust me, or want me to leave I will. No questions asked. Deal?"
Both guys looked at each other. Neither trusted the man, but if Squall and Quistis had been working with him for the last four days then just maybe he might help. Shit, they had been searching for Rinoa for two years, and nothing. Now everything starts fitting in place, strangely both felt that Seifer was somehow a part of the puzzle. A piece that had been gnawed on, spit on, and chewed by a T-Rex but still a part.
"Fine," Irvine spoke from both guys. "But one false move and you're gone. Literally."
"I'm leaving," Zell said flatly. "I need some fresh air."
He turned and left, leaving the other three to stand in awkward silence.
"Is Allison here?" Quistis nervously asked.
"Yeah, she's asleep in bed."
Turning to Seifer, she grabbed his hand, "Seifer I need to see her. I want to look in those eyes the ones that will never forgive me."
She sat on the rocky sea cliff, looking out into the dark chasm of night. The endless void seemed to swallow all it touched, the insignificance of her life was now more apparent than ever. Silent tears fell as waves crashed below. Alexandra could hear every sound, yet never see their movement. The night air turned cooler, for a moment she wondered how everyone was fairing. Emotions ran deep right now, a volatile situation at best. Her problems were not theirs, for they had been cursed with far too many.
Nightmares. They haunted her in every sleep; they haunted her when she was awake. The connection made without knowledge of outcome. Over the last year, each grew more dreadful, more grotesque. Not in symbolic metaphors, but in deep emotion. The worst nightmares are the ones that you experience, the ones that linger long after you awake. It had come to pass, painfully so, that these were no longer nightmares they were much more vivid.
Many believers would call them visions. Alex knew better, these were no longer imaginings but reality. No longer an abstract concept, these were something far worse.
They were the memories of the dead. The voices crying out from beyond the grave. She relived each terrorizing moment it haunted her. Forever obligated to a group of strangers by fate.
Her destiny was to be amongst them, but never part of them. They had their military lives; she had nothing. She served her function, Ally and Rinoa became surrogate family. Now back where they belonged, the moment both blissful and disheartening. Their knight had returned, just as should be.
Now she was a felon, with no place for salvation from the recesses of her own mind. For a split second Alex surmised what would happen if she fell into the churning waters below. The sea beckoned her, echoing her name. As if a siren calling to the sailor, the water seductively whispering. The nightmares were killing her, slowly eating away at sanity.
"Hey um you okay?" Zell spoke delicately, standing behind her.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, she looked into the dark void.
"Yeah, fine. I just had a bad dream, that's all. Nothing really of consequence."
She lied. Alex was far from fine; in fact, she was closer to tragedy than all of them.
Scratching his head, he kicked a few stay stones off over the edge. Their sounds were not heard, the oceans bellows much to overpowering.
"Alright just checking, you just seem to have an issue about sleeping and right now it's better than being in there with them "
He paused. Trying to talk with someone was more Selphie's department, how he wished her here.
"Yeah Im going to leave you alone now."
"Yeah night," he said reluctantly, turned and started to walk back to the house. A breeze sent an eerie chill down his spine. For a moment, he could have sworn that a ghost passed through his being. No. This was not fine; she was not fine.
"Hey wait a second. You know what Alexandra, ever since I met you well you have talked in riddles, and kept information to yourself. I'm tired of it. There is something going on here and you're not telling us."
Walking back to the cliffs edge he sat quietly next to her, folding his legs. She looked at him and for a moment, neither said a word. Her eyes filled with the sorrow of many, for the first time he noticed her tougher exterior eroding. Rather, the one who needed help, too afraid to ask. She turned away from him, trying desperately to hide the pain.
"I live the memories of the dead."
"Wha?" he looked, as their eyes met.
She smiled weakly, "I know you want the truth but I just don't know how to put into words. They are feelings that I experience, it was nothing anticipated."
"Alex, I don't understand any of this; my visions, some unearthly connection you mentioned two nights ago.... Why why was it me?"
"I don't know why she picked you, that was not for me to decide."
"Who Rinoa?" asked Zell.
"What did you know about Ellone's parents? About her life at Winhill before Raine."
"Ellone what does this have to do with her?"
"Everything," she spoke throwing a hand full of stones over the edge.
"Um well we know that Raine was her legal guardian after her parents were killed during the first sorceress war. But really, I don't think we know anything of her biological parents to us she was just 'Sis'. We loved her."
"Murdered," Alex spat. "Her parents were murdered. There is a fucking difference Zell. Her father killed within his own home trying to defend his family. Her mother wasn't as lucky."
"Huh? I thought they were both buried in Winhill?"
"Ellone's father is . But her mother was buried in a mass Estharian grave thrown out like yesterday's trash."
"Excuse me but how do you know all this? And why? If none of us thought too much about it not even Ellone why do you care?"
"Oh Ellone cared. She just didn't want to burden you with her family. All of you had suffered pain; she didn't want to add anymore."
"What business is this of yours anyhow? I mean did you even meet her? Ellone is a subject that I really feel uncomfortable discussing with you or anyone for that matter."
"Zell, I never met her when she was alive."
"Her mother was raped by the fucking soldiers in Winhill, in front of her father. They let him watch before they shot him point blank in the heart they were going to kill her mother also, but decided to take her back with them. They detained her at an Estharian prison camp for almost two years she was beaten and raped repeatedly. By the time they were done with her, she didn't even know her own name. Around that time, Odine found Ellone so they brought her mother from the camp to the lab who was four months pregnant with the fucking warden's child. She was her personal toy Zell they stole everything from her."
"During the next few months she stayed at Odine's to be monitored. By the time she gave birth she was almost dead. Her will to live was gone, but she saw the baby she watched as they held her up. For nine months, she resented the fetus growing inside her, and everything it represented. But when they held the baby up. She forgot. She saw the baby "
"The baby she looked at the baby and smiled. They called her name; she turned just in time to see the warden standing there with a gun they fucking shot her in the head. Those bastards in all their greatness they never cared about human life. She was nothing more than a research subject. Odine thought that the child would be a substitute for Ellone, that the baby would carry the same powers. But guess what through their goddamned research they learned that it was the father's genes that carried the trait. Her mother had nothing to do with it. So, Odine ordered the murder of the child Kenneth Williams, the doctor who had taken care of Ellone's mom during the pregnancy, was supposed to give the infant a lethal injection but he didn't. The man had killed countless number of people, but couldn't tolerate taking the life of an innocent child "
"So he switched the body of that with a still born child, took the child to his wife and raised me and that is how I became Alexandra Williams. Ellone is my half sister..."
Words escaped him, the thought of having to live through these memories every night, the sensations and emotions they would cause. How did she keep going how could she sleep?
"Alex, is that what you see when you sleep? I can't imagine the dreams I saw of Rinoa were troubling enough but to see that, knowing it actually happened "
"Yeah Zell, I always see it through my mothers eyes watch them kill her husband, feel the sensations of the abuse, and I can see my self being born then he always calls her name. Every night I wish she wouldn't look knowing what is coming next but she always does every night I feel the impact of the bullet then I wake up. Screaming."
She had never felt such stiffness in her life. Her entire body screamed of pain, from head to toe. Momentarily she found herself fazed when she opened her eyes. Her surroundings completely foreign. Soon as her focused regained, she could make out the crates in the distance. The morning light was shining through the cracks now, lighting much more of the interior that she had ever seen.
She didn't have to look. Intuition told her that he was looking at her, and out of pure stubbornness, she was not going to acknowledge him first. Why give him the satisfaction? So she kept her eyes forward, listening to their breathing, which somehow seemed go be increasing as the silence continued.
"Still not speaking," he finally stated.
Pulling her knees to her chest, making every muscle scream out, she sighed outwardly. Hundreds of thoughts were racing through her head. Foremost, Quistis.
"I don't get it Squall. You say that you love me, yet you were so willing to forgive her lies now you want me to work with her?"
"Don't ever say that I forgive her. That is one thing that will never happen. But, I had to decide what was more import my hate for her or my love for you. There was no contest. Rinoa I will never forget what I lost."
No matter how many times Rinoa tried to understand, she still couldn't comprehend the situation completely. It was hard to envision the others miserable, knowing what she had personally experienced. Were they beaten? Where they trapped? She tried to weigh how emotional and physical balanced between the two scenarios yet still she seemed to be missing the comparison.
At least now, she was trying to understand their side. Maybe once they were all together again, she could understand the full picture In a few short hours she would see Allison.
She would see all of them.
The one who tried to murder her, the one who accused her of murder, and the ones that believed her guilty.
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic