Crimson Lies Chapter 29
Time takes it all,
Whether you want it to or not.
Time takes it all,
Time bears it away,
And in the end, there is only darkness.
Sometimes we find others in that darkness,
And sometimes we lose them again.
If every thing in life has a place, then every thing has a life. One of its own, something to hold dear. Rinoa Caraway-Heartilly-Bennett or whatever physical name she went by was no more than a pawn within a deadly game. From the moment, she inherited her powers, until her dying breath. The unfortunate thing was she knew nothing of the contest, too lost to understand the rules. However, others did, others not named others that carried no designations. Living as shadows in their world, as doppelgangers to all those around.
The room was barely lit, as most seemed to be at Garden these days. Maybe it was a sign of the times, that conservation and energy was not a fallible resource or maybe it just paralleled the atmosphere of those around. For some reason she felt nervous, although she had no idea why. It was simple; a reunion she should be happy about, one she was sure that under other circumstances, would be considered joyful. Now, it just filled her heart with sorrow. Yet, her knight was there, by her side. He was so much more than he could ever know.
Slowly he reached his hand to the door. Giving her one last apathetic look.
"I'm going to be all right Squall." She timidly reiterated.
"Sure you don't want me with you?"
Reaching over she brushed her palm to his cheek. "You know, I'm not sure of anything these days. But, I need to do this alone." She looked with apprehension once more at the doorway. "I have to Squall, just be in my heart, and that will be the only support I need."
"Always," his answer short but poignant. She reached down to his hand, turning the knob with his. When it opened, she could only see the silhouette of the stern figure standing in the room. She looked back to Squall, who said not a word. His eyes spoke more than any language. She gave him one last diminutive smile, although he could tell it was forced.
Rinoa walked into the darkened room, "Father "
He made it no more than ten paces from the conference room, before his pager went off. With disgust, he looked at the annoying thing, attached to his belt. "Damn it," he inwardly cursed. His plan was to stay outside the door, on a nearby bench, but this was coded as an emergency. Something told him that Rinoa would be all right for a few minutes, and he could call Zell to stand sentry.
Reluctantly he looked at the door, and once again at his beeper. He took of the pager, turning the signal to off. He lost her once; she was his only emergency. Garden would no longer be under his control, they could live without him. Hell, they always could.
Minutes passed as he sat scrutinizing the door. Every heartbeat echoed through his body, and with every passing second, he worried more about her well-being. A voice scared him out of his daydreams, the ones that were closer to his reality than the truth was.
"Squall " He turned to look at Selphie standing there. He remembered a time when she was cheerful, but that time was nothing more than a season in the sun. The past. For a moment, he stopped to think what all the lies had cost everybody. Not just the obvious players, but also the supporting cast in his life, the people he tossed aside for too many years.
"Hey, um we were trying to page you. Something important came up; we really need to go over it."
"I'm waiting on Rinoa and Caraway now. When I'm done, you can inform both of us then."
"No Squall what we have to say can't be said in front of her."
"Why?" His voice grew in irritation. This little game wasn't going to bode well with him. He was tired of petty games.
"Because Squall it's about her something that happened three years ago. Plus it relates to the Richard Bennett murder. We think that she "
"Don't!" his voice screamed. It was a show of emotion that she wasn't used to. Taking a few steps forward, he put his finger into her face, "If you are even going to tell me she had anything to do with it, get the hell away from us."
"Squall, I didn't say that she did, but there are a few things that point to the ." She stopped as the clipboard she was holding was yanked out of her hands. With all his force he through the clipboard against the wall, all of its contents rained down.
"Shut up, Selphie." He immediately threw his hands into his face. "God Im sorry I'm so sorry."
"It's okay Squall, I know," the younger girl tried to relay her empathy; although she was sure it fell on deaf ears. "If it's any conciliation to you, I don't think she did it either." Selphie started picking up the scattered contents of the clipboard. "But, this is something much deeper than one lie, I think it's many."
"What a fucking shock," he retorted as he bent down picking up the papers which lay in front of him. "Can you just ask me, without it being some Garden gossip in two hours please we owe Rinoa that much."
She stopped gathering the notes, and sat on her knees. "Squall I know this is a very difficult question but do you remember when there were reports that she had also made Jefferson Mitchell her knight Why did you ever believe that?"
He wanted to scream, he wanted to cry. The memories swirled in his head like a hurricane. Actually, he had blocked that out until now, asking Rinoa seemed unimportant. Yet that was a question unanswered to even him. But he trusted her, God he trusted her. Together they share what no other couple possibly could, but the answer seemed more difficult than he expected. He turned his head, unable to face Selphie.
"Because I was sent photographic evidence. Of Rinoa, of Mitchell in bed oh Hyne." He had put those memories out of his mind; they stung him. He remembered the pictures all too well the one with Rinoa holding Mitchell. Damn she looked beautiful in them, and happy he remembered her being very content in that picture. The next ones were a series of photographs that would be better displayed on a pornographic magazine .
"Squall, are you sure it was Rinoa?"
"Yeah I saw her with Mitchell; there is no denying that. Then the others, God her dress, I remember that laying there and him, that bastard."
Selphie felt sorrow toward the man, just as he had one ray of happiness, his world crashed around him yet again. However, in her mind, everything was too coincidental, too planned. Something didn't fit and she was determined to find out the truth. She did something she would have dared not do, only a week ago. Reaching out her hand, she touched his arm.
"Squall, if you believe in your heart, that she never cheated on you. Then you are right. Rinoa loves you, she always has. Mitchell is no more a knight than Irvine is trust your heart not your eyes."
He didn't say anything; he hated the memories. But he believed in her. For the first time in two years he wanted to see the pictures again, maybe there was something he missed before, in his anger, in his haste. Something so obvious yet overlooked
"Selphie can you please stand here for a little while. Rinoa is in with her father, trying to make amends. They just need time. I really need to go to my office for a little while."
"Tell everyone to meet in my office at 18:00 hours. Together we are going to figure this out, Rinoa included."
She smiled slightly, "Okay." Before he walked out, Selphie had to ask one last question. "Hey Squall do you remember when Rinoa helped in the infirmary?"
Slightly bemused he thought back, to before, when life was normal. "She only worked in there one day officially; they had an exchange program with Galbadia Garden. Rinoa then did a lot of the filing of papers and admittance work. Actually, working in there? Just one day when Dr. Kadowaki was short staffed. All other office assistant duties work was done remotely from the administrative wing. She used the office next to mine for a long time."
"So would Rinoa have handled anything samples, tests blood?"
"I don't see how she could from an office three floors away. That would have been left up the nurse that was assisting on the medical end, not the paperwork end. Plus, Rinoa hates the sight of blood."
"Didn't she fight with us? How could she be afraid of blood?"
"I didn't say afraid; I said hate a carryover from her mother. The only thing she remembers about the crash was her mother's body lying in the crimson blood."
"Yeah," she whispered softly. "I guess that would stick with you."
"Don't mention this to her now, she has far more important things to worry about than history that cannot be changed."
"No, Squall I don't think I'll have to." Selphie looked down at the paper once more.
When the door finally opened, Selphie could see the young sorceress emerge. Her eyes stained and with a puffiness to them. It was obvious that the girl had been crying. Selphie's heart reached out to her, although she wasn't sure if Rinoa understood everything yet. Walking up to the dark-haired girl, Selphie tried to act her energetic self, although thoughts clouded her perception right now.
"Rinoa? Hey Squall had something he needed to take care of, I'm going to escort you back to your dorm."
"Sure Selphie, I understand." She looked around the Garden, did she really understand? Right now she needed him, things had gone all right with her father, but all right had many interpretations depending on who was saying it. She was glad to see him, know that he was alive and well. Nevertheless, embarrassed enough about her actions of running, and for the first time realized how it reflected on her father. The world council was not one too easily to overlook such things; it was a miracle at all the Jefferson Mitchell let him keep his position.
Yet somehow, when she walked out of that room, she needed his support. She counted on him to be there if only in her heart. With all the emotion flowing through her, she had to ask the obvious. "Selphie, where did he go?"
Smiling kindly at the girl, Selphie tried her best to come up with an explanation. When all else failed she asked a question that shocked even her. "Rinoa before you left Garden there were reports of you sleeping with President Mitchell do you happen to know anything about that?"
"What!? You're not telling me that Squall is believing that again?" she could tell that the girl was starting to panic to a certain degree.
"No Rinoa, of course not Just he was sent pictures of you and Mitchell in bed together "
"He what!?" she was now absolutely upset. "Selphie I never Hyne no God I love Squall please dont tell me he believes "
"No," Selphie quickly interrupted. "He doesn't believe it. However, honestly he did at one point. I think it was easier for him to accept. It turned you into the enemy. But things were different then.
Rinoa looked at her old friend before almost collapsing holding the balcony railing next to her. "Selphie I swear on my life on my family's name that I never slept with him. I only met him a few times. Mainly at a couple of fundraisers with my father. If I ever saw him, it was only in passing at events."
"Yeah," she looked at her clipboard. "Okay, can you do me a favor? Can you sign your name for me?"
"Sure I can is it going to help?"
Rinoa took the clipboard and a pen that Selphie handed her and signed her name on the back of a paper.
"Rin, can you do it a few more times?" The sorceress' seemed baffled. She gave her a strange look, but quickly abided by the request. In a matter of a second Rinoa had signed her name five different times. Not sure where this was going, but having enough faith in her friend to believe in her.
"Thank you Rinoa," She smiled. Selphie looked around the corridors, searching for something.
"Selphie? Um can I help you with anything?"
"Well, I called Zell to escort you back to your guest room. He should have been here by now."
Rinoa smiled softly, "Go ahead, I can go down an elevator by myself. My dorm isn't far away. Im a big girl, not to mention a sorceress. I think I can handle a few meter walk."
"Squall would kill me."
"Then we don't tell him, do we? You need to go right?"
The young girl nodded. Yeah something has come up that may be very important to finding out about the truth."
"Well then Selphie, what is more important than the truth? Please, trust me I can manage the walk. There is hardly anyone in the halls, and the time alone will do me some good."
"He's going to kill me," she whispered. "But, he's going to kill me if I don't figure this out before we have our meeting?"
"Figure what out Selphie?"
"Oh, nothing important." She lied. "Okay, you go directly to your room okay?"
"Yes, I will. Trust me?"
Rinoa wasn't sure of what she was expecting, nor why she pushed so hard to be on her own. Mind over matter, she repeated to herself. It wasn't as she was in the heat of battle, only going from one hallway to another by herself. God, if Squall knew he would be so enraged. The thought almost tickled her, the fact that someone cared that much about her. After all that had happened, she was sure nobody would care again. Zell was lost in Garden somewhere, doing Hyne knows what. But a lead was a lead; Selphie had more important things to do then baby sit a twenty-two year old.
"Look who the commander let off his leash, you think she has a dog tag on? We wouldn't want her to be considered a stray," a disdainful voice spoke out. Rinoa continued to walk, trying to avoid any eye contact. But the closer she got, the more boisterous they became.
"Hey be quiet Nicole," another girl teased. "I'm sure she has an important date with whichever man she's screwing this hour."
"Are you kidding Kris?" The third mocked, as she blocked Rinoa's path. "She doesn't screw just any man she isn't a common whore, she's a first class one. Only goes after men with power, and money."
"Dia, don't forget wives. That seems to be a high priority on her list."
Rinoa's heart raced. She wanted nothing more then to get away. The last thing she needed right now was a confrontation. "Please," her voice shakily rasped. "I don't want to do this, I understand how it looks but please, I just want to get back to my room, back to my daughter."
The cadet got right up into her face. "What are you going to do? Stab us as you did Ellone Loire? Or are you going to fuck Instructor Leonhart's husband?"
"Are you kidding," joked Nicole. The other two girls surrounded Rinoa, pinning her in the center. "This is the sorceress you are talking about she is going to run. Hell, she is good at that."
"Oh, don't forget her illegitimate child." Kris laid one hand on Rinoa's shoulder, causing a chill to run down the sorceress spine. "Poor kid doesnt even know which trick is her father. She would be better off dead than having you for a mother."
There was a fine line for a sorceress, one many dare not cross. You could say anything you wanted to about her and Squall but not Allison. She could feel her blood coursing through her veins. Each heartbeat drew her closer to becoming someone she didn't want to someone that would make their assessments look valid.
She pleaded with them, "Leave now." It wasn't a request, as much as a demand.
"What we finally hit a nerve? Finally the almighty bitch shows us what she is made of?"
"Ah Dia I don't think " Nicole tried to warn her friend slowly backing away. Rinoa could fell the emotion taking control. She didn't want to be like this, she had put up with so much but that was her choice. These girls weren't. Being back at Garden, all the emotions shed within the last four days. Her body was tired, and her mind was weak. The girls suddenly noticed the change in appearance her eyes began swirling with opaque clouds.
It wasn't as if she was in control of her own actions anymore. Slowly she raised her hand, shaking fighting with her own conscience. Tears were forming at the fight within her soul, these girls were not the enemy she knew that. Suddenly she retracted her own hand toward her chest. Clutching her hand into a fist, she could feel the pain of each nail going into her palm. At that moment, she was grabbed vigorously from behind.
Immediately she knew who it was, as he spun her toward him, holding her tightly.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine Squall. I just want to get back to the room."
Checking she was physically unharmed, he moved her to the side standing in front of the three girls.
"What in the hell were you doing? Who do you think you are!?"
"We're SeeD's," Kris spoke up. "We are trained to defeat the sorceress. What the hell are you?"
Squall raised his hand; he wanted nothing more than to strike her. Strike them all. They were the one's that caused this; they were the ones who tormented her. And they were the ones up until four days ago he would have sided with.
"Damn you girls get away from here! Don't let me see you again!" He roared, lowering his arm.
The girls were not quick to depart; they didn't show much fear of the Commander. At one point, they had respected him, but now he was just someone that bitch wrapped around her little finger. Quistis was still well respected among the student body, and any betrayal to her, was a betrayal to them. They would never know the entire story, only that which was bequeathed to them. Garden was facing war; only pertinent information was reiterated to students. Up until yesterday, they spent all their time hunting her, now they were defending her
"What the hell were you doing on your own without proper escort?" his tone reprimanded.
"Squall, I'm sorry Irvine needed to see Selphie right away. Alex was in the dorm with Allison, I thought I could make it back to my room without an incident."
"You should know better by now. Has history taught you nothing? And what was that back there?"
"I I don't know. It just started taking over again that feeling. Three years and nothing, three days around you and it's my third time. Okay okay once back in Trabia I lost my temper with Richard, almost killed him."
"Guess someone else finished the job for you. Not that it was a major loss to society."
"You were close then weren't you?" The realization dawned on her.
"I'm not sure where I was when you left, anywhere between Deling and Trabia. I was actually upset when they put me on the Bennett kidnapping case."
"Ironic isn't it?"
"Yes, I've had enough of that in my lifetime."
"So it must have something to do with you, or your presence I mean. When I am near you, I tend to be stronger. The powers laid dormant for almost three years no matter what that beast did to me."
"God, Rinoa I'm so sorry."
"Damn it Squall," her head shot up at him. "I told you never to say that to me, no matter what." She took off quickly walking down the hall, not looking back at him.
Standing in a momentary confusion, he raced to keep up with her pace. "Rinoa, what is your problem? I didn't mean anything by it."
"No Squall, you didn't and neither did he."
She turned around standing in the hallway atrium to the dorms. "Richard Bennett! Every time he hit me for sadistic enjoyment, crushed me until my rib cracked, or raped me it was always I'm sorry. Sorry doesn't mean anything to me Squall. Not a damn thing. But you do so please, don't cheapen yourself with an I'm sorry. Show me by actions, not by words. Just just be there for me "
The words hit him like a dagger. Everyone pierced his skin and only reminded him of his failures. Was he ever who he should have been? Or had fate decided on his destiny from the moment of birth? He would not stand for this; he was in control of his life now. He knew what he wanted, and would stop at nothing to obtain his goal. His family.
The four walls were closing in like a dungeon. Seifer Almasy hated this, being trapped like an animal. Yes, in all reality he could easily walk out, into the halls freely. But at what cost? He had betrayed them many years ago, and everyone in that place had reason to hate him. And they were correct. He tossed and turned in his bed, as the afternoon sun pierced the floors. The shadows gently crept the tiles like a sundial, each showing another hour of his life wasting away in this place.
Closing his eyes, he tried to think. If he got up and ran, ran as far as he could is it possible to ever stop. Was his life one giant failure like his fathers before, was that linage the only thing passed from father to son.
He looked over to the dresser and saw the reflection of his gunblade in the mirror. Maybe he could go unnoticed in the training center. Yeah, right. He so badly wanted no needed to fight. The adrenaline coursed through his veins, it gave him life; it was natural as blood. But no, now he laid in the room walls closing in.
Why wasn't she there? All right, maybe not the best solution, but at least with Quistis there he could find other things to concentrate on like her. Maybe the last evening still weighed heavily on his mind. May be he didn't know what to make of this new life all of a sudden. When he first found out about Rinoa, his intention completely selfless, no he had to admit that he looked on it for personal gain.
He was a man of his word, even if few valued it. Fighting to the bitter end was not a choice; it was a promise. However, when he came to Balamb that evening to speak to Squall, never once did he think they could find the sorceress, let alone bring her back. He liked to think that every deed was noble and maybe it was but somewhere along the way, the line had been blurred. Now, not only did he think of the future of the one he tried to sacrifice, but also the one who shared his bed last night.
He closed his eyes and darkness prevailed upon his dreams. He could not sleep; his mind was far beyond that. But he could daydream, and he was in control of the most personal of thoughts. At least he thought A sudden chill raced through his body. If they say that you get a chill when someone walks over your grave, then somebody was digging his. It was almost unearthly, and scared him for a moment. Then a solitary image flashed through is eyes. And even when he opened them, it was like a negative, the silhouette of the beast that plagued his dreams the dragon. The unknown creature that for some reason haunted him.
He looked down at his watch. Quistis had left him no more than two hours ago. And he needed to see her now. There was something going on there, which nobody could see. Not him, not the commander, not even the sorceress. Something about this simple dragon image held the key and the answers that they seek.
Answers far worse than any could imagine.
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic