Crimson Lies Chapter 3
Final Fantasy VIII and all the characters belong to Square.
Note: For the sake of the story, I have made Trabia not only a Garden but also a city. Its about fifty kilometers from T-Garden; equal in size to Dollet. I know it wasnt in the game, but I needed a more secluded setting for later events.
He that lacks time to mourn,
lacks time to mend.
--Sir Henry Taylor
The snow whipped around her face, bobbed hair not wanting to stay tucked behind almost frozen ears. It was the kind of cold that could kill you in minutes, if not properly dressed. Every breath felt like daggers in her lungs. Who ever said hell was hot? If one place on this planet came close, it was a snow-filled night in Trabia. Time passed slowly in the frigid temperatures. Judging by the wait, it had to be way past midnight now. Sneaking around in the unforgiving night could get her killed, or worse. The thought quickly slipped out of her mind as someone called out.
"Mrs. Bennett? Is that you?" A soft voice tried to whisper over the pounding wind.
"Alex. Stables. Now."
It was a small reply, but it was the only one her mind could muster as pellets of ice hit her face. The two figures wordlessly slipped into the stables. The building was dark, except for the reflection of the outside lights on the snow that shined through the window. It was warmer, if only by a little, yet the old structure offered an unfound feeling of security.
She took down the hood that did its best to protect her head from the elements. Short dark hair fell into her face. She quickly placed it behind her ears again.
"Hes coming home tonight. This is all I have managed to get."
Alex took the tiny black pouch full of Gil and nodded her head in understanding.
"Mrs. Bennett, Renee please you're sure about this?"
"Yes, if you dont leave tonight, it might never be possible."
Renee undid the warm robe that covered her body. She had to be strong for both of them, yet her hands trembled in unspoken fear. Alex could slip into the world unnoticed, safe hopefully. It had to be this way.
"He will kill you when he finds out. Richard Bennett is the worst son-of-a-bitch I've ever met. Wife or not, youre dead."
Renee closed her eyes and felt the cold take hold, "I know. This way she may live."
The shadowy figure finally lifted up the dark robe. There, a sleeping baby was beginning to stir.
"Alex, he is never going to rest until he finds his daughter and I'm sure the World Council will be at his disposal. Youll have to stay one-step ahead of them. Hyne be with you two."
Renee carefully handed the little girl over to Alex. With a loving kiss to the sleeping child, she disappeared into the stormy night.
Alex carefully covered the baby and headed out into the dark, into the unknown.
Morning came to Garden as any other day. Time somehow had little meaning anymore. He woke up at his desk, after falling asleep in his chair again. Squall figured that he spent more nights here than in his bed. Suddenly, a knock woke him from what lingering sleep may have remained.
"Squall?" He knew the voice, and was not in the mood for any type of lecture.
"Yes Quistis, its open."
She appeared in the room wearing her formal SeeD uniform.
"Were going to the chapel at half past the hour, please come." She walked over to the desk and sat quietly on the corner. "Laguna is joining us for dinner this evening. He would really like to see you again."
"Yes, Im sure he would. Tell him I already have plans."
"Squall, what could be more important than trying to work things out with your only remaining relative?"
He looked coldly in her eyes. "Quistis, this is not the time. I have a prior engagement that cannot be changed. Send him my regards."
"Sure Ill tell him."
She slid off the desk and walked quickly toward the exit. Turning around after reaching the door, she looked at Squall wishing he would at least think about the words that had been spoken. He didnt notice her, his attention engrossed in the computer. Quistis slammed the heavy door to the best of her ability.
The chapel was modest. Selphie had originally planned on large, beautiful roses filling the room. Then, after thinking of Ellone, she decided to make it simple. Ellone was never much for material possessions, simple yet elegant. Instead of vases everywhere, there was only a single red rose on the altar. Later in the day, they would be planting a tree in the Quad, dedicating it in her honor. It would be something that lived on and brought joy to others, thats what Ellone would want.
Selphie stood next to Irvine, his long hair now giving way to a short, trimmed look. It was one of the regulations Squall imposed as Commander stricter codes and guidelines: no long hair, no earrings, and no street-clothes in class. He truly had turned Garden into a military institution. Irvine was somewhat comforted by the fact Squall had cut his hair, and abstained from wearing his earring. Although he guessed, the Commander couldn't have cared less about anything but war fighting was all he lived for anymore. Thankfully, Irvine had passed the SeeD exam before the incident. That was when most of the requirements had changed, and the sharpshooter doubted he could make it under Squalls newer, stricter rules.
Irvine put his arm around Selphie, knowing very well that it broke one of the Commander's cardinal rules about contact with the opposite sex. Rules made, in his opinion, to keep Squall from seeing people being happy. That was one thing that changed that day.
Selphie, herself, tried to keep the mood upbeat. She noticed Zell in the corner, lost within the beauty of the rose. Smiling, she remembered the first day they met. Times had changed, not for the better. She patted Irvine on the shoulder and then walked toward the lone figure. She had aged well, in fact almost too well. Little had changed with Selphie - a slight bit older, but still a youthful look well below her twenty-two years.
"Zell, want to come over and join us?" she asked as perky as possible.
"Selphie, why...Rinoa...why did ?" Zell questioned still staring at the flower.
"I dont know. But when we find her, maybe she can tell us."
"Why dont I hate her like I should?"
"Maybe because she was one of us, nobody knew what her powers would be capable of making her do."
"I suppose. Something just bothers me about this. I dont know what."
"Its been two years. Why are you questioning things now, Zell?"
"I dont know. I've been having these dreams about Rinoa...."
"The Sorceress," everyone turned around to see Squall standing at the chapel door. "Zell, she is to be referred to as the Sorceress. The other person you spoke of is dead to Garden." He walked to the altar and looked at the rose.
"Im here to show my respect for Ellone, not to talk about anything or anyone else, understood?"
Zell stood straight up and acknowledged his superior. Heels clicked on the tile floor as the group, save for Squall, turned to watch Quistis enter the room. Irvine strolled over to the Commanders wife, offering his arm. Together, they walked down the aisle to the front pews.
The service, if called that, was very short and very informal. The four just talked, or listened to stories of Ellone. Reliving tales each had heard before, yet never seeming to get tired of. Squall sat lost in his own world, until a younger SeeD interrupted Zells story.
"Commander, I apologize for bothering you in this personal time. I have President Mitchell on the phone. He states that its urgent."
"Understood." Squall stood up and excused himself from the memorial.
Arriving in his office, he quickly grabbed the phone. The idea that these fools might actually find the sorceress was unsettling. "Commander Leonhart speaking."
"Squall, I am sorry for bothering you during the service, but the council has urgent need for qualified SeeDs."
"No, not this time. One of the council members, a Trabian delegate, had his daughter kidnapped last night. Normally, I really wouldnt worry too much about such a trivial thing, but we need his support. You see Commander, the exporting of petroleum from his country is very important to the upper-members of Galbadia. It could mean millions of Gil for the exclusive rights."
"What a fucking bastard," Squall thought while trying to mask his anger. This guy is worried about oil when a child had just been abducted. This is slowly what he was turning into, one of them.
"Mr. President, what information do you have on the girl?"
"I guess that when Bennett and his wife woke up this morning the baby was missing. Suspiciously enough, his personal assistant didnt show up for work today. She had been employed by him for just over two years, and never missed a day."
"Mr. President, why dont you notify the Trabian Garden? They could get SeeDs there much quicker than Balamb."
"I have. They are doing the initial investigation until your SeeDs show up. We want to show Mr. Bennett that his daughter deserves the best everyone knows that is Balamb."
Squall sighed inwardly. First, dealing with the sorceress, and now sending his SeeD personnel to look for a baby, when Trabia was more than capable.
"What further information do you have on this case?"
"The assistant's name is Alexandra Williams, twenty-six, no children. Only known family member lives in Fishermans Horizon, an aunt I believe."
"Fine, I will have two of my top SeeDs start searching FH. We will be nearing Balamb in approximately an hour. I will send them on from there. What information do you have on the child?"
"Just that she is fourteen months old, her name is Allison - goes by Ally."
"Yes Squall. Are you all right?"
"Sorry, just lost my train of thought reading a memo. Allison."
Renee stood looking out of her window to the frozen trees, watching as hunks of snow fell from the weight on the limbs, never doubting her decision. Allison would have a better chance with Alexandra and the cold, rather than with the wolves in here. How she continued living with this animal for years she couldnt imagine Richard Bennett was possibly the most evil person she had ever met, and she knew quite a few.
What was so criminal about him was the way he took control. When she first met him outside a restaurant, he seemed to be the answer to her prayers: kind, sweet, and almost a loving someone who would make a good father. He was a sly one. If it hadnt been for Ally, she would have given up on life way before now, but now Ally was gone. Before long, she would be too. Richard would find out of her involvement, one way or another she was dead. It was just a matter of time. It had always been a matter of time.
She looked into the mirror as tears started rolling down her pale face. She tried not to hate the world around her, but it was so damn hard. A few years ago, nobody would have controlled her as Richard had. She let him, if only for basic survival. If he knew the truth Ally would just be a pawn, dispensable to him, a device for keeping her under control. Now she would be in control again. Who the hell was Renee Bennett anyhow? She vowed to herself never to be weak again...even if it meant being strong enough to die.
Garden had reached Balamb on schedule. Squall excused himself from the building, giving some false excuse about personally checking on supplies. The idea of meeting with the old rival still seemed unsettling, and yet now the notion had become a reality. Trusting the one that had thrown her to Adel was surreal, but in his mind, he had been just as guilty as Seifer. He had been the one who allowed her to tag along, when all better judgment was telling him not to. Looking back, it was all for selfish reasons, as he had been attracted to her from the start, even if he wouldnt admit it at the time. So attracted in fact that he had allowed her to get in harms way, and that was only part of the torment he lived with. If he had just had the strength to say no, she would be living a happy, normal life right now and not fearing the world or trying to take it over - Squall didnt know which was happening. Tortured by memories, he continued down to the path to the Balamb coast.
"Yo, Commander Puberty, over here!" Squall recognized the voice this time.
"Cut the shit, what do you know?" spat the Commander, obviously aggravated. Seifer motioned to a building in the distance. The two walked to a small, abandoned fishing shack.
"I know that if you dont want Rinoas head on a stick, you better find her first."
"Youre not helping," he growled.
"Sorry Look, I have to know exactly what happened that day. Tell me your side of the story, it may be important," Seifer replied with seeming sympathy.
Squall shook his head. He had tried so long to forget everything that had happened two years ago... This would be the first time he had actually spoken of it since giving his official report. He knew it was time. He found a corner wall and leaned against it, closing his eyes.
"Two years ago today..."
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic