Crimson Lies Chapter 6
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"Richard?" she gasped in confusion, still holding her tender side.
"Who the hell else would I be, Renee?" he spat back, grabbing her arm. "Let me put it this way, I dont care. I dont honestly care what happens to you, personally, I dont even care what happens to Ally, but I need her. I cant look like the good family man without my dear, sweet little girl. The people of this town, and of course the council, are going to feel sorry for the poor single father after his wife dies. Oh, thats right, youve had your little illness for too long now, seems like its going to take a turn for the worse."
"Illness, dies?" she questioned.
"Do you honestly think that I could have made it this far without some kind of cover story? What you want me to tell the public that my wife is a psychotic murderer? You dont think you can just seduce me one night, get pregnant, and take me for a fool. Im not like everyone else living in this god-forsaken town; I actually can read the newspaper. I had to tell those people some reason they never saw you. So you mysteriously became very ill after the wedding. Now they all pity my situation, and will do anything I ask. Thats the irony of this little situation, my dear wife. You thought you were playing me when, in fact, I was the one playing you."
She said nothing, just watched the man in front of her. Man, this was no man; he was just a beast like the rest of them. If ever she had wanted to kill someone in cold blood, this would fall under the correct circumstances.
"Cute Renee, very cute then again you always have been, Renee? As I see it, after I find Ally Ill have all the power I could possible want; because youll do anything to keep her from harm; even if that means using your power?" He grabbed her free arm and threw her down onto the bed. "You turned yourself into a little whore that first night, one more fuck for old time sake." He managed to grab her, holding both arms in one hand, while the other ripped at the buttons on her shirt.
For some time the will to fight within her was gone, before it was the safety of Ally in the next room. She remembered that first night with Richard way too well, and the guilt that still tormented her soul to this day. Yes, she had indeed been calculating that night. The one thing she hadnt thought in all her planning was a name; of course that was the first thing Richard had asked the shy girl outside the restaurant. She had started speaking "Rin Renee, Renee Davidson." Sad, the last name she came up with was actually from the billboard advertising the nightly news anchors. She had been running for almost a week at that time, needed food, and shelter badly, badly enough to sell her soul and body.
Allison, her little Ally, she had to find her before Richard or his men did. Even if that meant risking herself out there, in a world, she hadnt been a part of for two years, but anything would be better then in here. Everything, every emotion was coming back to her now. She for the first time in so long remembered who she was; the cloudiness in her mind was clearing. Richard attention had now turned, attempting to undo her jeans; she looked at him and smiled callously. He stopped at her sudden change of attitude, fearing the look on her face, and his now sudden loss of control of the situation.
A blinding white light filled the room; Richard felt a sudden tightening in his chest. Realizing the tight grip he held her, he rolled to his back, holding his hand over his heart. She got up and started buttoning her shirt and jeans. Looking over the man on the bed, she reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet, stuffing the contents into her pants; then looked him strait in the eye. "Hi, I dont think we have been properly introduced; my name is Rinoa Heartilly. Guess what, Im a sorceress, but dont worry Im not going to kill you. Youll just be out of commission for a couple days. But if you ever think of touching Allison or me again, you wont be so lucky. Nice meeting you, thanks for the room and board for the past two years" Rinoa took a deep breath and walked to the door, SeeD was still downstairs and getting caught really wouldnt help the situation right now
Four hours had since past, Squall sat leaning back in his over-sized desk
chair. For the first time in ages, even work could not keep him out of his
secluded world. His mind kept racing with events, circumstances, and individuals;
some of which he tried desperately to forget. Earlier events of the day still
plagued his mind, he had never wanted to hurt Quistis, but it was a decision
made long ago, and one he tried not to reflect on. Hell, if he had it his
way, he would have never been married, or touched another woman again. But
some decisions were not his to make. Other lives were at stake.
It had happened modestly enough, working in his office one afternoon. Cid had been working in Deling, trying to help with the establishment of the World Council, something in Squalls personal opinion, only created to destroy Rinoa. Cid ventured to Garden one day and told of Mitchells run for president, and his unfounded desire to chair the council. According to polls, there would no way Mitchell could lose; people loved how he had risen past the sorceress control and his intent commitment to locate her. His only other competition would have been General Caraway; circumstances had taken Caraway quickly out of the race.
One of Mitchells greatest concerns, according to Cid that evening, was about Squall being commander of the strongest and most well trained Garden. Squall had a personal stake in finding the sorceress; it was well known they had been involved. Cid had suggested, more like ordered, Squall to find someone to ease the conscious of the public, and mainly Mitchell. Doing so would imply that he had moved on, there by leaving his commission intact, thus allowing him to oversee any or all, attempts made to find the sorceress.
Looking back on the situation Squall came to the realization he would have done about anything to ensure his position as Commander, moreover to ensure the locating of the sorceress. After two years Rinoa still lay first on his mind, her safety and her well-being; even though, she might have never have returned the feelings.
Quistis, though, was entirely different situation. He used her love to his advantage, and for that, he felt remorse. Ever since Rinoa moved to Garden, the two girls had their differences. They were, in Squalls opinion, still acquaintances but only when the issue didnt include him. Most of the time, he thought, Rinoa was very protective of their relationship, sometime to a point of aggravation to him and those nearest to them.
Now questions of her true intent entered his mind, dancing like flames on his soul. If the possessiveness of the relationship was not love, what in fact was it? Even after all the information, intelligence, and reports he received about the Sorceress and Mitchell, something didnt feel right. He had to find the truth. He needed answers. The only person with that ability, to put his conscious at ease, was Rinoa; even if the answers she gave were not the ones he wanted to hear.
Squall again stared at the reports Seifer had given him earlier that day. The official copy to the World Council and that the Garden had received seemed identical to the human eye. Although the reports themselves were over twenty-five pages, Squall could not see any noticeable difference between the accounts.
There was also a first draft contained in the folder for Seifer, it too seemed no different then the others. Squall reached for the scanner and started to put both copies into the computer; word for word, comparisons would take only a few seconds after the data had been entered. He sat still memorized at the flicker of the monitor, for a brief second his thoughts turned back to Quistis and her well-being at this moment. His feelings were interpreted by a knock on the door.
"Commander, can I come in a minute," the voice sounded hesitant.
Squall knew the voice immediately as that of Zell, this was probably going to be one of those Quistis-related-issues he couldnt even think of facing right now. Against his better judgment, he instructed the martial artist to enter, hoping that what ever he had to say would be quickly over, although with Zell that would be a miracle.
The young man entered the room holding what appeared to be, at one time, a meatball sub. Zell walked over to the desk as he was finishing the remains of the sandwich, followed by the traditional wiping-of-the-hands on pants. He took a seat in the chair opposite Squalls desk and half-heartily started looking at the mess of paper work that was sprawled upon the desk.
"Do you actually want something?" Squall asked his gruff voice augmented with irritation.
Zell picked up a piece of paper from the commanders desk and started skimming it, "Yeah, I was just here to inform you that Laguna arrived by helicopter. He is being escorted to his room, but of course he asked to see his son."
Squall glared at the piece of paper in the young operates hand, "You do realize that is confidential, dont you? I could dismiss you from Garden for even glancing at it." Squall stood up and quickly yanked the dissertation away from Zell, "If that is all you have to say, dismissed."
Zell gave the commander a cross look and stood up to leave. At that moment, Squalls computer sounded, it had done the cross-comparison between the original document and the second draft. There were only three words that were different in the entire report.
"Covered with blood?" Zell turned around quickly facing the commander, as he had started to walk out the door.
Squall stared at the younger boy for a moment, "What the hell did you just say?"
Zell took a step closer to the commanders desk, "Well, yeah I was technically reading that piece of paper that I wasnt supposed to see. It stated Rinoa ran from garden, covered in blood."
Squall glared at the man then turned his attention back to the computer screen, which was at an angle impossible for Zell to read. It also displayed the three words Zell just said, covered with blood. He could only look at the light-hair man, unable to form a thought at how bizarre that coincidence was.
Zell started speaking when his commander didnt seem to understand his sudden outburst. "Squall its just that I actually saw Rinoa as she was leaving Garden, as the Galbadian troops were chasing her. She was far out-numbered, more importantly; she had this look of . Well I dont know exactly, she looked scared, horrified at the situation. I was actually on my way to help her, when I too, was cut off by another group of soldiers. I wasnt that far from her, maybe fifteen feet at best. One thing that I can tell you, she had no blood on her at all. I was actually looking to verify they hadnt injured her."
Squall still looked at the computer; ultimately speaking, "That was added on the final copy, its not on the original draft."
"Why would anyone add that on the second draft if it wasnt true, it almost seems like that would make it look like she was hurt or had killed somebody at close " Zell stopped at his own comment. "Ah, sorry about that Squall, sure its no big deal."
"Zell, Im asking you as a commander and as a friend. Are you positive Rinoa had no blood on her?" Squall asked intently searching Zells eyes for a response.
"Yes, Squall. I would bet my life on it. As my word as a SeeD, Rinoa had no blood on her. Why is this so important anyhow?"
Squall leaned back in his chair trying to figure it out himself, "Because it is a direct quote from a SeeD, which was apparently added later on."
Zell nodded with understanding; not pushing the subject, any further. He started to leave the office yet again, then a flash of lightening struck outside; Zell was almost hypnotically pulled back to his dream, which had so often been plaguing him; the vivid image of Rinoa standing on the lake of blood, yet mysteriously without any on her. The words of the report etched into his mind, covered with blood. He seemed to understand something within himself, within the corners of his dream. Before he closed the door to Squalls office, he turned back to the commander.
"Squall, dont ask me how I know anything; Im not even sure. But I feel that statement is very important, whoever said that is lying."
Squall didnt reply as Zell closed the door; he gathered up the papers in the folder and began the process to shut down the computer.
Quistis had been walking for what had seemed hours; she finally ended up
on the Balamb beach. Taking her shoes off the lonely instructor let the sand
play between her bare toes. Irrevocably, when she felt she could walk no
longer; she collapsed to the sand below. Waves would come and hit her legs,
each time seeming to rise. The foam of the water was mesmerizing, little
whirlpools would form around her; she wished they were just large enough
to drag her under treacherous surf. Once in awhile Quistis would attempt
to pull her salt-covered hair out of her eyes, mostly she just let it cling
to her pale face; feeling the stinging pain from the salty water, made the
pain in her heart not as great. The tears were almost gone now, there does
come a point when crying becomes unachievable.
"You know if you stay in the water like that you could catch pneumonia," a low voice avowed from behind her.
She knew the voice, she had known it most of her life, although the pitch had changed over many a year. "Seifer, not now, please."
Ignoring her request, he sat beside her, drenching himself in the ocean surf. "I dont know why Im here or how I got to this point, either. The last few years have been no more then a blur."
"You dont understand what Im going through, Mr. Almasy." She acknowledged, although not telling him to leave this time.
"I bet you would be amazed at how similar our situations are, Instructor. Right now, youre looking out to the endless ocean contemplating your entire existence; although, taking your own life is not even crossing your mind. It is a scary thought to be alone, in life and in death. Youre wishing right now that you could take the last two years back. I, myself, wish I could take back the last five and half."
"Least you didnt fall in love with someone who never could love you." She quietly said not taking her eyes of the impending sunset.
"Didnt I? Seems to me I fell in love with a conception, an idea so mind-boggling to this day; I cant believe I fell for it. I fell in love with a sorceress, or her power more like it, not even of this time. How well do you think that relationship could work out? Seifer replied still looking at the soaking wet instructor.
"I married him. The ironic part of the situation is I knew he didnt love me; I figured if he was with me that would be good enough."
"We always want what we cant have, its human nature. You saw a chance to make your dreams come true, then when you got what you wanted it was not what you dreamed. I know."
"I just pictured us living a happy life, he would eventually forget about her and I would be there when he did."
"Quistis Im sorry, but he is never going to forget Rinoa. There is a bond there that cannot ever be broken, no matter how much time has past. Hell, it will last beyond this lifetime into the next. The best you can do is count the losses now, show him that you are stronger then he could ever imagine."
Quistis looked to Seifer for the first time, "Do you think she killed Ellone?"
Seifer curved his gaze from her as if searching for answers from the breath-taking vista. "No, I dont. I loved her once and dont believe she is capable; I also speak as a former-knight, the power of a sorceress can only be corrupted if that was her desire. Rinoa would have nothing to gain by killing Ellone, only everything to lose."
"Where do you think she is right now, Seifer?" Quistis asked with almost a tinge of sorrow in her voice.
"I think she is scared, hiding probably. I mean even I watched Squall on the television as he announced the hunt for the sorceress; he showed no emotion toward her. He basically gave anyone the right to shoot on sight; she thinks there is nothing here for her."
Quistis looked down to the beach and attempted to trace circles in the sand with her index finger, only to have the waves wash all attempts away, "How do you live with what you have done, how do you face the consequences?"
Seifer restored his gaze to her, endeavoring to figure out exactly what she meant by the statement; it almost seemed out of context. "I havent yet; I believe Im trying to redeem myself now. I just hope it is not too late. Quite frankly, I dont trust President Mitchell; I honestly believe Squall might be my last hope for redemption."
Neither said another word and just continued to watch the sun set below the threatening, foreboding waves.
Quistis walked down the halls of Balamb Garden, it was almost midnight now.
Hours had passed after she left Seifer sitting on the beach, without a word
she walked away from him. Not once had she actually thought of arresting
him, he essentially had been a comfort. After she left the waterfront, she
continued walking for another couple of hours, and then realized she had
actually missed the Gardens departure. For a fleeting moment, she wondered
if Squall would wait for her, or if he even showed any concern on her
disappearance. Alas, when she returned to the dock it was bare. She had no
money on her and tried calling Selphie, collect at that, to wire her funds
to hire transport to Deling. After all attempts had failed, she noticed by
chance an Estharian helicopter and quickly raced toward the flying instrument.
At that point, she wasnt sure if it was a blessing or an omen that the helicopter was that of her father-in-law. Benevolently, her transportation problems would be solved for the moment. It was an awkward trip, Laguna constantly asking about the condition of his son; Quistis just wanted the older man to be quiet. Conclusively, Laguna got the hint and the rest of the trip was made in silence.
Now she found herself back at her room, her and Squalls room. When she opened the door, the only light present emitted from the moonlight filtering through the curtains. Taking her jacket off Quistis walked the span of the living room over to the light switch, flipping it on. She jumped at the sight of a man sitting serenely in a lone chair. Squall looked almost infuriated, a look she was trying to interpret given their current situation. "Squall, I thought I told you to stay away from me," Quistis spoke not really in resentment.
He got up out of the chair, throwing a thick folder down to the table. His eyes met hers, staring intensely to her soul. "You lied," was all he could say
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