Crimson Lies Chapter 7
Again, I do not own the characters of Final Fantasy they belong to Square.
Squall arose from the traditional wooden chair, tossing the bulky manila folder down to the dining room table. His eyes met those of Quistis, staring directly through blue eyes to her actual soul. "You lied," he mumbled with sheer detest surrounding his statement.
Quistis looked at the man, her husband, in absolute bewilderment. His expression was one of genuine disgust; a look she had never seen before in all her twenty-three years. Subconsciously, she took several small steps away from the man, evading his pending advances toward her as she continued entering the small apartment.
"Squall what in the hell are you doing here?" The instructor found herself slowly backing into the entryway wall; Squall continued, gradually inching closer. Something about the cold obscurity of his eyes scared her, colder then his normal disdainful glare. Contempt, hate, something worse was present; years of training had taught her to look into enemy eyes for a sign of weakness. Right now, Squall Leonhart had none. Nothing had ever set him off like this before, except her . Quistis whispered the words aloud. Not for him to hear the faintly audible plea, just verbalizing her inner thoughts, anxious she maybe correct about the source of his odd behavior, "Rinoa?"
He said nothing; only stood millimeters from her shaking body. The enraged commander did not have to answer with words; his actions spoke clearly.
The momentary flashbacks of events two years prior danced within her minds eye. He knew, Squall knew. Too many years of living with the guilt was slowly drowning her, now she deep under water. God only knew Squall was not going to jump in to save her. The life of Quistis Trepe-Leonhart would change from this day forth, mistakes past would be reviled; more innocents would die because of her failure in time of battle. The scar on Squalls forehead was nothing compared to the scar in her heart, in her soul.
Pictures, images, and sounds came back, flooding the instructors mind; too many pictures, and too many deaths. He wanted to know the truth; that would cost them all. Quistis folded her arms, grabbed her elbows, and collapsed against the wall. He had to drop this line of questioning he just had to .
"Please no, no " Quistis slid her back down the wall, tears streaming down an already pasty face. "Squall you dont understand. God please no, just drop it."
Squall squatted down to her level, knees cracking as he neared the floor. With lightning fast reflexes, the commander grabbed her tiny wrist and spat, "You will tell me the whole story now my darling wife or gods help me it will be your blood that is shed this time."
"Squall its not like you think I had no fucking choice," chided Quistis.
"Everyone has a choice! Look me in the eyes and tell me point blank you saw Rinoa kill Ellone," his eyes pleading for the answer he so longed to hear.
Quistis could not look directly at him; the pain in her wrist was increasing as his gripped tightened around the thin bones. That action alone answered his question. "You lying bitch, go to hell. You you." Letting go of her wrist, the outraged man turned away from the morose form against the wall. The commander walked to the table placing both arms on the rich cherry wood furniture for mental support. Words escaped him for the moment, what could he say?
"Squall listen you have to know what really happened that week it is not what you think. I have never asked anything of you during this entire charade of a marriage; and all I will ever request is that you listen now."
With great vehemence, the commander hit his tight fists onto the table, still not looking in Quistis direction, "I will listen only if you answer me one simple question: did Sorceress Rinoa Heartilly kill Ellone Loire?"
Her word was barely audible through winded breath. "No," she stammered.
With sheer ferocity, Squall Leonhart extended his right arm knocking off the folder from the tabletop. Individual sheets of paper soared up to the air; as Squall made contact with the thick folder, moments before, he had placed on the table's surface. The white paper leafs filled the room like bitter snow mimicking the coldness in Squalls heart.
"How could you, how could I? Damn it!" he bellowed. "I ordered
her capture and subsequent execution for the crime! Rinoa
Rinoa what have I done to you."
The emotionally battered woman stood, not with certainty, but only with sheer will power to explain her treachery. "You must listen to me Squall. Too many too many more lives will be shattered."
"Shattered" he screamed back to her. "I think its a little too late for that. You tell me where in the hell she is and maybe you will be out of prison in time to enjoy retirement. Making false accusations is a punishable crime in this country; you help me and I will ask the judge for leniency on my poor, foolish wife. Lie to me again and I personally will sentence you to death."
"You dont understand Squall Im dead either way."
This statement distracted his line of thinking, "What do you mean dead?"
She walked silently to their glass veranda doors, gazing to the dark chasm of the night sky. Squall said nothing; Quistis could feel the eyes of her husband, piercing the heart that was beating arcane inside her chest. She heard his heavy breathing, not one instance daring to glance in his direction. "You must listen to the whole story Squall. Lives were lost, innocents that I, that we, fought to protect."
"You have five minutes before I call security," he avowed malevolently.
Quistis knew nothing she could say that would ease his hatred toward her. The only hope was making him understand why the deception, the treachery, and the fraud demonstrated to him and Garden.
Glacial winds were chilling down to her very bone. Life was easily lost in
temperatures, circumstances such as these; Rinoa would become a statistic,
a forgotten memory to all who had ever known her. Would that be the worst
thing in her pathetic existence in this world? Not really, but no one
was going to hurt Allison, especially not that beast, that man, who
had mentally, and sometimes physically abused her.
She stayed, yes; she stayed in Richard Bennetts residence of her own free will. Free will, that was a laugh, nothing was free in her life; everything had its price. Two years ago, if somebody told her she would live with such an abusive, tyrant Rinoa would have laughed, all but calling him or her a meanie. She had changed, not for the better. Protecting the little girl was all she endeavored during the last couple of years. Richard never once hurt Allison, in a strange twist of irony he was an affectionate father, just a wretched excuse for a husband, or for that matter, a human.
It had been long since she had ventured outside her dwelling in Trabia; a prisoner trapped within confides of four walls. Now the fresh Trabian air seemed highly overrated by local papers and news stations alike. Dark night seemed endless, she had been traveling for almost four hours and had no idea of her current location, nor could she recall how events transpired so swiftly.
The packed snow grew deeper with every passing minute; shelter was the only priority. A small clearing through the crowded woodland appeared; at with it so did hope. She could make out the silhouette of a building; it appeared to be a hunting cabin in the middle of the forest. The idea of a person vacationing in this snow-filled purgatory astonished her. With newfound energy, she quickly headed toward the life-saving shelter.
Night was the best time to make an effort to tell him; blackness cloaked
the terror concealed deep within her eyes. The Garden continued its route
to Deling City, gentle warm breezes played with the few scattered plants
placed upon the balcony. It was Quistis futile attempt to make the place
feel more the home then a meaningless apartment. She examined one of the
foliage a small olive colored shrub planted precisely a year ago on the first
anniversary of Ellones death. It was now or never; time was now her
"Squall that morning, that morning Rinoa and I had the worst fight between yet. Thats why I had visited your office. Frankly, she had been such a complete bitch the last two weeks; I personally wondered what the problem really was. In fact, I was not alone both Selphie and Zell had noticed the dramatic change in her behavior. Almost immediately after exiting your office she was standing there, dark hair reflecting the darkness in her expression it did not even look like her."
"Rinoa stepped toward me, glaring directly to my eyes, spitefulness contained within her very words, 'Run to Squall when poor, feeble Quistis gets her feelings hurt. That seems to be your answer to everything instructor. Run to him, maybe he will realize it was actually you he loved, not me. Why dont you just throw your pitiful self onto his desk and fuck his brains out? Hyne knows he and I have done just that many times before, oh thats right he doesnt want you.' I only starred at her."
Quistis continued, "Unsure of how to respond to Rinoas outburst, I
couldn't make a civilized response. Actually, the opportunity never arose,
at that moment Galbadian forces rushed into Garden attacking anyone in their
path. Both of us turned to the entrance, she looked just as surprised as
I had been. Again we turned to face each other, this time the look was one
of mutual understanding
would be solved later. We ran down the stairs toward the main gate. At one
point a grenade was heaved our direction, she pulled me behind a support
beam to protect me from the incoming blast."
Squall walked behind her, almost spitting in her ear, "So Rinoa might have saved your life, which is a very good reason to frame her for murder. With friends like you, my enemies are starting to look virtuous. This better get more informative quickly, three minutes until I call security."
Squalls words did not faze her, she continued, "Thats when part of the second floor over-hang collapsed we had been protected by the support column then we saw her, we saw Ellone. Sis was out of the immediate area of the initial collapse, but lay motionless on the ground. Rinoa had been unarmed and unjunctioned before the attack, my guess is she was going to rely on her slight internal magic ability I just dont know. We both ran over to her, when I got closer I saw something a large piece of metal was going through Elles heart. Sis was killed with shrapnel caused by the grenade explosion, although at the point she had not passed away."
Squall did not move. "Killed by shrapnel from a grenade explosion how fucking hard is that to say to everybody. I can see how you can get that confused with Rinoa stabbed Ellone with a dagger. Yes, Im sure the distinction between the two events was very difficult in that little head of yours."
"Squall, listen to the rest of the story please!" Quistis begged, "What I did wasnt right; but I tried. I tried so damn hard to rectify it!"
"Continue then my beautiful wife, please enlighten me."
"We were still under part of the over-hang, Galbadian troops making their way closer to our position. Ellone looked at both of us and smiled Its all right she gasped, obviously in pain. I looked at her remembering all that had transpired in her life, her past and visible lack of a future. I wanted to comfort her; I wanted to be there to hold her hand through this I reached for it, but before I could get there, Ellone grabbed Rinoas hand."
Quistis took a deep breath, turning to look at Squall for the first time since she had started this horrible retelling of events.
"Squall, Hyne knows it was petty, but she was my Sis; Rinoa barely knew her. First, I had lost my chance for you, and then I lost the chance to comfort Ellone in her final minutes to her, both to Rinoa. A quick intense light flashed, my first thought was that Rinoa was attempting to use magic, and then I noticed the aura was emanating from Ellone. Rinoa collapsed on the ground still holding Elles hand. It was only for about thirty seconds Rinoa lay unconscious; she woke up startled, looking directly at Elles fallen body. Sis opened her eyes for the last time and glanced to Rinoa. He loves you and always will she whispered to the still confused girl. Then Sis peacefully closed her eyes and took her final breath. Rinoa said not one word, to me or to Ellone. She dropped Elles hand, got up, and ran. Not one word of explanation; I watched as Galbadian troops followed her at first it looked like they were going to attack her, then they suddenly retreated. She managed to make it to the gate and run away."
The bewildered commander looked at Quistis, "She ran away, out the door? That would co-inside with Zells account. But, not one word of why she didnt stay and help fight?"
"No Squall," Quistis continued, "Nothing at least nothing from her. That is when I heard a member of the Galbadian army announce the attack on behalf of the sorceress. In my mind that explained why the troops did not follow her. I did not have much time to think, the creaking of the overhang was getting louder. I had to move from under unstable structure; the collapse would have surely killed me too. I grabbed Ellones lifeless body dragging it a safe distance from the over-hang. Somewhere in the shuffle, the metal had displaced itself from her chest; crimson blood ran freely down from her open wound. Remarkably, it was the first blood I had seen, the metal had blocked the rush until it dislodged. I found myself covered in it covered with Elles blood."
"I held her in my arms rocking back and forth when a cadet came running to me, followed by two Galbadian soldiers who appeared from around the corner. I thought for sure I was dead Events just rushed through my mind; I was making peace with the idea of death. It almost seemed welcomed. Yet the attack never came instead the soldiers looked at me. One of them spoke Did the sorceress do this? Either half lost in my daydreams or half lost in the resentment toward Rinoa for not staying and defending the Garden that sworn to protect her I do not know why to this day I wish I would have that moment back. I looked directly into the soldiers eyes and said yes. Yes, the sorceress did kill Ellone. A minute later, you came rushing up, I could never speak the words to you directly; the cadet did that for me, I just nodded. Even years later, I never told you she did, I just never told you she didnt. Reports where taken from both my accounts and others, facts and incorrect conclusions were drawn."
Squall looked her directly in the eyes, "It was a simple question Quistis, a yes or no answer. How hard is it to say NO? Why the hell didnt you retract your statement; after the battle there was plenty of time to do the honorable thing?"
Quistis attempted to explain, "Yes, there was. Believe me I tried."
"You didnt try hard enough," the commander scolded as he interrupted the testimony.
"Damn it, I tried! The newly formed World Council would handle the investigation; I was explicitly instructed not to talk to anyone about the incident. I had gone to General Mitchell trying to rectify the misunderstanding; I was warned clearly not to change the story. No, I was outright threatened. My life was not the issue; instead, he threatened the well-being of the citizens of Deling. His last words to me before he left that day: think about what you really want. Think. The next day was far more tragic than the day Ellone died. There was an explosion there was " Quistis stretched to the couch, sitting down she hid her face attempting to regain composure.
"What Quistis? What explosion?" Squall demanded.
"The next day there was an explosion on an elementary school bus. Two children and the bus driver died. General Mitchell announced his candidate for president that very evening. When making his public speech " she found it difficult to continue, "In the speech, he said what ever person was responsible for the atrocity better think; we will be watching his or her back until the time of trial and execution for this horrible deed. Later that evening, someone slipped an envelope under my door. In it was the newspaper article about the bus explosion; in thick red ink, it contained only one word, think. I got the message loud and clear, I knew the kind of man Deling was dealing with. The now President Jefferson Mitchell had those innocent children killed to keep the truth from coming out. A man who could overcome a sorceresss spell was a very powerful man; one to the citizens of Deling would be the clear cut choice for president."
"And like good little infidels they elected him," Squall reproached. "And like the brain-washed commander, I fell right into it. Why Quistis? Why didnt you just say no? How hard could have that been? It was a simple yes or no question. How many more lives will be lost to this?"
"After I agreed not to tell," continued Quistis. "The World Council mysteriously found a homeless man, who was tried and executed for the murders. The citizens where satisfied the real killer had been brought to justice. I know better. He is out there every day daring me to come forward, watching my every move. That is why you must never tell anybody Squall no one else can die. Please, I beg of you."
"Quistis Im not you. I wont go yelling to the council that Rinoa didnt murder Ellone, but Im not going to sit around and let her suffer alone anymore."
"I know, Squall. Im sorry."
"It was a simple question; how hard was it to answer? Yet you got what you always wanted, didnt you; I am your husband. You got me. Congratulations Quistis Leonhart."
"Im so sorry. Please if I could change this, I would. I dont have anything I wanted. I may have you in a physical sense just never a mental one. Did you ever once look at me as your wife? Did you ever once not picture her when we were making love? Did you ever kiss me or was it always her in your head?" The instructor demanded.
"No Quistis, it was never you I looked as my wife. No, it was not you when I felt strained to kiss you. No, and it was never you I saw when I forced myself to make love, have sex, or whatever that was with you. No, Quistis it was never you. See how easy saying no is?" Squall roared as he slammed the door behind him.
Quistis knew this was the end; everything she attempted to build with Squall, based on her lie. Squall would probably never even speak to her again; yet telling the truth had lifted a huge weight from her being. Maybe he could find Rinoa that is, if she was still alive. Maybe Squall could right her mistakes, much like Seifer, her hopes for redemption laid squarely on Squalls shoulders.
She picked herself off the couch and wandered like a ghost over to the balcony. Sliding the doors open, the instructor took off her golden wedding band. For just a moment, she watched the beautiful reflection in the full moon light. Quistis looked at the symbol for the last time then effortlessly tossed the wedding ring out to the churning waves below.
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