Fire Petals Chapter 4
Squall's heavy boots clicked on the slick linoleum floor. Sunlight was just beginning to turn the floors orange in the Garden hallways and Squall, who had gotten dressed an hour ago with nothing left to do or think about, was now walking around aimlessly. He had already directed the Garden's course and knew it would be another three untolerable days before they would reach their destination. He sighed out loud, watching his feet, left, right, left, ri-THUMP.
Squall looked up (or down, really) to find a girl in a tiny yellow dress on her ass on the floor, staring up at him angrily. "Oh, shit, Selphie, I'm sorry! You shouldn't run so fast." He reached down his hand, but before she took it, her face changed to a petite smile.
"Squall Leonhart, that's the second time you done this to me in the last week!" She giggled and let him help her up.
"I said I'm sorry, Selphie . . ." Squall, though slouching, still towered over her five-foot frame.
"It's okay. Did you think I'd actually be angry at you?" She giggled. "You're too cute!"
"Uh . . . Whatever." *Me? Cute? Right.*
Squall began to walk again and Selphie tagged along behind, tiny legs struggling to keep up with his long strides. "So, where're you off to, hotshot?"
Squall shrugged. "Dunno . . . . Hey, how'd you manage to run into me anyways?"
"Well, I was running to . . . um . . . oh no! I'm supposed to meet Irvine in the cafeteria! And I'm late! That's it!" Immediately Selphie turned and ran in the opposite direction. "See ya later!"
"Bye." Squall mumbled. *Geez, a breakfast date with Irvine the Nympho Kinneas. Hope she knows what she's getting herself into.*
He continued to walk, noticing Irvine himself running down the hall, long brown overcoat fanning out behind him, one hand holding his cowboy hat to his head while the other was lifted so he could look at his watch.
"Shit, I'm late!" Squall heard him mumble as he raced by. He couldn't help but chuckle to himself.
He then looked up to see the "Infirmary" sign. *Rinoa's in there.* He decided to pay her a visit; maybe Zell had been right - it could do him some good.
He was greeted by silence. No one else was there. Turning the corner, he found Rinoa in the second room, lying peacefully on the bed. Curtain-filtered sunlight flowed onto her tiny features and showed off the deep gold highlights in her shoulder-length black hair, which lay in sharp contrast with the bleached white sheets and her pale face. A slight ocean breeze wafted through the window, making the white room seem like a strange heaven.
*Complete with it's own angel.*
Squall sat down on the stool beside the bed, resting his elbows on his knees and letting his hands dangle between them.
He watched Rinoa for a long time before saying anything. He'd almost forgotten what she looked like, which surprised him, considering he'd just seen her yesterday. Yesterday he fought and won beside her. Today, there was something wrong with her that no one understood, and it was all his fault. *Why did I bring you in there? You could have waited back at the garden . . .or just outside . . . I could have avoided this.*
While he watched her, he noticed something different about her. He hadn't seen her sleep before, so that was different, but there was something else.
Or maybe it was him that had changed? He wasn't sure; he felt strange around her -- something like when he was around Ellone as a kid, but . . . different.
*Different. Everything's different now.* "It's all changing so fast, Rinoa." He whispered, " . . . . I'm afraid."
This was an admittance of emotional defeat to Rinoa (if she could hear him) as well as himself. It was something he hadn't said in a long time, and he hung his head in shame. He sat there, motionless, for a long, long time. *~¨~* §
Millions of pink flower petals swirled around his head
In the distance a cherry tree
Past miles of green grassy fields
Covered with so many blossoms
Run to it
Run to it
A girl wearing black and blue
The colours of his soul
Sitting on a swing
From a branch singing
A strange sad song she sings for him
Can't reach her
Far past her
Hitting black nothing
"Squall?" A hand on his shoulder. "Squall."
He jerked his head slightly upwards, taking in a deep, startled breath. He opened his eyes and squinted, lifting his head from the white sheets. He looked to his right, saw orange, and looked up. Quistis.
"Hey there, sleepy head," said the woman with long golden hair, "I thought I'd find you here."
"You . . . wha. . ." Squall sat up a little and noticed his arm was asleep. Looking over, her found Rinoa's hand in his own, unable to feel it through the pins and needles. Sitting up completely, he immediately drew his hand away and tried to massage away the tingles with the other.
"Zell told me you haven't been sleeping." Quistis continued, "And also that he had advised you to come here."
"Mmphmm." Squall replied quietly, rubbing his tired eyes. It was all he could mutter through his still tired lips as of yet. *That damn Zell. I don't need any more attention than I already have.*
"It's funny," She smiled, half-sitting on Rinoa's bed and straightening her orange skirt. "You couldn't sleep all night, and then as soon as you're with Rinoa. . ."
"I'm just really tired." Squall interrupted, trying to avoid confrontation. Looking up again, he found knowledge in her eyes. She knew him better than anyone else, though he refused to admit it to anyone.
"You should go to bed, then." She declared.
"I doubt I'll be able to now, but thanks for waking me up."
"Sorry; I had to. Doctor Kadowaki wants to check up on Rinoa, and she'd have a difficult time doing so with you sprawled out and drooling on the bed."
*Drooling? I don't think so.* Squall sighed and stared at the pink flowers in a vase on the window sill. *Pink flower petals . . . I had a dream . . . . Rinoa . . . a tree . . . a cherry tree. . .*
"'Sakura.'" He muttered, not realizing he was thinking aloud.
"What?" Quistis peered at him. "Cherry blossoms? Squall, those are pink roses."
"Never mind." . . . *Rinoa, you were singing to me . . . I just want to hear your voice . . .*
"What are you talking about?"
"I *said* never *mind.*"
"Alright, Squall, whatever you say. I think you really need some more sleep." Quistis was puzzled. *What's wrong with him?*
"I think so, too." He looked at Rinoa. *Bye, Rinoa.* With that, he stood and left the Infirmary, nearly bumping into Dr. Kadowaki on his way out.
Dr Kadowaki looked at Quistis with a puzzled expression on her face. "Maybe he should come by to see me later."
"That might be a good idea." Quistis replied. She had to admit, Squall was being even more introverted than usual.
"I mean, I'm no psychiatrist, but . . ."
"Just make sure we focus on bringing Rinoa back from this . . . coma or whatever it is. I think she's the one he needs to talk to most."
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