Fire Petals Chapter 9
Exitate Vos E Somno
Qusitis turned toward the Infirmary door when she heard it open. At the sight of the three men entering, her first thought was, *Oh Squall, what have you done now?* She and Dr. Kadowaki instantly ran over and helped move Squall to the bed in the small room beside Rinoa's.
"What happened?" Quistis asked, moving out of Kadowaki's way.
Irvine shook his head. "No clue. Me 'n Selphie found him layin' in the grass, and he wouldn't wake up. Hey-where *is* Selphie, anyhow?"
"She told me she-" but Zell was interrupted by the door slamming open. Selphie raced in, out of breath.
"Oh! You guys are all here." She gasped, "I was in the office looking for Quistis. Any luck with him?"
"We just got him here." Irvine replied.
"He has a temperaure of one hundred and five." Dr. Kadowaki interrupted, "If it doesn't go down, he could die."
"*What??*" Quistis exclaimed. She had no idea it could be this serious.
The others looked equally alarmed. Quistis leaned over and felt his head, positive Kadowaki was mistaken. He didn't even feel that warm. "What are you talking about? It doesn't seem that bad."
Kadowaki checked her guages, "No, wait-it's one down to one hundred . . . ninety eight-point-six . . . What the hell is going on here?"
"He gonna be okay?" Selphie squeaked from her place in the corner. She was freaking out. Irvine walked over to her and put his and on her shoulder, hoping to calm her down.
"I . . . I guess so." Dr. Kadowaki replied, heaving a sigh of relief. "I have no idea what could have caused this . . ."
" . . . but he's still not awake." Quistis added, "We're not free and clear yet."
"That's right," Kadowaki agreed, "I'll keep an eye on him and try to figure out what's wrong with him. Why don't you people check out the place where you found him, see if you can find any clues?"
"I'm staying." Zell replied matter-of-factly. No one argued.
"I'll go." said Irvine.
"Can I come?" Selphie asked, peering up at him.
The pair headed out the door.
"I guess I'll stay put too." Quistis sat down on a stool and looked on as Kadowaki poked and prodded Squall's pale, lifeless fom, getting nowhere.
Zell stood in the doorway between the to rooms, occasionally glancing from Rinoa's bed to Squall's. *Are we all gonna end up like this?* He wondered, *I bet it's the sorceress' fault. Seifer left with that other sorceress bitch at the end of the last battle . . . I'll bet it's her fault. Or Seifer's fault. I hate that bastard . . .* He began to shadow box with the wall in his anger, concentrating, *First Rinoa, cute, innocent little Rinoa . . . now Squall? He's a good guy, he doesn't deserve thi-*
". . . . Zell?" said a small voice behind him. He whipped around, eyes wide.
"Holy shit!" He exclaimed, running over to Rinoa's bed and hugging her, "Guys! She's awake!"
"I never thought you'd be so happy to see me . . ." Rinoa whispered, a tiny smile on her thin rose lips. "What happened?"
Zell let go of her, sighing, "I was hoping you would know."
Quistis peeked her head around the corner. "Hey there," she said, smiling. For some reason the smile felt . . . *fake*, as though she were disappointed. She scolded herself for thinking that Rinoa's unconciousness would be an opportunity to take Squall as her own. *I can't believe I wanted her 'out of the way'. I'm so selfish.*
Rinoa's face suddenly changed from shy smiles to intense worry as she looked past Zell and Quistis into the next room. "Wha . . . what happened to Squall?" She glanced back and forth from Squall to Zell, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.
"Uh, well . . . . we don't know." Zell replied quietly, hoping not to shake her to much, "We found him laying in the grass outside the dorm hallway a few minutes ago, and he was just . . . out."
"Just . . .out?" Rinoa echoed, again staring into the other room. Suddenly her sad eyes filled with weak determination. She struggled push her tired self up, emitting a little groan, until she sat on the edge of the bed, her feet dangling a few inches above the floor. "I'm - I'm gonna go see him."
"Rinoa, you can't." Quistis interrupted in the best authoritative voice she could muster, "You're obviously too weak. Just . . . lay there. You can see him from here."
"Yeah," Zell agreed, adding slyly, "We wouldn't want you passing out and whacking that perfect little nose of yours off the floor, now would we?"
Rinoa smiled a little at the compliment, but didn't change her mind. She slid off the bed until her feet touched the floor. She wabbled and stood, then made her way over to Squall, soon getting the hang of walking again. "This isn't so hard. I'm fine, guys."
Zell watched silently as she passed him and sat down beside his teammate, taking hold of his hand. His chest felt heavy, his gloved fists balling, making leather creak against sweaty leather. *She's your friend, Zell. Don't get hung up like this. You'll find someone else,* he told himself as he stared. He took a deep breath and tried to relax. *But when she smiled at me . . . *
"Doesn't it figure," Quistis whispered to him quietly as she watched the pair in the other room, oblivious to his hidden outburst, "That when Rinoa finally woke up, Squall's down for the count?"
"It's a little ironic." He replied, watching them as well. Rinoa just sat there quietly. He couldn't see her face.
"Why don't we give her some privacy?" Quistis closed the door softly and made her way to the exit, "I'm off to the bridge to see if everything's ok." *Why wouldn't everything be ok?* She asked herself, *Oh, I forgot, it's just an excuse to get out of here.* She left silently.
"Okay." Zell mumbled mindlessly, now staring at the floor. Realizing he was wasting time feeling sorry for himself, he poked his head into the next room and told Rinoa lightly, "Hey, um . . . I'm gonna go down to the training centre to blow of some steam."
Rinoa turned around on the stool. "Steam from want?"
"Oh, I dunno . . ." Zell fumbled, surprised she bothered to care about him at a time like this, "I'm just feelin' kinda restless."
"Well, see ya later, then. Be careful."
She turned back around and faced Squall, then heard the Infirmary door open and close. "Now I know how you must have felt," she whispered to the sleeping form infront of her, "when I was like this. If you feel the same way I do, that is. About me. Er - about you. Not that I even make any sense." She sighed, then starightened her back. "Squall, I'm going to give you to the count of three to open your darn eyes."
She smiled and felt her own eyes getting teary with worry. "One . . . . Two . . . . Three!" Rinoa stared at him for a few seconds, then sighed loudly. He hadn't moved an inch.
"You jerk." she said, half-angrily, lightly punching his shoulder. "I can't believe you."
Rinoa glanced out the window, then saw movement from the corner of her eye. Startled, she glanced back at Squall. His eyelids were slightly moving. She took this as a miraculously positive sign, and began to squeeze his hand.
"Uhrgnff." he replied quietly as his eyes opened in tiny slits.
Rinoa's face lit up. She felt happier than she'd ever been. Without thinking first, she flopped onto his chest and threw her arms around his neck. "Oh, thank Hyne!"
As Squall came to, he was surprised by the sudden feeling of weight on his chest, then the soft scent of something like honey mixed with wildflowers.
*Rinoa??* He opened his eyes wide with a start and looked down to see the light blue and painted white wings of her pullover, and reached one hand slowly up to touch her soft black hair. *This has to be another dream.* He was practically in shock.
"I'm so glad you're ok." she said quietly. At the sound of the voice it seemed he hadn't heard in years, Squall brought up his other arm and held her as tightly to him as possible. *-You're- glad? I was going to have a heart-attack.* Rinoa buried her face between his neck and his shoulder. They remained like that for quite a while.
"Rinoa!?" Dr. Kadowaki had returned, "Squall!? You two are okay?"
The pair jerked apart uncomfortably. "Yup." Rinoa answered giddily.
"Do you know what happened to you? Either of you?" Both teens shook their heads. Kadowaki sighed. "Another mystery unsolved."
"How did I end up here?" Squall asked,
"Well," Kadowaki began to explain, "Selphie and that boy Irvine found you in the grass beside the dorm hallway-"
* The dorm hallway . . . the fire . . .* "Seifer." Squall mumbled, memories of the experience finally returning to him.
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