The Orphan Chapter 4

An Unlikely Savior

By Kate Lorraine

The ballroom was dimly lite with a few couples milling about the dance floor. It was a quiet party, the type that seemed to suit Deling's tastes. The decoration of the room, however, was extravagant. The walls were decorated with graceful paintings of floating cherubs and curling vines that blossomed into pastel flowers. However, this natural beauty contrasted greatly with the serious hushed manner of the people present in the room.

Squall and Rinoa were greeted by Deling at the doorway. Deling had his easygoing host face on tonight but his conceit easily showed through as the ballroom was adorned with a huge stain glass window displaying a portrait of Deling standing erect and tall like some form of a monstrous god.

"Hello Miss Caraway, you look lovely tonight,." Deling said with a nod.

Rinoa was not swayed. Her usual easygoing manner was strained as she muttered a forced response of gratitude. She clung to Squall's arm and tried to disappear behind his shoulders.

"We won't be staying long," Squall assured the dictator. "I hope you won't take it as an offense."

"No, I'm sure you have many important duties to attend to. I hope we see each under more amicable situations in the future. It's not often that I meet such a remarkable young man that has attained so much in so little time." Deling smiled his charlatan grim once more. Squall merely nodded and walked on. Deling's strained manner was as blatant as the ten foot tall stain glass window he was mounted on. It was common knowledge that the Deling family popularity had hit a all time low. It would take a miracle for him to keep his seat more than a year.

Rinoa glanced around the room searching anxiously for the face of her despicable father but to her relief he was nowhere to be seen. However, her relief was quickly extinguished as she felt a new onset of dizziness. In front of her, two well dressed young men emerged from the crowd and began to speak to Squall.

She was glad, at least he was too preoccupied to sense anything wrong with her. She winked at him and left, heading in the direction of the nearest restroom. The dizziness grew worse as she walked. She wondered if it would be too embarrassing to SeeD if their commander's dinner companion collapsed dead in a bathroom stall.

Rinoa entered the empty restroom and looked at herself in the mirror. For a strange reason, she was strangely relieved to see that it was still her familiar oval shaped face that looked back at her from the mirror. For some reason she had expected someone else. She took a couple of deep breaths and splashed her face with some water. She stood there over the sink breathing heavily, watching her own reflection.

* *

"Is SeeD really as competitive as they say it is?" The young one with a mustache asked Squall.

Squall leaned against one of the pillars and shrugged. A waitress walking by handed him a drink.

"I don't know, I just do paper work." Squall replied.

The one with the mustache took a hint and politely excused himself however, his companion appeared before Squall and began talking enthusiastically.

"Hey, man I saw your spaceship. It looks awesome. One of these days I'm going I want be just like you. My name is Clay Stripe, I really admire your work Mr. Leonhart."

Squall turned his eyes toward the annoying young man with blond hair. He sipped his drink nonchalantly and wondered if Rinoa was planning to pull another disappearing act but the blond one pressed on.

"I heard that your father was the president of Esthar. That must really be something huh?"

Squall shook his head in a irritated manner hoping the thick headed young man would take a hint.

"I don't talk about my father," Squall replied.

"Really? I hate my father too. He died when I was really young. I got picked on a lot when I was young. Did that happen to you too? I'm going to be like you someday, I'm going to show everyone that I can be a hero."

"Clay being a hero isn't everything it seems but I guess since I'm not one there is no need for you to take my advice."

The boy looked confused.

"Mr. Leonhart may I have a word with you?"

Squall turned to see General Caraway standing there in full uniform. The man stood stiffly with his hands at his sides. Behind him, Squall heard the waltz music begin to play. Had the man been watching him? Squall wouldn't of have put it past him.

"You have been taking care of my daughter haven't you?"

Squall frowned and did not reply. What right did this man have to ask him that?

"She looked pale today, is she ill?" Caraway asked, his voice taking on a more tender tone.

"She's fine, as far as I know." Squall replied, as tritely as possible.

The man appeared to relax slightly.

" My daughter can be handful sometimes, I know, but watch out for her for me, alright? I know she is fond of you, I can only hope that you feel the same for her."

Squall frowned, wondering how to reply to the man before him. I'll take care of her better than you ever did, Squall caught the phrase on the tip of his tongue. The moment dragged on awkwardly until someone caught him on the shoulder roughly.

"Squall, what are you doing here? Come, dance with me." Rinoa narrowed her eyes slightly at him, and pulled him away from Caraway. She dragged him to a corner of the dance floor where she caught his left hand in hers and fitted his right one on her hip. They melted into the dance and although she kept eye contact, he felt strangely alone. The words he had said to her earlier that evening came back to him. I feel as though every night I spend with you is unique in some way, and these nights will never come again. Yes, these nights were unique. She had shown him the world in outside of his own introverted paradise. It was the most 'unique' time he had ever had. But was this really how he wanted to live his life? Night after night, wearing a skin that didn't fit. Even in her embrace, he sometimes felt as though he couldn't touch her. Like he was wrapped in layers of flannel that prevented him from ever really touching anyone.

"What are thinking Squall?" Rinoa asked quietly as they went into a slow dance. "You have that look on your face again."

"I was thinking about how much I enjoy your company." He replied.

She laughed nervously.

"No that's not it."

Rinoa had believed that if she took her mind off the dizziness it would go away but it didn't. She felt like she was about to faint. She was grateful that this was a slow dance so that she could catch her breath. Her feet weren't so steady anymore and if Squall had not been so preoccupied in his thoughts he would have noticed that her eyes had changed. They now had a yellowish tint to them.

Rinoa stared unsteadily at the bottons on his shirt trying to focus her eyes. She stopped dancing and pressed her hand to her head. Suddenly an avalanche of pain engulfed her.

"Squall," she whispered for the last time and collapsed into him.

* *

Gasps erupted around the room as the sorceress stood up where Rinoa had fallen. The yellow in her eyes flashed like streetlights. Her hair floated behind her as though it too was imbibed with life. The natural colors of her face turned into gruesome purples and greens. The witch threw back her head and laughed.

She glared at the frightened government officials around the room and smiled.

"You did this to me." She hissed. Whimpers and whispers were heard around the room.

"Rinoa?" Squall asked, recovering from his shock.

"You did it." She hissed as she turned her eyes from one frightened guest to another.

"Surrender immediately," Deling ordered calmly as he appeared bravely In front of the sorceress. He was unarmed.

The sorceress laughed.

She raised her arm, in position to put an end to Deling when he suddenly produced a gun from beneath his jacket.

"Surrender now." Deling ordered once again.

The sound of footsteps were heard as Galbadian troops appeared at all the exits. They were armed to the teeth.

The sorceress caught him off guard as she threw back her head and laughed once again.

This time, the lights went out and the giant crystal chandelier came crashing down in the darkened room. Squall grabbed Rinoa by the waist and pulled her out of harm's way. She landed in a limp heap. The sorceress was no longer active, it was just an unconscious girl in his arms. The room was pitch dark and there was chaos everywhere. The only light was that which came through the stain glass window of Deling, who was still smiling, locked in glass. Shrieks and screams were heard throughout the room as the guests, in a hurry to leave, trampled over the troops that were trying to get in. Someone grabbed Squall by the shoulder.

Squall spun around ready to work with his fists. The man blocked his first blow and yelled for him to stop. Caraway pressed himself against Squall, "get her out of here, now!!" he hissed.

Squall picked up Rinoa, wrapping his arm around her waist. He watched Caraway glaring at him one last time. There was no way out, except for, Squall turned his eyes to the only light source in the room.

Without a second thought, Squall tightened his gripe around the unconscious Rinoa and leaped out the stained glass window. There was a shower of glittering glass around him as he landed on the grass lawn below. He picked up Rinoa and fled. Behind, he heard the sound of firing guns.

Caraway had made sure that the two were completely out of rang before he stepped out of the way and ordered the blinded troops to fire through the shattered window. He smiled as he heard the Ragnarok taking off in the distance. As the lights went on, seven were dead, eighteen wounded. Yet Caraway felt no remorse for the lives he had taken that night with the diversion he created. He had saved his daughter. The rest was up to the SeeD now.


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