Crimson Lies Chapter 17
One fire burns out another's
One pain is lessen'd by another's anguish.
Since the beginning of time, men dreamed and poets wrote. Wars have been raged and lives ruined. For life is over in a blink of an eye. A fraction of time in history. The most we can hope is to have one moment in time; one moment that makes life worth living. The pain and the sorrow, fail in comparison to that moment. Most spend eternity dreaming of such a time. Two people found that time. With a solitary kiss, life had new meaning, a reviewed passion, a purpose. Each other.
His lips, his breath everything. It was him. Rinoa wanted to do nothing more than pull away, but she knew that wouldn't happen. She needed him, more than humanly possible. Her spirit had been broken, and with that, the trust gone. Love is nothing without trust
The only way to trust again was to allow herself that pleasure, to ignore the pain. To forget the past and move on. Right now, she needed to feel him. Feel his heart beat, feel his skin on hers. Damn him. All this from one kiss, one simple request.
For his part, he refused to yield. The moment would be over too soon; no matter how long it lasted. And he was afraid. Afraid she would leave, just as before. Afraid of being alone. But most of all, afraid at who he had become, a mere shadow of his former self. He was nothing without her. Finally, Squall knew that.
She did it. As hard as it was, she was the one to break the contact.
"Squall," softly she spoke looking down at her mothers ring around his neck. "I'm sorry. I don't know what to think right now. I don't know what to feel."
He caressed her check as she tilted her head to the touch.
"Stop trying, Rin. Stop trying to think, stop trying to feel," his voice a whisper of his normal tone. "Just feel."
She closed her eyes for a second, thoughts racing. Rinoa was about to state her decision aloud, but before she knew it, he leaned over and seized her with a passion she had so often dreamed of. His hand reaching her back as his lips passionately met hers. Guiding her body toward his, he started to lower himself onto the rug. His back met the floor as she lay on top of him. Neither spoke, neither could, as each second became more heated.
Damn him yet again, how did he know her decision? They deserved tonight. They needed tonight. Her future was not one of hope, the best she could do is live in the present, that moment the one many could only dream.
His hands made their way to her shirt, as he silently started removing it. For a second she stopped, as did his heart. But, she only smiled and helped take off the garment. When that task complete, he sat up, every so slightly, removing his own shirt. Rinoa reached down to feel his chest, his skin. Allowing herself to remember. Sensations ran through her body from her fingertips, as they met his flesh.
The fire highlighted his eyes. Each shade stood out, colors never seen reflected off the flames. Again, Rinoa felt the overwhelming need to feel his lips, his mouth, his tongue. Everything that was him. She lowered her body onto his, as he reached his arms around her bare skin. Before their lips could meet again, she let out a gasp as his ribs touched hers.
Rinoa sat straight up, as Squall lay under her. He tenderly ran his fingers over the violet and black bruises on her side; she flinched at the painful contact. With the deepest of concern, his eyes met hers. She nodded silently, giving him permission to do what she denied vehemently earlier.
Carefully he placed the tips of his fingers over the abrasions, an amber light radiated from the union. The dark hues gradually faded to lighter ones, but never completely disappearing. Smiling wearily at him, she took his hand from her side. Softly intertwining their fingers, she mouthed the words, "thank you." He returned the gaze with intensity and concern before, what appeared to be, the tiniest of smiles a feeling foreign to him for over two years.
She leaned down to him, her face close to his, but never meeting. Stretching her body, Rinoa softly kissed his temple, then lowered just a tad and kissed his scar. Something she wished she could take away, yet even spells had their limitations. The scars they both carried would never disappear. Never fade. Reaching her free hand up she moved his fingers to his hair, reminiscing about how long it used to be.
"Your hair is shorter," she said almost teasingly.
He returned the gesture, tucking some stray hairs behind her ears.
"Yours is too. We did what we had to do to survive."
Rinoa giggled openly, "You had to cut your hair? I think that may be stretching it a little."
She followed up giving him a tender kiss on his lips, which he strained desperately to maintain as she broke away.
"I had to try to forget about whom I was who we were. I don't want to forget please help me remember."
Answering his pleas, she pressed against him tightly, letting him feel every inch of her body. He could smell the sent of the soap, the shampoo, and of the strawberry lotion she used earlier in the cabin. Every smell only incited him more, his body remembering that which his mind tried greatly to repress. Reaching around to her back, Squall effortlessly undid her bra clasp. She was right that first day back in Balamb, he had become a professional over time.
He grabbed the strap and hastily tossed it over his head. A small gasp escaped her as their lips met and their bare chests connected. This time she didn't pull away as he deeply returned the kiss.
Never breaking contact, he reached for the nape of her neck. Gently, lovingly rolling her onto her back, allowing himself to take a dominant position. Rinoa reached up and undid his belts, again, something she no longer fumbled over. Flinging his pants aside, just as he had done the bra. Clothes were being tossed and strewn all over the small room. It had been so long, yet it only seemed like yesterday they were in this same position. Everything came flooding back sounds, sights, memories. Their past became the present, for at that moment they were the Squall Leonhart and Rinoa Heartilly of long ago.
When their bodies finally united he looked down at her, she lay under him as beautiful as ever.
"Hyne, I've missed you Rinoa. I never knew how much I could miss this closeness."
She looked back up to him, placing her hand on his cheek, "Just tell me you're real."
Caressing her shoulders and forearms he looked into her soul assuring her, "I'm really here."
Closing his eyes, Squall fought with his mind. So many times, he had envisioned this situation; it was the only way he managed when she was gone. But then, when he opened his eyes, it was never she with him always someone else. The thought almost made him sick. He abruptly opened his eyes, to reassure to his mind, what his heart already knew. Gasping out of breath, he spoke to her.
"Rinoa please look at me. I have to know it's really you."
She opened her eyes quickly trying not to get lost in the feelings. His eyes were so serious, so scared. Even now in the most intimate of moments he needed her, needed the solace only she could provide. Only her. This is something the old Squall Leonhart would have never done, yet the feeling was truly amazing.
They watched each other for the entire union. Each helping the other forget the pain, together they reclaimed past moments. Together they again became one. When it was over, he dreaded breaking the contact. Feeling as if the dream would end, fade away into nothingness and he again, would wake up alone at his desk. This dream should not end, could not end. He could not survive the separation a second time.
Rinoa reached up placing her finger in her mothers ring as it lay dangling between her and Squall. Tears once again formed in the corner of her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. Her eyes never leaving his, her heart never leaving his.
"You know she really never loved him, she just married him maybe she did it for career, maybe she did because she thought she lost her chance at love with your father, maybe she did it for reasons I'll never understand. I think she grew to care about him, but it was never love. I don't have too much of her, the wedding ring, a few photographs, and fragments of memories. Memories I'm not even certain are mine, not figments of my imagination."
Squall exhaled, sighing as he finally rolled onto his back. The contact was broken, thank Hyne, she was still there. The dream did not fade away. With his right arm, he grabbed what appeared to be a pair of pants and balled them up into a makeshift pillow. Never breaking the physical connection with her, he pulled her into his arms. She rested her head on his chest, listening to his heart beat racing.
"Rinoa, don't compare our situations to hers. There is no comparison." He reached his hand smoothing her dark hair, explaining, "I know what you're doing. Your parents might not have had the perfect relationship, but they did care about each other. They both loved you. Richard Bennett and your father are nothing alike; we might have had our differences, but I respect Caraway greatly. There is no respect for Bennett, he is no man."
She laid her hand on his chest, feeling both his breathing and the rhythm of beating heart. Squall did know her. Ever since she married Bennett, she couldn't help but parallel the two stories. Although through a technicality, legally she wasn't truly married to the man, the wedding was under a fictitious name. Nevertheless, the union in all other senses was real; she wished she could erase the repulsion from her mind. The thought of Allison learning of that marriage made her ill.
What she had told Squall earlier was the truth; Alexandra would seek him out eventually if timing and circumstances were right. There always was a contingency plan, if the situation warranted dire enough. Alex would go to Squall over Bennett. Deep down inside, between the two men, she had always believed Squall would do the right thing. For a moment she thought of telling him the truth about Allison, yet some unseen force was her holding back. Maybe it was just the thought of ruining this perfect night, perfect moment. There was always tomorrow, although she did not have many tomorrows left.
Was tonight just lust and desire, or was it more? She knew. It was love. Damn it, she still loved Squall Leonhart; more than words could describe, sensations and feelings beyond words, beyond love, beyond fear. The simple fact remained it couldn't be. The next words were the hardest she would say tonight, or ever, through her entire life. For these words were not spoken out of anger as earlier, but out of love.
"Tomorrow I'm leaving. Squall, please go back to Garden; go home. I can't I can't be responsible for you losing your freedom. I have to find Alex. I have to make sure my daughter is safe. He's never going to leave me alone I have no future. You do. You're still commander and with that you can go on."
She tried to be strong, gods she tried. Yet, the next words felt as if someone thrust a dagger into her chest, now they were maliciously turning it.
"Squall, go home to your wife. This is our past. Thank you for tonight, I will never forget it. But somewhere out there is your future. I'm not a part of it. I... can't be."
The harsh winds died down, giving way to peaceful night. The air still frigid, but somehow a soothing comfort. Seifer could see the bright stars through the porthole window, each having a life of its own. This far north, they seemed closer, if only psychologically. One could reach out and touch the celestial bodies, at least with the minds eye. He found himself drawing imaginary lines, making beast and friend alike. Sailors had done this for centuries, navigating by the stars themselves. They drew a map, a map of time, a map of direction. For a second, he found himself lost in their beauty and majesty.
Seifer never paid much attention to simple things, always wrapped up in an illustrious dream, never stopping to notice the beauty of those around. Like Quistis. Her blonde hair tickling his face, with every breath she took. However, he dared not move the closeness, euphoria unlike anything else he had experienced.
Each sense was awake with exuberance. His ears heard her deep, even breaths. His nose smelled the slight essence of coconut shampoo. His mouth, tasted the mixture of coconuts and her, the taste of her upon his lips. His eyes saw her beauty, outward and her inner being. However, most of all, his skin could register her touch. Each point of their bodies that contacted, each strand of hair, the most welcome phenomenon.
Involuntarily he moved his arm, attempting to wake the numbness that was overtaking. With that simple motion, she moved. Seifer damned himself for budging, as she rolled to the other side. Her breathing became heavier after the shift. Turning toward her, Seifer watched as her long blonde hair lay softly draped over the pillow. A sudden urge took over; he reached his hand and soothed her velvety hair. The texture was amazing, a cross between silk and heaven, nothing short of heaven.
Quistis body tensed, as a gasp escaped her lips. Suddenly he could tell that she was dreaming, but regrettably, it did not appear to be one of a blissful nature. Her body stressed, and he could hear incoherent words as she uttered them. For the most part, they were nothing more than a foreign language, only understood by her.
Over the mutters she finally cried, "Squall please..."
In that moment, his heart sank. How foolish was he to think that in a four-day period she could forget a lifetime of desire? Squall was her husband, for Hynes sake, the one she vowed to cherish forever. For his part, Seifer was aware that the commander had not taken the vows seriously. But, Quistis did. Squall never married for love, sadly, Quistis had. He closed his eyes as she echoed the words yet again
"Squall please I need you "
This time Seifer could make out more of her fraught pleas. A sudden desolation took over his body. The tired man turned the rejection into a form of sick laughter. How fucking ironic was this? He was now the weaker man. His mind recalled a time he dreamed of comfort before, with results that devastated an entire nation. Last time though, he searched beyond his generation, beyond many lifetimes of generations. Ultimecia offered such comfort to him, such promises. Quistis was only human, which made the situation that much more difficult to sustain. This time he couldn't claim enchantment, or spells. This time, it was only his misplaced desires.
Silently, he started to roll off the bed. For some reason he found himself hostile towards her, even though it was truthfully not her fault. No, maybe the hostility was not directed at her, but at himself. The moonlight shown through the window as the grey and copper metal reflected an almost greenish tint. Somehow, the same sky that looked beautiful earlier now looked as it was scorning his feelings.
As angry as the man was, for some reason, he wanted to stay. Maybe not next to her, but close. Feelings are funny that way. His shaking hand hesitated as it reached for the door; he looked back over his shoulder one last time, torn between two thoughts.
Leave or stay.
As if an answer to his question, she called out again this time the words completely legible.
"Squall please I need you to find her."
In an instant, she screamed, it was the only sound audible within the small building. She hadn't meant to, but the visions so exhaustive, it forever would haunt her mind. The bedroom door quickly flew open and the baby began to cry. When she regained her bearings, Alexandra reached her shaking hand out to comfort the child. She was surprised when the moonlight revealed Zell consoling Allison, holding her close, caressing her fine hair with his hand. Slightly rocking back and forth, he gently rested his head on hers, offering the warmth of human comfort.
Her sight cleared as the shadows of darkness slowly began to take familiar forms. Irvine stood in the doorway, the light behind him diluted all features. The familiar cowboy hat was the only notable silhouette. Again, the horrible images flashed through her eyes, and she found an overwhelming need to disappear.
Neither man had spoken, giving Alexandra time to regain equanimity. Pulling the sheets to her chest, she tried to hide her confusion. Allison stopped crying and now was resting her head on Zell's shoulder, azure eyes never closing. They held a mischievous curiosity, child-like innocents that Alex, and the others with her, could never reclaim. The little girl looked at the bed, and then around the room with growing concern.
"Mama?" a tired voice spoke softly, and then a second time with more urgency, "mama!?"
"She's not here right now, honey," Alex choked out. "Auntie Alex is sorry, but she will be here soon. Promise. Mama loves you."
The words did not seem to comfort the child, as she began crying again. Irvine walked over to Zell, and stretched his arms out to the infant.
"Hey you, young en' let's see we go find some cookies and juice. Who doesn't love some juice in a baba er bottle."
The child hesitantly went to the stranger, but through the tears did manage to squeak out the word, "juice?" As they left the room, Zell finally directed a question toward Alex.
"So you okay?"
"Hey," she lied. "Just a bad dream nothing important."
Sitting on the edge of the bed, the slightly perplexed man looked at the red-numbered lights of the clock.
"It's a not 4:27. Are you sure you should be up?"
She let out a sound somewhat a mix between a laugh and cough, "You too?"
"Yeah, that kinda got annoying. But, sometimes waking up from that nightmare was a bigger comfort."
Pulling her auburn hair from her face, she tucked strands behind her ears.
"Well, at least that dream was the only one you had to live with I have others," sorrow filled her voice. "The visions of the dead are stronger than the living, they never forget I wish they could learn to forgive."
"Wha?" he looked at her, curious at the comment.
Alex hid her eyes, "Never mind. I just had a bad dream, that's all. Im sorry for waking you guys."
"We weren't sleeping," he replied. Part of him wanted to continue questioning her; Zell knew she was hiding something else from them. Yet, he believed Alex would tell when she was ready, and decided not to press any further. "We were trying to get a hold of some friends of ours through back channels. Irvine managed to get a hold of his girlfriend on a network chatroom; using names only we could understand."
For the first time she laughed aloud, "Irvine has a girlfriend? That... I didn't expect." Zell looked at her strange. She continued her brown eyes growing wider, "Oh, I didn't mean it that way I mean, oh never mind. Sorry, this place just brings back memories, both good and bad. We spent many summers up here."
"It was probably pretty nice back in its day," he tried to mean it as a compliment. "Your parents must have loved Dollet, or the communication tower."
"I never knew my parents," she said defensively. "I was adopted by a doctor who took care of my mother."
Zell scratched the back of his head, and half-teasingly asked, "Err your mothers name wasn't Raine or you never lived in an orphanage, did you?"
"No?" she answered completely puzzled, "Why?"
"Ah nothing just had to make sure. It's freaky enough about sharing the visions with you." Another strange thought entered his head, "A you're not my sister or anything?"
"Your sister?" she laughed. "No, Zell. I think these are some of the strangest questions I have ever been asked." For some reason, there was an underlying tension within the air. She tried to break the apprehension with a more lighthearted statement, "Well it rates up there with the strangest question I was ever asked; I'm a sorceress who's running from her estranged boyfriend, the Commander of SeeD, who's been accused of murder and now carrying his child do you think you could deliver the baby and then raise her as your own? That was a pretty bizarre day too."
"Yeah, I bet well, I'm going to check on Irvine and Allison. Do you want some water or anything?"
"No thanks," she replied smiling up at him. "I'm doing okay. Think I'm just going to lie back down. Allison might not want to go back to sleep she's kinda a night owl."
"Yeah," he said closing her door. "She gets that from her father. But luckily, she seems to have more the curious personality of her mother."
To a certain degree, Squall actually pushed her off his chest, not with force but still in anger.
"You honestly think I can go back? Damn you, Rinoa. This is not a game to me; this is my fucking life. I don't lose you for two years to have you leave me in the morning. What do you want me to pay you too?"
He did it. For the second time tonight, his mouth said something he wished could be taken back. Earlier she poured her soul out to him, telling of how she degraded herself in Trabia. Now, he only cheapened that which just happened, something so beautiful so indescribably magical. As with their love, it was truly above words. Squall could tell he hurt her; she didn't look up. Curled into a fetal position, lightly trembling, she lay lost in the hurtful words.
Squall quickly moved over to her, kneeling back onto the rug.
"Oh, Hyne Rinoa. I didn't mean that. Please," he pleaded. "I'm an asshole please. The thought of leaving you after so long is I was barely alive before tonight. To lose you again, would be death."
He grabbed the quilt from the couch and walked over, delicately covering her body. Sitting next to the person who mattered most, Squall ran his fingers through her dark hair.
"Rinoa, I'm going with you. It's not a question, it's an answer. My life at Garden is over; my life with politics is over. I will fulfill the promise I broke so long ago. Please it is my redemption, my salvation. I pledge my life to you as your friend, as your lover, and as your knight. Nobody will hurt you or Allison again. I promise."
She stopped shaking, whether it was the blanket, his pledge, or his proximity remained unknown. Rolling onto her back, she looked up at him. He placed a hand on her cheek and she mustered a tiny smile.
"Squall there is just so much too many enemies. I know you want to protect me; I know that now. But there is something between us that neither of us can forget happened. Squall I I don't know if I can trust you with our lives. I want to, Hyne I want to, but something is keeping me from there is just something I can't explain."
He grabbed two small couch pillows and lay on the floor next to her. She shared the blanket, he didn't ask, it was something done on instinct. Lying on his side, he watched as she continued to stare at the ceiling. Squall could tell she was afraid of the eye contact, exposing her naked body was nothing compared to her naked soul. He reached for her right hand that rested on the blanket, not positive how she would react.
For the briefest of moments she did not move, finally a hesitation as she stretched her fingers, and then finally giving in, accepting his hand. He knew it was more. He could feel their strength as one return; as their souls united once again. The hand represented her decision, which she finally voiced. Turning to look him in the eyes, she smiled. A smile that melted his heart; one that made the days worth living, life worth living.
"Squall Leonhart, I would be honored if you would be my knight again."
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic