Crimson Lies Chapter 25
All the wisdom to lead
All the courage that you need
You will find when you see
We are one.
--Simba, Return to Pride Rock
"Our daughters name." He stood breathless.
Alex closed her eyes turning away. She wanted to leave, but knew Squall would just stop her. For so long she had been the only person Rinoa had to talk with, now she was the one who betrayed the secret. To tell Irvine and Zell was one thing, to tell Squall quite another. Rinoa should have been the one to tell him, she would have told him eventually.
But time was an irrelevant factor now, what had to be dealt with was the problem at hand. Specifically, the thunderstruck man standing in front of her. Maybe if he had said something given any kind of reaction further then his initial comments, but it was silence And silence was killing her.
His mind was racing with a thousand questions a second how, when, why? How had he not known two years ago at Garden? How could he have not known when he first saw Allison? When did she know? When was she going to tell him? Why .
Why after everything they had gone through in their young lives... had destiny been so cruel. Was Hyne such a malicious god that she could allow this to happen? Why would fate bring them together just to have them torn apart?
And why, why did Rinoa not tell him
Was her faith lost and her spirit broken to such a degree that she could no longer trust him? Had their past meant nothing, her love for him in doubt?
She left him.
No matter the cause or outcome, the fact remained the same. She fucking left him. Would doubts of innocence ever been questioned had Rinoa returned after the attack? Did she have such little faith in him; she didn't contact him after running away...
He waited. Damn her, he waited she wasn't there.
"Squall," coaxed Alex. "Please say something."
"Tell me," speaking a growl-like rasp. "Tell me that Allison is my daughter. I want to hear it from you. I want to hear those words."
Although his heart never needed the confirmation, his logical mind did. But it was the answer that Alex gave that sealed the question. Or any lingering doubt in his mind .
"Squall, I'm not the one who should be saying that. I can't. Please, talk to Rinoa."
"You're damn right. Believe me; I'm going to talk to her. How could she?"
"How could she?! Don't you even dare say something like that to her. After everything that's happened, what she went through don't you dare harm her in any way. She'll do anything to protect Allison If you start acting like that, she will leave. As much as she loves you, and by god, she does love you she will leave. Not to hurt you, not because she wants to, just because she has been hurt too many times and she will not let Allison go through the same hell."
"I know you're angry now, but nothing has changed Squall. She and Allison need you as their knight . mind, body and spirit. Don't say something you would regret. She is still volatile, you don't know what Bennett did to her you could never imagine. Four days with you cannot undo the two years of torture. Remember that."
Alex grabbed the small Griever ring around her neck, pulling slightly on the chain. Squall said nothing, only stared past her. Eyes betrayed no emotion.
"Please Squall, if Ellone was here right now she would want you to calm down before talking to Rin. Put yourself in her place; think about what she went through."
"Right if Ellone where here," he sharply replied. "But she's not. And trust me, you're no Ellone."
"I know," she bitterly stated. "And you're no Laguna, so don't make his mistakes."
As the evening turned to night, Ragnarok docked with Balamb Garden. Alex returned to the crew quarters, without so much as a word to Rinoa about the incident. The truth was they were going to have to deal with this themselves.
As they always should have.
When she left him, Squall spoke not another word after the last comment. Turning his back, he headed to where he was Alex originally found him. Rinoa sat on one of the chairs looking out into the distant horizon. Zell and Allison crawled together on the floor. Irvine had come down from the bridge; now watching the intense game of hide and seek being played by the two 'youngsters' of the group.
Alex sat down on a chair next to Rinoa. Watching the martial artist maneuver around the seats, but never letting the little girl out of his sight.
"Rinoa, he seems really good with her." Alex acknowledged not meaning anything by it, just for the fact of small talk.
"Yeah, he has always been good with the junior cadets here. I just wish Squall "
"What? Was good with children? Don't even say it Rin. Some people aren't naturally comfortable with kids nor are they even good around them. However, when it's your own child, you learn and then you come to appreciate other things you might have missed before. Sometimes after you have a child, it changes your outlook... some thing's aren't natural for everyone and some things become natural after the fear is gone."
"I know sorry. I just can't picture Squall down on the floor with Ally like that."
"Rinoa, he has never had the chance. People can surprise you. Squall can surprise you. Maybe he will never crawl on the floor, but being there for the first tooth is just as important."
"Alex she already has teeth."
"Yeah, fine being there when she loses her first tooth can be just important. Or being there for her first day of school, or her first date, or when she gets married "
"I get it! Please she's just a baby; I don't need to think about her getting married. I can just picture her going on a date and Squall scaring the poor kid to death "
"Exactly." Alex moved her hand over to Rinoa's. "He loves you. He loves her maybe he just isn't ready to admit it yet. This is all new to him. Four days ago, you were nothing but a memory. Today you are real."
"He's also married," Rinoa spoke quietly for only Alex to hear.
"Rinoa he is only married on paper. There are more important things like the bond you two share. Plus, I'm pretty sure that his wife is interested in that other guy."
"Seifer?" Rinoa looked at her friend with bewilderment.
"Um yeah him not that the others like him too much though."
"Well, he kinda was my ex-boyfriend and then he was the one who tried to sacrifice me to Adel."
"Damn Rinoa, you sure pick winners."
"Yeah, I do." She couldn't help the laughter.
The giggles were cut short when a little hand reached to Rinoa's knee. "Mama?"
"Yes, Ally you okay?"
"Ell my baba." The little girl pointed to the blonde man hiding behind the chair.
"Zell did you steal her bottle? Don't make me separate you two."
He quickly jumped to his own defense. "She started it!"
"Yes, Zell blame the baby. Now if you guys are good, I'll give you each a gram cracker. But you have to play nice." Rinoa handed her daughter two crackers; Ally waddled over to her new friend sharing the reward.
"Rinoa," Squall spoke in an official manner. "We have been given the all clear to go aboard Garden. They are expecting you three in the infirmary. Dr. Kadowaki wants to get medical records for Gardens database. I have an appointment with Cid regarding the current situation I don't know how long I'll be. Don't expect me back tonight."
"Back where?" Rinoa questioned.
"Back to wherever you are. I just need to get some things sorted out. I'll be in my office Zell will be with you and Alex for the evening. You'll be protected by people I can trust at all times."
Alex turned her head away from the two. Zell caught the expression on her face and quickly released that she was hiding something then he remembered how long Alex had been gone from them. He grabbed the little girl finding a seat and motioned slightly with his head toward Ally. Alexandra nodded in confirmation.
Squall knew about Allison.
"Irvine you will be coming with me. Cid needs to hear your report also. According to Galbadia, Garden is now housing wanted criminals We have to get the facts together. Funny how things can appear if one doesn't have enough courage to come back and get the facts straight."
Alex bit her lip trying to hold her comments to herself. She and Zell exchanged quick glances. Luckily, Rinoa was putting Allison's belongs away and only was half-listening to Squall's speech. There was now an awkward silence between everyone, save for Allison.
Squall walked over to Zell looking down at the child in his lap. Staring at her eyes, his eyes somehow, the truth seemed painfully obvious now. For a moment, he couldn't focus on anything but his daughter
The little girl held out her gram cracker in an offer to share. "You?" she asked with innocence.
"Me? Um No that's yours, but thank you."
"You?" The toddler looked at him, crumbs falling onto the floor.
Squall looked confused for a moment; one of the rare occasions where bystanders could tell he was truly caught off guard. Alex turned to Rinoa with a look of "I told you so" as the two continued the jumbled dialog.
"Me?" the commander questioned yet again.
"You?" The child pointed her arm in his direction. "Who?"
"Oh," he finally understood. He bent down to her level, kneeling on the floor. "I'm Squall Leonhart Commander of um I'm Squall."
"Yeah Skall," he repeated. "I'm a friend of your mother's."
"Mama?" The little girl pointed to Rinoa. "Where Dada?"
Nobody in the room could breathe. Rinoa felt her heart sink and tried to keep from crying in front of everyone. Squall almost wanted to shout out that he was right there; standing in front of her but the only father that she had ever known was Richard Bennett.
Slowly he reached his hand out to touch her cheek. "He um Dada's not here right now. But he still loves you he wants mama and you to stay with me for awhile."
"Skall?" Ally pointed and smiled as she said his name.
"Yeah, dada wants you to stay with Skall for awhile. He doesn't want anything to happen to you. He wants me to protect you and mommy."
The little girl nibbled on her gram cracker until it was nothing but a small bite left. She looked at Squall who seemed to be nervous. Once again, she handed the last bite of her cracker to him. He sighed and reached down for it and ate the last bite of the cracker.
"Thank you Allison thank you."
Standing up he didn't want anyone speaking to him right now. Somehow, the emotion he felt would betray his feelings in such a short period of time his life had changed in the most dramatic of ways. Five days ago, he had no reason for living, now he had every reason not to die.
Somehow, the anger of Rinoa's deception kept him from letting his guard down. Right now, he just needed to be by himself; he needed time to think about the latest information. But most of all, he needed to calm down before talking to Rinoa. Alex was right; her state of mind was very fragile. She would tell him the truth he knew that she would tell him.
She watched as the flashing lights on the control panels formed a memorizing pattern. They had landed almost fifteen minutes ago, but she remained in the cockpit. Selphie had left with a cordial goodbye, but not the same enthusiasm as before She could tell it was hard for her closest of friends to accept; what would the others at Garden think?
"Gil for your thoughts?" A masculine voice said from behind her.
Smoothing out her clothes, she stood. "Seifer, only you would use a cliché like that."
"Nah, I'm serious." He pretended to show her empty pockets. "I really need a couple gil. It's late and I need something out of the snack machine."
She smiled slightly. "Cafeteria should still be open. I'm sure you can grab something down there."
"Oh yeah right send the wanted criminal into a cafeteria full of hungry SeeD's. You might as well put a sign that says 'Kick the Lapdog's Ass' on my back."
"Well," she hesitated. "Honestly I would but Zell already did that three hours ago."
Offering his hand to her, he took a step closer. "If it makes you feel better Quistis, I don't want to go out there either."
"Think they will notice if we spend the rest of our remaining lives in the Ragnarok?"
"Trust me, I would love to but Leonhart is making me go see the doctor. I guess they are afraid that I picked up something maybe give me a rabies test or something."
"Seifer, its standard procedure for all guests of Garden to give a full medical account. At least anyone staying over a significant period time."
"Yeah, I think ten to twenty qualifies."
"You're worried about that, aren't you?"
"I try not to think about it. I've just never one that looks good in stripes they make me look hippy."
Quistis looked down to the floor, before gathering her breath. "Seifer, you are doing it again. You're trying to hide feelings with your sarcasm. I just never saw it before well I saw it... but I chose to ignore it."
"You had other things on your mind I know. It's ironic how it always comes back to Squall."
Releasing his hand, Quistis sat down in the pilot's chair. "Back to Squall," she repeated. "Seifer, I don't have anywhere to go."
"What?" He scratched his head at the sudden turn of the conversation.
"I don't have a home anymore not that it was ever a home. The apartment. I just don't have a room at Garden. Been there most of my life, but I don't have a home."
"Now it's my turn to tell you to stop it. Quistis it has always been your home. Maybe right now you don't have a bed to sleep in, but it's a place you feel safe. The people there have always accepted you, always looked up to you. Nobody knows the truth but us, in time they will learn to forgive. I'm not saying they can forget Hell, no one will ever forget what I have done but these are your friends and family. They will love you no matter what and and I suck at this nice thing."
"No, you don't. I think you are doing it rather well. Make you a deal, after you are done in the infirmary we go to the cafeteria together. Then I don't have to lend you any Gil but I'll still tell you my thoughts."
"Ohhh thoughts? Any involve whip cream?"
"Okay, only kidding. You got yourself a date in the cafeteria."
The meeting with Cid was the military norm. Briefings, debriefings and endless paperwork. Irvine, Lauren, Squall, and Cid sat in the small conference room. While the knight's mind seemed to be focused on the events at hand, his heart was focused on Allison. Somehow the feeling he had been the one betrayed, kept entering his mind. It was a thought he wished to God he could shake but somehow it held on. He needed to talk to Rinoa. Now. He needed to hear the words from her.
"Squall?" Lauren looked at him as the other two men had for a coffee break.
"What?" He looked around noticing it was just them in the room.
"They dismissed you on break. Can I get you anything?"
"Hey, it's none of my business, but you don't seem to be the most productive member of society in here. I've worked for you for a while now and never have seen you like this. I'm sure anything could wait until tomorrow morning if you want to leave and go talk with "
"You're right it's none of your business."
Looking over he could tell Lauren felt very uncomfortable about confronting him like that. She had worked for him, and never said anything other then what needed to be said. She pretended to be working, but he could see her sketching on her notepad.
"You could at least pretend to be working." He said motioning to her book.
"Sorry sir, nervous habit I have."
Standing up he walked toward her, looking down at the paper. "Well, I don't want to see you do it again on my time. But it looks like something you are very good at."
"You're sketches are very good. Is that a GF?"
"No, actually it's my family crest when I first transferred from Galbadia my father gave me photographs of my grandfather. From what I could tell, this is the creature on the shields."
"Your family is very important to you, arent they?"
"Can you do me a favor?"
"Tell the others that I have to go, something came up something more important."
The room was surprisingly dark. Rinoa threw her belongings over the chair. Garden had given her a guest suite, with two bedrooms. Alex had been cleared earlier by the doctor and taken Allison back to the shared room. The nursing staff had a thousand questions for Rinoa, and then a thousand more from Dr. Kadowaki.
When the question would inevitable come up about the fathers name Rinoa wasn't sure what to say. But she didn't have to, somehow the doctor knew. The question was never asked directly. Therefore, the information was now in the Garden database, for pretty much anyone to see. Yet she hadn't told Squall.
Zell escorted her back to the room; where he remained posted outside until Irvine would take the next watch.
Figuring Alex had already gone to sleep, she desperately wanted to talk with somebody. Rinoa paced the room for a moment, before opening the drapes slightly. The full moon looked ghostly outside as the fog drifted up from the water below. Thus giving the illuminated half of the room an ambiance of revelation, while the other remained a shadowed void. A rush of apprehension washed across her, until the gentle sounds of Allison chatting in the background were heard.
It was a language the infant alone could comprehend, but every day Rinoa was breaking the dialog. Deciphering the code of a sixteen-month old child had become second nature. Words and syllables grew more recognizable with every conversation that passed between them. It was something that was theirs, a language shared between two between mother and daughter.
Allison defiantly had a vocabulary. At last, the word "Squall" would be among it.
Deciding not to turn on the overhead light, Rinoa walked into the kitchenette. The light from above the sink would be more than adequate.
"I waited for you in the flower field."
Rinoa jumped not expecting anyone to be awake, let along speak. Somehow, the tense feeling did not subside after she recognized the voice. If fact, it increased. Her body was almost parallelized, yet she didn't know why Why was he here? Turning toward the corner, she could barely recognize the silhouette of the human form.
"Squall, what are you doing here?"
He didn't answer.
"You know, I actually waited in the flower field for you? After Deling. I thought maybe just maybe but no."
The voice. The statement. Something was wrong. From the time they met up three days ago he had almost never taken the offensive position on anything. He was now. She didn't need to read his eyes, for once; his voice was showing the emotion he tried hard to conceal.
"How? How was I supposed to get there Squall and why? You had already branded me a murder," she pleaded trying to remain strong. Though she stood firmly on the position now, in hindsight Rinoa wished she gone to their place. The option never presented itself at the time. "I saw you up there in Deling Squall don't forget I saw you. As much as I would have wanted to go I couldn't risk it."
"Why? Why couldn't you risk it Rinoa?" It wasn't truly a question, almost a dare. She immediately took a defensive position. He would not faze her. She was right back then.
He was wrong.
"You would have turned me in damn it Squall, I saw you."
"Could," he corrected her. "Could have turned you in. I would have listened if you had given me the chance. But you didn't. Again I'm asking you why."
"Why!? Why in the hell would I risk my life on a chance Squall? I couldn't risk it." The anger in her voice was beginning to deceive her. After everything he knew about her life he had no right.
She gasped to keep the tears from coming she was right damn him. But he was right too they had promised. Things changed.
"You broke the promise. You promised to protect me, my knight, you promised to stand by me no matter what. You didn't stand by me. You lied."
"It wasn't worth the risk to talk to me? You chose not to speak to me. I had no other choice but believe you guilty. You ran you betrayed me."
"What!? I told you Squall, Ellone told me that I would die if I stayed. I had to leave, it wasn't my choice."
"Nobody can predict the future those were your words. Even you knew that Ellone couldn't see the future. Only what might have been but you ran. I find it strange that you had been willing to put your life on the line so many times before. Yet, you didn't stay and defend us, your family. Why Rinoa? Why was this time so different?"
"I didn't want to die!" she spat back at him growing more and more frustrated by the tone and line of questioning. She turned from him, no longer looking into the darkened corner. Slowly she walked toward the window trying to regain composure. For the first time she heard him move, the eerie stillness of the corner broken. Squall stood from the chair walking slowly toward her, yet keeping his distance.
"Why?" It was a demand. Plain. Simple.
Turning around to face him, she could see his eyes for the first time. The eyes she knew beyond a doubt. They deceived his words. Containing not the tone his voice was speaking, yet they were filled with .
Before Rinoa could think the words she wanted to say, something deep within took over.
"Because it wasn't my life." She could no longer endure the burden of the lie. Sitting on the couch, she held her stomach tight as the tears now fell down her face. This time it was a whisper. "Squall, because it wasn't my life."
For a moment, he just looked at her as the moonlight reflected off her tear-stained cheeks. His heart could no longer bear the torture she was putting herself through. That he was putting her through. Sitting down next to her, his voice slowly broke the harsh tones. He reached his trembling hand on hers. The contact gave them both the courage to go on.
"Whose life was it Rinoa?" he whispered. Putting his hand on her cheek, he carefully wiped the tears from her face.
She looked up at him, leaning her face into his gentle touch. Their eyes locked before she finally spoke.
Authors Notes: Hey everyone, I'm so sorry about the delay in chapters. A couple weeks ago, I managed to get a sinus infection, which somehow worked its way into my tonsils, again. But modern medicine has somehow gone past the idea of taking them out (Even after several times of infection) Yes, they again gave me a lovely supply of antibiotics oh joy. So after a week or so of not being on the computer I come back to find that my DSL modem died somewhere along the line. So after many arguments with the my service people I was sent another one now I find out it's my lines that our bad. So the only time they can get here to work on them is late next week . So I shall have a computer then!!! I know that I have a lot of e-mail that I haven't answered. I am soooo sorry. I'll get to them next week. For now I am using my mom's computer to put this up sad being thirty and still running to use my mothers computer. So again, I am sorry when I get back we will get working on the web site again. I hope that nobody out there is angry; I feel horrible about all of this.
On the happier note, my son made minors in little league, and I have been forced to spend way too much time at practices. (Oh wait that was a happier note, I forgot!) Well, I promise there will not be as long of delay before the next chapter, we are getting closer to the end yeah!
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic