A Chance of Rain
Final Fantasy VIII and its characters are copyright Squaresoft. I'm just borrowing them for a bit. I thought of my father before I started this, now long
departed from this existence. I thought of forgiveness. And I was inspired to write this fanfic. So I dedicate this to fathers and their daughters, who,
despite the mistakes made, the wrong decisions and the pain and heartache they may cause each other; at the end of the day, at the end of a season, at
the end of a lifetime, will still remain, fathers and daughters.
Dawn was just breaking on the dead. The sun crept up the hillside and gently traced the tops of the tombstones with an orange light. The beads of dew sparkled in
reply as they waited to be evaporated by the heat. Birds sang praises to the morning. The world was coming to life again in a cemetery. The inhabitants carried on in
their silence. Lying far beneath the golden rays. Though calm and peaceful, a growing sense of foreboding was quickly absorbing the passive surroundings. Armies of
dark clouds from the north were making their way across the sky, pursuing their quest to cover the sun, and bring rain to the earth. A clap of thunder heralded their
Quick and assertive footsteps broke through the revelry as they climbed up the pathway of the slopping hill. They came to a halt at the top as the man reached into
his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from his brow. His hand trembled violently as he brought the cloth up to his face. His breathing was quick
and shallow as if his lungs had tightened like fists within his chest. A pain shot through his shoulder. He closed his eyes as he tried to regain his composure. His free
hand reached into the breast pocket of his shirt and pulled out a small bottle. He worked to undo the lid and cursed as the tremors caused his hands to slip and the
lid to fly from its position spewing the small pills from their prison from which they fell with tiny snaps as they collided with the pavement. The man fell to his knees as
he grabbed for them. He took one between his fingers and shoved it in his mouth rolling it under his tongue.
His hands hit the ground as he sat for a moment allowing the medication to take effect. As his pain subsided he began picking up the pills, carefully, like he was
picking up pieces of broken glass. The flowers he had brought along were lying on the ground beside his foot, where he had dropped them. As he moved across the
ground his foot slid into them, rolling them over and grinding them against the pavement. He felt this and slammed his hand down in anger as he quickly turned to
survey the damage. The petals in their fragility had become torn and tattered by the touch of the leather shoe and remained a dismembered phantom of what their
beauty held just moments earlier.
He took a petal from the ground and rolled it over and over in his hand staring at its curving edges and feeling the soft silk caress the tips of his fingers like gentle
kisses from long ago. He collected the rest of the petals holding them in cupped hands. Tears stung his vision as memories reached from the trenches of his mind and
grabbed hold of his soul, rendering him motionless. The petals were picked up and stirred with the breeze and they fell from his hands. There wasn't much to be
salvaged. And he was reminded of his family, which he also managed to destroy single handedly. Slipping through his fingers like sand. A clap of thunder roared in
the distance. The dead continued to sleep.
Squall Leonhart poked at his breakfast idly with a fork as he looked around the cafeteria and then again to the empty seat beside him. He watched the door
attentively and his eyes moved slowly scanning from corner to corner the entire room, leaving no detail unturned. She wasn't anywhere to be found.
"Ya know Squall," Zell piped up as he was chewing a mouthful of food across the table from him, "No matter how talented you are, I don't think you can just will
her to be in that seat with the powers of your mind." He made a little hocus pocus gesture with his hand.
Squall gave him a look.
"Yeah, I know, I know, Zell droned, "Whatever."
"Exactly." Squall replied with a smirk.
"So what's up?" Zell questioned. "Are you two having an argument or something?"
"No, not at all," Squall said. "Its just...something doesn't feel right today. I went by her dorm room this morning and knocked on the door. She never answered me.
So I assumed she was sleeping and I came down here. But there's only ten minutes before class starts and she's never been this late coming down."
"So, she's sleeping in Squall. Geez, man, you worry too much. She's not made of glass." Zell smiled. "And that's exactly what she'd tell you."
"Yeah I know, your right, I'm getting bent out of shape for nothing. Its just...like I said...something doesn't feel right."
"So go try her again," Zell replied, "Get up there and sweep her off her feet. Kiss her good morning. Chicks dig that stuff."
"Been taking lessons from Irvine have we?"
Just then a girl in pigtails strolled past behind Zell, but not before bending down and whispering something in the young martial artist's ear.
Zell blushed and gave Squall a goofy grin. "Gotta go man," he said as he got up from the table, "And like I said, go up there and get her, and if something's wrong,
talk to her, be there for her, that's what couples do."
"I'm glad your such an expert on the subject now Dr. Zell."
The blonde laughed. "Damn right! The love doctor is in baby!" He pumped his fist in the air triumphantly and then gave his friend a wave. "Catch ya later man."
"Later," Squall replied.
The room was black save for the bit of light that radiated from the window and filtered in to cast a few shadows within reach. The sun had long disappeared being
swallowed by the dark clouds, heavy and swollen with rain. A figure sat by the window in an old worn out chair staring emptily out into the world beyond her
secluded darkness. The only sounds were the slight whispers of her slow and even breathing and the deep sigh of the dog that rested his head upon her knee and
looked up at her with a soulful expression. She reached out with a hand and gently scratched behind his ear. While most dogs would grin and pant happily at the
gentle touch of their masters, Angelo remained quiet and steadfast, his gaze never leaving her face. He was no stranger to the emptiness of her eyes. This
overwhelming feeling haunted his friend on the exact same day every year. Deeper than sadness, it was like an unseen demon attacking her from within. Something
he couldn't bite with his teeth or scratch with his claws. So he fought the demon the only way he knew how, by giving her assurance, that she wasn't alone.
A loud knock reverberated inside the small room causing the dog to react. With quick movements he was crouched ready in front of the door. If the demon had
finally decided to emerge itself, he would defend her.
Rinoa appeared not to have heard anything. Her world had become a silent void.
"Rinoa?" Came an uncertain voice from beyond the door. "Are you awake?"
Angelo recognized the voice and barked. She was very close to this man. Perhaps he could do more for her than the limited capabilities of a dog.
"Just checking to see if you were ok, class starts in about five minutes." He paused. "You coming?"
"I'm fine Squall," she mouthed with her lips, though the sound refused to come out of them.
Squall turned to leave thinking maybe she had already left. Angelo barked again, his tone urgent and pleading.
"Rinoa?" Squall called again. He walked back up to the door. Something was definitely wrong. He took out his Garden key which he obtained serving as
commander. He didn't want to invade her privacy, but the caring feelings she had resurfaced in him urged him forward and he was compelled to think with his heart
this time, not with his head.
He slid the key card through the lock and then called to her again. "Rinoa, I'm going to come in, alright?"
There was still no answer.
He cracked open the door slowly like a small child cautiously opening a dark closet door, afraid of what he may find on the inside.
He was met with darkness. His eyes scanned for the only available light source coming from the single window. Her silhouette curved around the light and he could
see that her head was turned facing the window. He took a couple of steps forward.
"Rinoa?" he whispered.
Angelo whined and he looked down towards the dog, which nudged his hand and trotted back over to the window and sat next to the young woman's leg. Squall
stepped forward until he reached the window, and then kneeled before her. A moment of panic shot through his mind as he thought of her being under the influence
of another sorceress again. A lump formed in his throat and he swallowed hard. Carefully, he reached out and placed a hand on her knee.
She turned from the window to look at him. He was startled by the emptiness in her eyes, which normally glowed with their own inner fire. The look they had were
of loss and of torment, it shocked him. He had never seen that look in her eyes. Yes, he had seen her frightened; he had seen her angry, and he had held her as she
cried. But the last time he had seen this emptiness was a reflection in an old mirror, which resided in an orphanage by the ocean. And it didn't belong on her face at
"Does it ever hurt, Squall?" Rinoa questioned him softly as she studied his face.
Squall snapped out of his contemplation as the sound of her voice startled him off his feet.
"What?" he asked confused.
"Your scar, does it ever hurt?"
"Sometimes," he replied, "The temperature affects it."
"I can never feel mine," Rinoa said, "They said the nerve endings were destroyed. But I swear Squall today it does, somehow. Like the wound is rejuvenating itself."
He looked at her quizzically, unsure of what to say.
"It commemorates the anniversary, no matter how much I want to forget." She closed her eyes. "I've tried for so long."
He reached out and took her by the hand.
"You have a scar?" he asked.
"We all have scars," she replied, "Only a few of them are visible."
She let go of his hand and stood up she walked forward a couple of steps and then turned her back to him.
"There's a reason I wear this," she said as she removed her trademark blue coat.
She raised her shirt up in the back and brought her arms out of the tank top and brought the material to the front of her body, around her neck, leaving the skin of her
Squall was shocked at something he had never noticed before. Up around her shoulders almost where the wings were painted on her cloak, were long and faded
scars. If they had been smoother, and the edges were not so jagged, they would have resembled the painted wings exactly, as if they had seared through the material
and imprinted themselves on her skin. However they appeared to resemble the wings of an imp, rather than an angel. He could see they were the remains of burns.
"It's all that's left," she whispered.
"Of what?" he asked slowly, unsure if she wished to talk about it with him, uncertain that he wanted to wish it forth from her soul.
"A car accident, 12 years ago, today," She stated. Then she proceeded to sort through the wreckage of memories, and told him all she could remember.
******12 years earlier******
"And the skies above Deling will remain clear tonight giving all you listeners out there a full view of the stars. Not a chance of rain in sight. So put an arm around the
one you love, turn up the volume as we spin the number one single from Julia Heartilly's new album, here's Eyes On...
The DJ's voice was silenced as fingers turned the car radio's knob counter clockwise. The hand returned to its position on the wheel as the driver made a sideway
glance to the passenger side.
"I get so tired of that song," Julia said as she smiled and gave her daughter a goofy face.
Rinoa giggled then began humming the tune.
"Oh, very funny," Julia laughed. She reached over with a hand and began tickling the young girl.
"Ok, I'll quit, I'll quit!" The five-year-old squealed with laughter.
She stopped the torrent of tickling and allowed the young girl to catch her breath.
"Did you have fun at your aunt's house?"
"Yeah!" Rinoa replied. "We drew pictures."
"That sounds like fun."
"Uh-huh, I made one for you," she said excitedly. She brought a crumpled piece of paper from her pocket and carefully unfolded it. "See?"
Julia waved at the security guard and pulled the vehicle into the long driveway.
"Let's look at it when we get in the house kiddo."
The two made their way up the front steps. Julia unlocked the front door and pushed it open, allowing the light to spill from the house, drenching the two of them in
an illuminated tidal wave.
Julia made her way into the living room where she collapsed into a big reclining chair and sighed.
"I'm exhausted," she said as she put a hand to her head.
"I'm not!" Rinoa yelled as she ran and leapt into her mother's lap.
Julia yelped in surprise and quickly grabbed her daughter up into her arms and hugged her close.
"If you think I'm going to let go your crazy," Julia said.
Rinoa struggled as she laughed.
The woman finally released her and ruffled the girl's hair with her hand.
"So lets see your picture."
Rinoa reached into her pocket and pulled out the crumpled paper.
"Here ya go," she said. "It's a picture of you when you went to see the doctor today."
"Oh, its beautiful!" Julia exclaimed. "You're a regular artist sweetie."
"But...is my skin really that orange?"
"No, Aunt Linda didn't have many good colors."
Julia laughed. "No, I'm sure she didn't, she never could keep a box of crayons when we were little. She was always breaking them and losing them and blaming it all
The child smiled up at her mother. Then the corners of her mouth fell, as her expression grew serious for a moment.
"Why did you have to go to the doctor?" she questioned. "Are you sick?"
Julia smiled. "Far from it darling, in fact, I have great news."
"Yep," she raised an eyebrow and met the excitement of her daughter; betraying it in her voice, "Want to be the first to know?"
"Well, I just found out today, that..." she paused for dramatic effect.
"That what momma?" Rinoa said loudly.
She gave the child a lop-sided grin.
"You're going to be a big sister."
"Today?" the child yelled excitedly, "Right now?"
Julia chuckled. "No dear, these things take time."
"Try nine months."
"Is that a long time?"
She winked at the girl, "It'll be here before you know it."
"Oh, I can't wait!" Rinoa replied and she reached up and wrapped her arms around her mother's neck. "This is so wonderful!"
The woman hugged the child back with fervor, delighted in hearing the news herself all over again. She was amazed that she had kept it to herself for this long. It was
all she could do to tell her sister that she'd call her later after she finished telling her family the news. The look Linda had given her was priceless; she wished she'd
brought a camera.
"Where is the baby now?" Rinoa questioned.
"Here." Julia took her daughters hand and guided it down to her abdomen. "Right in here."
The child looked in fascination as she moved her fingers across the fabric of her mother's dress.
"Hi baby, I'm Rinoa," she whispered, "It's nice to meet you."
Julia smiled lovingly and ran her fingers through her daughter's hair before kissing her on the forehead.
"Is this where I came from mommy?"
"Nope, we found you under a cabbage leaf."
"Really?" the child's eyes grew wide.
"No, I'm kidding," Julia chuckled. "You came from the same spot."
"Very funny momma," the girl gave her a mock scowl.
"I know, I know, I should have been a comedian."
"You want to know where you are now?" She questioned the young girl.
"I'm in the living room." The girl answered puzzled.
"Yes, baby, but I'm not talking about a physical sense."
"There's going to be some big changes now, things will be different and I know it will be hard for you. But you're a very brave girl, and I know you can take on
anything that comes your way."
The girl nodded.
"And remember, no matter how difficult this may seem to you later on, no matter what, you'll always be right here." Julia put a hand on her own chest. "Right here in
Rinoa curled up against her mother and hugged her tightly. They remained this way for some time, basking in the warmth of the firelight, which fought an invisible
battle with the chill of the air of an October evening. Sleep almost claimed them both until the sudden turn of a key in the front door alerted the child's ears.
"Daddy's home!" she said as she jumped from the chair and sprinted full force towards the door.
The door swung open revealing a man in a well-tailored military suit, his tie undone and draped on his shoulders. His eyes clouded and his posture slumped. He
stumbled through the doorway. The girl never noticed.
"Hi daddy!" she said happily.
He looked down at her. "Hey sweetheart," he said. His speech somewhat slurred. "How's my girl?"
"Great daddy!" she said, suddenly wrinkling her nose at the funny smell that suddenly assaulted it. "Mommy has the best news in the world for you!"
"Does she now?" he said, his eyes spilling some of the anger he was hiding.
"Tell you what, why don't you go upstairs for a minute or two and play while I have a little talk with your mother."
"But...I wanted to tell you the good news," she said in somewhat of a pout.
He acted like he never heard her words, just her tone of voice.
"Rinoa, don't disobey me, go up to your room right now," his tone getting stronger.
She looked at him strangely, finally noticing his haggard appearance. "What..."
"Damn it, Rinoa, go upstairs right now!" he bellowed giving the girl a hateful look.
The child took off in a run, frightened. She bumped into her mother as she was making her way from the living room to see what the commotion was about. Rinoa
stumbled a bit but kept on running.
"What the hell is going on?" Julia questioned as she stepped into the hallway.
Richard Caraway narrowed his eyes at the woman before him. "That's exactly what I'd like to know."
"What are you talking about?" She asked stunned by his appearance as he stepped into the light.
"Where have you been?"
"I said where the hell have you been?"
Suddenly, the young woman remembered something that had been long forgot during the anxiety and excitement of the afternoon.
"Oh my God," she said. "The banquet."
"Yes," the man answered, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "Oh my God the banquet."
"Richard, I completely forgot," the woman said apologetically, "Things have been crazy this evening and I just forgot. I'm so sorry."
"Do you have any idea what an embarrassment this was for me? I spent the entire evening trying to explain why my wife wasn't there when I didn't even know
where the hell she was!"
"Keep your voice down," Julia hissed.
"This is my damn house and I'll speak in it however I like," he swayed a bit.
"You've been drinking haven't you?"
"Mind your damn business Julia!"
"When you come into this house intoxicated while our five-year-old child is under the same roof, I consider it my business!"
"Don't raise your voice to me!"
Julia took a deep breath in order to calm her anger, meeting his anger with her own seemed to do little to calm him down.
"Richard, if you'll just take it easy, come in here and sit down and I will explain everything."
"I couldn't say anything but how sorry I was that you couldn't make it. Damn it Julia, I have put things in my life on hold for this fucking career of yours, and is this
how I'm repaid?"
Julia lost her composure. "If I recall, this whole big singing career move was your idea! I was perfectly happy where I was to begin with!"
"Oh yeah, singing in a hotel bar, that's some extravagant life!"
"It was enough for me. I could live a normal life there. No press, no paparazzi, I could walk outside and actually breathe without someone with a camera in my
"What were you doing without escort Julia? Do you know what kind of danger you put yourself and Rinoa in?"
"I'm very capable of taking care of myself and our daughter, you don't have to worry about me ruining your precious image."
"That is not what I was talking about!"
"Oh come off it!" Julia said. "It is too! You're so worried about what kind of tabloid I might end up in and how your colleagues will react! Oh the great and
wonderful General Caraway who can do no wrong! You're so damn perfect, aren't you? But you know what? I don't care what they want to say about me, I know
the truth. That's all that matter's to me. I don't care what anyone else thinks, and I'm going to make damn sure that my family is put before any stupid career."
"Well you sure as hell could have fooled me!"
"Oh please! This thing tonight was about parading me around like some novelty item so you could boost your ego. Like you've done at all the other galas and
"Don't flatter yourself," he said. "I was worried sick, I've been looking for you all over Deling."
"Hitting all the bars in town I see, yes that's exactly what I do behind your back, I take our daughter bar hopping."
"How dare you speak to me this way!" he yelled.
"I can't speak reasonably to a husband who's drunk and feeling sorry for himself!"
And then it came. A hand raised. A hand released. The sounding smack as it made contact with her cheek echoed through the quiet house. The shock knocked Julia
to the ground, as she looked up horrified at her husband.
The slap seemed to have sobered the general as if it was he himself who had been struck.
"Julia," he whispered. "Oh God, I'm..."
"Mommy?" A small and frightened voice came from the stairwell. Rinoa was stopped about midway up the steps, her face frozen in shock.
"Rinoa honey," Julia said fighting back tears. "Go get in the car."
Rinoa walked carefully and slowly towards and around the two of them, heading for the door without any questions asked.
Richard Caraway turned to look at his daughter. "Rinoa, I don't know what happened I didn't mean to..." he reached out for his daughter.
"Don't you dare touch her!" Julia said coming to her feet and grabbing the girl protectively. "She's coming with me. I'll discuss this with you when you've slept off
your hangover." She turned and grabbed her keys from the table and stormed through the front door. Leaving behind a dazed and confused man, who was teetering
on disillusionment and reality. The last words he had spoken to his wife were in anger. He had hit her. It would haunt his dreams for the rest of his life.
Julia cranked the cars engine and threw the vehicle in reverse as she backed up and sped down the driveway. She didn't even stop to acknowledge the security
guard who had to dive out of the way of the oncoming vehicle.
The interior of the car was dark and silent as it sped down the deserted highway.
Julia wiped tears from her eyes as they fell silently.
"Did daddy hurt you?" Rinoa asked, her voice quivering.
"No angel, I'm alright," she replied. "Daddy just doesn't feel good tonight. We're gonna give him a little space tonight so he has time to feel better."
She made a sideways glance to the frightened girl.
"He loves you very much sweetheart, he's just not himself right now."
"He shouldn't hit you mommy," she whispered.
"I know baby, I know. He didn't really mean too, and I know he's sorry, and he'll have lots of time to think about it tonight. So don't you worry, things will work
out just fine."
"Want to go drop in on Aunt Linda again?"
"Yeah!" Rinoa said, suddenly regaining her 5-year-old behavior.
Julia laughed again despite herself. "Ok, lets go harass her for those awesome cookies she always bakes."
The two of them somehow managed to regain the smiles they had held earlier in the evening.
And then it happened so fast.
Clouds seemed to move in from nowhere, sealing the light of the stars and the autumn moon. A bolt of lightning shot out from its depths, hitting the road directly in
front of the car. Julia swerved the vehicle in reaction, a judgment that would be fatal as the car suddenly turned and flipped down a steep embankment. Glass and
metal shattering and shrieking in the night till the vehicle reached the bottom of the embankment.
There was darkness, and there was silence.
Julia awoke with her head screaming at her in pain. Feebly she reached and touched her forehead, sticky fluid seeped onto her fingers. She closed her eyes again.
Briefly, her nose caught wind of an odor very strong and recognizable. Gasoline. She opened her eyes again. She noticed that the car had landed on its side. She
looked out her window to the blackened sky above. Another bolt of lightning illuminated the darkness briefly. She tried to move, finding that her legs were caught in
the twisted metal and plastic of the dashboard. Panic suddenly flooded her mind as she realized which side of the car had rolled and made contact with the ground.
She quickly turned to the passenger side. She screamed as pain shot through her side. She could feel blood leaking from the deep wound as she looked to see a
large piece of metal protruding from her body. She immediately disregarded the grave injury as she turned once again to find her daughter in the wreckage. Rinoa
was lying crumpled in the seat amid broken glass, her seatbelt still wrapped around her. Her limp and still frame revealing none of the life it had just moments earlier.
"Rinoa!" Julia yelled as loudly as she could. "Oh God, please no!" she pleaded.
She reached out with a hand, touching the child's face. To her relief the child stirred a bit and whimpered weakly. Tears stung Julia's eyes as she stroked the side of
Rinoa's face, whose eyes cracked open. "Mommy?"
"I'm right here Rinoa," she said. "Are you alright?"
"I think so," the child said, as she looked around suddenly becoming alert and frightened. "There's so much glass!" She began to cry.
"Shhh," Julia said in a soft voice. "We're ok, we're ok." The smell of gasoline was becoming stronger.
Sparks shot up from the wreckage and she suddenly realized that they were running out of time. Her vision began to blur, and she fought it back with all her might.
She had to get her daughter out. She had to get her away from this car. She tried opening the car door. It was jammed. She looked at the cracked window, patterns
of shattered glass spread from the center like a spider web. She grabbed her purse and with all the strength she had she thrust it to the window, the fabric shielding
her hand somewhat from the glass.
"Mommy!" Rinoa screamed.
"It's ok baby, I'm just trying to get us out." She turned to the child. "I want you to listen to me now. You know the talk that we had earlier? The one about you
having to be brave?"
"Well, it looks like that time has come a bit more suddenly than expected, and under circumstances that are a little different."
She wiped a tear from the child's face.
"Your going to have to be brave now sweetie."
"I know you can do it baby. Now, mommy's legs are stuck, and I can't get out without help. What I want you to do, is crawl out of this window and get up the hill
there as quickly as you can, and see if you can see anyone on the road, wave them down. Can you do that for me?"
"Yes," the girl sobbed.
"I'll be with you, don't worry now ok?" Julia took the wedding band from her finger and placed it in Rinoa's hand. You take this with you ok? I'll be right by your
The child climbed from her seat and into the arms of her mother.
"I love you mommy," the girl cried.
"I love you too angel, so much." Tears streamed down the young woman's face. She fought back the blinding pain that came as the weight of her daughter pressed
against the gaping wound. The loss of blood was making her dizzy.
"I'll see you soon, ok?" Julia said as she kissed Rinoa on the cheek and used the last of her strength to lift her up through the window. She watched as the figure of
her daughter disappeared from view. Satisfied that she had done all she could do, she let go, allowing the darkness to consume her
Rinoa climbed the rest of the way and stood upon the door of the vehicle, she carefully grabbed onto a tire and eased herself down to the ground below. She began
making her way towards the hill. She suddenly became aware of a sticky feeling on her leg. A brief bolt of lightning illuminated the sky as she looked to see one of
her legs from the knee down, covered in blood. She reached for it, finding no wound; she realized it wasn't her own. Panicked she started to turn back towards the
She was interrupted as more sparks flew from the bottom of the vehicle, suddenly igniting the leaking gasoline, which quickly spread to the engine.
A fireball exploded from the car, force and flames throwing Rinoa into the air and into the ground a few feet away. She lay upon the ground face down, unconscious
and badly burned, her small fist, still wrapped tightly around her mother's ring.
And so fate could laugh, it began to rain.
"I was in a coma for five weeks," Rinoa said as she continued to gaze out the window, "I spent the next three months in the hospital, going through one
reconstructive surgery after another. I barely remember any of that."
Her voice began quivering. "But, I remember waking up one time to see him standing over me. I tried to reach out to him; his eyes were filled with so much sorrow.
And I remember him asking me, why didn't I try and help her. All I could say was that, I tried." She buried her face in her hands.
Squall reached for her from behind, tears stinging his own eyes at seeing her so torn and eaten away by horrific memories. He wrapped his strong arms around her,
holding her tightly against him, as if hoping to take it away from her, and meld it into himself.
"The entire population of Deling came to her funeral Squall," she said quietly, "Everyone except me and my father."
"Why didn't he go?" Squall questioned.
"Guilt maybe, I don't know. It was almost like he tried to forget her, to pretend she never existed. She was never to be mentioned at all in our house. He was still
caring, but he treated me differently. I felt like I was constantly under 24 hour surveillance, I couldn't go over to any of my friend's houses later on, and the only time
I was allowed in a car was when he was with me. And he would never take me to the cemetery to see her, I could never bring her flowers."
The tears were flowing freely now.
"It took me a long time to piece together my nightmares and remember what exactly happened. And now that I have, I wish I had never opened the lock on that
Squall rubbed his hands over her arms comfortingly.
"He sent me to take piano lessons and singing lessons. It wasn't long after that I realized that he was training me to be the heir of the whole singer and songwriter
dynasty. I wasn't going to stand for it. He wanted complete control of my life and my destiny. I confronted him about it, and that was the last argument we had
before I left."
"...I hurt him so badly."
"Don't turn your back on me when I'm speaking to you Rinoa," the general yelled as he stormed down the steps after the young teenager.
"Oh God forbid I do anything but breathe without your permission Caraway," she said as she wheeled around and stopped in front of him. "Of course, that will
probably come next won't it?"
"That smart mouth of yours is going to get you into a lot of trouble!"
"Good!" she yelled back, "Maybe I'll get sent to prison, with the years of experience I have from living here with you, it shouldn't be much of an adjustment."
"Don't raise your voice to me!"
Rinoa flinched as the words resounded in her head from years ago.
Richard Caraway sighed, and tried to regain his composure. "I'm only looking out for you Rinoa, these things I do, I'm only trying to protect you, and I'm doing it
the only way I know how."
"By taking complete control of my life? Making me some entertaining puppet like you did with mom?"
"I loved your mother."
"Well you sure had a lousy way of expressing it."
Anger flared in the general's eyes as he took a step forward, his fist clenched.
A low growl erupted in the room as Angelo stepped forward in front of the girl, his head bent low in a striking position, and his teeth bore at the older man.
"Call off your dog Rinoa."
"I don't tell him what to do," she shot back.
"I've had enough of this nonsense!"
"So have I!"
"I'm leaving before you take anything else from me!"
She began sobbing. "I never got a chance to meet them."
"You ended two lives that night!" Rinoa screamed the tears stinging her eyes.
Richard grabbed his daughter by the arm he looked at her perplexed. "Your still here," he said, his voice trembled, betraying his inner emotion.
"No," she shook her head, "Not me."
"What are you talking about?"
"The baby," she muttered.
"The reason she wasn't at your precious ceremony. She went to the doctor, to find out for certain."
"Damn it Rinoa you're not making any sense!"
"She was pregnant!"
The man released his grip on his daughter and sank to his knees.
"Yeah, that's right, she was taking care of her family," Rinoa said, her eyes narrowing with hatred towards him.
"She couldn't wait to tell you."
"She...she never told me."
"You never gave her a chance to!" Rinoa screamed with rage. "You were so caught up in yourself that night you didn't even bother to listen to anyone else!"
He placed a hand over his face, a stifled cry escaped from his lips. "God forgive me."
"If you're lucky," Rinoa spat, "But I won't. Not ever." She walked towards the door then turned once more to look at the crumpled mess of a man on the floor.
"Count me among your casualties Caraway."
With that the door slammed.
"I haven't spoken to him in two years," Rinoa said. "And its wrong, I've been childish and stupid, but I just can't bring myself to face him."
"It's understandable Rinoa," Squall replied.
"Is it? He didn't kill them, he didn't shoot bolts of lightning from the sky, take out the steering in the car, it could've happened anytime, and maybe it was just meant
"Then maybe you need to tell him that."
"I'm too ashamed. I had no right, no right at all to tell him like that, it was horrible of me."
"You were angry."
She wiped at her eyes again.
"I spent my time out from under his boot trying to make a difference. I wanted to help people; I wanted to make my mother's sacrifice worthwhile. But all I seem to
do, is screw it up." She forced a laugh. "You should know that better than anyone."
Squall lowered his head and gently kissed the scar on her back. "You saved me," he whispered.
Rinoa placed a hand upon the arm wrapped around her left shoulder and leaned back into him. They shared in a moment of silence, watching the blackened clouds
rolling in from the horizon.
"I made you miss class," Rinoa sighed heavily. "Think Quistis will excuse us?"
"Hey we have enough family problems around here to know how it is," Squall smiled. "She'll understand."
"And what's your excuse?" Rinoa questioned.
She laughed. "Does that usually work?"
"Most of the time," he gave her a wink.
"I'm not used to you cracking jokes, its kind of scary."
"Not as scary as Irvine in his leopard underwear playing the guitar and singing love songs."
"I've created a monster," Rinoa chuckled.
She glanced at the clock on the wall then turned her head upward to look back at him.
"Wanna go catch a train?"
The car pulled up to Deling Memorial Cemetery as the first few drops of rain fell from the sky. A car that Rinoa recognized immediately was parked just a few
She shifted the bouquet of flowers nervously in her hands.
"I can't believe he's here...I don't think I can do this Squall."
"Hey, I'll be waiting right here for you," he said. Angelo whined from the back seat. "Correction, WE will be waiting right here for you."
"Okay," she smiled nervously and stepped out of the car.
She made her way up the hillside and turned to glance back at the car, frightened and unsure.
Squall smiled genuinely and waved, encouraging her forward.
She saw the general as she came over the top of the hill. He was kneeling by the headstone fidgeting with something on the ground.
She didn't know where to begin, didn't know what to say. Her face was frozen, but her feet kept moving.
She stopped just inches behind him. He didn't seem to hear her approach. Carefully she placed a hand on his shoulder. He jumped in alarm and turned his head
around. His eyes were childlike and heartbroken.
"Oh, Rinoa," he said he returned his gaze to the mangled flowers he had placed against the cool marble. "I...I destroyed the flowers." He lost his composure and
began to weep bitterly. Rinoa dropped the flowers to the side and knelt down with him, wrapping her arms around him in an embrace. He returned it fiercely, crying
oceans into her shoulder.
"I didn't mean too," he whispered.
"It's okay," the young woman said through tears of her own, "I've brought enough for both of us."
Nothing else needed to be said.
Squall Leonhart watched the sun break free of the clouds, burning away all traces of the rain. He smiled as the rays beamed from the heavens revealing a beautiful
and endless blue sky.
"Not a chance of rain in sight," he said as he smiled.
Angelo stared out the window and barked a couple of times.
And somewhere on the wind, a faint voice could be heard; it fell cascading through the hillside and Squall couldn't be sure if he had actually heard it or not, but he
was finished with having a logical explanation for everything...it made his head hurt.
"Scars, no matter how many there are, no matter how deep they may run, when they heal, become something beautiful."