Chapter 6: The Ending Was The Beginning
These are the fears that swing over head!
These are the weights that hold you down!
This is the end that will never end!
This is the voice of silence no more!
-Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster
“Don’t talk.” Squall said, “We are safe now. I have you. You know we can make it if we are together. I can face the day ahead of me. I can make it. I’m alive.” He muttered to himself.
“Is this a dream?” Rinoa asked, looking up to him.
“No.” Squall replied, “It’s not. I know.”
“Is this the end?”
“You know what Rinoa? Somehow I don’t think it is. I think we have just begun.”
“Squall! Squall, buddy! Yo! Squall!? You there?” came Zell’s voice.
Damn those waterproof com-links,”What?”
“Man, where the hell are ya? I’m going nuts over here!” Zell said.
“He’s with me, Zell!” Rinoa replied,
“Rinoa!? What the hell are you doing to him?”
“Nothing, fool! He rescued me! Shut up and listen for once in your life, okay? I didn’t mean to leave him! I can’t tell you why I left, but I just had to! You’ll find out why soon enough, Zell, soon enough.”
“I have suspicions, but what the hell? Okay, okay, stay with him. Y’know what, I thought something; have the rest of the day off.”
“Smart ass.” Rinoa replied, and then, she turned off the com-link, and threw it away.
“Rinoa!” Squall said “That little thing cost Balamb Garden about a million Gil! And you just threw it away!?”
Rinoa looked at him, suspiciously. She then started to laugh.
“Oh, Squall... You haven’t changed one bit.”
“Whatever.” Squall replied.
“See? I told you!”
They stood there, enjoying the soft wind and the sunset-like colours of the regular Esthar sky.
“You’ve given me hope.” Squall whispered to Rinoa’s ear, “It was absolute devastation for me when you left, Rinoa. Total hopelessness.”
“Squall, let’s go inside Ragnarok and talk there, there might be monsters around.”
Nodding, Squall took Rinoa inside Ragnarok. Sitting down at the hangar, Squall started to pour it all out.
“You left, I found the letter when I returned from a mission. I read it... And I was in shock. Numb. What was there left for me? I found myself in depression afterwards. Candle-lit depression surrounding me. I have done countless kamikaze attacks on the monsters that run loose around the Training Center. My friends, Hyne bless them, rescued me. I slit my wrists... Quistis rescued me. I tried to kill myself with pills, and Quistis rescued me again...”
He looked up to her, as she listened to him. Squall found it easier to talk when Rinoa’s eyes full of understanding looked at him.
“I... Didn’t want to live without you, Rinoa. I walked everyday, talked to people, went to my missions and accomplished them, and then... I returned to the room I didn’t want to go back. The room full of memories. Full of you. Everynight, I saw you not leaving. Every morning, I had to face the fact that you were gone. I even did this...” he pulled the right sleeve of his trenchcoat up a little bit, revealing his scars.
“Great Hyne in heaven!” Rinoa gasped, looking at the numerous healing scars, once bleeding.
“Yes. I hope Great Hyne is heaven.” Squall said, “I self-mutilated. It calmed me down a little bit. It was easier to bleed, to pour out the pain within me. Then, it ceased to help anymore. Dr. Kodowaki prescribed me all sorts of anti-depressants, none worked. And this week turned...” he stopped.
“Squall... You sound more hurt than I thought you would be. What more happened?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Telling you will mean you will know what I have done, telling you will mean accepting I am guilty.”
“What happened, Squall, I need to know.” Rinoa insisted.
“Under one condition”.
“You will not tell anyone about it. Especially not Zell or Quistis. Selphie and Irvine already know it.”
“The day we were on Timber, the day I saw you again, remember?”
“I do...” Rinoa said, with a little bit of uncertainity.
“That day, I was hired by... I think it was Caraway. I was hired to assassinate someone, alongside with Selphie and Irvine. Irvine missed, I went after our ‘target’ and managed to kill her. Now, tell me what’s wrong with this picture.”
“Nothing... So far.” Rinoa said.
“The woman I had killed was Jenna Dincht. Zell’s mother.”
“Great Hyne!” Rinoa gasped, trying to crawl away.
“Yes.” Squall said, with the dead look in his eyes, “And when we returned to Balamb Garden, we learned that, we have been hired by Caraway, again. We were to assassinate someone close to Laguna, as Estharians were seeing Caraway for something. Irvine missed again, and I took control of the mission. I managed to accomplish it. Now where’s the catch?”
“Who was the Estharian you assassinated?”
“Yes, that Kiros. He’s dead now. I don’t know why. Why did Cid send me there? I don’t know. Why did Caraway want those two dead? I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.” Squall started to sob as the memories, the fresh wounds of yesterday came over him again.
Crawling by his side, and embracing him, Rinoa started to rock Squall back and forth like a baby.
“I’m here, Squall. You don’t have to be alone anymore. I’m here. I will be here.”
After half an hour, Squall rose his head and looked at her.
“Let’s go.” He said.
“To where we promised to meet.” Squall said, “Edea’s flower garden. Hyne knows, I can use some peace for a couple of hours... It’s not much I’m asking for. Did I tell you I have been to a confessional session?”
“In a Hyne church? Hyne priests don’t know anything, Squall, Hynicale had been lost a long time ago-“
“During the Sorceress War, to be precise.”
“Whatever.” Rinoa said, imitating Squall, “Let’s go.”
Sitting down to the pilot seat, Squall took Ragnarok off. Feeling more peaceful than he had in the last two months and more, Squall easily guided the spaceship to Centra, near Edea’s orphanage. In a minute, they found the place, and a suitable ground to land.
Landing Ragnarok down, Squall took Rinoa and got off the spaceship. Walking to the stone house’s entrance, Squall found himself surprised on how easily this place was back to it’s own shape. Smiling faintly, he walked in, following the trail of stones.
A little girl came running, but she fell down, and scraped her knee. She started to scream and cry, as Edea, in her ready-to-help attitude approached to her.
“It hurts! Matron, it hurts!” she screamed.
“Now, Hina, it’s not that bad. It’s hardly a scratch...” Edea said, gently touching her knee. Surprised, Rinoa felt a little, teeny tiny wave passing over her. Knowing it was the sign of magic, she looked around.
“See?” Edea asked, “It’s better now. And besides, if you cry that much, you won’t be able to play with Zakk.”
Wiping her tears off, Hina started running again, in the direction of the stone house, which was chiming with the laughters of children.
“What brings you here, dear?” Edea asked Squall.
“Rinoa?” Edea asked, raising an eyebrow in suspicion.
“I’m back, Edea.” Rinoa replied.
“Now?” Edea asked, her voice was serious, but Rinoa saw a laughter sparkling in her eyes, “After all the babysitting I’ve done for this 18 year-old baby here?”
“What!?” Squall asked, taking a step back, “You didn’t... Babysitting me!?”
Edea and Rinoa burst out laughing. They were holding each other while trying not to collapse as Squall turned away from them.
“Oh, don’t be such a grouch!” Edea said, “Come, I’ll make you some tea.”
“We’ll be over in the garden, Edea.” Rinoa said, “Would it be any problem for you to call on me when tea’s ready?”
“No problem, I’ll bring it to you.” As Rinoa gave out a laughter of joy and ran to the garden, Edea approached Squall.
“Babysitting me?” Squall asked.
“My dear, I had to do something to avoid a fight.”
“Hmph, babysitting me!” Squall said, still on the same sentence.
“Get over it.” Edea replied, “A piece of advice. Hold on to her. Never let go. When you find your true love, never let go, even if that’ll kill you.”
“I’ll try.” Squall said.
Walking up to Rinoa, he saw that she had bended down.
“What are you doing?” Squall asked.
“Taking my shoes off.” Rinoa replied.
“Why?” Squall asked,
“I like to feel the grass underneath by bare feet, call it a mother nature thing.” Rinoa replied as she took her shoes and socks off, and ran into the garden. Squal sighed, and then followed her. They walked silently to the middle of the garden. They sat down, surrounded by flowers, and the full moon’s light.
Squall put one of his arms around Rinoa, the other one was playing with a flower (he hadn’t noticed that, of course).
“Squall...” Rinoa said, sighing, “I don’t know why I-“
“You were right.” Squall replied, “You were lonely. And not everyone are as good in coping with lonliness as I am. I should’ve known. Should’ve watched.”
“Why are you the culprit?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I needed something to hold on to.”
Silence fell between them. Nobody broke it, they knew better. Squall didn’t want that moment to end. He wanted to sleep and forget about the past three months.
“Here’s the tea.” Edea said, bringing them a tray with two cups of smoking tea. Leaving the tray, she asked, “Do you need anything else?”
“No, thank you so much, Edea.” Said Rinoa.
“Thank you, Matron.” Squall said, “For everything.”
“Someone had to do it, Squall.” Edea replied, as she ran back into the house, from which, a scream had just emerged.
“It’s a quiet night...” Squall said.
“Yes...” Rinoa replied.
“It had never felt this peaceful. For those two months, I hated silence with all I had. And then... You came back to me, giving me my hope back. Along with... Other things.”
“My smile. My peace. My sanity. Everything I had lost, and needed lies in you, and you know it.”
“I do.” Rinoa smiled.
They sat in silence, enjoying every inch of silence that was in the air between them. They both felt their best in that one, sacred, blessed moment.
Rinoa..., Squall thought, I’m glad you’re here. I can finally go on. I can finally find the strength inside me to go on. I have you back by my side, right where I need you. I needed you to be my tourniquet when I bleed through and through.
Looking into her eyes calms me down. Just feeling her next to me makes me feel better. I’m not afraid to confess anymore- I love her. More than anything else, I love her. With my whole being.
“Rinoa...” Squall said, again, “I love you.”
“Squall... You, why-“
“I wanted to say it... Because I know now, that... You’re all I need.”
“So much for our cold, distant Squall, huh?” Rinoa asked, smiling.
“Whatever.” Squall replied.
“Sure, Squall, sure.” Rinoa teased him.
“Don’t make me regret it, okay?” Squall said.
“I won’t.” Rinoa replied.
Squall embraced Rinoa tighter, as they continued to stare at the moon. The full moon was shining like a single Gil, polished for centuries, shining on them.
“So what happens now?” Rinoa asked all of a sudden, “Will you quit SeeD?”
“I don’t think I can.” Squall replied, honestly, “But I can ask Cid to decrease the amounts of my missions- especially if they’re as sick and twisted as those I have encountered lately.”
“But still, you will-“
“Rinoa, look at me. I’m a soldier. I was born during a war. My father was a soldier, and my mother... Let’s say she never gave up the struggle, she was a fighter. I was brought to Balamb Garden and taught as a soldier, trained as a soldier. My whole life, is a soldier’s life. Everything. I will probably die at the tip of a bullet or a gunblade one day, but I know I’ll be glad to be dying in a battle rather than dying in my death bed, with my children taking care of me.”
“Squall...” Rinoa said, sighing, “What has to become of me?”
“You haven’t learned?” Squall asked, “Our biggest success, Ultimecia, and the whole journey taught me something. We have a destiny to fullfill. There’s a fate for us all- but we have choices to make. Making different choices leads to different fates.”
“I haven’t made a choice.”
“Yes you have. You left me. That was a choice that led to the death of your-“
“What!?” Rinoa asked.
“Nah, never mind. What I’m trying to say is, you left me, and made a choice. And we’re back together. So here’s another choice; should you stay or should you go?”
Rinoa looked into his eyes. She then said,
“You’re wise, Squall, did you know that?”
They sat in silence again. Rinoa took the silence as an expression of their love, beyond words. Beyond the eye sight. She knew eye sight was everything to humans- and what was beyond it, was beyond understanding for those who weren’t in the inner circle of what’s beyond eyesight.
Footsteps were heard, accompanied by the rustling of the flowers. Rinoa felt Squall’s muscles tense up with the sound, cautiously. Then, Edea’s sound came along.
“Mind if I join you two? The children have gone to bed, and I finally can find some peace.”
“Sure, Edea. Come, sit down.”
“Thanks.” Edea said, sitting down next to Squall.
“Beautiful night, isn’t it?” Edea asked.
“It is.” Rinoa replied, Squall was still silent.
“Matron...” Squall said suddenly, “Can you tell me why I run to you everytime I have something that I can’t deal with alone?”
“Oh, I thought you knew that by now, my dear.” Edea replied, “Cause you tend to bite off more than you can chew. Like Ultimecia, Adel, and whole other examples I can give to you. Even saving Rinoa. In times of trouble, you run to m- Hyne in heaven, that wound can get infected!”
Squall looked down and saw his katal wound. It did look bad, from the point he was standing.
“I can’t cure that with the little chunks of magic left in me, come inside the house. Come along, Rinoa, I’ll make us some fruit cocktail.”
“You make cocktails?” Rinoa asked.
“No. But the children here love fruit juice. So I stock lots. Come with me.”
Following Edea, they went back into the house. In the “living room” there was two comfortable, leather-covered armchairs with a tripod between them. Edea went over to the kitchen (a recent addition) and took out the first-aid kit she had.
“Come here, Squall.” Edea said, “Take off that trenchcoat.”
Squall took off his leather trenchcoat and hanged it on a chair. Edea cleaned the wound and wrapped bandages around it. Telling Squall to have a look at that later on, she told him to go sit by Rinoa, and that she would be there with the drinks.
Squall left his trenchcoat back in the kitchen and went over to the living room. He found Rinoa, looking at a painting on the wall.
“Hmm, this is really interesting.” Rinoa said.
“What is?” Squall asked.
“Look.” Rinoa pointed at the painting.
Inside the rectangular frame, was the painting of a garden. A flower garden with the sun shining through white clouds. It looked pretty much like the garden nearby the orphanage.
“Here are the cocktails.” Edea said, walking in with a tray in her hand. On the tray, stood three long glasses with a colourful drink in them. Edea put the drinks on the tripod and then turned to the couple, staring at the painting.
“Matron, where did you get this from. I think I remember this one from somewhere.”
“Oh, Cid gave it to me, when the orphanage was back to it’s purpose. He gave it to me as a present.”
Rinoa looked downside of the frame to read the title of the painting:
INTERVIGILIUM VIVIDARIUM VIATOR
“What!?” Rinoa asked.
“I don’t know what it means.”, Edea replied, “But I do know it’s pretty much like the flower garden near the orphanage.”
Squall had his suspicions.
Where do I know this painting from? I remember things that are... They don’t make sense. Garden, I remember, Messenger, I remember, but what else? I have no idea. Again, it’s pointless.
They sat down again, and drank their cocktails in silence. Nobody said a word. Edea knew they would be leaving after the drinks, but she enjoyed the brief minutes given to them.
After thanking her for everything she had done for him, Squall left, and Rinoa thanked Edea as well, for the same thing. Edea Kramer, in silence, watched them leave to Ragnarok, with their spirits hight, for once in three months, Squall looked good.
Smiling to herself, Edea returned was returning to the orphanage when she heard a faint whisper come in. She listened in, and the whisper grew a little bit more clear. She heard strange words, making no sense to her.
Following the source of the whispers, her steps ended up at the garden. Looking over to the endless greens that lied before her, one of the few blessed places in the rocks of Centra, the place that has been burned to the ground during The Sorceress War.
The whisper was fading in and out. Edea listened in more closely, just to get to hear the words. Sometimes she got to hear them, got really close to hearing them, other times, she couldn’t even make up a word.
The whispers danced around her like a whirlwind around her. Edea felt the wind, she felt a presence nearby. Waiting. A presence, slowly awakening. Edea knew she had to be close to something. As whispers grew louder and louder, louder and louder, Edea had to cup her hands over her ears, in order not to go deaf as her eardrums were being torn apart.
“INTERVIGILIUM VIVIDARIUM VIATOR!!!”
A thought flashed on Edea’s head, the words on the painting! Being this close to the presence, the strangeness in the middle of a flower garden, Edea remembered the meaning of those words... She had seen them before.
In The Garden, Sleeps A Messenger.
Edea spotted a little area, glowing embers at her. The area got larger and larger, each time, it took a circular radius, enlarging from inside out. Edea took a step back.
The whole garden ignited. A huge coloumn of flames rose into the skies as lightnings came crashing down on the Garden. Pinned down to her location, Edea watched in shock and amazement as colourful lights twisted and turned inside the coloumn of flames. Hearing the whispers again, she stood there and watched the scene.
When it ended, like it had been cut with a knife, Edea saw the garden. Burnt to the ground as smoke erupted from the soil, it had turned into black in colour. In the middle of the garden was a big, deep hole.
Carefully walking into the garden, Edea looked around but saw no one. She walked to the middle of the garden, where the big hole was. She stood at the edge of the hole. There seemed to be a pile of soil there, standing like a molehill, still smoking.
Suddenly, the molehill moved.
Letting out a small scream, Edea took a step back. But curiosity won over, and she looked down. There was someone down there. Judging by the figure, it was a man. He was covered in black, robe-like clothes. There was no colour in his clothes but black, and his clothes were torn into pieces. He embraced himself, as some kind of armour, a black armour was formed all over him. His torn pieces of cloth still was around him, but his arms and legs were now covered up with some kind of armour.
“Who are you?” Edea asked.
The figure turned to her. Edea gasped, the figure’s eyes were glowing ember! Their colour was so much like lava- a bright orange and red mixture.
“Who might you be, my lady?” the figure asked.
“I asked first.”
“Let me introduce myself, my name is Meseniah.”
“Why are you here? What have you done to my garden?”
“We are running short on time, milady. The One Who Grieves must be warned.”
“The One Who Grieves. The darkness is upon us, yet again. What has been sealed, but not destroyed is retaliating upon us, through hearts open to the influence to it’s pretence.”
Edea looked at the strange figure before her, but couldn’t say a word.