~* Chapter 4: Dawn *~
*No, still don’t own Final Fantasy or any of the characters, just doing this for the fun of it so please don’t sue me.*
An hour had passed, Squall heard everyone congregating outside his room.
"Would they just come in?"
There was a knock "Hey, Squall-man you fully clad? I have two innocent young ladies out here, wouldn’t want to alarm them prematurely." The next thing Squall heard was a whack and an OUCH from Irvine.
"Come in, door’s open."
Strolling into his room all walked in semi-casually. The Commander had been hard to read this past year, this time being no exception. Selphie jumped on the bed opposite Squall, and Irvine nonchalantly lay down next to her. Quistis went over to the desk, peering down she happened to notice the books sitting there, but said nothing. Propping himself against the window, Zell looked at the others. They were all waiting for the leader to speak.
Squall sat up on the bed, his previous demeanor turned into a formal manner. "I trust that all of you were competent enough to gather information. Let’s see what forms when we put all the pieces together." He scanned the room and elected to begin with Selphie, she would give him the medical background. Nodding formally to her, she took the indication to begin talking.
"Rinoa was brought in on February 15th at 2:45 am. She had internal bleeding and a severe concussion, and they took her directly to the emergency room. She managed to regain conciseness sometime later, looking around. Her eyes responded to brightness, records show her pupils reacted almost normally during the initial evaluation. But, during the doctor's effort to stop the massive bleeding, she flat-lined. According to Rinoa’s medical charts, she was ‘gone’ for several minutes. However, the doctors were able to resuscitate her. A couple of days later when she awoke, Rinoa regained all her motor abilities, but lost her ability to see. She practically died that night."
Squall was not going to exhibit any signs of emotion during this. His gaze remained stone-faced. Next, he nodded at Zell.
"Did anyone notice the date? February 15th, I don’t know if it had any significance, but it’s the day after Valentine’s," stated Zell.
Squall was no longer looking toward him, in fact, he knew that the others had all looked at him at Zell’s statement. "Not going to get upset, years of training, killing. This… this is painless right?" Quistis made a sound from the desk, subtly getting Squall out his thoughts. She knew him well. "I don’t know if it’s significant, Zell. Now what exactly did you establish? The facts, all I want to listen to are facts. I have no time for your speculation."
"Well, according to this information, Rinoa was driving about sixty miles per hour. A Semi ignored a stop sign, she ran head-on into the cab of the truck. The car flipped a couple of times, before coming to a rest upside down. Report states she was wearing her seatbelt or I’m sure she’d have been dead. Sorry Squall…speculation again I know. Anyway, no indication of alcohol or drugs in her blood, but there was in the truck driver. Because of political pressure, her name was withheld in all the accident-related news articles. But later stories on her dancing never state she’s blind. I’m pretty sure nobody, but a close few, has knowledge about..."
Lost in his own world, Squall watched the blowing tree limbs outside the large picture window. "I know her. Rinoa didn’t want people to pity her. She wanted to be liked for whom she was, not for being the blind girl who can dance. What she doesn’t know is they will like her anyhow….whether she can see or not is not of great consequence. Who in their right mind wouldn't…like her?" The Commander returned to his role of leader. His eyes slightly glazed as he looked over to Irvine, signaling him to begin.
"Okay everyone, let’s bear in mind that what I know is hearsay. Rumors from the local townsfolk are not to be taken as the gospel truth. According to some of my ‘new friends’ at the tavern, she'd gone to some sort of social event that night and seemed to be very depressed for quite sometime. However, most importantly as Zell confirmed, she didn’t drink. Groups of the dancers were throwing a party for Valentine’s Day. She…um…"
He stopped not sure how to continue. Icy steel-eyes met his, and he knew the next words word cut the Commander like a knife. "Squall, she met a guy there. There are rumors of what happened physically between them…but the rest is a little difficult to understand. Rinoa didn’t go there with him, that’s pretty much a fact. She didn’t leave with him. We know that because Rinoa was approximately a mile from the party when she crashed, she was alone. But, as for anything else…I simply don’t want to hypothesize Commander. I'm sorry."
Squall finally regained his train of thought, standing up he looked to his close friends. "Great now we know what happened six months ago, but did anyone learn what happened a year ago? Shit, I don’t even believe there was another man back then. Maybe…maybe she just didn’t want to be with me. I was better off before." With that, he got up. Going into the bathroom, he slammed the door behind him.
They looked at one another with bewilderment; it was very rare for Squall to show emotion. Let alone pretty much have a breakdown in front of his peers. Quistis stood filled with great concern, gesturing for the others to leave.
She tapped on the bathroom door. "Squall it’s just me, the others went back to their rooms. I needed to tell you something in addition." He opened the door, walking over to the window. He never looked at her; he never said a solitary word. "I was talking to a nurse who took care of Rinoa during her recuperation. Caraway wasn’t there too much, she felt very sorry for Rin when nobody would come to visit. The nurse informed me she would spend coffee breaks and lunches with her. Nobody ever knew how much time Kimberley, the nurse, spent there. She would stay hours, talking or reading, while Rinoa lay unconscious. I guess Rin didn’t move a lot, she just would call out once in awhile. Squall she was calling out, for you."
Quistis looked sorrowfully at him. Then she started doing something she never had done before, in front of any friend… she cried. Squall could scarcely keep from crying himself, but he wouldn’t now. Rinoa would need his strength; he would be strong for his Rinoa. Squall put his arms around his best friend, consoling Quistis as she wept.
"Quistis she needed me, wanted me. I am going to get her back. I promise."
"If I can be assured of one thing on this planet Mr. Leonhart, I’m positive you will. It’s going to take time, but I will never doubt your commitment to her. It will be more demanding then any SeeD mission, but Rinoa is worth it." The two friends continued standing there, gazing out the window, embracing each other for a cherished, serene moment.
Squall sat against the black rod iron bench. Glancing down to his wristwatch, he noticed the time. It was now twenty-five after, he had been patiently waiting for Rinoa to leave practice. Somehow, the last thirty minutes had felt as if time stood still. Deciding it was best to send Squall alone, the other opted to remain at the hotel. Knowing everyone was there, watching, might be too much for Rinoa. In one day her life changed, and that which she kept secret was now known. To her friends, to ones she once called family, but most of all to him…
Finally, he heard the sound of the door opening. Robert walked out of the auditorium, without his dance partner. Remembering this man earlier tried to kill him, he seriously contemplated turning and leaving. Yet, an inner voice pleaded with him to stay. Leaving would be easy, staying would be hard. Halfheartedly Squall stood from the bench, walking towards the exhausted figure.
Bewildered, Robert closely examined the silhouette approaching toward him. For a split second, Squall wished he hadn’t left his gunblade in the hotel room. As Robert neared, the rays of the setting sun blinded Squall, not allowing him to read the expression on the other man's face.
The Commander could tell the dancer was tall, muscular, and surprising toned for someone in ballet. Wearing a gray sweatshirt and shorts, he appeared younger than the two occasions they chanced upon each other. As steps gradually progressed, Squall could see a family resemblance.
"Why had he not noticed this before?" Maybe because he'd felt an involuntary animosity. Thinking of him as Rinoa's boyfriend, was one thing…thinking of him as the only person she had to lean on, was certainly another. With a clearer perspective, Squall could take the time to view him as a person. "Funny, he really doesn't look like a ballet dancer. I could throw a uniform on him, and he would easily pass for SeeD." Not that Squall would know what male ballet dancer would look like, unless he was wearing tights and prancing around stage.
Fear for his cousin almost caused Robert to assault the man standing before him. Yet, there was something haunting, almost desperate in his eyes. He sensed the connection between them the other day; even if she wouldn't admit there was or had been. He learned from an early age that his cousin could be stubborn, suffering horrific fates that still left physical scars to this day.
However, the connection between Rinoa and this person made violence into a fleeting thought. Part of him had watched her suffer for the last six months, not from the blindness…but from sheer loneliness. Something other than the accident had taken her spirit away. Ironically, the loss of her sight gave her something to think about, something to master. But, he could always see the empty space deep within her heart; the kind which, no matter how much one wants, doesn't go away with family or friends. The kind only a soul mate could fill, and deep within his heart, he believed this man to be the one.
The one that could help Rinoa where everyone else had failed.
The sunlight still distorted his vision, but Squall could tell they were now standing almost face-to-face. Instinctively, he placed his hand above his eyes, endeavoring to block the streaming light. Although he was glad that as of yet, he had not been attacked, he could read the man's demeanor. Some part of Robert almost mirrored Rinoa, and her ability to mystify him. Often Squall misread her moods, slowly he was beginning to interpret each pace, each stomp of the foot, and each rolled eye. Never did one action mean the same thing, but she was like a language all her own. An enigma whose outward appearance always seemed positive, but there was so much more…he never had the chance to learn.
"My name is Squall Leonhart and…"
Robert raised his hand to silence him. Before his mind could register what his mouth was saying, Robert countered, "Go to the small memorial park, the one next to the east entrance. She’s sitting on a bench, don’t mention we met...and call me Rob." Without further explanation the man turned, walking back into the building. Opening the door, Robert looked over his shoulder adding, "But, if you hurt her, I will kill you myself."
"Don't worry, if I hurt her…I'll kill myself," offered Squall.
His steel glare met with the other man, both reached a mutual understanding. Robert knew Rinoa needed this man standing before him, and this man needed his Rinoa. Now only one question remained, would she let this man back in her life? Something had happened; he just wished both had the strength and conviction to work out their tribulations.
Squall stood stunned. "He just helped me? Why?" Then he realized how much family support might be needed on this one, deciding to accept it at face value. Sometimes overanalyzing, is just as bad as not planning at all.
The small park was dedicated to the Second Sorceress War. It honored all that fought and died, on all sides of the armed forces. The plaque also went as far to honor all those who were destined to die within the future's grasp. It was simple, but simplicity stated more. A single fountain with a marble monument, and on all four sides cobbled paths leading up to the center. Symbolic to represent the four sides of the world, uniting for one greater purpose. Yet, she could see none of that.
Silently approaching the bench from behind, he could see Rinoa sitting alone. "Well it’s now or never," he incoherently muttered. For a moment, he once again found himself lost in the sight that was her. Over the last year, Rinoa's hair had grown slightly longer. Wistfully hanging over the back of the bench, the wind played gently with the locks giving her a surreal look. Next to her sat a large crimson duffel bag, with her left arm resting gently across it. She too was wearing a gray sweatshirt and white shorts. He took a few steps closer holding his breath; with each passing step, his heart pounded more. The tension was shattered when he accidentally stepped on a twig, hearing the snap under his shoe, the sound echoed throughout the small park.
"Go away Squall."
"How did you know it was me?"
As Rinoa heard his rough voice, she wanted nothing more than to jump in his arms, letting him make everything better. But she had been hurt before, and she was going to be damn sure it would never happen again. Even if she was going to destroy the one person she loved. "Loved?" she questioned to herself. "No, once loved…never again." Memories of that fateful morning came flooding back into her mind. Every emotion, every hurt looking upon her… pictures of him undressed in another woman's arms. The way he was holding her, the way she was devastated that wasn't herself. So in a voice devoid of emotion she rejoined, "I’ve made that mistake twice now. I’ll be damn sure it doesn’t happen again. Now get the Hell away from me, and stay away this time."
As if defying a direct order from a superior, he walked to the front of the bench, looked at her simply stated, "No."
"Don’t ruin this for me."
"Watching the sunset."
"Rinny, I know you can’t see. You don’t have to lie to me."
Furiously she stood up, taking the smallest step closer to her unwanted visitor. The emotions based on the hurt she felt, the same ones she had been carrying for over the last year, betrayed her mind and thoughts. She spat to the SeeD Commander, "No Squall, I can see just fine. In fact I can see better now than throughout my entire life. I can feel the heat from the sun on my face as it swallowed by the night. I can hear the crickets talking to each other. I hear the birds saying goodbye to another day. I can feel life around me with my skin; I can hear the world with my ears. Yes, I can see everything better with my heart, than you ever could with your eyes."
She crossly pointed to the last light of the sunset, before it disappeared beyond the horizon. "I can see the sunset, Mr. Leonhart. I know you never could. You only see what you’re told to see, what someone has ordered you to see. I feel sorry for you…you’re the one who'll never really see the sunset." She took one more audacious step toward him, pointing the same finger in his face. "One last thing, don’t ever call me Rinny. That is for friends or family, and you sir, are neither."
Squall stood speechless, not knowing how to respond to the sudden outburst. Something inside her seemed full of hate and bitterness, something he had never witnessed. It was almost as if another person was standing before him. The transformation seemed as if an entity entered her body, and she was possessed with only revulsion. From an outward appearance, she was calm, save for the yelling. But it was what he couldn't see that gave him hope. An aura of resentment toward her actions, one of sorrow followed her…and not perpetuated from the blindness. Finally, he spoke up, "I'm not going to give up on you. Every time you turn around, I will be there. Every time you think someone is watching you, it will be me. I will be there...I promise."
"I know exactly how much a promise from you means. Have you ever heard of stalking? It’s illegal. I don’t want you Squall. I never did. I moved on and found someone else, he’s better to me than you ever were." As the last words escaped her lips, she wished to Hyne they had never been spoken. She was pretending Robert was her boyfriend again, but Squall could just not know how lonely she was. "Robert will go along with this, right?"
"The dancer from the reception the other night? The same guy who tried to kill me this morning? Is he your boyfriend...Robert?"
"Yes Squall, Robert. Hey, and guess what Squall…he isn’t afraid to touch me. He puts his arms around me, and tells me how he feels. He knows my deepest secrets and I know his. I don’t have to worry about offending him with every word or action, just so he can run off back into his god-forsaken solitary shell. He completes me in a way you never could."
"Well," she thought, "everything is true, he does take care of me. Ever since we were kids, we've shared many of our secrets. So it’s not technically a lie, right?" However, it wasn’t enough. She had to say something more hurtful, as he did her. Something that would keep him away, to let him know it was over…really over. Okay, so a few little lies wouldn’t hurt. "And he’s wonderful in bed. I can’t believe how he makes me feel. We have the best sex, he is more of a man than you ever could be."
Rinoa found herself in a mental position between pure rage and pure repulsion. "What the hell did I just say? Robert, sex, oh Hyne! Just leave Squall, don’t make me continue this lie… it’s really getting nauseating."
"So you fuck your cousin?" He spat the words back to her face.
Rinoa had never felt such rage in her life. "He knew, damn him! He was baiting me!" With all her might, she lashed with her hand, slapping hard against his face. Her hand was stinging as she heard Squall gasp and take a step back. "You’re a bastard Squall Leonhart. Wish I'd never found you during time compression! I would have enjoyed your lifeless body deteriorating in the empty void. Some kind of leader you are, a lion? That’s a damn joke. Last time I knew anything about male lions, they slept nineteen hours a day, while the lioness did all the hunting. The lioness raises the children, and the lioness finds shelter for her family. The lioness is the real king of the jungle! The male lion just thinks he’s better than everyone else is. Guess what? He’s not and neither are you, Squall Leonhart. You were never worth the price I paid. You never will be."
He was not going to let this shake him, but irritation was starting to obscure his better judgment. It wasn't just today, but a year of emotions he was attempting desperately to conceal. She always had a way of bringing out his feelings, whether good or bad. For once, he led with his darker side, the one that lay dormant for so long. "Well the last time I checked, Rinny, Satan himself was a fallen angel; looks like he has some good company now. You’re the one who wasn't worth the trouble. The biggest mistake I made was jumping out into space to save your sorry ass. You're nothing but an annoying spoiled brat. I guess some things never change."
Squall couldn’t believe the words even as they still echoed in his head, he didn’t mean any of it. Damn it, two could play her little game. "I guess the lion did make a mistake, he tried to save his lioness. Now he knows that he should have watched the other predators tear her apart. You are the one who wasn’t worth the price." Never had he wanted to hit a woman before, but the anger he felt from the day of receiving his ring was manifesting itself. Not only in thoughts, but also in actions. Squall had to walk away right now, he would not hurt her.
Turning to leave, Squall saw Rinoa lunging towards him from the corner of his eye. Her hands were up, ready to strike; the knight knew he was probably going to be hit, by his own sorceress. He had to stop himself before he hurt her, he had to stop her before she hurt herself. With lightning fast reflexes, he grabbed both of her arms to prevent her from attacking. Squall could feel the emotional woman's struggle, against her own chest he held her arms forcefully. Then he noticed something that would haunt him forever, something he emotionally couldn’t deal with…he saw the tears.
From her eyes ran streams of tears, although he could see her inner struggle to withhold them. Yet, what would scar him for a lifetime, more than any physical wound, was the fear on her face. "Damn her." The feeling of her skin, the need to comfort her, and the close proximity to her face…it was too much. Somehow a passion that he’d never felt, revealed itself in that single moment. He pulled her close to him, wrapping his arms forcefully around her back.
Squall looked down, into her intense brown eyes. They didn’t react to light, nor did they see, yet somehow they held so much emotion. He could feel Rinoa’s shallow breath on his neck, sending shivers down his spine. Before his mind could respond, he reached up to her neck, pulled her closer to him, and kissed her.
Rinoa was struggling in his firm embrace, not positive of what he was going to do to her. "Damn you, don’t touch me." She too couldn’t handle the feeling he was stirring up in her body. In a natural reaction, she lifted her head up to look at him, purely reflex. The next thing she felt was his lips against hers. She tried to struggle out of it, but he continued to hold her tight.
"Why the hell is he doing this? Squall, you never kissed me like…Oh Hyne." It was a type of unadulterated passion she'd never felt; before she could stop her own body reaction, she was kissing him back. Not the tentative pecks like a year ago, but a feeling that ran throughout her entire being. Before the current sensations registered completely in her mind, his tongue was entering her mouth, and amazingly, she was allowing it, only wanting more. Squall was now holding her tighter, closer than he had ever dared before. Every inch of his muscular frame pressing against her petite body, and every touch registered in her memory…and in her heart.
Squall just couldn’t fight the rising excitement anymore, the feelings were just too damn strong. They stood there for what seemed to last forever, passionately exploring every inch of each other's mouth. At last, Squall regained the strength to stop his sudden loss of control, before his mind was completely taken over by pure emotion. It took him several seconds to catch his breath, before he was able to think clearly.
"Get the hell away from me Squall!" Rinoa’s words were barely audible over her tears, and the obvious passion that betrayed her only seconds ago.
Squall let completely go of her, hesitantly taking a step backwards. His heart was still racing from the events before. Leaning into her, he put his mouth only centimeters from her ear, and in an almost seductive voice whispered, "I will not give up on you, I promise."
She could only try to regain her composure, as she heard him his footsteps disappear into the night. Wiping the tears off her face, she looked again to where the sunset was only minutes before.
"It's too late for us Squall, it's too late," she whispered into the summer breeze. He was already gone.
When Squall arrived back at the hotel, he wished nothing more than to take a shower and go directly to bed. With his friends in tow, he knew that wouldn’t happen anytime soon. They were just as much a part of this whole ordeal as he was. Rinoa needed them too, although she might not admit it to anyone, yet.
Ironic, two years ago he was the one pushing them away. Squall couldn’t admit he needed others in his life. They were his family, all of them. Now she was the one who needed to let them in her self-built shell. Things change, people change, and circumstances change. What bothered him wasn't the fact she was blind, that was furthest from his mind, but why the hatred toward him. "What did I do?" The words she said, more importantly, the manner in which she spoke. It was done only to hurt him, to purposely, maliciously hurt him. A trait he never knew existed within her; someone had wounded her deeply. Something kept telling him there was more going on than her blindness, something that marred her very soul. He was determined more than ever, to find the truth behind those mysterious brown eyes.
"Hey Squall, it’s Selphie," called the tentative voice from behind the hotel room door. Not in her common energetic manner, her voice echoed her trepidation. "Cid wanted you to call when you got in. He just wants an update on our stay in Deling. We didn’t tell him anything, thought we would leave the details up to our Commander. When you're done, we’re meeting in the bar for a drink. Please join us, we would like to know what happened tonight. Please?"
Squall was going to hate reliving the events to everyone. It had been over two years since he had accepted them as friends, but some parts of his life were still confidential. Squall figured he could just give a general account of the encounter. That should hopefully be enough to satisfy their infuriating curiosity. As he figured earlier, they were her friends also, so logically they would want to know how she was doing. He inwardly sighed. "Give me a few minutes to call Headmaster Cid. I’ll meet you down in the bar, promise." Promise…that was the second time today he used that word. One he tried to avoid so often. He was getting good at making them, now he only hoped not to break any.
"This is Commander Leonhart calling for Headmaster Cid Kramer."
The voice on the other end was very professional and polite. "Please hold Commander while I patch you through to his office." Protocol, how he hated this bureaucratic language. It really was not his approach, he would rather be in combat than having to act congenial to upper management. Cid was like a father to him, but he was also the Headmaster for the elite SeeD mercenaries. Duties to Garden came before personal ones. Once in a great while, Cid would revert into his father role, but mainly it was all ‘yes sir, no sir.’ That is how Squall preferred the relationship, strictly business.
"This is Headmaster Cid Kramer of Balamb Garden speaking."
"Sir, this is Commander Leonhart giving you an update on our current situation."
"Situation Squall, I thought you had taken a few days off in Deling? I think 'vacation' and 'situation' are two different words."
"Yes sir, I suppose." There was an eerie silence where Squall expected some kind of statement. When the silence prolonged he asked, "When would you like us to return to Garden?"
"Squall, drop the act. You may take all the time off you need. You’ve been working diligently the last two years. The others can come back when they feel it’s time. You son, I want to come back when you know it’s time."
"Yes sir, I understand." Squall lied, he truly did not comprehend the remark. The silence in the call now seemed like a blanket to cover something. What, he didn't know. "Why would Cid want me to stay in Deling as long as I needed? Did the others already tell him about Rinoa? Selphie mentioned nothing was said. So why is the Headmaster so cooperative?"
"Squall, I have to tell you something, not as the Headmaster, but as someone who thinks of you as their own flesh and blood. Maude McCay phoned about three weeks ago, asking how to thank the SeeD’s who helped with presidential security. She was an old friend of Edea’s so when she suggested money or a present…well I told her ‘no’. It’s against Garden policy to take presents for services over the initial fee, but I would make a special exception. I told her how much the three of you would like to attend the Deling City ballet."
"Ballet sir? Why on earth would you tell her we wanted to go to the ballet? It’s just something I would've never expressed a desire to do in a million years. Sir, I'm not sure why you would make a special exception on this unless…"
"Yes Squall, I know. Edea dragged me a week before, in much the same fashion I made you attend. I saw Rinoa there. As Headmaster, I would prefer you only to think about work at the Garden. As a man who loves you, I knew you were never the same after she left. You needed her. I thought maybe seeing Rinoa again…would make you realize that too."
"Cid she was in an accident six months ago. She lost her sight."
He wasn’t sure why he was relaying this information to the Headmaster. Hyne knows Rinoa didn’t want anyone to learn about her secret. Maybe he had to express to Cid, without saying the words directly, 'this mission might take a while.' Squall didn’t want to abandon Garden duties, but the Commander knew concentrating on business would be impossible, until he felt complete again. The only way that would happen is with her.
"I’m sorry to hear that Squall."
"Don’t be. She wouldn’t want anybody saying that."
"No, you’re right Rinoa wouldn’t. She's still welcome at Garden. I would love to have the dear girl back."
"Thank you Head…Cid. Someday, I hope to bring her back."
Gently setting the receiver back on the stand, Squall retracted back into the dark abyss of his mind. It seemed lifetimes ago Rinoa had lived at Garden, only a hallway from him. She had the opportunity to take the SeeD exam, but graciously turned it down. "I don’t want to compromise my beliefs just because someone paid me to do so," she explained to Cid after the offer was made.
Rinoa did agree to stay on and help with the business end, working as an assistant to the Headmaster. The word secretary was used often, but she would reply, "I don’t bring him coffee, usually he brings it to me." Cid had taken a liking to her, thought of her as one of ‘his kids’. The Headmaster too was surprised when she suddenly left. Rinoa had been the only one with the miraculous ability to keep his desk organized; a feat that not even Edea had managed in twenty-five years of marriage.
"She really did…no does," he corrected himself, "have a way with people. Have a way with me."
Squall scanned the hotel room. In comparison, the room was equivalent to his new dormitory back at Garden. Yet somehow, this room seemed more inviting. Empty. That’s how his room felt in Balamb. Empty, since the day she left. No, she didn’t live with him, but she did spend a lot of time there…the room seemed somehow more like a home when Rinoa was around.
He glanced down to the desk, noticing the book on Braille. Again he picked it up, slowing turning each page, as if the paper was pulling him in like a vortex. When he reached the pages with the alphabet he stopped, closed his eyes, and felt the page. Still they held no meaning, just random dimples in a book, where words should be. Squall opened his eyes, looking at specks. Visually he could make out differences, just as before. Reading them was easy with your eyes open. It was always easy when you saw. Shutting the book, he laid it back on the desk.
Killing time for the inevitable was all he was successfully managing to do. Postponing his feelings from emerging, before he tried to relive today with words. Emotions hid for so very long, were threatening to be revealed. He had always heard the old adage that there was strength in numbers. With military training, he only equated that with armies during times of battle. Now he knew more than ever, the five of them were stronger than one. Then him, alone. He took one last look at the alarm clock before grabbing his jacket. It was time to go down toward the tavern below, confronting everyone’s questions. Ones he was sure, he had no answer to.