PuPu's Saga Chapter 9
by Jeremy Chapter
Setting 09: 1856 DAY 15, Balamb
Garden Subsidiary Corridor 2F
"It may be that the
gulfs will wash us down;
it may be we shall touch the
-Tennyson, Alfred, Lord
"Shut up!" Rinoa shouted. "I am not
She suppressed the urge to lash
out at the group of busty girls in Garden Uniform. Even if she
didn't have 100 Death spells junctioned to her blaster edge at
the time, it would still feel damn good. But they were part of
the majority of Balamb Garden's junior class, the girls in the
Anti-Rinoa club, and she had left her Shooting Star in the back
of Squalls Garden-furnished vehicle. While Squall was
around Rinoa, the most they ever dared was a dirty look aimed at
her when his back was turned. However, ever since Squall left to
supervise the Nova Trabia reconstruction project, the jealous
female group had taken advantage of their dream-date's absence
and declared it open season on Rinoa's ass.
If anything, for all I know,
I'm almost unkissable, she said to herself miserably. Dammit,
Squall, why do you have to be so difficult!
The girls were taunting her again,
vilifying her integrity. Rinoa knew that each one of these
underclasswomen would willing give themselves to Squall to be
ravaged and somatically corrupted, and that accusing her of being
a tramp made them feel better about themselves. They had fooled
themselves into thinking that being Rinoa was a bad thing,
hypocryphally never intending to pass up her place should it ever
Rinoa had endured this jeering for
two whole weeks, and was on the brink of sending Angelo after her
adversaries when she caught herself. This isn't lady-like.
Squall would frown at me. Then again, when have I ever been
It suddenly occurred to her that
if Squall wasn't in Balamb Garden, then she didn't have to behave
like a princess, not that she had been, but now she had no excuse
to hold back. The club members must have realized this too and
quickly disappeared around the corner, shuffling their feet in
Rinoa sighed, bending down to pat
Angelo. And I thought Bahamut's Red Dragons were bad. I can't
even make twenty steps without running into one of those club
As tiresome as the frequent,
discouraging encounters were, she realized how lucky she was not
having to deal with the opposite gender's pro-Rinoa fan club.
Squall had made it infinitely clear by a speaker announcement,
discretely while Headmaster Cid was seeing his wife out the
Garden gates after the party, that if anyone so much as looked at
Rinoa the wrong way, she would be the last thing they ever saw.
Even now all the male SeeDs ducked and ran past her in the halls.
Unfortunately, she could make no such ultimatum, and even if she
could, it would not manifest the desired effect.
Another male SeeD student had
stepped out of one of the classrooms a few steps in front of her.
He looked up from his papers and smiled at the scent of her
perfume. His pleased expression quickly melted into a gasp as he
ducked back into the lecture chamber. Squall's words had been
She smiled and felt her face
burning, just as it had when she heard the announcement from her
room. Her smile turned into a frown when she recalled why she ran
to her room in the first place.
The least he could do
was make that announcement, after what he said that night, Rinoa
reasoned caustically. Was he embarrassed to be seen with me,
even by his closest friends?
Rinoa didn't like the thought that
he wasn't particularly proud of being seen with her. Even if
Squall was naturally diffident, it was no excuse to immediately
drop her and put on the embarrassed, "Don't get the wrong
idea, Zell, we are just friends" look on his face when Zell
caught them in the middle of their first kiss. It made her feel
insignificant, and on top of it all, he had called that magical
moment "nothing important." It made her want to kill
him. At this moment, Rinoa wasn't sure who she would tie up in
the future, Zell or Squall.
He infuriates me sometimes!
she shouted in her head. Everything was perfect. The weather
was right, the full moon, the shooting star, and I even had on my
lucky socks! How can anyone ruin that? I would have given you the
world, Squall. Why did you have to ruin what should have been
impossible to ruin? How can you ruin that?
Rinoa's face fell, instantly
assuming the look of a cynic. The only way to ruin that is if
you're Squall and you say, "It's nothing important."
Rinoa shook her head. After all,
didn't he know that she loved him? She resumed the face of the
unsurprised cynic. No, he was too groggy to notice the look on
my face when I saved him from Time Compression and revived him in
the flower field.
Her stomach growled right then,
its loudness making her blush.
How embarrassing, she
thought, taking a quick look around to make sure no one heard. I'm
glad Squall wasn't here to witness that.
She looked down at her stomach
It murmured in reply, hinting to
Rinoa that maybe the routine purges and forced dieting didn't
agree with it. She stuck her tongue out and taunted her stomach,
daring it to defect. At last it quieted, and she congratulated
herself with her victory. At the same time, though, Rinoa became
acutely aware that she was quite famished.
Putting her hunger aside, Rinoa
tried to catch up with her train of thought that had left her at
the station. It took a few seconds to reboot her memory and find
the right place to cut in.
...Revived him in the flower
field...That's what it was. I was crying my heart out with him in
my arms and shaking him because he was alive, but all he did was
grunt and tell me to stop because the rocking was hurting his
Rinoa sniffled. He didn't even
say, "Thank you for finding me. I couldn't have made it out
Squall seemed so ungrateful. She
tried to hug him so many times after he saved her from space, and
even forced herself onto his lap, just to please him. He gave the
same nonchalant response then, and he hadn't changed a bit.
Have I been trying to change
him? Rinoa asked herself. Yes, I guess. Maybe it's wrong
of me to ask that of him, but he's too rough on the edges for
She leaned back against the wall
and brushed her dark hair back. One of the anti-Rinoa girls had
just headed out of her class and was walking absent-mindedly past
Rinoa. Rinoa wasn't in the best of moods and took this chance to
spin off the wall and purposely rough her rival up with her
shoulder. As expected, Rinoa's shoulder connected with the girl's
arm. Caught off guard, she was inevitably thrown off balance and
landed on the ground.
Rinoa pulled out the same
"Watch where you're going" look she had dished at the
couple that she and Squall had collided with on the dance floor
that night at his SeeD inauguration party. I wish my magical
hypnosis spell would have worked that night. I should have danced
with him longer, she blamed herself.
Before her scapegoat could recover
and retaliate from her dazed position on the ground, Rinoa
scooted into the nearby elevator and hit the button for the first
floor. On the way down, she had to decide between her really nice
VIP suite and the cafeteria. The only thing wrong with her room
that she could think of was the monotone voice with which Squall
had presented it to her, saying that it was "by protocol a
standard issue room to all clientele." That indifferent
comment alone blasted away all sentiments of either the room or
her being special.
Rinoa marveled at how he could
still refuse her while they were alone for that one minute before
all the others found them in the flower field. He said he was
tired, Rinoa recalled spitefully as she stepped off the
elevator and made her way back to the dorms.
So again Squall had botched
another perfect setting and moment with his insensitivity. It was
in the same flower field behind Edea's house where they had all
agreed before going into Time Compression that they would meet
afterwards. Of course, he had gotten there late, and wouldn't
have gotten there at all had it not been for her. Was it
really that hard to find that green pasture behind Edea's
orphanage? Rinoa asked herself.
At the mention of Edea, she was
reminded of how pleasant Cid's wife was at the party. It wasn't
hard for Rinoa to forget all about Mrs. Kramer's former identity
as the Sorceress. She just showed up in her plain, black gown and
looked splendid without any superfluous ornaments that would have
over-exaggerated her elegance. She naturally found it hard to
believe that Edea was the same woman that everyone had struggled
to kill for the past few years. Her disposition was so innocent
now, so easily absolvable, unlike Seifer, whose bloodthirsty
countenance was retained even after being freed of "mind
control" incriminated him, in her eyes at least.
His parole officer had granted him
a part-time job in the fishing industry after he stuck to his
story about being manipulated by Ultimecia who had lured him into
her control using his own dream as bait, but Rinoa would buy none
of that. Seifer's aspect betrayed the innate darkness within him,
and the abusive language he had used to denigrate her
relationship with Squall was unforgivable. The last she heard of
him was that he had joined some church group and gone on an
archaeological expedition, hoping to find and reform his true
self. At least that was the excuse he used to fool his PO.
Rinoa was getting a headache just
thinking about the man with whom she had had her summer fling. It
just seemed easier to love Edea and place two shares of anger on
someone that everyone despised, including herself. Not only had
he delayed her from finding Squall, but he had fed her to Adel
and inhumanely tortured the man she did love. Rinoa felt the
steam coming out of her ears and realized that it was healthier
to concentrate on something that would not inspire her to fume.
Edea was the sweetest thing she could think of offhand.
How sad it was to see Mrs.
Kramer leave Balamb Garden, she thought. Just as sad as it
was touching to see the Headmaster leave the party early and
accompany her to her ride outside. They still seemed so much in
Then again, they did just
rediscover each other, in a way, Rinoa reasoned. I wonder
how long they had been hoping Squall would come and beat
Ultimecia out of her system.
Rinoa smiled dreamily. It was the
perfect end to a fairy tale. I'm so glad Quistis came by my
room after I left the ball and told me to look out my window. We
were both kinda teary-eyed when we saw the Headmaster embrace his
wife. Both our faces also flushed when Squall's announcement
sounded over the intercom.
She sighed sadly. Edea's story
might have ended happily ever after, but my princess story is
still a tragedy.
On second thought, she
corrected herself after re-evaluating the Edea's situation, I
hope I don't end up like that. If every sorceress bride of the
highest authority in Garden ends up by herself, watching an empty
orphanage and wishing that she had children of her own, I might
have to reconsider how far I should push Squall to commit.
Her stomach interrupted her
brooding with a lion-like roar this time. It was so loud that it
made her jump. She giggled nervously, sighing in relief that no
one had walked by and heard. She was sure it would make a
delicious addition to the gossip goblet that was passed around
and sipped by every loud-mouth anti-Rinoa club member.
She laughed lightly at how a
simple thought, such as a flower field, could instigate so much
brain-racking. She frowned at another realization at the mention
of the agreed upon destination of the field.
Why didn't Squall make it to
the flower field? Rinoa wondered. She had asked everyone
else what they went through, and just as she had, it was just a
matter of walking through some white screen and suddenly
appearing in the field. What was so hard about that?
Her expression darkened.
Did he subconsciously not want
to make it back?
Rinoa's eyes narrowed.
Was he deliberately trying to
She was just outside her suite
with a worried look.
Was it something that I did
wrong? But I've been eating a meal and a half since Deling City
just so he'd find me less chunky and more attractive! Dr.
Kadowaki said three weekends ago that I was too underweight to be
healthy, but I know he'll like me even less if I start gaining
weight. But he couldn't even find his way to a pasture for me,
and even decided to blow me off instead of Zell on the balcony!
Was it something I did? I must have displeased him somewhere. Why
is he distancing himself from me?
Her stomach growled again, and she
laughed, dismissing the thought that anyone, even Squall, would
want to blow her off or avoid her. All the evidence before her in
Garden was that even man would die for her, not die just to avoid
her. Coming to this conclusion, and feeling more growls heading
up her esophagus, she decided it would be okay to indulge in some
of her favorite chocobolates in the cafeteria.
Chocobolates were chocobo-shaped
candies made from the milk of a rare mammalian strain of chocobos
and chocolate. She hadn't had any for the same reason why she had
cut down on her food intake, but she figured there was no reason
to fast while Squall was so far away. Besides, the trip she was
about to make this afternoon to Trabia would definitely offer
enough exercise to put her back into shape. She would just have
to remember not to eat too many in the next few minutes,
otherwise he would notice how fat she was getting and not want to
As she made her way to the
cafeteria, she felt a bit foolish for doubting herself and
questioning Squall's feelings for her.
You're so dumb, Rinoa, she
scolded herself. Why am I so dumb, getting caught up about all
this? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
A flashback hit her so hard that
she nearly lost her footing. It was what her mother had told her
when she was a child. Rinoa remembered it clearly, one of the few
lessons that she committed to memory because she had always been
curious about it. Julia had told her, "There is no such
thing as dumb girls. There are only lucky and unlucky girls. The
unlucky ones are just dumb more often."
If her mother was right, then
Rinoa had been stupid twice already, once on Seifer, the second
time on Squall. There was no way she was going to allow herself
to be duped a third time, so she had to make the most out of
Squall. Her face hardened as she strode past another group of
anti-Rinoa members. They were too absorbed in their conversation
about Squall to notice her, and she reddened at the realization
of how accurately it reflected Squall's own self-infatuation that
seemed to take all his attention away from her.
There were no chocobolates in the
cafeteria. The matronly serveuse was so used to Rinoa seeing
Rinoa come in and go out empty handed that she would not allow
the skinny girl to walk away today in the same manner. Rinoa was
at last persuaded to sit down and have a sandwich for dinner. The
hotdogs, of course, were scarce in supply, but there was an
abundance of fresh burgers. She sat down at an empty table by the
corner and tried to draw as little attention as possible.
Even if the burger had been
prepared by the finest chef in Balamb, it would have still tasted
stale to lonely Rinoa as she munched monotonously away. She
glanced around the room quickly and envied all the other couples
that were dining together, and blamed herself for being so
hotheaded on the balcony. After all, it wasn't Squall who imposed
the two week hiatus in their relationship, if there was one.
During his announcement over the intercom, he hadn't specified
that she couldn't tag
along. She just assumed it was better to let things cool down by
waiting two weeks before visiting the construction site. Rinoa
took another tasteless bite, still not sure what kind of meat her
sandwich contained. It wasn't crunchy enough to be arachnid,
tough enough to be reptilian, nor soft enough to be fish-related.
She shrugged and decided that it was better not to know, her
appetite being so weak already.
Rinoa missed her mother. If Squall
had been there, she would have begun to bawl and tell him what
she remembered about her. As chance would have it, he wasn't
sitting ride beside her and crying on her own shoulder didn't
seem very comely, so she stuffed her emotions back into their
hiding place before they had a chance to break out of her
restraint. She didn't realize that she had used Squall as a
surrogate mother on their trip back from space, even after she
directly compared Squall to Julia. They were the ones that she
associated with comfort and safety, and having rejected her
father figure ever since her mother died, Rinoa could not but
feel doubly affectionate towards Squall.
Thinking of her mother and Squall
inevitably invited the image of Laguna Loire into her mess of
thoughts. How unexpected it was for Laguna to ask Cid to announce
his paternal relation to Squall the moment they returned to
Balamb Garden after coming out of Time Compression. Upon hearing
the news, Squall remained speechless and merely shrugged.
However, Rinoa noticed that he locked himself in his room for two
hours right before the party. Usually he brooded while lying on
his bed, but it was odd that he should lock his door. She only
found out because she tried the knob before realizing that he
probably needed some time to himself.
So Julia was Laguna's first
lover, Rinoa assessed. If he ended up marrying Raine
instead of my mother, wouldn't it be a hoot and a half if his son
ended up dumping me too for some other Winhill girl?
For a moment Rinoa was glad that
the closest thing Raine had to a daughter was Ellone, and there
was no way that Squall would run off with her because she was his
big "Sis." Besides, if Laguna's son did drop Julia's
daughter and run off with Raine's daughter, it would be incest
cause Squall would be dating his half-sister to say the least.
Rinoa made a face and tossed the
latter half of her soggy sandwich aside. It was too complicated,
pointless, and downright disgusting to think about, and plus the
more she thought, the less aware she was of how much she was
eating. She was actually thankful that this messy, generational
love triangle had ruined her meal because had she eaten anymore,
she would have definitely put on an extra quarter of a pound, and
that would have surely been unacceptable to Squall.
Good job on catching yourself,
Rinoa, she encouraged herself. You could have been making
the biggest mistake of your life.
Getting up and brushing any stray
crumbs that might have found their way onto her clothes, she
headed for the door. More specifically, she was headed out the
door and to her suite to pack. Two weeks had been longer than
expected, and since she was sure that she had missed him more
than he missed her, it was about time to pay him a visit. It
bothered her that she would have to apologize to him since he
never would, but not enough to keep her from planning the trip in
her head on the way back to her room.
By the time she got there, she had
it all figured out. She wouldn't have to waste time wondering
which outfits to pack since she had just bought a spanking new
outfit that looked just like the one she usually wore, sitting on
top of her hope chest, and all her regular clothes stacked on her
bed. She complimented herself for having the foresight to fold
her shirts right after the Garden maids returned them from
laundry. She also had just enough money to buy a boat ticket to
the Trabia coastline, rent a car there, and pay for enough
gasoline to get her to Nova Trabia. She was cutting it pretty
close on the budget, so more than likely she would have to haggle
over the prices, but it would work out in the end, just barely.
It had to.
She frowned at the curse of
poverty. Being the president of the Timber resistance faction
came with the duty of refusing any fiscal aid that the General of
the Galbadian army might offer. Since she had rejected her role
as her father's little princess, she was the most impoverished
person in Squall's company. As she was not a SeeD mercenary, she
had regular income flow, a fact that she painfully noticed had
sparked Squall's annoyance.
Regardless, she comforted
herself, they are all still under my command until we liberate
By this time she had her two
suitcases satisfactorily loaded and was about to call for room
service to help her lug it down to the Garden garage when a
multitude of things occurred to her, including the fact that she
would have a hard time locating a bell boy that was willing to
step into her room, that any bell girls would purposely take
forever to get there and undoubtedly sabotage her luggage once
they were on the move, that she would have similar trouble
finding any garage boy willing to give her a ride, and that if it
meant that it would be less bothersome to everyone else for her
to just lug her own bags all the way to Balamb and fight any Bite
Bugs that might attack her on the way, with the added bonus of
losing those extra milli-ounces shed just picked up in the
cafeteria and staying in shape for Squall, then she might as well
do everything herself.
Or I could just drop by
Squalls room and pick up the all-purpose Garden keys that
Cid gave him and drive myself to Balamb. Its not like his
password "Griever" is that hard to guess.
Subconsciously she resented that
he had picked an imaginary GF to be his password instead of her
name, which would have made more since because it saved time to
have to punch in and it just plain sounded better. Dimly Rinoa
noted that she would just leave the Gardens car in Balamb
until it accrued enough parking tickets that Garden would be
notified and Cid would send someone down to retrieve it. The
bill, of course, would go to Squall.
She ruffled her nose and let a sly
chuckle escape through her curled lips. Serves him right for
not making "Rinoa" his password. Too bad he left
Gardens skeleton keys on his desk. Funny how what he
thought he wouldnt need at Trabia and so he left here is
going to get me there and earn him a scolding followed by a
deduction in wages.
Rinoa had been thinking so much
that she didn't realize that she had already made her way out of
the living quarters and into the atrium of the Garden. She had
even walked around the elevator in the middle of the giant
chamber and gone down another hall to get to Squalls room
before doubling back and circling around the chamber a second
time to get to the garage. The raised fish statues in the
fountain ring that surrounded elevator platform gawked at her as
she walked past. The drops from their lips noisily splashed down
on the pools surface, concealing the sound of Squalls
keys, jingling inside her pocket from any nosy SeeD passerby. The
stony fish carvings seemed to murmur, "Stupid, stupid,
stupid" to her as they continued to spit out water.
I have been stupid, Rinoa
conceded at last. There was no reason to deny it. I shouldn't
have left him standing out there all alone with Zell. I have to
make it up to him.
Every step she took towards the
exit added more and more vigor with which she took the next, and
she could feel the giddiness taking over her entire body. As she
reached, in her opinion, the choicest car of all those in the lot
in what seemed like no time at all.
I hope Squall is as eager to
see me as I am him, she was thinking.
So exhilarated was Rinoa that she
did not notice anything wrong as she walked past her ambusher,
stealthily crouching inside the backseat of the car.