Chapter 5: Reunion With Angels And Demons
And now that we’re here...
So far away...
All the struggle we thought was in vain...
And all the mistakes...
One life can take...
They all finally start to go away...
-Staind: So Far Away
As the train was making it’s way to Balamb Town, Squall was staring outside the window.
Hyne... This is what I have become? Just someone that kills everyone for duty? How far can I go? How much more can I stand... Without Rinoa? How long can I survive? How long can I find the strenght in me to go on!?
Rinoa... Where are you? I can’t feel... Not you, not anything. Nothing. I had a home once. And now, nothing’s left in my hands but the blood of the crimes I have committed.
Getting depressed more and more, he continued to stare at the walls of the undersea tunnel with an empty stare. Then, feeling a sharp pain travel through his left arm, Squall remembered his katal wound. Observing the wound, he decided that it was, miraculously, not infected or likewise. Setting his physical wound aside for a moment, he concentrated on his spiritual wound.
Rinoa. She was all I had, the one little thing I could have for myself in this world! And then... She’s gone. I feel sick. More sick to “them”. “Hyniast Guilt” the priest said.
Nobody’s innocent. Not anymore. Not me, not them. They are guilty, for leaving me alone in this infernal machine of damnation and lonliness. Guilty for not being with me when I need them the most.
Staring outside the window, he thought about it more. Digging into the ground more than anyone should; in the name of staying on the safe side. Squall was still running in circles in the mazes inside his mind when an announcement sounded;
“Next Stop: Balamb Town, Balamb Town. Next Stop: Balamb Town, Balamb Town.”
As the train shook and moved again, Squall was feeling uneasy about returning to Balamb Garden. Returning to the place that had given him the meaning of his life; and then taken his life away. Now he was only left with the meaning of something he didn’t have.
Controlled?, Squall thought, searching for the perfect word, Joystick of my mind? Or just domination? The grip SeeD has on me. I had never looked at it this way before... But Hyne knows, Quistis said that to me too many times; “Experience broadens your horizons.”. “The grip” SeeD has on me. The commands, orders, missions, ‘the sake of duty’ has a certain amount of influence on me.
“We will be arriving to Balamb Town shortly, pleace check your seats and cabins for personal belongings.”
Here we go again.
Patiently waiting for his journey to end, Squall looked around, impatient enough to beat his patience. There were just a few people coming to Balamb Garden, and they looked like locals; the citizens of a peaceful, seaside town, almost villiage-like or less. Squall had seen Deling City, and Timber as a town. Yet, Balamb Town seemed smaller in size than Winhill to him.
Setting his painful thoughts aside, nonsensatively, Squall concentrated on the sizes of the towns, comparing them. Deling with Timber, Timber to Esthar... His thinking process went on and on endlessly, as he desperately tried to keep away from the pain he contained inside.
“Last Stop: Balamb Town. We have arrived Balamb Town.” Getting up, Squall walked to the exit of the train, while feeling the scared and confused stares of the people around him: a black clothed, trenchcoated figure with a bleeding wound and a bloodstained gunblade in hand? It was just too much for those around Squall.
Squall walked out of the doors, inhaling the air of Balamb Garden, and tasting the salty sea right away. His depression ceased for a moment, and then, it came back on him again. Squall, once again, fell into the sea of questions that began with “Why”.
Giving up questions, he decided to walk to Balamb Garden. Knowing he would encounter monsters. Walking towards the exit of the town, he saw the old man that always sat on the bank; crying. Squall then remembered what he had done, it all came back to him.
He sat by the old man, and asked him, “What’s wrong, old man?”
“You?” the old man raised up his head, his eyes in tears, his old, wrinkled hands shaking, “Didn’t you hear? Jenna Dincht... She has been... She’s-“
“Dead?” Squall asked, knowing Jenna Dincht’s death and everything about it.
“Yes!” the old man got into another shock of sobs again. Deciding he couldn’t stay there anymore, Squall got up from the bank and walked over to the town’s exit, mutterring a half-hearted “I’m sorry” sentence.
I’m sorry. I couldn’t make a difference. I couldn’t make any difference for her, if I have ever done for the world.
When Squall got to his senses, he saw that he had been standing in the Zell’s doorstep. Clenching his teeth and shedding a single tear, Squall walked inside.
He noticed that people had been crying inside too. Sadness was hanging all over the house. The familiar sound of something being cooked was gone, the smell of the fresh food was absent. No light was in the house, no light but a little candle in the room right across the door. Walking inside, while burning with doubt, Squall came to the dimly, candle-lit room.
“Squall?” Zell asked, raising his head to him.
Squall slipped, he held on to something, which he didn’t care what it was at the time. Just seeing Zell, chicken-wuss, the always-cheerful person of their gang after Selphie... But what had hit Squall wasn’t the sadness or the brokenness Zell carried.
Zell had a glare of hope in his eyes.
Squall knew what that hope meant; Zell knew that Squall was there to help him, though he would most probably stumble and fall trying. Zell knew Squall was here to make it all okay.
But Zell didn’t know that it was Squall who had brought it to that point.
“Squall are you-“
“I’m fine!” Squall snapped. “Zell, I... I’m sorry for your mother. She was just so... Lively I suppose. There were three people I know to be full of life that much; Selphie, your mother and...” He stopped. Mentioning his raven-haired ex-love wouldn’t kill him, but it could make him go comatose. “Okay, two.”.
“But she’s...” Zell forced himself to get the words out, “Murdered.”
Squall decided to hold on to whatever he was holding on to harder. Murdered? Of course! What could anyone have said anything else when they had found someone dead, with a huge gunblade gash across her chest?
“I... Didn’t know that.” Squall lied, half-heartedly, “I thought it was... An accident or... Something.”
“No, murdered!” Zell said as his sadness was replaced by rage, “I’ll find the son-of-a-bitch who did it, and rip out his heart with my bare hands! For that, I take an oath.”
Being that “son-of-a-bitch”, Squall suddenly felt like he was going to throw up. Muttering an apology, he ran outside, and ran to the gates of Balamb Town. Managing to get outside of the town before his stomach convulsed again, and let go of everything it contained.
When he got up, Squall felt his world spinning. With an empty stomach and still sickness on him, Squall try to crawl back on his feet. The wind whipped his trenchcoat as he was on his hands and knees, trying to push himself off the ground. Not managing to, Squall laid down there. Face-down in the soil, he was lying there. As the dim daylight became a little bit darker and let rain go down on Squall.
Not wanting to catch a cold, Squall, hardly pushed the ground, and using his gunblade as a support, he managed to get up. A whizzing sound made his senses, reluctantly crawl back into place. Looking behind him, he saw a Glacial Eye, approaching to him.
Managing to concentrate, Squall pointed at the poor thing, and said “Ultima!”. Then, forcing himself to run, he managed to get out of the range of the spell. As the poor creature got blasted into little pieces, Squall, reluctantly went on to Balamb Garden.
No other monster attempted to attack him on his way. Considering this as a bad sign, Squall went on to Balamb Garden. The rain was soaking him up, and he felt just as heavy as a huge pile of steel. Walking silently, and using his gunblade as a cane, Squall finally managed to get to the front gates of Balamb Garden.
Going inside, he looked around. The main hall was swarming with cadets and SeeDs. But all the noise had stopped instantly as he barely “limped” inside. Every person in the main hall was looking at him. Squall then managed to feel the mud over his face, the rain, and his bleeding wound, also the remainder of the blood of Kiros. He must’ve looked horrific.
“Commander, are you... Alright?” came a familiar voice. Looking up, Squall saw Darina. Her eager arms and hands were coming closer and closer...
“She’s a sorceress! What were we supposed to do, welcome her with open arms!?”
Feeling sick again, and wanting this nausea to end, wanting this pain and if it was necessary, this life to end, Squall fell on his knees. He managed to throw up again, for the second time on the same day. His world span around him, and he fell into darkness.
“Squall! What the hell!?” Quistis came running at him.
“I don’t know!” Darina said, her voice almost in panic.
“Irvine! IRVINE!!!” Quistis called out.
“What!?” Irvine asked, running up to her.
“Help me! Grab him by the left arm, I’ll get the right arm. We’re carrying him to the Infirmary.”
“Great Hyne, I wish he would just end it all!”
Quistis let go of Squall, and her rage, panic, buried love got out of her thoughts or feelings by a powerful slap, exploding on Irvine’s face.
“How dare you!?” she demanded, “You know what he’s going through! You know everything he has ever lived cause of that cursed bitch! And you still- Still can easily say ‘I wish he would just end it all!’!?”
“Quistis, it’s only him who makes life such living hell for himself! He can’t take responsibility of his current condition! He has to accept it! But no, since we’re all too eager to help him, he finds it easier to-“
“Shut up!!!” Quistis shouted, her fist landing on Irvine’s nose this time, and Quistis (with a certain satisfaction, I might add) felt the bones break under her fist.
As Irvine tried to wipe the tears off his eyes and stop the blood flowing off his nose, he looked at Quistis with a surprised look.
“You think he doesn’t try? You think he doesn’t want to be alright!? You’re more of an idiot than I thought you were!”
Bending down, Quistis took Squall the best she could, and started to carry him to the direction of the Infirmary. Coming out of nowhere, Selphie joined her in her struggle. As they carried Squall to the Infirmary, in halfway, both of them collapsed underneath the heavy weight.
“C’mon, Quisty!” Selphie said, “Help me out here! On the count of three! One, two-“
“Float!” said Irvine, pointing at Squall. Quistis lifted Squall up and they started to push his limp body which was floating in mid-air to the Infirmary.
As Quistis and Selphie took him to the Infirmary, Irvine joined them, and helped them push him.
“Look, Quistis I-“Irvine began when Quistis cut him off;
“Shut up! I don’t wanna hear you saying ‘I’m sorry’ cause you’re not!”
“I’m trying to apologise here, for Hyne’s sake!”
“If Hyne is out there, I’m sure you’ll have some punishment!” Quistis replied as she continued to push Squall.
They entered from the doors of the Infirmary, as Dr.Kodowaki stood up at full attention.
“Great Hyne! What the hell happened!?” she asked,
“He came in, like this!” Quistis explained.
“Okay, we must first clean him up. Help me.”
Taking Squall to the tube-like device at the back of the Infirmary, they threw Squall inside. Dr. Kodowaki locked it down and pushed a few buttons on the control panel nearby. Jets of water came at Squall everywhere, soaking him up completely, washing away the dirt, blood, and mud.
Waking up to the high-pressured water, Squall screamed in horror. His brain couldn’t register that it was just water at once. Causing him scream like he had just gone mad, Squall threw himself to the glass. He hit the tube’s edge, it shook a little bit but stood.
Seeing what he had become, Quistis bent down her head, eyes sparkling in her eyes. Selphie embraced her, trying to comfort her. They all were worried about Squall’s safety, cause in the previous two months, and a little three or four months before then, Squall had managed to shed his shell.
Throwing himself again at the edges of the tube, Squall finally started to punch the glass. Slowly sliding and falling on his knees, he bent down his head, his fists, still clenched, still pressing against the tube’s surface. He started to sob uncontrollably, as water continued to wash him, he had soaked through and through, but the water flow didn’t stop.
Managing to wipe away the tears, Quistis looked up to see Squall, maybe catch his eyes. She got what she wanted- and immidiately had to turn away. Squall’s eyes represented madness, darkness, sadness, a sorrow to hard to imagine. Squall knew that the people outside of the tube didn’t know anything about the demons that haunted him.
The water ceased, and Squall was let out. Still soaking, Squall shook and limped over to a wall. Still dripping water out of his hair and clothes and skin, he leaned on the wall, his left arm resting against the wall, as his right arm swung uselessly.
“Squall...” Quistis asked, her voice somehow choked with tears, “Are you... Okay?”
“No.” Squall replied, “I’m not. I haven’t been, for even a day.”
“If this is because of Rinoa-“ Selphie started, but Squall cut her off.
“It’s nothing about her, or you, or Quistis, or anyone.” Squall replied, breathing heavily. Slowly inhaling air and then letting it out, Squall looked around.
“Here we are. United, in this room. Unified, as one. Everyone reaching out to me to help me. Yes, I know you want to help me. I am really aware of the fact that everyone thinks I’m a show-off who exaggarates it all. But nobody, not even you, Quistis, knows the truth. And there are, a few people who won’t know the truth.”
Suddenly, the Infirmary doors slid open, leading a SeeD carrying a wounded teenage girl in his arms inside. She had black hair and blue eyes for all they could acknowledge, and that she had ripped clothes and bleeding wounds all over her.
“Commander!” said the SeeD, “I found her, crawling at our gates. When I went to help her, she told me she wanted to see Squall Leonhart.”
Squall’s dark eyes moved up, as he let go of the wall slowly, and stood on his own feet again.
“Is he here?” the injured girl asked, looking around, “Is Squall Leonhart in this room?”
“I’m Squall Leonhart.” Squall said, stepping forward.
“I’m glad I found you.” The girl said. “I have some really disturbing things to tell you, so stay tight.”
“This may not be the best... Moment.” Quistis said, “Why don’t we treat you first?” she added, as a suggestion.
“I don’t know how much time I have left, let me-“
“He has enough on his-“ started Selphie, but Squall interrupted her.
“No, Selphie. I’m going to hear her out. Okay, what happened?” Squall asked.
“Rinoa...” she said, as Squall didn’t show any emotion at all, “The Timber resistance faction meeting... She... I dunno what happened to her, but suddenly, she sprouted... What looked like grey angel wings. Then, she started to burn everything down, including her fellow resistance members, the Galbadian military force... I managed to survive. She said something about ‘Demon’s Tears’ before she left...”
“Demon’s Tears?” Squall asked, “Did she tell you where she left off to?”
“She said she needed tears. That’s all.”
Tears..., Squall thought, tears... Think, Leonhart, think!!! Tear- Tear’s Point!
“Patch her up!” Squall said, almost in panic. Grabbing his gunblade, he ran to the Infirmary door when Irvine held his shoulders.
“Squall, you can’t go out like this! Where are you goi-“ his sentence was cut off by a fist landing on his face.
“I’m going to find my salvation.” Squall replied, as he started to run again.
Running across the main hall’s marble floor with totally wet shoes was tricky, but Squall managed to slide on the ground as if he was skating, though he didn’t know how to skate. Trying his best, feeling much more alive than he had ever felt before, he finally managed to reach the Airstation. Seeing three SeeDs advancing towards Ragnarok, he ran with all he could.
Ragnarok’s hangar doors were open, a ramp down on the ground, inviting the three SeeDs inside. Running with all he had, Squall threw two of the SeeDs aside to get past.
“Hey, what the hell?” one of them asked.
“I’m Commander Leonhart, and Ragnarok is under my control now, go with a helicopter or something, I don’t care.”
“Sir, we had Headmaster Cid’s-“ the other one began, but Squall cut him off
“Shut up! Sue me, kill me. I don’t care, you’re not getting it now!”
Getting the ramp up, Squall got to the pilot cabin and sat down on the pilot seat. Taking off, with everything he had, on top speed, he rushed to Tear’s Point, making the whole world between Balamb Island and Tear’s Point pass by as a faint blur. Quick as hell, he landed Ragnarok down, right outside Tear’s Point, and jumped off.
When his feet hit the soil, he then realised it was Esthar plains, out in the open with all sorts of exotic monsters- the leftovers of Lunar Cry. Cautiously, Squall advanced into Tear’s Point.
Seeing the huge angel statues, made Squall wonder if fallen angels had a place to go to. As he walked steadily, but while cautiously looking around, he saw a familiar figure, walking in front of him. Squall wasn’t there to just grab Rinoa and run... Because he had felt curiosity eating him alive this time.
What is she doing here? WHy did she have grey wings? Great Hyne in heaven, grey... Why did she burn everything down? What’s going on here?
Rinoa approached to the statues of angels. Squall followed her like a Lion closing in on his enemy. They both walked. Every cell in Squall was screaming out to him, telling him to run like hell, and embrace her. Hold her tight to his arms, as if he would never ever let go. But he held back. Common sense inside him was telling him to hold back, his ‘parts’ were telling him to go on.
Squall half-smiled to himself, just like Seifer when Edea appeared, he thought, just like him. Maybe I’m more like him than I ever thought I was. But where is she going to?
Finally, Rinoa reached the statues. Looking up, Squall saw the one, single tear one of the angels had shed- a crack on the smooth surface. Rinoa approached the angel with the teardrop. Squall stayed at the edge of the hall-like entrance. He couldn’t risk going out in the open, because somewhere deep down, something was telling him that, if Rinoa could unleash hell on her partners and friends, why shouldn’t she unleash hell on Squall as well?
What the hell is she thinking? She came here, to Tear’s Point... And surprising enough, no monsters attacked us. But what is she thinking? She must have something on her mind, standing there like that.
Rinoa’s wings came out. Squall saw, with a wave of sorrow in him, that her wings had turned to grey. The shape was still like an angel’s wing, but the colour stated that, she wasn’t going well.
“The powers of the underworld, the dark lights of the universe... From the point where I stand, to the death of the furthest star as a whole... Take my body for this sacrafice... Cry with me, all of you.”
Squall almost jumped up when monster howls and likewise sounds rose into the air with a terrible cacophony.
“Cry with me tonight, as night falls, as darkness spreads it’s marvelous fingers, pour strength in my heart to recieve, what many has perished trying to obtain!”
Goddammit, she’s out of control! It’s not her that speaks! Hyne, when we meet, you’ll pay for everything you have done to us!
As Squall stared at the statues, a darkness formed itself, coming mainly out of the crack on the statues. The darkness crawled all the way to the statue’s arm, to her hand... And then, took a shape so much like many hands or simply, a huge spider.
Her wings disappearing, Rinoa opened up her eyes wide to see what she was face-to-face with, something to swallow up her soul. She screamed, with all she had. Tearing her lungs off, she stared at the sky for hope, as an evil cackle coming with the wind mocked her.
“Rinoa!!!” Squall screamed, running to her. Squall got to her side, grabbed her by the waist and jumped aside. As they landed, Squall felt a sharp pain travel it’s way through his wounded left arm. Getting back to his feet, Squall started to run to the exit of Tear’s Point. A scream of disgust was hear behind them, as they got out of Tear’s Point to Esthar plains.
Putting Rinoa down to the ground, Squall stood up, and looked at her.
She looked as beautiful as he remembered her. Looking at her face, at her hair, her scared eyes and shaking body... Squall felt everything he had inside for her rising up.
“Rinoa...” Squall said, his mouth curling up in a full smile, as his eyes glistened with tears. Rinoa got up and brushed some of the dust off her clothes with her hands. She then looked at Squall.
They both met each other’s eyes, knowing they were back together. Rinoa felt regret boiling inside her; she had left Squall saying ‘she didn’t belong in there’. Her love towards him surfaced once more, leaving every piece of regret and sorrow she had about staying in discrimination.
Squall felt the same. He was alive, again. He was feeling everything, from his katal wound, to his wet clothes, to the wind, to the dirt over his hands... To the heat inside him, his love. His guilt, doubts, regret, everything melted in that love of his.
“I love you.” Squall said, the words escaping his lips so easily.
“I love you too.” Rinoa replied, as easily as Squall.
Taking a step forward, Squall bent down, and gently kissed Rinoa, while embracing her. After they broke the kiss, Rinoa buried her head to Squall’s chest, and Squall wrapped his arms around her.
As wind whipped their hair and clothes, Squall stared at the horizon.
And thought that he was glad to be alive.