Annoyed A/N: Y'all don't have enough positive Father/Daughter representation with Fury and Rinoa.
Clean that up and do better. Songs played (while writing) this story, courtesy of Legend of the Dragoon: Despair, a hint of Shana's Theme & Lenus's Death. Really sets the tone tbh.
The rain pouring outside of Caraway's Estate was a testament to the mood that was present inside his house. The mansion that was once filled with life, laughter and love was growing dusty and dreary; hallow and empty. There were times even he didn't enjoy being there himself, but Fury figured he would return home for once. When the end of the war was announced, his house arrest was rightfully lifted and he did what he did best, avoid the place that held many painful memories.
He stopped hiring maids to clean up the place since there was truly no point. All he ever did was enter from the front door and head straight to his study. That was the only place that was remotely clean because he ensured it was clean himself.
Upon returning, the General was surprised to find a light on in a room that was never on these days. He approached and saw a figure holding a stuffed lion through the cracked door. Without further thought, he knocked on the door, jolting the figure on the pink princess canopy bed. "Rinoa? What are you doing here?"
His heart torn in two. Out of all the expressions his daughter wore on her face, the one that appeared melancholic was his least favorite. He could handle contempt and her smug arrogance when she thought she out-smarted him. But never this forlorn gaze on the cherrywood floors.
Neither party spoke for what felt like minutes, but Rinoa lifted her chestnut eyes from the floor to him. Only she wasn't meeting his gaze, she was seeing right through him. The voice that came out sounded meek and uncertain, "Can we talk?"
The stunned expression on his face couldn't describe the wave of shock that washed over him. Realizing he had been staring for a moment too long with his mouth agape, he closed it and nodded. "Yes, we can. Is the parlor sufficient or did you want to—" He was cut off before offering the suggestion.
"Parlor's fine." She was quick in stating that. Leaving Fury to nod as he made a move to close the door. With only a sliver of light, he heard his daughter say, "Bring tea please." It was her only request before he turned down the hall and down the grandiose spiral staircase.
With no cooks to assist General Caraway in figuring out where items were in the kitchen, he realized how he allowed himself to become complacent in requiring the services of servants. Thinking of his time in college and in the military, it was instilled in him to discover his own means of self-efficiency. So much for that when he couldn't even find where the loose-leaf tea was.
After minutes of fumbling in the kitchen, he heard soft footsteps padding their way into the kitchen as he was pouring water into the tea kettle. Turning his head, briefly, he noticed it was Rinoa. She changed from her earlier ensemble and walked over in wearing a worn-out grey t-shirt, pink fleece pajama bottoms, and her hair in a messy bun. Yet, she wore an expression that suited her face better than his, a cross between bemusement and incredulous on her features. She looked exactly like him, and he knew that look too well that gives himself in the mirror. What the hell are you doing? Was usually the thought that warranted the look.
Trying not to appear inept in the kitchen. He told himself, even though he wasn't staring at a mirror, he was looking at his daughter.
A clumsy smile started to form, "You know, the water is getting everywhere right?" Rinoa pointed out before walking around him to retrieve a dishcloth.
Looking down, he observed the error unraveling in real-time. The water flooded the electric kettle and the counter. Cursing, he set the pitcher down and moved away so nothing more could get on his uniform. Once the two silently made quick work of cleaning up his own mess, the water that boiled for tea was ready. He preferred chamomile tea, which he intentionally made strong since anything his daughter has to say needs his full attention. Fury can't afford to have his nerves out of focus when he needs to be in control of them. He remembered that his daughter preferred lavender tea with a hint of peppermint oil. While she may be coming into her own as a young lady, that was still his little girl and he knows what she likes when she's not feeling her best.
With assistance from his daughter, he carried the tray of water and their respective teas to go sit in the parlor. Turning on the light in the room, they opted to sit at the table nearest the window. The two wanted to observe the weather outside. It provided a minor distraction should the conversation prove too heavy for either participant.
Comfortably they sat and enjoyed their respective teas in silence. Until Rinoa herself broke the calm with a soft, "I have so much to say, but I have no idea where to start." The dry laugh that came didn't sound like her, at least not the Rinoa he knew. The anxious demeanor that permeated off his daughter struck the unease within himself.
"Start with what you feel is the easiest," He offered, even though Caraway felt it wasn't that helpful. The man knew what it was like to breach uncomfortable subjects, especially if it involved matters of the heart. Being honest about one's emotions was one thing, but conveying it? That was something he could do brazenly in his younger days, but as an adult, he found himself more closed off and wary. The military and not having a living romantic partner to confide in didn't help. Additionally, having a daughter look at his face with scorn would do that to a man. However, he had to be brave and there for her. She did pay him a visit after all.
"I'm sorry." The words tumbled out carelessly. This warranted him to blink.
"I… beg your pardon?" Did he hear that correctly?
"I'm sorry," the shorter woman repeated and added. "I'm sorry that I'm one of the causes of our relationship souring." She honestly looked him in the eyes before shifting them back to the expensive teacup in the saucer, distracting herself with the intricate designs.
"When I contracted SeeD to help the Timber Owls, I found myself getting swept up in their world—in their lifestyle." Furrowing her brows, trying to find the right words. "I witnessed so many things and heard stories that made me cry whenever I had a moment to be alone." A heavy sigh found itself expelling from her.
"It was all so intense, so scary. There were moments that I thought I was going to die because I wanted to be with them through everything." Curling her finger tightly through the handle of the cup before releasing it. Her lips trembling as her voice started to shake and crack, "I wanted to liberate Timber so bad that in the grand scheme of things, there were so many things larger than Timber, bigger than anything I could have wrapped my head around." Rinoa admitted, now finding herself fidgeting with the cloth on the table.
Caraway solemnly nodded his head, as he continued to listen. While he was grateful for SeeD for protecting his daughter, he worried that her exposure to their lifestyle was going to alter her perception of the world and not in a good way. What she was confiding in him was proof of that.
"All I wanted to do was show you that I can take care of myself, that I can handle the real world…" The line was reminiscent of one of the last fights he and his daughter had before she stormed off to become a freedom fighter for Timber. Her vehemently shoving in his face that she was an adult and could take care of herself, despite being a teenager. That she didn't need him to suffocate her with his rules and overprotective grip on her freedom. The elder man found that that controlling nature he had on her was what drove her away and he had to deal with that aftermath ever since.
It triggered him into reflecting on the negative relationship he had with his own father. How his own rebellious ways constantly struck his ire and how he too, ran away from home, intent on proving his father wrong. The only difference is that his resentment stayed with Fury even after his father's passing. He never reconciled with him or worked out the issues he had regarding his upbringing as the youngest boy the Caraways had. Thusly, he turned into the very thing he vowed he would not.
Now his daughter was an exact reflection of him in appearance, stubbornness, and fierce desire to stand up for what she believed in.
Oh, how the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
"The world is larger than my petty problems. Life can be taken away at any moment and I don't want to live the rest of my life hating you." She confessed, her eyes misting over as her top lip quivered.
Closing his eyes, he tried to will himself to be strong. There were moments like these he missed Julia. If only she did not pass so soon into Rinoa's life, things would have been different.
"Honey, I—" He sighed, thinning his lips before choosing his next words carefully. "There was a reason that I was being so critical and overprotective, you're the only little girl I have. I would be devastated if I lost you too." The pain in his voice wasn't lost on either of them.
"Rinoa, I did not intend to be as overbearing as I was. That was just the way I was brought up and I figured if I could try to raise you similarly after your mother passed, that maybe I could shield you from the world." He disclosed. Oh, how that had backfired, severely too. No one could tell a young child how to grieve. He couldn't even tell a five-year-old how to grieve properly and what to channel that grief into.
"Frankly, it did more harm than good, and I don't want to repeat that cycle of our relationship again." Shaking his head, before he rubbed the back of his neck. "Truth be told, I should have seen the signs earlier, but I was blind." And he did not want to believe that he was re-living a repeat of how he treated his own father. He did not want to come to terms that that was the reality of his relationship with his daughter. Acknowledging the problem was the first step, accepting it was a harder pill to swallow.
"I accept your apology as long as you accept mine. I want to do better for you and what better way than to start now?" He offered a lopsided smile, the one that always made Rinoa laugh.
"Yeah, I'd like that… Dad." She smiled, as a lone tear had fallen from her eyes before she cleared her throat. Caraway was nervous because he felt that wasn't all she had to share.
"Is there something else wrong, angel?" He tilted his head, brows pinched as a concerning feature donned his features.
She sniffed, causing her lips to tremble before bringing the napkin to her eyes as she dabbed them. It took her a moment to compose herself since it appeared to him that this must have been the heavier news.
"There's something else too—" She started, but Caraway's nerves got the best of him and so he jumped the gun with his assumption.
"Oh sweet Hyne, you're pregnant, aren't you?" He had to be sure. If she truly was, he really was getting a flashback into his life of being seventeen and "care-free".
Unexpectedly so, Rinoa started to laugh until she coughed. He wasn't joking, the man was worried. He was prepared to be told that she had a relationship with a man and was going to have the child out of wedlock.
"No, Dad!" She waved her hand frantically, though the laughter and light blush on her face didn't help. This only quelled his nerves somewhat.
"I need you to do me a favor though." Rinoa pre-empted as she managed to sober up. He nodded, however, Rinoa knew her father well enough, he needs to mean it.
"I'm serious, this is an honest test of trust in us trying to have an honest relationship together again." She was trying to be firm with him, and he blinked, before vocalizing that he would listen. Caraway was, honestly.
"Whatever I say to you, please respect me and my choices. I need to know I can trust you to not go flying off the walls." Rinoa demanded the assurance and Caraway knew he had to provide it for his growing young daughter. Anything to make her feel comfortable.
Rinoa closed her eyes as she inhaled and exhaled from her nostrils before she began.
"I became a Sorceress during the events of the war," The cold feeling that sank in his stomach made him wish that this was actually a joke. "Squall he… I told him to leave me at the Sorceress Memorial because it was the right thing to do. I was a threat to the country and to others." Blinking back tears, she sniffed as she brought her head up towards the light above them.
"I appreciate him for saving me because I truly was scared of being frozen and preserved there, but…" Shaking her head she wiped her eyes. "I'm scared of what I've become, I don't want to hurt people."
Caraway had to admit, he would have preferred if his daughter was pregnant. This was certainly not the news a man in his early forties wanted to hear. Especially since he rose to power during the First Sorceress War with all intents and purposes of bringing down a Sorceress. This news only caused his stomach to tighten and the grip on his porcelain china to almost break it.
"If something wrong should happen with my powers, whatever reason… can you take me to the Sorceress Memorial in Esthar?" Her dewy brown eyes looked to his for confirmation.
The man was floundering for words as he opened and closed his mouth. The fact that his daughter readily knew the risks of being a Sorceress, the very entity that put fear into others… it broke his heart for two reasons. The fact she knew that she was a danger and accepted that fate. The other reason was he agreed with her which hurt more than he could express.
The resignation he felt in that chilled realization was as pale as the expression he wore. Not his little girl, not Rinoa.
It was the better option and he knew that it was better than the alternative.
"Yes. Yes, I will do that for you." Just nothing else, anything else is asking for too much. The middle-aged man thought, the pensive look on his features reflecting that.
They both nodded, accepting the weight of her words and the promise she wanted from him.
"I… I tried to talk to Squall about it, but he wasn't happy about it." The pained expression she wore would surely tact years on her face, he knew this. Squall… that name rang familiar.
"He is the young man I contracted for the assassination, right?" He asked curiously, trying to put a name with a face. She nodded, before taking a sip of her tea, warm enough to drink deeply.
"Yeah." She confirmed, her voice barely a whisper. It appeared she wanted to say more but she wasn't too sure.
Sometimes, bluntness got to the core of it.
"Are you seeing him?" Might as well get this conversation out the way now.
The pink tint on her cheeks spread across to her ears before she decided to not back the rest of her tea.
"Something like that."
Well, that answered his question.
"He seems like a fine young man, quiet, dutiful," Shrugging, he presently couldn't find any flaws in the young boy. He took everything seriously and knew how to act whenever a situation called for it. Yet, it didn't align with the type of person his daughter usually brought (snuck) around him.
"Whatever that's going on, just give it time." After Julia died, Caraway made it an unhealthy habit to compartmentalize his own emotions, which in turn, frustrated his daughter. The boy seemed as though he didn't express them well, but he is only basing his first encounter with him and that was strictly professional. Perhaps if they met in an informal setting, he could have a proper gauge?
"Dad, SeeD's ultimate goal is to defeat the Sorceress."
That statement created a pregnant pause that only allowed for the sounds of the rain pelting against the windowpane. The roaring thunder followed soon after as if signifying the shift in mood.
"None of them truly knew until it was revealed during the war, I—I still think about that fact a lot after the war ended." She admitted quietly, tracing her fingertips on the patterns of the doilies near her.
"As much as SeeD has kept me safe until this point, I don't want to feel like I'm under constant watch because of what I am now. What the war changed me into being…" Rinoa's choked sobbing tugged at his heartstrings further. Sighing, he moved from his chair to hug her. What Rinoa wanted was to be heard and comforted.
He could provide that.
Yet, to know that that was SeeD's motive was to eradicate the Sorceress? That band of mercenaries certainly had an over-arching goal that was greater than accepting a few missions from clients. Knowing this, he realized how that posed a threat to his daughter's life.
"Tell me what you want, what do you need?" Caraway was a man of action, he knew if he was told to do something, even if it was damn near impossible, he would find a way.
"I want to live my life like I did before the war, but that's not going to happen." The chagrin in Rinoa's voice killed him inside. She buried her head into his neck, holding him tighter.
Caraway was thinking of solutions, but one of the questions jumped to the forefront of his mind.
"Does anyone else know?" He inquired quietly.
"Aside from Squall and his friends?" Her voice got smaller as she physically felt herself shrink in her father's arms. "…The entire country of Esthar." The father couldn't help but grip her tighter at that announcement. Sighing, she added with partial confidence, "I don't think I want to openly announce it to anyone else."
This could certainly make the situation complex since Esthar dropped their borders, allowing to receive and send out news to the world again. He hadn't heard anything in the media referring to his daughter or seen her face at all, but he felt he should be glad in that regard. Sometimes wealth was a good thing, but he had no connections in Esthar so that could only make it tricky.
"Rinoa, I can do everything in my power to help you with that." He replied earnestly, bringing her face into view of his. Her eyes were puffy and reddened by the tears. If he could stop his daughter from bawling like this, he needed to do something.
This prompted Rinoa's face to contort into agitation. "Do not control me, Dad. I don't want to have an escort or someone following me because you're too paranoid to leave me out and about for too long."
When Rinoa said all of that, he realized he did become almost exactly like his father. Unfortunately for his daughter, he out-smarted his old man with apt disguises. Surely that only vexed him further, but Fury did not want to put those thoughts into her head.
"Whatever you want, I'll be supportive of you every step of the way." He said confidently. The General's paranoia was not buying the words he was selling to himself. He found that his younger, more liberated self was for his daughter's second bout of independence. He felt he needed to find a balance since all he did was spoil his daughter, buying her with materialistic items since he wasn't the best at expressing how he felt anymore. Now, he just wanted to be more honest with her and wanted the same in return.
This was a cathartic steppingstone in the right direction for them. They could start anew from this point onward.
Thinking about writing more wholesome Fury and Rinoa content because lord this fandom needs it.
I headcanon that Fury has that unnecessary visceral grip on Rinoa because he was exactly like her when he was younger. Having an only child and seeing her react in the same adventurous manner as he did growing up before enlisting in the military? That scared the shit out of him. The fact he has his own unresolved issues with his father, unfortunately, followed him into his relationship with Rinoa.
Let's hope for the best for them giving their relationship an honest shot!