A/N: This is technically the sixth chapter if you read this on AO3, which means I took out the original fifth chapter. I did a LOT of formatting that fanfiction dot net doesn't even have the range for. Also, CSS coding for things. I had to improvise Rinoa's letter.
See end for final notes.
Squall's voice had taken a serious tone as he was leaning against the doorway of their shared bedroom. His girlfriend in question was actually ready for the day, before 10:00 no less. Perfect. Fighting with her to wake up earlier than 11 was already a headache he was tired of dealing with.
Her head turned to his voice, unsure of how to read the tone as the confused look on her face denoted.
"Matron wants your assistance at the Orphanage." He stated plainly, seeming disinterested in her answer. She was unsure of how to feel about that. Ever since she returned from visiting, Squall had been more resistant in spending time with her and it was starting to bother her. The shift in mood was apparent the moment she got back and sometimes; she was glad Squall would work late.
The Sorceress doesn't enjoy being jealous, but whatever he was up to did cause her to be suspicious. Her Knight in question just wanted to enjoy more private time without her breathing down his neck.
"Is it just going to be us?" The shorter woman asked.
Squall shrugged, "I asked if others were interested, but everyone had plans." He replied coolly. What Rinoa didn't know was that it was a lie.
"I'm bringing Angelo." She announced as she reached for her essentials. Since becoming a Sorceress, she had been using her projectile weapon less, opting to focus on using her magic. It was good practice, but she only practiced in private or with Edea. She was apprehensive in showcasing her abilities to others, so she only trusted the predecessor whom she received a portion of her powers from.
Squall didn't say anything, he left the doorway with a pivot of his boots and grabbed his gunblade. He didn't announce that he would be waiting for her either, he just left.
Sighing, Rinoa had a bad feeling about this in the pit of her stomach.
Arriving to Edea's Orphanage, the Fated Children were trying their best to help in rebuilding the children's home. There was technically no reason to rebuild it as an orphanage. One of them suggested that perhaps it would be better to have it either in Galbadia or Balamb. Edea found it more as a way for her to have a home, even if it was old rubble with memories.
Today was another training session in having Rinoa understand the magic she was given. The mixture of residual restoration magic Edea's former Sorceress gifted to her coupled with the chaotic dark magic Adel once possessed had made the young woman nervous. The resistance leader wanted to make a point in using her magic for good, even if there was potential that it would not be viewed that way by others.
Squall suggested that she do something with her time and well, she had taken his suggestion of helping Dr. Kadowaki in the infirmary. She knew little about helping those that come in, but she wanted to learn and act as an understudy of some sort. Granted, healing injuries prior to them being treated properly wasn't allowed, but this proved to be a useful skill. Medical jargon was above Rinoa's head, but her gumption caused Dr. K to allow her to come around once a week, to see how she'd fare being an observer. Then, the doctor would task her with other responsibilities, such as checking vitals and documenting what was injured.
There was a comment Dr. K mentioned that did rub her the wrong way, but she knew the woman didn't mean it out of malice. When she mentioned that Just because your boyfriend lets you get away with everything, doesn't mean I will, it was meant as a joke. However, this only caused Rinoa to laugh nervously and think in the back of her mind, Is this how people view me? Does Squall think of me this way?
That comment weighed on her mind and she wasn't too sure how to feel about it. Who knows how other people viewed this? Hopefully, her friends would tell her the truth, but would Squall?
He has a penchant for being too honest . . . She thought, after finishing her session with Edea and walking out to the meadow to where Squall waited for her. He was texting on his phone with a hardened expression on his face.
"Is everything alright?" She cautiously prodded him. Squall's expression didn't let up and he sighed.
"No." The matter-of-fact statement came. Tucking his phone away, he dropped down further into the meadow, trying to enjoy the scenery for what it was. This place holds significance for Rinoa since this was the place that they made their promise. Squall dedicating himself to be Rinoa's knight when she was discovered to be the new Sorceress. Vowing to protect her and that if they were to get lost in Time Compression, this was the place they could remember. That moment was the memory that clung to her when she was searching for him.
"We need to talk."
To hear those words being said at the place that held significance for her and the pivotal moment in her life, she felt a cold chill ripple through her body. Before she could get any words out, Squall already began walking further into the meadow.
She had to convince herself that it wouldn't be anything bad, but her gut feeling was seldom wrong. Telling Angelo to stay on the side of the Orphanage, Rinoa exhaled before walking towards what felt like the center of the never-ending meadow by the seaside.
That was when they clashed.
Between Squall commenting on what she saw in their relationship, to Rinoa believing that there was nothing wrong and that she felt he was closing himself off again. Squall admitting that he wouldn't have to close himself off if she actually listened to him. There was a reason behind the statement about the calm before the storm. Squall was the storm in question, and Rinoa brought the thunder to make it worse. Coupled with the timing of their verbal dispute, as the fighting reached its peak the rain started to gradually pour.
What had begun as a calm quarrel spun out of control as they were outright yelling at each other. Squall never raised his voice at Rinoa, which she realized quickly how he never did. Rinoa yelled at her father, but she never yelled at any of her love interests. He never displayed his anger towards her unlike he does with Seifer or Quistis, and that was something the former instructor warned her about. Squall's temper was never to be tempted, if he visibly shows signs of anger, then there was a reason for it.
Rinoa made comments during their argument that she knew she didn't mean, but Squall… he never says things he doesn't mean. So once the couple was sufficiently drenched from the tropical showers, they returned to the porch where Angelo was. The dog's ears moved to the back of her head, anxious at the shift in mood. Rinoa petted her trusty companion softly, all the while still feeling her face flushed from anger. Squall had nothing left to say and made a point to keep a distance. She glanced at him briefly before returning her sullen looks back to the ground, observing the flowers saturated.
Letting out a shaky breath, she asked to no one, but knew that if Squall could, he would ignore her, "So what happens now?"
Squall had an answer for everything, he was so certain about most things, but his response cracked a portion of her heart.
"I don't know."
Sniffing, she rapidly blinked her eyes to stop any oncoming tears of anger from falling. It made no sense to cry over something that's been occurring for the past month or so. The Sorceress had a feeling about this, but she wasn't sure how to go about it. This… never happens to her. So, navigating this feels out of her realm of expertise that maybe it was best they gave each other space. Pulling her figure in towards herself, she rubbed her exposed elbows and breathed shakily.
Once the rain died down some, the couple in question returned to the Ragnarok and headed back to Garden with limited dialogue exchanged. Her Knight said everything he's been wanting to say for who knows how long. Rinoa found she was exhausted from having such a raw emotional battle with him. Squall told her he needed to delegate missions out with Quistis and Xu, and she simply nodded. That was all that was exchanged between the two before they went about the remainder of their day.
Returning from work earlier than expected, Squall found himself feeling bad for the spat he had with Rinoa. This was the most exhausting fight they've had in the time they've been together, and it showed with how he was ready to head to turn in early. It was approaching 20:00 hours and he figured Rinoa would be awake when he returned to the dormitory. Once he entered and turned on the light, he noticed a note and his ring placed on the counter of the kitchen. Closing his eyes, he should have expected it, but it didn't make the tinge of pain hurt any less. Before he bothered with opening the folded note, he changed out of his clothes and reheated some leftovers from Seifer's place. Once shirtless and comfortable in lounge pants, he unfolded the note that had Rinoa's bubbly penmanship and read it.
I took some time to think about what you said and it was a tough pill to swallow... I really like you, but after that argument, I'm thinking maybe I'm not what you're looking for in a partner. Maybe I am and I just need some growing up to do, as you said. We're so different that I figure that maybe that difference can help us build together as a couple, that we can learn something from one another. But in order to learn, we have to compromise and understand where the other person is coming from. I admit I have never had to compromise with someone before… I'm still learning on what a compromise between two people actually is. As you said, I am used to getting my way, and hearing that really hurt. It implies that not only am I selfish, but I've honestly been neglecting you in that sense. You know that was never my intention.
I always wondered if you were just going with what I said because you loved me and wanted to spare my feelings. Maybe that was the case when we were starting out.
I don't know what I'm trying to say since I'm still trying to process everything, but I think it would be best if we took a break. I want to give you the space that you need and I know that that can't be possible if I'm always around.
While I'm gone, please don't close yourself off again Squall. Seeing you express yourself with your friends and others always made me smile and that was what I wanted. Even if it was invading your boundaries, that's one thing I'm proud about, is to see you smile and show that there's someone kind underneath that tough exterior around you. That you need others and others need you, atter to you.
Call me or text me if you want to talk.
Reading the note as he ideally played with the ring in his hand, he couldn't explain the emotion he felt. With Fujin, he felt as though he was forcing himself to be strong to save face that she left him. The wall was up but he didn't know how to act at the time it occurred. He figured that shutting everyone back out was the proper thing to do. It helped him before, why wouldn't it help him then?
Now, he couldn't find it within himself to put his defenses back up. He enjoyed being expressive with his friends and them discovering things about him that they wouldn't have found out previously. Squall opening up honestly and being more direct about in the company of those was a huge feat for him. He never felt he had to clam up and shutdown whenever he spoke honestly.
Rubbing his hand over his face, he didn't know what to make of this. At least Rinoa didn't mind communicating with him and didn't tell him that she never wanted to speak to him ever again.
Even if they were a poor couple together, he did value what the Sorceress offered as a friend.
He didn't know how to proceed considering the distance between them in differences is what caused the change to be more pronounced.
Setting the letter down, he knows that forcing each other to stay together wouldn't help matters. It was probably best they take this needed time away from each other to figure what each other wanted.
Who knows if they were to have a change of heart when they decided to reconcile each other's feelings on the matter? There were so many variables hanging in the air, he thought. This necessary time apart would do them so good, even if the impending loneliness would hurt in the interim.
While Squall could cope with the loneliness, Rinoa could not and he genuinely hoped someone was there to comfort her while he presently could not. Setting the ring on the counter, next to the letter, he warranted both with a pensive expression. Opting to retrieve his meal from the microwave, he sat in the quaint living space and ate in silence.
End A/N: If you liked it, feel free to comment on it. I'm interested in knowing your thoughts.
Before I'm asked, no, I will not be writing a piece about Squinoa reconciling romantically.
That can be left up to someone else that has the passion to make Squall and Rinoa come together from the flaws pointed out in the story and they can work on it.
In the words of Seifer "That ain't my business."