Disclaimer: Pixie518, hereafter referred to as Party A, claims no ownership, copyright or personal vested interest in the as yet unmentioned characters of Final Fantasy VIII, owned by Squaresoft, hereafter referred to as Party B. In the unlikely event that Party A wins fame and notoriety from among her contemporaries here at fanfiction.net, Party B will fall to its collective knees and pay homage to her unparalleled talents. (How’s that for a disclaimer?)

For His Love

Chapter 8

By Pixie158

Zell paced the length of his room. From door to window; from window to door. He repeatedly pulled his gloves on only to tug them right back off again. He sighed loudly, becoming increasingly annoyed with himself. He tossed the gloves in the general direction of his desk, hoping for a lucky toss. They landed in the trashcan beside the bed. OOPS.

Retrieving the gloves from the garbage, he lay them on the bed and moved to the window. Pulling the string hanging from the blinds, they rose fluidly, revealing the clear blue sky and the eastern side of the quad. The marble seats were empty; no one was out today. Except…he paused to observe the familiar figure standing beside one of the many overflowing flower boxes. The wind picked up strands of her long dark hair, twisting them, causing them to dance around her shoulders. She toyed absently with a flower and every so often, a petal would spiral downward, swept away by the wind before it had a chance to meet the ground.

Rinoa. Zell’s chest ached at the sight of her there. She appeared so fragile and alone. And he couldn’t begin to convince himself that he didn’t feel responsible for her sadness. He waited for her to make some sort of move to leave, to wander around, to sit…anything, really. She continued to stand immobile, staring at the rapidly wilting flower she rolled back and forth between her forefinger and thumb.

Zell lowered the shades, deciding to join her in the quad. He really had to idea what he planned to say to her since he was certain Squall had said nothing about the situation they were in. He also knew precisely how Squall was dealing with this. He’d put up his boundaries, retreating behind his wall, just as he always did. Rinoa would never understand Squall, no matter how much she professed to love him. Zell laughed gruffly at the direction his thoughts his taken. I’m making it sound like what I’m about to do to her is for her own good. Nice try, Dincht.

Glancing down once more before he left, Zell paused. Squall was striding toward Rinoa purposefully. Rinoa didn’t look up as Squall approached her. Zell moved in closer to the window, peering through a slit in the blinds. Maybe Squall wasn’t avoiding her after all.

Berating himself for his nosiness, but unable to tear his eyes away, Zell watched their silent exchange. Squall stood at her side, eyes distant. Zell could see Squall’s lips moving, but he wasn’t looking at Rinoa as he spoke. She hadn’t yet moved from her original stance, but Zell noticed her turn her head aside, as if to ward off Squall’s words. Squall crossed his arms over his chest, and leaned in close to Rinoa. Their dark heads almost touching. Zell could see her shoulders shaking slightly. What the hell is he saying to her??

Squall leaned into Rinoa, trying to catch her eyes with his own. She kept her head turned aside as she spoke.

"You didn’t even come to check on me last night," she stated. Squall bristled at her tone.

"You ran away, Rinoa, I didn’t know I was supposed to go chasing after you."

She closed her eyes, feeling the pain wash over her in waves. He was already lost to her. In his mind, he’d already left. She dropped her hands to her side and faced him.

"What have I done to drive you away? Two days ago everything was fine, and now, you can’t even touch me." Squall sighed.

"Rinoa, I haven’t really touched you all that much anyway. So what’s the difference?" His tone was bored and it struck a nerve in her.

"You know what the hell I mean, don’t toy with me, Squall." He at least had the decency to look sheepish at that.

"What did I do to change the way you feel about me? Do you need more from me?" Her voice rose in excitement, grasping at the possibility that this might be the problem. He shook his head.

"No, Rin…it’s not about sex. It’s not that." She eyed him suspiciously.

"What, or should I say, who is responsible for this change in you? Last week you couldn’t even bring yourself to hint at the possibility of going to bed with me, and now you feel you can speak so freely."

He looked up sharply, more than a little surprised at her perception. He’d always imagined Rinoa to be pretty much how Zell described her. More wrapped up in her own wants and needs and not as in touch with others’. Have I misjudged her?

He gripped her upper arms and lifted her on her tiptoes.

"Listen to me Rin, no, don’t look away. Listen to me! You haven’t done anything, anything at all. You just have to understand that I’m going through something that I just don’t know how to deal with. Why can’t you understand?"

She pulled free of his grasp and stumbled back a little and the look in her usually tranquil eyes all but made Squall flinch.

"Don’t you ask me to understand when every thing you do is one big secret. How can I understand this? Huh? How, Squall?" Her voice was beginning to waver, and then it broke as she sucked in a breath in an attempt to keep her tears at bay.

"I will NEVER understand you when you are so secretive. You won’t tell me what’s going on but you want me to understand it all the same? Never, Squall…do you hear me? NEVER!!" She spun on her heel and hurried out of the quad, her sobs echoing behind her.

Squall stood silently, head bowed, rubbing his forehead with the tips of his fingers. I can never find the right words to give her. What the hell am I doing? Looking down, something bright caught his eye.

Zell watched him kneel slowly to the ground, his gunblade scraping against the concrete. He reached out his hand to the small forgotten object Rinoa had left behind. He paused before picking it up, almost as if he were afraid to touch it. Zell was as still as Squall was as he watched his careful movements. Heart racing, Zell watched in horror as Squall picked up the wilted, discarded flower… and brought it slowly to his lips.


Author's Notes: *sorry this one is so short guys!! But the suspense was killing me and I’m just too tired to go on!! More tomorrow, I promise!

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