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[personal profile] ashbear

This was originally written many years ago, back in 2001. I’m trying to add a few items to this journal; so I’m moving some of my short stories and one-shots to here. My writing style has changed greatly over the years. This was originally in the "Honor Among Us" series but now is posted under the Eternal Tiet account.

Fandom: Final Fantasy VIII
Characters: Rinoa/Squall and Odin
Pairing: Rinoa and Squall
Words: 2389
Rating: K+ Drama/Romance

XXXX

~ To Honor Odin ~

XXXX

He had not been there.

A simple statement, but the implications cast uncertainty in her heart. Yes, it was only dinner in the cafeteria, not an elaborate date at a classy restaurant. Had it been the first time, she would have understood. However, this was becoming a daily ritual - a rite of passage that she did not wish to participate. Flipping the grains of salt from the dinner tray had been her only entertainment over the last hour.

It was abundantly clear that he forgot, yet again.

Gathering up her belongings, she sighed inwardly. Should she confront him on this occasion or let it be? Talking to him about feelings was the emotional equivalent of walking on eggshells. Against better judgment, she decided to stop by his dormitory. Curfew was almost upon the young sorceress; she would have to be in quarters soon. Such restrictions as curfew did not apply to him; he was commander after all.

Staring at the wooden door for a moment, Rinoa deliberated whether to knock. She had made it this far. Slowly, unsurely, she raised her hand to tap on his door. After a moment she could hear the chain rattling, he opened it wearing black jeans and white t-shirt. For a moment their eyes locked, neither speaking a word.

He scratched his head before asking, "Can I help you with something?"

She swallowed deeply, almost too nervous to reply. "Squall, I thought we were going to meet for dinner tonight."

The knight no longer attempted eye contact, darting his attention to the hallway beyond. "Rinoa, I had work to do. The applications for the cadets still need reviewing. I just don't think I'll be able to get together this week, maybe next week we can go to Balamb."

She smiled softly, what could she say? Quistis too was helping with applications, and told of the deadline to review... three months from now.

"All right.. I'll see you around."

See you around?

This was what she was telling her knight? That was a statement you say to associates or business acquaintances – it was not something you say to the man pledged to protect your existence. Quickly, she turned around. No, she wasn't about to cry, but the hurt wore like an iron mask. She was not going to give him the satisfaction of knowing her anguish.

He watched as she left. As an afterthought he added, "I promise, next week."

She had not argued, had not questioned. He held his breath; she did not even turn around to acknowledge his comment. ‘You're a fool,’ he reprimanded himself.

Squall watched as her dark hair flowed, covering her shoulders. He watched her sullen form until she disappeared into the female SeeD's hallway. He was slightly surprised that she never once looked back. Had he hurt her that deeply? Turning around, he re-entered his room. The only light that illuminated the small room was a desk lamp, leaving most the room in absolute darkness.

"Was that the honorable deed Knight Leonhart?"

Squall was startled at the husky voice coming from the dark abyss. He flipped the master wall switch, filling the entire room with light. Sitting in his chair was the Odin, a trusted Guardian Force. Darkened dragon bones served as horns on his ornate headdress. Armor not made of silver, but that which could only be forged within such recesses of the underworld. A golden face, both majestic and scarred adorned the soldier. Black orbs where eyes should be, reflecting light with the same intensity as oil reflecting the sun. A man of legend, a man of valor.

Squall and the others had proved their worth to this Guardian Force some time ago, yet Odin still questioned his honor.

"How can you be in a solid form? Don’t you have to be summoned or called?" asked Squall.

"I cannot ever be junctioned to any mortal. I am a knight; I am a warrior. Unlike the others you christen as Guardian Forces - I once walked this earth as human. Neither Gilgamesh nor I can ever be contained within your minds, we are free to serve whom we desire. Garden must have taught you such wisdom in history lessons. This cannot be knowledge unknown to you."

"I did not ask why I can't junction you,” Squall replied, crossing his arms over his chest, "I asked why you are in a solid form, sitting in my chair no less,"

"No Knight Leonhart that is not what you asked. Your question was far deeper. You cannot hide from me, as you think you are able to hide from her. You have never asked my assistance, but in times of need, I vowed to help thee."

"Well thee does not need help. I see no enemies around," countered the commander, trying to understand the warrior's needless appearance.

The older knight laughed, a sound heard by scarcely a man. "Enemies are always around you. Though one does not see them, they reside deep within your being. Your enemies can take many forms - such is the curse of humanity. Those enemies will be your downfall Knight Leonhart, and ultimately, hers. No lessons taught within four walls can teach you such. You have sworn to protect her, so you must learn the true duty of a knight."

Squall was growing angry at the interrogation. "I would give my life for her. That should never be questioned."

Odin laughed once again, "You are so young my child, too young for such a responsibility."

"It is what I've been trained to do," defended Squall. "I have no doubts when it comes to my fighting abilities."

Odin stood walking toward the young man, warning in his tone. "You are an idiot, a fool! Training cannot be learned within a textbook or class. Training is only gained through time and experience. Love and hate are the two strongest allies and the two strongest enemies. Two emotions intertwined since the beginning of time, such is the way of Hyne. The line between is thin and often blurred. Your emotions betray you. Someday they will betray her if honesty is not among them. For I lost my sorceress to my faults and history is destined to repeat itself."

"Why is history always said to be destined to repeat itself? I’ve studied centuries of history, what was the name of your sorceress?"

"Names are for the living, labels cast upon by others. Not so in the afterlife. The auras survive – it’s the spirit that fills all living creatures. We pray to almighty gods, majestic goddesses, and to all the deities beyond understanding. But they too are only a part of the essence of life. No one entity contains singular power; all are depending on each other, all weak without the spirit of the living. The spirit of the living is stronger than all entities combined."

"You seem to be speaking in a lot of riddles," countered Squall. "If you have something to say – say it and leave. What does any of this have to do with my life?"

"I have chosen my fate as reverence for my sorceress. I walk upon this earth to serve others and teach of past mistakes. I have chosen the life of a Guardian Force for her honor, a tribute to the life I could not protect."

"So…your sorceress was attacked by her enemies and you think it is ‘destined’ to repeat itself? Just because you failed, doesn’t mean that I will.”

"Again, you speak as a textbook warrior - mindless drones set upon this world to serve others. Enemies take many forms. I could not save my sorceress from the strongest enemy... herself. I gained knowledge of supreme weapons, I studied defenses, and above all, I protected her from men who sought to destroy her. I worked until the sun greeted another day. For countless seasons, I studied the art of battle. Always thinking about her protection, but never protecting."

Squall slowly started to comprehend the warrior’s meaning. The similarities within the last statement unsettling.

"She died?"

"My son, please heed the warnings. The strongest enemy for any sorceress is herself. Nevertheless, you and she are intertwined, as are the emotions love and hate. She needs you there, not only in battle, but also in peace. My sorceress ended her own life while I was in far off lands defending her. I lost sight in what I was protecting, too engrossed within strategy and work. Love can turn to hate without the barer even knowing. Habit is learned early; she knows you spoke untruths tonight. Yet she did not argue that is not her way."

Squall walked over to the window, looking into the nothingness of night. Can love grow to hate? Would years of hidden contempt toward him lead Rinoa to do something so drastic as to end her own life? No, it would not happen in one night, but would decades of feeling alone, abandoned lead her to do something so extreme? He had not been there tonight; he had not been there in months. Fear kept him at bay. Rinoa needed him and he had failed. Yet a man, a fallen knight, a warrior, who knew much of honor, was offering him a second chance. Yes, Squall was in need, he just had not realized it. As a sign of his revelation, a star streaked across the sky and opened a door to a new era.

The commander heard the great knight's steps nearing, "Now tell me of honor."

"Honor is not hiding behind walls. It is to protect the one I love - not only physically but emotionally…we are connected. If I lie to myself, then I lie to her. Love and hate are really one and the same - the only difference is in the perception. It ‘s not enough for me just to have the title of Knight, but I have to be able to face my own fears."

Odin nodded at the apprentice knight, "Now go to her. I fear that history will have to wait another generation to repeat."

Squall looked at the warrior, bowing slightly, "You have brought your sorceress honor."

He returned the gesture, "As you will yours."

XXXX


Rinoa lay on her bed reading an outdated issue of Timber Maniacs. Skimming through the pages in some futile attempt to take her mind off Squall. It was thirty minutes past curfew now, leaving her quarters would be too much of a risk. Sitting up, she tossed the magazine hastily on her nightstand. A knock on the door surprised her, although Selphie did have a habit of sneaking around after curfew. Actually, she would be glad at the chance to talk with her friend.

Not attempting to fix her matted hair, she walked to the door. She was shocked to see Squall standing there. Not only had he never bothered coming to her room after curfew, he held a bag of… something?

"Squall," the hesitation in her voice was betraying her composure. "What… what are you doing?"

His azure blue eyes peered directly into her soul. He made no attempt to break the contact. Rinoa felt the intimacy within his look, something nearly foreign to her.

He bit his lower lip, and then slowly moistened it before beginning to talk, "Rinoa, can I please come in?" Stepping to the side, she motioned with her hand for him to enter.

"I um... brought dinner," he announced holding up a brown bag. A slight smile crossed her face, but she didn’t say anything. He placed his fingertips on her cheek as he explained, "I'm sorry. I knew you were waiting for me and I chose not to come. That is no excuse, but unfortunately, it’s the truth. Please Rinoa, hear me out…"

Squall lowered his hand to his side, awaiting her next move. Sitting on the floor, she nodded her head in agreement. Squall joined her and started digging through the paper bag. He finally handed her a hot dog. "It's hard to get food this time of night, these cost me several hundred Gil each. Zell doesn't like parting with them... cheaply."

A small chuckle escaped her lips; she looked at the hot dog for a moment. Setting it on a napkin, she looked at the man across from her wanting answers, "Squall?"

The one word was all she needed to say. The knight sat across from her with a peaceful look on his face. Slowly, he reached the distance between them, gently taking her hand. He intertwined their fingers, and then with the other hand, reached to the rings around her neck. He placed the tip of his finger within the Griever ring.

"Rinoa, I am sorry. Not just for tonight, but also for the last few months. Truthfully… those applications are not due for another few months. I used them as an excuse, nothing more. I’ve been working on extra training, studying past sorceresses and knights. What I’ve learned is more amazing than ever imagined. Being a knight is not always about defending physically, it’s also about being there emotionally. I’ve been scared - and that fear was taking over. It was just easier to avoid you than admit it to myself. But I promise I won’t do it again; I’ll never make another excuse – I’ll never lie to the one I love again. Promise."

Rinoa grasped his hand tightly, tilting her head slightly to one side. "Love?" she questioned trying to contain the amazement in her voice.

Still holding the ring, Squall leaned forward, not breaking the eye contact. "Love," he replied simply.

Far off in Centra a candle lit, as a warrior from another century stared into the dancing flame. Looking toward the sky, the man slightly nodded his head. "Another life you will not steal from this earth. You lost this generation too," Odin spoke triumphantly toward the heavens. A slow gentle breeze played with the candle flame as a soft voice, barely audible, whispered:

"I love you Odin. For now, for eternity."

September 2012

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