It hadn't been too hard sneaking out. Not really. Not after remembering she was a sorceress and casting a temporary sleeping spell on everyone present. So that might've been cheating, but she really didn't want to go back on her words to Laguna. She had told him she wouldn't bring Squall. So she wouldn't. And now she had totally forget where she was supposed to meet him.
Laguna was waiting at the train station. He didn't know why he hadn't gone after Rinoa earlier--she trusted him, which made it all the easier. He stretched idly, ran a hand through his hair, and then got up and started pacing almost as if he was nervous. She was coming, he hoped. Unless his recent behavior had set her off or something.
Far from it. Between her trying not to turn back into Ultimecia and feeling trapped and safe at the same time in the apartment, Rinoa had thought Laguna was just feeling slightly off like herself. And she really couldn't wait to meet him. It had been too long since she'd spoken to anyone besides Squall and it was driving her insane. Not that she didn't enjoy it. He just didn't talk back much. Luckily, she managed to come upon the train station fairly quickly. Not always the last place you look.
Laguna spotted her approaching and raised a hand in greeting. "Hey, Rinoa!" He headed over in her direction, grinning and scratching the back of his head. "How you been?"
Rinoa grinned widely at the sight of him and reached up to give the older man a hug. "Okay, I guess. Not exactly at my best, but I can't complain. You, Laguna?"
"I've been doing all right," he replied, hugging her back. "Except for the whole run-in with Adel thing. But luckily that's over with, you know? Good thing, too. Except that Adel won't quit annoying me on the journals." He pulled back from the hug to inspect her. "You look great. How's Sq--Leon? He being nice to you?"
"Thank you." Rinoa smiled, all her worries Laguna might be feeling down abolished. He was just himself. Like he always had been. "Leon's being himself. Which is nice for him. Okay, maybe nicer than his usual self."
"Really?" He tilted his head slightly. "Well, I guess that's a good thing. As long as you're doing all right, huh?" He grinned again. "Hey, so what do you want for lunch? I got some munny... we can get sandwiches, or pasta, or whatever you want, really."
"Oh, anything's fine!" Rinoa smiled and turned to walk by his side instead. "Ice cream." She said suddenly. "I haven't had ice cream in forever."
"Ice cream sounds great!" Laguna said with a chuckle. "Everybody likes ice cream, right?" He could just knock her out on the way, or he could actually treat her and then call out the Heartless on the way back. He hesitated for a moment, then decided that it wouldn't hurt to wait. He had promised her ice cream, after all. He motioned toward one street. "There's a great ice cream place down this way."
Normally, Leon would have thought he'd just drifted off. However, when he woke up in the middle of the kitchen floor having wandered in to get something to drink...He knew something was not right. And had a feeling it had to do with Rinoa. Of course. So after searching the house and finding three other groggy tenants, but no Rinoa, he grabbed his gunblade and left. Whatever had happened, it couldn't have been good.
He was hurrying. Which was something he didn't do a lot. He didn't need to bother with the Heartless, he felt like there wasn't time for that shit. So he ran. Hoping that pure instinct would lead him to her, like it had before.
Rinoa started off in the general direction of where he'd pointed, grinning at Laguna as she turned slightly around. "Lead the way! Hey. I really appreciate this, by the way."
"Hey, anytime," Laguna said. "We've gotta stick together, being from the same world and all, right?" He ignored the feeling in the pit of his stomach that this was wrong. He led Rinoa through the streets of Twilight Town, and held the door to the ice cream shoppe open for her when they reached it. "Just take a look and tell me what you want, and I'll get it for you!" He grinned at her again.
Leon turned another corner, feeling like he was getting closer. Which was good, because if there wasn't anything wrong and Rinoa had just cast sleep on the entire flat for kicks? He would not be a happy Leonhart.
Not for kicks. Just to not feel like she was suffocating. She didn't do the locked up part. Look where that had brought her father. "Uh. Strawberry? I'm simple."
He bought a strawberry cone for Rinoa and a chocolate chip cone for himself, smiling to Rinoa as he handed her the cone and a napkin. "Hey, to each their own, right? So... what have you been doing since you got here? Anything besides being under lock-and-key with Leon?" He once again held open the door with a shrug. "We can eat on the way back?"
...And ice cream shoppe. Leon swore, looking around. Well, instinct had been blatently wrong....although there were now people coming out. He frowned a little, squinting at the shop door, still mostly in one of the many alleyways Twilight town offered.
"Not much else, no. Well, besides transforming into Ultimecia all over the place. But you got that part." Rinoa excited, smiling. That was, until she spotted Leon. Her smile faultering, ice cream cone forgotten, she had a sudden sick twist in the pit of her stomach. "Squall." She couldn't help herself.
Laguna stiffened. He should have just called out the Heartless earlier, he should have known better, he should have... but it was too late now. He'd have to deal with it. The Heartless suddenly popped up from the shadows all around them, and he stepped back, eyes hardening. "Rinoa. Let's get out of here."
Heartless. And guy. Leon's gunblade was off his shoulder and swinging down on the nearest creature. And he didn't have a good feeling about that man with Rinoa. For several reasons.
"What-?" Confused, Rinoa looked around to see Laguna. But not any Laguna she could ever claim a relationship to. "What're you-? Go where?"
He grabbed her wrist almost urgently. "We have to get out of here. Away from the Heartless." He hadn't quite been lying when he said he couldn't bear to face Leon right now. His facade was crumbling, and fast. "Rinoa,
DotsRoleplay: we've got to get out of here fast. Let's go."
"Rinoa!" Leon wasn't close enough to hear what was being said, but what he could see he didn't like the looks of. He threw his arm out, casting a fire spell in an attempt to clear a path through the heartless.
When he touched her skin, Rinoa felt a jolt of something through her spine and with a scared, lost look at his face, her eyes glazed over for a second before focusing again. "Get your hands off me."
"Afraid I can't do that." All pretenses gone now, Laguna tightened his grip on her wrist. "I've got a job to do, Rinoa, and you're part of it, like it or not." The Heartless swarmed around him like flies, and several between them and Leon vanished, destroyed by the fire spell. Laguna gritted his teeth--there were some things he knew, and one was that he didn't stand a chance against Leon.
Leon was close enough now to know that clearly, Rinoa didn't want to go with this man. However, he could also tell she wasn't exactly Rinoa anymore. Dammit. He didn't know how, exactly, but there were a lot of things about him and Rinoa he still didn't understand. Either way, he wasn't going to let this guy take her. Even if she was Ultimecia again.
Ultimecia's eyes narrowed and she brought her other arm up to forcefully pry Laguna's grip from her wrist, her eyes flashing yellow. "I'm not Rinoa." It was only a matter of seconds before half the Heartless he had summoned evaporated in bursts of flame all around them. "And she doesn't want to go with you either."
He winced, biting back a "shit" as he backed away from Rinoa. The Heartless only returned, and in far greater numbers than they had been before. They leapt at Rinoa, while more crowded the street again. Laguna's teeth were tightly gritted. He couldn't mess this up. But at this rate, he was going to lose no matter what. He risked a glance at Leon.
Leon took the chance of Ultimecia exploding the heartless to get closer, although now with the heartless swarming up again he was swinging his blade around, prepared to mow through them if Laguna tried something stupid.
They might be leaping at her, but none of them actually made it far enough to lay one icky black finger on her. One good thing this time as Rinoa had done her was save up on strength. It had been too long since she'd last fought. And she was going to win again.
Laguna did that "something stupid" thing right then, lunging forward at Rinoa in an attempt to grab her and knock her out. Some of the Heartless had latched onto him, and he looked like a gargoyle or monster with them crawling over him. He was losing this battle, and he knew it, but he could at least try.
Leon charged then, breaking through the heartless easy enough. They only came halfway up his calves, and the damn things where stupid. As soon as he was close enough he swung his gunblade towards Laguna, flat side out. After all, he killed heartless, not people.
Ultimecia was knocked over, Laguna's desperate action coming as a surprise to her. She would've fried him. Except she also had Rinoa's emotions to worry about. And they weren't cooperating at the moment. Leon's close proximity wasn't helping either.
Laguna was knocked to the side by the gunblade, wincing as he hit the wall of the opposite building. He scowled at Leon. "I'm not going down that easily." He eyed the gunblade anyway as the Heartless crowded around the
DotsRoleplay: three, blocking any escape route. He lunged at Rinoa again.
Leon was there to block his way this time. "We'll do this the hard way then."
Scrambling to her feet behind Leon, she felt a flash of hate towards her host for inspiring such loyalty, even when her Knight had forgotten her. It was what had turned her into this in the first place, not getting that. But Ultimecia had her own Knight to worry about. Killing the Heartless, clearing a path behind her, she started backing up. I'm not going back there.
Laguna was distracted from Rinoa by Leon. A few Heartless perched on Laguna's shoulders, and he gritted his teeth. "Let me through. I'm just doing my job."
"And I'm just doing mine." Leon eyed the heartless perching on Laguna's shoulders. Clearly he wasn't working for the good guys. So he really didn't feel bad about the fire spell he conjured up.
Not a bloody job. She could hear Rinoa echo inside her and started for a second. She was supposed to be dormant, not alert. This complicated things. But she was still walking backwards, away from both of them.
Laguna was knocked back against the wall again, cursing and wincing. He struggled back to his feet and eyed Rinoa. "She's... getting away," he managed, but he wasn't sure if it was because he wanded to capture her or if it was something else altogether. His head was killing him, and the fire attack didn't help things much.
Leon turned his head without thinking, then swore turning back around and holding his sword in a defensive position, just in case Laguna tried anything. "Rinoa, Don't leave." She still had to help him remember. If any part of Rinoa was awake, maybe she'd know that. And have enough control to stay.
Don't leave. Don't leave? But she was leaving. She was supposed to leave. Ultimecia had definitely made up her mind to leave. Run away, far from both of them. Find Seifer, take over Twilight. Something like that. But she'd stopped walking now. There was something keeping her from moving further. And she knew exactly what it was.
Laguna winced. "You're... too kind." Wrong. This was wrong, he shouldn't be doing this. "Helping me do my job." He stumbled forward, the Heartless still clinging to him. A few headed toward Rinoa, and two leapt from his shoulders to swipe at Leon.
Leon fended them off, growling a little, and wincing as the claws of one dug itself into his arm. "You stay away from her."
She was damn close to have those Heartless hurt her, only noticing it in the last second and then they went up in flames. Ultimecia could feel Rinoa fighting for control. It was disturbing. It was wrong.
Laguna shook his head. "You're quite the knight, aren't you?" He leaned back against the wall. "I can't do that for you, Sq--Leon. Just doing my job." The Heartless were... dissipating. He tried to get more to come out, but his head felt too muddled to command them.
"Well your job is fucked up." Leon scowled, noticing the heartless were starting to lighten up. He risked taking a few steps back, trying to get to Rinoa without dropping his guard.
...and Leon coming closeing wasn't helping her either. Dammit.
Laguna took a couple steps forward now, narrowing his eyes at Leon. "What, you all done throwing spells at me? I'm not down for the count yet." He ran one hand over his forehead, frowning slightly.
Leon scowled back, tilting his head to the side and raising his hand, preparing another fire spell. "Do you really want to keep coming? I will kill you." As far as he was concerned, if Laguna was trying to hurt Rinoa, he was one of the heartless.
"Don't." She heard herself say. She wasn't herself. She couldn't control herself. Dammit. It had lasted so much shorter this time. And only from being in close proximity of him. This wasn't like it was supposed to be. "Don't kill him."
Laguna shook his head. "Rinoa, what are... I've been trying to capture--" He suddenly felt very sick to his stomach. "--capture you, oh Hyne what have I been..." Dizzy, he fell to his knees, clutching at his head. "Those three... and nearly that little girl, and now... oh, Hynedammit. I don't..." He shook his head again. "I... don't expect you to believe me when I say I'm sorry."
Leon cut off the spell, closing his fist, a bit of smoke puffing out of his palm, but nothing more. The heartless had all wandered off, he noticed, and he turned back to look at Rinoa. "...Rinoa?" Was she herself again?
"Squall." She couldn't call him Leon. It was foreign, it felt wrong. Stepping forward, she tentativly reached out to touch him and felt relief washing over her at once, the eerie feeling of Ultimecia's presence fading fast. "I'm okay. I'm fine." And then she left him, kneeling beside Laguna instead. "It's okay."
He shook his head once more. "No. No, it's not okay. I don't even know what I was thinking." He clenched his hands into fists. "You're not the first I've gone after, Rinoa. There were three others. Would have been four, but I let one go. I..." He bit back a snarl. "Adel is going to die. She... took me to someone. And he did something to me, and then..." He gestured, obviously at a loss for words.
Leon resisted the urge to reach out and take a hold of Rinoa's hand, just watching instead. Whatever had happened, the evil had passed for the moment. That much he was sure of.
She wouldn't have minded if he did, though. Still at Laguna's side, Rinoa smiled. "I know. And it's okay. We'll get them back. I know what it's like, you know? You just saw it yourself. I would've probably fried you too if Leon wasn't here." Turning slightly, she smiled at her- she wasn't sure. Knight, maybe. But he'd saved her again. She knew that much. "So really, don't blame yourself. Sad Laguna is not the Laguna I know."
He attempted a smile. "Yeah, well, maybe." He glanced at where the ice cream had fallen on the street, and shook his head. "Hey... how about I get you a new cone, huh? Since it's my fault your old one is kinda... gone." He laughed as he got to his feet. "And tell you what, Leon, I'll get you one too, okay?" The least he could do was try to make peace.
Leon blinked, then looked at Rinoa, and shrugged a little. "....Sure. Why not?" Not that he was a big ice cream person. Ever. And this was weird. But at least no one was trying to kill other parties at the moment, so he'd go with it.