He waits approximately thirty seconds before he enters the lock code for the door.
It slides open silently, seamlessly, the perfect mechanics of Garden at work. Squall enters, and the door shuts behind him.
"Rinoa?" he says, even though he knows that she hasn't left. She probably hasn't even moved since he walked out three hours ago, on the pretense of paperwork and dinner and excuses he doesn't think he can keep making.
She knows it's all a bunch of lies, anyway.
His eyes adjust to the darkness, and he finds her sitting on the sofa in the living area, just where he left her, her knees drawn up to her chest and her bare feet curling around the edge of the cushion. The smell of stale tea is in the air.
"Rinoa," he says again, and his voice sounds unnecessarily loud in the stillness.
"I'm alright." She does not look at him. She stares at the moon, the sky, the stars. She stares at nothing. He doesn't know what she sees anymore.
He sits next to her, and immediately, she gravitates toward him, tucking herself in the curve of his arm, so fragile under his touch. She needs to sleep, but he doesn't know if she's actually capable of the act anymore.
Squall strokes her hair, drawing it back over her ear until she twists her head away, and his hand falls, resting on the join of her throat and shoulder instead, and when he shifts his thumb up just a little, he can feel the hummingbird-flutter of her pulse.
-all of these faces, so many faces, everywhere everywhere help me oh god why won't you save me-
"We can go to the cape," he tells her. Edea would know what to do. She has to know.
"No." She pulls away from him, but his hands are quick, and he catches hers before she can leave him completely. For the first time in long hours, she looks at him straight on, and he sees her piecemeal, moonlight hitting the delicately sharp curve of her cheekbone and glossing over her hair.
A year ago, he would have thrown up his hands and walked away for good, instead of just walking the halls of Garden for hours on end before coming back to the dark room with the dark-haired girl with the dark spot blossoming in her chest.
She has changed him, so profoundly that it hurts him sometimes (all the time) when he thinks about how the fairy tale is going to end.
Her grip is fiercely strong, and Squall feels the edges of her nails digging into his skin. He doesn't know if she means to break the flesh, but it doesn't matter. What do little mutations mean when she has already ripped open his chest and devoured his heart?
"Please," he says. "We have to try something."
The shift of her head is so slight that he thinks he missed it, her whispered okay nearly lost, but she does not pull away when Squall raises her hand to his lips and presses a featherlight kiss to the ridge of her index finger. The scent of blood fills his nose.