Volume 11: Part 4- Vierdestad: Tuesday, October 25th, 9:42 P.M.

Tuesday, October 25th, 9:42 P.M.
I'm going to try to get this down while it is still fresh in my mind.  I'm going to get this down, not because I think I'll forget it, but because I want to remember it all and remember it correctly.  Tonight, Rinoa Ann said something to me.  In saying this to me, I learned more about her than I had known previously.  Also, in saying this to me, Rinoa said the most significant thing I've ever heard.
When I got back to the hotel room Rinoa and I share at The Redford, I poked my head into through the door and looked around.  I walked a little bit into the room and looked around.  Then I looked around again.  Rinoa was nowhere in sight.  "Rinoa?  Are you in here?"
"I'm in here, Hato."  The general location and the faint echo I heard coming from Rinoa's voice let me know she was in the bathroom.
"Oh, I'm sorry.  I didn't know you were in there.  I'll step out into the hall."
I had just touched the doorknob leaving back out to the hall, when I heard Rinoa's voice again.  "Wait, Hato.  I wanted to talk to you."
"Okay."  I took my hand off the doorknob and started wandering toward the bathroom door.
"What time is it, Hato?"
I took out my Hipster and looked at the time.  "It's about quarter to four."
"I'm sorry, what time?"
"Three forty-three."
"Oh.  I've been in the tub that long?"
I had just reached the door to the bathroom when Rinoa said that.  "You're in the tub?"
I heard the sound of water being moved around as if it were being moved around in a bathtub.  "Yes."
Reflexively, I started wandering back toward the door to the hallway. "I can go if you want some privacy."
"No, Hato.  I want to say something to you."
I stopped wandering.  "Okay."
"But I don't want to talk to you through a door.  Can you come in here?"
What Rinoa had said stunned me.  "In the bathroom?"
"With you?"
"Yes, please."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Hato, I am."
I felt a little weird about going into the bathroom to talk to Rinoa.  I knew Rinoa was going to be naked and I knew it was wrong of me to take advantage of this situation to ogle at her.  As I entered the bathroom, I looked up at the ceiling as I made my way over to Rinoa.  Only when I sat down on the tile floor next to Rinoa, lying in a tub full of water, did I look over at her.  When I looked at her, Rinoa didn't look at me at first.  When she began to speak, Rinoa was staring at the tile wall across from her.
"I’ve been lying here, just staring at the wall, because I can't get the images out of my mind.  The image I saw out of the window as we fled Dha Chathair.  The image I saw out of the window of Gin's plane as we flew away from Trebyer.  The image I saw of verbrechers pillaging their nation’s capital.  The brazen burning of the buildings that held their government.  The unblinking murder of all those why they even suspect of aiding their enemy.  The still lingering chemical cloud that marked their arrival.  I saw all of it, and all of it was horrendous.  It's not that I hadn't seen it before.  I have.  I saw those same verbrechers employ the same tactics on my family.  The still lingering chemical cloud was there when they attacked the home my family lived in.  Verbrechers burning and pillaging buildings and destroying property were done to me and my family.  My father was made to grovel on his kneed, groveling for the safety of himself and his family, before he was executed in front of me.  Through the mists of the chemical gas that enveloped my house, I saw a group of verbrechers accost my mother.  As gasses were burning my eyes, I saw them violate my mother in multiple ways, all while she was screaming, crying, bleeding, and begging for it to stop.  Then the verbrechers made me watch as my mother, naked and covered in the byproducts of their assaults, was executed with her body falling right in front of me.  The verbrechers have remorselessly destroyed everything they see before them.  Person by person, family by family, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city.  My fear is that when the verbrechers have accomplished their horrific goal, they not only will have destroyed a race, they will have destroyed a country.  That's what I've been thinking of.  That's what I've been turning over in my mind as I've been laying in this tub, and I've come to a decision."
Rinoa turned her focus from the point on the wall she was looking at to me.  "Hato, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry about what I said Friday.  I was deflecting my frustration at being back in Trebyer, a place I swore I'd never return to, back on you.  That was wrong for me to do.  As was the way I acted when we got back to Gin's house.  All I was doing that day was deflecting my anger and my frustration.  I'm sorry.  I am so truly sorry.  While I was lying here, in this slowly cooling water, I decided that I don't want to just avoid Trebyer.  This thing, this hatred the verbrechers hold toward the opfers is not just limited to Trebyer.  It's everywhere.  It's in Moenia Prima, it's in Dha Chathair, it's even here in Vierdestad, it's everywhere, this sick, venomous, corrosive hatred is everywhere in Dolore, and I don't want to have to deal with it anymore.  I want to leave.  I want to go.  I want to turn my back on this country and never return.  And Hato, I want you to be there with me when I leave.  I don't want to go this alone, I want someone there when times are tough.  I want you."
Rinoa looked at me and I looked at Rinoa.  Rinoa had said some pretty heavy things, some of which I was still processing, but in that moment I knew what to say.  I knew how I felt and I knew what Rinoa wanted to hear.  "Rinoa, we are going to Amcan.  We are going to Velas.  When we get there, we will find a place where we can live our lives in peace.  We will do this.  Come tomorrow, I will talk to Commander Lider about getting this done.  Starting tomorrow, you and I will leave Dolore for good.  I swear, we will do this together."
As I said that, Rinoa began to smile, a smile brighter and wider than I've ever seen on her.  Then she leaned forward and kissed me.  Rinoa kissed me.
Afterward, Rinoa mentioned being hungry.  I excused myself to the hallway while she toweled off and got dressed.  We went downstairs and got some dinner from the diner this hotel has.  Rinoa and I talked.  I told her about going to see Grace at her boutique.  Rinoa commented about her fingers still being wrinkled from spending the day in the tub.  We didn't say anything different or talk any different to each other, but something was different.  Something changed.  I don't know what it is, I can't quite put it into words, but as I watch Rinoa dig into her hearty spaghetti dinner, I know one thing.  I love this woman.  I love Miss Rinoa Ann.
Hato Shurtleff

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