Chapter One: Time For a Break
Author's Note: Random short story. Okay, SHORTER than my usual stories. Yes, I know...I write to much. Sorry. -.-;; Relatively pointless story.* All Standard Disclaimers Apply: I do not own Final Fantasy or it's characters.
It was bound to happen. Sure, at first everything seemed like a happy ending. The world was saved. They were alive. The Garden was up and about. And THEY were together, just like at the end of a fairy tale. Perhaps it was his fault, but then again, perhaps it was hers. Whatever the reason, they were no longer together.
They had lasted two years before finally deciding to take a 'break'. A break that lead to the break up. It wasn't a horrible fight. No one cheated on the other. They just drifted apart. Rinoa, free spirited and impulsive, took up where her mother left off and simply became known as 'Angel', the multi-talented pop star. Squall, the responsible commander, remained in Balamb resuming his duties there, rising to the rank of captain a year before.
From his desk, he looked up from his paper work and looked at the calendar on his desk. March 8th. His eyes narrowed. *Today is her birthday,* he thought to himself as he paused in the middle of signing a document. *She'd be...let's see...23 today.* A small smile graced the corner of his lips as he wondered what she was doing at that very moment.
There was a knock at the door. "Squall?" a voice said from outside. "Squall, you have a delivery. They won't let me sign for it."
The brunette let out a heavy sigh as he pushed himself away from his desk and stood up and off his leather chair. He walked around his desk and headed towards his door. He put his hand on the handle and pulled it open. Xu stood there holding a clip board and pen. He took the ballpoint pen and scribbled his name down in blue ink. "What is it?"
"I don't know," Xu said as she handed the clip board back to the delivery man. He handed her a small brown box and Xu looked over at it before raising her eyebrow questioningly. "Squall, did you subscribe to one of those CD clubs?"
"What?" Squall asked, frowning. He reached out and took the small cardboard box from her. It was from a record label and hand addressed to him. His eyes went wide as he recognized the handwriting...even after all those years. The flowing, curved writing, slanted to one side with over sized capitol letters were like the owner's name had written their own name rather than his. "Thanks, Xu. I'll take it."
"Okay...but don't forget to cancel or they'll charge you!" Xu called as he closed the door behind him. Squall headed to his chair and sat down.
A nervous hand ran down the side of the box. It was addressed to a Captain Squall Leonhart...how did she know he had become a captain? Selphie and Quistis? He had a heard a rumor that Quistis was dating some agent of a famous singer. And he knew that Rinoa had hired Seifer to be her agent since after the whole Ultimecia incident, people were reluctant to hire him and Fujin and Raijin.
But when she hired him, they were no longer together and he had no right to be jealous. Even though he was. Without hesitating a moment longer, he ripped it open and shook it's contents out. It was a CD with a post it on it. He looked over the yellow piece of paper that had light blue, gel writing on it.
"Sorry it's so late...but congratulations on making Captain, captain!" he read quietly. *Late is an understatement. It's been almost a year.*
He peeled the piece of paper off the CD and looked around his office. His computer was on and he opened it's CD drive, gently placing the metal disc into the computer. Within a few seconds, a soft melody was playing from his computer. He leaned back against his chair as the sound of a piano and a young woman's voice floated through the air.
He looked at the cover of the CD to look into Rinoa's chocolate brown eyes in a haze of baby blue smoke. The album's title - Congratulations. He slowly put the album back on the table and closed his eyes. It's been so long since he heard her voice. All he received from her were the occasional cards on his birthday and holidays.
*So she dedicated her album to me?* he thought to himself with a slight smile. As he thought about it, his smile faded. Rinoa, or 'Angel' had been linked with other celebrities. Even he'd been in the spot light as Rinoa's infamous ex-boyfriend. Then again, so was Seifer. As the second track died down, there was another knock on the door.
His blue eyes flew open as he reached for the mouse. "Squall, are you in there?" Selphie's voice called.
"Of COURSE he's in there," Irvine replied, also outside. "Xu just told us he was!"
"Well, I know but what if he's busy or something?" Selphie replied as Squall, in his fervor, closed the wrong program.
"Aww...Hyne!" The brown haired blue eyed captain struggled to suppress the swear words about to slip from his mouth as he closed the correct program and tired to re-open the one he closed.
"Squall! We're coming in!" Zell's familiar voice asserted. There was a brief pause.
"Well, then open the door, Zell!" Irvine snapped. "Don't just stand there!"
"I thought Selphie was going to open it. She's closer." Zell replied.
"Oh, forget it..." Irvine sighed tiredly. He gently pushed Selphie to the side as he grabbed the door know and opened the door. The trio stumbled in to find Squall sitting at his desk, a pen in hand as he looked up from his paper work.
"What is it?" he asked coolly.
"This," Selphie said as she handed in a letter. "Headmaster had it sent to you."
"What is it?" Squall asked as he looked over the white envelope.
"I don't know? A gift certificate to the record store?" Selphie said. "Aren't you missing just one of Rinoa's CDs?"
The letter slipped out of Squall's hands as he looked up, trying hard to suppress his blush. Irvine raised an eyebrow in question. "A big fan of Angel?"
"If this is all you had to give me, you're free to go," Squall stated as he picked up the letter once more. He turned his face away from his friends, who didn't move a muscle. As he tore open the top seal, he looked up at them. "Well?"
"Well?" Selphie asked. "Read it!"
Squall narrowed his eyes and let out a grumble as he relented and pulled out a sheet of paper. Sapphire eyes scanned the black letters and went wide. He reached for his phone and grabbed the head set. "Xu!" he nearly shouted into the phone. "Get me Headmaster Cid!"
"I'm sorry, Captain," Xu said casually as she smirked. "He's not taking any calls right now."
"He'll take it from me!" Squall growled back.
"Actually, he specifically said especially NOT from you," Xu said. "Sorry!" She quickly hung up, leaving Squall staring at the phone.
"What does it say?" Zell said. Before Squall could react, Selphie's hand darted out and grabbed the letter.
"Captain Leonhart, in light of your years of service without taking a vacation or sick day, Balamb Garden is pleased to give you three weeks paid vacation and a ski pass to the Trabia resort of your choice. You are to leave THIS weekend. Sincerely, Headmaster Cid Kramer." Selphie read aloud.
"Do you how luck you are!?" Irvine gasped. "Three weeks PAID vacation! The last time I took three weeks off, Headmaster threatened to fire me."
"That's because you took off in the middle of a semester," Squall grumbled back. He stood up and reached across the table, taking the letter from Selphie. "What the hell is this about? I have work to do!"
"It's Semester Break, Squall," Zell told him. "Most of the students, cadets, and faculty are going home."
"Yeah, even Quisty is heading up to Trabia to spend her break with that guy she's been seeing," Selphie said. Her eyes went wide. "Oh! We should ALL go! I haven't met her boyfriend yet!"
"She's been so secretive about it," Irvine agreed. "I'm up for it. I'm sure if we all go, Headmaster will let us."
"Can I bring my girlfriend?" Zell asked eagerly.
"Sure!" Selphie said. "Hey, I'll arrange the tickets and hotels now. Squall," she said, excited as she looked over at him. "Which resort are you going to?"
"I'm not going." a deep, stoic voice replied.
"What?" Irvine said. "No way! You're going!"
"Yeah, Squall, you've been working non stop for years. You need a break," Zell added. "This can't be healthy."
"What would YOU know about being healthy? You eat hotdogs for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner!" Squall snapped as he shot Zell a glare.
The blond took a step back, has if burned. Selphie shot Squall a glare. "Squall, you know he's just worried," she said. The captain ran a pale hand down his face as he took a deep breath. "We're all worried."
"I'll be fine," Squall breathed. "I'm sorry, I snapped at you, Zell."
"Sorry won't cut it," Zell replied, making Irvine and Selphie look at him with surprise. In the years they had known him, he hadn't changed much. He usually would've just accepted the apology and be friends again. "You owe me."
"Owe you?" Squall spat out, obviously annoyed.
Zell swallowed hard under Squall's piercing glare. "Yeah...you...you totally put down my whole lifestyle...the least you can do is make it up."
"And HOW may I do that?" Squall grumbled.
"Go...go with us," Zell suggested weakly. "Three weeks, Squall...twenty-one days. That's all we ask."
Squall sat back in his chair and leaned forward. He cupped his face in his hands and rubbed his forehead tiredly. "If I agree, will you three leave me alone to get my work done until then?" He grumbled.
Irvine, Selphie, and Zell looked at each other and nodded. "Fine..." Irvine asserted.
"Then I'll go." Squall replied.
Selphie smirked and gave the other two nods. "Okay then, I'll book us some rooms at the Ice Crystal."
"The ICE CRYSTAL?" Squall said, his eyes looking even more annoyed as he looked up at them. "Three weeks there will cost-"
"Don't worry about the cost," Irvine assured him. "You just worry about packing sweaters and some thermals," he said as he ushered Selphie and Zell out the door. "Leather won't cut it in the snow! Trust me...once my chaps froze...and let's just the outcome was NOT pretty. Or painless."
Quistis was waiting at the train station, two bags on either side of her. A small black suitcase on one side and a black rolling suit case with a make-up case resting at the top of it. She wore comfortable jeans and a dusty rose knit sweater underneath a heavy dark red trench coat with a hood.
Clutched in her breast pocket was information on her trip, including a key to a private suite at the Ice Crystal Resort. She couldn't help but smile with glee as excitement bubbled inside of her. It's been months since she had last scene him, when he took a break and flew to Balamb to meet with her in secret.
His job was relatively high profile and while he stayed in the shadow of his client, people would be clawing at him with demo discs or just trying to get the hook ups to see his world famous client. To avoid dragging Quistis into the lime light, he asked her if she wanted it secret. She said it would be fine with her. Although, she often wondered what it would be like to be in the limelight.
Suddenly, the familiar ring of her cellular phone went off and she reached into her pocket, taking out a slim silver phone. She flipped it open quickly, glad it was warm from being close to her body as it touched her face. "Hello?"
"Hey, Quisty," a deep voice sounded in her ear and she blushed uncontrollably. "I'll be there at the station waiting for you."
"I thought you'd send a car?" Quistis said, surprised that he was actually willing to step into the light.
"Well, little miss cupid found out because SOMEONE spilled," the voice grumbled. In the background, she heard someone yell sorry and she giggled. "So when she found out, she gave me the day off and threatened to cut my pay if I don't spend your vacation with you."
"Aww..." Quistis chuckled. "And how is she doing by the way?"
"Outside making snowmen with Fujin at a fundraiser," the man replied. On the other end, a pair of green eyes looked out the glass windows that lined an entire wall of the resort. Fujin was wearing a blue snow suit and patiently shaping a snowman while his client had changed her plans. "Scratch that...she's now caught in a snow ball fight with some kids...oh...she pelted one in the back of the head..."
Quistis laughed. "I can't wait to get there and join the fun!"
"Trust me, baby, I can't wait until you get here, too," his voice was filled with warmth and intent as she closed her eyes, allowing the warmth in his voice to fill her wind chilled body. "I miss you, Quisty."
"Hey, there's Quisty!" a voice shouted behind her. The blonde's head perked up as she heard the all to familiar voice behind her. She turned her head around quickly. "HEY!!" Selphie was running at her, waving.
"Oh, Hyne..." Quistis nearly dropped her phone as she saw Selphie dragging a bright yellow, rolling bag behind her. Zell and Irvine also waved, carrying arm full of luggage as a peeved looking brunette followed behind them.
"Quisty? Quistis, babe, are you there?" a deep voice asked.
"Umm...can I call you back, honey?" Quistis said. "You won't believe who just showed up..."
"Okay...if you can't reach my phone, call the hotel and send a message to my suite," he instructed her. "Trabia gets crappy reception...I'm down to two bars..."
Quistis smiled slightly. "Okay. I'll see you soon, Seifer."
"You too, baby." With that, Quistis snapped her phone closed as turned her body completely around to meet with the group.
"Hey! We're on the same train!" Zell said as he looked at the tags on Quistis' luggage. "So where are you staying in Trabia?"
"Tra...Trabia?" Quistis stammered. She looked at him behind her glasses, confused. "You guys are going to Trabia?"
"Yeah, for the break!" Selphie said. "Headmaster Cid forced Squall to go, so we're all tagging along!"
"Oh, really...?" Quistis trailed off. *They don't know, do they? They don't know that Rinoa is there right now...* "Where are you guys staying?" *Please not the Ice Crystal. Please not the Ice Crystal...*
"The Ice Crystal!" Zell said proudly. "Selphie managed to get some rooms."
"It was last minute, but I got them!" Selphie said. "Kind of expensive, though..."
"That's because the Ice Crystal is only the best resort in Trabia's snowy ski paradise," Irvine stated. "Supposedly, their normal rooms are like other resort's SUITES."
"Whoa..." Zell mumbled.
"What about you, Quistis?" Selphie asked innocently. "Where are you staying?"
"Uh...the...um...Ice...Crystal..." she said hesitantly.
Immediately, Selphie's green orbs widened as a wide smile reached her face. "COOL!! You're staying with your boyfriend, right?"
Quistis blushed and nodded. "He even got the three weeks off so we could spent time together..."
"Ah...say no more, Quisty!" Selphie said, shaking her head. "We won't bother you or your man."
"Selphie, you don't have to put it that way-"
"Don't worry, Quistis!" Selphie said. "As soon as we arrive in Trabia, you won't even SEE us!"
Quistis rolled her eyes as she dragged her luggage forward. *As soon as we arrive in Trabia, you won't even SEE us!* Quistis thought to herself. "Right..."
Behind her, the group of four, minus Squall, was chatting energetically and trying to decide whether or not to call a taxi or wait for the resort bus to pick them up. "Let's just get a damn taxi so we don't freeze!" Squall finally shouted, setting the argument.
"Okay, okay..." Irvine said. He looked up ahead. "Hey, Quistis! What about you? You got a ride?"
"I'll be fine!" Quistis called over her shoulder. She buried herself into her knit scarf as she exited the sliding doors of the train station. People were waiting by the curb for someone to pick them up. She let out a deep breath that crystallized in front of her as she laid eyes on the blanket of white that surrounded them.
Suddenly, hands were placed over her eyes and a warm breath caressed her right cheek. "Guess who."
"Seifer!" Quistis gasped. The black, leather gloved hands lifted as she turned around and locked eyes with warm green ones.
"Miss me much?" he asked, a smirk gracing his chiseled face as he leaned down and kissed her lips softly. "Hmm...you need some lip balm."
"Oh, shut up," Quistis grinned as she looked up at him. "So where's the car?"
"Right there," Seifer said. He pointed to the black SUV parked right in front of them. "Let me grab your bags."
As he took them off her hands, she grinned. "Thanks." Seifer tugged the car keys of his white jacket's pocket and pressed a button on the keyless remote. Immediately, the back door of the SUV rose and he put her things inside the large vehicle. Just then, the doors behind Quistis slid open.
"What do you mean you won't pay for a taxi, Zell!?" Irvine said. "You're taking it, too!"
"She's taking a later train so I have to come back later. I don't have a lot of cash on me," Zell pleaded. "Please, guys? Just this once?"
"Ugh...fine!" Irvine grumbled. He looked up just as Selphie stopped in her tracks.
"Babe, you ready to go?" a deep, familiar voice sounded.
Selphie nearly dropped her bags as Zell's mouth dropped. "Seifer?" the two of them chorused at the same time.
Quistis winced and turned around slightly as Seifer walked up next to her, putting his arm possessively around Quistis' slim, bundled up, shoulders. "What the hell are you three doing here?"
"We're on vacation!" Selphie said. Her eyes went from Quistis to Seifer and back. "No way..." Seifer's arm was around Quistis. Quistis was leaning against Seifer. "YOU'RE Quistis' boyfriend!?"
"Almost a year now, Quisty and you STILL haven't told them?" Seifer asked, raising an eyebrow at the blond female next to him. "I would've thought you'd be all bragged out at this point."
Quistis let out a deep breath. "I thought you wanted to keep it secret."
"From important people," Seifer shrugged. "Not them."
"Hey...if you're here..." Zell trailed off as he narrowed his eyes. Selphie nodded, getting Zell's point.
"Is SHE here, too?"
"She?" Seifer asked casually. "She WHO?"
"You know who!" Zell exclaimed. "Is Rinoa here or not!?"
"Rinoa?" a voice said quietly behind them. Selphie, Irvine, and Zell turned around as Seifer and Quistis looked over their heads. Squall was standing there, a duffel bag over his shoulder as he held a cup of coffee. He had just came out of the station. "Seifer?" He asked incredulously as he narrowed his eyes. He looked at his group of friends. "What's going on here?"