Author's Note: Okay, I forgot to put this note at the bottom of the last chapter. The Spanish in that chapter was probably off in some ways because I'm not a native speaker. I just took it in high school and college, but I never became fluent. So, because of that, I tried to stay clear of the complicated verb tenses and stuff and I know I probably made some mistakes, but I'm sure everyone will forgive me, right?

Anyways, I know everyone has been waiting for an update on this story, but "Shattered Dreams" had possessed me and now that I'm finished with it, I can work on this as well as others now. And this chapter probably will not be near as long as the previous one.

[Disclaimer: Nope, don't own anything except their cat and any other character that you don't recognize from KH...of course, you might recognize one of the original characters from another one of my fics. wicked evil grin And Vulpes Lapis owns Zephyr in case she appears in this chapter.]


Chapter Seven: Nightmares

"Hey, Kairi, when's your lunch break?" Yuffie called as she walked into the coffee shop located next to the pet store where she worked. She couldn't believe her luck when she discovered that Kairi worked just next door, giving her someone to take her breaks with.

The redhead looked up from the counter she was wiping down at her name. "Um... in about," she paused to look at the purple watch she wore on her right wrist, "fifteen minutes. Why?" she asked suspiciously.

"Well, I've been meaning to try that new restaurant they just opened across the street. You know, Maradei's Italian Deli." Kairi gave her a look filled with annoyance. "Oh, come on, Kai. I know you don't like Italian food, but can't you come with me just this once? Please?" Yuffie managed to put her most pitiful look on her face, hoping her friend would take pity on her.

Rolling her eyes, Kairi consented. "Just go wait for me. I'll be there as soon as I can." The redhead went back to cleaning the counter as Yuffie walked out the door. "I swear, one of these days..." she muttered under her breath but quickly cut it off as a customer walked up to the counter.

Outside, Yuffie looked across the busy street at the deli, delighting in the fact that she had once again won in a minor battle with Kairi. Shaking her head, she crossed the street at the light and proceeded to enter the restaurant to find a table for her and her former roommate. Once inside, she was glad to find the place was air conditioned as she didn't know how much longer she could put up with the stifling August heat. As it was, she could barely step outside without becoming immediately drenched with sweat from the combined humidity and hot sun bearing down on her.

Rolling her eyes, she tried to remember why on earth she had decided to come to this Texas university for school. "I should have gone North, not South," she mumbled as she drummed her fingers impatiently on the table. "Of course," she reminded herself, "if I had done that I would never have met Squall."

The sound of the bells on the door jingling as it opened caught her attention, causing her to turn her head and see that Kairi had finally arrived. The redhead stood hesitantly in the doorway, looking around for her friend before spotting her in the corner, frantically waving her arms around. "Idiot," Kairi hissed as she watched her friend's antics while she walked across to the table.

"It's about time you got here, Kai. I was beginning to think you wussed out on me." Standing up, Yuffie grabbed her friend's arm and dragged her to the counter so they could place their orders, with Kairi making faces at all the menu items and finally deciding on just a bag of chips.

Back at their table, the redhead ripped open her potato chips, glaring at Yuffie the whole time. "I can't believe I let you drag me here," she grumbled as she popped a chip in her mouth. "If I wanted chips for lunch, I could have gone to the gas station to get them. And they would've been a lot cheaper."

Ignoring her, Yuffie bit into her sandwich, dribbling olive oil down her chin. She quickly grabbed a napkin and wiped it off, blushing as she did so. "These sandwiches are great, but boy are they messy. I always seem to get more on me than in me." At this, she glanced down at her t-shirt to see a splotch of oil resting above the pet store's logo, 'Wet Pets n Critters.'

"I'm sure Squall would just love to see how daintily you eat it," Kairi said sarcastically as she watched Yuffie take another large bite of the sandwich.

Swallowing, Yuffie began to laugh softly. "Are you kidding? Squall would love to lick... well, we won't get into that." Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of a man walking towards them, his black hair slicked back over his skull and his dark eyes looking right at Yuffie. She put on a nervous smile as he stopped at their table, resting his hands on the edge.

"Allow me to introduce myself to you, ladies," the tall man began, his voice sounding smooth and measured. "I'm Pierce Maradei, owner and manager of all that you see before you."

Yuffie politely stuck her hand out for him to shake; however, much to her shock, Pierce didn't shake her hand but lifted it to his mouth and gently kissed it. "He he, nice to meet you," she muttered when he released her hand. "I'm Yuffie Kisaragi and this is my friend Kairi Crawford."

Her redheaded friend stuck her hand out as well, expecting it to receive the same treatment as Yuffie's, but, instead, Pierce distractedly shook it. "Nice place you got here, Pierce," she complimented as she went back to eating her chips.

"Yes. I couldn't believe my luck when I found this location. But, never in my wildest dreams, did I expect to find such charming young ladies to be frequenting my deli." Pulling up a chair, he gave Yuffie one of his most captivating smiles.

"Oh, we don't frequent it. This is just our first visit here," the ebony-haired woman said laughingly before stealing one of Kairi's chips and popping it into her mouth.

Raising his eyebrows, the owner of the deli looked directly at her, his dark eyes meeting her indigo ones. "But would it be wishful thinking to believe that you may become so enamored with my deli that you shall become frequent visitors?"

"Well, it is convenient for me, since I work across the street at 'Wet Pets n Critters,'" Yuffie admitted. "And the food is good. I'll just have to try and drag my boyfriend in some time with me. He really loves Italian." Whenever meeting a guy, Yuffie always tried to mention her boyfriend, just to get that out of the way.

Pierce's eyes turned even darker than they already were at the word 'boyfriend,' but he shook his head gently and his eyes returned to their slightly lighter shade. "Yes, I'm sure he will enjoy it." Rising from his seat, he pushed the chair back to the table where it belonged. "Well, it was lovely talking with you girls, but I must return to my duties. I do hope you come in again soon, Yuffie, Katie."

Kairi rolled her eyes as she watched him walk back into the kitchen. "Slimeball," she whispered, receiving a glare from her friend across from her.

"I thought he was just being polite, Kai," Yuffie said in his defense.

"He was hitting on you, Yuf."

"He wasn't hitting on me," the slightly older girl retorted. "And even if he was, he was hitting on you, too."

"He didn't even get my name right and you're saying he was hitting on me? Are you out of your mind?" Not waiting for a response, she looked at her watch. "Come on, Yuf. Your break is almost over and I really don't want to spend another minute in here."

Yuffie quickly pushed the last bite of her sandwich into her mouth before standing up from the table and following her friend out the door.


"Honey, I'm home," Yuffie called jokingly as she walked through the door to her and Squall's apartment. She loved to watch and laugh at all the old sitcoms where the wife never worked and always had dinner prepared for when her husband walked through the door. It reminded her of her mother and what her mother expected her to be. Laying her purse on the coffee table, she saw Squall emerge from the kitchen.

"You've been watching too much Nick-at-Nite again, Yuf," he teased as he wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing her forehead in the process. "How was work?"

Laughing at the situation, she playfully hit her chest. "Now who's been watching too much Nick-at-Nite? I come home and you ask how was work. Do you have dinner ready for me, too?"

"Well, actually..." he trailed off as he returned to the kitchen and turned the burner off beneath a pot of boiling something on the stove. "It's just about the only thing I can cook without burning."

As she sniffed the air, the aroma of hot chili wafted across the room to her. "Really, Squall. How can you eat chili in this hot weather?" she jovially demanded as she reached into the kitchen cabinet for two bowls.

He shrugged his shoulders as he sliced some cheddar cheese. "I don't know. I was just in the mood for chili." Finishing with the cheese, he found the box of crackers in the back on the pantry. "Sometimes I just crave it."

"You aren't pregnant, are you?" Yuffie teased as she set their small table with the bowls, saucers, napkins, and silverware. "'Cause I'm not sure I'm ready to be a father yet."

Deciding to play along, Squall wrapped his arms around her from behind and kissed the back of her neck. "But, Yuffie, you'd make a great father."

Yuffie turned around in his arms, throwing her own around his neck. "Are you saying I look like a man?" she questioned with raised eyebrows. "Because if you are, I can make your life a living hell." The twinkle in her eye showed him that she was only teasing.

"You're the one who started this conversation," he reminded her as he captured her lips with his, only to be interrupted by the soft meowing of Dottie, who was also rubbing against their legs. Groaning, Squall broke the kiss. "Damn cat," he muttered. "She's been like that all day."

Squatting down, Yuffie picked the black and white kitten up, causing her to immediately start purring. "Oh, the little baby just missed her mommy, didn't she?" she cooed as she stroked underneath the cat's chin. "And daddy just ignored her, too, didn't he?" Dottie's purring became louder, as though she were agreeing with Yuffie.

"I am not that cat's daddy," the ex-marine grumbled as he carried the pot of chili over to the table, setting it atop a trivet so as to not burn the oaken surface. "You can be her mommy, but I'm not going to be her daddy."

Yuffie rolled her eyes and quickly kissed Dottie's nose before setting her back on the floor. "Men, you can't live with them and they can't live without you," she whispered under her breath and she made her way to the sink to wash her hands. "Squall, do you want tea to drink?"

"No, I'll drink some milk. It helps with the heat of the cayenne pepper."

"Whatever floats your boat." Yuffie pulled out two glasses, filling one with milk and her own with ice water before returning to the table. "There ya go," she said as she put the glass of milk in front of him and took her seat beside him. As she took a bite of chili, her taste buds began to scream in agony and her eyes began to water. Hurriedly grabbing her glass of water, she gulped it down while Squall watched her in amusement.

Squall raised his eyebrows as sweat drops began to form on her forehead and she rushed to the kitchen sink to refill her glass. "Problems, Yuf?" he called from the dining room table, biting back the chuckle that was building up inside.

"Squallie! Why are you letting me sit here in agony?" she demanded as she plopped back down into the chair next to him, her tongue still on fire as she drank her second glass of water.

"There's nothing on TV." Rolling his eyes, he passed his glass of milk to her, unable to see her in pain any longer. "Here, drink this. It really does help." She grabbed the glass and greedily began swallowing the milk, sighing in relief as the burning stopped. Seeing her satisfied expression, Squall smirked. "Told ya."

"Bite me," she retorted as she warily eyed her bowl of chili, wondering if she should brave another bite.

"I think I'll save that for later, Yuf," Squall said, winking as he did so.

Ignoring Squall's comment, Yuffie decided that her tongue had been tortured enough and she carried her bowl to the sink, pouring its contents down the garbage disposal. "Sorry, but it's just too hot for me," she apologized as she pulled open the refrigerator door and searched for something else to eat.

Standing on a ladder, Yuffie carefully pushed the bags of dog food and cat food onto the top shelf, keeping her dizziness in check by not looking down. Heights had always frightened her; even as a child, she refused to climb trees with her friends, insisting that she would fall and break her neck. Just as she placed the last bag on the shelf, she felt the dizziness return and she began to sway backwards, flailing her arms in an attempt to keep upright.

But, before she could fall, she felt two hands catch her around the waist and hold her steady. Sighing with relief, she turned around to thank her savior, finding Pierce Maradei standing there, his hands still placed firmly on her waist. "Wow, if you hadn't been there, Pierce, I would've gone SPLAT!" she exclaimed as she climbed off the ladder.

"Yes, it was quite fortunate that I happened to see you beginning to fall," he said in his deep voice as he helped her down the ladder. "What caused you to fall?"

"Oh, that. Well, you see, I've always had a fear of heights and sometimes I get dizzy while I'm up there." She shuddered as she realized how close she had come to falling. "But, most of the time, I'm able to control it." Looking down, she pointedly stared at his hands which were still around her waist.

Seeing her look of apprehension, Pierce removed his hands from her waist only to place them on her shoulders. "My dear, you shouldn't climb ladders if you're afraid of heights. Besides, why does a woman of your caliber work in a place like this?" he sneered as he looked around the pet store.

The term 'my dear' threw Yuffie for a moment, but then she decided he was just one of those people who called everyone dear and shook it off. "I work here because I like it. I love animals and I love the people I work with." She back up a step to try and get his hands off her shoulders.

Pierce took a step forward as she backed up. "A woman of your beauty should be put on a pedestal and worshiped. And it appears your so-called boyfriend doesn't by allowing you to work here. Or allowing you to work at all." By now, he had Yuffie backed up against the shelves.

Okay, maybe Kairi was right. He is definitely hitting on me, Yuffie thought as she looked around nervously. Taking a deep breath, she steadied her nerves and looked directly into Pierce's dark eyes. "First of all, I like working here. It was my choice. Secondly, my boyfriend doesn't 'allow' me to do anything. I do what I want. I don't let anyone control me. And, finally, if you don't get your hands off me, you're not gonna have any."

Withdrawing his hands, the tall man backed away, momentarily narrowing his eyes before smiling apologetically. "My apologies, Yuffie. I meant no harm, I was only trying to understand why a woman such as you would work here." Not giving her a chance to reply, he spun on his heel and strode towards the exit.

Yuffie leaned against the shelf and tiredly massaged her temples while glaring at the ladder as though it were all its fault. Shaking her head, she approached the ladder and gave it a swift kick, resulting in her hopping around on one foot as she rubbed her other. "Damn ladder!"

Her co-worker, Michelle, came running the corner when she heard Yuffie yelling. "Are you alright? I heard..." she began, but trailed off and started laughing at the sight of her friend cursing a ladder.

"I'm fine," Yuffie hissed through clenched teeth. She stopped jumping around and lowered her foot slowly to the floor, testing to see if it hurt when she walked. Realizing her foot was fine, she marched to the ladder and quickly folded it. "This demon ladder's going back to the back of the store, where it can't hurt anyone."

"Yes, Yuffie. Blame it all on the ladder," Michelle teased as she left her friend to the task of taking care of the 'demon ladder' while she went back to the cash register up front. She paused a moment when she remembered something. "Oh, by the way," she called back to Yuffie, "Mary told me to tell you that you're closing tomorrow night."

"Okay, that'll be fine," Yuffie hollered back without turning around to see the dark eyes silently watching her from the exit.

"Finally home," Yuffie whispered as she opened the door to their apartment, greeted by the sight of Squall at the dining room table with a stack of papers. Seeing that he hadn't even noticed she had walked in, she snuck up behind him and placed her hands over his eyes. "Guess who?"

Squall leaned back in his chair, his head falling against her chest. "Um... gee... I don't know. But I do hope that it's some beautiful woman that come to rescue me from balancing the checkbook."

Yuffie leaned over and kissed the top of his nose before uncovering his eyes. "Well, you're half right. I have come to rescue you, but about the beautiful part, well..." she trailed off, smiling impishly.

"You know you're gorgeous."

"I was hoping you would say that." She looked around the table at the piles of receipts and letters. "So, I guess I'll go try and cook dinner tonight since you're busy in here. But, I can't guarantee that it'll be edible." As she headed for the kitchen, she felt him grab her hand.

He kissed it gently, then pulled her over to him. "We're going out to dinner tonight, Yuf." Setting her down in his lap, kissed her cheek. "We haven't been out in awhile, you know."

Yuffie put a hand on his cheek as she gave him a quick kiss. "I know. Ever since I moved in we hardly ever go anywhere. Well," she smiled sardonically, "unless you count that trip to my parents' house last month."

Shuddering reflexively, Squall shook his head to get the memory out. "That doesn't count. I'm talking about just you and me, going someplace together."

Nodding, Yuffie rose from his lap and started down the hall. "I'm going to take a quick shower first, okay? You don't want me smelling like a pet store while we're eating." She didn't wait for an answer as she continued to the bathroom, where she quickly turned the shower on to allow the water to heat up. Stripping her clothes off, she stepped into the hot water and allowed the pinpricks of searing water to beat her back and neck, thinking about the way Pierce had acted at the store earlier.

She shivered uncontrollably at the memory of what he had said and the way he had looked at her. At the time, she was too furious with his words to really put it into proper perspective, but now, she realized that she would have to avoid him. Massaging the shampoo into her wet hair, she continued to dwell upon the man's actions. He apparently was interested in her, even though she had no interest whatsoever in him, which she hoped she made clear.

Sighing, she stepped out of the shower and dried herself off, wrapping the towel around her body as she stepped into the bedroom to dress. As she glanced through the closet, she realized that Squall hadn't told her where they were going for dinner, and, thus, she did not know how to dress for it. "Squall," she called from the bedroom.

A moment later, he arrived at the door, a questioning look on his face. "What?" he asked as he glanced at her towel-clad form.

"Where are we going for dinner? I need to know before I get dressed." She continued to dig through the closet.

"Well, since I know how much you love Italian, I thought we could try that new place, Maradei's Italian deli," he suggested.

"No," Yuffie declared adamantly. "Not unless it's takeout."

Genuinely confused with her refusal, Squall approached her. "What's wrong, Yuf? You usually jump at the chance to eat Italian." As she refused to meet his gaze, he gently cupped her chin and forced her to look at him. "Something happened today, didn't it?" he asked quietly.

She shook her head and rubbed the bridge of her nose. "No, I'm fine. It's just... uh... I heard they have really bad service there," she lied.

"Okay, Yuffie. But," he paused and met her eyes with his own, "when you're ready to tell me what happened today, I'll listen. You know that, right?" Seeing her imperceptible nod, he kissed her forehead. "Well, how about 'The Olive Garden,' then? That sound good to you?"

Giving him a bright smile, Yuffie pulled a short black dress out of the closet. "Sounds perfect."

Humming softly the next night, Yuffie stepped out of the pet store and into the cool night air as she closed the store for the night. She really hated being the one to lock it up, but her manager needed her to do it this one time because no one else could. Slipping the key into the lock, she quickly twisted it, then tested the door to make sure it had indeed locked. Satisfied, she dropped the key into her purse and started walking towards her car, which was parked behind the building, avoiding the puddles that had formed from the shower earlier in the day.

A rustling noise behind caught her attention, causing her to turn around and squint in the dim lighting of the alley. "Hello?" she timidly called out, clutching her purse tightly to her chest, her car keys firmly gripped in one hand.

"Yuffie," a deep voice slickly called out. "What are you doing out here? At night? And all alone?" A dark figure stepped out of the shadows, revealing someone familiar to her.

Yuffie sighed with relief when she realized it was only Pierce. Although nervous around him, she felt no reason to fear him. The block of icy fear that had formed around her heart began to melt a little. "Pierce," she gasped, covering her heart with her hand, "you shouldn't sneak up on someone like that. I nearly had a heart attack."

He took a few steps towards her, a smirk appearing on his mouth. "You really shouldn't be out here alone at night. No telling what kind of people haunt these places, waiting for a young woman to find herself alone out here with no protection."

"Well, you're here. So, I don't think I need to worry about it," Yuffie stated calmly as she started walking towards her car, only to be stopped by a hand on her shoulder. She slowly spun around to look at him.

"Yuffie, since the roads are wet, might I offer to take you home. I fear for your safety driving upon them." He gave her a sincere look, smiling slightly.

"Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather drive my baby home tonight," she replied as she started for her car again. "Don't worry, I'm a safe driver." Pierce followed her to the small white sedan, opening the door for her after she unlocked it. "Um... thanks," she muttered to him as she stuck her keys in the ignition and tried to start her car. The engine turned over, but then died. Frowning, Yuffie tried again, only to get the same result.

Pierce still stood beside her car, giving her a sympathetic glance. "My dear, since it seems your car is not working, I insist upon driving you home." He offered her his arm, which she refused as she got out of the car.

Slamming the door in frustration, Yuffie nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Damn it. Stupid car," she hissed as she kicked the front tire before following Pierce across the street to his car, a sleek black Thunderbird.

As Pierce opened the passenger side door for her, she realized the car wasn't actually black, but a dark green that appeared black in the dim lights. She quickly lowered herself onto the black leather seat and waiting for Pierce to join her in the car and take her home. "Do you close the store often by yourself, Yuffie?" he asked as he sat in the driver's seat, starting the engine immediately.

"No, this was the first and only time, actually." She pointed for him to turn right as she said this. "I hate being alone in the store. It creeps me out." Pierce followed her directions as they made idle chat on the short drive. As he pulled into the parking lot, Yuffie was surprised when he drove his car to the furthest corner and killed the engine. "Pierce, my apartment's over there," she said as she pointed out a building in the distance.

"Ah, well I didn't want anyone to scratch my car while I walk you to your door," he explained rather smoothly, turning to face her and offering her a polite smile.

Not liking where this was going, Yuffie realized she needed to set him straight. "Pierce, I really appreciate you driving me home, but I don't think my boyfriend will appreciate you walking me to our door." She placed her hand on the door handle and started to open it, but was stopped by his hand grabbing her knee.

"What your boyfriend doesn't know won't hurt him," he whispered as he twisted his body around and leaned towards her, quickly placing a hand behind her neck and drawing her to him.

Reaching behind her, Yuffie managed to find the door handle and push the door open, spilling out onto the ground below. She looked up and realized that Pierce had already gotten out of the driver's side and was on his way around the car. Jumping up, she decided to run, but was stopped when he caught her and pushed her against the hood of his car. "Let me go!" she shouted as she struggled against him.

"You don't really mean that, Yuffie. You want this as much as I do. Why else would you accept a ride home from a man you barely know? What would your boyfriend say to that?" he whispered as he lowered his mouth to hers, managing to grab both of her wrists in one of his.

Yuffie bucked beneath him, trying to gain some leverage and push him off. As he reached under her shirt, his weight shifted, giving her the edge she needed to roughly bring her knee up into his crotch. His hand ripped her shirt as he dropped to the ground in pain. Taking advantage of the situation, Yuffie started to run across the empty lot to her apartment, gasping for breath when she reached it.

She rushed through the door, slamming it shut behind her and leaned against it as she clutched her side and caught her breath. Hearing the noise the door made, Squall rushed out of the bedroom, immediately noticing her torn shirt. "Yuffie, are you alright?" he demanded worriedly as he reached her. "What happened to your shirt?"

Remembering Pierce's words, why else would you accept a ride home from a man you barely knew? What would your boyfriend say to that?, she quickly spun a lie. "A dog," she gasped. "A dog chased me across the parking lot and it grabbed my shirt." She pushed past him and headed down the hall before he could answer. "I'm going to take a shower."

In the bathroom, Yuffie first brushed her teeth for a good ten minutes, trying to get the taste of Pierce out of her mouth, before getting in the shower and scrubbing the places he had touched her raw. She silently berated herself for accepting a ride home from him. She should have just gone back into the store and called someone, she kept reminding herself. She should have listened to what Kairi had said about him. Stepping out of the shower, she clutched her head as all the 'should haves' floated through her mind.

She quickly changed into a pair of Squall's boxers and one of his t-shirts before leaving the bathroom, finding the lights off in the bedroom and Squall already in bed. Lifting the covers, she quietly slid beneath them and lay her head on her pillow, trembling as she thought of what might have happened out there in the parking lot.

Wrapping an arm around her, Squall pulled her closer to him, feeling the tremors course through her frame. "Yuffie, what happened?" he whispered, genuinely worried about her. He knew she wasn't telling him something. A shudder jolted through her, soon followed by a flood of tears, causing Squall more worry. Turning on the lamp, he grabbed her shoulders and made her face him. "Yuffie, tell me what's wrong? I can't help you if I don't know."

She wrapped her arms around herself protectively and squeezed her eyes shut, willing the tears to stop. "My car wouldn't start," she began taking ragged breaths. "And...and... Pierce was there and he offered me a ride home."

"Who's Pierce?" Squall interrupted.

"Pierce Maradei, the owner of the Italian deli." She paused, opening her eyes to look at him before turning her head. "He... he... drove me here but then..." She stopped when she saw the rage building in her lover's eyes.

"The ripped shirt?" he prodded, hoping he was wrong. Yuffie nodded, closing her eyes again as more tears welled up. "The bastard," he let out in a deadly hiss as his icy blue eyes narrowed. Looking back down at Yuffie, he gaze softened. "Did he hurt you?"

"No. I managed to get away." By now, she was quietly weeping, brushing away the tears with her hands.

Squall pulled her to him tightly, pressing her face against his chest. "Why didn't you tell me?" he whispered as he gently stroked her hair and rubbed her back, trying to stay calm and not rush out of the room to murder the man.

"Because of what he said. He asked me what you would think about me getting a ride home with a man I barely knew." Her weeping turned to sobs as she buried her face into her lover's chest.

Squall sat up, leaning against the headboard and pulling Yuffie up with him. He rocked her gently, kissing the top of her head. "It's okay. You're safe now," he murmured, all the while holding back a deep rage at the man who hurt her.

"Yuffie, c'mon. It's time to get up," Squall whispered in her ear as he gently shook her shoulder, smiling as he watched her frown and roll over. "Yuffie, we need to go see what's wrong with your car... or, your baby, as you like to call it."

Opening her eyes, she stared at him for a moment, confusion marring her features. "It wasn't a nightmare, was it?" She saw the anger flash behind her lover's icy blue eyes, but was soon replaced by concern. Sitting up, she wrapped her arms around herself and drew up her knees. "I was hoping it had only been a nightmare," she murmured.

Squall lowered himself onto the bed and pulled her against him. "No, it wasn't a nightmare. But, don't worry. I won't let it happen again." Kissing her cheek, he got off the bed and pulled her up with him. "Now, come on. We need to go check on your car."

Sighing resignedly, Yuffie grabbed some clothes and went to the bathroom to brush her teeth and change. She emerged from the bathroom and headed to the living room, where she found Squall had already eaten breakfast and had a bagel with cream cheese waiting for her. "In a hurry, Squall?" she asked playfully as she bit into her breakfast.

"Your car may have to towed somewhere, Yuf. And that might take awhile," he replied as he ushered her out the door. In the parking lot, he noticed her apprehensive glance to the back corner. "That's where it happened, isn't it?" he whispered as he draped his arm over her shoulders and guided her to his truck.

Grimacing, Yuffie threw the rest of her bagel to the birds, sickened at the reminder of the night before. "Squall, if it's okay, can we not talk about it right now?" Squall consented to her request and opened the truck door for her, proceeding to help her into the truck and buckle her seatbelt for her. She gave him a wry look. "I am an adult, you know. I know how to belt myself in."

"I know, but I like doing things for you," he chuckled as he gave he a light kiss before shutting the door and walking around to the driver's side. The engine roared to life as he started it and he pulled out of the parking lot, turning in the direction of the place of Yuffie's employment. "Tell me what your car did last night."

"Well, it started, but then died right away. I tried it twice, with the same results." She leaned her head against the window. "I've never had problems with it before. And I'm helpless when it comes to what's under the hood. I'm lucky to even know how to check the oil."

Squall reached over and gently squeezed her knee, saying, "But I love you anyway."

"You better, because you know how much I love you." Yuffie took his hand in her own and entwined their fingers, only releasing it when he had to use both hands for a sharp turn.

A few minutes later, they were in the employee's parking lot behind the store, examining her car. Yuffie gave Squall the keys and he opened the door and tried to start it, only to have the same results as she did the previous night. He squinted his eyes and looked at the gauges. "Yuffie, you're out of gas."

"What?! But, I filled the car up just yesterday. Right before I came to work." Leaning disgustedly against her car, she rubbed her forehead. "The gauge must be wrong. I mean..." she trailed off as another thought hit her. "Pierce," she hissed under her breath. After all, he just happened to be there last night when she had car trouble.

Squall saw her marching across the parking lot to a small shop nearby, which shared the same employee parking lot as the pet store did. "Yuffie, where are you going?" he cried as he stumbled out of the car and ran after her. When he finally caught up with her, she was already inside, discussing something with the owner of the shop.

"Did you see someone unfamiliar hanging around the back of the store sometime yesterday?" she asked quickly, gesturing towards the cars.

"Yes, ma'am, I did. I assumed he was a new employee at the pet store seeing as I didn't hire him," the elderly man told her.

Yuffie closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Was it an oily guy with black hair, beady little eyes, no chin, and a nose like a hatchet?"

"Walks like he owns the universe? Yep, that's him."

Smiling sweetly, Yuffie thanked the shop owner then dragged Squall back to her car. "Is there anything else wrong with my car besides being out of gas?" she demanded.

"I don't know, yet. I haven't looked under the hood." As he said this, he reached into the car and pulled the lever to release the hood. Once it was raised, he spent a few minutes checking the various fluid levels of the car. "I don't think so. There's only one way to find out. We'll get some gas and come back and see if it starts."

Luckily, Squall kept an empty gas can in his truck, which they filled up at the nearest gas station. He poured the gasoline into the car, signaling Yuffie to try and start it once he had finished. The engine came to life with no problems. Killing it, she stepped out of the car and leaned against the hood. "My tank was siphoned, wasn't it?" she asked Squall quietly.

"That's what it looks like," he admitted, already believing he knew who had done it.

As if reading his mind, Yuffie started talking again. "I'll give you two guesses as to who did it."

"Pierce," they both said at the same time.

Looking at her watch, Yuffie groaned. "I've got to go. I'm supposed to meet Aerith for lunch today since it's my day off." She noticed Squall glaring at the deli across the street. "Squall, don't do anything that will get you arrested. Okay? Promise me."

He turned back to look at her, a smile gracing his lips. "I promise." Having received the promise, Yuffie climbed into her car and drove off, leaving Squall alone with his thoughts. "Of course, I didn't promise not to hurt anyone," he muttered as he started walking across the street and into the deli.

Reaching the counter, he waved an employee over. "I'm looking for Pierce Maradei. Is he in?" Nodding, the employee went to the manager's room, returning with the manager/owner following him.

Pierce reached a hand across the counter to shake hands. "I am Pierce Maradei. And how may I help you? I hope there is not something wrong with the food."

Squall glared at him. "I'm Yuffie's boyfriend." Squall took sick pleasure as he saw the man's face pale. "And I have something to discuss with you, but I don't think you want to do it out here. In public."

The owner lifted the barrier that prevented customers from going to the back of the kitchen. "Right this way," he mumbled as he led him to the office in the back. As soon as the door was closed, Squall slammed him against the wall. "I can call the police," Pierce declared as he glared into Squall's icy blue stare.

"And tell them what? That the boyfriend of the girl you tried to rape is beating you to a pulp? I'm sure that would go over real well," Squall growled as he tried to control his rage.

"I don't know what Yuffie told you, but I did not try to rape her. She was coming onto me--"

"If you know what's good for you, you won't finish that sentence. I know Yuffie. And she doesn't do things like that." He paused for a minute, waiting for Pierce to say something and give him an excuse to smash his skull. "And I also know that you siphoned her gas tank. That's two offenses against you. I'm sure the police will be glad to arrest you."

Gulping, Pierce found his voice. "And what do you propose? Surely you didn't come here to tell me you're going to call the police."

Squall released him, but didn't back up. "Smart man. No, I'm just going to tell you that if you ever so much as look at Yuffie again, I'll beat you to a bloody pulp. And, no, I don't want the police involved because that would take away my fun if you ever break our bargain." Seeing Pierce nod, Squall turned to leave, but stopped at the door. "And, might I add, I was a marine for eight years. I know more ways to kill a man than you could ever dream of."

Author's Note: There, the much awaited chapter for this story. Sorry if it's not up to snuff. I haven't been inspired for this story in awhile and I don't know how long it'll be before I can write another one for it. Anyways, I didn't like this chapter, but maybe you'll think differently. Review and let me know.