Author's Note: Okay, this time it really is the last chapter. Extensive notes and thank you's at the end.
Disclaimer: I've said this for twenty-three chapters and I'll say it just one more time. I do not own them. Square and Disney own them.
It was only a few days until Christmas in the Bastion and the residents had made sure that everything was going to be perfect this year. Well, at least the three female residents. The men would only watch and occasionally roll their eyes as the women rushed around, making sure that mistletoe was hung throughout the winding halls, that holly wreaths were resting above each hearth, and that the large fir tree they had sent the men out to find was decorated to perfection. The smell of cinnamon and peppermint permeated the castle as the two oldest women baked cookies and the youngest tried to learn, but ended up eating more dough than was put in the oven. She was finally ushered out of the kitchen and told to go twiddle her thumbs until they needed her help.
So, huffing angrily at Aerith and Shera, the now seventeen year old Yuffie stalked to the staircase and quickly ran up it. She stopped mid-step when she saw Squall staring down at her from the top of the stairs, a reprimanding look on his face. "What?" she asked in annoyance as she started to slowly walk up the stairs to him.
"I don't think you should be running up the stairs in your condition," he started, going down a few steps to meet her. He draped an arm over her shoulder, drawing her to his side, and crossed his other arm over himself to grasp her elbow. They then continued walking up the stair with the ninja rolling her eyes and trying to pull away.
"You know, Squall, you are getting way too overprotective. Exercise is good for me right now," she explained, leaning her head slightly on his shoulder. While Squall was driving her crazy with his cautiousness, it was also sweet seeing how much he cared for her and what lengths he would go to protect her.
Sighing, the swordsman looked down at the petite woman at his side and kissed the top of her head, his lips lingering in her ebony hair. "What if you tripped and fell? Hm?" he insisted, tugging gently on a lock of her hair. He laughed softly when she upturned her face to give him the patented 'ninjas don't trip and fall down stairs' glare, tempting him to tug on her hair again. "It's getting longer, it's just past your shoulders now. Aren't you going to cut it?"
Yuffie quirked her mouth to the side, biting the inside of her cheek gently as she thought about it. "No, I don't think I will. I mean, I won't let it get too long like Aerith's, but I'm not going to keep it short anymore either. What do you think?" Whether he knew it or not, his opinion mattered a lot to her. If he said he liked it better short, then she would go chop it off as soon as she got the chance. But what he did say made her smile and her eyes fill with tears.
"Yuffie, it doesn't matter if it's long, short, gray, black, purple, or if you're bald because you'll still be the most beautiful woman in the world to me," he murmured, bending his neck to chastely kiss her lips. Noticing the tears that were now spilling down her cheeks, he brought a hand up to cup her cheek, using his thumb to wipe away the tears. "What's wrong now?"
She smiled again, leaning into his hand and gently shaking her head. "Nothing. Just me and my stupid hormones," she sighed, turning her head to kiss the palm of his hand. "Gawd, I've never been so emotional before in my life." She started to say more, but was stopped when her stomach lurched and she felt bile rising in her throat. She made a dash for the nearest bathroom. Luckily, there was one right down the hall.
Squall quickly followed after her, sitting on the edge of the tub and reaching out to hold her hair away from her face as she kneeled in front of the toilet and retched. "You know," he began, knowing that talking to her helped to get her mind off the nausea, "used to be that the sound of vomit hitting the toilet would make me sick, but I think I'm getting used to it."
Yuffie turned her head slightly to glare at him before another wave hit her and she was facing the toilet once more. The feel of Squall's hand beginning to soothingly rub small circles on her back helped to ease the nausea and she soon felt it pass. "Can you hand me a..." she trailed off when she realized that he already had a damp washcloth in his hand for her and she smiled gratefully. "Getting psychic, Squall?"
"Nope, you're just getting predictable," he quipped, helping her to her feet and waiting for her to brush her teeth, like she always did after this happened, before guiding her down the corridor to their room, which was conveniently located very close to the bathroom. Of course, Squall had insisted they move to a room nearer to a bathroom when Yuffie had started becoming nauseous every morning.
"Well, excuse me. I didn't get into this alone, you know," she said playfully as she crossed the room and stood looking around. Sighing, she walked over and picked up a chair, intent on carrying it across the room when Squall took it away from her. "What now?"
"You shouldn't be carrying anything heavy," he explained, waiting for her to direct him as to where he should put the chair.
Groaning, the ninja threw her head back and rubbed her forehead. "Squall, it is wicker. It weighs, what? Ten pounds, if that much?" She waved her hand to show him where to set it. "I don't know how I'm going to get through the next seven months if you're going to act like this the whole time." She turned to stare at the full length mirror hanging on the back of the door and raised her sweatshirt so she could look at her still flat stomach. Strong arms wrapped around her and she willingly leaned back against the owner of the arms.
"You'll get through the next seven months just fine, Yuf," Squall murmured in her ear before leaving a soft trail of kisses down the side of her neck. He raised his eyes to lock eyes with her through the reflection in the mirror as his hands splayed across her stomach. "It's still hard to believe, isn't it? It's so hard to believe that we took a little bit of me and a little bit of you and made something, isn't it?" He resumed his kissing of her neck, twisting her around so he could better access her throat.
A soft whimper left the ninja's throat as she felt her lover's lips leave her skin, but that was quickly remedied when he pulled her over to the bed. The hands that had once rested upon her stomach and the newly growing baby within were now sliding up her back and pulling her closer to he man in front of her as he lowered them down to the bed. "You know," she murmured, running her hands through his hair, "this is what got me pregnant to begin with."
Squall raised his head from her neck and shoulders, where they had quickly returned to a moment ago, to look at her, raising his eyebrows. "Your point?" he questioned, reaching down to pull her sweatshirt up over her head.
"No point. Just stating a fact." She leaned forward to kiss him, her hand on the back of his neck and pulling him closer to her. "And I don't regret any of it," she whispered just as their lips met. "Not any of it."
Author's Note: Okay. That was a nice, fluffy, sappy epilogue, no? :::grins::: I love fluff and sap. But, I guess you guys already knew that, didn't you? Anyways, before I say anything else, I'm going to run through my list of thank you's. It might take awhile. There's a bunch of you guys. And they're in no certain order. I just went through all my reviews and wrote these down. So, I apologize for any spelling errors or if your name was missed. It wasn't on purpose.
Yuffie Kisaragi2 (about the dead ferret, I was talking to someone online and that just popped up in our conversation and made it's way into the fic)
tonkeli (Shera is from Final Fantasy VII and is Cid's mechanic)
Cmdr. Defiance Nighthawk
Lorok (Um... let's just say that Shera spent a few days roaming the halls and outer areas of the Bastion before she found Cid)
Peter the Muggle
Danzing in Doutz
baro no konrei
And a very special thank you to the Vulpes Lapis, who gave me the story idea to begin with, helped me a LOT with dialogue, and 'encouraged' me to hurry up with chapters. And when I say 'encourage,' I mean that she threatened to throttle me. But, it's all good. Because if she hadn't, I might still be way back on chapter 10 or so.
Thank you to everyone who read the story, whether you reviewed or not. I'm just glad that you took the time to read this. And I never would've believed, not even in my wildest dreams (that really revolve around Squall) that I would get this many reviews. It just puts me on Cloud-9 every time I think about these reviews. I love you guys. Each and every one of you. And, if I could, I would hug all of you guys. But, I can't, so we'll have to settle for a :::hug::: instead.
Onto other things, I'm tempted to follow this up eventually with a sequel. But, I'm not sure if I ever will have the time to do it. I'll have to talk to my 'associate' about it and see what she thinks. You hear that, VL? I have some things to discuss with you! hehe...
Anyways, I hope that everyone has enjoyed the ride. It has taken me three and a half months to write this fic. Of course, this fic is also 23 chapters plus an epilogue long. And about 75,000 words. So, my longest fic yet. But, "Honor Amongst Thieves" will also be a long fic and I have high hopes for it.
Okay, I'm going to shut up now and go post this as I'm sure most you would like that better than to have me rambling along. And soon I'll end up crying because I'm so happy that this story was so well received and yet I'm so sad because it's over. Writing this story has been one of the most uplifting things for me. And it hurt when I had writer's block and was unable to write. This fic is the first one that I've actually been proud of. :::sniffle::: And that's why I don't want it to end. But, everything must come to an end or else it would just get monotonous... Okay, I'm really shutting up this time.
And if you made it through that big list of names up there and through my babbling, then you get the plushie of your choice. :::rummages through bag::: Let's see... I have a few Squalls I can part with, Yuffies, Aeriths, Clouds, Cids, Soras, Kairis, Rikus, and I have a few others in here as well from other Final Fantasy games. You name it, I probably got it.
Thank you so much, everyone.