Author's Note: I did it again. I let a month go by without updating. Or, NEARLY a month. Anyways, I had a lot of crap to do that I can blame it on (graduation, finals, sucky family Christmas parties, etc etc) plus my dad's been home and he likes to take the computer to play Freecell on it. :::sigh:::

Anyways, I'm updating now.

Disclaimer: Blah blah blah... how many times must I write this? I do not own the characters portrayed within. However, I have a life-size, fully operational, complete with leather jacket and Gunblade Squall plushie in my closet. And that makes me happy.

Chapter Nineteen: The Sky is Falling

Monday afternoon found Yuffie smiling in the passenger seat of Squall's Jaguar as he drove them to The Rustic Oven, the restaurant having been closed since Thanksgiving day to give everyone a much needed break to spend the holidays with their families. Of course, Squall and Yuffie, having no family, spent it with each other, adjusting to the no longer strictly platonic relationship that had sprung up between them. For the most part, she had been letting Squall initiate any kisses shared between them, unsure of herself and scared she might do something wrong. But, then again, she had surprised both of them a few times when she couldn't resist the urge any longer and he wasn't making any moves towards her.

The car rolling to a stop at a yellow light pulled Yuffie out of her thoughts and she started to roll her eyes at Squall's overly cautious driving habits when she remembered what he had shared with her about Rinoa's death Friday morning. She realized suddenly that the fact that he had been the one driving when she died was the reason he now drove at a snail's pace. Yuffie was about to open her mouth to say something, but the words died on her lips when Squall turned to her, eyebrows furrowed slightly.

"Yuffie... there can't be any PDA at the restaurant," he warned, staring intently into her indigo eyes for a moment to make sure she understood him. There was a strict policy against any public displays of affection between employees that he, himself, had instituted when he had first inherited the restaurant. And, despite the fact that he owned the restaurant and was the one who made the rules, he was not planning to break or bend them for any reason.

Beneath his stare, Yuffie put on the sweetest, most innocent look she could muster, widening her eyes and pouting slightly. "Not even a little bit?" she teased, wondering at his warning. Surely it wouldn't be that hard to go six or seven or however many hours they spent at the restaurant that day without kissing each other. Was he expecting her to turn into a raging nymphomaniac during the day and just attack him?

Whereas Yuffie was jesting, Squall was completely serious, no look of humor on his face. "No," he said firmly, still staring at her.

"Even waaaay back in the kitchen when everyone is on break and we're all alone?" she continued, having to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing at his overly solemn demeanor.

"None," Squall intoned, staying focused on her with wary eyes, as though she might leap from her seat and attack him at any given moment.

"Squall–," Yuffie began, only to be interrupted.

"I said no PDA!"

A giggle escaped Yuffie's throat at his insistence and she rubbed her forehead with one hand, closing her eyes and smiling. "That's fine. But, Squall... the light's not going to get much greener and I think the people behind us are getting angry," she whispered in a conspiratorial manner while gesturing towards the now green light hanging in the intersection.

Squall had the decency to look slightly embarrassed at his outburst, turning to face forward and proceeding through the intersection. "I knew that," he muttered darkly, glancing at her from the corner of his eye.

"Sure ya did," Yuffie drawled, nodding her head slowly while winking and grinning broadly. The only response she got from him was a glare that she refused to take seriously, knowing that it was all for show.

The rest of the trip to the restaurant was rather quiet, save for the radio and Yuffie's voice as she belted out songs at the top of her lungs, regardless of the fact that there were some notes she could not hit. Of course, the few winces on Squall's face as she hit a bad note were enough to make her continue to sing badly until he couldn't take it any longer and turned the radio off.

But, that didn't affect her much since they were pulling into the rather empty parking lot of The Rustic Oven by then and he was already parking the car. No sooner had he put the car into park than Yuffie reached over and grabbed him by the collar of his jacket, roughly pulling him into a kiss. Considering that the girl had been rather shy about initiating any kisses over the weekend, it was needless to say that surprise was clearly written across Squall's face.

"What was that for?" Squall asked when Yuffie finally released him.

"It's gotta last all day!" she told him in exasperation as she leaned up to kiss him once more, this time without the surprised look on his face.

Unbeknownst to Squall and Yuffie, they were being watched from across the parking lot by two pairs of eyes, said eyes belonging to Sora and Riku as they sat inside the jeep of Riku's girlfriend, Zephyr. But, upon seeing the sight of their boss and coworker making out in a car across the parking lot, both of their eyes went wide and Sora very nearly dropped the milkshake he was drinking on the backseat.

Zephyr glared at him through the rearview mirror, gray eyes darkening and boring holes into his skull. "Don't you dare spill that on my seats!" she growled, continuing to glower at the slightly younger boy until he nodded his head in abject terror.

"Yes, ma'am," the brunet said submissively, cowering slightly in the backseat of the jeep, too scared to make the move to get out of the car without awaiting her permission. He really didn't understand why Riku put up with her. But, then again, Zephyr treated Riku much differently than she treated Sora; she only bit Riku once whereas anyone else who tried to hold her down would receive multiple bites. Looking around the back of the jeep, Sora noticed a pair of old, mucked up, and rather smelly work boots that would explain the odor he had been smelling since he entered the jeep. "Geez, Zephyr, whacha been doing with these boots? Walking around in horse shit all day?"

Another glare from the driver and directed towards him was seen through the rearview mirror while Riku turned around to stare at the brunet in disbelief. "Yes, Sora, I have been walking around in horse shit all day. I work at a stable, you mindless little lackwit," Zephyr snarled before softening her expression and turning to Riku. "What was so exciting?"

"That's our boss," Riku said as he raised an arm to point at the black car across the parking lot.

"And?" Zephyr prodded when it became apparent Riku wasn't going to continue.

"That's our boss... and he just... doesn't... do stuff like that," Sora stammered as he picked up where Riku left off, still staring out the window to where Yuffie and Squall were climbing out of the car. "And what's a lackwit anyways?" The look of confusion on his face was priceless, causing Riku to groan and run his hand down his face.

Zephyr fixed her eyes on the brunet once more, grinning maliciously. "Something you are."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sora demanded indignantly, trying to glare her down through the rearview mirror.

Before Zephyr could answer him, Riku slapped his hand over her mouth and turned back to face Sora. "Sora, just shut up and get out of the car. Believe me, you're better off not knowing what Zephyr was about to say," the silver haired teenager warned, slowly taking his hand off of his girlfriend's mouth.

Zephyr waited until the brunet was out of the car before saying anything else. "You realize every time you don't let me say something I get backup, right?" she asked Riku, glaring at him in aggravation.

"Doesn't scare me," he told her as he climbed out of the jeep.

"Well it should!" Zephyr shouted as she drove off, leaving the two boys alone in the parking lot save for the two figures near Squall's car.

"Riku... I think the sky must be falling," Sora muttered as he watched Yuffie reach up with one hand and turn Squall's face to give him a quick kiss before they reached the back entrance of the restaurant.

"I don't see any flying pigs though," Riku grumbled sarcastically as he grabbed Sora's arm and tried to drag him out of the daze he had apparently fallen into as he watched Squall and Yuffie. "But, if we're late, Mr. Leon is not going to be happy. So, come on." He gave another tug at the younger boy's arm and jerked him across the parking lot.

"I dunno... considering what we just saw, he might be in a really good mood," Sora mumbled, quickly ducking his head as he saw his friend's hand coming towards him to smack him on the backside of the head. "Well, he might!"

Rolling his eyes, Riku left the boy in the parking lot and continued on his way to the door. "Why don't you find out, Sora?" he called over his shoulder as he walked through the employee entrance and let the door shut in Sora's face.

"I think I will," the younger teenager said to himself as he opened the door and stepped through, deciding that today might be a good day to ask for a promotion from his janitorial position.

Inside the restaurant, they found Yuffie and Kairi already donning their uniforms and Squall busy going over things in the kitchen. Passing by the two girls, Riku directed a wink towards Yuffie before going to put on his own uniform. A look of confusion came over both girls' faces as they followed him with their eyes before looking to one another.

"Any idea what just happened?" Yufife asked Kairi as she tied her apron around her waist.

"Nope and I'm not sure I want to know," the red head replied as she quickly rolled up her sleeves in preparation for the evening rush. The lunch hour rush had already passed them by and they would have just an hour or two of slow business before people started to literally pour through the doors. "And since when did you start working the evenings?"

"Um... since today. Squall said I was getting better at the waitress thing and that he needed more help in the evenings than he did at lunch. So, here I am," Yuffie said in a rush, not realizing that she had slipped and called Squall Squall at a place where she was supposed to call him Mr. Leon like everyone else did.

Kairi simply shrugged, having become used to Yuffie's rambling over the past month and change. "Well, we better get out there. I think I hear people coming in and we don't want–," Kairi began, but broke off when she noticed that Yuffie was no longer paying attention to her. Instead, her eyes were focused on something in the kitchen and, upon following the path her eyes made, she found that they were focused on someone rather than something. Or, to be even more specific, focused on the backside of their boss as he leaned against a counter top to look over something. "Yuffie? Yuffie? Yuffie! There's purple monkeys flying out of Sora's butt!" the red head called, trying to get her friend's attention.

"Really? That's nice," Yuffie murmured as her attention was still diverted elsewhere. That is, until what Kairi said registered itself in her brain. "Wait a minute! Purple monkeys?"

"It's nice to know you were paying attention, Yuffie," the younger girl muttered, rolling her eyes and shaking her head. "Now, if you'll kindly shut your mouth before you start drooling, we can go out and actually wait on the customers before they get too upset."

Yuffie shut her mouth with a snap, sighing loudly and giving Squall's backside one more glance before she entered the dining room. "I'm coming, I'm coming," she grumbled as she followed Kairi. "And I was so not drooling back there, Kai."

"Sure you weren't," Kairi said in a tone that told Yuffie that she believed otherwise. "You gonna tell me about it later?" With raised eyebrows, she watched the raven-haired girl squirm beneath her gaze.

"Tell what?" Yuffie finally inquired, feigning innocence.

"What's going on," the younger girl stated matter of factly.

"Um... nothing's going on." Crossing her fingers behind her back, Yuffie prayed that Kairi would believe her. She was almost positive Squall would not want the whole restaurant knowing what was going on between them... at least not yet, since she knew the truth would come out sooner or later.

Before Kairi could reply, Squall came out of the kitchen, leaving both girls with a slightly guilty look on their faces. "Kairi, table five is waiting for you to take their orders and, Yuffie, table one is waiting for you," he told them, pointing to the tables in the sparsely occupied room. "You can fraternize later." Although his words were spoken in a stern tone, there was a hint of a smile on his face as he watched them hurry off to work.

Feeling a presence behind him, Squall turned to find Sora staring up at him with a hopeful expression on his face and a mop and bucket in his hands. "So... Mr. Leon, you're in a good mood today, right?" the teenager asked cautiously as he carefully set the bucket down so as not to spill any water, preparing to make his request for a promotion.

"What makes you think I would be in a good mood today, Sora?" Squall questioned, raising his eyebrows and staring down at the boy with icy blue eyes. He didn't like the look Sora had on his face and he could almost see the wheels turning in his head.

"Well, I mean since you were obviously getting some lip action in the parking lot today–," Sora began, but stopped abruptly when he noticed the glare on his boss's face that spoke volumes, mainly dealing with how many ways to fire a person.

"Do you want to be demoted again?" Squall growled in a low voice.

"But I'm already scrubbing toilets! What's lower than that?"

"Do you want to find out?"

Sora quickly shook his head, then scurried off with the mop and bucket in his hands before Squall could say anything else. Unfortunately, he bumped into Kairi on his way to the ladies restroom and caused her to spill the tray of drinks she was carrying all over the floor along with his mop water. The loud crash drew the attention of the few diners there and an exasperated groan from their boss as well. The look on Squall's face as he returned to the kitchen said it all: get the mess cleaned up and get it cleaned up now.

"Sora, you're going to get demoted again," Kairi warned as she hurriedly gathered up pieces of broken glass and piled them onto her tray. "I don't think you can afford another demotion."

"Like I told Mr. Leon, what's below toilet scrubber? Huh?" Sora demanded indignantly as he started mopping up the water from the floor.

Kairi dropped the glass bottom she was holding on the floor and just stared at Sora for a moment, blinking slowly a few times. "Sora, what did you do to make him threaten to demote you again?" she asked incredulously as she kneeled there on the floor.

Sheepishly, Sora scratched the back of his neck and smiled half-heartedly. "I kinda thinking of asking him for a promotion since I thought he was gonna be in a good mood today. I mean, after what me and Riku saw in the parking lot, anyone would think he'd be in a good mood. Well, Riku didn't, but that's because–.

Groaning, Kairi put her hand on Sora's arm, making him stop rambling. She could only deal with so many people rambling before it gave her a headache and Yuffie's rambling had filled that quota. "Sora, just shut up and tell me what you and Riku saw in the parking lot."

"Yuffie was hanging all over Mr. Leon and they were making out in his car," the brunet told her nonchalantly as he started mopping up the mess again. He figured that he had better have this mess cleaned up before Squall came back out here or he would find out what was below toilet scrubbing.

Once again, Kairi stared at him in disbelief, blinking a few times. "Yuffie and Mr. Leon?" Sora nodded. "Well... that explains it," she muttered as she remembered what she caught Yuffie doing only moments before.

"Explains what?" Sora asked in obvious confusion, his eyebrows furrowed slightly.

Realizing that her customers were still waiting for the drinks she would have to go and get again, Kairi wrinkled her nose slightly in disgust. "I'll tell you later. But, right now, I gotta get my butt back out there before they decide to not leave me a tip," she explained in a rushed manner as she stood up, needlessly brushing off the seat of her uniform.

"I'm always the last to know, aren't I?" Sora questioned aloud to himself, gaining a few scared stares from the table nearest him. He put his hands up appealingly and gave them an innocent gaze. "Just because I talk to myself, doesn't make me crazy. Now, if I answered myself, then I would be crazy."

Though they didn't appear convinced, the customers went back to their meal, sparing him a wary glance occasionally as long as he was still there.

It was a few minutes after that when Kairi caught Yuffie alone, grabbing her arm and dragging her to an empty corner of the kitchen. "So," she began, grinning evilly at her coworker. "I heard it through the grapevine that you and Mr. Leon are an item now. Care to tell me about it?"

"What? Where did you hear that?" Yuffie asked, her eyes wide with what she hoped to look like confusion but was really shock that the younger girl had already discovered the truth in less than half an hour.

"From Sora, who saw you in the parking lot with Mr. Leon," Kairi said in a sing-song voice, grinning from ear to ear with her arms crossed behind her back. "Are you going to tell me how long this has been going on or am I going to have to drag it out of you?"

Yuffie picked up the wet dishrag sitting on the end of the counter and brandished it like a weapon. "Don't you dare tell anyone else, Kairi MacEnroe!" she hissed as she glanced around to make sure Squall wasn't in the kitchen right then. He wasn't and she assumed he was in the office, doing the paperwork.

Kairi simply raised her eyebrows, waiting for Yuffie to continue. "Well?" she prodded, impatiently rocking on the balls of her feet.

"Since Thanksgiving. Or, really, Wednesday night," Yuffie admitted quietly, dropping the hand with the dishrag to her side. The wet cloth hit her leg with a slap and only then did she remember it was wet as the dampness seeped through her pants leg.

The red head was about to say more when Riku came through the kitchen door, eyes falling on Kairi immediately. "Kairi, your table is looking for you. Something about a speck of dust in their drinks," he told her, rolling his eyes as he walked over towards them.

Crossing her eyes slightly in aggravation and muttering something indistinguishable under her breath, Kairi took a deep breath and let it out slowly before plastering a cheerful smile on her face. "When I get back, Yuffie, I want details," she commanded as she stepped out into the dining room once more.

"So, Yuffie," Riku began, smirk coming across his face, "I saw you and the boss getting–."

He didn't say anymore as Yuffie's hand came up and hit him on the back of his head, proving to be an effective means of silencing him. She decided she'd have to remember that as she walked into the back of the kitchen to give the cooks her table's order.

- - - - - - - - -

It was an hour past closing time and Squall was still in the office going over paperwork; he and Yuffie were the only two people left in the restaurant. Julian Rook, the assistant manager had been the last person to leave about half an hour ago and Squall hadn't seen anyone since then, not even Yuffie. But, he knew she was there somewhere. It was just a matter of finding her.

With a sigh, he shut the notebook he was looking over and rose from his seat to look for her. He assumed she would be more than glad to leave as she was unused to working the evening shift. He didn't have to look far. Stepping into the kitchen, he found her sitting on one of the counter tops and finishing off a piece of garlic toast she had apparently heated up in the oven.

"Yuffie, get off the counter," Squall muttered in exasperation, placing a hand on his forehead and gently rubbing it. "You know I don't–."

"–Like me to sit on your clean counters," Yuffie interrupted and finished for him as she slid off the counter and to her feet. "Yes, I know that. But, whoever gets here first tomorrow morning is going to wash the counter off anyways so why does it matter if I sit on it?" She popped the last bite of her toast into her mouth and smiled sweetly at him.

Squall had no answer for her, simply shaking his head instead and choosing to ignore her question. "You ready to go?" he asked as he pulled on his jacket and turned the light to his office off.

"Gawd, yes," Yuffie sighed, grabbing her jacket off the counter she had laid it on when she thought they were going to leave half an hour ago. "You have no idea what I put up with today."

"Diners being picky?" Squall inquired distractedly as he walked through the restaurant, making sure all the lights were off and the doors all locked; Yuffie followed closely behind him.

"No, nosy friends," she muttered, nearly bumping into him as he stopped walking to pick a piece of trash off a table. But, at her statement, he turned around to look at her with raised eyebrows, silently asking her to elaborate. "Sora and Riku saw us in the parking lot this morning and told Kairi... they've been bugging me all day."

Squall covered his face with his hand, sighing into it before a small smile came across his face. "Sora was trying to use it to his advantage today until I threatened to demote him," he said, a slow laugh starting to make its way through his chest. "I don't even know what I could demote him to."

A giggle broke free from Yuffie as she put her arms through the sleeves of her jacket; she had simply been carrying it over her arm as they traipsed through the abandoned restaurant. "I don't either... is there anything lower?"

"Not that I know of, but it was enough to scare him," Squall admitted as he pulled on the entrance to be certain it was locked; it was. He turned back and faced Yuffie once more, intending on turning her around and guiding her through the back of the kitchen. But, in the dim lights of the dining room, her skin seemed to almost glow and her eyes darken. He couldn't help himself as he pulled her closer and placed a gentle kiss on her lips, eliciting a soft sigh from her as he pulled away.

Having closed her eyes when she saw his lips descending upon hers, Yuffie stood there for a moment with her eyes still shut and her face slightly upturned, as though waiting for more. A slow smile crept on her face and she finally opened her eyes to stare at the man in front of her. But, then she lightly slapped his chest with her hand. "You said no PDA at the restaurant, you know," she chided as she turned around and headed across the dining room.

"I don't see anyone else here so, therefore, it's not PDA since we're missing the public part of 'public display of affection,'" he retorted playfully as he placed his hand on her lower back and guided her into the kitchen.

"Excuses, excuses," Yuffie muttered, rolling her eyes and shaking her head as she walked around the kitchen counters. "You just wanted to wait until everyone was gone so you could have your way with me." As soon as she said that, she slapped her hand over her mouth and began to blush furiously. "I didn't just say that out loud, did I?"

"Yes, you did," Squall stated matter of factly, putting his hands on her waist to pick her up and set her on his clean counter so they would be eye level. Or, closer to eye level anyway. "But, what did I tell you that first day at my apartment?" He leaned his forehead against hers, gazing unblinkingly into her eyes.

Sighing, Yuffie dropped her gaze from his eyes and looked down at her hands instead. "Squall, I didn't really mean what I said. I was just joking. You know, funny ha ha?" she said quietly, her hands fidgeting with the hem of her jacket.

"Yuffie, I am not going to have my way with you, even though..." he trailed off, not finishing the thought in his head, that he did want her. Instead, he closed the short distance between them and kissed her once more lightly on the lips before helping her off the counter.

Yuffie walked to the back door, zipping up her jacket and leaning against the doorframe as she watched Squall turn off the last lights in the restaurant. She wasn't sure if she should be flattered or insulted that he didn't want his way with her, but she decided she would worry about it later. Right now, it was enough just sharing kisses and embraces with him.

Satisfied that his restaurant was secure for the night, Squall turned off the last light and followed Yuffie out the door, locking it behind him. As soon as that was done and he had turned around to head towards his car, which was parked at the back of the parking lot, Yuffie had weaseled her way beneath his arm and was leaning against him. "Cold," she muttered when he looked down at her questioningly. She smiled when his arm tightened around her.

At the car, Squall unlocked the passenger door first for Yuffie before circling around to his own. And, once inside the car, he decided that it might have been a good idea to have come out ten or fifteen minutes earlier just to let the car warm up first as it was freezing inside it. He honestly believed it was colder inside the car than it was outside. "I can't turn the heat on yet," he explained to Yuffie before she could question him. "It would just blow out cold air."

Teeth beginning to chatter, Yuffie nodded and snuggled down deeper into her jacket. She came to the conclusion then that she might need to buy a heavier coat with her next paycheck. Of course, thinking back on it, just last winter she had survived the cold with sweatshirts and blankets. Actually living in a home and not off the streets was seeming to have a backwards effect on her, making her more susceptible to the cold than before because she was getting used to being warm most of the time. Not that she was complaining; she was happy in Squall's apartment and she didn't plan on returning to the streets anytime soon.

Lost in her thoughts and Squall being equally silent on his side of the car, Yuffie didn't realize until they pulled into the parking garage just how close they were to home. Home. The word held a lot of meaning for Yuffie. Since her mother died, she didn't have a true home, nowhere that she actually belonged. But, here, she felt she belonged, even though she had only been there for a little less than two months. She could call this place home and not feel out of place.

"You still awake over there?" Squall asked suddenly, the silence in the car having finally got to him. Without Yuffie's normally endless chatter, it just felt... strange, to say the least. At one time, her chatter would have bothered him. But, now, it just seemed normal, like it was supposed to be there.

Smiling, Yuffie turned to him. "Yeah, I'm still awake. I was just... thinking," she told him, wondering if she should tell him her thoughts or if they would only confuse him. He was a man who had always had a home. Surely her ramblings about home and the meanings thereof would confound him. "I'm just glad to finally be home."

"Me, too," Squall replied as he parked the car. "It seemed like such a long day, didn't it?" He didn't realize he was only digging into the surface of her meaning with her statement. But, that was okay. He would understand it someday.

"Yeah... it was a long day," Yuffie answered after a few moments contemplation, leaning against him once more as they made their way across the parking garage and towards home.

Author's Note: Okay, the ending of this chapter was COMPLETELY different than what I had planned in my head. I mean, the whole "home" issue just came outta nowhere as I was writing. I was going to do something else, but now I'll save that something else as the beginning of my next chapter. Secondly, I think this chapter is a little shorter than what I've been writing lately, but I like where it ended and I think adding anything past that would deter from it. Thirdly, I AM SO SORRY for taking so freakin' long to update. I don't know what's wrong with me. Hopefully, I'll get out of this funk that I've fallen into and write more regularly.

Anyways, please review for me. I know some parts of this chapter, like the first half or so, are kinda crappy, but bear with me. I'm trying to get back into the writing habit and I'll probably rewrite this chapter someday. Don't know when, but someday I will.