This is just a random one-shot based around the Final Fantasy 8 RP I'm running on Gaia Online. In this RP, the Galbadian Army has invaded and taken over Balamb Garden, and the surviving students split into the two factions that will be mentioned in the course of this one-shot. It's a Squinoa ficlet, and it's set a day or so after Squall returns to Esthar and finds Rinoa again.

I decided to have Rinoa be somewhat sick because at the moment my girlfriend, who plays Rinoa in the RP, is having a similar sickness to Rinoa. Can't keep food down, generally feels like shit, etc. etc.

Standard disclaimers apply: I do not own Final Fantasy 8 or its characters. However, the plot concepts belong to me. Steal them and I replace your breakfast eggs with frags.

So enjoy, kiddos!

Squall sat on a chair beside the bed in Esthar's Presidential Palace, his feet up on the corner of the bed and his hands folded under his chin as he silently watched the sleeping form whose back was currently turned toward him. Reportedly, she had been sick for longer than he had been in Esthar, unable to keep food down, and feeling generally miserable.

Recently, Squall had become something of an insomniac. There were times when images of his slaughter in Timber haunted his dreams, and he couldn't bear to face them. And so now he sat there, in a comfortable plush chair beside the lavish bed that Laguna had provided them, wearing just a pair of grey sweatpants as he watched his angel sleep.

He frowned slightly, turning his eyes away from her to his own feet resting on the bed. He wasn't actively thinking about them; his mind was on the situation that he faced. Garden was under Galbadia's control. By early estimates, about twenty percent of the student population had been captured or killed, almost all of the rest wounded. Of the survivors, two groups had surfaced; one that thought it would be best for all of them to escape the island and regroup, and the other who thought that it was best to stay behind and engage in guerrilla warfare with Galbadia.

Rinoa had fled the island with that 'runaway' group and sought refuge in Esthar, where she knew she would be protected by Laguna, who already thought of the young sorceress as his daughter-in-law.

Squall had just been returning from Esthar when he'd heard the news of Garden's capture and Rinoa's disappearance. He'd lost control of himself then, killing every Galbadian soldier in Timber until the streets ran red with their blood. The thought that Rinoa might be dead or worse, in Galbadia's tender care...

Not long after, he'd gotten a call from one of the surviving SeeDs that gave him more information about the situation, and requested that he bring supplies of food, water, and ammunition from Esthar. It was that call that had brought him back to the techno-city where his father was president, to acquire the needed supplies for the survivors, and where he'd been fortunate enough to reunite with Rinoa, right there in Laguna Loire's office.

Sitting there in the darkness, Squall smiled lightly at the memory. He hadn't cried so hard since he was a child, standing there with Rinoa held tightly in his arms, babbling on about how much he loved her and how afraid he'd been that he'd lost her forever. She had cried too, begging him never to leave her behind again and repeating over and over again that she loved him. Squall imagined that Laguna had to have been dumbfounded at the sight, having figured his son to be more or less an emotional void. Well, shit happens, yanno...

Hours later, after both Squall and Rinoa had composed themselves, they went back to see Laguna to finalize the details of getting the supplies from Esthar to Garden. It was right about then that Laguna had offered them the room they currently occupied, one of the most lavish in the entire palace. He knew as much as they did that it would be extremely dangerous for either of them to return to Balamb with the supplies. And even though she wouldn't admit it, Rinoa had no desire to return to Balamb, or let Squall go alone. So Squall had graciously accepted Laguna's offer to remain in Esthar as long as was necessary.

But they all knew that they wouldn't be able to hide in Esthar forever. Eventually, they would have to return to Balamb and take the Garden back from Galbadia. And Squall knew that Garden's survivors did not have the manpower to stage such an attack. Half of the survivors had scattered to all the corners of the world, and the survival outlook of the remainder staying to fight was grim. He would have to have backing from a third party, either Dollet or Esthar. Dollet was almost out of the question, as the small country was still under intense pressure from the G-Army all the time, and couldn't afford to spare any soldiers to help retake Garden.

Eventually, he knew, he would have to prevail upon Laguna to provide military support as well as vital supplies. He was almost certain that Laguna would place his country's military power in Squall's hands in a heartbeat, but the Democratic Republic of Esthar didn't quite work that way. Laguna couldn't just snap his fingers and have Estharian dropships suddenly appear over the skies of Balamb Garden. He had to seek approval for war from the congress, which could feasibly take months. The last thing that Esthar wanted was another war against Galbadia.

As Squall pondered the events of the next few months, Rinoa shifted under the thin sheet that covered her from her neck down, her breathing somewhat ragged and rough. She was curled up halfway into a fetal position, the way she always slept whenever she was alone in the bed. She shifted again, and he heard her whimper softly over the quiet sound of the air conditioning system.

At this, he pushed the chair back away from the bed and stood up, his feet making soft padding sounds as he walked around to the other side of the bed. He carefully slipped into it, trying not to wake Rinoa as he slid over to her and slipped his arms around her.

He failed.

Rinoa opened her right eye and stared dazedly at his form in the darkness for a few moments before softly calling out, "Squall...?"

He nodded and pulled her against him, letting the warmth of her proximity spread through his body and dispel the chill that had crept into his stomach. "It's me," he replied.

"Mmm," she sighed, pressing up against him and slipping her arms around his waist. "I love you," she whispered to him, childlike.

Closing his eyes, he raised one hand up to the side of her head, holding it against his chest. "I love you, too."

Lying there in the darkness, she blinked a few times before nuzzling against him. "What's going to happen now?"

"I have to ask Laguna for him to provide us with soldiers to take back the Garden," he answered, brushing his hand softly through her hair as he spoke.

"We're going to go fight again..." Her voice was bleak. "I know we have to fight... But is it wrong of me to not want to fight? I... I just want this moment to last forever."

He paused for a moment, gathering his words. He'd never been good at cheering people up through words before, but he always tried his hardest for Rinoa. "We can have this moment whenever we want it, Rinoa. It doesn't have to fade."

"But... I love falling asleep in your arms. I feel safe and warm, knowing that no harm can come to me as long as you're holding me. But when we go back to Garden, I won't be able to fall asleep in your arms anymore."

He knew she meant the fact that it was more or less against Garden regulations for a male and female cadet to share a single dorm. But if that was the case, then why were there SeeD dorms large enough for a couple to live in? He knew that all he had to do was ask Headmaster Cid, and he and Rinoa could be moved into one of those dorms. He'd actually been toying with the idea of making such a request for several months now, but knew that he had to uphold the Garden regulations, being the SeeD commander.

Frankly, he didn't give a damn anymore. He loved Rinoa Heartilly, and he never wanted her to feel alone. If that meant he had to break Garden regulations so that they could share a dorm, then he'd break Garden regulations. He'd gone out into space on a half-spent fuel pack and a prayer for this woman; what were a few words of writing in a rule book to him?

"You will," he said finally. "The first thing I'm going to do when we take back the Garden is tell Headmaster Cid that we're going to take one of the couples' dorms."

She lifted her head and looked up at him, her eyes shining in the darkness. Tears or hope, he couldn't tell. "You promise?"

He nodded and smiled down at her. "I promise. We'll fall asleep in each others' arms every night."

Grinning an insane woman's grin, Rinoa nuzzled back against his chest and closed her eyes. "I love you so much, Squall... Good night."

There was a war going on. His was the task of ensuring the survival of his comrades remaining on Balamb Isle, and acquiring the military force necessary to take back their Garden. He had a long and difficult fight ahead of him. But for tonight, none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered to him right now was her. Their love. Falling asleep in each others' arms. Kissing in the rain. Cuddling on the couch just after getting out of a shower.

"Good night, Rinoa."