Breathe

Yuffie Kisaragi2

2/2/05

Summary: Inhale... Exhale... Lilac orbs darted toward the opposite end of the corridor, soon spotting her red-haired friend. "About time!" she called out, pulling off her over-sized sweat shirt and revealing a black tank top. "Where are the others?"

The silence was deafening, the warmth was smothering. She breathed only out of necessity, her lungs feeling as if they were being crushed by the weight of the hot and humid air. The walls, slate grey and utterly boring, had picture frames with previous rulers of Hallow Bastion. The most recent ruler's photograph was directly behind her, but she paid him no mind, knowing that he was long dead, defeated by the Key Blade Master. She was waiting - impatiently - for her best friend.

Inhale... Exhale...

Lilac orbs darted toward the opposite end of the corridor, soon spotting her red-haired friend. "About time!" she called out, pulling off her over-sized sweat shirt and revealing a black tank top that stopped above her naval. "Where're the others?"

The other girl's navy eyes twinkled mischievously and she shrugged. "Dunno. Thought they were gonna be here."

Yuffie frowned. "They... They're not with you?"

With a giggle, the girl shook her head. "Sorry, Yuffs, but there are sections up there, too. Riku was with me, but he's not coming now. And Cid, Aerith, and Cloud were on their way." She caught her friend's hopeful look and shook her head. "He's not up there, hun."

With a saddened sigh, the ninja looked down at the stone floor on which she stood. She studied her orange high-top shoes for a moment or two before turning back to Kairi. "Then I'm not going yet."

This caught her friend off-guard. "Wh-What?"

Yuffie pulled the plain grey sweat shirt back on and began to walk briskly down the corridor, the opposite direction that Kairi had come. "He'll need someone to watch out for, Kai... I can't leave him out there alone."

"He'll join us soon enough," a male voice said, causing Yuffie to stop and face the new-comer. He was taller than her with a stocky build. For a man, he was short, but his gravity-defying lemon yellow spikes made up for that. Eerie blue eyes watched her with a brother-like love in them. "We both know he'll be here before long, Yuffie. Just give him a little bit longer."

Inhale... Exhale...

"I can't..."

Cloud nodded once, but did not seem to be happy with her decision. "You know that... If you leave now... You're only going to get worse, right? Your illness is only subdued for this moment."

She swallowed hard, trying to fight back tears and emotions that threatened to break through. She took several deep breaths, but her head began to ache and she felt dizzy. Her throat constricted painfully and she craved for sleep. A racking cough cut through the near silence and she started to fall. Cloud darted out, catching her swiftly, and lowering her to the ground. A cool hand was lain upon her forehead and she looked up into warm green eyes. "Aerith," she rasped.

A smile graced the woman's features. "Stay strong, Yuffie."

With a nod and a grimace, the ninja fought to stand back up. She managed her difficult task and regained her balance, taking deep breaths. Blocking out as much pain as possible, she walked down the corridor and away from the bright white light that her friends seemed to possess. She staggered sideways into a wall, smashing her shoulder violently, before crumpling to the ground in an unconscious heap of twenty-year-old ninja.

Inhale... Exhale...

By the time she regained consciousness, a figure was crouched beside her, casting curative magic upon her weak body. She struggled to see her saviour's face, but only caught the sound of leather creaking. A coughing fit made her nearly double over and caused her entire body to shake. His soothing voice calmed her little by little until she began to catch her breath and the fit eased. Soemthing warm and wet dribbled down her chin and she raised a shakey hand to wipe it away, knowing what the metallic taste in her mouth was without a light to check herself.

"Hush," he said softly as she struggled to speak. "Be quiet, now... Save your strength."

She recognized his voice, then, and strained to see his face. He moved so that the shadows no longer fell across his face and she was able to take in his once-handsome features. His face was ghastly pale and covered in a sheen of sweat. He coughed once, twice, and specks of crimson appeared in the white handkerchief he coughed into. She stared into his blue eyes, once so cold and unfeeling, but now pained and loving.

"Squ-" she was interrupted by a cough, but continued as soon as she had gotten her breath back. "Squall... How- Where..." She shook her head to clear it, but only became dizzy and caused herself a bigger head ache than before. "Oh," she moaned, feeling as if she was going to heave up everything she had eaten in the last three days.

He nodded, but soon collapsed into a coughing fit. She looked around, only to find out that they were in the corridor she had seen her friends in. A cold draft caused them both to shudder. Whether it was the delirium or her need to be close to something alive, she was unsure, but she soon found herself curled up against his side, both breathing raggedly.

Inhale... Exhale...

"I... We aren't gonna... Make it through... The night..." She coughed blood onto her grey sweat shirt. "Are... we?"

Squall remained silent, trying to keep himself breathing to comfort her. "I'm... I'm not sure," he admitted. Had she been anyone else, he would have said to think positively. Not yuffie, though. They had been through too much together. He could not lie to her. She had helped him get through his depression period, he had helped her become more mature, they had helped each other learn the true meaning of friendship... And of love.

"My head hearts," she murmured into his heavy leather jacket, which was a long-sleeved version of his other.

"I know," he replied in an equally soft murmur. "I know..."

Inhale... Exhale...

"Think Aerith and Cloud and them are waitin' for us?"

He did not know how to respond. Did she not know that they were all in their rooms? That he and she were alone in this wing of the astle with an uncurable disease. "Yuffie... They... They're asleep."

She shrugged. "Shows what you know. They've been dead for three days... Me and Cid buried 'em alone... But both of us were sick too. He went to go to sleep in his own room, but left me a note. he knew he was gonna die too." Squall remained silent as he listened to her tale. Was it true? Could the others already be dead? "Squall?"

"Hmmm?"

She swallowed hard. "Why aren't you correcting me?" She looked down at her, even though her own eyes were closed and she was nuzzled close to him. "I mean, about your name."

"Would you rather I did?"

She chuckled, but that resulted in a coughing fit. He merely held her closer, allowing her to cough blood onto his white cotton shirt. "Yeah," she said hoarsely. "It would remind me of narmalcy... Y'know, Squall?"

He closed his eyes, waiting for her to fall asleep before he would allow himself to drift off. "It's Leon."

He felt her smile into his chest, then her breathing became that of a sleeping woman's.

Inhale... Exhale...

He felt her every breath and began to fall into the slumber himself, when she stopped breathing all-together.

Inhale... Exhale...

He allowed tears to slip out of his eyes and splash onto her dark hair as he hugged her closely and fell victim to exhaustion.

Inhale... Exhale...

Kairi grinned merrily at her friend. "He's on his way, Yuffie! He really is this time."

The ninja's deep lilac eyes were focused on the dark corridor, her back to the red head. She only wanted for him to be with her. She just wanted normalcy... What's more normal than death? A figure appeared in the darkness, tall and broad-shouldered. She strained her eyes to see if it was him.

Inhale... Exhale...

Stop.