Nineteen days to Christmas...
Angel of Assistance
Words: 613
Summary: Is Rude really snow-angel inspiration?

It started when Rude, slipping on ice, fell into a particularly big snowdrift behind the bar. Marlene, watching from her window upstairs, saw the man look around him and start waving his arms and legs in a well-known holiday pattern. She called Denzel to her room.

"Denzel! Denzel, look at Rude!" She pointed. "He's making a snow angel."

"Rude is making snow angels?" Denzel scrunched up his brow.

"I told you they weren't for babies. Now will you go with me?" When Denzel nodded, Marlene cheered. "Come on, let's go get our coats!"

"But only for a little while, okay?" Denzel grumbled halfheartedly after his adopted sister, following her down the stairs. In all truthfulness, he had been eyeing the fresh, un-trodden snow ever since yesterday, but he would never tell Marlene that.

In the end, Marlene was so excited that he had to help her with her mittens and shoelaces, and she had bounded out the door before Denzel could even get his own hat on. By the time he made it down the back steps, Marlene had already made three.

"Don't even think you can break my record!" He challenged her, immediately flinging himself backwards and swishing his arms and legs in the shape of windshield wipers. Marlene was stenciling her initials in her third already, and Denzel was anxious to catch up. Last year, she had beaten him by two, even though he was suspicious that one of her angels was actually made by him.

"I'm winning, I'm winning," she teased in a singsong voice.

Denzel grinned, scrambling up. "Not for long!"

The two growing children were soon filling the yard with angels, some hastily made and barely resembling the shape of a heavenly being so much as a lopsided 'K', while some were beautiful in all their snow-white glory. Denzel started out attempting to keep a stoic silence like Cloud would, but after awhile, gave into shouting as loud as Marlene as they kept score.

"Twenty-six!!" He screamed, just as she whizzed by him, snow stuck to her hair.

"No fair! You're cheating! I have twenty-three!" She shrieked back happily. "Twenty-four!" Both their cheeks were flushed a ruddy red, their fingers and toes now numb.

"Rude! Come help me win!" But just as Denzel was about to throw himself down to make his snow angel number twenty-seven, he noticed something odd. "Hey… why is Rude still on his first one?"

Marlene paused. "Maybe he wants to make it extra neat?" She stood up and ran over to where Denzel was, careful to step around their angels.

Denzel craned his neck. "Maybe…" Their angel count had taken them all the way across the yard from Rude, and they could barely see him. "Do you hear something?"

Marlene frowned. "No… wait…"

And indeed, as they strained to listen, they could barely make out the bald man's deep voice drifting back in the slight breeze to their ears: "Marlene... Denzel? I'm stuck. I can't get out... can you hear me? Reno? Boss? Cloud? Hello???"

Denzel slid a sideways glance at the girl. "Rude's making snow angels, huh."

Marlene didn't answer to that, but tugged on his arm, Rude's shouts of getting cold growing louder by the second. "I think we'd better go get help," she said.

"I don't want to say it, but… I really can't feel my legs."

All jokes slid out of Denzel's head. Rude never complained unless it was serious—the last time the man had, it was because he had sliced his finger to the bone. "Yea," Denzel said hurriedly, before bolting back into Seventh Heaven, trudging on three now-forgotten angels on the way, "I think we better."

To be continued...

A/N: Brief delay due to computer troubles and a busy winter break, sorry. Speaking of FF7, my sister gave me Advent Children on DVD for Christmas, and even though I've seen it a billion times, we watched it again today. Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful day, and here is my humble present to you all. :)