A/N: Just another in this "phase" I call "Too-Many-One-Shots-To-Write." For now, take this little bit Squinoa and run with it :) It's the first I've ever (and finished) for them... Which really is ridiculous considering they're my favorite couple of all time...
Disclaimer: You know the drill...
Squall Leonhart didn't get days off.
The mere thought of having one was... well... unthinkable. Being the Commander of Balamb Garden was a full-time job, and not an easy one, at that. He was sure no one envied him, and he would hardly envy himself, but it had to be done (kind of), and apparently someone thought he was the best man to do it.
Except for today. For today, he was fired.
Or at least... that's how it felt.
For the first time in... he wasn't sure how long... Squall awoke without the aid of an alarm clock. He stirred slowly, his eyes blearily sliding open before blinking in some clarity. He ran a hand through his hair, and went to sit up when he noticed a strange weight holding down his right arm.
Turning to look, he found himself stunned into silence (not that silence from Squall required anything stunning...). He would never get used to this: Waking up next to her on those too-few nights she insisted on staying over. His angel, his Rinoa lay sleeping, curled into his shoulder, her breath light and even against his bare skin. For a moment he held very still, just watching her sleep, fascinated that she would be there at all.
Hyne, she was beautiful: Her hair raven black except for the strange gold highlights (that she swore were natural) throwing off sunbeams, the locks splayed delicately over her back, and over her shoulders, and bunched up against his arm. He noticed now that it blended almost perfectly with the dark undershirt she had worn to bed. Her dark lashes rested peacefully against her cheeks, while her little pink lips were parted slightly, but still gently upturned, like she was smiling in her sleep.
Squall allowed himself a small, private smile. On the outside, he was still cool, stoic Squall Leonhart, Commander of Balamb Garden and completely efficient SeeD member. On the inside though, he was a reverent worshiper of Rinoa Heartilly.
Of course, no one really knew these things. They merely suspected.
So as he lay there staring at her, smiling, it was only appropriate that was the exact instant Rinoa started to stir, almost as if sensing a moment she couldn't possibly allow to go unwitnessed. Squall quickly tried to disguise the smile by rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
When he looked back, Rinoa was smiling at him nonetheless... As if his attempts had been completely unsuccessful. He caved, and returned a tiny half-smile in return. She giggled.
"Good morning, Squall," she sang softly, before leaning up carefully to kiss his cheek. She rested her face gently against his chest. "How did you sleep?"
"Mm," he grunted indifferently. This one translated to So-So.
"What?" she returned ruefully, wriggling herself closer to his face, grinning like a cat about to pounce on her prey. "My presence didn't lull you into a night full of sweet, sexy dreams?"
His eyes narrowed at her, but his nose scrunched up ever-so slightly. Maybe.
She bit her bottom lip through her grin. "Oh come on. You look at me like that and I know the answer's a total yes."
His eyes narrowed further. Don't push your luck...
"Whatever!" He swore she could seriously read his mind sometimes... "I'll just have to investigate until you spill!" Then she pounced, straddling his waist, giving him this confident, much too provocative grin. She lowered her face down to his neck, starting to kiss and nip at all the sensitive areas she was all-too familiar with.
Squall bit something back. He wasn't sure what it was, but he knew it would give her far too much satisfaction.
Suddenly she froze. Squall tensed. What?
She sat up quickly, her eyes darting over to the small window in Squall's room. The light coming through it was muted, not quite as bright as it should have been, indicating a cloudy sky outside.
"Do you feel that?" She asked, excitement coloring her voice.
Squall scrunched his eyebrows at her. Feel what?
"Don't you smell it?" She asked a different question this time, but just as generic. "It's in the air! Do you know what that means?" She was grinning down at him again, and it reminded him of a small child who had just realized Christmas was tomorrow.
But he just gave her an incredulous, confused look. What means what Rinoa?
"It's gonna snow today!" She practically cheered, bouncing over him a little.
He continued to give her that same look. I swear, you're so weird sometimes...
She read his look and smiled. It was a familiar smile. He'd seen it before...
"You're the best looking guy here..."
"I'll show you! Just you wait!" She literally bounced off the bed, from her knees, to her butt, then up to her feet on the floor.
Squall decided he liked it when she wore his boxers.
He watched her from his bed as she went about gathering her clothes from the previous day up into her arms. It was actually her Garden uniform she gathered, her admission being official as of this semester.
"Hey so," she halfway crawled up the bed to plant a quick kiss on his lips. "I'm gonna go shower, and when I get back, we're gonna go for a walk, and it's gonna snow! Just watch!" She smiled that smile at him again before getting back to her feet, and skipping to and out the door. She didn't really seem to mind that she wasn't exactly dressed to go running around the dorm area halls. Squall couldn't help but smile after her. He didn't suppose she cared...
Squall got up and headed to the shower (one of the many perks of fighting the most recent Sorceress War: Instructor-sized dorms), noticing a slightly wet strangely sticky feeling on his shoulder.
Girlfriend drool, he suspected...
Squall was nearly finished getting ready. He had but to clip on the last of his belts to be good to go. When a knock came at his door, he automatically assumed it was Rinoa and just waited for her to let herself in, continuing his morning routine.
But she didn't. And another knock came.
Mildly confused, he went to open the door. When he did, he didn't find quite what he was expecting.
It was Xu. And she had that all-business look on her face.
If Squall had been anyone else, he would have groaned. This didn't mean anything good...
So much for a day off.
"Yes, Xu?" His tone was flat, even to his own ears.
"Good morning Commander." Her voice was all-business too. "There is an urgent matter that requires immediate attention." When he had no response, she continued. "It's Galbadia. The President is having some difficulty... accepting Garden's involvement in his political affairs. He's in need of some reminders as to the reasons behind such... 'interference' as he put it."
Xu shrugged, held her hands out. "He's taking a very hands-off approach to the whole matter... Besides, it's his day off too..." Her look finally softened apologetically. "Look, nobody planned this to happen on your day off, but you're here and Cid isn't. He took off to the orphanage to be with Ed... er... Matron. If it didn't require immediate attention I wouldn't have bothered you, but President Karver is quite put-off and I imagine if we delay at all, it's only going to get worse..."
Squall sighed a little on the inside. Go figure. Oh well... He was much too relaxed for it being so late in the morning.
"Get him on the line. I'll speak with him immediately. If I'm not there before he answers, be sure to let him know I'll be there shortly."
"Yes sir!" Xu saluted him, smiling just slightly, before turning and disappearing beyond yonder corner. He would never get used to her, or anyone else for that matter, calling him "sir," but at least he had learned to partially ignore it.
He turned back to his room, slipping on the last belt, digging through a pile on the desk directly to his left for a piece of scratch paper and a pen. When he found both, he scribbled down a quick note to Rinoa. No doubt she would be back soon. He was thankful, for once, that girls took so long to get ready.
Sorry. Some business came up. I'm headed to the office. Hopefully it won't take long.
He paused for a moment, knowing he hadn't said enough. So, not as an afterthought, but more as one of those reluctance-to-leave-too-much-affection-hanging-on-the-door things, he scribbled down one last note.
He dug through a different pile and found some random Scotch tape, grabbed his jacket, and carefully taped the note to the outside of the door, before turning and walking in the direction of the elevators that would take him up to Cid's office.
The President had been waiting for him when he got up to the office (not really just Cid's office anymore, but Squall refused to adopt it) and he had seemed every bit as put-off as Xu had made him out to be.
Squall had listened patiently to every complaint, replying with comments involving the words "precaution" and "temporary" along with phrases containing words like "appeasement" and "politics." By the end of the conversation, the President found himself without an argument. Squall didn't know how he did it, but somehow he had developed a knack for diverting wrath and instilling a sort of calm atmosphere. Maybe it was the fact that he always seemed so calm... even when he wasn't.
He wasn't sure how long he had been on the line with the President, but he was sure that it had been quite long enough. He was about to stand and go when Xu entered his office again. Once more, an internal groan beat against his ribcage.
"One more matter of immediate importance sir," she coughed into a fist, a slightly annoyed look on her face. "You have a visitor."
Squall sighed. That was all the approval she needed to step aside and let a lithe young woman walk through the door.
And Rinoa looked twice as put-off as the President.
Squall swallowed... hard.
Who cared about world peace? His girlfriend looked ticked.
They locked eyes from across the room, brown piercing into stormy gray-blue. He nodded. She responded with a glower before stalking over to plop angrily into the chair just across the desk.
"What's this all about?" She asked in that I'm-an-angry-girlfriend tone.
Squall winced 'Sorry.'
"I thought today was your day off," she retorted, her tone not softening at all.
Squall almost winced again. "It was... is..."
"So wait," she commanded harshly, pinning him to the wall with eye-daggers. "It's your day off, one of the only mornings you've had with me and you spent it in here, working, on the phone for," she paused to glance at her watch,"almost an hour?!"
Squall's lips got halfway into a grimace before he was able to put them in check. "I'm sorry... it had to be taken care of immediately..."
"Seriously?" Her voice was accusing.
They stared into each others eyes for a moment: Squall's face blank, but a frillion nervous thoughts racing through his mind; Rinoa's gaze hard and serious, a look he wasn't used to seeing on her delicate features.
Then she broke into a smile (a devious one at that), and Squall thought he felt a coronary coming on.
"It's alright!" She grinned from the other side of his desk, swinging her legs up into the chair and stretching her arms out wide.
Squall nearly died. What?! His blank stare said it all.
"Your note made up for it!" Rinoa explained, pulling a little square of paper out of the back pocket of her jeans. She unfolded it, holding it out to admire his messy handwriting. "I think I'll frame it and hang it in my dorm!"
Squall did groan this time.
"Oh c'mon!" she laughed, rocking forward to prop her elbows on the deep cherry wood of his desk. "If I were any other girl, I would have stormed through that door, right in the middle of your important phone call, swept into an angry tirade, and left you for Fisherman's Horizon!"
"She almost did..." Xu coughed from her desk just outside the door.
Rinoa spun and stuck her tongue out at the invisible source of the voice.
"Anyways!" She continued cheerily, marching around the obstructing piece of furniture to plop down unceremoniously in Squall's lap. "Are you done? Can we go?"
Squall stared straight out the door. Xu's desk was just outside and around the corner. He could see the elevators from here.
There was a sigh. "Well... excluding any other major emergencies... Yes, you're free to go."
"Yay!" Rinoa cheered, hopping up from her seat and walking to the elevator, not waiting for Squall. "Meet you downstairs!" She proclaimed, letting the door close behind her.
Squall sighed, grabbed his jacket, a made to follow.
Once downstairs, Rinoa had promptly grabbed Squall by the hand and led him straight out the front entrance of Garden. It reminded him of something that had happened what seemed like ages ago...
"You're-going-to-like-me. You're-going-to-like-me... Did it work?"
"I can't dance..."
Once they were nearly outside, Rinoa slowed, a small smile pulling up the corners of her lips. "Thank you..." she murmured gently.
Squall looked down at her, a confused look on his face. "Hmm?" What for?
She turned on the high beams, looking straight into his eyes... into his soul. "For spending your day off with me!"
Squall couldn't resist her. He smiled back: A small, very Squally smile, but a smile nonetheless. "Welcome."
Suddenly, she looked forward again. "Look!"
And everything was covered in a thick coat of white... A storm must have rolled off the mountains and blanketed everything earlier in the day... It still looked fresh.
"What did I tell you!" Rinoa let go of his arm and danced out into the fresh snow, the blue sweater she had chosen to keep her warm not looking quite thick enough to Squall's protective gaze. She spun and laughed, her cheeks and nose rosy with the cold, but her smile lighting up her face like the sunrise on the first morning of the New Year. She smiled, that welcoming inviting smile, and another flood of memories.
She smiled... pointed towards the sky...
It beckoned him to her, and he was like a blind man seeing the sun for the first time, or a man in the desert finding an oasis. She was all at once his every and his only. He went towards her, a nearly invisible smile on his face.
Then suddenly the look on her face changed from invitational to horror, her eyes seeing something behind him, something he couldn't, her mouth dropping open, her eyes growing wide with fear.
His eyes narrowed. What?!
He spun, his professional eyes scanning... seeking, his hand reflexively coming up to his gunblade...
Something soft and cold made contact with the back of his head, and quickly started leaking down the back of his big, furry parka.
Hysterical laughter broke out behind him.
His eyes narrowed further, and he turned, only to find Rinoa doubled over, barely able to breathe through the uproar escaping her lips.
"'Am sorry..." she gasped between convulsions. "It's... couldn't... resist..." Another wave took her as she met his eyes. "You should see the look on your face!!" She looked like she was about to fall over.
He glared at her in that harmless you-suck way... And then inwardly grinned.
He starting charging her, and it didn't take long for her to register what was going on. As he barreled toward, her face changed rapidly from too-pleased with herself, to worried, to excitedly horrified (if THAT made any sense).
"Squall... Squall wait... Squall! Don't, no!!" As he crashed into her, tackling her into the snow, she let out a shriek that was somehow both terror and delight at the same time. Careful not to hurt her in the fall, he pinned her into the snow, his face inches from hers.
"Aahhhhh Squall!! I'm sorry okay? Get off me, it's cold!"
Squall grinned. Now there was something you didn't see everyday... Something about her... brought out all these different facets of himself he didn't know he had.
"It's cold, damn it! Ya big meanie! Let me up!"
Squall didn't move. He just kept watching her, affectionate and yet... sadistic.
"There's gotta be a better reason."
She pouted. "Because I wuv you?"
He smiled, and rolled over, allowing her to sit up in the snow. She let out a disgruntled noise. "Now the snow's gonna melt and I'm gonna be all wet!" She exclaimed, trying to dust off what she could of the snow on her sleeves and back, standing to try and get the back of her jeans. She looked down at him. "You're ornery!"
He just continued to smile.
Rinoa then set off about her typical snow behavior. She wrangled him into a snow SeeD, and then just random snow figures, anything that came to mind. She tried getting him to make snow angels with her, but he ended up just sitting in the snow again, watching her wave her arms and legs wildly, still smiling. He never did that very often. Just when he was with her.
They had another snowball fight, made more snow figurines. She made a little sunshine flat on the earth and called it Selphie. She attempted to shape a chocobo and called it Zell.
Eventually she stood back. It must have been a few hours by then. It seemed to be getting on into the evening, the sun had already set, casting bright orange glows across their (mostly her) work, before disappearing behind another onset of clouds and the horizon. He stood behind her, just watching her.
It made him feel old, standing back like that, just observing her... he supposed it was fitting, all circumstances considered.
She turned to face him, her features lighting up as she walked toward him. Then suddenly she looked up, her face brightening even more. He almost fought the urge, speculating that it wasn't another trap, but changed his mind upon observing the look of wonder.
Small, gentle flakes floated down from the heavens. They probably wouldn't stick. But as Rinoa put it...
"Oh Squall," she sighed in awe. "It's snowing again!... They're so pretty..."
She looked back to him, her cheeks still flushed from the biting chill, but her eyes bright, her expression so soft, so completely pleased with everyone and everything. As the snow flakes came down, they stuck to her hair and her eyelashes, creating perfect beads of sparkling moister.
Right then, she looked as perfect as anyone in the world ever had. She was an angel.
He walked toward her then, gathering her gently into his arms, burying his face in her hair, breathing her in. She smelled like blossoms and cold.
"Squall?" She asked, wrapping her arms around him in return.
He pulled back to look at her face. "Nothing." He didn't have to say anything. Lowering his face to hers, he brushed her lips with his. It was so light... and yet so sincere: Wanting to show her everything he felt, to pour it all out to her so that she would never have to wonder, she would never have to ask ever again how he felt. It was times like this that he wished he had better practice at saying how he felt.
But it really didn't seem like he had to. She could read his mind after all.
She brought her hands up to grip the sides of his head, going up on her tip-toes to press his mouth more firmly against hers, pressing herself ever closer to him. There was a shock of electricity through his veins... And then the world stopped spinning. Time ceased to exist.
He knew then that this was the only place he'd ever belong. Right here. With her. Lips parted, mouths and souls melting together in this frighteningly perfect way... Letting moments slip by like nothing else was going on anywhere in the world.
They finally broke apart, and for a long moment they just stared into each others eyes, finding there the things that words could never possibly express.
"Thank you," was all he said to break the silence.
Her eyelids fluttered, as if being brought from a trance. "For what?" She asked breathlessly.
He said nothing, just pulled her close again, resting his cheek against her dark locks. "Thank you."
Thank you so much... You've taught me this... I'm not alone...
From behind a pillar, a red light glared; a camera rolled; a short, bob-haired girl grinned, before skipping off in the opposite direction.
A/N: Sorry if that seemed choppy at the end. This fic was already too long, and I wasn't sure how to end it... But I thought it was cute, and it was just a fluffy idea I'd had running around in my head for a while... I'd always pictured Rinoa all super cute in the snow, Squall just watching her, adoring her... Maybe this didn't turn out exactly the way I intended but -shrug- wasn't really sure how else to go about it... Just watch, I'm gonna have to come back and rewrite this one too XP I'm sorry... I'm still getting back into this... I hope you enjoyed it, nonetheless... Please! Read and Review!:D