Authors Note: Okay, here is the last chapter and end of this series and holiday tale – I was determined to get this story done by this year. Which meant posting by midnight December 31, 2007! I waited to the last possible minute, but it's done. Happy New Year's to everyone, here's looking forward to a wonderful 2008!

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~ Chapter Five: Jingle Zells ~

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Now, I wouldn't want to bore you with all the details, but needless to say that after a while, we were ready to get back to our 'time.' Not to say that I wasn't having a good time here, in fact, it had actually been rather the opposite. I felt like I'd actually had a chance to talk with Squall and maybe we understood each other's perspective a little more. Still, there was no place like home, or like a comfortable bed, or well anything that wasn't a closet.

Squall appeared rather impassive about still being trapped in the past. There was one of two reasons: one, he knew how to get back and was no longer worried. Two, he had a secret fetish about being near countless cases of carpet deodorizer. I'm pretty sure it was the former. Pretty sure. Apparently, somewhere between the arguing and the – um…well… 'non arguing'… he must have devised a plan.

"Have everything?"

"Yeah," I answered taking a last look around. I would have commented about the fact that we were still dressed for bed, but I decided that wouldn't be the wisest move. I had on my sleeper set and Squall had thankfully (at least for him) worn boxers and a t-shirt to bed. This thing could have turned out a whole lot worse… a whole lot worse. Apparently Carbuncle hadn't thought about our selection in nighttime attire, but then again, I guess GFs aren't really known for their fashion sense.

He nodded and gave me a quick kiss before turning off the light. I felt him reach for my hand and instinctively, I squeezed his fingers in nonverbal reply. I could have asked him where we were headed, but I trusted him. I also knew if I started asking a thousand questions I'd only end up irritating him. Of course I had a thousand questions, but like I said, I trusted him.

"We're going to the Training Center."

Training Center? Okay, now I really wanted to ask. I was hoping this had to do with getting back and not for some unnatural desire to train at a time like this. He wouldn't. Would he? I mean he… no, no, no. Of course not.

"Don't tell me you are taking me on that date that you've been promising me for six years."

I heard a small 'gruff' sound in response. "We need to use magic. I wouldn't want anyone to detect a magic signature if it can be avoided. Plus, I'm not even sure if this closet is still around in our time – we need to be somewhere I'm positive hasn't changed though the remodeling."

Again, wanted to ask more, but I'd figure it out in time. I hoped.

Opening the door a crack, he scanned the area before moving out. The next few minutes were filled with weaving, dodging, and basically feeling like an idiot. I actually had to hide behind a large potted plant. I'm glad it was Christmas Day, or this place would have been filled with hundreds of students. Luckily, most had either gone home to relatives or were currently somewhere that wasn't the main hallways. At least, no one was there to witness my not-so-good imitation of a fern.

It took us about twenty minutes to make it from one end of Garden to the other. I was so tired at this point, I could barely keep my eyes open, but somehow, I found the strength. I was also very much cursing the fact that I didn't have on either shoes or socks as that marble floor can be damn cold. Kurse Garden… I mean… curse Garden. Sorry, bad Ultimecia humor; it's a running joke with my friends, though Squall doesn't find much humor in the comparison between her and I. Not to mention, the woman was at least a foot taller than me… and two 'chest sizes' bigger as Irvine thoughtfully pointed out.

Anyway, the floor was ungodly cold. At a time like this, I should have 'borrowed' socks from Squall's old room. Chances are he would have never missed a pair; then again, he just might have had them numbered. Remember his cabinets of crystal and gravy boats? I wouldn't have wanted to put 'younger Squall' through a traumatic loss such as that.

Finally, we rounded the last corner and headed toward the left side door of the Training Center. Every year Garden closes one section or another for refurbishing - you know replanting and removing the huge amount of petrified T-Rexaur droppings. On this particular year, it was the left section. We were both about to breathe a sigh of relief after the door closed. Squall had even taken the time to scan the area first, I mean that is kinda what he does for a living. That's why it was a huge shock to both of us when a lone figure immerged from what appeared to be… yes, a large pile of T-Rexaur poop.

I don't think 'he' was as surprised to see 'us' as we were him. He was probably more embarrassed about being caught… digging though the 'dino droppings' himself. Of everyone we could have possibly run into – it was Zell. He fumbled some excuse about losing something during battle. I could barely make out the words 'Ma' and 'present' and suddenly I remembered what happened. Five years ago he thought he'd lost a silver medallion worn by his grandfather during a training session. He spent days searching for it, but only mentioned it to us after a week or so… Turns out he had forgotten that he'd given it to me do some research on the insignia. I actually had a lot of free time and enjoyed reading about history – there's really an interesting story behind it, but I'll spare you the details right now.

I started to open my mouth to tell him that I had it… well 'younger me,' but felt Squall's hand reach for my shoulder. He shook his head. I guess he was right, it's one of those things that you can't change history on. I would have to let Zell find out on his own.

Somewhere around this time, I think Zell actually noticed us. Sure, he had seen us when he first looked up…but I don't think he had really 'seen us.'

"Holy crap!"

Ah yeah, there was the reaction I was first expecting.

"You're old!"

Okay, that hurt. It was only twenty-two, did we look that bad?

"And you're wearing boxers!"

I'm pretty sure that last comment was aimed toward Squall.

"Zell, calm down," my boyfriend tried to rationalize.

"It's really you right? I mean it is… right? Squall, Rinoa?"

"Yeah Zell, it's us. Apparently Carbuncle has the ability to send us back in time, or something like that. I'm not exactly sure either."

"It's a spell." Squall finally answered sighing.

I could tell he didn't want to go through the long sordid explanation. But this was Zell and just leaving something that open ended wouldn't work. Actually, I was secretly glad Squall was going to have to give some details – I wasn't the one to ask, so it wouldn't be me that would get the 'eye roll of doom.'

"More precisely an extremely powerful version of his reflect spell. Apparently, he wanted us to remember our first Christmas together – literally. So he sent his five years into our past. I believe if we counteract it with Dispel we should return to our own time."

I could tell Zell wanted to ask so much more, but all he could do was scratch his head and stare at us. I started to feel very self conscious my appearance.

"So you guys are really like – still together?"

Squall and I exchanged glances; I think neither of us knew how to interpret that statement.

"Uh yeah," I finally answered. I kind of thought it wouldn't be that shocking. I mean sure Squall and I had our differences, but nothing that earth shattering.

"Wow… really?" Zell looked at both of us again realizing what he was saying. "I mean, that's great. So like you guys married?"

I wanted to laugh hysterically. I'm sure Squall wasn't thrilled. He could barely ask me to spend the night. I think the thought of marriage could possibly make him hyperventilate.

"No," he answered, actually a little more calmly than I would have guessed.

"Oh… so am I like married?"

"Zell, we can't tell you anything about the future." Squall was always the voice of reason.

"Tsk… fine." The martial artist started to look a little disheartened by Squall's answer, though we both know it was for the best. I think Zell started to interpret our silence as something more than it was. I mean, neither of were implying anything about the future, at least, we didn't think.

"Oh my god, I'm dead, aren't I? How did I die?" Zell nearly started to panic, I stepped forward trying to calm him down. Though by then, I don't think he was really listening to anything either of us would have to say.

"What did you bury me in, I mean, tell me it wasn't shorts. I mean I like them, but I don't want to spend eternity in them. Or my SeeD uniform… tell me you didn't bury me in that! It really itches and the pants are too short, I need to get them let out and-"

"Zell, no, nothing like that." I tried to interrupt though I guess he thought I was talking about his attire. This is not a conversation I thought I'd be having when I woke up this morning. Really.

"Well then what did you bury me in? My pajamas? Because really that would be the most comfortable. Tell me you buried me with my pillow and-"

Squall stepped forward angered by the whole thing. I know Zell's tirade was about the last thing he wanted to deal with right now. But to be fair, it couldn't have been easy on Zell. I'm not sure how I would have handled the situation if it had been reversed.

"Zell, you're not dead! Though, if you don't shut up, you might expire sooner than you'd like if you don't stop."

I knew I had to diffuse this bomb before it decided to explode any further. I had become rather good at this over the years, but the fact I was talking to an eighteen-year-old Zell made it a little more difficult. He was rather – well, he was different back then. We all were.

"Zell, I know this must be very difficult for you, I couldn't imagine it from your side. We're just afraid to give you any information about the future, it could change things. And honestly, I really like how things are – everyone is doing well. Without saying anything too specific, in the next five years we all grow a lot, but most of all, we're still family."

"Really?"

I nodded, I think he understood where I was coming from. Sometimes it just takes talking to him a little to help. Over the next five years, he would grow to become probably my closest friend, beside Squall. To me Zell was like a brother, of course, we also seemed to manage to get into the most trouble together. Remember that self mediation I talked about? Well, that was Zell's doing, he helped me through a lot of the rough times.

"So guys, like what if I wasn't supposed to see you and now everything has changed between all of us?"

I had to stop and think for a moment. I glanced at Squall who seemed to be wondering the same. I doubt he had thought about that specifically. Sure, I know he thought about the possible ramifications of this, but probably on a larger scale than just our little group.

Then it hit me, a few things about last night made a little more sense.

"You already knew."

I could see the confused look on both of the guys faces, though it was a little more difficult to read with Squall.

"So Rin, are you like saying that I knew this was going to happen? I guess that makes sense, I mean I know now, because you're here. But how come you didn't know that I knew or did you know that I knew, or who knew? I'm confused - who knew what?"

"I know I need to get out of here," Squall said dryly finding a log to sit on.

I had to smile even with my boyfriend's lack of enthusiasm. Last night I thought Zell was acting strangely, even for him. When Selphie first mentioned she needed someone to Carbuncle sit, Zell fumbled for an excuse. Now I realize he couldn't take care of Carbuncle, because then this might not have happened. He probably never knew when specifically we'd be sent into the past – just a rough estimate. But once the pieces fell into place, 'older Zell' could figure the timing out.

"Zell, this was supposed to happen and last night, you knew it was going to."

"I'm confused."

"Its fine, I promise. I think it everything will make sense in time. You just can't tell anybody about this… especially us – I mean younger Squall and Rinoa." Wow that felt weird to say, not to tell myself something.

"Um… younger Squall and Rinoa?"

"Well, I mean younger than we are now… just don't tell us okay?"

"Fine, but this really sucks, I just have to tell somebody. I mean, this is just wow… you're old!"

Okay, again with the age thing. I'm twenty-two… I'm so going to invest in anti-aging cream when we get back.

I think somewhere along the line Squall started to understand what I was getting at, either that or he fell asleep like the proverbial bump on a log. Sorry, had to say it. He still seemed to be rather quiet through this whole thing, which was kinda surprising. But I guess after tonight/today nothing should surprise me anymore.

"So anyway, how are you going to get back? Though it would be cool having two set of you around. I mean, which Squall would be commander and who would get the paycheck? Would I have to buy Christmas presents for both sets of you? Then again, could I get you the same thing? I mean you two and then my Rinoa and Squall. Oh, what would be really wild is if you guys ended up buying Christmas presents for each other, I mean like to Rinoa and Squall - from Rinoa and Squall."

Only Zell could think of something like that at a time like this, really. I mean the whole thing was just giving me a headache. Still, it makes you wonder: if I was buying a present for my past self, would I like it? And if I didn't like it, would I tell myself or would I not want to hurt my own feelings? Gah, look at what Zell had me thinking. What little sanity I had left apparently just ended up in the pile of T-Rex droppings.

"We could use your help."

I was thankful when Squall said something, at least he was still thinking rationally. It didn't take long for him to explain to Zell what we needed. Since Garden only used GFs on rare occasions, not everybody had access to their use or spells. Being a SeeD, Zell could easily get a hold of the Dispel magic we needed. I sat next to Squall on the log, not really knowing what to say. He seemed to be acting differently since we left the closet. I was starting to miss my old friends: mop and broom.

"Squall, everything all right?"

"Yeah, just a long day."

I felt like there was something more to it, but he'd tell me when the time was right. We didn't say anything more after that. It took about ten minutes for Zell to return with the magic. I was thankful that we were almost home. I'm not sure how much more of this day I could handle.

Squall had decided it was best to have Zell actually cast the spell on us, then if the magic was detected, there would be a somewhat logical reason for its use.

"So seriously guys, you can't give me any information about the future, not even a tidbit?"

"Sorry," I answered, "beside the fact that Squall and I are still together there's not much we can say."

"And I'm not dead. Right, you promise?"

I laughed. "Yes, I promise you're still alive and eating hot dogs."

"Ah ha!" I thought I had something terribly wrong the way he screamed that.

"I now know there are still hot dogs in the future. You did tell me something!"

Squall rolled his eyes and replied, "Yes, but there was a worldwide shortage about two years ago. It was tragic."

Of course I knew Squall was being his usual sarcastic self. He actually had a sense of humor that had emerged over the last years, though it was sometimes hard to detect. I could tell my boyfriend was growing more impatient by the second, we just needed to get out of here.

"Zell could you please just cast the spell?"


I barely had time to say goodbye to 'younger Zell' before the next thing I knew… I was being plunged into mucky, plant filled water. I would have screamed hadn't been for the fact that I was in shock. I managed to regain my bearings and make my way to the surface. I could feel someone next to me flailing body parts wildly. Little known fact: Squall isn't the best swimmer. His normally composed exterior apparently dissolved the minute he hit the swamp. I knew it was him by the words he was saying, which well, I just won't repeat.

"Three years…"

I heard a familiar voice say from above me. I looked up to see Zell and Carbuncle standing next to one another. We were still in the Training Center, but apparently had landed in the water. It took another minute for me to realize that Zell was…

"Zell, you're old!" I think I said that a little too emphatically, but really, he did have it coming. He didn't seem to listen to me; rather his attention was turned toward my boyfriend who was wearing that 'sexy drowned rat look' very well.

"Three years," Zell continued sounding a little more agitated. "Three years I actually stockpiled hot dogs at Ma's. Even bought a third freezer… because someone said there was going to be a shortage. Then they got unplugged… rotten meat… very ugly."

I had no idea what he was talking about then it hit me, "Oh my god, you believed him?"

I started laughing as we both made our way out of the water. Apparently, younger Zell didn't know Squall's sense of humor, but looking back, I guess it would be easy to misinterpret. I had learned a lot about how we perceived things over the last hours; this was just another example of how all of us have grown over the years. Though… really, three freezers of hot dogs?

"Oh yeah… I believed him. And you…"

"Me?" Seriously, what did I do? It was literally about a three minutes ago and I couldn't remember… though apparently, it was something that Zell had remembered for five years.

"About my medallion."

"Oh… okay, yeah that. My bad, sorry?" Here I am again needing to apologize for something that happened five years ago. Well, five years ago to Zell anyway.

"Do you know after you left that I spent another three days going through T-Rex droppings… that's a whole lot of sh — well, you get the idea. You could have mentioned to me that you had it…but no, I still have nightmares and they're not pretty."

"Sorry?" I apologized again. Still I knew that not saying anything about its whereabouts was for the best. But again, if the roles had been reversed, I would have probably felt the same way.

"It's all right…" Zell smiled. "I had Carbuncle divert your landing spot into the water. We'll call it even now."

By this time Squall had made his way to the GF. I was actually afraid for the little guy. I mean after everything that had happened, not to mention Squall taking an unwanted bath in a swamp, I figured this didn't bode well for the green guy. At least there were no blenders in the vicinity. To my surprise, Squall actually talked to him.

"So, your Reflect just isn't for magical spells, is it? It's to reflect on everything."

Carbuncle cooed a few words, though I had no idea what he was saying. One of these days I'm going to get a Carbuncle to everybody else dictionary, for now, I'll just have to go with my gut instinct.

Squall nodded and then continued walking away. It occurred to me how much he really had progressed over the years. Then again, maybe he hadn't changed, but grown into the person he was today. Just maybe this year we could reflect on everything that brought us here. Together.

I said a quick goodbye to Zell and ran up to catch my boyfriend. He wasn't walking that fast, I figured he had been waiting for me to catch up. I didn't say anything to him as we continued on through the main hallway. Still, after five years, there was no carpet. I again cursed the invention of marble floors, but at least we didn't have to hide like before. I made it to where I needed to turn to get to my room, I figured that Squall had about enough of everything tonight and he certainly didn't need me to bother him. All my belongings were in my dorm anyhow and I too was wearing the 'drowned rat' look. Maybe it would be the next great fashion trend in Deling.

It was still night. The clock read about a quarter after four. Apparently our little journey into the past took no time in the future. Of course this did nothing for the fact that we had been up for several hours, even though in our time, it had all taken place in about fifteen minutes.

"Squall, I'll catch up with you sometime tomorrow."

"Angelo is still upstairs."

"She'll be fine, I'll just get her in the morning."

He seemed to look away for a moment. Maybe I had upset him. I really didn't think he minded having her stay over that much.

"Rinoa, I know Angelo doesn't care where she sleeps. It's not her I want to be there – it's you."

"What?" I really didn't think I heard him right. Never once had he said something so direct. I didn't mean to sound surprised, but after five years you just come to accept certain things. Of course, like I mentioned earlier, I had always wished he would ask me directly, but when he finally said it… I was honestly speechless.

"Stay with me tonight, please?"

"Okay," I answered smiling at him. I didn't say anything else as we dripped our way back to his place.


The next few hours were a blur. I know I made it back to Squall's apartment and he gave me a clean t-shirt to change into. I think I was asleep before my body hit the bed; both of us were extremely tired. I woke up the next morning, well… okay, it was actually afternoon. I thought I was losing it when I saw the clock read that it was after two. I slept through Christmas morning, and part of the afternoon. I noticed Squall was already gone. I wondered if he managed to get enough sleep before work. I'm not sure how that man does it sometimes, he really is amazing.

I sat up and stared at a very upset looking Angelo, apparently she was very hungry and I wasn't doing my civic duties of attending to her many needs. I wandered into the kitchen and found the spare dog food that was kept there. I always thought it was odd how Angelo actually had some belongings at Squall's and I didn't have anything. Still, having something of hers there was enough. Plus, quite frankly, she can be a lot more demanding than I am at times.

I made my way to the couch after fixing something to eat. I could have gone back to my room, but somehow, I just wanted to stay here. I was surprised when the door opened and Squall walked in. Maybe something was wrong. It was almost three and he had never come back this early.

"Something wrong?" I tried not to sound worried, but I couldn't help be concerned.

"Yeah, apparently there is a follow up documentary on the migration of Fungers. I heard the first one was really good, I couldn't bear to miss this one too."

I think we sat on the couch about an hour before both of us were asleep again. I mean Fungers, really… Trust me, you would also fall asleep. We woke up a few hours later, at least I did. Apparently, again Squall had been up for some time. I checked the clock and realized it was now a little past eleven.

"Here."

I looked over my shoulder to see Squall standing there with hot cocoa. I noticed he also had a mug for himself as he made his way over to the couch and sat next to me. I would say it felt like déjà vu, but after today, I think I'm going to be a little more careful when throwing that term around. Either way, this situation, this position, this cocoa, with Squall felt oddly familiar.

"I shouldn't, but I blame him."

"Huh?"

I was completely lost by his comment. At first I thought he was talking about Zell, but I wasn't sure what he would blame him for – well, beside the flailing limb-panic-stricken octopus impression my boyfriend ended up doing earlier in the swamp. It was classic.

"Carbuncle, I've always blamed him. I really shouldn't."

Then, all at once, I understood. He was telling me what I (and everyone else for that matter) had always wondered. Maybe the answer would be obvious once I heard it, but somehow, I doubted it was. I think it was easier for Squall not to use the 'it is obvious excuse' than to put his reasoning into words. I didn't respond, just set my cocoa down placing my head on his shoulder. I felt him wrap his arm around me, letting him continue in his own time.

"Deling… I blame him for what happened to you in Deling. I know it really wasn't his fault, but GFs can choose to serve, such as Ifrit did with me in the Fire Cavern. When the Iguions attacked you at the President Palace it… Carbuncle was there... I just-"

He paused, I could tell he was having a difficult time saying this. I never thought of it that way though, I barely remember anything after seeing Edea. I was in so much of a fog after I tried to place the bracelet on her… Basically, the next real thing I remembered was Squall standing over me.

"It's one thing to fight an armed adversary, but there's no honor in attacking someone who- well, could have been torn limb from limb without a damn chance. If Irvine and I hadn't made it in time… God knows what would have happened. Carbuncle was junctioned to them, it was his power… Maybe it is irrational to blame a GF. Maybe it would have been better to just admit I blamed myself."

"Squall, you couldn't have known what I was going to do… If the fault lies anywhere, it's with me and my stubbornness. I tend to have a few issues with that you know."

"I know, it's who you are. I just found it easier to blame Carbuncle than to face anything else I was feeling at the time. I guess that's how the animosity started. I just never let it go. I really should have."

"Well, it's not too late. Though, I'm not sure if that explains the 'Carbuncle incident' three years ago."

He kissed my neck softly. "Rin, we made an agreement never to speak of that again, right?"

"Fine," I giggled. Still the memories of that day were priceless; its legacy, and the downloadable internet files would live far beyond this generation. "By the way, thanks for not killing him today."

He shrugged his shoulders. "I didn't want to break my blender. How would we make the margaritas on New Year's."

"True."

"Speaking of which, Rin, do you have any major plans this New Year's Eve?"

I had to laugh; we had just made it through one holiday ordeal, now he was thinking about the next. Our usual night included drinking a few mixed drinks, eating pizza, and listening to Zell and Irvine argue about some obscure fact – only to make the traditional resolution at midnight: to be nicer to each other in the upcoming year. That promise was always broken within the first twenty minutes.

"Well, I usually meet up with my boyfriend and some friends, and just hang out."

"That… that sounds comfortable."

"It is. It's kinda a tradition."

"Traditions are good, but this year I want to try something more… spontaneous."

"It doesn't happen to involve heights and a parachute, would it?"

"Only if I can take a certain green GF with me. I would love to know if he can fly without a parachute."

Ah, there's the man I love so much. I know he couldn't have let today have gone by without a little bit of animosity, even if things had worked out better for everybody, with the possible exception of Zell. Three freezers? That's a lot of spoiled hot dogs.

"Rin, today between the time in the closet and running into Zell, it got me wondering. If we had been sent five years into the future, instead of the past, what do you think it would have been like?"

"Apparently, I would have been really, really old. Just not old."

It was his turn to chuckle. He had known all along that comment had gotten to me. "I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer. Seriously Rinoa, where do you think we'll be in five years?"

Wow, that was a hard question. I mean if I honestly stopped and thought about it. Really, what did I see for myself? What I would want - and what Squall would want - would be two different things entirely. Did I picture myself still living in one room? Did I see myself finding an actual career instead of just working a job? I couldn't give a definite answer on those things, only the most important…

"I'm not really sure. The only thing I know is that I still want to be with you."

"Nobody can predict the future, right?"

I felt him pull me closer as he echoed my statement from years ago. Sometimes I wish I hadn't said that. It comes back to haunt me at the most inopportune moments. The thing was, I knew that the sentiment remained the truth. Still, hearing it from him held an entirely different meaning then the night at Fisherman's Horizon.

I didn't respond, I guess part of me didn't know how to. Another part of me wanted to turn the question back on him, but I'm not sure if I wanted to hear his answer. I figured he'd have some lofty goals like becoming Garden's next Headmaster or having an entire dresser full of organized, alphabetized socks and underwear. Sure, I knew our relationship would still be important to him, but the fact was, we were still well… you know… day and night, Shiva and Ifrit, Zell and T-Rexaur droppings. You get it, right?

"So Rinoa, about this New Year's Eve, want to keep tradition and be spontaneous at the same time?"

I had to think about that one. I'm not sure what he wanted to do, unless it involved all of our friends riding Chocobos and drinking margaritas around the desert. Though the mental image of that was priceless, somehow, I doubt that was what he meant.

"The best of both worlds?" I finally answered noncommittally.

"Something like that. I don't want to wait another five years and look back at everything that could have been. Hearing Zell today, seeing how shocked he seemed at the fact that we were still together – I guess it's those doubts that have always held me back. Maybe I like things comfortable because there's no real fear in that."

I reached to the table and took a sip of my cocoa. This day had been so different; I couldn't begin to fathom all that had happened. Leaning back on him, I started to think about what we'd both be like in the future. He kissed the top of my head before he started talking again.

"I'm thinking on New Year's Eve maybe between the drinks, pizza, Triple Triad, and Irvine and Zell's arguing we could fit some time in to get married."

It took a second for all that to register in my brain, as I was originally stuck on the fact that he was going to allow a Triple Triad deck anywhere within a three meter radius. And in the true graceful fashion everyone had come to expect from me, I moved my wrist allowing the contents of the cocoa to go streaming down my entire body, his leg, the leather sofa, and the carpet that he obsessively held dear.

We both shot up from the couch, though the liquid was luckily not at its hottest; it was enough to make us jump like we'd just been poked with Tonberry's knife. I couldn't believe the mess I'd just made of this situation. Leave it to me to be… well, to be me.

"Crap Squall, I'm sorry. I'll get something to clean this up-"

"It will wait. I can always dye the carpet cocoa brown. It was time for a change anyhow. Well?"

"That sounds like a perfect night."

I didn't know what else to say. Sure it might not have been the wedding I dreamed of as a child, but it was so much more. We didn't need all the formalities and show. We just needed our friends and each other. It was perfect.

"One condition," he smiled. "Carbuncle needs to be there."

"I agree. It's the least we can do for him after everything he did for us today."

"Actually, I was thinking after we're done making the drinks, I can finally toss that green cretin in the blender."

I love this man.