"Ground Control, come in Ground Control."

The fizzy buzz of static spewed forth from the dimly lit control panel of the Ragnarok, echoing in the empty cockpit.

"Ground Control, come in."

Squall nervously fiddled with buttons and switches on various keypads surrounding the captain's seat, struggling to remember anything he had learned in his aviation classes that could help him with such an ancient and unfamiliar vessel.

"Airstation? Ground Control? Do you copy? This is the Ragnarok. In need of assistance."

Nothing. No communication. Only the sound of electricity pulsed forth from the ship's veins.

Frustrated, Squall slammed both fists onto the panel with a growl and lowered his head, letting the sound of space invade his mind. It was an irritating sound, nonexistent and buzzing and taunting him to his core; for a brief moment the young SeeD was positive he would go mad within minutes. Their predicament was absolutely hopeless, as per usual.

And then, another sound, staccato and comforting and growing steadily closer. Squall didn't even have to lift his head to see that Rinoa was now standing beside him, resting her fingers below her chin and attaching her eyes to the back of his head as if trying to make eye contact through his skull.


With a sigh, Squall straightened up in the chair and was careful to keep his gaze straight ahead, out past the window and into the never-ending pitch.

"I'm… not sure if we can go home, Rinoa. Not now, anyway."

From the corner of his eye, Squall could see Rinoa bite her lip. He couldn't bear to look at her after breaking the news. Instead, Squall closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose, allowing the general's daughter some time to absorb the daunting reality of their situation.

He was formulating a backup plan in his mind when he was abruptly disturbed by light hands on his shoulders and a body sliding into his lap. Stormy orbs snapped open to meet calm, honey-glazed eyes shielded by heavy lids. The pace of Squall's heart began to quicken and he opened his mouth to speak, to ask Rinoa what she was doing or to tell her off, but was stopped by a delicate fingertip on his lower lip. Shakily, the girl moved to straddle the young soldier's waist while simultaneously squeezing the back of his neck in gentle undulations.

Squall's mind went hazy as the pads of Rinoa's inexperienced fingers expertly caressed his lips, then traveled along his jawline and over his cheeks, then back down over his mouth and neck, finally resting flat on the front of his taut, white t-shirt.

"Rinoa," he finally breathed as her nose touched his. He had no idea why he said it or what he meant to follow it up with, but words were lost when she whispered his name right back with a smile and closed the fiery gap between their lips. The contact shot a jolt stronger than a Thundaga spell down Squall's torso and struck in the pit of his stomach, where already a tension was beginning to build.

He was awake and alert at once, his entire body alive with the sensations Rinoa was creating by moving her body against his, slowly and rhythmically. His arms came up to wrap around her thin abdomen, pulling her closer to him. She moaned and kissed him even more passionately, riding him from thighs to stomach and back again. A need began to rise in his pants and he felt a vehement desire to get out of his suddenly uncomfortable clothes. As if reading his thoughts, Rinoa broke the kiss and pulled back, lithe hands working quickly to remove Squall's jacket and shirt. He fumbled for her sleeves and duster and reveled in the way Rinoa's breath caught in her throat when they were gone.

Almost immediately, she returned to kissing and grinding him, gasping and breathing leaden air as Squall's hands wandered up to cover her breasts, still concealed by the thin black fabric of her tank. He pried his lips from hers, much to her temporary chagrin when she mewled at the loss, and planted them on her collarbone, continuing his ministrations of her bust. He began trailing kisses across the base of her neck, but paused, confused, when he hit a metallic obstacle.

Squall opened his misty eyes to see a simple silver chain around Rinoa's neck, and dangling from the chain were two matching rings. Engagement rings? Wedding rings? Purity rings? Squall's head cleared and he finally realized the severity of their position. Literally. And just as Rinoa was reaching for the zipper on his pants, having already removed Squall's belts without him noticing.

"Rinoa. Rinoa, stop. This isn't right."

Puzzled and in a daze, she went forward with her plan to get the SeeD out of his trousers as soon as possible. It was only when Squall took ahold of her wrists to stop her from going any further that she spoke, eyeing him incredulously.

"Why not?"

Squall gulped quietly and cautiously relocated Rinoa's hands to her own body.

"It… just… it wouldn't be right."

Rinoa scoffed and stared at him, wide-eyed and hurt. She was upset, that much was obvious; but the fact that they may spend the rest of their lives, however long that may be, on the Ragnarok had made her emotional. And as much as Squall had come to care for her- or perhaps because of it, though he'd never admit it- he wouldn't and couldn't take advantage of her in her current state of distress.

She shivered suddenly and violently, and grasped her upper arms.

"Hold me," she whispered half-heartedly, on the brink of tears. Squall looked down and away, clenching his own eyes shut.

"I can't."

He felt her weight lifted from his legs all at once and heard the clumsy gathering of clothes and pitter-patter of bare feet leaving the bridge. Even when she was gone, Squall didn't open his eyes. He didn't move. He didn't lift a finger, not even to resume calling for help. Here was a girl throwing herself at him and all he could do was send her away. He inwardly cursed himself as the harrowing, looming prospect of deep space engulfed him once more.