A/N: Not yet proofread. This can be viewed as a side-story of my other fic.
Squall swung his gunblade twice, the blood on it splattering on the nearby trees. Stabbing his revolver on the ground, he crouched, observing the dead beast.
"We're still several days from the next moogle town." A low feminine voice called from above. He craned his head, spying the pink haired Lightning standing above a boulder. Arms still folded in front of her, she continued. "I did see a lake nearby." She ran a hand through her dirty pink locks, her fingers stopping as she combed it. "We should camp there for today."
Squall stood up, his dead prey gripped in one hand. "Alright." Picking up his revolver, Squall followed the pinkette as she landed in front of him before leading the way.
The pair trudged through the forest in silence save for the crunch of the occasional leaf. It was rather unsettling to not hear the sound of any bird but neither warrior minded, already accustomed to the world of conflict. Despite the silent atmosphere and their guards raised in case a manikin decided to ambush them, both warriors walked in ease.
Lightning taking point was not unusual when the two travelled together. Her goal-driven nature made her the naturally dominant one, something Squall didn't mind for this particular case. Really, he already had enough trying to compete with her at every turn and resolved to give his input when necessary.
For her part, Lightning would never admit that she felt secure with Squall guarding her back. Like her, he was a fellow soldier- one that underwent military training- and his slightly distrusting nature (paranoid, she'd always taunt him when the opportunity arose) had saved her ass time and time again. Not that she'd admit it openly, of course.
Still, it was comforting for her to know that someone competent was watching her back.
Lightning absently drew her gunblade, hacking the occasional low branch and storing the wood in her gunblade sheathe. From behind her, Squall raised his brow, knowing exactly what she was planning.
Squall mused how well the two worked together but attributed it to their training. Sure Lightning couldn't survive as well in the wilderness as him (a fact that still caused him to smirk was her over-reliance on her spells to start a fire), as her training composed mostly of standard guard duty whereas his was more of mercenary-slash-soldier, SeeD stuff as he put it (which he didn't like mentioning often; the pinkette always found some way to demean the title).
"Guardian Corps sounds better than SeeD." She'd usually use to snipe him.
Eventually, the duo reached the end of the forest and were greeted by the rays of sunlight reflecting off the water's surface. Lightning quickly scanned the area, finding a barren mini-gulf. Approaching it, she peered over the edge, eyeing the water below, trying to judge its depth.
Squall set the dead animal on the ground before crouching next to his companion. He stabbed the water with his gunblade. When the gunblade was nearly three-quarters in, he finally touched the underwater surface. Satisfied, Squall withdrew his gunblade and did several slashes to get rid of the water, Squall turned to the pinkette. "Water's about four feet."
Lightning nodded. "I'll go first."
Squall didn't argue with her, despite the slight itch of his scalp. "Dry the wood first." Seeing his partner tilt her head, Squall elaborated. "Fresh wood is still moist and won't burn as well as dry wood."
Lightning frowned at him. She refused to comment, as she recognized the glimmer of superiority in his otherwise steel blue eyes. Casting a weak aerora at her gunblade holster, she held the now dry wood up to the taller warrior. "Done." She also unsheathed her precious knife and offered it up to Squall with her other hand. Meeting his gaze, she smiled wryly. "To skin our food."
The brunet muttered a quick 'thank you' as he took hold of the offerings. He turned back, gathering the animal he caught as he vacated the area, missing Lightning's conflicted look. Realizing his intentions, the pinkette knew she had to act fast.
Stilling her mind, Lightning winged it.
"Squall." She called out, a small shimmer of uncertainty in her voice. She quickly shook her head as the brunet looked over his shoulder with a puzzled look.
Squall, for his part, almost missed the call. "Something wrong?" Lightning sighed in relief, realizing he didn't pick up on her slight hesitancy.
Thank Etro for emotional blocks. She mused. Clearing her throat, Lightning replied. "Where are you going?"
Squall tilted his head to the side. "Heading into the forest. Giving you privacy."
She's up to something. A subtle voice rang through his mind.
She's just protective. Squall thought back. Outwardly, he continued. "Weren't you going to bathe?"
"I still am." She abandoned her position on the mini-gulf as she approached him. "Wouldn't it be safer for both of us if you remained here?" Squall's brow raised as he tilted his head in towards the forest. "I mean, here where I can see you."
The presence in his head giggled. He could feel its amusement as it looked on his predicament. "Wouldn't that be…" he tried to think of the proper word to use. "Worrying?"
Don't you mean 'acceptable'?
Shut it you. Squall growled back. Lightning noticed it and folded her arms across her chest.
"She's giving you trouble again?"
You're the one giving him problems~ the voice sing-sang, not that Lightning could hear it.
"Sort of. I'm alright." Lightning continued to stare intently at him. "Seriously."
"Fine." She grabbed the strap of her gunblade holster, dragging the brunet back to the mini-gulf on the lake's bank. "And to answer your previous question, it is worrying. However, what's more worrying is making both of us vulnerable to an attack." Squall felt a headache coming. "Start your fire here, and turn your back on me." She continued, knowing he was about to bolt again. "I trust you to not peek."
"…Lightning…" he muttered lowly. "This is-" Brilliant "-stupid."
"Are you embarrassed?" she taunted at him, finding the slight red adorning his cheeks amusing.
Squall snapped back at her. "Aren't you?" He dropped what he was carrying, folding his arms much like she does often. "We're not kids here." He added gruffly.
"I know." She smirked before her smile softened. "But like I said, I trust you."
Meeting her adamant gaze, Squall sighed before turning around and crouching low, fixing up the firewood.
Lightning mentally cheered at her victory. "Good school boy."
The branch Squall was holding snapped. He turned to her. "I thought we agreed you wou-"
Squall immediately froze before he heard her let out a snicker. Growling, the brunet chastised her. "Not funny." Resuming piling the firewood, Squall continued. "We agreed you wouldn't call me that anymore."
"Hmph." Lightning, for her part, was taking off her boots before undoing the buckle on her overcoat. "I distinctly remember saying that I wouldn't make any promises."
"…whatever." He heard slight laughter but knew the culprit wasn't the pinkette.
Damn that voice in his head.
I heard that. Squall chose to ignore it. Be that way, but you're missing out on something.
Squall heard splashing and realized this was going to take a while. He cursed his misfortune.
Or fortune. The voice whispered mischievously. This is a chance- an opportunity meant to be taken.
This is an abuse of trust. He snapped back. He started putting a ring of rocks around the small pyramid of branches he constructed. I will not break her trust.
Hmm~ with that, the topic was dropped.
Satisfied, Squall started the fire. Reaching out, Squall grasped the dead animal with one hand as he unsheathed Lightning's survival knife. Digging into the skin slightly, Squall proceeded to skin it.
She likes you, you know. Squall almost cut off his finger when the voice suddenly came back. Or was it what it said that startled him?
It's what I said. Squall growled before resuming skinning the animal. And, didn't she tell you to stop growling like an animal?
Just… drop it. The brunet skewered the animal with one of the sticks before placing it near the fire, cooking it. Stepping back, Squall stared at the cooking food, resisting the urge to sneak a peek at the bathing beauty behind him.
He closed his eyes, absently listening to the splashes she'd make.
She wants you to look. The voice insisted. I know. I was inside of her.
Behind him, Lightning was having an internal struggle of her own. She had finally managed to wash the dried blood and mud off her hair after taking several dips underwater as she scrubbed the pink mass.
The water itself was just slightly under the temperature she was happy with. She shivered slightly as droplets cascaded down her back, only for the chill wind to caress. Turning to look at her companion, Lightning placed a hand on her hip as she noticed his back still turned towards her.
While she was happy that he wasn't abusing her trust in him, she was slightly put off that he still hadn't peaked- not once. Lightning was proud of her looks despite knowing she didn't have the smoothest skin or the silkiest hair; she was a fighter first and foremost.
She sighed. Thoughts like that only served no purpose. They were both in a land of constant conflict; everyday they ran the risk of dying.
"A violent death." She muttered to herself. The worst part of it all was there was no end in sight.
What's with you Farron? She mentally slapped herself. There's no reason to hesitate now. There's only one thing to do and that's to keep moving forward, whatever it takes.
She was afraid to voice her problems to the others; she was unwilling to admit that she too didn't know what to do or how to get their crystals to materialize. What she found comforting about Squall's company was that he moved on forward whenever she struggled to, giving a silent offer of support- giving her his back to follow- whenever she found herself uncertain, just as she gave him hers.
She splashed water on her face, banishing the depressing thoughts from seeping in. This is all your fault, school boy. She glared at his back.
Running her fingers through her hair, she resumed cleaning herself up, wading to a different spot as the water where she was dirtied.
Why don't you clean your gunblade? The voice inquired him. Squall sighed in relief at the subject change.
Finally, a good suggestion. He shot at it. He took out a cloth from his side pocket and took off his jacket, placing it on the ground beside him. He placed his revolver on his lap and started scrubbing at the blade.
Why are you so against the notion of liking her?
The brunet didn't answer at first, pondering the question. He already knew the answer but was just too stubborn to admit it. He was afraid that she'd leave him once he opened up to her. While most of the memories of before he was brought here by Cosmos were fuzzy, he could still feel the underlying pain from them. The pain came from loneliness; somehow he knew he was abandoned as he grew up.
He instinctively didn't like that feeling and was afraid of how the pinkette was starting to grow on him. They started off as comrades-in-arms at first, never saying more than a few words to each other. Eventually, they started trusting each other and that from that trust, certain feelings were bred. He started to become attached to those feelings and consequently grew to be dependent on them.
And that scared him, as he had no idea what would become of the two of them when those feelings are realized.
He'd seen how Lightning interacted with the other warriors- how open she seemed- and couldn't help the spark of jealousy in him. Then there was the fact that either of them could die without warning.
And lastly… He thought darkly. Where do we go when this battle's over?
He rested the cloth on his weapon, pondering that one question as many more followed.
Would they go back to their own worlds? Where were their worlds? Would they ever see each other again?
A lance of pain struck his head. He groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose.
What did you do? He growled his thoughts out.
He could feel the being poke at him. I do not want my environment to be invaded by such depressing thoughts. It replied indignantly. You know, you think too much and you worry even more. Whatever happens, happens. You can't stop that.
The voice's tone softened as it continued. And, if anything else… I'm still here. Somehow, he had an image of her smiling slightly. You found me in this world, didn't you? Even though you forgot me.
. . . he didn't know how to reply to that.
And besides, I'll never let you forget about her. A giggle rang through his thoughts, making him facepalm. Now, why don't you inspect your blade?
Sighing, Squall held his blade in both hands before lifting it before him. He inspected it at different angles before a sight made him freeze up.
There, reflected in his blade, was Lightning in all her glory, staring back at him with a stunned expression.
And he couldn't help but notice how beautiful she looked as the sun's rays made her moist skin glow ethereally.
Lightning, for her part, had just broken the water's surface, shaking the water from her hair before wiping her face with one hand. She turned to her companion, noting that still he had her back turned towards her.
Her slight frown turned into worry, as she saw him bring a hand to his head.
Is he in pain? She waded towards the shore, intent on finding out what was wrong when his posture seemed to relax. Lightning hesitated before coming to a complete stop. Is it gone?
After a few moments, Lightning turned around to continue cleaning herself up. That's when a flash of light hit her.
What the..? Turning around, Lightning's sapphire eyes locked on with Squall's steel blue's reflection from his gunblade.
Squall suddenly dropped his gunblade, giving out a startled yelp as he managed to cut his hand. Lightning for her part dove underwater before resurfacing so that she was only nose-deep, her arms crossed protectively around herself.
"Lightning!" She heard the brunet shout. She looked up just in time as a shadow leapt over her before crashing into the water across her.
Two gloved hands suddenly grasped her naked shoulders before pulling her up and out of the water. Surprised by the action, Lightning realized that her naked torso was laid bare to before the brunet when the chill wind blew past her.
"Wh-what are you doing?" She shouted, instinctively decking his jaw with a right hook that made him fall back into the water. She immediately submerged herself once more so she was nose-deep.
Squall for his part stood up to his full height, spluttering and coughing, trying to get the water out of his lungs. Peering down, he saw the pinkette staring up at him intently. His line of sight trailed downwards absently before he realized that Lightning was still completely naked under the water's surface.
Great job, Leonhart! The voice in his head cheered. Squall's face flushed before he turned around abruptly.
Shut up! You knew that was going to happen! He accused her.
Yes, but I didn't know you would jump into the lake. He could feel her smirk. She's still waiting for an explanation, you know.
Letting out a small growl to silence the woman, Squall cleared his throat. "…Sorry." He mumbled.
He heard the sound of water splashing her reply came. "What…exactly were you doing, jumping in?"
"I… " really, his excuse sounded stupid even in his head. He ignored the giggling from the other occupant of his mind. "I…thought you were drowning."
A moment of silence descended on the two warriors before Lightning's fist collided on his back, sending him staggering forward. Squall used all of the self-control he had to force himself from turning to look at her, believing it would only make the awkward situation worse. A second fist impacted on his back, though this one lacked the force of the previous one.
Her fist remained rested between his rhomboids, he heard her close the distance between them. "You… worrying idiot." Her voice was a mixture of amusement and annoyance. "How did you ever arrive with that conclusion?"
"…I heard a loud splash." He muttered his confession. "And the next thing I know, you disappeared from view."
"I was just surprised." Her low and modulated voice betrayed her frantic heart. She wouldn't admit that she was also embarrassed. Just her luck that the moment he looked was the moment she was unprepared.
"…Sorry…" He muttered back, feeling really foolish about his reaction. Overreaction. Whatever.
He felt her body press up against his back, making him freeze. The fist that was on his back encircled his torso, meeting up with its counterpart across his sternum, as he felt her temple press against his nape.
"Stupid." The pinkette mumbled. "You're…such a stupid… school boy."
Squall raised his head up, trying to think of what to do. In the end, he took a page out of her book and decided to act on what his instincts told him was right.
Lightning loosened her embrace as Squall turned around to face her. Both warriors stared at each other intently, neither one willing to look away despite how flushed their faces were in embarrassment.
Squall leaned forward, his face descending on the pinkette's. Lightning still refused to close her eyes, unwilling to be the submissive one, even as she felt the brunet's strong arms warp around her to rest on her waist and back, pushing her against his chest.
Just as their lips were about to meet, Squall quickly jerked his head to the side as he let out a small sneeze.
The pinkette blinked once before laughing softly. Squall, for his part, flushed in horror of his newest blunder. He attempted to pull back only to feel Lightning's hold on him tighten. Turning to face her, he was stunned by the serene smile on her face.
"Good effort, Squall." He tried to convince himself that it was the cold breeze that made him shiver and not how her eyes drew him in alongside her hypnotic voice.
His face, despite the improbability, reddened even more. "Shut u-"
Her lips silenced him. One of her hands holding his arm went to the posterior of his head, grasping a fistful, deepening their kiss.
Despite the intensity, their first kiss was rather innocent, but not at all timid. There was no tongue play nor tonsil hockey, just two lips meeting each other to affirm the reality of the situation while their bodies pressed against each other tightly, trying to convey the longing they felt for one another.
Satisfied for the moment that their feelings were conveyed, both warriors broke off, never loosening their embrace.
Squall leaned forward, resting his head on the pinkette's shoulder. Lightning's hold on his hair loosened as she stroked his brown locks gently.
"It was Shiva, by the way." She heard him mutter against her neck. By now, both their hearts have settled into a steady beat.
"Shiva?" She asked, trying to figure out what he meant by that statement.
"Yeah…" Squall frowned when he felt her cold skin. "She suggested I clean my gunblade."
Lightning wanted to laugh. Squall Leonhart really was a stubborn man. "Thanks, Shiva."
You're welcome. The being smiled, even though it knew Lightning wouldn't be able to hear her.
Squall sneezed again, this time making the pinkette let out a chuckle. "Take off your clothes, Squall." She coaxed him. "Dry them near the fire. I'll just be here." Then she added as an affectionate afterthought. "School boy."
Squall glared at her as he pulled back from her embrace. Wading through the water, he called back at her with a smirk. "Should I start calling you 'instructor' now?"
Lightning's eyes shimmered with mirth before she folded her arms across her breasts, tilting her head to the side.
"No." She smiled at him and continued in a soft voice. "You can call me 'Claire'."
Squall's steel blue eyes widened slightly, before nodding, understanding the weight of this revelation and accepting it- accepting Claire Farron.
"Buf if you spread my real name, you should consider dying a mercy."
Squall smiled wryly back at the smug pinkette.
"By the way, Squall." He turned to Claire as he deposited his white shirt, necklace, and gloves close to her own clothing, noting that she was leaning her torso over the bank, giving him an ample view of her cleavage as she supported herself with her elbows. Squall averted his gaze, cheeks slightly tinted with red. "Do you smell something burning?"
Squall sniffed the air before running frantically towards the skewered meat he was roasting.
See~ this is why freezing is so much better than cooking!
A/N: Lightning's rather ooc here :/ Analyzing Lightning, I feel like she would be the type of character that enjoys teasing/taunting people. She's also reckless, given her no-hesitations attitude.
This one-shot mostly contains Squall's struggle. I'll see if I can catch a plot bunny to write Lightning's side of the story.
On another unrelated note, could this coupling be called "Squaire"? o_0