Disclaimer: I do not own the material from Final Fantasy VIII, but the merchandise…

Rating/Warnings: For everyone (K+); a few choice words, but nothing hard.
Characters/Pairings: Squall/Rinoa (le duh)
Word Count:
3,950 words
A/N:
Finally! Extremely, extremely late to the party, but I've finally finished a Squinoa one-shot! :'D I still have another one to go and I promise to get that up later (I will pull a 'hermit' once I get home from work to finish it LOL). Honestly, it's been so long since I've actually written Squall and Rinoa in full without being cameos in a few of my other stories, so this is definitely refreshing. -heart- Ah, Squall, you're thoughts are so intriguing when you talk to yourself. LOL This idea actually came to mind because, even though I've never gone ice skating myself, I thought it looked like fun watching everyone else do it during the winter months (yet summer is just ending at the time of posting…huh). :3 This is definitely fluff more than anything and I'm okay with that. ^^

So yes! As stated in my summary, this is for the Where I Belong Challenge. I wanna thank the people who helped establish the challenge for being awesome. You guys have definitely worked hard all month so congrats to you and to everyone who partook in the challenge! :3 I hope all you enjoy and thanks again for letting me in on the challenge too!


.: Lessons on Ice :.

~ We can learn from each other ~

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

He was horrified with what she was presenting to him. She wasn't being serious, right? After all, there were certain things, ideas…activities that didn't meld well with his rather passive persona. Staring down at the piece of paper in her hand, every scenario Squall knew that could possibly happen plagued his mind over and over again as he struggled to find the perfect excuse to avoid going there.

Seeing the expression on his face becoming increasingly methodical, Rinoa simplified with a raised eyebrow and a small pout. "It's ice skating, Squall, just ice skating… I can't reword it in any other way."

"I know what that is, Rinoa," Squall replied with a slight deadpan, feeling as if his intelligence was put into question. He ignored her eye roll as he continued, shifting a bit in his chair by the small wooden desk facing the window of their hotel room. "But why do you want to do that?"

Waving the slip of paper in the air as she placed a hand on her hip, Rinoa explained casually. "It's pretty obvious what I want to do, silly. Since we're here, I thought you and I should do something fun together!"

Fun… Again, he stared down at the advertisement containing the 'special deal' for the weekend at the recreational center by the core of Deling City before Squall returned his dark blue eyes to her chocolate-colored ones; of which were glancing at him very expectantly. The lump he just swallowed was an indicator that he was already walking on eggshells with his reply. "We're already spending time together—"

"No, you're spending time finishing what remains of work when you're supposed to be relaxing," Rinoa retorted in exasperation, folding her arms across her chest as she waited for the SeeD commander's response. "You're on a vacation, Squall; you're supposed to be spending time any way you want it!"

"I am spending it the way I want it."

"By reading documents in hard copy and then switching over to a computer screen to look at more documents?"

"…If I don't finish some of it, the work will just pile up when we get back to Balamb Garden."

"You can finish that when you work-work! This is why I brought you all the way from Garden to here: to relax," Rinoa stressed her point while walking over to the desk and shutting the lid to Squall's laptop closed with one hand. With what force she was using, the brunet didn't have to think twice to know his girlfriend was…annoyed to say the least. He heard Rinoa sigh under her breath and Squall blinked once as Rinoa furrowed her eyebrows, turning her focus away while asking in a concerned yet dejected voice. "You can't keep doing that to yourself, Squall. Or is this because you don't want to spend time with me?"

He inwardly cursed for letting himself get set up in this kind of predicament—the exact ones he always tried to avoid with Rinoa at any given time. Squall was already peeved for being forced to go on vacation when Zell and the others shoved him out of his office without a second opinion (his, obviously), but Rinoa played a huge factor in his dilemma once he was on the train going to Galbadia. It was her who felt like she needed to be in contact with another human being; it was her who asked the headmaster to give Squall 'permission' to leave on vacation (for a week at most); it was her who suggested they go on a trip together to get in touch with one another after some time apart; and now, it was still her who asked if they could spend the afternoon to go ice skating.

Squall dreaded the fact that he was easily manipulated by the young sorceress when he usually had a firm diligence second to none. Then again, Squall never wanted to genuinely hurt Rinoa's feelings in any way, shape, or form, but – with her eyes slightly watery and pink lips set in a straight line – he knew he'd upset her without saying anything. Just the fact that she felt discarded made Squall feeling guilty.

Sighing, he took Rinoa's hands in his gloved ones and looked up at her from his seat. Speaking with as much softness as he could muster, Squall whispered. "It's not that, Rinoa. I just… I want to finish work so I can spend time with you; and I mean that completely."

She persisted to keep her eyes to the side doubtfully. "Still… Work when you are on vacation?"

"It's a bad habit; I'll admit," Squall confessed as a side note; more to himself. He really did want to spend time with Rinoa, but he was always so busy with work. No matter how fast he completed his paperwork or how organized he managed his time to do specific tasks, work was always piling up and he could hardly squeeze in his own free time. There were days when the brunet wished he wasn't the commander of an entire Garden, but just a simple SeeD (sometimes just a youth with no fixed occupation). Gently rubbing his thumbs against the back of Rinoa's hands, Squall thought for a moment while keeping his gaze locked on to the floor. He asked again. "You really want to go ice skating, Rinoa?"

Rinoa eyes widened before she bit her bottom lip; hands tightening around Squall's. "We don't have to right away. I can wait until you're done with work…"

Liar, Squall mentally chided as he examined her expression.

She said she would wait, but he knew Rinoa would sulk in a corner somewhere; preferably where he wasn't around. A part of him found the raven-haired sorceress cute when she was putting up a 'mature' front for his sake. She knew the importance of his position and – even though she would express irritation at him for spending so much time with a secure job – Rinoa would ultimately sacrifice her time with him until Squall would finally be hers for the rest of the day. Squall smiled at the thought. When he honestly reflected on how this vacation was even conceivable, Squall assumed Rinoa must've pulled a lot of strings and talked to all the right people just so they could be together for one solid week—no phone calls, no paperwork to sign, no interruptions. Rinoa was always patient with him and he concluded that maybe he should be the one to sacrifice his time for her sake.

Tilting her chin so her chocolate brown eyes were on him, Squall gave Rinoa one of his rare smiles that was rightfully reserved for her. "Work can wait. So…ice skating…"

Rinoa didn't say a word as she continued to gawk at him. Returning Squall's smile with a wider one, she pulled the brunet out of his chair and led him to the door of their hotel room; excitement laced in her voice. "I know how to get to the rink! It's not far from here actually!"

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Just for today: you're going to make her happy, so just deal with the situation as calmly as possible, Squall chanted to himself while tying the black laces of his skates. Once finished, Squall took a deep breath and stood up from the bench, straightening out his jacket and putting on his leather gloves. Luckily for him, there were only a few people skating in the ice rink; he didn't have to risk any embarrassing situations once he touched that icy, man-made ground. Squall would spend his time with Rinoa; think only about Rinoa's happiness while avoiding the awkward stares directed his way; and hope Rinoa was satisfied enough with the time he had spent with her today.

"Squall, are you ready?" Rinoa excitedly asked as she walked up to him; already wearing her white pair of skates. To match her skates, Rinoa wore a white coat, dark grey leggings (how she was not cold, Squall could not comprehend), and a pair of baby blue gloves that matched her scarf. She stretched out her arms after tying back her long black hair, exclaiming. "I can't wait until we hit the ice!"

Squall sighed, dreading the task at hand the more he kept his eyes on the frozen surface. "Whatever."

Rinoa giggled at his reaction in response. Taking hold of one of his hands, she pulled him towards the ice rink. Once they reached the entrance to the oval, Squall took another deep breath and recited his chant to reduce the humiliation he may feel. He heard Rinoa step into the rink first and Squall gazed at her. If anything, maybe he would get a little treat since this was Rinoa, right? She was—

"Oh my gosh—it's slippery!"

…Wait, did she know how to skate or not?

Squall raised a bemused eyebrow as he watched Rinoa awkwardly hold on to the side of the rink, dismissing how she continued to smile anyways. She attempted to skate, sticking out her tongue in determination and slowly let go of her support as she pushed off towards the center. Her arms were spread out away from her body as her legs wobbled uncomfortably with every baby step she took (what she was doing could not be called 'skating'). Rinoa was standing up fine, though her knees were knocking together, until she misguided one of her feet on the ice and slipped, falling down on her behind with a quick yelp.

"Ow…!" Rinoa winced as she shifted to sit on her knees while rubbing the small of her back.

What the hell? Squall thought in bafflement, finding no words to actually describe the scene he witnessed. Rinoa was always so good at dancing that Squall assumed she'd be equally as graceful on the ice. Since she was bugging him so much about this ice skating past-time hours earlier, the brunet had believed it was something Rinoa knew how to do by heart! Was he missing something? Did ballroom dancing and ice skating not act as equivalencies of each other as he first thought? …Whatever. Entering the ice rink himself, Squall glided down to where Rinoa was and offered his hand to her while kneeling. He ignored how some of the other patrons had glanced their way; some giggling under their breath at Rinoa's clumsiness. "Are you okay?"

Rinoa stared at him silently before taking his gloved hand. Once they stood on their feet again – Rinoa using Squall as a support – she raised an inquisitive eyebrow with a small tilt of her head. "You know how to skate?"

Damn… Squall cursed when he realized he had unconsciously acted, forgetting how he was supposed to feign ignorance on skating as a whole. Nevertheless, how could he pull that off when he was distracted by Rinoa's unimpressive attempt at ice skating? The brunet frowned; his defensive shell raising to arms. "So?"

"I'm just asking," Rinoa countered in complete honesty, taking note of the tense edge in his voice. She smiled earnestly and in no way was it overly teasing…yet. "I never knew you could ice skate… Unless that was something you had to learn as a SeeD too. Are you as charming on the ice as you are at dancing, Mr. Twinkle-Toes?"

Squall narrowed his eyes at her before turning his head to the side; already feeling the beginnings of a faint blush touching his cheeks in awkwardness. "…I never wanted to take that stupid class but it was an easy credit course."

"Aww," Rinoa cooed with hands behind her back, digging one tip of her skates into the ice. She laughed at him when Squall groaned with a slap to his forehead.

"Can we not do this now?" Squall monotonously begged behind his gloved palm, hoping Rinoa would take the hint as he darted his eyes towards the other ice skaters.

"Only if you teach me how to skate! I was going to get us an instructor, but I guess we won't need one…" Rinoa stuck her tongue out with a wink. "Well you won't need one."

Squall scowled at her if only because Rinoa was difficult again. She simply stared back innocently with a few quick bats of her eyelashes and Squall knew there was no way out of this dilemma…again. Sighing, he pinched the bridge of his nose as he flatly replied. "Fine…"

"Yay!" she cheered, jumping into his arms for a hug.

"H-Hey!" Squall let out as they started sliding backwards on the ice. It was already a long day and, with Squall having to 'teach' Rinoa how to skate, it was going to be even longer.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

They spent hours on the ice now with, of course, the occasional break for snacks; neither could work on an empty stomach after all…well, maybe him. Squall tried his best explaining ice skating in less than five hundred words in an attempt to not explain anything at all and directly went to the task of showing Rinoa how to move. It was a little challenging, but doing the exercises was much easier than talking; the brunet wasn't even sure if what he said simply flew over Rinoa's head in her eagerness to ice skate. Anyways, Squall held Rinoa's hands and pulled her forward gently, easing her into taking small steps as if to walk on the ice than to actually glide on it. She would look down at her feet from time to time in making sure she would stay steady. Once she got the basics of pushing forward on the ice and turning in the directions that she wanted, Squall guided her less and less. As of now, he watched Rinoa as she danced wide circles around the rink.

"This is so much fun!" Rinoa admitted with a grin, spreading her arms out as if to fly. "I feel so free! We should've done this months ago!"

Squall's gaze softened as he continued to watch Rinoa circle around him. Placing a hand on his hip, he replied, quasi-accomplished. "See? You catch on pretty quick."

Rinoa smiled at him with a lighthearted giggle. "All thanks to Instructor Leonhart! Haha!"

I'll let that pass for today, Squall mused, ignoring Rinoa's comment. He glided down the middle of the rink at his own pace when he realized how quiet it was. Looking around now, only he and Rinoa were left on the ice. Had he been instructing her the whole time? It was amazing how much Rinoa seemed to distract him from everything else in the world when they were together. Then again, Squall didn't mind it in the least; Rinoa was as fresh as a summer breeze—she helped him relax. As he continued glancing around, Squall's blue eyes made their way upwards towards the skylight of the arena and he saw the number of stars coming into view. It's getting late. We should head back to the hotel.

"Um, Squall?" Rinoa interrupted his thoughts; the brunet snapping his view in her direction. She was skating faster around the rink than before, but her expression was less than pleased. "H-How do you stop?"

Squall quickly noted how Rinoa was starting to lose her balance as she increased in speed; the center of her body tilting backwards dangerously. He instructed while attempting to skate towards her. "Use one foot to try and cross it towards your other foot."

"What? How do you do that?" Rinoa panicked, flailing her arms as in a fruitless attempt to slow down. However, that only worsened her situation. "Squall!"

He slapped his forehead before trying again. "Never mind. Try moving your legs apart and then point your toes towards each other—that's a lot easier."

"O-Okay." Rinoa nodded weakly. She did as was told and fixed her back so she was gliding in an erect position. Rinoa moved her legs shoulder-length apart, but when she tried to point her toes together, the sorceress ended up digging her right skate into the ice by accident and she started to stagger forward. "Wah!"

"Rinoa!" Squall called out, rushing forward to get to her in time. He was only a short distance away when Rinoa finally fell forward after tripping over her feet. Squall barely caught Rinoa, though the acceleration she collected from skating so fast caused the both of them to slip backwards on the ice with force after their initial collision; Squall hugging Rinoa tightly when they slid across the rink. They eventually came to a halt, stopping closely to the center of the rink and both let out a sigh of relief. Squall was on his back whereas Rinoa had rested her entire weight on him as both were unwilling to move to catch their breath. The brunet could practically feel flakes of ice melting on the nape of his neck and Squall was forever thankful that he wore a fur-collared jacket to keep most of the cold away. Rinoa was still clutching the front of Squall's jacket while the brunet had his arms around her waist.

Looking down at her in concern since Rinoa wasn't as bundled up as he was (seriously, what did those skin-tight pants she was wearing do for her?), Squall asked. "Are you okay?"

She took a moment for herself before looking back at him with a grateful upturn of her lips. "Yeah, I'm alright. Thanks." Rinoa proceeded to remove herself from Squall's chest – giving the brunet room to breathe again – and opted to lie down beside him while resting her head on top of Squall's shoulder; the fur of his jacket acting as an extra pillow. Squall allowed for the motion, adjusting his right arm around Rinoa and gazing up at the stars through the skylight.

They stayed silent for a while; simply lying on the ice next to each other without feeling uncomfortable. Squall believed that their surrounding environment would have caused him to freeze, but it was the exact opposite. It was warm, and not just in the sense of having another's body heat next to his; it was warm because Rinoa was close. How long has it been since he hugged her? When was the last time he had ever felt at peace without caring for appearances? Where was the last time he decided to spend a quiet evening with his loving girlfriend? Squall rubbed Rinoa's upper arm unconsciously as he thought to himself, This vacation isn't half bad…

"What are you thinking about, Squall?" Rinoa spoke aloud, turning her head just enough to see Squall's contemplative state.

Squall shrugged, nonchalantly replying. "I don't think ice skating was a bad idea; even if I had to spend the majority of the time teaching you."

"Very funny." She smiled in consideration. Rinoa rested her head on his shoulder again and decided to look up at the stars through the skylight as well. She commented, nuzzling the side of her face against him. "The stars are really out tonight. I think we've got the best seats in the house!"

"Yeah if you like lying down on frozen water…or an equivalent to it," Squall smugly replied, glancing at his girlfriend. She stuck her tongue out before eyeing the sky once more, however Squall found something better to look at. An honest smile touched his lips and he was thankful Rinoa (and to an extent, their friends) forced him into this vacation. If she hadn't, Squall wouldn't be here with her in this way; just the two of them admiring the stars on otherwise unexpected grounds.

Feeling his eyes on her, Rinoa looked up at Squall with a questioning simper. "What is it? Are you getting cold?"

"Just the opposite," Squall replied back, tightening his hold around her to pull her closer to him than she already was.

Rinoa willingly played along and snuggled against him, wrapping one arm over the brunet's abdomen. Humming, she asked feigning obliviousness. "The opposite, huh? Well, at least you aren't cold then…unlike me."

His lips twitched in amusement, though he kept a smile from showing on his face. Raising an eyebrow, Squall tilted his head, pushing Rinoa's bangs to the side of her face using his free hand, caressing her cheek afterwards. "You're cold?"

"Mmhmm." Rinoa closed her eyes, contently leaning against Squall's palm. "But…it's not that bad if you're here. I can brave it."

Half-expecting her answer, Squall openly chuckled, pressing his lips on the sorceress's forehead. He lingered there momentarily before moving away, allowing Rinoa to gaze up at him with bright eyes. She always had that twinkle in her eyes—that same one that had caught his attention so long ago… Lowering his face towards hers, their eyes simultaneously fell close; lips parted in loving anticipation and bodies held closely together…

"Hey, you kids!" Snapping to attention immediately as if caught red-handed for a miniscule action, Squall and Rinoa shifted their attention towards the entrance to the rink, spotting a gruff older gentleman biting down on a toothpick. Either he was grumpy enough to interrupt their 'moment' or the old man completely ignored their close proximity altogether. Snorting while brushing a finger under his nose, the man interrogated. "Ya done? This ice isn't gonna clean itself and it's already past closin' time!"

"Sorry! I guess we missed the memo," Rinoa apologized; her cheeks slightly red and Squall was sure it wasn't because of the cold. She pushed herself up to her knees – giving Squall space to sit up himself – before wobbly getting to her feet. Giving the man another apologetic smile, the young sorceress locked her hands behind her back and bowed her head. "We'll be off in a few minutes, sir."

The man merely grumbled under his breath (something about 'damn kids being all over each other') and walked away; most likely to the storage room where they kept the ice refurbishing equipment. Squall couldn't help but run a hand through his hair as he watched the maintenance man leave when he stood up at full height. Talk about bad timing; he wouldn't admit it, but the brunet was really getting into the heat of the moment…pun not intended. Brushing off the encounter with a shake of his head, Squall's blue eyes landed on Rinoa again. She played with her fingers – her way of calming down after being showered in embarrassment – while looking down at her skates and Squall showcased a lop-sided smile. Standing directly in front of her, he called for her attention. "Rinoa."

"Hmm?"

Once she glanced up at him, Squall quickly pressed his lips chastely to hers, feeling her flinch before she relaxed and returned the show of affection. He could feel her smiling against him and Squall was sure he followed her example even after they parted. Keeping his features gentle, the brunet wrapped his arm around her shoulders while guiding them towards the rink entrance. "I…never said 'thank you' for dragging me out to relax. Thanks."

Rinoa giggled; her own arm circling his waist from behind as she leaned her head on his chest. "You're welcome…" She hummed quietly prior to bringing up another suggestion. "So! Since you're still, technically, on vacation what say you and I go dancing next?"

"…Dancing?"

"Don't worry!" Rinoa grinned teasingly. "I'll be the one teaching you if you want."

Squall sighed, but smiled all the same. They both knew he could dance quite adequately (if it was the ballroom kind anyway), but…he still needed lessons on 'relaxing' during a vacation and who better to teach him that than Rinoa herself? Plus…Squall would have her all to himself. "…If it's you, then I'm open to learning."