The world coming back to view starts with something against his face, ice cold.
Or maybe it's just that he's cold.
He shivers-no, shudders-and flinches, his legs jerking towards his chest if only he could move, and he thinks the thing crawling across his face might be a hand.
Dare he open his eyes? He tries, he wants to, and he can't. It would be so much easier to just sleep.
The hand stops and there is is a weight that presses over his chest and a warm breath in his ear that sounds through his body like a shot of lightning. He feels something liquid, something hot, hit his face; and then the weight is lifted.
It's a struggle, but he opens his eyes. A crack. It's bright, so much brighter than anything he's seen for days, and everything is the same blur he remembers leaving behind, and it's her.
Her face, illuminated against a sky that he would swear is actually swirling, and her hair is whipping around in a wind he knows he didn't feel moments ago. Her face, blurry, unfocused, as it was before.
"R-" His throat is dry.
From what he can tell she is watching the wind, and doesn't hear him, and if only he could focus.
"Rinoa," he finally says. A whisper. A rasp.
And she watches the wind, and her face is still out of focus, and he thinks she might have turned to him as he closes his eyes.
The wind picks up her hair before anything, and Rinoa turns a tearstained face to the sky. The sky is rolling-actually rolling-back, the ground turning from cracked stone to grass and flowers like it's flipping from top to bottom one concentric foot at a time, and they are the epicenter.
So this is my power, she thinks, and you are dead.
And then the wind whispers her name and she looks down again just in time to see Squall's eyes closing, and watches his chest rise in disbelief.
So this is my power.
Her tears are flowing freely and she hugs him again, tightly, tighter, and this time when she does his breath tickles her ear and his skin is warm beneath her.
"You're alive. You're alive, you're alive, you're alive," she tells him, over and over, rocking back and forth and crying with flowers and feathers dancing in the air around her.
Around her... Where?
She looks up and there is nothing but the field, and then there are mountains, and then behind them the small silhouette of a town. She smiles.
"Squall," she says. "I think I know where we are."
He is aware that it is dark without opening his eyes, and takes a second to figure out where he is. The air is still, and smells faintly of flowers.
"Hi." The voice is female, soft, about three feet away. It travels lightly towards him and he ventures opening his eyes.
He is in a room he doesn't know, a blank ceiling above him. He turns his head slowly and sees her. She's sitting in a chair with her legs curled beneath her, skin glowing in moonlight that catches her through the open window.
It's been so long since he's seen anything clearly.
"Hi," he says, and his voice is as hoarse as it was before.
She unfolds her legs and steps towards the bed. The curtains cause the moonlight to shift from dark to light against her as she walks; the effect hurts his eyes, but he keeps them open against the burn. His eyes are locked on her face, memorizing it, caught by every detail. The shadows are nothing, nothing, compared to what was there before.
"Come here," he says, and slowly stretches out a hand. She takes it and smiles, and he closes his fingers over hers and gives a slight tug. "Please."
Away from the window the shadows claim her face and he can't see her eyes, can't read her, and now that she is laying on the bed he drops her hand and runs it up her arm, her shoulder, down her back and pulls her closer. She shifts so her arm is over his, her breath soft against his forehead, and runs her fingers through his hair.
"I'm sorry," he whispers, his face pressed somewhere against her neck. "I just..."
"Need to know you're alive?"
He nods against her, and her hand continues to brush back his hair.
When he wakes again the moon has set, and in the darkness he feels a gripping panic and tries to turn, and is caught by the weight of her arm over his. In that movement his surroundings fall into place. He is in her arms and her breath is falling in an even rhythm against him.
Without the moon the only light is a dim yellow glow from what must be a streetlamp, and he wonders where he is.
He has one arm pinned beneath his side he knows is asleep, and he moves it, wincing as it starts to wake up; his other hand is resting on the curve of her back. His neck is sore from falling asleep with it at an angle, and when he moves it he feels a sharp coldness in the space it creates between them.
Rinoa's head drops down slightly, pressing towards him for just a second and she murmurs, almost unintelligibly, "Are you okay?"
"Are you?" he says instead.
"Mmm." Her fingers close around his hair and she shifts her head back enough to look at him. "You scared me," she says, her voice stronger, more awake.
"I'm sorry," he says, but he is waking up as well, and the last-day? year? years?-are coming back to him in full and he feels his pulse start to quicken.
"Squall?" She starts to move her arm and he quickly grabs it, holds it in place.
He is in the castle. He is in a void. He is watching himself at 5 years old, at 10. He is watching his mother die, and then he is watching a faceless Rinoa spin around him, and he closes his eyes and thinks he might be sick.
"Squall!" Her voice is a worried whisper, and he leans his head once more against her neck, breathing in her smell, her warmth.
"Please don't leave," his words are muffled against her and he repeats them, and then again, his fingers gripping the fabric of her shirt and after a moment he realizes he's crying. She is whispering something into the top of his head and stroking his hair.
"Rinoa," he says, and moves his head back to look at her, and his words are lost somewhere in the fear of knowing, finally, truly knowing what it felt like to be alone. "I..." Her eyes are dark holes and they are starting to scare him, and he leans forward and presses his lips against hers, soft, unsure.
"Squall-" she mumbles against the kiss, but he silences her, running his hand over her back, her neck, across her face and into her hair. "Squall." She pulls her head back and her eyes are the same dark holes as before.
"I'm sorry," he says, the nausea rising again; fear, loneliness, maybe even embarrassment if he had the clarity to name it. "You can..." Go? No, you can't. I can't take it. The dark, empty room taunts him, and she is his anchor, and if she turns him away it will smother him. Her taste lingers and he needs it, needs her, and she is the only thing in his world that makes sense.
"I just... I want..." Her hand moves down to his face, her fingers trailing over his mouth, followed by her lips. He kisses her again, moves his hand down to her hip, slips it beneath her shirt and closes his eyes against the feeling of her skin. He shifts the fabric up, higher, until she takes over and removes it entirely, and he pulls his off in turn.
Their bodies are pressed hot against each other, and it is more grounding than any experience he can remember. He clings to her and kisses her harder, forcing out the memories of loneliness, of battles, of being lost in time. She tugs at his hair and her fingers graze his bare back, sliding down, down, and around, working at the button on his pants, and after a minute of awkward fumbling that he's only vaguely aware of, there they are, exposed.
She raises a hand to his face and kisses him, lightly. "Are you scared?"
His heart is racing and he is going on need and instinct far more than limited experience, but no. Not scared.
"Not anymore." And he rolls so she is beneath him and leans down, and she whispers, "Me neither."