The Ice That Abandons Me Part 2
A Thawing Out of the Soul
By Wayward Tempest
He had fallen asleep.
Of all the moronic things to do.
"Damn it!" He cursed as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
It couldn't have been long though, he reassured himself. Only felt like a couple of minutes. As his vision focused he realized he was missing something
"Rinoa?" He called out into the darkness. The light had now completely vanished. His voice echoed against the walls as he stood up. Fear beginning a slow rise from the pit of his stomach, she had fallen somewhere away from him. He felt for her on the ground with his good hand, continuing to call her name. He made his way to the far back of the grotto, the sound of trickling water filling his ears, and nothing more.
Where was the damned bird?
"Lucky!" he called before placing his thumb and forefinger to his lips and gave a loud chocobo whistle.
Squall reached into his pocket and found a small cylinder object. It was a small neon glow stick. He snapped it with his thumb and bathed the nearby walls in an eerie green glow. He stumbled into the wall and held on to it for support. He moved quicker, his urgency growing with each step. He made his way around the corner and looked towards the entrance. The opening had expanded, large rocks were scattered all around and a mound of snow sealed the entrance. Not one shimmer of light penetrated it. His heart quickened as nausea began creeping upward through his body.
"Rinoa!" he called again. It wasn't a cry of searching anymore; it was a cry of pleading.
He ran forward, ignoring the numbness in his legs. He fell at the entrance and began digging with his one good hand. The snow kept sliding in. His hand hit an object within the ice and it flew from its prison and clinked against the stony ground. He closed his eyes and swallowed hard. He moved the light and shined it over in the corner, where the thing had landed. It shimmered dully. Slowly he reached for it and pulled it out of a small puddle. He held it up and revealed to his eyes a broken chain. The two rings clinked softly together. Griever grinned in the jade light. Water traced through the engraved lines and dripped from its mouth. But it wasn't water. It was thicker. And black. With a trembling hand he reached and gathered some of the liquid with his fingers. He rubbed it between them. It was sticky. He brought it closer to his face and sniffed at it.
He turned and retched violently upon the floor. He put his head against the snow moaning in anguish. It had taken her. Tears streamed down his face, dripping into the snow.
"You take me to the nicest places Squall."
She would never know. He could never tell her what she meant to him.
Grief and anger overwhelmed him as he stood and screamed angrily.
"You fucking son-of-a-bitch!!"
He wasn't sure at that moment if he was referring to the monster or himself. He saw the hilt of his gunblade sticking out of the snow. He pulled it from its prison, only to discover that the hilt was all that remained. It had taken everything from him.
"There isn't another place on this entire planet that I would want to be right now, if you weren't with me."
He could hear her words echoing through his brain. She was now, all because of him, because he wasn't able to protect her. They had been through so much. They had beaten a sorceress, hell bent on destroying their world. They had seen the ends of the earth in time compression and lived to tell about it. They even survived a fucking plane crash. They had survived so many trials. Together. And now he had lost her, to a snow lion. A god damned snow lion. And her blood; was all over his hands.
He dug at the snow screaming for the creature to finish what it started. The more he dug, the more that the snow fell into the entrance, sealing him off from the outside. The snow lion had knew what it was doing. It had stolen his soul and dashed it amongst the rocks. Then, it had sealed him off from it. And finally, it had taken his weapon, so he could not end his life quickly to join it. No, it wanted him to whither slowly inside his tomb. It took delight in watching him grieve. It delighted in watching him die alone.
Through the thick wall of snow he heard its voice sweeping across the frozen plain.
It was howling with laughter.
And that was when he woke up screaming.
His eyes focused amid the darkness. The cold had vanished. He couldn't tell where he was. "Am I dead?" He tried to prop himself up onto his elbows. They were so weak. He felt the bed beneath him and the blankets surrounding him. His fingers were restricted by something as he tried to wiggle them. He suddenly realized he could move his arm again. It had been healed. He raised it up from the bed it and winced. Still sore. He wiped the sleep from his eyes and his thoughts suddenly turned to Rinoa.
"Rinoa?" he called out into the darkness, surprised at the hoarse rattle of his voice.
He untangled himself from the blankets and brought his feet to the floor. The cold tile attacked his feet as he stood and staggered back down to a sitting position when his legs refused to work. He took a deep breath before a vicious coughing fit wracked his entire frame. He had never felt this weak in his life. Slowly, he tried standing again. A light filtered through the small room as the door near the edge of the bed and he looked up to see a shadowed figure standing in the doorway. It looked almost to be an otherworldly presence. The figure was dressed all in white as the soft light shimmered around it. Only when it stumbled a bit and leaned heavily upon the doorframe did it betray its mortality.
"Squall?" A soft and strained whisper filled his ears.
The voice was almost unrecognizable but not completely.
The figure took a step forward and put a hand to her face as a sob escaped her lips.
"Oh my God," he whispered.
Squall scrambled from his sitting position on the bed. He stumbled every step towards her, falling and fighting to get to his feet so he could reach her. She walked slowly towards him, like a child taking its first steps, trying her best to hold to the wall for support as she fought to meet him half way. As he finally succeeded in making it to her he wrapped his arms around her and held her as tightly as he could.
She was real.
Rinoa returned the embrace feverishly. Their knees finally gave way and buckled beneath them, and neither appeared to notice as they collapsed onto the floor. Their hearts hammered wildly against each other, as if they too were reaching desperately for something that had been lost, until now. Neither said a word that night. They only held on to one another as they cried.
Squall awoke shortly before dawn. A habit he had acquired at Garden. Apparently
even near death experiences didn't kill old habits. He stared up towards
the white ceiling that was cast in a cobalt hue from the dim light filtering
through the window. Somehow he had returned to his bed. He wondered if it
had all been another dream. Were either of them a reality? She was so
holding her last night
it had to be real. A slight movement
caused him to turn his gaze downward. She was there curled up beside him
on the small cot. Her arm was draped across his stomach as her head rested
on his chest. He had never felt so relieved in his life. And he was unable
to suppress the smile that invaded the corners of his mouth. Not that it
was something he fought much anymore.
He watched every movement of the sun that morning as it rose to illuminate her form. He took every detail of her in, as if he could paint this instance permanently on a canvas. He reached over and gently brushed away the hair surrounding her face. A bandage had been wrapped around her forehead. Some of the deeper abrasions she had received from the encounter with the snow lion were still visible. Her cheeks were marred by the jagged cuts; one ran long ways down her chin. Bandages were wrapped around her hands and arms, much like his own he noticed. Her eyes were dark circled and she was as pale as the sheet they were lying on. But to him, she was the most beautiful sight in the world. Because of the way her body moved in the light, up and down, inhale and exhale. Because she breathed. To put it simply, she was alive.
They say if you stare at someone who is sleeping long enough, they'll wake up. It wasn't Squall's intention, but soon enough she opened her eyes slowly into the light. She took several moments to readjust to the surroundings. She turned and saw the face of her pillow smiling down at her. She seemed as surprised as he was when he had first awakened. The surprise quickly turned to joy that nearly brimmed over and spilled from her eyes. She raised her head up to get a better view of him, and then spoke the first thing that came to mind.
"Hey there handsome, you look like hell," she croaked.
"You look beautiful."
She chuckled. "And you're delirious too. I feel like hell warmed over. Or maybe it's froze I'm not quite sure."
She reached up and touched the side of his face, gliding along his features with a gentle feather-like feel, until she came to his nose which she took in her fingers, and pinched it.
"Ouch. What was that for?"
"Just wanted to make sure you weren't a dream," she laughed.
"No, don't think so, least not the last time I checked," he grinned.
"I missed you."
"I missed you too."
"I had this horrible dream I thought you were gone."
"Yeah, I had one of those too," he replied slowly.
He wrapped his arm around her as she climbed up closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder.
"Guess, we're back in Trabia Garden then?"
They were silent for a few minutes.
"How how did you find me here?"
She looked up at him and winked. "Sorceress's intuition."
"Oh really? Where can I buy one of those?"
"Hmm, I think they're on wholesale in Esthar." She smiled.
That smile, that seemed to cause everything to melt into nothing. Seeing it again made his heart skip and his soul take flight. He couldn't control it any longer.
He kissed her.
Not one of those small pecks on the hand or on the cheek that he occasionally gave her as a sign of his still shy and tentative affection. No, he had only kissed her like this once before and he decided, that he meant it as much at that moment as he did then. He ignored the burning pain of his chapped lips as he pressed them tightly against hers. The things he had wanted to tell her before, back in the cold when he feared he wouldn't get the chance, the words he couldn't form were poured into this simple act. He wondered if she knew the words. He hoped she did. He felt them in return from her feverish lips. And he was thankful that his soul was alive at that moment, to at least try and show her part of it.
They parted only when the need to breathe overcame the desire to stay like that forever.
"Maybe this is heaven," she said as she stared into his eyes.
"Possible but I don't think heaven is this sterile, or smells so much like disinfectant." He smirked, "Other than that, its damn close."
He reached for her again and they closed the gap between them. Before their lips met however, they were interrupted by a loud and assertive voice.
"As much as we are glad that both of you are awake, we must remind you that this medical facility is not a honeymoon suite!"
They both slowly turned their heads to see a scowling middle-aged woman dressed in a nurse's uniform. The patient compassion seemed to be lacking from her steel blue eyes.
"Then again maybe this is hell," Rinoa blurted out before she could reach up and cover her mouth to keep the thought from spilling out.
Squall couldn't resist the urge to laugh.
"Miss Heartilly, if you please, your room is down this way," the nurse pointed out into the corridor.
The nurse walked over and helped the young woman from the bed. She shivered as she was taken away from the blankets and untangled from Squall's arms. The nurse stopped and put a hand to her forehead. She immediately did the same to Squall.
"You two are burning up! Come, we will get you some medication. The two of you should be getting rest, not parading around like a newly wed couple out on a hot date!"
All they could do was nod dumbfounded.
She led Rinoa around the corner of the bed and sat her down in a wheelchair, still ranting and raving to herself. "We do not tolerate this sort of behavior!"
Rinoa looked around. "We?"
"Um, you're the only one here."
"We are not amused."
"Um, yeah okay."
Rinoa turned her head around as far as she could as the two of them headed out the door.
"Bye Squall," she said. "We will see you later." She laughed as she was practically shoved out into the hallway.
Squall smiled as he watched her vanish out of sight. A moment later a shrill voice coming from the hallway filled his ears. He recognized it immediately.
"Rinoa!" Selphie squealed. Running footsteps sounded down the hallway.
"There is no running allowed in the halls!"
"Miss Heartilly! You are going the wrong way!"
He watched as Rinoa wheeled by his door going in the opposite direction heading towards Selphie, the nurse following in quick pursuit. This would be a long recovery he thought as he chuckled.
"No birdie! Don't go in the restroom!" He heard Selphie yell.
"Miss Tilmitt! Why is there a chicobo running loose in the infirmary?"
He heard Lucky whistle loudly followed by the sound of a toilet flushing. "Wark!"
"Yes," he thought as he sighed, "long indeed."
Ten days to be exact, twelve counting the first two days when they had been
unconscious. The rest of the time was spent recovering from hypothermia,
dehydration, frostbite and a nasty round of the Trabian flu. Needless to
say he was absolutely ecstatic to be leaving his four white-walled prison.
Not that the days there hadn't been interesting to say the least. Despite
being miserable he and Rinoa had a hell of a lot of fun sneaking around to
see each other while trying to evade the ever watchful "iron giant" as they
had affectionately named the bad-tempered nurse. Zell, Irvine and Selphie
had also helped to pass the days quicker. Stopping by the room just to say
hi and ending up staying for four or five hours playing triple triad or just
making simple conversation. It was actually nice for a time, not having to
worry about missions or monsters or anything involving SeeD and Garden. Though
his right hand was feeling a little itchy to have a gunblade in it again.
It was good to finally be free of the place. Unfortunately the day also marked
the end of their leave of absence or "vacation" as Cid had dubbed it. Which
he knew to be complete bullshit. Cid wanted them to hang around until the
Ragnarok was fixed so they could fly the damn thing home for him. Squall
learned from years of experience, that man always had an ulterior motive
He stared out the small window sipping hot coffee out of a small mug. The snow covered everything. The blinding white of the ground glittered in the dawning sun and stretched out across forever. Occasionally, the wind would pick up and scatter a few feathery snowflakes against the glass. Even now, the experience was still fresh on his mind. He could feel the snow without touching it. The cold was all too familiar, and he shivered despite being inside the warm room. He sat his coffee on the end table, walked from the window and picked up the black sweater lying on the bed. He stared at it for a moment frowning. He hated sweaters. They were always so tight and itchy. Not that he had much choice though. His leather jacket and pants were ruined. Ripped, torn, and soaked completely through. He was somewhat disheartened with that, even though he considered it to be an extremely petty thought. Being that there were far more important things that were almost lost. Clothing could always be replaced.
He pulled the thick wool over his head and down across the gray shirt he would wear underneath it. He cringed and began to scratch. It was definitely going to take some adjustment. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his blue jeans, desperately trying to resist ripping the thing in two. He reached down and picked up the release form the nurse had handed him a few minutes earlier after having one of those completely pointless final physical exams. He said nothing though, kept quiet and did what he was told. Which he seriously doubted wasn't the case in the room just down the hall. He still hadn't been able to get across the lesson that being quiet, sometimes made things go a bit faster. He grinned and walked out of the room and down the hallway. Well, as long as she was going to have some fun, he might as well make it more interesting.
"And I told you, I'm as fine as I was yesterday please just let me go!"
"This is standard procedure Miss Heartilly, let me do my job and we will let you leave! Now put this under your tongue!"
"Look, I'm not gonna sue you if I suddenly get sick after I leave here. I promise!"
Squall stood in the doorway and watched the battle with an amused look on his face.
Rinoa stood up from the bed and started to walk around her.
"Miss Heartilly, sit down!" The nurse took her by the shoulders and pushed her back down onto the bed.
"Nurse Angus, don't shove your patients!" Rinoa gave the woman a slight shove backwards.
"Agnes!" The nurse yelled infuriated.
"Oh that's right sorry, Nurse Ag-umphhf." She was cut short by the thermometer being shoved into her mouth. Rinoa folded her arms and gave the nurse a hard scowl.
"Give me your wrist."
"Shay pweash." Rinoa replied, trying to hold the thermometer in her mouth.
"Now." Agnes growled as she grabbed the young woman's wrist.
"Ow! Your bedside manner really sucksh you know that?"
The nurse grunted as she held her fingers to her wrist and stared at her watch counting silently.
Rinoa looked around and smiled brightly as she saw Squall standing in entranceway.
"Hey Rin, how ya feeling today?"
"Hah, well, like I tol shhomeone earlier," she said looking up at the nurse. "I'm f-i-n-e!"
Agnes sighed and removed the thermometer from her mouth.
"Please, just let me finish this so we both can move on with our lives!"
The woman sighed as she strapped a blood pressure cuff to Rinoa's arm. Rinoa turned and flashed Squall a wicked grin and gave him a wink.
"You know, this would be a lot easier if you'd smile." She said sweetly, looking up the older woman.
"One only smiles when one is happy, and you Miss Heartilly, do not make me happy."
"Aw, what a sweet thing to say! Squall, I think she's warming up to me!"
"You know Mr. Leonhart has been very cooperative, you should learn from his example."
"Nah, Squall is a military man, he's trained for that whole 'be quiet and follow orders thing' but I'm rectifying that slowly but surely. I mean, at least he knows how to smile now."
Squall gave her a mock salute. "Yes ma'am!" He gave her a wide and toothy grin.
"Now see? That's progress."
"Whatever," the lady grumbled.
Rinoa's jaw dropped. "Squall is she a relative?!?"
"Hell no!" Squall said in horror and then quickly tried to correct himself. "Er, that is to say, I don't believe we are related." He turned away and pretended to be fascinated by something so as not to make any eye contact with the "iron giant." After all, those monsters can smell fear. And anyway, he had to fight that urge to laugh.
Rinoa on the other hand did not succeed in concealing it and was nearly doubled over with silent laughter.
"Yes?" She squeaked.
"Yes ma'am." She snickered.
After a few more exasperating minutes she was finally able to finish and wearily signed Rinoa's release form. She handed it to her.
"Miss Heartilly, I want you to know, I have never been more ecstatic to hand one of these out."
Rinoa smiled. "See there? I can make you happy!"
The nurse shook her head and proceeded to walk out the door. "Goodbye Miss Heartilly."
Squall quickly moved out of the storming giant's way.
"What a relief!" Rinoa sighed as she fell back onto the bed.
"You know," she said as she pretended to wipe imaginary tears from her eyes. "I'm gonna miss her."
"Right. I think that Snow Lion had a better temperament than her."
"I think your right," she laughed.
"So you think we're related huh?"
"Oh Hyne no Squall. I was just kidding."
"Oh really?" He said gruffly. "Well, I still don't think that'll save you from paying the penalty."
"This one." He said as sprung over to the bed and began tickling her mercilessly.
"Ah! Okay I'm sorry! I'm .so sorry. Stop please!" She laughed
She shut her eyes tightly and tried desperately to defend herself. The attack ceased and she squinted her eyes open to see him staring down at her with a calm expression on his face.
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing," he said as he brushed a strand of hair from her face.
"It's just good to see you smile."
"Yeah, it feels good to smile again doesn't it? Its weird, I feel like I've taken little things like that for granted now. Everything feels different but in a really good way."
"Even this?" He said as he leaned over and kissed her.
She returned the kiss, wrapping her arms around him, running her fingers up and down his back, gliding upward along the strands of his hair down across the etched features of his face. She felt the same electric fire that he had always managed to ignite in her. It was a strange and wonderful feeling of being filled and complete. No, it wasn't any different. Because frankly she thought, it didn't get any better than this.
A slight cough brought them back down to reality as they broke the kiss and looked shamefully towards the door.
"Excuse me, I didn't mean to interrupt, but I've been worried sick and stuck on a fishing boat for three straight days and let me tell you a little bit about the personal hygiene of fishermen!"
"Quistis!" Rinoa beamed as she slid off the bed and approached her with open arms. Quistis smiled and hugged her tightly.
"You two scared the living hell out of me," she said as the tears brimmed her eyes. "Thank Hyne you're both okay."
Rinoa patted her on the back before releasing her. "Its good to see you again," she smiled.
"Yes," she chuckled at the simplicity of the statement. "Its good to see you again as well." She looked to the man standing behind her.
"And you too Mr. Leonhart! Can I ask for a hug? Do you give those out now? Or do I just offer a handshake?" She proceeded to extend her hand to him.
He smiled as he took it and pulled her into a hug.
"Missed your lectures instructor," he said.
Quistis laughed. "Liar."
"Well, I'm glad you're here anyway."
"Me too. Sorry it took so long, I couldn't get away from Balamb no matter how much I begged and pleaded. Then when they finally did allow me to leave, I had to find a boat to Trabia. The earliest one leaving happened to be a fishing boat. I swear; I'm never eating seafood again."
"But none of that matters. I'm just thankful to see you both alright." She said as she smiled. "And now that I have, I shall leave you two to finish whatever you were doing." She winked.
Both of them blushed furiously.
"See you outside," she waved. "Oh Rinoa, I left Angelo with Xu. I was going to bring him, but you told me how much he hates water, so I figured a boat trip would be pretty traumatic."
Rinoa chuckled. "Yes it'd be very traumatic for you to put up with a water phobic dog on a fishing boat. Fish terrify him too. Believe me it's a good thing you left him on dry land. Thanks so much for taking care of him though, I hope he hasn't been too much trouble."
"Not at all, he was a very polite and well-mannered roommate. Much cleaner than some I've had to room with I can tell you!" She laughed. "He did missed you terribly though."
"Yeah, I've missed that fuzz ball too." Rinoa said. "Thank you again Quistis."
"Your welcome, it was no trouble. Well, I'm heading outside to check on the others. See you two in a bit." She waved as she stepped out the door.
A loud scream coming from outside startled the two of them as they rushed to the window to see what was happening. Below the window they could see Zell, doubled over, apparently laughing at something to his left, beyond their range of view.
"Oh I couldn't have perfected that shot any more if I wanted too!"
The shrill and loud voice of Selphie could be heard coming from the other direction. "You are so dead Zell Dincht!"
A snowball came flying towards the younger man and whizzed passed him as he ducked it with ease.
"Hah! You missed! Which is no surprise really, cause you have to be lightning fast to keep of with the moves of Zell Dincht!" He pumped a fist triumphantly in the air and proceeded to do a little victory dance. A dance that was cut short when a small yellow blur jumped out from behind him and kicked him in the back of the knees, causing them to buckle and putting him face first into the snow.
"Woohoo! Lucky! Way to go!" Selphie's laughter echoed across the terrain.
The chicobo chirped as he strutted around him and added insult to injury by stepping on the back of Zell's head, pushing his face further down into defeat.
Rinoa and Squall both laughed from their boxed seats above the spectacle.
"That chicobo is something else," Squall stated. "I think he takes after you." He looked over and grinned at her.
Rinoa's expression saddened a bit as she stared out the window.
"We we're going to have to take him back aren't we?"
"You know he'd be miserable at Garden Rinoa. There aren't any chocobos and Balamb's climate would be really hard on him."
"I know I know. It's just hard. Do you think they'll accept him?"
"Oh yeah, chocobos are very good parents, they never turn down one of their own, even if it isn't their own flesh and blood. Guess you could say, there are never any orphans in a chocobo forest."
"Seems like humans could learn a thing or two from them."
"Yes, they could."
"Do you think he'll forget us?"
"No, I don't think so. We can always come and see him."
"I know; I just hate goodbyes."
He put his arm around her.
"Well, look at it this way, you'll have all morning to say goodbye."
Wayward Tempest's Fanfiction