By Wayward Tempest
"When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings." --Sting
"The Italians have a musical notation not found in any other language: tempo giusto, 'the right tempo.' It means a steady, normal beat, between 66 and 76 on the metronome. Tempo Giusto is the appropriate beat of the human heart."--Gail Godwin
The wind blew gently down the slop of the hill, tickling the soft grasses and caressing the flowers of the field below as it went. The breeze lifted stray petals from the flowers and swirled them about through dips and turns like a ride at an amusement park. The young man lying on his back with his hands behind his head watched this spectacle with a lazy fascination, and filled his lungs with the warm spring air that tingled his senses. He turned his attention to the sky above him and wondered if it had ever looked as blue as it did today. He had often looked at the sky in this same field as a boy, watching the clouds drift to parts unknown, away from him, leaving him like everyone else he had loved. They seemed to welcome him on this day. Everything seemed so different; it was like he was seeing the world for the first time. And it was beautiful.
His peaceful reverie was interrupted by a pair of black shoes making their way toward him and coming to stop just inches away from his head. He decided to feign sleep. One of them began tapping impatiently. Ok, that was getting annoying. He cracked open an eye. "Hmm?" he murmured with his best heavy, sleep-filled, do not disturb voice.
"Oh, please," she said. "You can't be asleep, I've only been gone three minutes."
He yawned and turned his gaze toward hers. "It's possible," he replied. "And besides," he glanced at his watch. "You've been gone six minutes, thirty-eight seconds."
"Keeping tabs on me Mr. Leonhart?" Rinoa cooed. "My, I'm flattered." She gave him a wink.
"Whatever," he droned.
"Anyway," she continued. "I think I can do this now." She tucked a wild strand of her hair behind her ear and kneeled to take him by the hand.
"So lets get to it," she gave his arm a smart tug.
Squall met it with all the resistance he could muster. "Do what?"
"Don't play dumb, c'mon now, it'll be fun," she chided with a child-like excitement. She further emphasized her enthusiasm by once again trying to pull him up from his stretched out position on the grass. "You know you want to."
"I don't know," he said with reluctance. "Out here? Right now?" he paused, his mind searching frantically for an excuse.
"Someone might see us." He forced all his weight into the ground, refusing to budge.
"Squall, we're in the middle of an open field," Rinoa responded. "This isn't exactly where one finds the bustling crowds." She smirked. "Unless you're intimidated by birds and butterflies." "Oh, and over there is Angelo," she continued, looking out into the field. "Heaven knows we mustn't lose face in front of the dog."
"Sarcasm will get you nowhere," he replied with a mock-insulted tone.
"No, no, that's flattery my dear," she grinned. "Honestly, am I going to have to get you up by force?"
Rinoa rolled her eyes. "Oh fine." She turned her back to him and placed her thumb and forefinger between her lips. A shrill whistle pierced the passive sky. Ahead of her, Angelo looked up from his ebullient nosing around in a nearby creek. She gave several short whistled commands and then turned back to Squall, flashed him a devious smile, and pointed a finger in his direction.
Angelo yipped in response, and faster than Squall's eyes could follow, the dog quickly made his way toward him in a series of quick dashes. Before he could even make an attempt to come to his feet Angelo was already closing in. The dog leapt into the air and landed on him with a thud. Angelo pinned him down, shook the mud and water from his fur, and then proceeded to lick Squall's face, drenching it with a coating of wet dog slobber.
"I give! I give!" he yelled trying to pry the dog off.
Rinoa was too busy rolling on the ground with laughter to call him off. Tears were streaming down her face.
Luckily for Squall, Angelo knew when enough was enough and stepped off of him, allowing him to come to his feet. The dog trotted happily over to his master, sat before her, and waited expectantly. When she had regained her breath, Rinoa stood, reached into her pocket and threw him a dog biscuit. "Good boy!" she said scratching him behind the ear. He barked excitedly and then ran back to resume his expedition in the stream.
She watched him run into the distance, stirring up the flowers as he ran. She turned back to where Squall was laying only to find no one there. A slight cough from behind her made her jump in alarm as she turned quickly around. There he was, covered from head to toe with mud. He held their picnic blanket in his hand, which he had used to remove all the dog drool from his face. His hair was ruffled atop his head. She suppressed the giggle that came within centimeters of escaping her lips as she met the icy glare of his eyes. Suddenly, she became a bit worried that perhaps she'd gone too far. He certainly didn't seem to find the humor in any of it.
"Squall," she said apologetically, "I'm so sorry. I I didn't mean to upset you."
He said nothing. Just kept staring at her. Making her dreadfully uncomfortable.
"Please, say something," she pleaded.
He looked down towards the ground and shuffled his feet for a few moments in complete silence. Suddenly, his eyes shot back up to look at her as a wicked grin formed on his lips. Before she could begin to look puzzled he encircled her with his arms in one swift movement.
And he hugged her. Tightly.
She let out a yelp as the damp cold of his clothes began to seep into her own. She tried feebly to break free, but he wasn't about to let her go.
"Ok, I give!" she shouted, "I give!"
He softly lifted her chin up to meet her gaze. He smiled genuinely then and raised his other hand to her face. With a gentle precision he glided a muddy finger from her forehead down to the tip of her nose. She smiled wryly at him.
"Asshole," she muttered.
"Asshole?" Squall queried. "Whatever happened to meanie?"
"Congratulations," she retorted. "You've been promoted." She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek and then followed with a ceremonial run of her own mud-coated finger down his nose.
"Thank you, I think," he said while brushing the hair out of his face.
She chuckled. And he smiled back.
Rinoa saw that child in his eyes then. The child that for so long secluded himself from the world, afraid of becoming too close to anyone, afraid of returning love to those who tried to give it, for fear that they would shatter into a million pieces. The child she had unknowingly found when she forced herself through the barricade of his heart, took him by his small hand, and led him out of his own self-destruction.
"So are you ready or what?" he said sarcastically, "I've been waiting all day you know."
She broke away from her thoughts and her reply came as a playful slap on the shoulder. "Yes, oh impatient one." She took his hand. "Let's go."
They walked through the tall flowers until they came upon a small clearing. "Now you stand here," she said while placing her left hand on his shoulder and grabbing his hand and placing it around her waist. "Now, just close your eyes and concentrate."
"Alright." He closed his eyes.
Rinoa followed suit and then began chanting in a whisper that was almost inaudible and a language he couldn't begin to understand. The breeze rustled and frolicked playfully twisting around the two of them, catching their hair in grasps. Squall opened one eye after a few moments and looked to see his feet still planted on the ground.
"Um, you know, I do have a couple of float spells we could use," he whispered, unsure of what would happen. He would have liked to have had some assurance that she wouldn't miss a word in her incantation and turn him into a chocobo. He made a quick glance at her and saw tiny flashes of light illuminating her form. He stared in awe as they began moving in one steady, uniformed motion. He thought he saw a pair of translucent wings spread out from her shoulders. His wonder was quickly interrupted as his feet shot of the ground with such a force that it was all he could do to keep from shouting in alarm.
She immediately opened her eyes as they lifted from the earth into the clouds above. In Squall's surprise he had released her and began stumbling backwards. She quickly reached for him as they came to a grinding stop 20 feet off the ground. She caught his hand as he took in a sharp intake of breath. She brought him back up to standing.
"Don't worry," she said with a smile. "I won't let you fall."
"I could definitely use some work on these brakes though," she laughed. "This is probably as far as we should go I think."
He remained silent.
"Squall? You alright?"
Squall was too busy staring at the ground, far below his feet to answer. His legs felt wobbly like he was standing on unstable ground. Like he was walking on water. "Wow," he whispered, raising his head slowly back to her level. "That's pretty good."
"Thank you," she responded, brushing the hair away from her eyes.
"So, now what?"
"Now, we dance," she said.
"This is silly," he grumbled.
"Oh come now, didn't you ever dream of dancing on the clouds when you were little?" She inquired.
"Ok, ok, I guess it's a girl thing. Just humor me, please? You owe me for the three hours we spent in the training center yesterday."
"Hey, that was exciting."
"Uh-huh, I'll be washing the grat blood out of my hair for weeks."
" ..I said I was sorry about that I was only trying to protect you," he muttered.
"I know, Squall, I know." She caressed the side of his face with her hand. "And I thank you." A warm smile spread across her features.
He placed a hand atop hers. "What are we going to dance to?" he questioned. "You forgot to fly in the orchestra."
"Ha, ha," she replied in a monotone. "You're right though, we do need something." She thought for a moment.
"You know," she said while letting her hand slip down to his chest and pressing gently against it. "My mother used to tell me that everything has a song inside it. To dance, you just have to find the same tempo." He looked at her quizzically.
"Just relax," she said closing her eyes. She took a deep breath and seemed to concentrate for a moment. She tapped her fingers slow and rhythmically on his chest. Her free hand reached to take hold of his and brought it up to her own chest, holding it over her heart. He felt the steady rhythm through his fingertips, through his hand, all the way back to his own heart which followed the exact same cadence. It startled him. He had never shared with anyone like this in his whole life. It was exuberating, euphoric, and embarrassing all at the same time. He was unable to restrain the blush that crept onto his cheeks and spread like a summer wildfire. "God, she was so bold," he thought to himself. What did she honestly see in someone worlds apart from herself. He looked up from his hand to meet her eyes once more. She gave him a lopsided, shy grin as a blush as bright and fiery as his own stretched across her own face. The tempo increased. As he gazed into the liquid brown pools of her eyes, something snapped soundly and everything suddenly fit. Everything felt so right in this one moment. Same tempo. Perhaps they weren't so different after all.
"Um, ready?" she croaked.
All he could do was nod a little.
"A waltz is three count. One two .three, on the downbeat. Like that. Do you remember?"
He nodded again.
"Then lead the way."
So they began, for an eternity of minutes. Forward, to the side, one step back, and to the side again. Opposite of each other's movements. He stepped forward. She retreated. He stepped back, and she advanced. Never meeting, parallel, but always equal. More perfect than the night they first met. It was one continuous movement that echoed off the two of them and elucidated the sky around them. A faultless square. The wind whipped around them again, encircling their dance with a wave of petals. It sent chills down both their spines as a force unknown to both swept through them.
One step forward.
Emotions rose to the point of overflowing. A tear escaped her eye and lost itself, falling to the ground below.
To the side.
He wasn't controlling his movements anymore, something else had taken control of his steps, but his eyes never left hers. He was traveling miles through them.
One step back.
Names, titles, who they were, what they were, everything, faded into a moment of time, till only two souls remained, teetering on hope, on fear, on light and shadows. Two souls that intertwined themselves not because they were the same, but because they held each other up with their diversity.
To the side again.
It eventually became too much for them to bear. Their knees almost buckled beneath them as they eliminated the space between and enclosed themselves in each other's arms. Rinoa buried her head against his neck, breathing softly against his skin. Squall rested his head atop hers, basking in a warmth of unknown origins. Any burdens for the future or the past had vanished. Their feet kept moving, swaying back and forth to an ancient song with no words. It was the kind of experience you want to shout to the world, but dare not speak of it to anyone. Not even to each other. Something you keep locked in the vast depths of your soul, and then release it against the storms that threaten to tear it asunder.
Not a word was spoken for some time, till finally, Rinoa broke the silence.
"I'm not quite sure how to tell you this," she said. "But I'm not quite sure how to get us down."
Squall's soul was so light and weightless that he felt he could soar without the aid of magic or airships. His lips formed a smile as he let out a breath that tickled the top of her head.
"Don't worry," he whispered. "I won't let you fall."
Wayward Tempest's Fanfiction