Jul. 8th, 2006 09:05 pm
invocations: (Can't lose you (S/R).)
[personal profile] invocations

Title: Winter
Fandom: FFVIII
Character: Rinoa
Warnings: None.
XP: [ profile] fated_children (here)


On winter nights like these, she likes her showers searing hot. Hot enough to feel the spray slamming into her skin (into her very blood), feeling the steam fill the cubicle and watching it drift into the bathroom, knowing that it seeps out the doors like mist. She closes her eyes and can almost feel herself drift away under the water, hotter than but as comfortable as a womb. It’s hot enough to know that when she steps out, the mirror will be clouded and she can draw on it with artificially warm fingers.

Sometimes if she feels light-headedly silly, she will drag him in here and get him to play mirror noughts-and-crosses with her. It isn’t as if he minds terribly, letting her cajole him into participating while clad in just a nubby towel. He can never shake the feeling that he’s six again when he stands there next to her, etching his move with a precise and solemn finger.

But he’s not here today; when she steps out into the bathroom, she can sense him moving in the adjoining room. The slight shift of his thoughts is a mere rustle on the periphery of her mind, like pen scratching on paper. He’s occupied, she senses. Always a leap ahead, ever planning. The cold season marks the busiest time of year for him, banishing him to his thankless office more often than usual. It’s noticeably colder without him, and she paints a downturned mouth on her reflection.

She carefully traces the outline of her face in the mirrorfog, adding eyes, nose, hair. Everyone’s mood seems to turn grey slightly around this time. At least in Trabia, there’s snow to kicked and thrown, ice-skating to be had. Here, there’s only biting sea breezes and rain. She doesn’t mind the quiet life here, but she hates to see everyone at Garden grow restless with the cold. There’s nowhere to go, nothing to do in a small harbour town that was born with summer in mind. Sometimes they all go out for dinner in town, but she hates to make the drive through the slick night, and if she thinks too hard and long—


         —she shakes her head and draws a moustache on her reflection.

It’s too cold to stand here doodling—she glances at small clock tagged to the upper corner of the mirror. Eleven. Trust him to have one clock in each room, she thinks. She cleans the mirror with a few hasty swipes of her hand. On the nights where the temperature dips sharply like a cleaving knife, she shuns the cold with thick marshmallow sweaters and long flannel pants. Otherwise, she knows she’d (freeze)— be terribly cold. He always smirks when she sleeps with her socks on.

Today, he has started early with a faint twitch of a smirk. She spies this as she trails out of the bathroom, flashing him a smile and a comfortable scent of soap as she passes him. For a moment, he watches her rummage through her chest of drawers, retrieve her socks, and head straight for bed. It’s like a small animal he saw once, dragging itself into a sunwarmed spot where it stayed motionless for hours. He notices she’s like that too, and is amazed that she can stay motionless in bed for hours. He knows; he watched.

“I thought only reptiles were cold-blooded,” he says quietly. She sticks out her tongue at him, all the time tucking away this rare moment with her other small moments, like beads on a sparse necklace.

“Just ‘cause you aren’t cold,” she grumbles. And it’s true, she thinks, yawning. While she longs to turn up the thermostat on nights like these, she knows it’ll be too muggy for him, he who never feels the cold.

She glances at him, only now sliding a jumper over his head. He looks itchy, ready to leave even though no one else works at this hour. The thought makes her sigh, and she pulls the blankets around her, creating the impression of an overgrown beetle sitting in a blanket cocoon. She watches him neatly fold the cuffs of his jumper sleeves (symmetrical) with an amused intensity; he feels it and turns to her, his face a silent question.

“You coming soon? I could really use the body heat…” Her voice lilts with her tired smile and he returns it, small and genuine. It warms her, even if it is accompanied by an apologetic wave of his hand.

“I’ve got some work to do. You sleep.” She nods, too drowsy to protest, and shuffles down into her cave of blankets. She hears the slight rustle of paper – folders, she assumes—and the grink-grink of the doorknob turning.

A heavy pause means he’s still there— and sure enough, she can feel the faint, careful tread of his mind. With the blankets pressed to her nose, she knows what he must see as he glances at their bed: only two closed eyes and a scraggly tuft of hair. Her eyes refuse to open at the tiny sound of his breath catching, poised on a question, and she waits for him. It’s pinched in worry and she thinks it may be important. Then again, he is her fierce and loyal worrier.

“Got your socks on?”

A small cocoon-wriggle of assent. “Yessum,” comes her muffled voice. She thinks she feels him laugh, a mere rustle of silvergray in her head, before he shuts the door behind him.

As she curls and tucks her hands close to her body, she wonders whether he forgets the small eternity encased in glass, fogging not from steam but from burning cold. Freeze. How quickly the glass opaqued frightened her, numbly knowing that it was just her, alone in the sinking cold and unable to enjoy one last sight. Only a fearful white.

It was just like being five again, strapped into your child’s car seat with your small mouth rasping hot against the window while you think about how quiet your mother is being. The car turns cold quicker in the winter. Your breath clouds a ragged circle on the window, faster than you can believe, and you can’t draw on it like you used to because your arms are trapped to your sides. You are numb, staring at the growing white.

This winter symmetry scares her, if she thinks about it hard enough. Within the confining glass of the shower cubicle, at least, the needling, jabbing heat comforts her, warms her, allows her to move. There is no white, only the red of the heat pressing on your eyelids (into her very blood). It feels like penance for something unknown, erasing, making whole.

It feels like the warmth that seeped into her consciousness like a secret, right after the newborn stumble outside the freezing chamber and into a warmleathered embrace. She presses a faint smile against the blankets. It doesn’t matter. She’s always hated the cold, she thinks, before she slips away.

She doesn’t notice him pad back into the room a few moments later, quiet gloves turning up the room’s heating before he steals back to his office in his measured tread.

He never forgets.


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