invocations: (Can't lose you (S/R).)
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Time for something light! Using some of the more awkward prompts on the f_c themeset. XD


Title: Breathing Space
Fandom: FFVIII
Characters: Squall/Rinoa
Warnings: None.
XP: [livejournal.com profile] fated_children, here.





breathing space



“...Holiday?” He says it slowly, as if tasting a new and unfamiliar word, carefully rolling it around in his mouth. “Why would I need one?”

She leans over his desk, obscuring the paperwork before him and deftly whipping the pen from his hand. “Because you work too hard, silly. Haven’t you gone on a holiday before?”

He frowns at her, but she just rests her chin on her hands, waiting for an answer. That annoying throbbing in his head has started again and he forces himself to think through it. She won’t let it drop otherwise; he knows it. “There was that approved leave, once.”

“Squall! That was one week! And you—” She punctuates this with a pen-poke to his shoulder— “you slept through most of it! Plus, I think the furthest we went was into town for dinner. That’s not a holiday.”

“But I thought you liked fish and chips.” His face is a bewildered blank and he doesn’t quite understand why she’s laughing.

“I do, and it was a wonderful idea you had…but that’s not the point! I know you hate all this stuffy paperwork. Really, you need a holiday.”

They’ve wound back full circle, and his practised fingers pinch the bridge of his nose. She’s right; he hates all this paper and protocol but it’s there and has to be done by someone, doesn’t it? But him needing a holiday- ridiculous. The headaches are just from the coffee and the occasional late night, perhaps, that’s all, and there is no pressing need for time off. The next logical obstacle presents itself in his mind and he seizes upon it.

“Cid would...”

“Never approve? He suggested it. Well, perhaps after I talked and wheedled him into it, but only perhaps.” She retrieves a slip of paper from her pocket and dangles it in front of him. “See? A month’s leave, for you, signed and dated right here.” A smile spreads over her face as she taps the page. “Effective as of…well, now. And everyone’s rearranged their timetables, so there’s no excuse. And you can’t say it’s unfair, because Zell and Quisty were given leave, and the others will have their turn very soon. You’ve been pre-empted, Mr Predictable.”

Am I that predictable? I suppose I am, he thinks. He sighs and takes the paper from her, quickly scanning it before folding it and setting it aside. There would be time to worry about it later, he reasons, but for now—

“I suppose you have ideas on where I’m to go?” He fights the urge to smile at the way she lights up. He expects her to reach into her bag again, take out the glossy brochures with dancing couples and exotic greenery—

“Nope!”

He blinks at her grinning face. “Is this a trick?”

“You’re so paranoid! No tricks, no surprises, no travel plans, nothing.” She twirls the pen in her fingers, enjoying his stare and his silence. “What do you want to do?”

For a moment, he sinks back into his seat. A month. All his. He thinks she’s the only one who ever asks him that question outside a military setting. Even then, it’s “what do you want us to do?”, as if SeeD were his dog, ready to sit, beg, and lunge at his command. He seizes up at the notion, and even more when he thinks of his scant twenty years. It’s a long silence he creates, and by the time he becomes aware of it, she’s eased herself into the chair opposite him, bare feet curled over the edge of the seat and knees brought up to her chin.

He tries to work his lips into something other than a scowl; trying to match the twinge of gratefulness he has for her and her easy, unthreatening decisions. He’s not so sure why he had found her so alarming when being with her now is so...comfortable in comparison. It’s breathing space, it’s...

“Squall? I’ll leave you to think about it, okay?”

“Fine.” He watches her stretch, yawn, and walk towards the door. “Can I have my pen back?”

A loud, huffy sigh. “No.” Her reply’s the only thing of hers that he’s been able to predict today, and he allows himself a small smile. If he thinks about it harder and arranges his words just right, he’d pin down that funny lightness as gladness, the kind one has when breathing in a sunny, boundless afternoon. But for now, he misses the familiar ridges of his pen and the edges of her smile.

“Rinoa? Thank you.” He realises how small she makes his office seem with her quick steps towards him. With the way she leans down to regard him, he thinks she’s going to kiss him but she just smiles.

“Anytime. You’d never know when to stop if we left you on your own.” A grin flashes onto her face as she grabs his hand with her warm one, brandishing his pen with the other.

“Hey—”

The scratching on the top of his hand stops as quickly as it started, and she throws a “see you later!” over her shoulder as she steps out. He examines her handiwork; a black-inked smiley-face on his hand. And if that wasn’t enough, a scrawled, "smile, squall!" glints beneath it.

“Huh,” he mutters. Rubbing at it doesn’t make it fade completely, and he resolves to wash it off before the afternoon meeting. That peculiar lightness flits in his chest- what meeting? He stares at his desk and wonders whether he should touch anything. Tomorrow, someone else will remove all the files from his “out” pile and arrange them in their own way, take over his responsibilities and papers that he’d have to painstakingly piece together when he got back—

What do you want to do?

He swivels his chair towards the window and the bright morning sun. Morning? He’s surprised she was up as early as she was. It’s with a small jolt that he realises she made sure he had this whole day ahead of him, to himself. Making sure every minute count. His hands are at rest in his lap, almost tingling in reprieve, and he looks down and smiles.

Date: 2006-07-30 12:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] -zooba-.livejournal.com
You know, I should probably play FF 8 sometime, just so I have the slightest clue what all this stuff is about!

Date: 2006-07-31 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] invocations.livejournal.com
You should! Once my sister's done replaying, I will lend it to you (PC version).

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