Disclaimer: Characters are property of SquareSoft. This story is my gift to you.

XIneko liked that, and I'm such a sucker for praise. Speaking of XIneko, I tried to keep the whole suject verb agreement tense thing going, but I quit. I'm sorry. It's terrible. Pretend you don't notice, like that spinach bit in my teeth...


Chapter Ten

By Race Ulfson

Honest to Hyne, I never thought Squall would stay. The phone was there. I figured he'd call the Garden, Zell would run by with some clothes, and by the time I got home all I'd find was an echo. In fact, I was so sure, I went grocery shopping instead of buying take out. When I walked in and there Squall was, all flushed and overwrought and half in the bag, I almost fell over. He DID fall over, so that worked out.

He's still here.

Every day when I leave for work or school I kiss him goodbye and think it really IS goodbye. Every day when I come back, Squall is still here, like a little surprise party.

I don't know what he does all day, but the apartment's cleaner.

I know he's had Hyperion out, because that layer of dust on her case I've been feeling guilty about is gone. I don't know if Squall can wield her, though. She used to be too heavy for him.

Lately he's taken to cooking. When I complimented him, I got The Look.

"It's just chemistry," he said.

Explains why my cooking tastes like a science experiment.

Squall did grumble about having nothing to wear but my old gym clothes. I told him I liked him better naked, anyway, and I got The Look again.

I'd forgotten what a kick that was.

I took a hint and some of the School Fund and went shopping. With great self control I did not buy the candy red butter leather suit. It wasn't in Squall's size. I knew what he'd want, but I hate him in black. It makes him look dead. I compromised with gray, but on a whim I threw in a pale strawberry colored shirt.

When I got home, Squall took the bags with no comment. Until...


I grinned at him. "It's the same color as your nipples."

Hyne's hips, how I have missed that glare.

Squall was in the kitchen making gingerbread, which he knows is my favorite. "Do we have any more whipped cream?" he called.

I checked the can by the bed. "Nope. And remind me to do the sheets."

"As if."

I threw my towel in the grunge corner out of habit, although Squall thinks I do it deliberately to piss him off. I had just gotten my jeans zipped when there was a huge crash from the living room.

I skidded out saying something intelligent like "What the f-?!" I saw Squall pull a knife out of the block and go low around the kitchen island.

Where my front door had been was Zell Dincht, backed up by an unnecessary amount of Galbadian soldiers. "Not one spell or even sudden movement, Seifer," he said. "Or Irvine will shoot you dead."

I looked out the window and spotted the sparkle of targetting scope in the dust motes. I might be able to get the soldiers but I knew I couldn't take Zell. I sighed and raised my hands, slowly.

"Nice to see you, too, Chicken Wuss."

The last thing I saw as the soldiers drug me away was Squall standing in the kitchen doorway, butcher knife in hand, looking utterly bereft.

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