She's slow at first, and it surprises him. Sharp ice is a quick cut, there and gone faster than Shiva arrives. The fragmented moments as she fills his mind are graceful, are beautiful—
The world looks crisper, brighter. Every noise reverberates; he feels every thread of his shirt.
All the while, she's a clear mountain pond in his mind. She throbs larger and larger even while his skull feels smaller and smaller.
—and take too long. It's not until her flow and his ebb meet in the middle, a soul too large for a body that's critically small, that she appears.
And when she appears, Squall's not watching his Guardian Force. Instead, he sees the shapely curve of her calf. Sees her long nails and slender wrists, the sweep of her throat.
She breaks her prison, showers the plain with snow and ice, like sparkling dust clouds. He watches the swell of her breasts, the way her muscles shift as she moves. Sunlight skitters along the blue of her skin, but the lurid color only makes her seem more real to him.
The summon ends; the battle's his. She turns to face him. Her arched eyebrow is knowing, but the distance in her eyes and the way she's set her mouth looks sad, or disappointed. It's as if she's saying not only that she knows him, but that she knows what he wants.
He doesn't want to care about this fleeting moment. She's a presence in his mind, a means to an end. Junction Shiva, use magic. But she's a piece of his mind now, too.
She only gives him a last, lingering silent look, then vanishes in a wisp of steam. Squall takes a deep breath to fight off the adrenaline jitters, then looks at the flash-frosted field full of Caterchipillar corpses.
He pinches the bridge of his nose. Junctioning is complicated.
She was slow at first, but she's getting faster. With every passing day, she becomes a bit more active in his mind. She never behaves like a second personality, but he can still feel her presence. She has nothing to say, but she's aware.
It's still not fast enough. He wants to waste as little time as possible in the Fire Cavern.
So he spends an afternoon wandering the beaches, pulling Blizzard from Fastitocalons. She seems startled every time he reaches for her in order to draw, but when they touch the spell's cool sharpness, he hears a wintry chuckle.
He draws Blizzard until his fingers feel numb and his teeth chatter. The ocean licks at his boots, the breeze plays with hair slicked by salt-spray and sweat, and he managed to get sand in his gloves. But the irritating grit of sand around the base of his thumb pales in comparison to the burning chill that sets in despite the sun heating up his jacket and pants. His body shudders every time he breathes in.
Squall stands absolutely still for a moment, then turns around. It's a long hike back to the Roger Dincht Memorial Highway. He only needs an easy uphill walk to get away from the beach, but before the road there's a grassy hill-and-valley meadow. Garden and Balamb Town alternate maintanance to make sure monsters can't hide in the grass, but Bite Bugs won't be discouraged by anything short of scorched earth tactics—employed with napalm and kept up for weeks on end.
He pushes his way through, dispatching Bite Bugs with a casual sweep of his belt knife. He pulls Scan from them as they twitch but before they go still. All the while, the sun presses down on him. Mulling over his stolen Blizzards, rolling them around so they're cool in his mouth, doesn't help.
By the road, he finally stops moving. He crouches in the tiny shade of the tallest grass he can find.
The spells don't seem as cold or sharp now that he's sitting by the asphalt. The heat and bright light dull the spells.
Shiva stirs again. He catches a hint of exasperation before she shifts and he jolts, lurching half out of the crouch. It's a headache like brain freeze and the sensation of water sliding around in the bottom of a bowl all at once—
—But the spells are sharper, are colder than they were when he drew them, and he hears her chuckle again. It's the low, smooth sound of the wind playing amongst snowdrifts. And then she's silent again. Pleased, but waiting.
What she's waiting for, he's not sure. He doesn't want to know.
She was slow at first, but she's getting faster, and she's spending more and more time awake. Sometimes he imagines her barefoot and curled up in some corner of his mind with her eyes narrowed in satisfaction and a haughty, expectant smile curving her lower lip.
It's a pleasant image, but it terrifies him nonetheless. He can cast without her help, but once he's exhausted his supply of magic, he won't be able to draw more.
He needs her.
It makes him want to rip her out of his head.
Quistis corners him after his fight with Seifer. Shiva shifts again. He catches a hint of something multi-faceted and complex, a blend of irritation and amusement.
He harvests a few more Cures and Scans from Bite Bugs. When he starts heading in the direction of the beach, Quistis stifles a laugh. She manages to make a snort sound dignified, but it's not like he's going to tell her so.
"Harvesting Blizzard," he says, even though she didn't ask.
She shakes her head and smiles a little.
He turns away, annoyed enough to break into a jog, and then a run. She follows at a steady pace, of course; basic training starts with a timed cross-country course between Garden and the beachfront, and he's heard SeeDs referring to a jog from Garden to Balamb Town as "brisk."
All throughout the run, Shiva is active. He gets the feeling she's looking out through his eyes, but he's never sure what she's doing. And he's sensed strange patience from her, as if she's waiting for him to make sense.
"You really are the perfect student," Quistis says as they crest the final hill.
The image of Shiva in his head smiles, then. Not the usual imperious, satisfied smile but one that's actually happy—but the image vanishes, leaving him only the slippery brainfreeze feel as she stretches.
He closes his eyes and catches a glimpse of a slim blue fist uncurling around something.
The Blizzard spells glitter, sharp as the edge of his gunblade and cold, colder, coldest, temperature still dropping as they freeze and superfreeze.
Squall hears a humming whistle-whine. It's the distinctive sound of gossamer wings beating fast and hard enough to suspend a foot-long body. He turns and casts Blizzard at it, flinging the spell with force that surprises him.
Shiva only stretches, her winter-wind chuckle cool against his cheek.
She was slow at first, but she was ice-cut quick in the Fire Cavern. Ifrit bellowed in pain when Squall cast his first Blizzard. His howling was so thick with outrage when Squall summoned her that he almost couldn't make any words of the roar.
After that, though, he could feel her shifting again. This time, rather than grow, she shrank. He thought about her, thought about ice, even drew a few extra Blizzards on the way back to Garden, but the draw went slowly, and she made no response after that.
She was cooperative during the exam, but when he prods her during the boring wait outside Cid's office, she shuts down. He tries again, but she replies with a sense of tiredness and then total silence.
It's not until after the ball, when he's lying on his back in his dorm room and staring at Ifrit's card, that she stirs again.
The card's warm. It's warm enough to hurt if he leaves the same finger on the edges for too long, and he learned quickly not to brush his thumb over Ifrit's face on the card.
Shiva stretches again. It's just like summoning: she's growing larger and larger while he feels like he's shrinking. But she does it quickly, then stops and reverses: she shrinks this time. She cycles between the two, ebbing and flowing, rising and falling, filling him and then retreating, until his head spins.
The Blizzard spells he still has stored have blunted edges, but they're freezing, ice cold inside his chest. He starts to shiver.
Just to take control of the situation, he forces another reverse. He starts the ebb and flow again, concentrates on keeping it in the right order.
The world's a crystal-clear burst of sensation as she fills him. He feels every thread of his shirt, of his bedspread. The heat of Ifrit's card is unbearable and he drops it in a heartbeat that lasts forever.
He hears howling winds and she's with him, stretched out on the bed beside him, eying Ifrit's card with disdain.
He sweeps an arm out to knock the card off his bunk.
Her lips twitch up. She rises slowly and takes a breath.
Squall watches her chest rise and then fall, wants to ask, 'Did you know your skin is freezing?'
But she's not cold. As close as she is, he can feel the heat she radiates.
Her lips part. She takes another breath, holds it, then releases it in a slow stream of frost.
He doesn't want to believe it. But her warmth spreads through the blankets, and crystallized air dampens his bare arms.
"Shiva," he says, but she puts a pale blue hand over his mouth.
The serene sparkle of her eyes makes her look patient despite the sad crook of her lips, the distant way she holds her head. Has he disappointed her, like that first time? (Does he care?) Is she waiting for him to make sense?
She looks at him for a long moment before she seems to come to a decision.
When she moves, her body's a sky-bright softness, shimmers with the dappled shine of sunlight on the sea.
There's no time to react before she straddles his waist: she's the liquid, undulating flow of ice floes on curling waves.
"Shiva," he says again; again, she covers his mouth.
She walks her hand away from his lips, trails her fingertips across his cheek, his chin. Her nails trace a line on his neck.
He jerks, wary and unnerved, but undeniably aroused.
In an impressive display of flexibility, she bends forward until her lips press against his. Her mouth is soft, tastes of sweet almonds and the weightless frost that sears the air before a snowstorm.
He reaches one arm around her, grips the back of her neck.
She traces her way down his jaw, his throat, to his chest, toys with his pendant.
And then the pendant is off. Shiva lifts his hand, tugs at the ring. Her nails leave red lines on his hand. When she tosses the ring away, he turns his head to follow it. It skitters along the floor, settling in a corner.
She takes his chin in her hand and turns his head toward her. Maybe she's trying to tell him something.
Whatever it is, he's not getting the message.
He's strangely comforted by the fact that he has no idea what's going on in her head.
She leans a little away from him so she can slide her hands under his shirt.
He jerks again, startled at her freezing hot touch, at the jolt up his spine when her fingers graze the mark of his desperate leap into the hydrofoil.
Her lips curve up, flash silvery teeth. She tugs on the hem of his undershirt before leaning away again.
He drops his hands to his waist, peels the shirt off, sends it flying. He unbuttons the uniform trousers with trembling hands.
Pants, undershirt, and underwear tossed away, he can only stare as Shiva arches over him. The stalactite bikini melts into nothingness.
Squall reaches for her and she lets him. His fingers skim the curves and planes of her body. Her breasts are full and heavy in his palm.
She curls a hand around his cock.
This is all she wants. Now he knows—but the knowing is cold.
She sinks onto him. He lifts his hips, tries to find purchase without gripping her waist too hard. He settles for bracing his palms against the wall behind his head.
Shiva is tight around him, hot. Wet. She starts their rhythm, keeps their hips sliding against each other like the first snowflakes of an avalanche.
The press of her against him, around him, the way she tightens is perfect. The Blizzard spells sharpen again. His hands dig into her hips as she rides his; his mouth can't suppress a groan.
He throws his head back, lets out a harsh gasp from a throat hoarsened by desire and damage.
Her body takes him under. It's like waves crashing against a shore and he yields to it.
She doesn't make a sound when she finally closes her eyes. Her body tightens around him even further, until finally she gives a ragged sigh. Around them, the moisture in the air freezes. It reflects the light for an instant, making the entire room glow cold, but then it shatters and she's gone.
He's left naked on the bed with weak knees and sharply unbearable Blizzard spells coursing through his veins.
He wants to draw more.