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Cold glass in hand, eyes staring anywhere but at the jolly folk before him, he cuts off any friend that wanders by with the sharp blade of indifference. Eyes gone skyward: a startling and brief slash of white against the night is betrayed by its brethren as a shooting star. Startled further at noticing he isn't the only one who noticed.

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Rinoa Heartilly, bold as brass, strutting toward him, her smile at league with her compliments, clearly yearning for entertainment. She has no problem telling Squall he is the most handsome one there. She was drawn to him, but whether it had been because of his pretty face or their shared moment surveying the heavens or something else, she would keep it in her heart. Unlike all of her other emotions, which she almost carelessly revealed on the sleeve of her strapless dress. She asks him to dance, and when he says no, drags him on to the dance floor anyway.

Squall wants her to regret that move. He fumbles and appears vapid, but even when he leads them into another pair of dancers—the embarrassment, he thinks, would be sufficient to cause end to this charade—she defies his expectations, sticks out her tongue at the pair as if they were the culprits, and gives him a smirk that, once and for all, catches his interest.

Just when he gets into the dance, feet moving in time as he always knew how but had never before enjoyed, Squall finds himself suddenly deserted. The girl has moved on to other company.

The don't meet again until much later and in a far different scenario. Newly released as a SeeD from Garden, Squall is dispatched in his first mission to Timber, home of a resistance group aptly named the Timber Owls. To his surprise and bemusement, Squall discovers that the group is under the command of none other than Rinoa Heartilly.

She leaps on him in surprise and happiness, while he, stoic and all but silent, withholds any emotional response. Internally, he finds himself focusing on the negative: here's this naive girl who knows nothing of tactics and politics dictating a plan through shabby ornaments. When the plan falls through, she races ahead without a backward thought, assembling her tiny committee in a group huddle in the corner of the room. No one is impressed, least of all Squall.

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But Rinoa is determined. Even when Squall lashes out at her with words of frustration and damaged pride—for to him to be working under such a client is nothing less than a disappointment, and may speak more than whispers about what his employer thinks of him and his abilities—and even when she sees the truth in his words, knowing her resistance movement is as much based in politics as in her own heart, she takes pains not to back down.

quote_l Oh, you're just a great
leader, aren't you... quote_r

Rinoa

Just as he looks down on her ragtag resistance group, Rinoa is unimpressed with Squall's leadership abilities. A person of feeling and intuition, Rinoa's appalled at the way Squall handles those he leads. She calls him on his less-than-fine reaction to his teammate, Zell, who'd been looking for his support after blundering the last mission— his first mission. Squall ignores her complaints. She later has the courtesy to apologise for her words, not that Squall had been inclined to consider them in the first place.

quote_l You know, you're always
too deep in thought. Why don't
  you lighten up a little? quote_r

Rinoa

A small jibe that carries more meaning than at first glance. Rinoa is frustrated by Squall's behaviour, his unerring seriousness. The insult is meant to bring attention to that behaviour in a real way: everyone's aware of how Squall acts and reacts, but no one but she has the gull to call him on it. But there's more here: her words all but make fun of his tendency to be withdrawn from those around him. Also common knowledge that but few have attempted to do anything about. Here, Rinoa tries a different way of pressuring him to speak, one that has little effect—Squall isn't concerned by such minor snubs as this—but which reveals something about Rinoa: she's interested.

quote_l You have to voice
your feelings, or else I won't
  understand. quote_r

Rinoa

Rinoa can't read minds. (Although I'm quite sure she'd love to.) She realises her pressing comments aren't having the greatest effect. She steps up the ante: she gets blunt.

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This is exactly what Squall needs to hear; what he wants to hear. Why couldn't she, or any of them, state it so clearly before? He needs a rougher sort of coaxing to be brought out of his self-created shell. He'd spent a long time in that place, comfortable to a strained degree. He'd adapted to it. Not voicing his thoughts had become an ingrained behaviour which he needed to be forcibly removed from.

In essence, Rinoa became Squall's teacher of those things he had in error rejected. With her unwavering will, she got through to him.

quote_l You smiled at me when
our eyes met. It made me feel
  calm, tranquil. quote_r

Squall

A meeting of the elements was Rinoa's eyes on his own. No more inferno engulfing wave, or wave deluging inferno; instead, a dance of flame and turf, a mutual regard and undeniable attraction.

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