by Lassarina Aoibhell
Warnings: Spoilers, language
Garden was full of stupid kids, getting ready to go to class. Some people wore the SeeD uniform--those who had passed yesterday--and milled around aimlessly. Several who had failed were still wearing their student uniforms and looking dejected. Seifer's lip curled in disgust. He had never donned the uniform for his own tests.
You never passed them either, the little voice in his head pointed out.
Seifer ignored it and grabbed the collar of the student who'd just run into him. The thirteen-year-old boy struggled, looking scared. "Detention," Seifer snapped and set him back down. The kid ran away at full speed.
Even exercising his power as a member of the Disciplinary Committee no longer seemed fun. Seifer slouched against a wall, leaning on his gunblade, and watched the crowd of students thin out. He ought to be going to class, but he wasn't.
"CLASS?" He turned to see Fujin and Raijin standing next to him.
"You go ahead. I'll catch up."
"You're gonna be in trouble if you're late again, ya know?" Raijin said. "Instructor Trepe was real mad last time, ya know?"
"Just go," Seifer growled. "I'll be there."
"But, ya know, you're--OW!" Raijin hopped on one foot, rubbing the shin Fujin had just kicked.
"GO." Fujin grabbed his arm and wrestled him away, toward Instructor Trepe's classroom.
Seifer moved deeper into the shadows as the elevator door opened. Out stepped Chicken-Wuss, Leonhart, and that aggravating perky brunette who'd been the messenger yesterday.
"Have you got everything you're bringing?" Puberty Boy demanded.
"Yeah," Chicken-Wuss replied, nearly bouncing in place.
"I'm all set!" Perky Twit smiled brightly.
"Let's go." Leonhart strode toward the gate.
"Hey, uh, Squall, you think this'll be a hard mission?" Chicken-Wuss asked as he followed.
"...Whatever." Leonhart kept walking.
Seifer snorted to himself. Puberty Boy, leading a SeeD team? What a laugh.
"I'm glad you find your tardiness so amusing, Seifer," a voice remarked to his left.
Slowly Seifer turned, leaning on his gunblade, and coolly scrutinized the woman next to him from head to toe. As his gaze traveled back up, he noticed her faint blush. She wasn't as immune to his insulting stare as she pretended.
"You're late for class," she said sharply.
He grinned lazily. "So are you."
She scowled. "Students are supposed to be in class before the bell rings." The shrilling of the class bell punctuated her statement.
"So are instructors."
Her blue eyes flashed fire and he grinned to himself. Oh, he thoroughly enjoyed baiting the lovely instructor. At least when she was annoyed with him she didn't give him that coolly disapproving look.
Plus, she was even prettier when she was angry. Her eyes sparkled and that very intriguing little blush crept down her throat.
Reluctantly he pulled his attention away from her neckline and gave her his most infuriating smile. Her hand clenched tight on the whip she carried. "To class, Seifer. Now."
He saluted her mockingly and sauntered off toward the elevator at a very leisurely pace. She stalked up and walked next to him, so he dropped back. He liked watching her walk. He just wished she wore a shorter skirt so he could enjoy it more.
She stopped abruptly and jabbed the "Up" button on the elevator. He resettled his gunblade and smirked. "I thought instructors weren't supposed to have temper fits."
The look in her eyes would have made him back down...if he ever backed down from anything. Which he didn't. He just waited in silence for the elevator, continuing to smirk because he knew it would infuriate her.
The silence stretched out as they rode the elevator up, and walked toward the classroom. Once inside, he slouched to his seat in the back of the room, and she seated herself behind the desk at the front.
He saw her gaze fall on the seat across the aisle from his, and her face turned sad for the slightest moment before she put on her "Instructor" expression.
He knew why.
He'd seen her watching Leonhart, every day, with that soft glow in her eyes. The glow he'd give almost anything to have her turn on him. But no, it was Squall this and Squall that. She was always so pleased when he succeeded, and almost tragically disappointed when he got something wrong.
That was why he'd felt so compelled to slice Puberty Boy's pretty face open yesterday morning on the practice field. He didn't like the guy to start with, but to have him be the object of Quistis' affection was more than Seifer could stand.
Leonhart's blood had looked good smeared across the floor of the practice field. Seifer had been surprised when Leonhart had struck back, giving him a matching scar, but he hadn't minded too much. The scar added a slightly rakish look to his appearance, and it had certainly garnered him the attention of plenty of the girls last night.
Last night. Rinoa had been pitifully glad to see him. After she'd been dancing with Leonhart. Seifer's lips curled in distaste. Everyone wanted Leonhart. Not that he hadn't been done with Rinoa last summer--she hadn't been very interesting in the sack and she was too annoying out of it--but her obvious interest in Leonhart was adding insult to injury.
Puberty Boy, who apparently didn't even know girls existed.
"Perhaps you can tell us, Seifer?" Quistis' cool voice cut across his reverie.
Seifer blinked. "I'm sorry, Instructor, could you repeat the question?" he asked politely.
Several of the other students snickered. Seifer made a note of which ones so he could turn a T-Rexaur loose on them in the training center later.
"I asked you how one stocks magic spells, Seifer." Quistis stood in front of her desk, tapping one foot impatiently. It did fascinating things to the split hem of her skirt, he noticed.
"You Draw them from monsters or refine them from items, with the help of your Guardian Force," he drawled.
She looked surprised. Seifer laughed bitterly to himself. Just because he didn't bother doing his homework didn't mean he was stupid.
Maybe he should start studying. It had certainly seemed to make Leonhart a favourite.
No, he wouldn't imitate that little pansy. He would get her attention his own way.
"Correct, Seifer." She went on asking questions that Seifer recognized from the written test they'd all taken a few days ago.
He lounged, as best he could in the classroom seat, and studied her as she taught. Sometimes she perched on the edge of her desk, providing him with tantalizing glimpses of her long legs. She strode around the classroom, gesturing gracefully. She was so lovely, with all that silky gold hair and that soft-looking skin. He'd like to pull out that clip she wore and run his hands through her hair, feeling its softness.
She'd probably kill him if he tried.
There had to be some way to get her to notice him. Maybe....yes. That was it.
He waited patiently, lost in thought, until class had ended and the other students cleared out to go to lunch, seeming unusually quiet for some reason. He stayed put, shaking his head minutely at Fujin and Raijin, who were waiting for him. They left, unwillingly, leaving him alone with Quistis.
"Seifer, class is over," she pointed out.
"Instructor," he began, standing up. Her blue eyes flickered, making him wonder what he'd said wrong. Shrugging it off mentally, he walked up to her. At six foot one he towered over her. She had to tilt her head back to look him in the eye. "I was wondering if you....would come with me to the training center." Now he was stammering. Smooth, Almasy, real smooth. "I wanted to take on some T-Rexaurs and..."
She arched one golden brow high. "You mean you're not going to go charging in there all by yourself? I'm surprised, Seifer. Losing your touch?" The cool mockery in her voice cut like a slash from that whip slung over her shoulder.
"Trying to learn some caution," he replied casually, summoning up an easy smile from somewhere.
"What a momentous occasion," she remarked. "Let's go, then."
She was silent as they moved through Garden, giving him an opportunity to study the smooth pale skin that stretched over her cheekbones, and the way her long bangs swung in a smooth gold wave next to her delicate ears.
The door to the Training Center appeared far too soon. Seifer sighed to himself and unsheathed his gunblade. The smooth coils of Quistis' whip slid easily off her shoulder, the handle landing neatly in her palm. She let the length of black leather seethe around her ankles, never still, while he opened the door.
They took the left-hand path, encountering a few Grats along the way, but nothing interesting. Seifer paused suddenly, his green eyes narrowing. He'd heard a sound to his right....
Carefully he turned his head and saw the mottled dark-red head descending toward Quistis.
"Quistis! Look out!" He tackled her hard, turning to slash his Gunblade across the T-Rexaur's nose. It howled in pain and threw its head up, roaring.
Seifer and Quistis scrambled to their feet, weapons at the ready. The T-Rexaur shook its head and then snapped its jaws at Quistis, who responded by cracking the end of her whip into its eye. Gore streamed from the wound. Quistis was knocked off her feet when the T-Rexaur swung its head around.
Blinding red rage filled Seifer until he could barely see. He slapped the slim blue crystal holding his Blizzara spells into the slot in Hyperion and charged.
Attack, dodge, slash, advance, retreat, parry. His arm was growing tired. He had accomplished what he'd wanted to, though. The T-Rexaur was too busy with him to go after Quistis.
Seifer heard a sound behind him and blue light exploded around him. He leapt back as Shiva, summoned by Quistis, began to pound on the T-Rexaur.
The Guardian Force pounded the creature with blades of ice, leaving its tough hide torn in many places. Seifer ran his eyes over Quistis quickly, making sure she wasn't injured. She was bruised and her right knee was swelling. He cast Cura on her while Shiva kept the T-Rexaur busy.
"Thank you, Seifer."
"My pleasure, Instructor," he drawled.
Her eyes flickered again. What the hell was wrong with her? He pushed the thought out of his mind as Shiva disappeared and the T-Rexaur staggered toward them.
The rest of the battle was a blur to him. He remembered Quistis pounding the creature with Blizzara and calling Shiva to assist her. He knew he kept hacking at the dinosaur with Hyperion. His body ached from the blows he took in return.
He found himself lying on the ground, dazed. Gold feathers lay in soft drifts around him, rapidly disappearing. "Cura!" Quistis exclaimed. The cool tingle of a healing spell spread through him. Grimacing, he put a hand to his pounding head and sat up slowly. "Instructor?" he said.
"It knocked you out," Quistis said, her cool blue eyes scanning him for further injuries.
Smooth, Almasy. Good job. Try to protect her and get your dumb ass knocked out. "I'm fine, Instructor."
Her eyes flashed. "I assume you continue using that title in order to mock me," she said in what was possibly the coldest voice he'd yet heard from her.
"You weren't listening at the end of class?" she asked.
Women! How was he supposed to follow this? "Uh....I guess not."
"I am no longer an instructor. Just a regular SeeD."
Shit. "I'm sorry," he said, and meant it.
She shrugged irritably and stood up. "Shall we find more T-Rexaurs to fight, Seifer?" she asked, her usual cool tone firmly back in place.
"After you." He bowed and cut off the "instructor" just in time.
Their trip through the rest of the training area was rather uneventful. Seifer was both pleased and disappointed. He would have liked a chance to redeem himself from having been KO'ed by that T-Rexaur. But when they stepped into the so-called "Secret Area," he forgot his annoyance. He and Quistis were alone here. Which had been the original point.
"Well, it's certainly less crowded now than it was last night," Quistis observed dryly.
"I can imagine." Seifer took up his usual lounging stance against the wall opposite her. "So you were here last night?"
He realized he'd spoken his thought aloud, and winced. She didn't seem offended, thank Hyne. "Yes. Unofficially." Her golden brows quirked in amusement. "Most of the newly graduated SeeDs were here."
He watched her eyes soften, and swore silently. She had been here with Puberty Boy, of course. Seifer literally bit his tongue to keep jealous words back. Now was not the time to go acting like a jealous ass, not when he wanted to show her how he felt about her...
Quistis slid down the wall until she was sitting on the floor, her long legs curled beneath her. "Where were you last night, Seifer?" she asked, tilting her head back to look up at him.
"Here and there. I was at the party for a while, then I went back to my dorm." He'd needed to get out of the room after seeing Quistis depart with Leonhart and having to put up with Rinoa's vapid babble.
"You, departing from a party? Who'd have thought," Quistis teased.
"Yeah, well....there's....a lot about me you don't know." He strove to make his shrug casual and unconcerned, and berated himself for using stupid standard lines. Quickly he chose another topic. "So uh....have the new SeeDs gotten assignments?"
She pinned him with that sapphire gaze, and he hoped she'd see the question as innocuous rather than the prod for information it really was.
"If they have, it's none of your business. You're still a student," she pointed out.
So he'd been right. Puberty Boy had been leading a SeeD team this morning. And Seifer could guess where that team was headed....
"You've always been one of my most difficult students, Seifer. Why is that?" Quistis' question interrupted his quick calculations.
Well, that was an opening if he'd ever heard one.
"I....I wanted you to notice me." Oh, good. Way to impress her.
Her eyebrows quirked again. "You're rather difficult to miss, Seifer," she pointed out dryly. "If your antics and attitude didn't ensure that, your size would."
He almost blushed, his wayward mind having assigned a meaning to that sentence she certainly hadn't intended. "Um, well, no, not notice that way. I meant..." Yes, resorting to incoherent stuttering is definitely the way to win her over, Almasy.
"You meant....?" she prompted when he trailed off.
Now or never. "Quistis, I have feelings for you. And...and I know that I'm just a troublemaker and a bad student and a mess but I can change that, I can! Just...do you care about me....at all?"
He could have kicked himself for the disjointed way all of that had come pouring out. He had intended to give her the speech he'd rehearsed, which sounded a lot more elegant and a lot less stupid than what he'd just said. But it was said and now he'd have to live with the results....
And she was looking at the ground, her expression sad.
Slowly she got to her feet, settling the coils of her whip on her shoulder as usual. "Seifer, what I feel for you is friendship," she said quietly.
"I see." And he did. He had to prove himself better than Puberty Boy. That would make her notice him. It had to.
He took a step toward her. She didn't flinch or move away, just looked up at him with earnest blue eyes that begged for understanding. Still debating the wisdom of the action, he leaned down to kiss her.
She didn't push him away, but she couldn't exactly be called an enthusiastic participant either. Instead, she just stood like a statue.
Some little part of him, buried long ago, wanted to cry over that. Not that he'd ever let that little part take control. He was too strong for that.
"Goodbye, Quistis." He touched her cheek and turned to go.
He'd wreak some havoc in Garden to vent his newfound foul mood, and then he'd be on his way to Timber. He knew Rinoa had gotten Cid's help for her stupid freedom group, and he'd bet all the Gil he had that Puberty Boy, Chicken-Wuss and Perky Twit were on their way to Timber now. But he would get there before them and assassinate the President, and then Quistis would see...He only hoped she'd remember this, and not let it be lost in the memories of his other exploits.
He left the Training Center without a backward glance.
Author's Note: Well, that's the conclusion of my first-ever FF8 fic >_> Hope you enjoyed! This fic was written in response to a challenge in my fanfic group, and was inspired by the Tim McGraw song "Please Remember Me." C&C welcome!
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