Squall went to the front gate but had no intention of calling Quistis to come and help him. He was going to do the fire cave himself and then make sure she got the results later. As he was coming down the steps to leave when Quistis came out from around the corner and Squall didn't have time to avoid her.

"Squall, finally. I have a few things to explain before we head off." Oh, no. She was going to explain. "... This means that a GF must be …" When was she going to stop. "... When Quezacotl is selected …" The sound of her voice grated on Squall's ears. "... there's currently no magic. When a …" How did Squall ever want to willingly spend his time with this person.

"Everything OK up till now?" She asked when she noticed he wasn't paying attention. "Once we get to the fire cave I'll explain about how to junction magic. Before then I want you to draw magic out of the monsters you see on the way and keep it in stock. Be sure to have some stocked!"

There was no need for this. Squall was already stocked up. He wasn't a novice at this and he didn't need her help.

"Ready to go? The fire cave used for the test is located east of here. Follow me."

As they walked, Squall noticed they were going the wrong way.

"Sir were we going around the long way."

"Before you will be prepared to handle the fire cave, there are some supplies you will need."

"But sir, if we walk all the way to Balumb, we will hardly have time get back before the Seed test."

"Then you better hurry."

It was more bull, again and again with her. Squall was so going to become an officer and then level Garden to the ground.

Squall ran to Balamb and then waited for Quistis to catch up. Eventually she did and he gave her the store price sheet.

"Those aren't the supplies we need. Come with me." she said.

Instead of going to a shop, they went instead to a hotel. Quistis booked them in.

Squall couldn't believe this. She was booking them into a room. Why? Obviously to use up his time, keep him here so he won't have time to take the test. This was the clearest indication ever that she and Garden never had any intention of letting him pass. Whatever they continued to have against him, she was now clearly in on it. He slowly allowed himself to start to hate her.

"Do you really want to take the Seed test."

"It pretty clear you're never going to let that happen so it doesn't matter."

"It does matter."

"Then why are we here? What happened to the fire cave?"

"You need me to take the seed test. You need me to get into the fire cave."

"And instead of going to the fire cave you have me here on the complete other side of the island."

"You need me. You can't do it alone."

"I don't need anyone. Especially not you."

"You say what you want but you are under my orders. You will stay in this room here until I am satisfied you are ready."

"I've been in worse rooms than this."

"You aren't hearing me. You need me."

"No, I don't."

She moved to him and in a move that shocked Squall, she put her arms around him and put her head on his chest.

"I need you."

"What?"

"If you want to take the Seed test then you will do this, here, with me just this one time. Then you can go and conquer the world."

"You aren't going to let me take the test."

"I will. I promise."

"You lie. I don't believe you."

"We really have pushed you too far." she said and it sounded like there was genuine sadness in her voice.

Squall thought it over for a moment. Was she serious? Did she really want to do that? It had to be some sort of rule violation.

Fine, thought Squall. This is their last chance. If they don't let him take the test after this, then he would know 100% that it will never be. He could then send his acceptance notice back to any army he choose. Galbadia was offering him a pretty big signing bonus.

He looked down at her. Was she faking?

On the way back, she was acting all in love and Squall was just silent. She still felt the need to try to explain things too.

"Squall, you still remember?" What now? "The RF switch is the trigger. Pull …" Squall began to tune her out.

They got to the fire cave and she wanted to use up more of his time but he stopped her.

"I already know." he said.

"Oh, ok, I was just concerned, that's all. Alright, let's go."

The guard at the entrance of the cave greeted them and then asked if they were ready. Why was there a guard at the entrance? There weren't supposed to be guards at the entrance. This was probably just set up to prevent him from taking this part of the exam.

"I'm ready" said Squall.

"I'm his support. Instructor No. 14, Quistis Trepe." The two guards looked at each other like this was new information for them. "He has my permission."

The two guards conferred together for a moment and then one of them left. The other one moved out of the way. "You have ten minutes, starting from when passed that stone over there." indicating the rock behind them. They were going to be unfair to the last.

"I can do this alone."

"The Garden rules state you must have a seed support." said the guard.

"Whatever."

Once inside the cave Quistis just couldn't stop talking.

"My job is to support you in battle only. Everything else is up to you."

"Fine."

"You know, the boys often choke on this test when I come with them." Was she trying to make him jealous? Ha! No chance of that. "I guess my charm makes them nervous." Squall just pushed ahead and didn't respond. "Just kidding. Trying to keep you relaxed, that's all."

The monsters in the fire cave were no match for Squall at all. He could usually wipe out entire groups of them before Quistis could even get her weapon out.

"I guess I was right." 'About what?' thought Squall.

"You and Seifer are in a class of your own" That was because neither of them really belonged in her class. "You both have amazing strength and potential."

'Yeah, and just imagine what we could do if we actually had a good teacher', thought Squall.

"Ok, this is it. Are you ready?"

Squall waved away the question. Of course he was ready. He could beat this guy in his sleep.

"You seem confident enough."

The monster came up from the lava pit and before Quistis was ready it sent a fireball her way that knocked her back. Maybe now she would finally shut up, thought Squall. The monster did the same to Squall but instead of doing damage it healed him. Squall had studied up and had his magic aligned to fire 200%. Thanks for the boost my man, thought Squall.

The same could not be said for his sword. It was junctioned to ice. Usually ice wasn't very powerful but these elementals were funny that way. Cold actually hurt the monster and the cold steel of Squall's gunblade was about to hurt it a lot. He just had to get a hit in and that would be trickier than it seemed.

Squall helped Quistis to her feet and pointed to a rock for her to hide behind. She had no intention of hiding or running away but she was clearly the one who was not ready for this battle when the monster rammed his shoulder into her and she couldn't get out of the way in time. As much as Squall might say to himself that he wouldn't mind it if the monster killed Quistis, he really couldn't just let her die.

Squall blasted ice through his sword to the ground to keep the devil away from Quistis. Then he moved in to strike. The monster anticipated and moved out the way. As Squall passed, it struck Squall. However, instead of hurting Squall, the heat from the beast's hand energized him. Squall spun around and slammed his sword into the creature. Like a magnetic reaction, the sword and the monster were repelled away from each other.

The creature flew to the other side of the lava pit and hit a column of stone. Squall did a somersault in the air and landed on his feet. Squall looked over to Quistis who looked at him in amazement. Squall didn't linger on her. He turned his gaze to the thing that was laying across the lava startled. He had to anticipate it's next move. Would it attack or keep it's distance?

Squall went on the offensive. He jumped across the lava and brought the blade home into the ground near the monster. It got up and retreated away.

"Squall, you only have to survive the initial attack, you don't have to defeat it all together. That's not what this test is about." yelled Quistis at him from the other side.

Squall didn't care. Squall blasted ice to the other pillars and then surrounded the thing. Squall stepped up to it and grabbed it by the hair on its face. He brought the blade up to the creature's neck. Then Squall heard a voice.

"Please." What?! This thing could talk. "Mercy. Please."

Squall let it go and it bowed down in front of him on its hands and knees. "I will serve you. Please spare me." Something about this seemed familiar. Now that he was close enough and had time to examine the beat's features something was jogged in his memory but he couldn't get it clearly. Squall felt sorry for the creature.

"What is your name?"

"I am Ifrit. I surrender to you master."

"Why do you inhabit this cave?"

"The masters of the garden placed me here."

"Now you serve me."

"If you please."

Squall was disgusted. This wasn't a mindless killer. This was a sentient being forced into service by the same garden that had held him back all this time.

"You no longer serve the garden. From now you serve me. Serve me well and you will be treated well."

"Yes, my master." After these words the thing's flesh seemed to become translucent and then it turned into a fire the swarmed around Squall and then seemed to be absorbed by him. Squall stood there feeling the rush of the moment and then took in a deep breath. Victory.

Quistis was looking over at him and couldn't believe what she saw. The material of the cave seemed to bend around him. Squall hadn't just junctioned the GF, he had completely absorbed it.