4/9/15: I've revised chapters one and two, and they've been updated to reflect the changes. I felt like my writing style has evolved drastically between those chapters, and chapters three to five. There were no plot changes, I just added a few descriptive things and edited here and there. I think it flows a little better :)
This story is heavily inspired by Maroon 5's It Was Always You and Coming Back For You, from their 'V' album. I pretty much have those two songs on repeat the entire time I write. Of course, the OST makes for great listening material as well. I really hope you guys enjoy this story, because I absolutely love writing it. The first few chapters will be lemon-free, as their relationship is kind of a slow burn. I promise it's worth it though. If strong language is something that bothers you, you may not enjoy this story. Seifer is a very...colorful character, as I'm sure many of you know.
Many thanks to my beta, Arenoptara, and StormyMonday for helping me with second revisions.
Final Fantasy VIII and all of its environments, characters, etc., belong to Square-Enix (then Squaresoft). As much as I wish they were mine.
Every time a rock sunk to the abyss below the surface, the water rippled outwards.
Seifer sighed deeply. He was bored out of his mind.
His legs swung casually over the edge of the pier as he picked up the last rock next to him, and tossed it as far as he could. When it too, sank into the depths of the ocean, he stood and paced back along the length of the pier, towards town. The heavy soles of his boots pounded on the wooden slats that made up the pier as the sun began to set, casting a warm, pink glow across everything he could see. When the wooden pier ended, it became the cobblestone streets that Balamb's inhabitants were so fond of. He looked up from watching his black boots on the white stones, the contrast as stark as good and evil.
Fujin and Raijin waited patiently at the entrance to the dock area for him-Raijin was waving his hand through the air in a wide arc, and Fujin was standing still, with her arms hanging loosely at her sides. A small smile spread across Seifer's face and he picked up his pace, striding over to them swiftly.
Some things never change, he thought fondly to himself.
When he finally approached them, Fujin asked, "HUNGRY?"
Because of the way she spoke, she had to raise her tone of voice to imply that she was asking a question. Of course by now, Seifer and Raijin were fully accustomed to her little quirk that most people found unusual and off-putting.
He nodded, and his companions turned, hiking back with him into town. After they rounded the corner from the dock, the hotel's shadow fell across their path. The double doors that marked the hotel's entrance were closed, and they sauntered over to them, letting themselves into the lobby.
Nothing much had changed since they'd been there last: the same large rug sat in the middle of the room, the view out of the arches in the wall was still of the ocean, and the giant copper rings in the ceiling that led up to the crystal light fixture were still there. The hotel had added a small, cozy restaurant to the left of the stairs recently to accommodate the influx of tourists to the town, but other than that, everything was as Seifer remembered.
They trailed into the empty restaurant, sitting down at their regular table by the window. Somehow this had become part of their daily routine. They woke up relatively early in the morning, made their way down to breakfast, and then went about their day. Sometimes they did things together, other times they wandered off separately. They'd meet back up at the restaurant once the sun started setting and have a late dinner, then head up to bed. Routines were safe, comfortable, and most of all, predictable-the posse needed predictability.
With it being so close to nightfall, the restaurant's crowd had begun to thin out, allowing for a more relaxed atmosphere. Seifer picked up his chair and angled it to face out the window, so he could look out at the ocean. Even though he wasn't great at skipping rocks or fishing, as they'd discovered somewhat recently, staring out at the waves calmed his thoughts.
It had been a little over two months since SeeD had defeated Ultimecia, and restored peace to the world, and perhaps three or four since he had fallen from the good graces of the public's opinion. Now that he thought about it, he'd never even had their good opinion. They'd traveled around to various cities afterwards, hoping to find a place they would be welcome. Everywhere they turned though, people shunned him.
Most didn't remember Fujin and Raijin since their presence had been pretty limited, but everyone remembered Seifer. Everyone remembered the man who had threatened President Deling, who had joined forces with Ultimecia, who had unleashed Lunatic Pandora, and had wreaked havoc upon them all.
So somehow, a couple weeks ago, they'd ended up back in Balamb, back where it all began. Ironic, how life did that to people. Sadly, even the people in Balamb weren't any better. It wasn't as if he'd expected them to welcome him with open arms and a place at their kitchen tables. Hell, he'd even expected unmasked hostility like he had in Timber or Deling. Instead, everyone gave him too wide of a berth. They all went out of their way to avoid speaking to him, or coming into contact with him.
At first, it'd been a nice change. But now, he'd take a simple 'hello'.
After a brief wait, a waitress approached their table, which surprised Seifer. The wait staff just brought out what they always ordered. The hotel staff appreciated that because it meant they wouldn't have to ask what they wanted ever again.
She must be new, he thought curiously.
A strand of chestnut brown hair fell out of her ponytail, and she tucked it behind her ear, as her eyes darted between the three.
"Can I take your order?"
Her voice was far more confident than she appeared and Seifer was surprised. Fujin raised a silver eyebrow at the girl, while Raijin leaned over the table to tell her, rather loudly, "We'll have what we always have, ya know?"
The girl shuffled in place and said timidly, "Sorry, I'm new. I just started today."
Seifer studied her intently, trying to place her face in his memory.
"New, huh? It's not every day you see new staff around here."
Most, if not all, of the businesses in Balamb were owned by the locals. Outsiders were rarely hired, let alone found within the town limits. If they were part of the military or private organizations, like Gardens, they didn't stay for very long.
She turned to face Seifer, her hazel eyes reflecting the sun's rays. She shook her head and explained, "I'm not exactly new to town, just to working at the hotel."
He nodded, not particularly caring for the details, and waved his hand towards Fujin and Raijin. "This guy always gets the seafood soup, she always gets seafood alfredo. Personally, I prefer the Balamb Fish special."
Jotting it all down on a little notepad, she looked back up. "And to drink?"
"I'll have a light beer, ya know?"
She looked at Seifer expectantly and he replied, "I always have a whiskey on the rocks with dinner."
She closed her notepad with a snap and nodded, strolling over to the podium at the front of the restaurant. She tapped on the computer's screen and entered a few items, then turned and left the room. A few minutes later, she walked back in with a tray that held their drinks and set them down on the table in front of them, disappearing into the kitchen afterwards.
Seifer picked up his glass, twirling it so that his ice cubes clinked together. The translucent blocks of frozen water drifted around in his cup as he pondered the waitress' behavior. People were normally hesitant to speak to them, but she was different-one of the first to act that way. It was a nice change and he decided she was his new favorite waitress.
He turned back to the window and looked outside once again, as he took the first sip of his whiskey, relishing in the harsh burn that trickled down his throat. He leaned back in his chair, the wicker material creaking. The sun had finally set and the sky was a navy blue, clear enough to see the stars. Since Balamb was such a small town, there were hardly any lights that detracted from star-gazing.
Not that Seifer would ever admit he often star gazed.
A few minutes later, the waitress came back with their food. After placing their orders in front of them, she wiped her hands on the apron around her waist and asked, "Is there anything else I can get you guys?"
Seifer silently shook his head, and she went to close their ticket, bringing it back and placing it face down on the table. He thanked her softly and she went to stand by the podium. The group ate in companionable silence as the minutes ticked by. By now, the entire restaurant had emptied.
Fujin and Raijin stood after finishing their food, and turned to leave. Pausing, Fujin looked back at Seifer and said, "BED."
He leaned back in his chair again, twirling his nearly empty glass of whiskey once more, out of habit. He glanced up at Fujin and said, "I'll be up in a few."
She turned to Raijin and they nodded once at each other, before they turned and left the dining room, the doors swinging after them. The waitress peered over her shoulder at Seifer, turned back to face the doors, then looked back over her shoulder at him once again.
He took another sip as he watched her walk towards his table.
"Are you...going to be staying for awhile?" she asked quietly.
He tilted his head up at her and said irritatedly, "Maybe. I'm enjoying my drink, for now. Why, do you want me to go?"
She shook her head quickly as if worried she'd offended him. "No, you can stay. I was just wondering. I can't close up until the last customer leaves, so..."
Seifer stood quickly and downed the rest of his whiskey, slamming the glass back down on the table. Annoyed that it seemed like she was hinting for him to get out of there, he pulled fifty Gil out of his pocket and tossed it onto the table. He brushed past the waitress, heading to the doors, but she grabbed his coat sleeve, lightly tugging on it. In a panicked tone, she said, "You really don't have to leave, it's fine. I didn't mean for it to sound like I wanted you to leave right now."
He looked down on her and spat out bitterly, "Don't worry, I'm used to people not wanting me around."
He wrenched his coat out of her hand and stalked out of the restaurant, shoving the swinging doors open. When they came back around to smack him in the sides as he was passing through the doorway, he swore and stomped up the stairs to the rooms.
The only indication that he'd been there at all, other than the plates on the table, was the swinging motion of the doors, as they squeaked to a stop.
Upstairs, Seifer briskly walked down the hall to his hotel room. He fumbled in his pocket for his wallet and quickly pulled his room key out, jamming it into the slot. Since he was so worked up, he kept pulling the card out too quickly and the door kept rejecting the key-card. His boot came into contact with the door rather emphatically as he yelled, "God damn it!"
The adjacent door opened and Fujin stepped out into the hall. She stood there, wordlessly watching him fight with the door for a moment. After a few more of his unsuccessful attempts at opening the door, she finally walked over and took the card from Seifer.
"STOP," she instructed firmly.
Calmly, she inserted the key, giving it a moment to read, and when the light lit up green, she smoothly pulled the key back out. She turned the handle and pushed the door open for him. Seifer stuck his boot in the doorway to prop it open.
In a quiet voice, Fujin asked, "TALK?"
Seifer shook his head vehemently, implying that he didn't want to discuss it at the moment. In contrast, he opened his mouth and furiously said, "I'm just sick of people treating us like garbage."
Fujin shook her head in disagreement and laid her hand gently on Seifer's forearm.
He ran his gloved hand through his hair, causing it to part in grooves, and sighed.
"I know they're scared of us, of me. But that's what makes it so bad. I know I messed up, I do. But what the hell are we supposed to do now? Where are we supposed to go?"
Fujin was silent, her uncovered eye concentrated on him.
"TOGETHER," she whispered.
Seifer looked up, meeting her stormy gaze. He held it and muttered, "Yeah, we stick together, I know. Go to bed, I'll see you in the morning."
He walked into his room and shut his door quietly. After a moment, he heard Fujin's door close as well and he leaned against the wall, sliding down onto the floor.
Seifer sat in the darkness, lost in his thoughts.
He was only eighteen, almost nineteen, and still had his entire life ahead of him, or at least he did at one point. Now, what was left? He could never be a SeeD, not after what he'd done.
He supposed he could become a freelance mercenary but wasn't sure if that was a path he wanted to continue on. Would the three of them just fish their days away in Balamb, no cause to guide them, never belonging anywhere, or having anyone care whether they came or went?
Seifer bowed his head, resting his forehead on his knee. He let out a long and tense sigh, his shoulders sagging from the realization that he had run out of options.
A/N: I promise it picks up, so stick with me. Let me know if you liked it, in the review box below ^_^ Thanks for reading!