BreathlessBy Fei Xue aka Broken Sword
Chapter Thirteen: Heaven's Not Enough
Author's Notes: Wow, I just realized that I've been writing this fanfic for, what? Two years? Holy crap, guys. I better speed things up since we're not anywhere near the end. LOL Yes, uh, about the lack of updates. I can give you a million reasons why I don't update, and it still wouldn't matter. But that's ok, I'll give it to you anyways. Next year, I'm going to enter high school as a junior. This means SATs and SAT II tests to take, not to mention AP classes and a GPA to keep up. And as of now, I'm working on a novel with FidusAngelus (which we plan on making into a manga later in the future), and beta reading one of Shigan's fanfics (which is brilliant btw, and you should all go read it). I've already had to discontinue a few other of my fanfic works, but since this particular fanfic has grown on me, I still continue to keep it alive. So uh…excuse this poor humble high school student.
Disclaimers: FF8 and all mentioned characters in this chapter belong to SquareEnix. "Heaven's Not Enough" is sung by Steve Conte, composed by Yoko Kanno.
And heaven's not enough
If when I'm there I don't remember you
And heaven does enough
You think you know it
And it uses you
I saw so many things
But like a dream
Always losing me in a cloud
Cause I couldn't cry
Cause I turned away
Couldn't see the score
Didn't know the pain
Of leaving yesterday really far behind
--Steve Conte, "Heaven's Not Enough"
When Quistis returned to Xu's apartment, it was already dark, and the moon and stars had already begun their nightly debut. The night was relatively chilly, but the warmth she felt was like no other.
Just five minutes ago, she had bid Rinoa goodnight as they parted paths. But not before the other girl had declared that the day had been something that she would have liked to repeat. So both women had agreed for another rendezvous, over the weekend, before they each went their ways.
Quistis had to suppress an almost girlish giggle, when she came to Xu's doorstep. She reached into her skirt pocket to pull out the spare key her friend had given her that morning. Xu had explained that Quistis would be staying with her, temporarily, until they could get things "back to order". Quistis hadn't known what that meant, and neither had Xu. They didn't like the implication, but orders from the Headmaster were not to be denied. Speaking of the Headmaster…
Quistis pushed away the sleeves of her shirt to check her watch for the time, afraid that she had not kept her appointment with Cid. Her heart dropped as her eyes traced the thin white lines on her wrist. That's right…she almost forgot. The reason why she was going to the meeting in the first place. She shook her head, pushing the dark thoughts away. Her questions would be answered soon. She was sure of it. But now was not the time to brood on dark thoughts. She flipped the light switch on as she entered, tossing the key on a nearby table, and closing the door quietly behind her. But apparently not quietly enough as a startled head popped up from behind the couch.
"Good Hyne, Quistis! Thank goodness you're back!" Xu cried as she sat up, pushing papers and various portfolios off her chest. "Where in hell were you? I tried finding you at lunch but…" She set about fixing her mussed hair, primping herself until she made herself presentable again. Quistis smiled to herself as she sat down next to Xu. "I went out." She said simply, helping her friend pile the fallen stacks of paper and folders back into organization. "Alone?" Xu seemed fairly perturbed about this.
"You don't have to keep an eye on me all the time, Xu." Quistis said softly, placing a gentle hand on Xu's shoulder. She did not wish to tell her friend about the little adventure she had with Rinoa. Partly for Rinoa's sake, so the other woman would not get in trouble for skipping courses, but in some small way, it was also a selfish thing. Quistis wished to keep Rinoa a secret. That the world, which she shared with Rinoa, was their own. It was ludicrous to think this way, yes. But indulgence was a private matter, why would anyone else need to know?
The Asian woman winced visibly at Qusitis' touch. "It's not like that…we just worry about you." Xu said honestly.
Quistis nodded, almost sadly. "Yes, I know."
A small uncomfortable silence overtook them both. Quistis was the first to break; guilt flooded her resolve, upon seeing Xu's torn expression. "
Did you have a good nap?"
Xu stared back in shock at Quistis' smiling face.
"What? I don't know what you're talking about." However in the back of her mind, she realized that this was Quistis' vague attempt at a subtle apology. It was actually kind of…relieving?
"Come on, Xu." Quistis rolled her eyes. "I'm sure everyone has fallen asleep on the job sometime in their life." She gestured at the numerous stacks of unidentifiable documents.
"Yeah, well…" Xu sighed, falling back into the couch, so that she was staring at the ceiling. "It's not supposed to happen to me."
Quistis rose from her seat, making her way to the adjoining kitchen, disappearing from Xu's view. "Try to relax more often."
Xu froze, checking herself to make sure that she hadn't heard wrong. Sitting up, she stared into the kitchen "What?"
There was a clatter of dishware, before Quistis appeared with a glass of water in hand. "Stress isn't good for you." She only took a mouthful of water, before stopping at the stunned expression on her friend's face. "What?"
Xu really didn't know how to reply. It had already become apparent that Quistis…was different somehow. But up until now, Xu hadn't been able to put her finger on it. But now it seemed that all her worries were…for naught. Quistis had changed. But the only things that she had left behind were her inhibitions. Her obligations.
Quistis never had a normal childhood. Actually, that could be said for every student in Garden. However, out of all those people, Quistis probably had the harshest. She always had to grow up slightly faster than everyone else. Ever since the orphanage, she took care of people, just like herself. Whether it was soothing a child's tears, or breaking up a fight, such acts fed her maturity level years beyond her own age. It was her nature to guide others, to protect. Fueled by unfortunate circumstances, it was only a matter of time before her childhood started to burn away at a rate much to fast to be considered healthy. Xu, herself, had seen the change take place right before her eyes.
At an age where she should have been going on shopping sprees, hanging out with her friends or just plain fooling around, Quistis was graduating two years ahead of her class. At an age where she should have been getting her first boyfriend, she was entering a work field where split-second decisions decided whether or not she would live through the day. And when her peers were finally graduating, it was she who was preparing the skills that they would take with them into the battlefield. No, life was not kind to Quistis.
But Xu did remember a time when Quistis smiled genuinely. She remembered what it was to see her laugh. To see a face that was not covered by professionalism. It was a very long time ago, and it had faded away, like most memories did. But Xu hadn't forgot what that Quistis was like. That Quistis who stood before her, now.
Only Quistis' quick reflexes saved the very expensive crystal glass tumbler from a messy and violent demise on the oak wood floor. She stared down at the sobbing mess that was Xu, buried in her chest. Her eye grew wide with heart-felt concern. "Xu! Xu, are you alright? Oh Hyne, was it something I said?"
Xu managed to tear herself away long enough to slap Quistis on the arm and cry out through her tears. "I'm happy, you idiot!"
"O-Okay!" Qusitis stuttered in shock at Xu's erratic behavior as her friend, once again, attached herself back onto her boobs and bawled insanely.
After a while, it became apparent that Xu wasn't going anywhere soon. Not that Quistis meant to be insensitive…but she DID have a meeting with the Headmaster in fifteen minutes.
She stopped patting Xu's hair for a second, before checking the clock again. She winced.
Make that ten minutes.
"Um…Xu, darling…I have to go meet the Headmaster now…" Quistis began, as carefully as she could. But apparently, she had underestimated Xu, for the older woman had already begun to withdraw, as she dried her eyes with the back of her hand.
"Oh yes," Xu coughed, clearing her throat. "How silly of me. But uh, that won't be necessary," She said, stopping Quistis before the blonde had the chance to turn to leave. "You see, Mrs. Kramer dropped this off a few hours ago."
Quistis stepped forward, taking the object from Xu's hand, inspecting it closely. "She's rescheduled you for tomorrow night. But she said that you can come anytime in between, if you feel the need to."
"It's a key." Quistis said, matter-of-factly.
"Yes, it's your house key." Xu affirmed, frowning as she watched Quistis look back at key, as if it was some strange foreign object that she had never seen before. "You can move back in tomorrow."
Personally, she didn't know what was going through Edea's mind when she decided to allow Quistis back into her apartment. Just give her a few more days for Hyne's sake! It was too soon!
Xu had personally been to Quistis' apartment after…the incident. It was…like a scene taken right from a horror movie. Xu remembered that she didn't even go inside the apartment. As soon as she opened the door, she was running away, towards the nearest bathroom.
What had dripped off the table soaked the carpet in a sea of crimson, and the stench of it was gut wrenching. So much had been spilled, that there was no doubt it was a miracle that had saved Quistis' life. A crew had been sent in to clean up, but in the end, it was decided to re-carpet the entire room. Of course, she doubted they could get rid of the smell. Reminiscent of the battlefield, was the only way Xu could describe it.
Xu had contemplated not giving Quistis the key, but quickly refuted the idea. She would have been founded out too soon, and could be punished severely on disobeying orders. Besides, she could always work on persuading Quistis to stay at her place for a little longer.
"You know…" Xu said slowly. "You don't have to go there now. We could wait…"
Quistis shook her head silently, her eyes never leaving the key that rested in the palm of her hand.
Xu bit her lip. She wished dearly that she could have known what was going through her friend's mind at that moment. But then again, why did she always have to beat around the bush? They were friends; it was ok to talk about emotions.
"How do you feel?" Xu asked delicately.
Quistis didn't answer for a while. She slowly moved back to the couch, sitting down, still staring at her house-key, as if she was watching it.
Xu was about to ask again, not sure if Quistis had heard, until a small whisper of an answer barely reached her ears.
"Curious." Quistis turned the key over in her hand. "I'm feeling curious."
Sometimes I wonder why I bother with this darned website. The formatting is a bitch. This chapter is actually 7 pages long. Really. I know.
I tried making this chapter longer than the one before. But this seemed like an appropriate place to end it.