Disclaimers: Belongs to Squaresoft, not me. Blame them for the tremendous bout of insanity that caused, no forced me to write this. Totally not my fault. I'm sick, leave me alone. This is what happens when you're high on sinus medication. Be warned.
"Consequence Free" was written by Great Big Sea. Terrific drinking song, though really has nothing to do with this fic. I'm just trying to pretend it does.
"Ah, Quistis. Prompt, as usual." Cid smiled as the young woman entered his office. His eyes warmed with welcome behind the clear lenses of his glasses. The corners of his eyes crinkled with the action, creasing several more lines of his round face. Judging by the nature of the lines, he was clearly a man content with his life.
"Please, sit down. No need for formalities. I hope I wasn't interrupting anything." With an urgent wave, he gestured for her to take a seat in front of his desk.
"No, of course not, sir." Quistis shook her head and followed his directions. Brushing a slip of hair aside from her cheek, she perched onto one of the two polyester chairs, posture straight and ankles crossed on the floor beneath her.
"You're probably wondering why I have called you here, so I'll get straight to the point." He rested his hands comfortably on the desk in front of him, leaning forward in enthusiasm. A smile continued to dance about his lips as he spoke and his eyes were practically pinging with delight when they met hers.
"I would appreciate that, sir." Quistis inclined her head and kept her gaze level. Restless, her hands adjusted her pressed uniform skirt, smoothing out every minor crease and wrinkle. Her brisk movements were the only outward sign of any mental agitation.
"You've been a SeeD with Balamb for how many years now?" Cid asked her, with a tilt of his head.
"Five, sir. I graduated when I was fifteen."
"Quite right." He nodded, bobbing his head repeatedly. "Five years, five years. Doesn't seem that long now, does it? Why, only a short time ago you were in this very office, ten years old. My, how you had grown…" His voice trailed off and his eyes misted over with memories. "I could barely believe it was you."
Feeling somewhat awkward, Quistis shifted in her chair and laced her fingers. Her teeth began to nibble at the inside of her cheek as she watched the man before her with caution.
Eventually, Cid brought himself out of his self-induced reverie and refocused his gaze. He chuckled a little and waved a hand in the air. "Listen to me go on. I'm beginning to sound like a sentimental old fool." Amused with his antics, he settled back in his worn leather wing chair and folded his hands over his slightly rounded stomach.
"Anyway, Quistis, what I'm trying to say is that you have been a student with us for quite some time, over a decade. And your record of dedication and consistency has not gone without notice. On behalf of the entire faculty, I would like to give you warm thanks and congratulations. You have earned every rank and position with tremendous skill and commendable fortitude. You have steadily put the security of your clients and fellow SeeD before your own, completing each assignment with rare efficiency. Your service for Balamb Garden is legendary throughout our halls."
Her knuckles went white as her hands gripped the edge of her chair. Her pale complexion flushed with a soft pink and she shifted under the thick praise. One hand lifted to cover her mouth as she cleared her throat. Her eyes left his and fixed on a painting on the wall just to the left of his head.
"Thank you, sir. I've always tried to do my best."
"Certainly, certainly." Cid nodded again in agreement, his smile growing further. "I and the other members of the faculty have agreed it is about time you have been rewarded for your efforts here. Especially in light of recent developments."
At that, her eyes flickered back to his. "Sir?"
His expression became a mask of intensity and he abruptly moved forward to speak more intimately. "Thanks to your selfless and relentless exertion, a student was able to overcome his difficulties and pass the field exam this afternoon. With some of the highest scores I've seen in quite some time, I might add." Pleased to be the one to break the news, his features creased back into a grin.
"You're talking about Seifer Almasy." For the first time her expression lightened and a tiny bit of the tension eased from her shoulders. She let out a quiet breath and allowed herself a small smile. "That's excellent news. But the credit really can't be--."
Cid cut off her next words with a shake of his head. He lifted both thinning brows and settled back. "You aren't going to sit there and tell me that Almasy would have passed with or without your help, are you? No, Quistis, you deserve all the tribute to his current position in Garden. Thanks to you, we have gained an invaluable SeeD."
"But, Headmaster, I really didn't do all that much." Quistis leaned forward as she spoke, eyes direct. "Nothing more than expected." Her molars began to chew more diligently.
"Don't be silly." Jovial, Cid clucked his tongue. "The reason I assigned you to be his tutor was because I knew only you had the skill and intellect to turn that boy around. And, as usual, you did not fail me. Seifer Almasy has become another Balamb success story." He slanted his forehead. "As have you."
Hands twisting together, Quistis appeared to be searching her mind for the proper response to such lavish approval. Approval it was obvious she did not feel she deserved.
"Therefore, Quistis, I have called you up to my office to bestow upon you your promised, and hard-earned, promotion." Eminently thrilled with himself, Cid swivelled his chair a little from left to right. He then bent down and opened the top drawer of his desk. Humming a mindless tune, he pulled out a crisp white document and presented it to the startled young woman before him.
"Quistis Trepe, as headmaster of Balamb Garden, I am hereby reinstating your instructor's license."
Wouldn't it be great, if no one ever got offended
Wouldn't it be great to say what's really on your mind
I have always said "all the rules are made for bending"
And if I let my hair down, would that be such a crime?
She closed her eyes for a moment, to gather her thoughts and let the emotions swirl around her. For two years, she had waited for, dreamed of, and lusted after this very situation. But now that it was happening, she felt nothing but confusion, disappointment, and, something very akin to dread.
Opening her eyes, Quistis gazed at the sheet of paper Cid had slid toward her on his desk. The official letterhead of Balamb Garden practically vibrated off the page and into her skull. For some reason, she was loath to touch it, for fear it would sear through her skin. Her pulse picked up speed at her throat and more than anything she wanted out of there.
Cid appeared to be waiting for a response; his eyes were beaming expectantly at her when she dared to glance up. Withholding a cringe, she immediately looked back at the paper. The last thing she wanted to do was disappoint him and he seemed to want this almost as much as she had. With a sigh, she forced a smile to her face and opened her mouth to speak.
"Thank you very much, sir. I appreciate you thinking of me. This is, this is very kind of you." She managed to choke that out without too much difficulty and would have continued if something within her had not snapped. No, her mind screeched, this is not what you want to be doing with your life.
She remembered the days after she had first received her license, three years ago. She had been so proud, so full of hope and anticipation for a brilliant future.
Then, she remembered all of the paperwork, all of the long nights spent grading when she would rather have been hanging out with the more carefree set. She recalled the alienation she felt from all of her former classmates and SeeDs. No one wanted to party with their instructor. She recollected the headaches, the stress, and the depression that came with taking on a strong authoritative role. And the loneliness.
Could she really face returning to all of that? Was it even worth it? Now that she had finally discovered who she was, she knew the answer. For once, she had to put herself first.
Meeting Cid's merry face, she lifted her chin and screwed her courage to give her final response.
I wanna be consequence free
I wanna be where nothing needs to matter
I wanna be consequence free
just sing "NA NA NA NA NA NE NA NA NA"
Fifteen minutes later, she was stepping out of the office and toward the lift with a smile curving her lips and fluttering in her eyes. She forced down a hysterical giggle that bubbled up her oesophagus and pressed the button to call the car. Peeking once to the left and once to the right to make sure no one else was around to mock her for acting like a schoolgirl, she gave into the impulse to perform a little dance.
Tapping her feet and grinning madly, she spun a clumsy pirouette. She had done it. For the first time in her life, she had done something only for herself, only because she wanted to, not caring about the consequences. And it had felt bloody amazing. Almost as heady as when she had defeated her first T-Rexaur on her own. Intoxicating.
As the lift descended to the main floor, she caught her reflection in the glass panel and smiled again. This time, she allowed herself a small chuckle. Lord, she was going to have to do this more often.
Once the doors glided open, she hurried down the stairs and down the circular hall toward the dormitories. The music of the fountains tinkled along with her rushing thoughts and she smiled again. The glistening water brightened her sparkling mood further and she began to wonder if she would ever land from what felt like a permanent float spell. Nothing could spoil her mood.
Not even Squall Leonhart, who was now approaching her with a scowl marking up his striking features.
"Quistis." Her name came out as a statement from his firm lips. He stopped in front of her and regarded her with impatience.
"Hmmm?" She smiled up at him, brows raised. "Ah, Squall. What can I help you with?"
Unimpressed, he gestured to the bench at her left, in front of the library. "I need to talk to you. It's important."
"Oh." Quistis did not appear concerned. She glanced at her watch distractedly. "Are you sure it can't wait? I have to get ready for the inauguration party. I've just heard my last student aced the exam."
Squall frowned. "What do you mean your last? I thought Cid was reinstating your license." His brows knit and formed a line of consternation between his eyes.
"Hmmm? Oh, he did. But I turned him down." She beamed again and turned away to continue her journey. "Why don't you find me at the party later? We'll sit down and have a little chat."
"Quistis, wait." The annoyance was clear in his abrupt tone.
With a sigh, she spun back around. "Squall, I just don't have the time right now." She crossed her arms and arched a single brow. "Since when are you so anxious to talk to me, anyway?"
The younger man ran a hand through his hair and let out a long breath. "Quistis, really." He spoke in a low voice. "Isn't it about time you got over all that?"
Her laugh was free and bright. She did not bother to cover her mouth with her hand. "Oh, Squall. I have gotten over it. After about ten seconds. You're the one who chose to make it all a big deal. I'm truly sorry you can't stop thinking about it."
Taking a few steps forward and revelling in her newfound confidence, she patted his shoulder. "But why do you think I came to you that night in the first place?" Her expression lightened and she smirked. "You were a heck of a lot better looking than concrete."
With a wiggle of her fingers, she was off down the hall. "See you in the ballroom!"
I could really use, to lose my Catholic conscience
Cuz I'm getting sick of feeling guilty all the time
I won't abuse it, Yeah I've got the best intentions
For a little bit of anarchy but not the hurting kind
A soft waltz drifted from the ballroom doors as Quistis approached. The music was sweet, lilting, and carefree. It lifted and swelled straight into her soul. Tonight was for her as much as it was for the graduates. It was time for her own inauguration, time for her arrival into life.
Her entrance caught the eye of most of the inhabitants of the spacious ballroom. Perhaps because it was not an entrance at all. She did not stop in the doorway to pose or sweep an appraising gaze about the area. She did not lift a hand or make an effort to insure her presence was known. She simply entered. The flowing black silk extravagance she wore breezed about long legs as she strolled across the room to greet a few friends.
A radiant smile graced her features as a passing waiter offered her a slim glass of champagne. Taking an approving sip, she nodded to the young man and continued toward the small circle. She was aware of the glances whizzing in her direction ~ aware but not affected. Tonight she could care less if she had an audience. After all, why shouldn't they stare? She looked terrific.
"Quistis!" A jubilant voice called out to her. "I was beginning to think you weren't coming!" Selphie held up her own flute and toasted her friend with a grin worth a zillion gil. "It's not like you to be so late." She wriggled her eyebrows and teasingly shook a finger.
Quistis laughed, caught the eye of the man standing next to the petite female, and winked. "I had a few things to take care of first."
"I'll say. Well, now that you're here, what do you think of my decorations?" Selphie thrust out both arms and demanded her hard work be admired immediately. "I was up all night finishing the rosettes. Aren't they gorgeous?"
"Even if you think they're hideous, tell her you love them." Irvine put in, slyly winking back. "She wasn't the only one up all night."
Amused, Quistis shook her head and was about to comment when her gaze lit on a more appealing subject. A new glint formed in the depths of her eyes and her lips curved with anticipation. Feeling just a little reckless, she murmured her excuses and began her advance across the dance floor.
I couldn't sleep at all last night cause I had so much on
I'd like to leave it all behind, but you know it's not that easy
Oh, but for just one night
"I suppose congratulations are in order."
Seifer twisted his neck at the sound of the familiar alto next to his ear. He nearly did a double take at the sight of his former instructor attired in a concoction made solely to muddle the male mind. His body followed his neck so he could face her fully.
A hum of purely female satisfaction drummed up from her belly to her throat at the gleam in his eyes as they travelled over her figure. She raised her brows and smirked, crossing her arms over her chest.
His eyes then met hers and he let loose with a satisfied smirk of his own. "Why, Instructor, I'm honoured." Seifer inclined his head in a gesture of respect. "It isn't everyday a student like me hears such open praise."
Knowing he was making fun of them both and willing to play the old game, Quistis let out a reluctant sigh. "Perhaps if you had listened more during our sessions instead of berating everything I said, you would have picked up a little more encouragement."
He grinned at the lecturing tone her voice immediately took on as she admonished him. Brisk and stern and infinitely bossy. Just like the Quistis he knew. Much better than the husky drawl that had caught him off-guard just moments ago. Paired with the dress, he had no defence for such a lethal combination. It had always been dangerous ground between them, and she was looking particularly deadly this evening.
Seifer lifted a brow. "Encouragement, from you?" He allowed his words to drift lazily, contrasting with the sprightly polka the orchestra had struck up in the background. "Trust me, if I'd received any of that, I would have acted on it right away."
Slowly, her lips curved. She titled her head and looked up at him under golden lashes. Yes, she was feeling very reckless tonight. "You were the student, and I was your instructor. It would have been…" Her smile grew "inappropriate."
Momentarily stunned by the suggestion hanging in the air from her words, Seifer had to pause before replying. Was it his imagination or was she actually coming on to him? Uncomfortable with the idea, though annoyingly intrigued, Seifer tried to steer the conversation to a more breathable level.
"So now that I've completed your mission for you I'm assuming you are once more the proud owner of a crisp license." His eyes mocked her over the glass he had lifted to his mouth.
"Mmm." Quistis had turned her face away to watch the couples swirling about the marble floor just feet away. The cheerful polka faded and the music selection switched to something of a more romantic temper. With gliding piano notes and flowing strings, it was reminiscent of waves against the cliffs and just fast enough to dance to.
For some reason his throat had become incredibly dry. But the bubbles of champagne did little to soothe his agitation.
She looked back at him again, mischief sparkling in her eyes. "Dance with me."
Nearly flummoxed, Seifer could do little but stare. "I don't think so."
Quistis just continued to regard him with the same amused expression that was starting to get on his nerves. "Are you afraid of me, Almasy?"
His eyes narrowed at that and he crossed his arms, leaning back against a smooth white column. "Hardly." He gestured with his chin. "If you want to dance so badly why don't you ask Leonhart? I hear he gets off on that kind of thing."
She rolled her eyes but did not swerve her gaze from the man before her. "Because I'm asking you." Her tone was now impatient. "What's the problem, don't you know how?"
He glared. "No. I would--."
"Perfect, neither do I." Flashing him a grin, she grabbed his arm and yanked him onto the floor. She surprised them both with her strength against his unwavering resistance.
Once they stood amidst the gathering of waltzing couples, he was able to regain control by grasping her other arm and hauling her against him. Flames sparked from his fingers as they gripped her bare skin. "What the hell are you doing, Trepe?" The lines of his face were drawn in a scowl Quistis reckoned she was supposed to find intimidating.
Wouldn't it be great, if the band just never ended
We could stay out late and we would never hear last call
We wouldn't need to worry about approval or permission, we could
Slip off the edge and never worry about the fall
Closing the distance between them, she slid her free arm around his neck and buried her fingers in the thick hair at the nape. Breathless, she pulled his head down toward hers till their mouths were scarcely millimetres apart. She held him there for a few aching moments, ran her tongue over her bottom lip, before reaching up to brush her lips once, twice, oh-so-briefly over his. Her eyes held him captive once more before she delved.
Lights exploded inside his head, eruptions blasted inside his body. The sensations simply took control of the two of them. Of him. He meant to put his hands on her shoulders and pull her back. He could hold this strange new woman back. This woman who was giving him the opportunity to act on every fantasy he'd ever had as a student in her class. He could and would. In a little while.
She smelled dark, and dangerous. It was irresistible. He was irresistible. He kissed like a dream, she thought, letting out a low purr. As if it was all he had ever done, all he ever wanted to do. His mouth was soft and hot. He made her mind spin a dozen languid pirouettes, with her pulse throbbing thick to keep the beat. Floating on a lovely mix of sensation, anticipation, and desire, she let her head fall back.
"That was nice," her smile glimmered up at him and her fingers toyed with the ends of his hair. "Why don't we do that again?"
Hyne, he wanted to. He wanted to start and finish in one large gulp. But now that his mind had stopped imploding, he was fully aware of where they stood and who was avidly watching their little performance.
"C'mon." He linked his fingers with hers after removing them from behind his head. Maintaining a tight grip, he pulled her toward the nearest exit, to the balcony that extended beyond the columns. He was not about to let her get away until he received a full explanation for her bizarre behaviour.
Once outside, he released her, positioning his body in front of the one escape route available. "Before we do anything again, you are going to tell me exactly what's going on here."
Quistis pushed at the hair that had tumbled in front of her eyes during their hasty exit. After smoothing back her wayward tresses, she straightened her shoulders and met his frown. She was not about to back down. Not tonight. There were going to be thousands of tomorrows, but there was only one tonight. She was not ready to destroy her newfound confidence just yet.
"I thought that was pretty obvious." She touched her tongue to her cheek and observed him. She was fulfilled to see desire amongst the many emotions traversing the planes of his face. He did not have the look of a happy man. She would just have to change that.
"I won't be used."
Thrilled and relieved all at once she treated his insecurities with a merry laugh. "Used?" She shook her head. "Seifer, I'm not using you for anything." She advanced on him again, stepping close enough to run her hands up his chest. "We're both adults, with adult needs. I'm just giving us both the chance to satisfy a few of them." She nipped at his lower lip. "No strings."
"No strings," he repeated, dubiously.
"None. That is, unless you want them." She laughed at the both of them and backed away. "We can negotiate later."
"Y'know." He jerked a thumb toward the ballroom. "Everyone out there probably knows what we're doing."
"So?" She continued backing up until her body brushed the cold stone of the ledge.
"You don't care?"
"No. Should I?" Bending down, she shifted her long skirt so she could undo the straps of her shoes. Rising she noticed Seifer staring at her with a look of consternation. He appeared to be fighting a battle with himself. "What is it?"
"The hell." In two strides, he was across the balcony and in front of her, capturing her between the wall and his body. Viciously aroused, he crushed his mouth to hers.
Heat flashed into her system. Her lips parted on a gasp of surprise, and he took the kiss deep before she could find her balance. She lifted her hands, a helpless flutter, and tried to catch up.
"You're sure about this." His breath came out in logy pants.
Quistis took the moment to slip out of her shoes. Bending down again she scooped them up and rose to hurl them over the side. Smirking at his furrowed brows she braced her arms on the ledge and hauled her frame up onto stone and over the side.
Startled at her unpredictability, Seifer cursed then leaned down over the wall that Quistis had taken her death leap from. She stood on the soft grass below, one floor down, wind tousling her hair and a sexy smile curving her face.
"Are you going to join me, or what?"
Seifer laughed then, amused and provoked beyond anything he'd ever felt before. "What happened to the boring instructor who went to bed at eight every night? Is she actually sneaking out of Garden?"
She put her hands on her hips. "It's hardly sneaking, since everyone knows where we are. And I do not go to bed at eight every night."
Shaking his head, Seifer threw his uniformed legs over the side and prepared to land, with any luck it would not be on his ass.
"Took you long enough."
He opened his eyes and straightened his legs; amazed he had made it over the six-metre drop without breaking any bones. Glancing over, he noticed she was grinning. Before he realized it, a responding smirk was breaking out over his expression. The woman was crazy, beyond a shadow of doubt. And he was going to enjoy every inch of her.
"Next thing you're going to tell me you're not a prude."
Feeling wild and uninhibited for the first time in her life, Quistis leapt at him. She wrapped her legs around his torso and pressed her forehead to his. His hands clutched at her hips to maintain some form of balance.
"Why don't we find out?"
I wanna be consequence free
I wanna be where nothing needs to matter
I wanna be consequence free
just sing NA NA NA NA NA NE NA NA NA