A/N: Don't let the Shakespeare quote fool you. This fic is pure trash.

Hidden Fires

"Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires."
-William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Chapter 1: Lights Out

Quistis Trepe's boots crunched against the floor of the Training Center as she walked down the dimly lit path. Breathing deep of the verdant scent of wet earth, she prowled the walkways and tried to forget that Balamb Garden was currently hundreds of miles out at sea, far beyond any sight of land.

As she walked, she stretched the tension of the day out of her arms and back.

It felt wonderful to be in amongst the trees and out in nature, even if it was only a simulacrum of the real thing. She'd spent so much of the trip so far holed up in her classroom and her office that she'd begun to feel like an animal trapped in a cage. Unable to sleep, she'd come here to walk and — hopefully — to engage in a good fight.

Often, the monsters here were more active at night. They roamed wider. Became bolder.

The t-rexaurs especially.

Her whip tapped against her thigh as she walked. Magic hummed in her veins.

As she started up the path leading toward the pond, a rustling in the brush ahead caught her attention.

Not big enough to be a t-rexaur. Grats, probably.

Easy opponents. But they would do for now.

She unfurled Save the Queen and, keeping her steps light, continued her approach.

She had almost reached the top of the rise when the brush suddenly exploded and whatever was in it came launching out with a savage cry. Quistis moved to duck out of the way with a cry of her own, but both she and her attacker came up short.



They both added at the same time, their voices overlapping perfectly: "What the hell?!"

He wore dark pants, a dark tank top, and had a smudge of dirt on his shoulder. A scape on his bicep looked recent. Apparently he'd been here for a while already. He straightened and lowered Hyperion.

"Sorry. I thought you were a grat."

Quistis shook her head and wrapped Save the Queen back up. "Is that how you approach every fight? Hurling yourself at an opponent without even getting a good look at it first?"

He shrugged. "Yeah. Pretty much. Plus, I didn't think anyone else would be here. What're you doing out so late at night?"

"Trying to get some training in when I knew no one else would be around." She leveled him with a look, hoping he'd get the message and leave her be.

He didn't.

"I hear ya," he said, crossing his arms and continuing to block the path. "I'm starting to go seriously stir crazy. Remind me again who thought this mission was a good idea?"

"That would be Squall," she replied. "Though I was on the committee, too."

Seifer blinked. "Oh. Right. Well…it better be worth it is all I can say."

Balamb Garden was on its way to perform a detailed investigation of the Deep Sea Research Center. Though funded by Esthar, Cid and Squall both hoped that they might be able to learn more about how to safely use guardian forces there. Now that Garden was limiting their use to temper the effects of memory loss in cadets, there was a lot of concern that SeeD might be losing some of its edge.

"The trip is long and boring," Quistis admitted, "but trust me….this place is amazing. You'll have plenty to do once we get there. The whole stricture is overrun by some of the most powerful monsters I've ever seen. It's going to take everyone and everything we've got just to keep the science teams safe."

"Sounds fun."

Quistis wanted to scoff at his attitude. Except that it did sound fun.

These days, challenges were hard to come by.

"Anyway…" Quistis said, hoping to wrap up the conversation. "You should go get some rest."

"Nah. I'm not done here yet. Was hoping to find a t-rexaur before I hit the hay for the night."

Damn. "Me too."

"It's weird that I haven't run into one yet. They're usually way more aggressive at night. I have to scrape cadets off the floor in here all the time. They're constantly getting themselves attacked while trying to sneak off to the Secret Area after curfew."

Seifer had returned to Garden not long after the war, and while he still was not a SeeD and was not authorized to go on missions, he'd been incorporated into the staff in a position not dissimilar from the one he'd had as part of the Disciplinary Committee. Recently, he'd taken on other responsibilities besides just enforcing Garden rules, including teaching some of the combat classes. The extra responsibility had tempered him a bit and these days he was more bark than bite. Still, his fearsome reputation preceded him and the students largely regarded him with a mix of terror and awe.

She didn't think most cadets would view running into him in the Training Center as much different than bumping into a t-rexaur.

Perhaps that was why he'd come so late at night.

"Have you looked up around the pond?" Quistis asked him.

"Not yet. Was just headed that way."

She didn't want him to go with her, but she couldn't think of any polite way to say as much. She was contemplating her words when the floor suddenly vibrated and shuddered.

Seifer looked down in alarm. "What the hell was that?"

"I don't know. It felt like—"

All of Garden lurched violently. A distant boom like thunder echoed from deep under their feet.

Quistis met Seifer's gaze.

"That can't be good," she said.

He opened his mouth to reply when the lights went out, plunging them into absolute darkness. The black was so impenetrable that it momentarily knocked the breath out of Qusitis. She reeled, searching for something to hold onto, and her wild, clasping hand found Seifer in the black. She grabbed hold of what she thought was his shirt and held tight.

"Shit," he swore. "This is bad."

"Maybe the lights will come back on in a minute."

They stood for a second, waiting.

Quistis hoped her eyes might adjust enough to make out at least some of her surroundings, but it remained so profoundly dark that she couldn't see anything.

The PA crackled on.

"Attention," came Nida's voice. "Students and staff, please remain in your dormitories. Garden has experienced a major failure in one of the B-level engines. We have teams heading to address it now. The dormitory wing is in no danger, but some parts of Garden are currently experiencing power outages. Again, please remain in your dormitories until further notice. Thank you."

Seifer swore. "They can't turn on the lights in here but they can run the damned PA?"

"It has its own closed power circuit so that it can remain functional in emergencies."

"Well, we can't just stand around in the dark waiting until they get it fixed. Let's get out of here."

He moved and a ball of light formed, swirling about his palm. Fire magic. An unruly type of magic, to be sure, but one Seifer had always possessed an affinity for. He held it in check, the spell burning half-formed in his grip.

"Now we just need to find something to light."

He'd barely gotten the words out when an alarm sounded and a steady spray of cold water began raining down on them from the ceiling. Quistis shrieked. Seifer swore. And the fire immediately fizzled out.

"You have got to be kidding me!"

Quistis cast about in her mind for a solution.

Seifer was right — they couldn't stay put and wait for the power to come back on. While stumbling around the Training Center in the dark was bad, being found by a bunch of grats or a t-rexaur in the pitch black was even worse. They were sitting ducks right now.

They had to try to get to a better position.

"There's a safe room somewhere along the east wall," she shouted over the hail of water coming down around them.

The Training Center had several, positioned regularly along the walls for cadets to run to if they ended up in a battle that was too much for them to handle. Each one was stocked with med-magic, first aid supplies, and a phone with which to call the infirmary for evac.

"The door might not even open with the power out."

Something crunched in the foliage nearby and Quistis's heart leapt up into her throat.

"I think it's our best shot."

"Yeah. Okay." Seifer stepped close to her. "Let's go."

"Take my hand. I don't want to get separated."

He hesitated, then sighed. "Fine."

His hand closed over hers and locked tight. Though he wore gloves, the solid human contact of his firm grip helped to center Quistis in the swimming blackness all around them.

"I think it's this way." She tugged him forward, off the path and into the trees.

While the tree canopy at least provided some shelter from the sprinklers, they formed a treacherous maze to try and navigate in the dark. Every other step, Quistis seemed to bump into something. Tree trunks, rocks, and logs defeated her at every turn.

Behind her, Seifer made a sudden noise and pitched forward, knocking them both down into the mud together.

Underneath him, Quistis groaned. "What happened?"

"How the hell should I know? I can't see a damned thing! Must've tripped over a fucking tree root or something!"

For a moment, as Seifer picked himself up off of her, Quistis cursed herself and the choices that had brought her here. If only she'd stayed in bed and tried to sleep rather than heading out to "get some exercise," she would be lounging in warmth and comfort with the rest of Garden as this crisis passed. Not lying in the mud in a monster infested jungle with Seifer Almasy.

"Lower your voice," she chided him. "We don't want to attract attention."

"Screw attracting attention! I say we use everything we've got to torch our way out of here. Just bust out so much magic the stupid sprinklers won't be able to keep up."

Quistis rolled her eyes. "We just need to get to the safe room. By now, we've got to be getting close. We're fine. This is fine."

Like with everything else tonight, her optimism immediately proved unfounded.

As Seifer got back to his feet, a heavy step and a great huff of breath off to their left made both of them freeze. That definitely hadn't been a grat. A second earth shaking step confirmed her suspicions. Only one animal in the Training Center was big enough to sound like that. And it was close.

Oh fuck.

Quistis scrambled to her feet.

"Quick. Get behind me."

"What? No way!"

She cast a spell and a haze of warm, yellow magic suffused the air around her. The meager light that it gave off momentarily illuminated their surroundings and she saw Seifer staring at her, his hair matted down with the rain, his shirt stuck to his chest. Off to his left, behind a large tree, moved a gigantic form — striped and scaly and full of teeth. She only got the barest glimpse of it turning to move toward them before the light from the spell faded and its impact hit her.

A hard jolt of adrenaline set her heart racing. Magic flooded her system. All the deep, dark spells that she could only seem to access in her most desperate states surged to the surface.

The low rumble of the t-rexaur's growl emanated out of the dark.

"Stand back!" she barked at Seifer and threw him behind her.

Quistis put both hands out in front of her and backed up, trying to give herself enough space to cast. She ran into Seifer and kept going, backing them both into a tree. With him safely pinned there, she let the magic loose. "Degenerator!"

Pulsing flashes of light caught the monster coming straight for them — fangs bared. It snapped inches from Quistis's outstretched hands as the spell caught hold of it and spun it backward, sucking it into a void that winked out of existence with one final flash.

Silence and darkness fell again with equally oppressive intensity.

Water pelted down on her head and shoulders, seeming to steam against her overheated skin.

With the aura magic still working through her, Quistis trembled. Her pulse pounded in her throat. She became instantly aware of Seifer behind her, pressed tight between her back and the tree. He was breathing hard, too.

"Did I just have a seizure, or did that entire t-rexaur just get sucked into a black hole?"

"I'm actually not sure what happens to them," Quistis admitted.

He paused as that sank in. "Does it work every time?"



"We should keep going. I'll try to run defense, but you have to get out of the way when I tell you to. I can't aim in the dark."

Seifer grunted. "I'll keep that in mind."

"Maybe you should cast aura, too. Just in case."

"Why? I don't have any fancy blue magic that'll help us. I have to see the thing I want to kill to do much good."

"If I'm compromised, you'll need to be prepared to give the fight everything you've got. Cast it, just to be safe."

He shifted uncomfortably. "I can't."

"Why not?"

"Because aura is a class A spell. Upper-crust SeeDs only. I've never been cleared to use it."

"Oh. Right…" Quistis cleared her throat. "I'll cast it on you then and keep it up until we get to the safe room. Ready?"

He grumbled and she took that as a yes.

A minute later, they were on their way again, both of them hyper-aware and shivering. Seifer's hand kept clenching around hers and he jumped at every noise. At long last, they found the wall of the Training Center but not the door to the safe room. Quistis flattened her hand against the metal wall and suppressed the urge to scream. They'd have to walk along the wall until they found it. She turned to the right, hoping that it was the correct way, and started off, pulling Seifer along behind her.

At long last, her fingers found a seam in the wall. A doorframe.

"I think this is it!"

She dropped Seifer's hand to search for the keypad. It didn't require any sort of authentication, just a human handprint — any human handprint — and it would open. She fumbled until she found it and sucked in a breath.

Here it goes.

She pressed her palm to the reader and waited.


"Damn it! It's not working."

Seifer scoffed. "Told you."

"It's not like you had any good ideas!"

The trees around them shuddered. Branches snapped.

Ugh! Not again…

Seifer listened to the movement through the jungle for a moment, his body still with alarm. "Let's try and lever it open," he said, his voice low. "It's not supposed to be secure from people, just grats and t-rexaurs."

"You do it. I'll keep watch."

They switched places and Quistis listened with growing concern as the forest became positively alive with movement. Behind her, Seifer fiddled with the door.

"Hurry up…"

"I'm going as fast as I can."

Something moved close by on their left, and then something else mirrored that movement on their right.

"Seifer. There's more than one."

"I know."

He swore and she heard him grunt and strain at the door.


Steps thundered suddenly toward them.

Seifer was already casting.

Magic flared blue, forming a bright shell. By its light, Quistis saw the t-rexaur charging them. It was already too close. She wouldn't have enough time to cast.

Seifer's arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her back hard against his chest right as the t-rexaur's tail lashed around and struck at them. It bounced off Seifer's protect spell with a flash and ringing noise so loud that it rattled Quistis's teeth. He held her so tight that she fell within the spell's boundary, but just barely. Magic buzzed inches from her face.

"I think I've got it," he gasped in her ear.

A second later, with the sound of the t-rexaur pounding toward them again, the door peeled open a crack and Seifer wedged himself in the gap. The aura spell gave him unnatural strength. He lifted Quistis up, tossed her over his thigh where he had his leg braced, and then tumbled after into the room. They fell in a pile together as the door shut behind them with a mechanical whine.

Outside, the t-rexaur slammed into the wall with a resounding bang.

Seifer and Quistis didn't move as it stomped and snapped and tried to puzzle out how to extract its prey from the small hole into which it had escaped. Quistis shut her eyes against the blackness and found her face buried against some part of Seifer — his shoulder? chest? — as the monster rubbed and scraped against the metal door but found no purchase.

Eventually, at long last, it huffed and gave up. Quistis listened to it move away before releasing the breath she'd been holding.

Silence and stillness wrapped heavily around them. No more pounding rain from the Training Center sprinklers. No more monsters lurking at their backs. Nothing except their own gasping breaths and the quick thump of Quistis's heartbeat in her ears.

"Damn," Seifer swore softly.

Quistis blinked with surprise at how close to her face he sounded.

With the way they'd landed and the distracting surge of aura magic still addling her brain, it took her a moment to piece together exactly where they were in relation to one another. The material she had gripped in her hands was his shirt — one hand over his chest, the other lower near his belly. He was half on top of her, his shoulder pivoted so that it was on the floor next to hers, and his thigh was pressed hard between her legs.

A sharp stab of heat surged through her.

It's just the aura spell, she told herself and swallowed hard.

He shifted and Quistis was unable to stop herself from groaning.

"You hurt?" he sat up a little.

"No." She tried to catch her breath. "You?"



Quistis flattened both hands against his chest and shivered at the solid expanse of it. Desperate for space, she pushed him off.

"We should try to find a light."

He cleared his throat. "Right."

He lifted himself off her, but even once Quistis got to her feet there was no avoiding him. In the tiny room, they kept bumping into one another while searching the walls and cabinets. Every touch sent Quistis's mind spiraling into dark, dangerous places.

When he brushed against her bottom, Quistis let out a squeal.


"Nothing. You just touched me."

"Of course I touched you. This place is the size of a fucking closet. The two of us can't stand in here at all without brushing elbows. It's nothing to scream about."

"Well, it wasn't exactly the brush of the elbow."

"Then what was it?"

"It was…inappropriate." Quistis felt her face grow hot and was glad that he could not see her blushing.

Seifer paused for a moment. "How inappropriate?"

Quistis tsked in disgust. "I'm not going to describe it in detail."

"Why not?"

"Because it wasn't that big of a deal."

"It made you squeal. There are a lot of sick bastards out there who'd pay good money to find out what parts to touch to make you sound like that."


"Hey. Don't blame me for your disturbing fan club. I just wanna know what kind of trouble I'm in. Was it your…?"

She couldn't bear to hear his guesses.

"My butt," Quistis blurted out. "You touched my butt."

Seifer let out a little snort of laughter. "Really? Wouldn't have figured you were a rear-action sort of girl."

"I'm not! I just…" She huffed in exasperation. "It surprised me and I'm still jumpy from the aura magic."

"Yeah. Me too."

Seifer sighed and she realized with a dizzy tilting of the world under her feet just how close he was standing to her. She backed as far away as she could, which wasn't far. Her calves hit a small bench seat positioned along the wall with only one step back. She sank down onto it and leaned her head back against the wall.

"I've heard rumors about the side effects from the prolonged use of aura," she said, "but I've never felt it quite like this before."

"You're feeling side effects? Nothing that's going to make you degenerate me off into a black hole or something, right?"

Quistis stared in his direction. "You mean you haven't heard about how it can cause certain…feelings?"

"Only A-rank SeeDs use aura, and I don't hang out with many of those."

"Oh. Well." Quistis had no idea how to tactfully explain this to him. "One of aura's particular charms is that it excites all sorts of primal body systems — not just those related to magically tearing apart t-rexuars."

He made a choked noise. "Hang on. Are you saying that it makes you horny?!"

Quistis winced at the way hearing him say it so bluntly only excited her more. "That's part of why it's a restricted spell. It's easy to abuse, and it's dangerous to get someone into a state where they're capable of extreme violence simply for the sake of sexual arousal. It can go…badly."

Seifer paced quickly from one end of the tiny room to the other — only a few steps each way. He brushed her knees as he passed.

"So…we just wait for the feeling to pass? How long will that take?"

"I don't know. An hour maybe? Depends."

Seifer swore.

"It's not some kind of crazy aphrodisiac. It's not going to make me lose control or anything."

He sucked in a deep breath and paced even faster.

Quistis knew she would hate herself for it, but she couldn't help asking, "Are you feeling side effects, too?"

Seifer merely swore. Viciously and at length.


"It might help not to dwell on it," she offered.

"So I should try to think about gross shit like…" He trailed off, apparently unable to come up with something.

"Squall?" Quistis offered.

Seifer scoffed. "That might work for me, but I don't think you should even be saying his name in this state. Liable only to get you even more worked up."

Even though he couldn't see it, Quistis rolled her eyes. "I've been over Squall for a while."

"Uh huh."

"It was just a brief teenage crush. I've moved on."

"Moved on to what?"

Quistis gripped the edge of her seat hard enough to make it creak. "As you've pointed out, there's no shortage of men out there who are more than willing to provide whatever I require."

"Oh yeah. I'm sure you're hooking up with Trepies left and right. Just how often do you have 'requirements'? Got them coming to your room on a regular service schedule?"

"Seifer, this isn't helping."

He grumbled and hit the wall with a bang. "I know."

"I think we both need to take a deep breath, relax, and settle in to wait. The power will be back on soon and this will be over."

"Fine." He sat down on the bench seat next to her, so close their arms were touching.

Not. Helping.

Quistis nudged him. "Can you scoot over a little?"

"No. My other elbow is literally hitting the goddamn door. And don't even think about asking me to move. This is the only place to sit in this tiny little shithole. I'm not going to stand all night just because you're hot and bothered. You'll just have to resist the urge to jump my bones."

Quistis pressed her lips together hard and shifted as far as she could in the other direction, but she had nowhere to escape to. Her heart beat wildly at the warmth of his arm, bared by the tank top he wore, pressing against her own. Ah…if only she'd worn her full battle gear, but she hadn't wanted to bother with it after getting out of bed and instead had thrown on a t-shirt, leggings, and a pair of running shoes that she suspected were now thoroughly wrecked from all the water and mud.

Next to her, Seifer fidgeted. She heard him set aside Hyperion, then a wet plop and he tugged off his gloves and tossed them to the floor.

Oh, dear.

Why did the image of his bare hands seem suddenly so erotic?

She imagined him sliding his palm up her thigh, his touch so firm and strong and hot.

Cursing herself, she tried to bring her thoughts back under control.

Instead, her brain decided to remind her how she'd once had a crush on Seifer when they'd both been cadets. He'd hardly given her the time of day back then. But she'd spent an embarrassing amount of her time during the sexual awakening of her youth contemplating him and his impressive physique from afar. Seifer had bloomed early in life. She'd been far from alone in noticing him.

Honestly, he was still handsome. Still compelling to look at.

Thank goodness she didn't actually have to look at him right now with all these unwanted feelings swirling around.

Though her mind was supplying plenty of images to make up for the deficit.

He shifted and moved again, twisting around. Quistis couldn't figure out what he was doing until she heard him wringing water out of something onto the floor.

"Did you…" Her mouth went immediately dry. "Did you just take off your shirt?"

"It's soaking wet."

Oh Hyne.

"So is mine, but I'm not over here stripping it off!"

"Maybe you should. At least to dry off a bit. It's not like I'd see anything; It's pitch black in here."

"I really don't think getting undressed is going to be helpful right now."

"Why?" He nudged her knee with his and Quistis nearly shot through the roof. "Afraid you'll give in to temptation?"

"Between the two of us, I'm more worried about you," she lied. In fact, he seemed to be handling the whole situation with far greater aplomb than she had imagined him capable of. She didn't understand how he could joke and tease right now. With her every other thought circling back to his bare chest, the width of his shoulders, and how they would feel underneath her hands if she were to crawl into his lap, joking was the very last thing on her mind.

Perhaps it was his way of diffusing the tension.

Or maybe he simply saw her as so undesirable that no amount of aura-induced blood flow could make him think of her sexually.

That idea made her so irritated that she bent down and tore off her soggy shoes.

"What're you doing?" he asked when she stood up and pulled her shirt off over her head.

"Exactly what you suggested. I'm taking off all my wet clothes."

His breath caught. "I didn't say all of your clothes."

"Didn't you? Oh well. It's not like you'll see anything. Right?"

He shot up to his feet next to her and she could feel the heat radiating off him. He seemed to fill the entire room.

"You're right. No point sitting here freezing."

She heard a thump as he pulled off his boots. And then, the sound loud as a gunshot, she heard the zipper on his pants slide down.

No. He wouldn't.

The rustle of fabric filled Quistis's ears like a roar. Seifer hopped once on one foot and then straightened again, his pleased superiority so clear that she could make it out even in the dark. She could fairly see the smirk curving his lips.

"Ahh! Much better," he said with obvious relish.

Too much relish...

Had he taken off his underwear, too?

Quistis had to reach out and brace herself against the wall. For a terrifying, dizzy moment she thought she might pitch forward right into his arms. His bare, firm, imminently capable arms…

Hyne, she bet he'd be a rough lover. Fast and ruthless but also thorough. She'd taught him long enough to understand that he only appeared to half-ass things. His one fault as a SeeD candidate has been his inability to follow orders. As a soldier, in his form and his understanding and his tactics, he'd been exceptional. He did things with passion and skill. Around Garden, it was common parlance to suppose that people "fuck the same way they fight." If the theory held merit, then Seifer would make for an earth-shattering bed partner.

Not that she would ever find out.

Quistis shook her head hard, hoping to knock some common sense loose.

"How about you? Feeling any better?" he asked, breaking the silence.

"No." She didn't trust herself to say much more than that, but as usual, Seifer was not about to let her off so easily.

"What's bothering you the most?"

"Everything! I'm glad this is such a walk in the park for you, but I'm not finding it so easy."

"I never said this was easy."

"You're sure acting like it is."

"Maybe I'm more used to holding back than you are."

Quistis snorted. "Oh please. You've never held back on anything in your life."

"You might be surprised."

"Give me one example of something you wanted that you didn't just immediately take."

"Right now, one thing in particular is coming to mind."

"What's that?"

"You don't want to know."


"Because if I say it out loud, I'm going to-" His words choked off and he made a low noise that might have been agony, pleasure, or both. Either way, it set Quistis on fire. She struggled to find her breath.

Seifer swore softly.

"Are you naked right now?" he asked, a desperate and fragile tone to his voice.

"Are you?" she whispered.

He wavered toward her and then caught himself against the wall, but not before their bodies brushed - her breasts, bound in a damp sports bra, to the searing expanse of his chest.

Quistis reached for him before she could stop herself. In the back of her mind, she knew that the effects of the aura spell would begin to wear off soon if she just controlled herself. But the moment her palms touched bare skin, desire surged hard and insistent through her veins, pushing resistance even further out of her grasp. Dizzy with wanting, she whimpered.

Seifer's chest swelled underneath her hands as he sucked in a deep breath. His heartbeat pounded against her palm.

"No one has to know," he said softly.

The darkness threatened to swallow Quistis.


His hands covered hers, holding them against his chest. "It's so dark; I could be anyone. It doesn't have to be me you're thinking about."

Quistis choked on her reply.

He moved closer.

Every part of her body was melting. Warmth pooled between her legs. She didn't have the willpower to resist.

Her hands slid up, found his shoulders. His own drifted down her arms, leaving shivery gooseflesh in their wake, and then traced down her sides to her hips.

"Oh, god." She surged up against him, pressing her whole body flush to his.

He growled, squeezed her hips, and thrust against her.

Stars burst before her eyes.

He was already hard. And not just a little. It struck her for a moment how profoundly the aura spell must have aroused him before her own intense, unruly needs wiped all coherent thought from her mind.

Arms wrapped around the back of his neck, Quistis moaned from deep within her chest and ground back against him.

He cursed, slipped both hands around to cup her bottom, and hauled her up higher up his body until they fit together nicely - every thrust pressing straight against her anxious, hungry core.

"Ah, fuck. That feels good," he bit out close to her ear.

Quistis buried her face against his shoulder.

"Harder," she breathed. Every movement only pitched her higher, made her desire all the sharper. Through her clothes, she was going to need so much more to find relief.

Seifer groaned and dragged her down onto the floor. The cold metal against Quistis's back made her arch right into him as he came down on top of her.

"Yes," he murmured encouragingly and caught her underneath the small of her back. "Take what you need."

Taking his words to heart, Quistis wrapped her legs around him and trailed both hands down his back to get a grip on his hips. She was mildly discouraged to discover that he hadn't taken off his underwear after all, but it hardly mattered a moment later when he used the arm looped around her to hold her halfway up off the floor and began to thrust against her in earnest.

Balanced on her shoulders, Quistis tilted her head back against the floor and made a long, low noise of absolute wanton abandon.

She was wet, muddy, locked in a closet in the dark with Seifer Almasy...and somehow she'd never been more turned on in her life.

Because despite what Seifer had said - that in the dark, she could pretend he was anyone she wanted - she was intensely aware that the body undulating against hers belonged to him. That it was his breath in her ear. His muscles flexing underneath her hands with every thrust. His hard length nestled between her legs.

She knew she shouldn't be here doing this with him.

But the faint air of perversity only made it hotter.

She cried out and bucked underneath him.

His mouth dragged down the side of her neck, his own urgent and desperate sounds muffled by her skin.

The tension inside of her pulled suddenly taut. She gasped, aware of a wave of vibrating energy paused at the brink of inevitability. She could not stop it now. Eyes pinched shut, her hands clawing at Seifer's back, she arched up off the floor as it crashed into her.

Wave after wave washed over her, pulling her deep into a dark ocean of pleasure.

Seifer ground out a curse and the rhythm of his hips stuttered.

The noise that he made against the side of her neck as he came sent one last powerful spasm through Quistis's core before she fell back against the floor in a breathless heap.

Braced on his arms above her, Seifer let out a trembling breath before trying to move off her and cursing when he rolled into the wall with a bang. He slipped away, off into the dark, and Quistis wondered where he'd gone as she lay alone on the floor, her whole body a sensitive, trembling mess.

For a moment, she didn't move and neither did he.

As her body began to slow, a profound lethargy came over her limbs. Her muscles felt like gelatin, her blood sluggish and thick. Some of it, she knew, was the effect of the aura spell wearing all the way off. It always left her feeling wrung out afterward. But this exhaustion was different than that. Less weary and more peaceful.

The squawk of the Garden PA interrupted her satisfied repose.

"Attention," came Nida's voice. "The situation on the B-level is now under control. The failure of our main engine sparked a fire which has now been contained. Repairs are ongoing, but electricity will be restored momentarily. The dormitory remains unaffected and we expect to be operational again soon. Thank you."

Seifer snorted derisively. "Not exactly in the nick of time, but at least we won't be here all night."

A second later, the door buzzed and a harsh, fluorescent light flickered on.

What it illuminated after it finished burning the back of Quistis's eyes made her want to curl up in a ball with embarrassment. The safe room was hardly better than a maintenance closet - an unfurnished metal room aside from the seat along the wall which, in the unforgiving light, looked distressingly like a bus seat. A single filing cabinet along the back wall held supplies. Her shoes and shirt were spread along the far wall, Seifer's clothes dispersed in between.

As for Seifer himself, he sat with his back against the door, his knees drawn up.

He had on a pair of black boxer-briefs but nothing else. His hair was a wild, wet mess. And he had mud smeared down one arm.

She couldn't bring herself to speak to him. She had no idea what to say.

So she grabbed her shirt, pulled it back on, and reached for her shoes.

Seifer began dressing, too.

Once they'd put themselves back to rights, Quistis gestured toward the door.

"I guess we should...um…"

Seifer grabbed Hyperion off the floor. "I'll walk you out."

"Okay. Sure."

With the electricity back on, the door hissed open at the touch of Seifer's hand, revealing a wet but well-lit Training Center. Though the ground outside the door was marked with the heavy footprints of the t-rexaur that had attacked them, the animal itself was nowhere to be seen.

They walked in silence, seeing no monsters along the way, and came shortly to the Training Center's front gate.

Such a quick, simple trip in the light for how perilous and impossible it had seemed in the dark.

Their shoes squeaked against the tile in the hallway as they left.

When they reached Garden's main concourse, Seifer slowed, hanging back.

"You go ahead," he said and waved her away. "I'm going to do a sweep and make sure there aren't any cadets out and about breaking curfew."

Grateful for the opportunity to escape, Quistis nodded. "Okay."

He turned his back with a grunt and she took off as fast as her legs would take her in the direction of the dormitories. She'd hoped that perhaps she'd be able to outrun what she'd done. That if she only put space between them quickly enough, it could wipe the last hour from existence.

But when she got back to her room and flung herself breathlessly back against the door after it closed, the memory of his body moving over hers still blazed bright, a supernova in the night sky of her mind.

Impossible to ignore. Impossible to forget.

A fire that she needed to extinguish now or let it burn her forever.