Hooray for romance fics! I finally gave into the lure of the Seiftis. Forgive me, my readers. ^_-
Chapter 1: Diagnosis
Quistis waved politely through the window at the small child as she sat in the waiting room. The kid just stared back for a few seconds, then rubbed her eyes (only kids in movies do that, she thought) as if not believing the person standing in front of her. Quistis winked at her, and the child blushed and ran off back to her friends standing on the opposite corner. You won't believe who I saw! She smiled and turned back to the magazine she had been reading. Why did all waiting rooms have the same reading material? Always one copy of a beauty magazine (How to banish those wrinkles!) and a few 'reality' papers (Aliens ate my chocobo!). It was infuriating.
She heard the door to the doctor's office swing open, and looked up to see a man in a black anorak walked out, followed by the doctor herself. She caught vague snatches of conversation as the man finished talking.
"-And remember, no more, or you literally will jerk it off."
Quistis quickly buried her head in her paper to avoid laughing as everyone in the waiting room snorted in amusement, and still only managed to turn it to a cough into her handkerchief as the man turned and left quickly. She started to put it away, but suddenly a small spasm wracked her body and she really coughed so hard it actually hurt. She saw something warm and red spray onto the handkerchief, but she didn't look at it. Quickly she threw looked around and threw it into the nearest trashcan. When she looked back up the doctor was scanning the clipboard she held in her hand, and looking around the waiting room. She eyes stopped on Quistis and she smiled.
Quistis dropped the magazine and walked to the doctor, holding out her hand. "That's me," she said.
The doctor smiled. "I recognised you from the news. Can I first say what an honour it is to have you in my little clinic."
Quistis blushed slightly. She got that a lot recently. "Thank you. Can we-?"
The woman suddenly remembered why she was here. "Oh! Of course. Come this way," she said, and walked back through the door, Quistis following. The doctor talked as she walked. "My superior on the other shift said you might be coming back. Some tests he had to run. Anyway, they came back yesterday. I assume that's why you're here?" she asked, looking back at her. Quistis nodded. It was. "Then we can take a look. Some very unusual tests, but he seemed to think they were necessary."
Quistis walked through the archway into the small clinic. It wasn't much; just a table, a couple of chairs and few bits of paperwork, but it had a really big shelf of medicines on one wall. Above all, it was private.
The doctor sat down on the chair and motioned at the other one. She pulled open a desk drawer and rummaged through it as Quistis sat down, finally coming back up with a single sheet of paper. Her eyes ran across the lines, and Quistis just sat opposite her, trying to resist the urge to fidget.
Then the doctor's eyes came up from the page and met Quistis' for a second. Then they went down to the words again. Quistis tried to read the words through the sheet, but the light was to dim.
Hurry and read it to me! She felt like screaming, as the MD checked everything on the page again. Finally the eyes met hers again, and did not look away.
Selphie waved at the small child as she sat licking her ice cream on the beachfront, the SeeD transport vessel rolling gently on the waves a few yards down the beach. She sighed and sat back, careful not to spill any of the lovely creamy frozen stuff. She idly wondered how they made it. Did they just take some cream or freeze it? Or did they use some arcane and dark machine to process it before sacrificing goats and virgins to it? Whatever, Dollet ice-cream rock-
She jumped back a something cold and slippery slid down her back. She whirled around, trying catch it, but it just slipped from her grasp. Then she heard laughing. She turned, fire in her eyes, to see Irvine with a half-full cone behind her, in tears. He had spilled it down her back.
She threw the rest of her cone at him, and it hit him full in the face, covering him in melting ice cream and half a chocolate flake. He stopped laughing and fell backwards onto the sand. He tried to wipe it off, but all that happened was that sand went from his hands onto his face.
"When you two are quite finished, people are trying to sunbathe," Rinoa said sleepily from behind them.
Selphie looked back at Irvine as he casually (read, his eyes instantly snapped onto her bikini-ed form) glanced at her, and when his gaze failed to move, she threw the rest of the cone at him. He saw this one coming, and ducked. The cone sailed gracefully over his head, and by an amazing feat of trajectories managed to land on Rinoa, who screeched as ice-cold sugarcoated ice-cream landed on her bare stomach. She snapped to her feet instantly, whirling around to snarl something at Irvine. She stopped when she saw him though, and then burst out laughing.
"What?" Irvine said, forgetting he had ice cream and sand all over his face.
That got Selphie going, and pretty soon both girls were in tears, as Irvine just looked confused.
Rinoa wiped tears from her eyes as a crash sounded from inside the SeeD ship, and the hatch to the deck opened upwards to reveal Zell, looking around. "What's going o-" He saw Irvine standing there, still looking puzzled, and suddenly dropped back into the ship. Rinoa heard a dull clunk as the martial artist hit the floor. A few seconds later he popped back up again to make sure he was actually seeing Irvine covered in ice-cream, and instead of laughing backed out onto the beach.
Irvine turned to him as he approached. "What? Why is everyone laughing?" he asked. That made Selphie and Rinoa double up in laughter.
Zell just looked at him for a few seconds. "Dude, you do know you're covered in ice-ream right?" he asked.
Irvine blinked. Then realisation dawned, and he looked across at Selphie and Rinoa. "You!" he shouted in mock anger, and ran at Selphie. Selphie tried to run, but she was laughing to hard and couldn't stand. Irvine just scooped her up, and threw her unceremoniously in the sea. Selphie spluttered and flailed around for a few seconds before recovering, and waded back out, sand sticking to her where Irvine had dumped her.
"I do not believe you just did that," she said.
Irvine put his hands on his hips and smiled in what he probably thought was a dashing pose. "Well, you should have thought about the consequences before WHOA!"
This last exclamation came as suddenly as unseen force picked him up, dunked his head under the water, raised him up, dunked him again, and then hung him upside down above the sea-level.
"Now say you're sorry," Rinoa said, using one arm to keep Irvine up. Damn, I love being a sorceress!
"OK! OK! I'm sorry! Put me down!"
And she did.
Irvine surfaced and gasped for air. "I meant put me down on the beach!" he said.
Rinoa gave him a dazzling smile. "But that was so much fun," she said.
"Rin, stop tormenting my boyfriend," Selphie said. "That's my job!"
Rinoa pouted. "Fine then. You have him." She pointed at the sodden figure of Irvine, and suddenly he was off his feet, and laying at Selphie's.
"Sefie! Tell her to stop!" he begged. "Have mercy on the poor sharpshooter!"
"Leave him alone Rin. I think he learned his lesson."
Rinoa turned to see Squall smiling tolerantly at the panorama of Irvine hiding behind Selphie from Rinoa, and Zell laughing next to the SeeD ship. He walked past Rinoa, and leant down so she could kiss him. He ignored Selphie's terribly hidden 'aww's and Zell's snickers.
Rinoa disengaged reluctantly. "Are we leaving?" she asked.
Squall nodded. "As soon as Quistis gets back we'll go."
Irvine looked up from grovelling. "How did the meeting with that Dollet leader guy go?" he asked.
Squall shrugged. "They agreed to maintain the Comm. Tower, same as they always do. They also asked SeeD to keep an eye on it ore or less permanently. Cid should be pleased." Just so long as the SeeDs set to guard it aren't us!
Zell stood and shook the sand from his clothes. Irvine, unfortunately, couldn't shake the sand from his hair. Selphie heard a whistle, and looked up to see Quistis walking down the stairs to the beach.
"About time!" Zell said, as she got closer.
"Zell, we've only been waiting one minute," Rinoa whispered.
"Don't ruin my air of moral indignity," he whispered back.
Quistis smiled. "Sorry about that. I got caught up."
"Where did you go anyway?" Selphie asked.
"I had someone I needed to see. Personal stuff," she said.
Squall shrugged. "We're going. Come on." He and Rinoa linked hands and walked off to the ship where Zell was already climbing into the hold for the journey back.
Irvine jumped on and helped Selphie up, and then Quistis. When the blonde caught a look at his face she burst out laughing. Irvine sighed. "Don't you start as well."
Quistis shook her head at him and climbed on. For a second the two were face to face, and Quistis quickly moved away before-
"Are you feeling alright?" Irvine asked, frowning at her as she moved past him. "Your eyes look a little red."
Quistis waved it away casually. "Fine. Just something got into my eye. The wind," she explained lamely. Irvine seemed to believe her though and followed her into the hold where the others were already sat.
Three months. Three long, long months. After Ultimecia had been defeated they had their pictures plastered over every flat vertical surface in the globe. The 'Heroes of Time Compression' and SeeD in general had enjoyed more publicity than in their wildest dreams (in Zell, Selphie and Irvine's case) or nightmares (in Squall, Rinoa and Quistis case). After another month everyone had gone back to their day jobs and left them alone, albeit much better known than before.
Quistis stared out of the window as the sea rolled by. She had long gotten over her seasickness. She still vividly remembered the first sea-borne mission she had went on. She and Xu had infiltrated a broken-down tanker floating from the coast of Galbadia that was being used for piracy. They had had to jump off the side of the ship, and float to shore in a dingy barely big enough for one of them. She had been violently sick the entire tri-
A blinding pain flashed through her skull, and she gasped and grabbed her had with her left hand, reaching down to her pocket with the other. She drew them out, but her hand shook, and she dropped them onto the floor. She felt hands on her back, and someone in front of her picked up the packet of pills (please don't look at the label pleas don't look at the label) and handed them to her. She drew one out and swallowed them without thinking. Instantly the pain lessened, and her vision cleared to see the others looking worriedly at her, and Rinoa to her left rubbing her back.
"Are you OK?" the teenage sorceress asked. Quistis nodded and drew another pill, gulping it down. She relaxed and slid back down into her seat. Someone whispered something, and she felt the blue glow of Cure ash over her, soothing her body, but leaving the dull throb of her headache intact.
Wasted. Cure won't touch this. Nothing will.
"Are you gonna be OK?" Irvine asked, concern obvious in his voice.
Quistis took a deep breath and composed herself. She answered as calmly as she could. "I'm fine. Just a headache, that's all. I just need to get some sleep.
"You need to lay off the grading," Zell remarked.
"I'll be fine," Quistis said again. She stood, waving off the comments. "I just need to get some air."
Squall shrugged as Quistis opened and shut the door to the deck behind her. "Just lack of sleep. You know how she pushes herself," he said calmly.
Selphie still looked worried though. "She's been like this for a while now."
Irvine patted Selphie on the back, and she leant into him, letting the sway of the ship lull her to sleep.
Cid and Seifer stood on the side of Balamb Harbour, being watched by Xu from the truck.
"This is your last chance Seifer. Please don't lose this," Cid said for what had to be the fifth time.
Seifer nodded. "I know. This time I won't let you down," he said. Xu snorted, but both men ignored her.
Cid smiled and patted him on the shoulder. "I know you won't. Ah, here they come."
Seifer looked to the horizon, and saw the low grey shape of the SeeD craft as it swung around the harbour and drew level with the stone walkway, extending the bridge even before it's engine had shut off. Seifer sighed, and steeled himself for the coming onslaught of questions.
Surprisingly enough, Zell was the first one ff the boat, jumping the steps and landing on the deck. He too two steps forward, stopped when he saw Seifer, and instantly dropped into a fighting stance. Selphie and Irvine followed suit. Irvine had never known him as the others had, and merely raised one eyebrow. Selphie looked shocked though. When Rinoa saw him, she just looked confused, looking to Cid for answers. Squall, as usual, just looked bored. Quistis just took one look at him, and then turned and walked away to talk to Xu, the white-jacketed man seemingly not worthy of her attention. Seifer bridled at that the most, that she wouldn't even bother to react.
"What's he doing here?" Zell said, spitting venom with every syllable.
Cid sighed. "Seifer has rejoined Garden," he said simply. "I have decided after much thinking, to allow him another chance at graduating." He spoke like he had said this a thousand times to a thousand other students. "He was under hypnosis by Ultimecia, and has been declared innocent. I believe him," he added, at the expression on Zell's face. "He will be taking – and completing – the final parts of the SeeD graduation course. Quistis?"
Quistis looked around from her conversation with Xu. "Yes sir?" she asked.
"You will be teaching him," Cid said shortly, and turned to go back to the truck before anyone had a chance to argue.
Quistis' mouth fell open, and she started to complain, but Cid had already gotten into the secondd truck, and drove away. Xu walked past her, and patted for shoulder sympathetically.
"Tough luck there Quisty," she whispered, and climbed into the remaining transport.
Quistis crossed her arms and was about to reply when a shadow fell across her, and she turned to see Seifer looking at her, intentionally blocking the sunlight.
"So, you're teaching me again?" he sneered.
Quistis nodded. "And don't screw up this time," she whispered fiercely back. If Cid wanted her to, then she was damn well going to do it right this time.
Seifer smiled. "Think you can handle me again?" he asked.
Quistis turned and walked into the transport. "I did once before, and stop looking at my ass," she said, as Seifer noticeably failed to walk in front of her.
Seifer cursed silently, trying to think of a comeback as he climbed into the truck. Damn, she was still sharp… Mind you, it was a very nice ass…
Xu started the truck up, and the team plus one wound their way back to Balamb Garden, and home.
Quistis opened the door to her room and virtually fell in, slapping the door lock button behind her, and falling onto the bed. She closed her eyes, and just lay there for a few seconds.
She sighed, and wiped the sweat from her eyes. Just what she needed. Without rising, she looked across the room a the small flip-down calendar she had on the bedside table. Mentally thinking, she worked out the dates involved.
23rd now… Graduation is in… then that makes it… about…
Suppressing a cough, she got up unsteadily and walked over to the balcony, sliding open the door, and stood outside. She brushed a few stray hairs from her head as the wind washed across the balcony and around her. She stared out at the fields, and beyond them the sea, thinking about everything that had led them here-
"I've never seen anything like it…"
-and everything that had happened to them in between. She smiled, thinking about the first time they had realised they had all-
"What is it?"
-grown up together. It had been a shock, but then, everything in those months had been, running from continent to continent, trying to make a difference-
"Whatever it is, it's… it's in your bloodstream. It's infecting your internal organs. The notes say there has never been anything like this before…"
-to the world, trying to save what lives they could. Travelling through time, seeing the past, watching the destruction of the Moon Station, the-
"And that is supposed to be comforting?"
-Lunar Cry, the huge pillar of Lunatic Pandora, floating closer and closer to Tears Point, and the ruin of Esthar-
"I'm sorry… I'll have to refer you to a specialist. There's nothing – nothing – like this anywhere on record. Is it true you went through time? Maybe some Bio-weapon?"
-and the future of SeeD, the bodies on the beach of the old orphanage, the huge castle of Intervigilium-
"Can… can you do anything?"
-and the defeat of the great Dark Sorceress Ultimecia. The parties afterwards, Squall finally breaking out of his damned shell. Irvine and Selphie, Zell and Rosie-
"I can give you a prescription for some painkillers. I'm- I mean, it will get worse as… whatever it is… progresses."
-and her reinstatement as an Instructor at Balamb Garden-
-and finally, here, now-
"It's uncertain, apparently it slows and quickens. This specialist could tell you more…"
-to her quarters at Garden-
-dying slowly, from the inside-
"About fifty days."
-with no hope of cure or release.
On her balcony, watching the sunset, Quistis fell to her knees, and began to cry.
My first true romance fic. Tell me what you thought please!