I don't own Final Fantasy VIII or any of the characters except James Hunter

I arrived back at Balamb Garden for the first time in years with sense of profound relief. Traveling the world can be an exhausting experience. The first thing that I saw was a training duel just outside, between a couple of students that looked familiar, but I couldn't place them. No surprise. My last mission, to protect a VIP, had had me away from Garden for several years, so all of the students I remembered would look rather older than when I had last seen them. Then I nearly had heart failure. What is the president doing here!? Oh, wait a minute, that's not him. Looks like him, though. Wonder if they're related.

As I watched, the one in black attacked his opponent with a flurry of gunblade strikes, which were blocked by his opponent's gunblade. I abruptly recognized them, since there were only two students at Garden that used gunblades. The one with the pistol-like Hyperion model was clearly Seifer Almasy, and the one with the rifle-like Revolver model had to be Squall Leonhart, possibly THE most antisocial student at Garden, even more so than myself. This was saying something, since I was know for being taciturn, antisocial, and easily angered. People generally preferred to stay out of my way.

While I looked on, Seifer drove Squall back, and Squall backed of, took a moment to catch his breath, then charged. At that moment, I spotted a glow forming in Seifer's hand. What does he think he's doing? He knows as well as anyone that magic is forbidden for this kind of training fight!

He cast the fire spell, knocking Squall backwards, then raised his gunblade, reaching for the trigger...

And slashed it down, cutting across Squall's face. Squall retaliated, sweeping his gunblade up in a mirroring slash across Seifer's face, before dropping unconscious.

"Medic!" I shouted. "Somebody get these two to the infirmary, ASAP! Seifer, you idiot, you know you're gonna get a reprimand for this one. Sheesh, I've been back thirty seconds, after a mission that took three years, and the first thing that happens is another episode of the Squall-Seifer rivalry. Grow up, will ya, Seifer? The world does not depend on you trying to kill Squall at every opportunity, okay? Now get your face patched up. I have better things to do than referee a fight between you two." I stalked toward Garden, leaving the two combatants behind. Before entering, however, I paused and faced the two. "Oh yeah. The name's Hunter, in case you don't remember me." With that, I shouldered my laser rifle and walked into Garden.

Author's note: Please read and review. Input is welcome