Chapter 1

"You okay Quisty?"

Quistis gave an inward sigh and fixed a smile on her face. "I'm fine thanks."

Rinoa grinned shyly "So, coming to the canteen?" she propped her elbows up on the table.

Quistis shuffled her papers and laid them in the small briefcase, then briefly looked around the classroom to see if any test papers were left.

Seeing none, she turned to Rinoa "Yeah, I'll come in a few minutes. I just need to drop these off at my room."

Rinoa nodded and got up, she waved to Quistis with a smile "See ya!" The dark haired girl walked out.

With a long sigh, Quistis sank down onto a classroom chair and leaned back.

It had been a year.

One whole year.

Quistis closed her eyes, all her friends were directing seemingly subtle inquiries about her wellbeing. Although Zell wasn't quite so subtle, he asked her straight out.

"Are you still hung up about Seifer?"

She sighed again, that's what they all wanted to know. At least Zell hadn't beat around the hypothetical bush. He had stamped on the poor hypothetical bush, then made a bonfire out of the crushed remains.



It hadn't been a peaceful breakup.

She stood up briskly, she refused to think about it. Picking up her briefcase, she walked out of the doors with a confident smile.

Must not think about it, must not think about arrogant stupid sexy…

Quistis took a deep breath. Calm.

She arrived at her room, having spent the whole journey there, stubbornly thinking of the possible test scores achieved by her students. And the weather. It was crap weather in Balamb right now.

She slipped into her room and closed the door. She walked over to the desk and set the papers down.

Impulsively, she picked up a picture frame. Her eyes rested on the photo.

It was a group photo. Eight people stood at the harbour of Balamb. At the front Selphie stood with a cheeky grin, doing a pose as Irvine holding a gun. Irvine was behind her, a soft smile on his face, and an arm around her shoulders. Zell was in the left of the photo, being pulled back from walking out of the photo as something caught his attention by Lina, the girl who worked in the library. Squall stood with an arm round Rinoa. She was laughing and Squall had a small smile on his lips. The last two people were her and Seifer. He stood with an arm casually slung around her waist while she leant against him, smiling. He was laughing at Zell.

Quistis gave a bitter smile; it was a bit out of date. She rested the photo frame face down and swept out of the room. She had to let it- him- go.

Rinoa and Selphie were in the canteen, chatting, when she entered. Selphie caught sight of her and waved.

Quistis waved back and moved over to them. Rinoa, her mouth full, motioned to the seat next to her.

"Hey Quisty! You feelin'-"

Quistis held up a hand with a smile "I'm fine." Selphie nodded and turned her attention back to her meal. She picked up the hotdog and proceeded to smother it in tomato sauce.

"Would you like any hotdog with that ketchup?" asked Rinoa in amazement.

"I like ketchup!" retorted Selphie defensively, taking a bite out of it.

Quistis chuckled and her brows rose in surprise as Rinoa pushed a package towards her.

"Its for you," replied Rinoa in answer to her silent question "Lunch." She motioned over to Zell who was gesticulating wildly at the counter. "You're not getting any food from there until he's stopped ranting."

"Thanks." Quistis said gratefully and got out her sandwich.

"That reminds me." Rinoa nodded "Squall wants to talk to you, something about a mission."

Quistis started in surprise "But the tests- my students! I can't just leave them!"

Rinoa switched her attention back to her food "I don't know the details. You'd have to ask Squall."

Quistis shrugged, she'd find out soon enough.

Finishing her sandwich, she exited the canteen and made her way to Squall's office.

She opened the door, Squall was at his desk, seemingly playing Minesweeper on his computer.

"You wanted to see me?"

"Quistis," he acknowledged with a nod and hurriedly clicked off Minesweeper.

He swung round the office chair, past Quistis and back to facing the computer again.

With a long suffering sigh, he stood up and turned the chair around. Then he sat down once more with a decisive air.

"So, Quistis, how are you?"

She resisted the mental urge to reply 'No, I'm still heartbroken about Seifer and am about to commit suicide using a paperclip.'

"I'm good, you?" she fired back instead.

Squall blinked "Yeah, I suppose."

"Good." Replied Quistis sourly.

Squall cleared his throat "Anyway to business."

He sighed.

"It's a well-paid mission, it's a small island near Galbadia sorting out independence issues. They want someone familiar with the terms of negotiation so they can reason with Galbadia. There are rich sources

of oil there and Galbadia is unwilling to let them go."

He handed her a folder. "Here are the details. Someone else will be going with you too."

"Who?" asked Quistis absently, flicking through the folder.

"A representative from one of the other Gardens."

"Okay." Said Quistis, not really listening.

"You leave tonight at six."

Quistis choked, that bit she had heard. "What??"

"They requested someone quickly."

"Fine." Said Quistis with a sigh, standing up. "See ya around."

"Quistis…?" Squall said suddenly. "Take care, I have a funny feeling about this mission."

Quistis smiled "I'll be fine."

I always am.

It ambushed me. I had to do write it down.

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