1Disclaimer: I own none of the copyrighted material of FF8 and Squaresoft borrowed for this story, neither do I own Wrigley's gum, Rice a Roni, Ramen noodles, or anything written by Hunter S. Thompson ever. You will be able to point out the original material used in this story for yourselves. Lemons/Love Scenes occur in between the L markers.

The direction of the eye

So misleading

The defection of the soul

Nauseously quick

I don't question

Our existence

I just question

Our modern needs

I will walk with my hands bound

I will walk with my face, blood

I will walk with my shadow flag

Into your Garden

Garden of stone

After all is done

We're still alone

I won't be taken

Yet I'll go…

With my hands bound

I will walk with my face, blood

I will walk with my shadow flag

Into your Garden

Garden of stone

I don't show…

I don't share

I don't need

What you have to give

Garden by Pearl Jam. How perfect is that for an FF8 fic'?

Part One: Garden of Stone

First Impression

In the Garden of Stone, the training center itself sleeps. The water is as still as the air, the plants waver not when the insects touch them, the dinosaurs snore silently –moving but disturbing not even the dirt they sleep upon. The doors were fixed just yesterday, totally air tight, not a sound will come in or out.

The new girl's steps are the only sound.

Joselyn (Joze-lin) just transferred from Trabia Garden a few days ago and had already taken a liking to Balamb Garden. Her room mate Tucker was a moron but there were plenty of other people to talk to in the garden.

Cody for example was the first student Joselyn had met. He was a really bland looking guy who would fail to offend you even if you tried to trick him into it. She was yet to find something wrong with him but she wasn't going to give up so soon after meeting him. Joselyn loves people's flaws: she loves to savor their embarrassment then save face by forgiving everything at once.

She didn't have very much trouble with Tucker though. All she has to do is take a completely different schedule from his and neglect to come to their dorm until late –not very late though, the little wuss opposes night-owlishness. However her schedule wouldn't come in to play for another day so she finds herself just slacking off.

She's only been at B-Garden a few days but she's already decided her favorite place is the training center. She found it was the least popular hang out spot in the entire Garden due to the dinosaurs. She didn't care; she was prepared in case such an emergency should arise. She'd run. But that was yet to happen and Joselyn tried to not think of it. Her fear of this is secret. Whenever she wasn't having a meal or reading in the library she was in the training center. This was her main strategy for avoiding the wimp Tucker.

Tucker, even his name was stupid. She sometimes wondered why a parent would do such a thing to their child. But the name definitely fit. The boy tucked all of his clothes; pant cuffs into socks, shirt into pants, etc. Ridiculous. Everything about him was so tight and strained. His muscles were out of shape. His cheek muscles were always contorted, giving him a permanent retarded grin. And his voice sounded like it was changing, even though the boy was 18. Surely he'd never make SeeD, in fact, Joselyn was surprised he'd made cadet.

Joselyn on the other hand was a vision of beauty enhanced by the 'unaware' type of modesty. She had healthy fair skin; she was slim and feminine at 6'0. Her shoulders are narrow -but strong- and great long limbs. Her clothes fit her closely, black's blues and whites. Her lips are pink like a babies gums. Her hair was pulled back into three braids in a vertical row. Somehow separate from the rest of her hair were her bangs. The left side of her face was robbed of hair while the right masked a portion of her face. It covered her right eye, and slimmed down to a tip that tickled the corner of her mouth when she smiled. And her eyes were the colors of a dying lime: her right the dark skin and her left the flaking meat inside.

She is walking in circles today. Normally she would have just sat and observed the passers-by but there were no passers-by this morning. Her right hand rested on the hilt of her weapon which hung firmly at her hip. It was a katana, 4 ½ feet long, the last 2 feet of which was the hilt. It was a parting gift from her old friends in T-Garden. She had broken her weapon prior to leaving and, deciding that it would either be ages or never since they would see one another again, they all chipped in to have it fixed and upgraded.

Joselyn shakes her head. Trailing off again, you're supposed to stay on your guard in the training center, now is the time to pay attention. She could reminisce later.

Joselyn reaches inside her inner jacket pocket. But before she can touch her snack she hears an excited rustling sound. She stops like a deer suspicious of a hunter, turns her head to the bush that rustled.

The leaves shaken loose are just touching the ground when Joselyn looks. Behind the thin veil of foliage she sees a head; pale but living features on a somewhat feminine face, but the masculinity was clear. Locks of long hair shaped like crows feathers black and copper colored.

And the eyes.

Joselyn always used to scoff when she listened to her friends take about boy's eyes, how it's their gaze that gets you. But this boy has her frozen. This boy's eyes are captivating and ghostly blue like a corpses eyes, glazed over, but focused unlike the look of anything dead. She can't see his pupils.

Lastly she saw something she really didn't want to see. Sure she was feeling energetic but, but… But his face rose up and he was grinning madly. Happier than he should have been about being spotted.

The boy leapt from his hiding place and drew his weapons from his hips. She guarded her face with her scabbard and budged just one inch, she won't back off more than an inch just yet.

Joselyn has one second to get a look at her enemy and she sees a lot. He moves like a beast –only shaped like a teenage boy—and he's armed with a large pair of sharpened crowbars. He pulls away and swings at her wildly, the crowbars spinning around his wrists by black leather tassels. Black tornados like feral cats on crack.

Joselyn almost trips.

Then she catches herself touching her fingertips to the dirt. She leaps backwards and, digging her sword into the ground, flings dirt into the boys face coming back up. Joselyn spins around breaking into a run for the exit, doesn't look back to see if it got in his eyes.

She ran fast around the training center, searching for any environmental advantage she could have. She knows she should just run and find help, but, well… fuck that. This kid isn't a dinosaur so she should be able to handle him. She has no delusions of reward; she'll surely be punished just as this kid will for this but that doesn't matter. She should be able to handle him, but she doesn't know if she can.

So she has to prove it to herself.

Ahead of her, in one corner next to the arch above the entrance was a mound of rocks dusted generously with the dirt from the path. On top was the largest one and it looked very, very loose. She didn't want to worry but she couldn't help it, she couldn't hear him running behind her, she wanted to look, she knew she shouldn't.

She took one second to consider: Exit or boulder, exit or boulder, exit or boulder, safety or danger.

Fuck it.

Joselyn runs up the mound and wedges herself behind the rock. She pushes with her legs as hard as she can, scraping her back against the rough metallic wall. Gritting her teeth and scratching at the walls behind her in worry, unable to see him. She wasn't unconfident that she could take him, but she was worried that he had worse intentions than injuring her.

He had finally caught up to her when the boulder came loose. She stood and watched him as the rock came tumbled down. But the grin never left his face. He stopped in the path of the boulder, and then stabbed the boulder with the right hand weapon. The rock did not break; it only stopped in its trail and a little bit of dust and pebble came loose.

Joselyn is stunned in place. Her brain is screaming, unable to communicate with her legs.

The rogue child began turning counter clockwise, slow at first, dragging the boulder on the ground. But he quickly picked up momentum and after 3 spins he let loose his crowbar and the boulder heads towards her like a rising meteor.

Suddenly her legs can listen.

Joselyn springs off the pile of rubble and rolls onto the archway.

The boulder explodes against the wall and her sweating body is dusted brown by the blast. The crazed boy leaps to the top of the mound and grabbed his weapon. All of the sudden he was across the arch from her, the grin on his face threatening to cut off his ears. Joselyn noticed the boy's sleeves drooped over his hands; all she could see were the crowbars sticking out of his jacket like crooked metal talons.

She hesitated a moment. Let him move a little bit closer. Then she held her free hand open in front of her, six identical snowflakes manifested at her shoulder and spiraled down her arm into her palm forming a glowing white ball. Short lived white trails sparkled across her arm. The ball shot straight into his chest as swift as the boulder; on impact he was engulfed in powdery whiteness. He was frozen instantly, a blue statue with a glassy grin.

She probably should have run, gotten out of the training center to see if he would follow her and break nearly every rule in the book –which he hadn't broken already. But it was too damn tempting to punish him.

Joselyn took an inward step and swung upward sending blood and ice to the ceiling and wall of the training center, landing in messy droplets. A thin stream of blood ran from his chest and fell away with the ice without touching his body. She knew he wasn't dead, but she had cut through a lot of bone and tissue with that proud swing.

Them's the rules asshole.

If you scare her, she cuts you.

But she had glamorized her triumph for seconds too long. The boy shook off the remaining flakes of ice –still grinning. Breaking out of the ice he planted his foot on her hip and spun her around one hundred and eighty degrees. Losing his balance with her he scratched her back from hip to hip. He felt the muscle under her skin as though he'd torn her with his own fingers. Just as soon as the wound opened her blood came seeping out of her back, soaking the ass of her pants.

Hearing the tearing of that flesh was all he needed to hear to relax, his grin became a serene smile and her shouting fell on deafened ears. They fell together to the floor of the training center where they were found moments later by a pair of familiar faces, unfamiliar to her.

Failure

Quistis Trepe was unsurprised to hear Dr Kadowaki's voice in the morning to tell her of her newest students 'incident'. She never liked to admit it about any student but she was uneasy about these two. She should have known they'd get caught up in each other.

But she refused to complain about the boy. Only under the most critical of circumstances would she scold him or allow him to be punished. He was, after all, the reason she had her instructors license once again. When he found out why she'd lost her job he was outraged. He didn't exactly show it on his face but he immediately became part of an argument that everyone thought had died a year earlier.

Somehow he managed to do it. She almost kissed him when he told her the news.

Quistis Trepe had her Instructors license back because of some kid who wanted to be her student, and what a student he was. Always quiet and distant, a little bit too much like Squall for her, but he always knew the answers better than anyone else in his class. He wasn't entirely proud of how he got her license back though. Because it didn't seem to him that he won the argument because of his points and opinions. He said that throughout the whole conversation the headmaster just stared at him. He had never seen him before even though the kid had been there a year, but now he could see him. And it seemed that he needed nothing else to see. He helped make sure that he stayed in the garden when things like the 'incident' happened, but oddly enough he was yet to apologize for staring that day.

What really confused Quistis about the whole thing was that he had only recently been instated as a student, so there was really no way from him to know about Garden protocol or how job openings worked. To this day he wouldn't tell her about it.

Now she was visiting him and the girl he had attacked. She would also be her student soon and she wasn't looking forward to it. When this sort of thing happened between classmates it made things very hard for her. This scenario was uncomfortably familiar; she could only say that she was surprised that the 'Squall figure' was the one who started fights now.

She strolled down the halls to the infirmary in an unfamiliar get-up. Selphie had barged into her room one fine morning and destroyed the battle suit she had always worn. She said that it was a 'favor' and that she'd 'thank her' for it later. Quistis had been deeply aggravated but obviously lost the battle with her clothes remains all over her floor.

She now wore a dark purple vest; black gloves that stopped at her elbows, a shin length black skirt –and a pair of shorts underneath for protection against the young perverts that sometimes crawled on the edges of the bridges like geckos. She still wore tall lace boots and a new belt slanted on her hip. All but the left bang of her hair was pulled back into a long braid and swung evenly as she walked, her glasses resting on the tip of her nose.

The new headmaster had decided that wearing a SeeD or cadet uniform all the time was a pointless nuisance. She thought he just hated polyester, but all the same nobody complained. Now, more and more people dressed casually in garden these days.

Except for the PesticidEs; the latest installment of B-garden. They were somewhat of a ridiculous idea because they existed to guard the SeeDs. Mercenary's that guarded mercenary's. And they were everywhere; each SeeD squad came with at least one for missions, one guarded the entrance of each section of garden, two for the headmaster's office, various others were scattered aboard all of the decks amongst the flying academy, and about ten or so guarded the entrance. But there were so many more residing in the B1 level of the garden waiting for orders.

PesticidEs shared the same requirements as SeeDs. But they were bodyguards and nothing more,

SeeDs safety mattered so much to their positions that they had to save them even if it compromised a mission. Or a civilians life, another PesticidEs, even ones own life. Their identities were completely secret, which was the only requirement besides working without GF's that separated them from the students. No one could know the identity of a PesticidE except for other PesticidEs and Xu.

Xu was in charge of hiring and training the PesticidEs. Not even the headmaster knew the identity of any of them and he wanted it that way. He didn't want his judgment or anybody else's to keep him from hiring a perfectly good body guard. When they were first introduced to Garden the worry was they would be criminals and would cause trouble inside the garden. Even after two years this was still an issue, although no such problems had arised.

They dressed the same. An altered version of men's SeeD uniforms of old, from the days of the Second sorceress war. For the men the jacket was now a trench coat; it came with black gloves, and a two piece helmet/mask, the whole headpiece was black. Bug-eye shaped goggles, black rubber sheet over the neck and the back of the head, the top of the helmet curved from the head outward ninety degrees and made a circle with a flat top, and a mouth piece that transformed their voice to a nondescript, drone sound that gave no indication of gender. Each one identical besides their gender, size, build, codename, and their weapon, as far as anyone but them and Xu were concerned. Regrettably, Quistis was not privileged to know any of those secret identities even though she was Xu's dear friend.

She made it to the infirmary and was greeted by a very cheerful Dr. Heartilly. Rinoa had been Dr Kadowakis assistant for more than a year. Because of Squall she had been living at garden, but did nothing. She didn't particularly fit many other positions and desperately needed one, if not just to end her boredom, to have a good excuse for Selphie when approached about the Garden festival. But working in the infirmary was perfect, which had been a great relief to Dr. Kadowaki. Though she was stubborn about not working, the years –the job more so—had begun to wear on her, and Rinoas help had been surprisingly welcomed.

"How are they?" Quistis asked.

Rinoa smiled before she spoke and Quistis already knew her students were going to be healthy soon. "Fantastic, they'll both be fine."

"What are their current conditions?"

The doctor checked the notes in her hand and tapped the clipboard with her pencil thoughtfully.

"Joselyn's skin repair was nearly unsuccessful. The scratch will leave 2 horizontal, scars on her lower back..."

"And what about the other one?" Quistis asked smiling. Though her smile was painful, she knew Rinoa's brain must be hurting even more.

The doctor put her clipboard on the desk squinting hard. She began rubbing her temples mercilessly as though she wanted to bore through her skull to literally massage her brain.

"I've forgotten the boy's name," said Rinoa.

Quistis sighed raw exasperation and rolled her eyes at the doctor.

"I keep telling you to ask him yourself! You'll remember it better that way." She knew Rinoa wouldn't actually do it but she loved telling her too. Being a teacher had taught her to enjoy it when someone refuses to listen to you.

Rinoa, having mercy on her own skull, picked up the clipboard. "In any event, he has a scar too. Beginning at his right hip bone and ending at his left shoulder."

"Why do they both have such terrible scars?" Normally, white magic makes healing scar tissue doable.

"The interns did the work on them. They cleaned them too roughly and poured potions directly on the wounds." Damned interns, who needs them?

Quistis sighed, this sort of thing happened far too often. "When will they learn that potions are meant for drinking?" she asked both herself and Rinoa.

"Really, I don't know why I bother telling them anymore." she said smiling her 'Rinoa smile'

Quistis held her hand to her face amused.

"Ditto. Can I see my students?"

"Yes you can. They're both next to you, she's in the left and he's in the right," Just before she opened the first curtain Rinoa said, "oh, and Quistis?"

"What?" she asked turning around, her feet firmly facing the curtains.

"What does this remind you of?" she said with a smile, regarding the familiar situation. Quistis smiled with her.

"It's all I can think about," said Quistis.

For a second Rinoa looked like her smile was falling, but it stayed up. She sat down and turned back to her paper work.

Quistis opened the left curtain and saw her future student asleep on her belly. Hair still braided and slung over one side of her pillow. Her damaged jacket and tank top hung on the chair beside the infirmary bed –they hadn't removed her bra, known perverts were kept away from infirmary internships. Her lower back was blanketed in gauze. She was sleeping more peacefully than people with back wounds usually did. They would often roll over onto the wound and wake up screaming then fall off the bed.

That thought made Quistis remember when Zell turned his back in the training room that fateful day when Netta -The library girl- muttered something over the com to him about Hyne knew what, he turned around and received a savage beating from numerous grats. Quistis smiled thinking of Zell and went inside.

She closed the curtain and peered into the next stall which she actually stepped into. He was on his back sleeping just as well as Joselyn was. His chest wound was no longer protected by a bandage but was exposed to the air. He had argued about wearing a shirt because it made the scar itch. His damaged shirt was already in the waste basket and his black jacket was draped over the chair. She took her seat beside his bed and shook him awake firmly. He blinked a number of times and pushed himself up. He scratched his head a little before turning his weary head to his instructor. He looked as though he either didn't recognize her or wasn't thrilled to see her.

"Say your name for me." Quistis said in good humor she knew he wouldn't appreciate.

He paused, not wanting to humor her, then decided too anyway. "...Grave..."

"Normally people who receive head wounds are asked that but I thought it would be fun to ask you anyway," she said with a smile she knew wouldn't please him.

"...yes..."

"You lost a lot of blood," she said losing her smile

"...yes?..."

"What did I say about attacking other students?" she said raising her eyebrows

"The same thing you said about being monosyllabic?"

Quistis squinted at him for that. It was true but not the answer she wanted. Quistis whirled her fingers as though saying, 'move on.'

"Too much threatening behavior; depending on degree will either earn you detention, rob you of a future SeeD position, or have you expelled entirely," he quoted her flawlessly as if he were an instructor himself.

In the end he would always humor her, she knew.

"And what did you do to that poor girl in the next bed?" she said gesturing to the curtained stall behind her.

Grave looked over her head at the curtain. If Quistis didn't know any better she'd think he was seeing through the curtain, watching his victim sleep. "I admit that I attacked her, but she's far from poor. She'll make a damn good student."

"I suppose so," Quistis rests her chin in her palm, getting closer to him, "she made it out alive with you after all."

"Ya huh," he said lying back down, unaffected by her compliment.

"Ya huh," she said, imitating his indifferent tone of voice.

They were silent briefly, it was comfortable, but he broke it anyway. "So you say I lost a lot of blood?"

"You certainly did," she said nodding even though he wasn't looking.

Grave turned his head sinking half of it into the pillow, watched her with one eye. "Please tell me I got yours," he was being very serious, he wouldn't want anyone's blood but hers.

"I'm flattered that you would prefer mine but our blood types are different."

"Pity"

"Your blood donor will arrive soon to help you to your room."

"Why won't you be doing that?"

"I'm expected elsewhere very soon, I don't have time."

"Double pity."

Quistis's laugh sounded like a hiccup, she almost shut up completely but there was more to tell. "I just wanted to tell you to take it easy and to stop at least attacking 'her'"

"...mm?..." he murmured as if asking why.

"She's your new class mate," she prepared herself for an outrage knowing it wouldn't come. Just in case.

Grave turned over again and closed his eyes. "I see... well, I hope she isn't a bitch"

"Ya huh," she was mocking him again, with that smile, even though he wasn't looking anymore.

"I suppose I'll see you later Instructor." He looked like he was sleeping then. She wondered what he looks like when he's really sleeping.

"Tomorrow Grave." She got up and left without making him salute.

Behind the closed infirmary door he heard Quistis gesturing a familiar voice, and he feared the worst.

Suggestible Blood

Joselyn awoke instantly when she heard her donor say, "Howdy Quistis!" from the infirmary hallway, and was suddenly aware of dampness on her butt. Between those things she was decidedly in trouble.

Joselyn reasoned that she probably lost a lot of blood from her encounter and that struck a chord in her chest. Even though she would always be passed off as superstitious Joselyn held a firm belief that if you shared blood with someone you became more like them. And it seemed that her beliefs were true. She already felt different; the base of her bangs seemed like they were pointing upward a millimeter or two, the tip no longer touching her lip. She thought her bones and flesh were contracting. But worst of all she seemed to be overcome by a bizarre craving for... hot dogs.

Zell Dincht entered the curtain quietly, as if to make an etiquette recovery from his shriek. He wore turquoise cover-alls over a black T-shirt, and had an oil slick on his right cheek. He gave her his flashy smirk when she sat up in the bed, then looked at a note in his hand.

"You, Joselyn Abgestossen?" his eyes straying from the note when he finished his question, he looked uncertain.

"Yes." She said a little amused, but not charmed.

Zell was relieved; he had been looking at the print of her last name for a half hour trying to figure out how it was pronounced. But he hoped anyway she would ignore it because of how thoughtlessly he donated for her. He was at the entrance of the training center with Selphie when they found them. It wasn't a thought out decision, it wouldn't have mattered who gave the blood to whom because they were all coincidentally B positive. They just gave to who they carried, and Zell was carrying Joselyn. Zell sat down in the chair next to Joselyn's bed.

"You must be my donor, what's your name?" she gave him a false-polite smile and reached for a handshake.

"You're right, Zell Dincht is the name," he said taking her hand, never losing the smirk.

Joselyn recognized him at once: not really wanting to talk to him, thinking she could get him to do all the talking said, "You're one of the heroes right?"

Zell's eyes brightened, that shine that mistakes politeness for admiration. "Yeah! Best one if you ask me, ya know"

"What about the leader?" she said raising the eyebrow that Zell couldn't see.

"Aw," Zell gave a dismissing wave, "he made the plans and did boring stuff, but I was all the action!" Zell began punching the air.

"Uh huh." she watched unimpressed as Zell punched at something only he could see. She looked intently at his tattoo, wondering if one like it would grow on her face. Joselyn decided she needed evidence for her blood theory and spoke again. "How tall are you?" he looked up, curious, fists still poised in the air

"...I'm 5'5, why?"

"And how does your hair stand up?" she asked as if she was confirming something.

"Um, it just does that," he took a moment to push down his bangs, only for them to spring up again like toothbrush bristles. "Why are you asking me this?"

"...Do you like hot dogs?" she asked very hesitantly.

EG

Outside the curtains, and accidentally eavesdropping Rinoa thought, that is not the safest thing to ask Zell.

EG

Suddenly Zell forgot about her other questions and grasped her wrist, his smile threatening to stretch adjacent to his cheeks like the predator from earlier.

"Let's go to the cafeteria!" he said yanking her out of the bed and onto her feet, then froze in worry when she winced and held her back, "oh shit I'm sorry!"

"It's all right," she assured him scratching her back vigorously, "it just itches a lot."

"Oh," he said recovering his joyous complexion, "good," he stood, wondering why she wasn't leaving.

"Just let me get dressed, I'll be out in a minute," she looked away from him, crossing her arms over her cleavage, the signal that she shouldn't have to ask -after they left she would realize that her gesture was ridiculous since he couldn't effectively look 'down' on her breasts, however valid her point may have remained.

Oh, yeah of course!" he rubbed the back of his head embarrassed, exited through the curtain.

"Can I take these bandages off now miss…?"

"Heartily dear, yes you can, give them to me in fact. And you can call me Rinoa if you like"

"Okay"

Joselyn peeled the bandages off of her back and slipped on her ripped jacket and shirt. She would sew them up tonight, but until then it would be nice to have an opening where she could scratch her itching scars.

Zell didn't have trouble getting hot dogs anymore. After the second sorceress war most of the other students had lost their liking for them. Zell however favored them more and more as people abandoned the suggestive lunch. So now he felt more generous with them than he once had been.

Joselyn was just afraid she would like them; it would further prove her theory of blood sharing. They were just about to leave when the door slid open and a small bluish blur crashed into Zell. They had nearly knocked over a table of Hi-potions Dr. Kadowaki had brewed, and had Rinoa sweating. She tossed the bandages over the small one to Rinoa who threw them away then wiped her forehead with her sleeve. She stood up to secure the bottles on the table.

Joselyn noticed her weapon was no where in sight. At the same time Selphie Tilmitt sat up and shook her head when she saw she was sitting on Zell's crotch. She literally jumped off him then helped him up.

"Sorry Zell." She said, though the apology was more for her than for Zell.

"It's okay Selphie, what're you here for anyway?"

"Visiting the kid I carried" She said, figuratively sparkling.

"Oh yeah, him, Speaking of which this is Joselyn." Zell gestured to Joselyn, who was just as thrilled to meet Selphie as she was her own donor.

"Pleased to meet you I'm Selphie Tilmitt!" She said offering her hand to Joselyn.

"Joselyn Abgestossen," she said expertly, how the hell did 'she' carry 'him'? Selphie tilted her head to one side without her smile.

"How do you pronounce that again?" she asked timidly.

"Ab-ges-toe-sun," she repeated slowly. Very, slowly.

"Ab-ges-toe-sun, I get it!" Selphie was smiling again and began hopping up and down exacerbating the handshake for Joselyn.

"Ya huh," she broke the hand shake and rubbed her arm. "You mean that kid who attacked me?" Selphie and Zell gave her a look.

"Ah, so that's what happened. He'll be apologizing then, expect it today." Joselyn looked to the doctor confused.

"Aren't you going to listen to his side of the story?" Joselyn asked. She wasn't happy about what happened; in fact she wanted him punished again for hacking her up. But she thought the authorities around here would be forced to consider everyone's position however obvious the incident.

"That boy doesn't deny anything. Unless if you're lying he'll say otherwise. He may be troubled but he's an honest kid," she said scribbling on her clipboard, not looking at Joselyn.

"I see." Joselyn said rubbing her arm.

"Let's go Jo'." he grabbed her damaged arm.

"Please, say Joselyn. I don't like nick names"

"Oh, sorry Joselyn"

They left the infirmary and Selphie slipped into Graves stall quietly; like a snooping sister, or a sneaking harlot.

EG

It's been ages since I've felt ashamed. Had I not attacked this Joselyn girl she would not be poisoned by Zell Dintch's Blood. Now, I wonder, is it his blood that is responsible for his annoying nature? Perhaps.

Though I feel a tinge of shame for befalling the red curse to her I am not better off by much. If what I heard outside is true then I have plenty to worry about myself.

It is not often I pick fights with other students. Normally when I'm in the training center something comes over me and I wreak havoc for a while. I forget about consequences and just let my body attack anything that moves, or breaths, or bleeds.

Especially if it bleeds

This new girl was no exception this morning –if it was indeed this morning, I don't know how long I've been in the infirmary—no different from the dinosaurs or the walking plants.

I run my fingertips over the scar on my chest, softly for a moment but then firmly. I know very well I am not supposed to scratch it but that won't stop me –or slow me down. As soon as it turns bright red a small hand touches mine and removes from my chest.

"Ya know it's not good to scratch at it," she says sitting down

I feel like she just walked in on me masturbating, but instead of covering myself I freeze.

Selphie Tilmitts blood is keeping me alive... Selphie... Tilmitts… Blood, please Hyne, say you're lying to me, say that I'm in a coma and I'm just saturated with morphine.

She's such a small woman. The pervert reptile in me thinks she'd be easily overcome; that in the face of someone deadlier it wouldn't take much to spread her legs and make her start bucking. If she wasn't taken and if I weren't so annoyed by her air-headed nature I'd be trying just that. I almost want to do it anyway now that she's touching my bare skin.

I take control of myself –glad she can't see into me—and remove her hand from mine, slide to the side of the bed to face her. Before she speaks I notice my shoes aren't in sight.

"So how are you…?" She squints and gestures me to repeat my name for her. I pretend not to notice and scan the room for my shoes.

"Hey!" she yelps waving her hand in front of my eyes.

"What?" It's so difficult to be fake; I don't know how she does it all the time.

"I've forgotten your name." She says again, Hyne why can I only attract the attention from people I don't want?

"...Grave…" she makes a face. They always do.

"That's a weird name," she's tactless; I'd like that about her if she wasn't such a fucking pixie.

"It's a nick name." This is what I usually say. I've got a million answers but this is the easiest one.

"Oh... why is that your nickname?"

I close my eyes and take a deep breath, hold it in. If I had a dollar for every time somebody said ANYTHING about my name I could afford enough food coloring to permanently turn the ocean the color of dark urine.

"My peers say I make early graves, it just sounds appropriate to them."

"Oh... So," she's trying to change the subject, does she actually want to talk to me? Why? "Do you know the girl? She seemed troubled."

"Probably because she's sharing blood with Zell Dintch."

She giggles like a child, "I'm sure it's not that. If it was me, I'd be disappointed that one of the first persons I met at a new school attacked me without saying a word," she's trying to make me feel empathetic for Joselyn. I do, but for an entirely different reason. The blood of a PesticidE, that would be an honor, in fact I know just the one…

"...I'd sooner bet that it's Zell."

"You're hopeless," she rolls her eyes and lay back in her seat.

"I think I'm fine now. I'm going to locate my shoes and get the hell out of here."

"Well don't even think about going into the training center because you're banned from it for the next 2 weeks."

"What?" I'm not as surprised about the banning as I am that I'm being told now. Why didn't Quistis tell me that?

Selphie is loving this too much. She probably wants people to get in trouble; otherwise she wouldn't get to scold anybody. "You heard me. No more training center for you until you wait for two weeksand you have to make a written apology for her. If you fail to get her the written apology after the two week mark your restriction from the training center will be extended until you do so." she leaned back in her chair; grinned professionally, and crossed her arms and legs, proud of her Quistis impression.

"I'll just apologize in person... shit, two weeks away from the training center, is someone going to monitor me?"

"Don't know!" she shoots her arms into the air and regains her child-like composure, "Besides, two weeks away from the training center isn't bad," she leans in the chair and puts her hand on my knee. "Besides, you do terrible things in there," she's touching me again; I need to think of something to say that'll keep her from doing that.

"Would you rather I tear people up in the library?" she's taken her hand away, bingo.

"The headmaster's gonna hear about that one," she gives a single nod in a matter-of-fact way like a five year old would when it tells an older sibling that s/he is going to tattle.

Groaning, I say, "Fine, do you know where my shoes are?"

Selphie then reaches under the chair and recovers my shoes. I put them on then stand up, then I lean to Selphie and reach behind her gingerly. For a moment she thinks I'm trying to be intimate, I can feel her countenance recoil. Our faces are close enough to kiss but that's only the 3rd or 4th thing on my mind right now.

I swipe my jacket out from behind her and zip it up. I'll usually wear it open but my shirts torn and bloodied in a biohazard bag now. The lining feels good anyway.

Just as I'm about to leave Selphie looks at her watch and once she scrunches her nose I know she's going to ask me for something. "Ya think you could help me to my room? You kinda needed a lot of blood…" I stop in my tracks. I don't want to help her, but… but Quistis would get pissed if I didn't.

Damnit.

Friendship isn't all privileges and pardons I guess.

I take Selphie by the arm and she takes the lead into the hallway. I see Dr. Heartily smirk at us out of the corner of my eye. She must think that Quistis's compassion is getting to me.

Sometimes I love human stupidity. Like right now, most of my smiles belong on the inside.

Normally I don't do this because I'm the last person whose help is desired in this academy, but she asked me, and I feel obligated to help her because she donated something to me that she obviously has very little of to begin with. Also, there is always Quistis to think about.

As we walk out of the infirmary I wonder why she seemed so energetic a minute ago, and is suddenly very weak.

EG

Irvine Kinneas was locked in arms with a pair of ditzy cadets, eying each one in turn. The line of his usual smug grin etched across his face seemed to stretch beyond his lips.

"I do enjoy the company of you fine ladies but I must get to the infirmary, I am expected there," said Irvine, his southern dialect thick and creamy like caramel.

The first ditz protests, "But Irvy!" but to no avail. Even Hearing Selphie's nickname for him can't sway his hormones.

"No 'buts' ladies, I have someone to carry."

They reluctantly broke away from him and pouted like junior class-men. They spoke their good-byes to him which he didn't hear and he hurried to the infirmary as fast as his run could get him there.

EG

Selphie and I stumble out of the infirmary, we stumble because she insists on walking beside me with her arm slung over my shoulder even though I have offered to carry her –this would be much easier if only she'd let me carry her. We have all but taken five clumsy steps together when we spot Irvine Kinneas. He's being stalked by numerous dilettante cadets and seems to be in no hurry to fend them off. He's giving them looks and accepting their interlocking arms. His lips can't seem to contain his whole smile.

I catch Selphie's look beside me. She sneers at Irvine longingly, wanting to scratch his eyes out but wanting him to just stop his mock-pimping at the same time. There is no doubt in my mind what is about to happen. He'll break away from the girls, rush to Selphie happily, ignore her obvious desperateness and he'll carry her to their dorm. She'll give him her fake smile and trust him to carry her. Maybe he'll pressure her into sex, or maybe he'll just drop her on the bed and leave her to regenerate some of her blood, so she can rest, let the fucking come later –the fucking with her, rather.

"Hey darlin'!" he yells breaking away from his group and jogging to the infirmary entrance, stupid grin still in place.

Step 1 down.

"Hi Irvy," she says with her sad smirk. He must be cruel or stupid not to notice the sadness there.

Let it be known that I feel for neither of them. I recognize her sadness, I recognize his cruelty/stupidity. I certainly wouldn't do anything about either of their troubles.

"So like... I can take over from here kid," he says gesturing to Selphie.

"He has a name ya' know," she says as I hand her to the taller man.

Step 2 down.

"And what is your name, who helps my dear Selphie?" he tips up his hat to me, showing me respect or something.

"Grave."

"That's a strange name"

"Irvy!" she smacks his chest playfully and almost earns a smirk from me. Almost.

"It's a nickname," I say, ignoring Selphie.

"Why's that?" he says, also ignoring Selphie.

"My peers think I like Graveyards, they just think it's appropriate." I glance at Selphie, she isn't listening to either of us.

"Huh," he scratches the back of his head with his free hand, "well thank you for helpin' my Selphie."

"Certainly." My politeness is carefully faked. He smiles and salutes in response to my courtesy, but I can tell I'm the last guy he wants to talk too now. He'll sooner suck down a hot dog with Zell.

I give a half-hearted salute in return and they're on their way to the dorm. I catch a glimpse of Selphie's face before Irvine turns around completely. Maybe it isn't a fake smile but a tired one, anxiety from giving so much of her blood to me. I think, just for a moment that I shouldn't be so biased of Irvine; it must just be my natural dislike for people dressed as cowboys that harbors my harsh judgment of him. However I can't ignore Selphie's pleading frown.

"Whatever." What am I saying? Of course I can.

Phallophobia

Joselyn looked at her hot dog like it was a research specimen –not noticing Zell chomp down his third. She found nothing attractive about the food in front of her and had little desire to touch it much less look at it. In fact, she was sort of afraid it would eat her if she didn't eat it quick. She could see it now, teeth like cat's claws emerging from an opening in the skin, and a spongy, snake-like tongue dripping with salty juices as saliva would.

"You gonna eat that?" Zell asks torn between eagerness and generosity.

"I don't know." Maybe if I see a certain pair of tools at my pulse. Maybe.

"Have you ever had one before?" he asks as though he shouldn't have too.

"Uh, uh," she said shaking her head once.

"You should at least try a bite of it."

Joselyn pulled the hot dog out of its bun by one end and continued staring at it. The ends had split open revealing the glistening meat inside. It looked like pink Styrofoam soaked in salty juices. She carefully took a bite out of the end and instantly dropped the hot dog back into its bun. She had sucked on the soft meat a bit after it was in her mouth and was surprised when so much of the salty juice slid down her throat. The meat itself was like countless swollen grains of meat. How the man in front of her could eat so many was beyond her. Perhaps it was because he didn't chew. No time to ponder things like that, she needed to get the hell away from this guy to dry her clothes, her butt was itching badly, she needed to change her pants.

"I don't think I can eat any more of that."

"Really, are you sure? You barely ate any of It." he said looking startled, at the same time reaching across the table for the pickled member.

"Yeah, it's all yours." She said pushing the plate towards him.

"Fine by me."

Zell swallowed the remains of his third hot dog with one hand and grabbed Joselyn's with the other. He sucked the juice out of the end she had bitten from before swallowing the rest in a single, impossible-looking gulp. Joselyn cringed, sat up taking her cue to escape.

"Wait!" he said muffled by the hot dog.

"Yes?" she turned around, her feet still facing the exit.

Zell took one last gulp and said, "my break is almost over, ya' want to see some stuff in the hangar?"

"Hangar?"

"Yeah, we're building some cool stuff in there, I thought I'd let you take a look ya know."

"What kind of stuff?" she said fully turning around.

"Guns and jets, remember the jet you were picked up from T-Garden in?"

"Yeah I remember. I think that I'd like to see that." she said smiling, shining with cellophane enthusiasm. Shit, I've been caught. So close too.

"All right let's go!"

EG

Shield had been assigned to guard the library again. He always got the library for some reason. He wagered that if their posts were decided by drawing numbers from a hat he'd still be assigned to the library somehow, like it was some cosmic joke just for him. He had yet to see any action as a PesticidE but he had hopes. The headmaster couldn't keep B-Garden an island forever. More and more radio transmissions demanding their SeeDs were coming in and they would have to move to land again sometime.

But for now he was stuck keeping kids out of the library that had been suspended of their privileges. And here came one now.

Grave was an unusual boy, not just because of his appearance. He was apparently a fantastic student and an incredible fighter –and had a smart mouth for the few friends he had. But without those friends he just looked unimpressed, he was a ghoul with the living brain of a man surrounded by standards of the human species.

He was carrying a bag of books and almost passed Shield unsuspecting of him.

EG

I think that it's sort of amusing that the PesticidE's have nicknames. They all have the same protective quality, but at the same time they go about it differently. The PesticidE code is strict so it leaves very little room for individuality. But enough of it comes through so they can differentiate themselves from one another. Their nicknames are usually something lame like 'Protector' or 'Granite' and once in a while, there comes somebody like the girl who dares call herself 'Carbuncle' –not to say she doesn't live up to it.

Before me stands Shield, the man who is apparently destined to stand before the library entrance until his bones crack and his skin flakes away. Sometimes I feel sorry for him, but I always forget about it quickly.

Before I can go any further than the entrance he stands in my way.

"What?"

"You've been suspended from the library," he says with the voice of a beehive.

I whisper Selphie's last name quietly, too quietly for him to hear.

"What's that?" He asks. Through the droning it's difficult to tell if he wants to sound authoritative.

"Nothing... how long?"

"It'll be half the time they said your training center suspension would be."

"A week then"

Shield nods, trusting that I'm right. Also, he's probably imagining it will still be him standing right here a week from now. "Sorry that I have to do this to you."

"It's not your fault. Do you think that you could take these in for me?" I try to hand the bag to him but he doesn't move a muscle.

"Can't leave my post Grave, you know that."

"...Right."

This is my worst pet peeve. Refusal to help someone when you know you can help, saying that you can't help and giving a half-ass excuse in the same sentence. Sometimes they sound like they're trying to sound parental, like they're trying to teach me a lesson without telling me just want they want me to learn.

Just as I'm about to give up and go to my room and save myself from further embarrassment I see a glimmer of hope. A female cadet walks past me and into the library.

"Excuse me."

No answer. No surprise. A male cadet exits the library, and ignores me completely, the same way the girl did.

This is normal. Whenever I need help like this I tend to get the same treatment panhandlers get.

"Do you think you could…?"

The cadet leaves without a word. You'd think that after three years of this shit I wouldn't care anymore.

That's what you'd think isn't it?

"Fuck, I guess I'll have week-late books then."

"Sorry again."

"Don't be." I say, and I mean it. He shouldn't be sorry if he doesn't mean to help me anyway.

I'm go back to my dorm, I guess I'll just have to get Cody to help me out.

Squall sat in the corner of the Timber bar, sipping a Krakka and watched the back door. He remembered clearly his mission in Timber. The drunken man sitting against the alley door was still there, shrieking the same words he had back then. He took another sip but stalled when his eyes drifted across something that hadn't happened back then.

Quistis sat in Seifers lap at one of the tables on the right side of the bar. They were sliding their lips across one another, giggling affectionately, drunker than the man at the exit. Seifer was sliding Quistis' zipper down between her breasts while Quistis' arms were inside his trench coat fumbling to remove his vest.

Squalls attention turned the entrance and he saw himself, Selphie and Zell entering the bar.

He watched himself ignore the impossible scene and discuss things with the drunk. The drunk complied like he had those years ago and allowed himself to be dragged away. Zell kept a watchful eye around the bar and froze when he saw what he had seen. Seifer opened his eyes and froze as well when he saw Zell watching him. Quistis looked displeased and shook Seifer to return his attention to her; she followed his eyes and nearly fell off of his lap when she saw Zell.

Squall watched himself head out the door when Zell grabbed him by the shoulder without averting his gaze.

"Zell what's wrong? Let's go" Squall looked at Zell's source of fright. He took a moment to compose himself then took Zell's hand off of his shoulder, "Zell, let's pretend we didn't see this." Zell nodded, all six eyes remained on the bizarre scene before them. "We will go watch president Deling begin his announcement, Seifer will interrupt it like he's supposed to, Quistis will order us to come help and everything will make sense, all right?" Zell nodded once again. "Let's go."

Squall shook himself awake then stopped as though stung, clutched the side of his neck with one hand. He had laid his head on a stack of IN papers and fell asleep.

"Fuck."

His office was behind the elevator that led to the cockpit of the still mobile garden. His mahogany desk filled the remaining space, and was surrounded with dying plants that no one took the responsibility to water.

He got out of his seat and went to the window. Oh what he would give to jump out that window and suck in one last fresh breath of air. Anything to get him out of the office, anything, he would take any excuse, an excuse to burn his paperwork and throw out the doomed foliage decorating his not-so-secluded office.

He hadn't been doing serious work before he fell asleep, he wasn't worried about the work that he was currently doing. Everyone was pressuring him to work on their conflict with Galbadia –which actually was important. That was something he wanted never to do.

Galbadia had chosen to become B-Gardens devoted enemy since the Second sorceress war out of spite –they claimed to the citizens that SeeD had become a terrorist faction. They recruited more soldiers, rebuilt Galbadia garden and made it their mobile base once again. So Squall had B-Garden gather all the supplies they could hold and he led it far to the north of the Esthar continent.

Sadly they had heard no objections from Rinoas father. The only times they made contact he insisted that she come home so she would not be caught in any conflict. But she stayed, assuming that if she did they would not have to worry about an attack.

Ever since that happened Squall had been receiving complaints and demands from everyone on the garden to make another move, they waited for his order to take action and it never came. Field exams had been taken by way of the Ragnarok and 'Whelps', which had been built by their mechanics ever since the end of the Sorceress war.

Part of Squall wanted to just attack. They could find their way back into Galbadias radar/sonar and they would just destroy them. But he didn't think they were ready yet. He wanted more SeeDs and PesticidEs, he wanted more power, and he wanted to actually destroy the G-Garden this time.

And we wanted to do it without his fathers help.

He un-rolled the sleeves of his white dress shirt and smacked his head against the glass. When he felt a sudden weight on his shoulders he raised a bare hand to his collar and brushed his fingers against the feathery fur of his coat. He smirked and put his arms through the sleeves, rolling his white sleeves up again as his arms traveled through his coat.

"What are you doing Rinoa?"

"I like it when my lion wears his mane," she whispered up to him and slid her arms around his waist from behind.

"Tch."

Then, simultaneously, they said, "whatever." Synchronized apathy was something they'd picked up a couple years ago together. When in a relationship with Squall Leonhart you don't cure him of his indifference, you just become one with it so you can make peace with his fundamental nature.

Squall turned around and lifted her up by her armpits and plopped her onto his desk, on top of the IN pile so she was at eye level with him.

"My shift is over." She touches his bare-shaven neck with her fingertips.

"My shift is never over."

"You poor, poor guy, sit down."

Squall tilted his head and squinted at her unsure, but complied. Rinoa slid off the table to the floor on her knees in front of Squalls chair, spilling papers all over them and pulled the chair closer, she crawled back and pulled his chair with her until she was under his desk. She whipped out his belt in three mechanical motions then slipped off the button and started to pull down the zipper of his black dress pants, one tooth at a time.

Click.

She winked at him with her left eye.

Click.

She licked her lower lip with the tip of her tongue.

Click.

She placed her chin on his inner thigh and pulled the zipper all the way down.

L

She slid his pants and boxers off together and delicately held his penis with her finger tips. Exhaled through her nostrils to tease it. She closed her eyes and slid her lips over the head and licked it thoroughly inside her mouth. Squall tilts his actual head back as he swells inside her mouth, his abdomen ripples as he groans at the ceiling.

It wasn't often Rinoa did this for Squall –fucking in the office that is—he thought that was her way of keeping him grateful for it, else he start taking it for granted. And he was grateful; once she was finished he sighed and allowed the tingling sensation spread throughout his body and grant him that one blessed second of numbness.

It was little gestures of love like this that kept Squall from losing his mind and driving the garden into a glacier.

Squall gathered all of her hair and set it behind her ears and smiled a lover's thank-you to her. She took a big gulp and licked her lips. She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and licked them again.

L

"Headmaster Squall!" Said a loud droning voice from the around the elevator.

Rinoa jumps at the shriek and bumps her head under Squalls desk. Squall whispered apologetically and raised his head for the female PesticidE. Like the men they wore the old male SeeD uniforms but the women chose the original jacket over the trench coat. Instead of the circular helmet they wore a black beret. She approached Squalls desk and waited for him to speak.

"Who may I say is addressing me?" he said as he patted Rinoa's head under the table. He could tell she was trying not to whimper.

"PesticidE Carbuncle sir!" she saluted briskly, clearly too happy to be on the job than Squall considers healthy.

"What business do you have?"

"It's a matter of the upcoming field exam sir."

"What about it?"

"I want to request that I be placed in one of the squads. I have never graced a field exam sir, and I think that I am ready."

SQUALL "All right, I see nothing wrong with that. You can expect to be guarding a squad in the next field exam then. I draw up the paperwork this afternoon."

"Thank you head master," she bowed –an unusual courtesy-"I am grateful."

"There is no need to be grateful," he said, waving her away and shaking his head.

Carbuncle saluted Squall and left for the elevator. But stopped a moment and turned around again.

"Sir, if I may ask, is that a new jacket?"

"...No, this is not a new jacket"

"Oh, may I help you with those papers sir?" Carbuncle moved to the desk again

SQUALL "NO!"

BUMP.

A coffee mug filled with pencils spilled off the table and shattered against the floor.

"What was that sir?"

Rinoa, unable to hold in her whimper made the quietest sound she could muster.

"Nothing!" Squall cleared his throat loudly; taking on a 'responsible' persona unbecoming of him, "you are excused"

"Yes sir!" she saluted once again and dashed out of the office.

As soon as he heard the ding of the elevator he frantically pushed his chair back and helped Rinoa to her feet.

"Are you all right?"

"My head hurts..." she rubbed her head carefully and winced when she touched the seeds of her bruise.

"Shit, I'm sorry. What if I got off work early today?" he smiled when Rinoas eyes brightened.

"Really?" she asked as if he said that he'd empty the ocean. It was rare for Squall to find his way out of work.

"I'll think of something. Just expect me at about 6 in our room all right? You go; I'll clean up this mess."

Rinoa smiled at him. She hopped for a moment to give him a peck on the lips and she left his office. She turned around quickly to the see it dawn on him where her lips had just been. She nearly split her cheeks smiling and hurried to the elevator.

Apologize

Damnit where did that oaf put the box cutter?

Fujin Saeta was throwing miscellaneous items from the junk drawer of her kitchen onto the floor. She slammed the empty drawer shut and carelessly stepped on a plastic box filled with screws and nails. She stepped on them and they made a crunching sound.

Shit.

She knelt down and thrust her hands into the pile.

Shit, shit, shit.

She scooped the pile up with her hands and threw it into the trash can. She opened the drawer again, started picking up unbroken things floor and threw everything into it, nearly closing the drawer with eachthrow. She shut the drawer and sat down on the counter, trying to remember where her lost tool was.

Fujin's hair had grown past her shoulders and was past its due time to be cut. She had long ago discarded her eye patch. Her eye had healed as much as it would and she no longer needed it. Now her left iris was a faint pink to the red one next to it, and a web of veins lay just below the surface of her eye. It was faint and you could only see it if you were close to her face.

The door opened loudly and the steps of larger clumsy feet were ruffling against the soft floor, her victim had arrived.

"RAIJIN!"

"Ah!" Raijin spun around having just about jumped out of his skin. Fujin might have been an intruder for all his shock.

Fujin marched out of the kitchen and shoved Raijin onto the couch with her fingertips.

"Where did you put the box cutter?"

"On the TV!" he said bewildered to his friend.

"Why the hell is it on the television?"

"That's just where I left it!"

"What am I going to do with you?" she said with her arms in the air.

She looked at the TV and sure enough there lies her box cutter. She swiped it away then retreated to the bathroom. She faced the mirror and opened up the box cutter then pulled out the blade. She swiped furiously at the hair beside her jaw and chin when Raijin peaked in.

"You want me to do the back for ya?"

"No thanks I'll be fine."

"Ya might cut yourself in the neck doin' that."

"Yeah I know but I'll be fine."

"Just don't want ya to get hurt."

"Raijin," she stopped for a moment and looked at the sink, "when was the last time I cut myself?"

"..."

"Exactly," she looked back at the mirror and reached behind her head to finish.

"What's wrong Fujin?"

"We can talk about it later, right now I have to get back to my post."

"Alright," he left the bathroom and closed the door.

She finished cutting the hair in the back and stopped. She decided to leave it the way it was so far, it was chin length, and little teeth of hair pointed downward at the ends.

Satisfied, she left the bathroom and met Raijin who was sitting at the table. His face was dirty and he wore a pair of light blue cover all's with his large bead necklace, that ring of distorted grapes that seemed to be glued to his skin.

"Raijin?" she asked being as quiet as she could, her voice accidentally slithery.

"Yeah?"

"I'm sorry about snapping at you, I was just anxious to cut my damn hair"

"It's all right. Ya kept it longer this time," he said enthusiastically.

"Yeah, he always said that he liked it like this."

"He'll like it when he sees us again."

"Raijin, he's gone forever, you know that. Do you know where my stuff is?"

"Yeah, it's all in the closet," he pointed his thumb over his shoulder to the closet door, ignoring what she said.

"Thanks."

She walked to the closet and punched the button next to the door, it slid open into the left wall and she pulled out two black bags hanging from a hanger. She pulled her shuriken and shoulder pad out of one of the bags. She strapped her shoulder pad on and tossed her weapon over Raijin's head and it clanged on the table in front of him.

"SHIT!"

"What?" she said with mock innocence and a smirk adopted from Seifer.

"Ya could've cut my head off!"

"Relax," she turned back to the closet and hung the bag up again.

"Tch, fine."

Fujin closed the door and walked to the table beside Raijin. She put her hand on his head.

"Sorry again," she took her hand off of his head when he looked up.

"Fujin, nobodies like you," he said using a friendlier smile.

"Thanks Raijin" she said with her own forced smile. She picked up her weapon and opened the door, "I'll see you tomorrow," she said, slinging the other black bag over her shoulder.

"Huh?" he glanced at the clock on the table, "oh, guess it's time for your night shift."

"Yeah, I can handle it, don't worry."

"All right, tomorrow then."

"Good night Raijin."

EG

It was the size of the Ragnaroks head and neck. Turquoise with thin red streaks curling across the sides, it had two rockets in the back and one under the cock-pit facing the same way and had seating for two, and four curled appendages beside the cock-pit and rear rockets. Inside it had seating for four passengers and less than enough head room, but the mechanics were proud none the less.

Joselyn watched Zell work under the machine, cursing blue fire that she feared would ignite the oil and fuel spilling onto him and the floor. She was inches away from making fun of him when a swarthy man beat her to it.

"You're gonna burn yourself down there ya know?"

"SHUT… up, Raijin" Zell threw a wrench down and it bounced loudly in nobody's direction. "I just don't know what's wrong with it; I think one of the parts is missing."

"Well, it's not finished yet, ya think that has somethin' to do with it?"

"...No Raijin, I think the gremlins are stealing and rearranging the parts in the night," he said half-sarcastically –Zell had blamed many things on the gremlins in the past.

"Just like you to blame the gremlins ya know."

"I'm serious about a part being missing though, but it's really deep in there, I'll have to take part of the thing apart to get to it."

Raijin stopped listening to Zell at some point and turned to see Joselyn. She was scratching her back while examining one of the complete machines. She stood now, running her gloved fingertips over the smooth glazed metal.

Raijin took a moment to examine her while she had her back to him. She was a very tall girl, a rarity in Balamb garden. Remarkably long legs with a generous amount of muscle in her thighs. Her jacket and shirt were torn at her lower back showing two long pink scars, wrinkled at the edges. The scars looked like they were pulling healthy skin over the scar tissue to hide from exposure to the air. It took him no longer than a few moments to decide how it got there, since there was only one student who could –or would—do something like that. Seeing the scars confirmed the rumors for him. She was reaching into her jacket when Raijin tapped her shoulder and gave a hand to shake.

"My names Raijin ya know," he said with a sweet smile to rival all sweet smiles.

She returned the smile and turned around to shake his hand.

"And my name's Joselyn."

"Joselyn?" he stopped the shake and his smile fell, she raised the eyebrow he couldn't see and let go of his hand.

"Is something wrong?"

"You the girl Grave attacked right?"

Joselyn sighed and rolled her eyes. When will this end? She wondered.

"Yes, I am. Does everybody know or something? This is nuts!" she threw her arms in the air and leaned against the hanging machine behind her. The jet did not budge against her weight.

"It's a big deal ya know. He's never been so brutal before."

"Huh… I guess that's reason enough." She stood and sighed again, "I'm sorry to snap at you, I don't mean to be mean, I just don't think that it's that big of a deal."

"It's alright ya know. Must be frustrating to hear about it all day."

"You read my mind," she scratched her back again, "so what are these things called?" she pointed her head to the wall of jets.

"Whelps. Just 'cause their like tiny Ragnaroks ya know."

"Uh huh." I wonder why he says that so much. I shouldn't ask, he'll probably flip out.

"Well, I gotta get to work."

"Okay, I think I'll go actually, it's kinda late."

"Oh, well it was nice meeting you."

"Me too, say bye to Zell for me!" she said running to the exit.

"Alright ya know!"

"RAIJIN!" shouted Zell.

"I'm comin' ya know!" he grabbed a wrench from the table beside him and prepared for the small mans wrath.

EG

A red ball bounces in the hallway of the dormitory quarters towards me. I'm on my way to my room whilst trying to ignore the ball. But it's bright fire red and so are the children's voices.

Giggling, they're giggling; a pair of junior class-men, a boy and a girl is running my way from the other end of the hall. I stop for a moment and let the ball run into my foot. It rolls up my boot, it rolls down the side. I kick the pesky thing hard behind me and continue walking. The children pass me like I'm not here so they can fail again and again to catch their ball.

Fucking Munchkins, if I could ask Hyne one thing, it would be, "why is my dorm right next to the junior class-men wing?" I can't stand –no, I hate—little kids. Sure; they don't insult and provoke me the way the older students do, they don't hate me because I look like a corpse -though they do look scared often—and they don't ban me from public areas of the Garden.

But they're just as annoying as Instructor Dintch, which more than makes up for everything.

I've almost made it to my dorm and nearly smile at the sight of my room-mate, one of my two friends. Today has not gone well for me.

"Cody!" I shout and I have his attention at once.

Cody is walking out of our dorm with a black suit case when he notices me. He smiles and jogs to me quickly.

Let me take a moment to tell you about Cody. He is the people person of all people persons. He likes everyone and everyone likes him. He's nice and understanding, he laughs at your jokes no matter how rude or callous they are –which makes me grateful that he's my friend—and somehow always has time to help.

He's 5'9 –but he seems to have grown a few inches since the last time I saw him, normally I dwarf him by an inch—with one inch blonde hair, his skull and eyes are perfectly round.

He once settled a dispute between two brutes over a muffin. He lathered the muffin in butter, and fed it to Dr. Heartily's dog. Each of them gave him a black-eye and stormed out. Later they came back to apologize –forced of course—and sincerely congratulated him on the beating he took for their stupid argument, which he accepted readily and happily. I don't know what the deal is; I guess he just has charisma.

He's wearing his cadet uniform now which raises a question. I must be looking at him strangely because he's tilting his head to the side.

"What?"

"I thought only Trepies wore cadet uniforms these days." I say smirking meanly, he returns my smirk effortlessly, guess I should brace myself for a mean retort.

"This is coming from the guy who got her that license back so he could take her classes." Ooh. I was begging on my hands and knees for that one.

"...Touché"

"I'm just trying to get used to this fucking polyester!" he says, ending our sarcasm sparring.

"Heh, right, 'cause we have the field exam in a couple of weeks and those stupid uniforms are mandatory." I am not as brave as Cody. I'm not even going to look at my uniform until I have to wear it for that exam.

"Yeah, at least when we're SeeDs they'll MAKE us wear our own clothes."

"'When'? You're sounding pretty arrogant."

"Damn right. Instructor Trepe told me we're going to be on the squad together."

"Really? Well then I guess you'll have to share some of that arrogance."

"I thought you'd feel that way. Anyway, I'm going to the training center, I'll see you in about twenty minutes." he said starting to leave. Sorry Cody, but I can't let you get away yet.

"Wait!"

"Hmm?" he turned around.

"Could you return these books for me? I've been banned from the library."

"The library, how the hell do you...? no. never mind, tell me when I get back. That way I'll be tired enough to believe whatever it is."

"Will you do it?"

"Yeah sure."

"Thanks."

"No trouble at all."

"You'll probably have to hurry; I think that everything's going to shut down soon."

"Alright, I'll see ya'!" he said dashing away.

"Yeah! See ya'."

Well that deals with the library bullshit. That's another one I owe Cody. Now to deal with some business that's actually important.

EG

Tucker had been brushing his teeth for ten whole minutes now and the sound of scrubbing was incessant. She couldn't stand to watch him do it, but she imagined gouts of white lather pouring out of his flimsy lips, and bits of food shooting out from between his teeth all over the bathroom like misfired bullets.

Just phase it out Joselyn, just phase it out Joselyn, just phase it out Joselyn.

But she isn't going to phase this out, she just can't. She's made her disgusting hallucination far too vivid. She'd have an easier time ignoring her furniture having sex with a head full of acid.

He's going to stop brushing his teeth any time now; you just have to wait it out.

Incessant scrubbing.

IF he doesn't STOP by the count of three I'll STAB him in the HEART.

More incessant scrubbing. The walls must look like the inside of a maggot infested garbage bag by now.

1.

Suddenly –she swears she's mistaken, but…-Joselyn hears the sound of something tearing, then an altered voice that might normally be handsome. "Right next to me a huge reptile was gnawing on a woman's neck, the carpet was a blood-soaked sponge –impossible to walk on it, no footing at all. "Order some golf shoes," I whispered. "Otherwise, we'll never get out of this place alive. You notice these lizards don't have any trouble moving around in this muck –that's because they have claws on their feet."

"What the fuck was that?" She whispered to herself, quietly, so Tucker wouldn't ask her what was wrong.

"Fear and Loathing."

Then suddenly a knock on the door.

"SHIT!"

Joselyn was sitting on the edge of her bed, leaning over her blue jacket with a needle and thread. Her spine was stiff and the needle had plunged itself into her thumb as if it were startled by the knock at the door as much as she. The rude knocking continued.

Fuck.

She threw her unfinished jacket onto her bed and started sucking her thumb. She got up and headed for the door, another knock sounded, this one especially impatient.

"I'm coming!" she muttered incoherently with her thumb still in her mouth.

She literally kicked the button to open the door and it slid open with a hiss like water against a hot pan. There stood the person she least expected to see. She froze, just about shut the door in his face.

Her attacker was leaning against the doorway with his arms crossed. She didn't get a good look at him that morning in the training center but now he was standing still for her to see. His skin was white, the shadows fell on him greyly. His lips, violet; and his eyes, she had not been mistaken, were ghoulish blue, but she dared not move closer to see the pupils she was so curious about. He was probably two inches shorter then her. His masculinity was only in his vibrations; physically gender would be difficult to judge.

He was dressed exclusively in black leather and denim it seemed; jeans, boots, leather jacket. The leather jacket was about one size too big for him like she thought. Now that she could see his hands she saw biker gloves there, she wondered if this was a fashion statement. His grin had vanished from his face completely. Instead there was a displeased look.

He was not happy to be here.

Well I'm not happy to see him.

She was waiting for him to make a move for her throat when he raised both eyebrows questioningly. He said nothing though, he was patient, stoic. He knew she would explain in a minute. It was now she realized she was still sucking on her thumb like some dumb kid. She opened her eyes wide and quickly slid it out of her mouth. She wiped it on her still torn tank top, feeling far too exposed.

"Pin-prick! I was just, uh, sewing up the jacket you tore up," his brows fell changing his mood completely. His facial features emoted for him very much she thought –she wondered if it was too much.

"Yeah. That's why I'm here," he was about to continue when Tucker shouted from the bathroom. Again she was assaulted by visions of misfired maggots.

"Who's at the door Joselyn?" he squeaked, trying to sound like her husband.

"No one Tucker!" she yelled to the bathroom. Grave turned his attention to the direction of her shout.

"Is that who I think that is?" he asked clearly disgusted.

"Yes," she said irritably, exhausted.

"Shit, sorry I didn't beat you up more. You might have been able to spend some time away from him."

Something clicked in Joselyn's head when he said that. Part of her knew she was supposed to be offended by that –the idea that he could have beaten her harder was insulting enough. But stronger than the acid she felt companionship in that insult to her roommate, so she laughed instead.

"Nah," she chuckled pleasantly, "he'd probably visit me in the infirmary."

He looked back at her face and spoke again, smiling now. This smile was natural, the right size on his face. Besides his white face and violet lips, it was a normal smile.

The thought was brief; but she thought he might be normal past all of those discolorations.

"Anyway, I'm here to apologize for this morning. I just kinda get that way in the training center," he was looking away now and couldn't observe her smile.

That really was a poor explanation.

But you've charmed me, so you owe me now.

"Ya know what? I don't care anymore." She held up her hands in mock surrender and smiled for him, a real smile. It wasn't true, but she was impressed he'd come to do this in person like the Dr. said he would, and this was what she'd have to say to keep this pleasant.

Grave looked up at the friendly smile on those lips. When she held out her hand for him to shake it he just looked at it. He looked confused, like he didn't know how to play his part in a handshake.

She creased her brows and waved the hand in front of his eyes. "You okay?" she asked.

"Hmm? Oh. Sorry" he took her hand and shook it, still confused.

It was a strong, controlled handshake. Joselyn knew this kid could rip off her arm right now, her trust surrendered.

He'd make a damn reliable friend, I can tell.

"My name's Joselyn." She said, but it came out friendlier than she wanted it too. Luckily he didn't take her tone the wrong way. He was still stoic and polite.

"...Grave."

"What's that?"

"My name's Grave." He sounded hesitant to repeat himself, like he wanted to run away.

"Really?"

"It's a nickname." He explained, she guessed that people usually need an explanation at this point. That line sounded very practiced, repeated, and worn out.

"Huh. I like it." is all she said. He was pleasantly speechless.

It was then they noticed their hands were still joined. They looked down together, let go together, looked back up at each others faces, he avoided direct eye contact.

He really doesn't want me to see his eyes too closely does he?

"Well, I accept your apology."

"Thanks." He said slowly, suspicious she was fucking with him, she could tell.

Well, I'm not.

Realizing she had to be the one to end the conversation Joselyn squeezed Grave's shoulder and said. "I guess I'll see you later Grave."

"Yeah. Bye" he said bewildered.

"Bye." Joselyn shut the door before Grave even walked away and leaned against it. She sighed deeply and closed her eyes.

"Who was that Joselyn?" he squeaked from the bathroom once again.

"Nobody, Tucker! Just finish brushing your teeth and go to bed," oh Hyne, well, back to work I guess.

Some of the bitterness she felt against Grave vanished then –though she had little to begin with, their rumble that morning was more like a violent spar to her than an actual life threatening situation—solely from his remark about Tucker. His apology sounded like the kind that didn't expect a good reaction, but was given regardless because of a personnel quota.

Joselyn was mostly a forgiving person –though she still didn't feel too comfortable with Grave. Besides, she didn't want enemies within B-Garden, especially if the enemy was like him, he who becomes a nutcase in the heat of battle.

Also she was interested by him. Not just because of his disconcerting appearance but his behavior. He had dared to apologize unarmed and in person after what he had done that morning –she was relieved to find her weapon delivered to her room when she returned earlier—he was composed and polite when he spoke and acted in a conversation. Then he had this insanity he let loose in combat. And his feat with the boulder must be a supernatural power he was abusing and mastering on a daily basis. Yes, she would be seeing more of that boy.

She sat down on her bed and reached inside her jacket. She dug her hand into the pocket inside her jacket and stopped instantly, her eyes shot wide open. She pulled her jacket to her and opened up the pocket wide and looked into it, worry all over her face.

"My cigarettes," she whispered weakly to herself, "they confiscated my fucking cigarettes."

Brunettes in the Night

Quistis lazily punched in the numbers to open the door to her room. The door hissed behind her as it closed. Never in all her years at B-Garden did she investigate what it was in the doors that made that sound, then she remembered she was too tired to care about menial things like that, all of her energy spent that way was done so in the classroom.

She was greeted by the sweet alto meow of her eggshell-white cat Marcus. Since Squall didn't mind having Angelo around the Garden he allowed pets in the private quarters. Quistis had gone to Balamb and taken Marcus from the animal shelter immediately when Squall issued that. She had seen him off and on in the streets of Balamb after the Second Sorceress War, sometimes buying him food or trying to find him a home in Balamb, all along wanting to keep him herself, she was thrilled when she finally could.

As much respect as she had for Cid, after Squall assumed the role of headmaster Cids rules and regulations seemed unnecessarily harsh. She had probably never thought so before because she was raised mostly in the garden that he ran. Now that she thought of him, she should arrange a trip for her and the others to visit him and Edea.

It's been awhile.

They had fixed and reopened the orphanage since Squall took charge of B-Garden, and the house was once again littered with children. Quistis wondered if those kids would go to the gardens soon. Would they turn out the same way she and the others had? If so she wished them all better luck than she had. At twenty one, she thought that she'd be different somehow; she couldn't put her finger on her dissatisfaction.

"Marcus, sometimes I wish you were a human, you'd be the greatest man I've ever met."

Quistis held her hand in front of Marcus and let him rub his face against her fingers. He was purring loudly the way he always did, and now his mouth was agape so he could brush his teeth against her finger nails. She loved it when he purred with his mouth open; it was a whole other sound.

She kicked off her boots, set her glasses on the night-stand and stripped. Her clothes fell soundlessly to the ground the way pudding would against kitchen tile. She went into her bathroom, drew a bath, and looked in the mirror at herself while she waited.

Quistis started drumming her belly rhythmically and made sounds with her mouth like 'bum' and 'do'. She honestly saw nothing appealing about her body; Quistis was like a woman in her forties who had not physically aged for twenty years. She would never be able to appreciate her beauty herself, but she would also never be convinced if someone told her otherwise. Rinoa and Selphie were always talking about how her students and other such bachelors eyed her constantly but Quistis never saw that happen. They were probably trying to be nice to her, being the only member of the orphanage gang not to be paired up after the conflict.

Except for Seifer, he had gone missing after the Sorceress war. When Fujin and Raijin rejoined

B-Garden a year after the war they said they were living with him at Fisherman's Horizon. They claimed that when they were reinstated to B-Garden; he flipped; insulted them, saying that they should be damned to the dankest pits of Hynes cunt for disowning him, and disappeared. If they knew anything else they let no one know.

She had seen wanted posters of him all over the world; though most of them were faded and peeled away, gone with the wind like everyone's thoughts of him. Esthar however had computer screens with his face all over them and those had not faded. Laguna seemed to hate Seifer more than Squall did out of principle. And for some reason he hated him more now that he was presumed dead. Laguna just didn't believe it.

But she didn't care to think about him right now, she was going to relax. She'd made no progress with any of her classes today and she just wanted to take a bath, fall asleep, maybe she'd do both and drown. That would be nice, that way she wouldn't have to teach her classes tomorrow. Funny how she hated the things she loved the most.

Quistis slipped, quivering into the hot water and let sleep all but take her. She exhaled the long breath she held from when she sank into the piping hot water and decided she would teach her classes tomorrow, even if it was only to keep Grave and Joselyn under control.

EG

His legs were shaking the same way his teeth chattered when he was cold. He took the first three steps out of his bedroom and nearly fell over, he would have banged his head against the table and made a loud noise, then she'd be awake and this would all be ruined. Why was this so hard? He'd gotten up the nerve to get out of bed, why was he having so much trouble going further? It seemed that the moment his feet touched the floor he couldn't walk steadily, like it was an automatic reaction he should have expected.

Tucker was hopelessly frustrated. He had never been so in love before! Of course that meant he'd have to work hard to earn what he wanted. If he could sneak into her room and just give her a quick peck on the cheek he'd feel fantastic and she'd be none the wiser. It wasn't like he was harming her, and it wasn't going to be sexual or anything so he couldn't get kicked out on grounds of harassment. There wasn't anything wrong with it was there? Eventually he stood up and managed a quiet stumble to Joselyn's door. He wiped the dangling mucus from his nose with his forearm and made a kind of sucking noise. Surprised that he hadn't awoken her already, he pressed on.

Thud.

Tucker froze. What was that? Would it wake her up? Would she question him? Hit him or worse? Above all what was making that loud noise?

Thud.

There it was again. A moment later he felt very silly when he realized what it was. His nose was bleeding again and the droplets were hitting the floor loudly. He'd been having a lot of nose bleeds lately, he could swear that the last time Grave beat the shit out of him he split open all kinds of little blood vessels in his face so that he'd get nose bleeds on a schedule.

Thud.

He would have stood there outside her door grinning like an idiot at his bleeding nose a little longer but Tucker decided that he should clean up before he did this. He wouldn't want to get blood on that beautifully creamy face of hers. He held his hand under his nose and tip-toed into the bathroom. Flicked the light switch on and gathered a lot of toilet paper in his hands before he pinched his nose and tilted his head back. Joselyn had shown him to do this, she was so great.

After the bleeding stopped he took a look at himself. His face was crusty with various nasal drippings; his arm smudged the same way. He washed his face and scrubbed as best he could on his pajama sleeve and wiped it dry with a hand towel. He was ready now; he took one last look in the mirror, took a careful breath thinking that a deep one would result in another nose bleed and left the bathroom.

He staggered into her room more slightly confident than he was before, slightly. It was dark in her room but he could see her. She was dazzling even in her sleep. She was on her right side the hair that normally covered part of her face was laying against her pillow. He could see her whole face for once. She was curled up with both hands under her cheek in the quintessential sleeping position, but to him her lips were sticking out in the darkness the way Grave stuck out in a crowd of normal people. He snickered the way a rodent would at that thought of Grave. He took another careful breath, and focused on his plan to kiss her cheek, and then when he finally stood beside her bed, he got greedy.

With his cold, spidery hands –still slightly wet from the sink—he rolled up her tank top –the same one she had sewn up before she went to bed, he stopped for a moment and winced when he thought about Grave harming Joselyn like he had. He recovered himself and continued; he kept rolling until her shirt was rolled away from her bra, then he pulled down just one cup of her bra. He took in the sight in the dark room. Suddenly he felt very daring and he opened his mouth, and his head hung over her breast so closely, his tongue was hanging out, he was so close.

And a single drop of drool fell from his tongue and onto her nipple.

Three things happened at once; Joselyn's eyes shot open, Joselyn's hand swiped at Tuckers face in a wide arc, Joselyn and Tucker made loud dragged out screeches –Tucker actually sounded more girly than Joselyn but neither had the attention to spare to take notice.

Joselyn simultaneously sat up and rolled down her shirt, then kicked Tucker square in the face, his exposed teeth clattered together while he fell against the desk across from her bed. Joselyn bolted into the hallway leaving Tucker in her room with his lips hanging off of his face and possibly a concussion.

Damnit, I'm so fucking stupid.

EG

"Joselyn?"

Joselyn stopped for a moment holding her hands to her chest and looked to Cody. He was holding a black suitcase she'd never seen him carry before and looked just as confused as she must have.

Probably didn't look quite as frightened though.

"What's wrong? What happened?" he asked, concerned.

"TUCKER...DROOL...NIPPLE." was all she managed to stammer out.

"...Ya know what? That's all I need to hear. You want to sleep in my dorm?" he gave her a friendly pat on the back and squeezed her shoulder.

"BUT... sorry, But we aren't allowed to do that."

"I think that we can make an exception here," he started leading her to his room.

"Okay, thanks a lot," she said relieved somewhat.

"I'll tell Instructor Trepe in the morning, she'll probably tell the headmaster and this will all get worked out. You can sleep on my bed all right? I'll sleep in the kitchen or something."

"No don't do that, I'll do that, I'll be fine."

"Come on; let me be chivalrous about this. My room's this way," he said turning right down the hallway.

"Thanks Cody, you cannot possibly understand how I feel right now." She couldn't help but shiver. Two monsters who looked like men assaulting her in one day was too much, especially if the second one goes for you in your sleep.

"And I hope I never do."

Damn kids, they spent their time in these classes with either hope or boredom in their eyes. Little do they know they'll lose that look –even the feeling—after they make their first kill. He had grown to hate that bored-ness ever since he found that out. He came back from his first field exam a mess, and until the next morning he had been a different person. The nausea in his stomach had spread throughout his body the blade sank into the Galbadian soldier's neck. He was pinned and had to resort to the straight razor he kept in his pocket. Nothing had scared him so much in his whole life when the blood from that mans throat spilled onto his hands and his face.

Ever since then, whenever someone claimed their first one was easy, he never believed them. Even from the oldest, most weathered soldiers or even the hollowest criminals. He'd never believe it.

It was a good thing nobody could see his blood stained face and hands now, because PesticidEs had to cover themselves up. He wouldn't have to show his bloody face to any of them again. He scarcely looked at himself anymore; the only people who seemed to be around when he was uncovered were Carbuncle and Xu. Carbuncles shift ended at the same time as his and Xu always seemed to be nagging him.

Speaking of Xu, she would most certainly bug him before he went to bed tonight. He'd learned the hard way she hated it when you called her zoo. She was the only person on the world who noticed the difference between the pronunciations of the two words, and as much as he was puzzled by it, he loved to torment her, and that was the easiest way.

Savior, B-Gardens prize PesticidE had been off shift for two hours and had spent the whole time reminiscing in Quistis Trepes class room. He had been one of her students prior to the Second Sorceress war and he missed those days. She was a good teacher; she sucked at encouraging many of her students to learn though. If you weren't a Trepie you probably weren't very eager in one of her classrooms. And mostly that was because of the Trepies. They worshiped the ground she intended to walk on so nobody could respect them, and she never did anything about them so nobody but the Trepies respected her.

Or maybe it was the two students of hers that stood out the most. Seifer Almasy and Squall Leonhart, Seifer, the lapdog who had a hand in the time compression, Squall, who stopped him and the bitch who Seifer worked for. If not for her those two wouldn't have accomplished what they did, though Almasy hadn't really accomplished anything to speak of. He had been chewed up, spat out and left in the gutter, that poor bastard.

Whatever happened, Quistis always managed to be controversial as a teacher despite her best efforts. Sometimes because of her best efforts.

Savior vividly remembered the way Seifer would torment Squall and Quistis and occasionally the other classmates. Seifer had preferred stabbing insults and physical violence, but at the same time things like spit balls and loud sounds made by drumming his desk with pencils was not beneath him. If Seifer were still around and continuing that behavior as childishly as he had back then, Savior thought he wouldn't be as comfortable with it. Back then he didn't mind so much, he even thought it was funny a lot of the time. But Savior was very different now, he had to be. It would have hurt not to change.

He became sick of reminiscing and turned heel to leave, and there was Quistis, she was in the doorway and Hyne knew how long she had been there watching him. She was shining a friendly smile, her head tilted to one side and her eyebrows creased like she was concerned about him. She most certainly was; she had been concerned about him every minute since their first mission together. She blamed herself for his injury.

Her hair was honey dark with water and draped against her shoulders, she was wearing a bathrobe and a pair of fuzzy slipper's; she must have showered before she came. This raised the question-

"Why are you here so late?" He asked, his voice a polite rumble behind a static veil.

"Oh, um, oh yeah, I left a book in my desk, I wanted to read before I went to bed," she sounded defensive, suddenly aware she'd been staring at him. She dripped onto the cold floor.

"Ah," he said, too quiet to make her comfortable.

"Why are you here so late?" she said with a smile so sweetly mirthful.

"Just spending time in the old classroom, I used to be one of your…" He kicked himself mentally for letting that much slip, suddenly her face was electric.

"What was that?" Savior was well aware of Quistis's desire to uncover his identity and now he worried that she'd finally find him out.

"Nothing," he said, too quickly.

"No it's not, you were one of my students!" she had apparently forgotten about the book altogether, that was valuable information that he just gave her, he kicked himself mentally again.

"Look, don't tell Xu about this, she'll extricate me for sure," Quistis stopped suddenly and became very serious.

"First of all you are the Gardens best bodyguard, Squall wouldn't let you get fired under any circumstance. Secondly you can trust me to keep this a secret regardless of that," she finished by poking him in the chest.

"Good, damn I can't believe I let that slip."

"Maybe you want me to find out," she said laughing they way she did, lowering her head, covering her mouth, closing her eyes.

Savior chose not to tell her she was right, although he was thinking it very loudly. Quistis went back to her desk to get her book and Savior decided to take this opportunity to leave. Just as he was leaving she intercepted him and looked up to his mask. He knew what was coming and he never liked it when she did this.

Quistis put her hand on his mask, on the spot where his left goggle once was. Now there was a smear of plastic, a messy patch-up for damaged he sustained on that mission with her. His left eye had been damaged badly and had to be removed to avoid infection.

Now his helmet had one goggle making him the most unique of the PesticidEs. With the others there names had to be announced or else you had no idea which one it was, but when you looked at Savior it was very clear that you were looking at him. It was a gift he was not too thrilled to have.

He knew she was responsible for it but he wouldn't admit it to himself. He couldn't bring himself to torment her; it would hurt him more to do so. Quistis left him with that, and started to leave. She was to the bridge when she spoke up again. She blinked noticeably when she stopped as if she had just thought of something.

"What did your hair look like?" She knew she couldn't expect any kind of answer out of him but she always had a fund time trying him.

"It was..." he knew he shouldn't do this, but with Quistis resistance was futile, he'd have to give her something. "Short," yeah, that was good, but Quistis didn't look impressed.

"Thanks a lot," she said lamely.

"It was really short," he said enthusiastically, she just shook her head and held it in her hand, she was tired, it would be good of him to let her go so she could sleep.

"This isn't over," she said pointing accusingly at him, "I will find out every little detail about your hair," she dragged out her vowels when she said 'hair.'

"Good night Miss Trepe."

"Good night Savior," she grinned at his 'Miss' and left him.

He wanted to just show her, right now. Catch her at the elevator and just tear off his mask. He knew she'd find out eventually, Quistis Trepe was a fucking detective by night he swore it. How else would she have found out about stowaway bottle of whiskey those years ago? He thought he had been careful about it but he had been wrong. Luckily for him she had been nice about it; she chose to confiscate it just before curfew began, rather than doing it in class. She always made it a point to give people what was coming to them, which was why she was a good teacher; it was also why he –back then—hated that she was his teacher.

Instead he chose to wait a few minutes until he was sure she was far from him. She would feel more victorious if she found out herself anyway.

It was better this way.

He rode the elevator to the first floor and rounded the walkway to the training center. The PesticidEs guarding the other areas either tipped their heads or saluted him, and he would answer the same way. Savior was the most formidable PesticidE –not to mention the first—and therefore the most respected, there was too much to live up to in his opinion. He was also the only one to sustain a serious injury, which was commendable in a way he didn't quite understand.

He entered the training center through the left door. This was where Grave and that new girl ended their brawl earlier that morning. Savior saw much potential in both of them, he'd seen Grave fight before, and had the opportunity to guard Quistis's classroom to take notice on how he did in class, Savior admittedly was a much worse student than Grave.

The girl –he hadn't learned her name yet, that would have to change soon—was clearly extraordinary just because she made it out the way she did against Grave. Savior knew they would graduate at the next inauguration, it was a given.

He took twenty paces before he stopped and looked around; nobody was around except for Fujin Saeta, who had a job within the Garden that –without her—would have been filled by a PesticidE. Because of an increase in the number of serious injuries and... Fatalities, sadly, a very experienced SeeD or PesticidE was required to be stationed in the Training center at all times. Most often that was Fujin. She hadn't noticed him, not something that usually happened to her when on the job but it was him sneaking around after all. He kneeled down and peered inside the log, as expected he saw a large satchel which he removed and slung over his shoulder. That was all he intended to do in here, especially with his Saber left in his room. It wasn't often he didn't wear it, but today nobody had ever infiltrated the Garden, for at least the two years he had been on duty, so he was hardly worried he'd need it.

He left the Training center and rounded the walk back to the elevator. The same guards who acknowledged him earlier either didn't notice he was holding something or they didn't care. He took the elevator down to the B1 level and got off just in time to hear Xu end a lecture for new recruits, it seemed they came in every month now. When he had first applied it took three more months before any others came, it was embarrassing those first few months being one man whose job was to guard a gargantuan Easter egg of a military academy.

Savior chose to head to his room immediately so as to avoid Xu's nagging. Surely she would be aggravated because he had stayed above for over two hours, and surely she'd be suspicious of a black bag she had never seen before slung over his shoulder.

He entered his room –which was not much unlike a cadet room except the rooms were made for one person each—and locked the door with the punch of a button. He tossed the bag onto his bed and stripped himself of his uniform and threw it all haphazardly on his red carpet. He sat down on his bed and opened up the satchel. He couldn't believe he was still doing this, he couldn't believe he had done it to begin with.

He pulled the large item out of the bag and examined it front to back. It was perfect, better than he had imagined it would be. As A-religious as he was he thanked Hyne for whatever she may have done to contribute to this. Then he put it away after shuffling to find a place for it and went to bed.

He was guarding Quistis' classroom again tomorrow, it would be one of the better days of the week for him.

A/N: Read and Review please, I really want constructive criticism. I want to know what you think about everybody, are my portrayals of the borrowed characters convincing and what do you think of the original ones, etc... Also, if you're having trouble picturing Cody, just imagine Cid Highwind from FF7 as a 17 year old cadet at B-Garden. If you are having trouble imagining the PesticidE's, they resemble the villain in Hellboy who wears a gasmask. Also know that if you review me I will reply to you in chapters to come.