Disclaimer: FF8 is not mine, as you all know.

Author's Notes: I had several hours to kill yesterday and this is the embodiment of it. It's set during the SeeD ball when Quistis asked Squall to come with her to the secret area of the training center.

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A Forgotten Kiss

By opening his mouth and changing the pressure inside, he let the smoke diffuse out. Not that he knew his chemistry and physics. Not that he cared. At all. Puffing smoke felt good. And that was all the reason he needed, all that he cared for. He wasn't doing it because he was depressed. He had failed the field test oh-so-many times. Depression was for first-timers. He wasn't a novice in that department. He wasn't doing it to keep warm either, although the wind was not exactly friendly. He was sweating beneath his tattered coat and the fire spell was still zinging beneath his skin. He was not in the best condition to cast. Who would have thought the drink in the ball would be spiked?

He hid beneath the shadows and disappeared into the dark when he saw two figures walk by. A gallant walk, a poised stride. It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that it was the instructor and her favorite student. He knew something was up.

A smirk tugged at his lips. If he were a level lower, the smirk would have been for the prospect of spreading a rumor--or a truth --about the two. The Trepies would be so pissed they'd hound Squall. If he were two levels down, the smirk would have been for the opportunity to witness kinky sex between a rookie SeeD and his former instructor. However, the smirk was for neither of those. It was for the fact that he knew he was right.

He had noticed it before. It was hard not to. The way the blonde woman looked at the brunette. How her voice always changed, as subtle as it may be, whenever she called on Squall in the classroom. It explained why she fetched Squall in the infirmary after their fight and not him. Never him.

It wasn't jealousy, it wasn't anger that he found stirring within. It was the cocky delight of knowing that the other man didn't get to where he was in his own terms. It was purely speculation at this point but he didn't care. He grinned as he threw the cigarette butt to the ground. "I told you so," he told the disintegrated grat. He was answered by the prickling of acid on soil.

Two minutes passed and Squall went out, walking as if he was pissed off. Seifer's forehead creased. They couldn't probably have done it that fast. No Quistis emerged from the secret area to follow the stalking brunette. Feeling curious and at the same time ready for a verbal spar, he entered where Squall had left.

"Lovers' quarrel?" Seifer asked, announcing his presence.

The instructor rolled her eyes. She couldn't believe her luck. Laid off her dream job, rejected by the man she loves and pestered by Seifer in the Secret Area all at the same night. She must have pissed off deities big time.

"What do you want?" She had neither interest nor energy to spare.

"I haven't decided yet," he said as he lighted a cigarette. "That scowl, for starters."

Her scowl disappeared. "You're not allowed to smoke in Garden," she said sharply, taking the cigarette off his mouth and throwing it away. He ignored her and put another one in his mouth, ready to strike the match. She took it just the same, crushed it in her hand before throwing it to the ground. She refused to acknowledge that he didn't care. She could reiterate her point a thousand creative ways, he'd still do it all the same.

He gave her a deadly glare as he took another cancer stick from his coat and put it in his mouth. Before she can grab it, his hand was on her neck, threatening to snap it if she persisted. Time froze as her brain processed the situation. He could almost hear the click-click sound of the machinery inside her head.

A smile. A sweet one. From her. Then faster than he could have imagined, she had taken the stick and had let it fall from between her dainty fingers.

He smirked. Or that could have been a smile, she couldn't tell. She was feisty beneath her cool exterior. She was deep down unpredictable and stubborn and it made him smile knowing that she was almost only like this when she was with him. Or perhaps with Squall too. Not that he wished he could find a connection. He took his hand off.

"Why are you here?" she asked.

Because he was curious as to what his instructor and puberty boy were doing inside. Because Squall left and she was alone. Because he wanted to talk even though he hated to admit it. Because Quistis was a sensible talker when it came right down to it. Because she was neither afraid of nor disgusted with him. Because there was an underlying reason he couldn't pinpoint. Perhaps the most important reason. Maybe the only one.

"Because I failed." He said while he wondered the real reason why he was standing there, alone with Quistis, in an unmapped area, close to her and feeling more vulnerable than he liked to be.

She sighed. He was the reason why she was no longer an instructor. One of them, at least. The most obvious of them, definitely. The biggest of deviants, the worst of her collected data. The point that destroyed her perfect graph. His presence made the bomb tick. He turned the hourglass, started the countdown to her failure.

"You never tried," she said. "Not enough, at least."

"Maybe I didn't want to pass. Not this time."

"I suppose it's not because you enjoyed sitting in my class so much."

He started laughing. Loudly. Mockingly. It wasn't an attempt at humor for her part, just thinking out loud. He was laughing but she didn't care. Couldn't care. Not for the little things.

"Yes," he said after he calmed down. "I did enjoy your class. And I'm signing up for another term."

It was hard to decipher whether he was being sarcastic or if it was the truth. She didn't bother try to know.

"I won't teach anymore." Because of you.Because of Squall. Coz I wasn't meant to. For I couldn't. For I'm too young, I can't control anything. Not anything that mattered anyway.

"Getting rid of me?" he asked. Was it because Squall's already a SeeD? Or because you hate me that much? Or did you contract a disease of some sort and you want to spend your remaining days in a stone house by the sea?

"They took my teaching license. Said I didn't have leadership skills, meant I wasn't good enough."

He looked at her, regarded her in a different light. The angel was human after all. He never expected her to talk to him like this. He never imagined he can hold a conversation with Quistis without the smug smirk, the witty comebacks and the painful insults. Much more, he never even thought he'd listen.

They were in the same hell, wondering why they were there, knowing they deserved better but everyone else thought different.

She was smart, hardworking, the prodigy, one of the best SeeDs to mark history. He was the worst student, the cockiest and most daring of them all. A hopeless follower, a demanding leader. She was brilliant, admired by many, loved by all. He was brilliant, too, with things you'll never learn from a book, admired by few, feared by many, scorned by all. It didn't matter what course they took. It didn't matter that their IQ's were miles apart, or that she was SeeD and he was not. They were both failures just the same.

"You're a failure, Quistis, just like me." It wasn't mocking, just a simple telling of a truth.

She never heard him say her name before. It was always instructor, said in a tone of mockery and disrespect. Now, it was Quistis, rolling off his tongue in an almost caring fashion.

"We're the same, Seifer. No matter how we both hate it."

They were the same, in more ways than they know. In more ways than they remember. Alike in a hundred ways with not one of them recalling. Molded in their childhood in the same way, in the same house, by the same hands, by the same mother.

"I don't mind. And you don't either," he said, locking his eyes with hers.

They held each other's gaze. There were no sparks of evil thoughts, no smart-ass smirks, just a simple meeting of two gazes, an intercourse of senses. They saw each other…perhaps for the first time. No words passed between them, they both knew what was said was right.

She was the first to break eye contact. It was done a second before she was fully aware of a need. A second after a desire had sparked. It was too soon, she never even had time to consider. It was too late, thoughts had already started to stir.

He looked away almost disappointedly. "We're the same…but you've always been the weaker one." It wasn't about skill or physical strength, she realized. It was about making a choice, exercising her freedom, being brave enough to venture out, strong enough to move.

She didn't want to be weak. It was not in her job description. It was no longer her desire to mind everything, to care to do what was planned, to be a slave for what was right. She seized her first opportunity to be strong. She kissed him.

Danger.

It was the first word in her mind. Danger powered his pulse, added to his strength. Danger made him fiery and risky. Danger added the twist, made it fun, made it good.

Soft.

She didn't expect his lips would be soft. Not like this. Not like this soft, as it made her not want to stop. His lips fitted hers perfectly, as if it were lock and key. She wouldn't mind her lips being pressed to his for a little longer.

Warm.

His hand was on her back. She was pressed against his hard body, offering warmth.

Rough.

His tongue duelled with hers. Forceful and gentle at the same time. Teeth tugged on lips. Desire brimmed the cup.

Uncertainty.

Was it all there was? Had all the cards been played? When did it even start? Was it fair? Did he mind? Did she care?

For a second, she wondered if she fell in love with the wrong man. Should it have been the man with the cocky grin and not the silent soldier that she should have fallen for?

You never see what's always there.

Had Seifer always been there?

Heaven.

But she wasn't dead. Not yet. It had to end. They both had to let go and move on. They had to take their own steps. Maybe in opposite directions. Maybe in the same plane.

His eyes bore into hers for two seconds of eternity. What should have been said never made it to air. The sounds had died when it should have been born. A second after eternity had ended, he was paces away, his back to her, ready to leave.

"Till I see you again, instructor."

"Seifer…" A call. With emotions this time. First and last.

He stopped his feet from covering further distance. He wasn't walking away because he didn't like it. He was leaving because it was the exact opposite. Because something had been done, a piece had been taken off the wall. The barriers were breaking down and it was already too dangerous to play the game. What scared him most was that he never realized she'd been stealing the piece for the longest time.

"The world still turns, instructor. You still hate me. I still hate you. You're still in love with Squall. I'm still trekking my road of destruction. Each to his own. Don't worry, I won't tell."

She couldn't see the frustrated look on his face nor the hint of longing in his eyes, just the cold hardness of his back.

Not twelve hours later, he became another woman's knight.


I'm not saying (in the fic) that they've been in love all along. Just that they may have had feelings of some sort. It could have been anything. You decide.

edited: 01-26-06

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