This story is a romance between two women

Star Struck

This story is a romance between two women. If you don't like it that's your problem.  Flame away if you want, they make me giggle.  The rating may change with future chapters.

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VIII belongs to Square. Niloka is my own creation.

 

            I watched the three women pass me in the hall to the cafeteria and fought the urge to bow.  I don't think they'd like it, but I couldn't help it.  They were more than celebrities or heroes; they were legends.  I didn't think I'd ever get used to seeing them occasionally and seeing three of the six together was like a religious experience.

            As I followed them my eyes focused on the tall blonde, not quite as tall as me, but almost towering over her companions.  She didn't sway her hips like the raven-haired beauty on her right or skip along energetically like the short brunette.  Her stride was confident and commanding.  Her hair was up in its customary barrette, only the loose ends and hair framing her face betraying a younger, more fun-loving side to her strictly business appearance.

            My friends tease me for being a Treppie.  But they each have their own favorite; everyone does.  I like to think that I'm different, but I suppose it's probably just a typical crush.  Typical except that I'm a girl.  Girls are supposed to admire Quistis Trepe, not have a crush on her.  And don't think I mean that sappy non-sexual crush a lot of girls get for other girls.  No, if she'd have me I'd be everything to her, including a lover.

            In the cafeteria their presence was impossible to ignore.  A large crowd gathered around them, following them through the line and to their table.  I sat at a table by the wall, trying to read my homework assignment while I ate.

            A few minutes later there was a sudden hush in the cafeteria and the crowd around the three girls flocked to the dark figure who had just entered.  Even some of the students who had ignored the girls rushed to join the crowd.  I guess they thought it was too rare an opportunity to see the young Commander to not take advantage.  Ignoring them, I looked over at Quistis and watched her for a minute.  I tried not to stare, but her every movement fascinated me.

            She suddenly turned and looked right at me, her bright blue eyes meeting mine.  Feeling like a jerk, I looked down at my food and felt myself blush.  Good job, Niloka.  Leer at her like all the others.  She'll really love you for that.

*          *            *

            I sighed with relief.  I felt bad for Squall, but he didn't have to deal with these crowds as often as the rest of us, so the temporary respite was welcome.  I glanced over at Rinoa to ask her why Squall was here and caught sight of a girl staring at me.  When I saw her she blushed and looked away.  At first I was angry, figuring she was another Treppie with nothing better to do than bug me.  But there was something different in her look.  And Treppies don't usually have the good sense or manners to be embarrassed about their staring.  The fact that she was attractive helped cool my anger, I had to admit.  Her hair was short, like Fujin's, but a deep chestnut brown.  She'd looked away too fast to tell what color her eyes were, but I thought they were blue or gray.  She had a strong profile, not delicate, but not masculine, either.  What really caught my interest was that she was wearing a man's uniform, not a skirt.  A lot of girls complained about the skirts, but no one had actually done anything about it before.  If it hadn't been for her figure I might have thought she was a somewhat effeminate boy.  The almost androgynous look was surprisingly sexy.

            Selphie nudged me.  "Whatcha lookin' at?"

            I realized was probably being as rude as I thought she had been and looked away.  "That girl over there," I answered.

            Selphie and Rinoa grinned.  Why'd I open my big mouth? They loved playing matchmaker.

            Rinoa glanced over her shoulder to look at her.  "Cute."

            Selphie was nodding and giggling.  They always seemed to get a big kick out of the fact that I'm a lesbian.  Not that I'm complaining.  They're great friends.

            Before I could stop her Selphie bounded from the table and headed over towards the girl.  I groaned.  Just then I wanted to kick my great friend's ass.

*          *            *

            I thought they were talking about me.  It's bad enough I acted like a jerk, staring at her like that.  She didn't have to point it out to her friends.

            A shadow crossed the table from behind me.  I figured it was my friend and turned to greet her.

            "Mona, you won't believe—" I blinked, looking up into the eyes of a grinning Selphie Tilmitt.

            My face felt hot as I blushed, figuring she wanted to tell me to stop bothering her friend.  I wasn't fooled by that grin.

            "I… I'm sorry… I didn't mean to—"

            Selphie interrupted me with a giggle.  "What are you talking about?  I came to ask you to eat with us."

            I stared at her, probably looking like an idiot.  I glanced over at their table.  Heartilly was watching us, but trying to look like she wasn't.  Quistis looked… embarrassed or annoyed?  I couldn't tell.

            "Why?" I blurted out.  Nothing like being rude when you're invited to lunch.  But Selphie didn't seem phased at all.

            "You looked lonely sitting here by yourself.  Come join us."

            What the hell?  Even if it turned out horribly, at least I'd have a good story.  Who was I to turn down an invitation most Garden students would kill for?  "Ok," I said.

            "Yay! Come on!"

            I followed her with my tray and sat across from Quistis at the table for four.

            "Hi," I said rather lamely.

            "You must be Niloka," Rinoa said, surprising me.  "I heard there was a female student who refused to wear a skirt," she explained.  "I'm glad I finally get to meet you."

            My first reaction was resentment.  I didn't want to be the freak on display.  But her smile was so honest, I couldn't believe she really thought of me that way.  I glanced at Quistis and wondered what she was thinking.  She was looking towards me without really looking at me. 

            "I'm a martial arts specialist and I prefer not to flash everyone when I kick."

            They laughed.  I think maybe Quistis blushed, but it could have been my imagination.  Wishful thinking.

            "Martial arts, huh?  That's cool.  Like Zell," Tilmitt said.

            It was a little strange to hear that name mentioned so casually.

            "Well, not yet.  But I hope I can be as good as he is someday."

            "You should talk to him.  Maybe he'd give you some pointers.  And he's got all those Combat King magazines wasting away in his room," Rinoa suggested.

            I almost choked on my coke.  Like it was so easy to just talk to Zell Dincht.  "You think he would?"

            "He was just telling me the other day he wished more students took hand-to-hand combat more seriously," Quistis said.  "I'm surprised he hasn't taken you under his wing already."  She smiled.  Her eyes reminded me of the blue topaz ring my foster mother had: a bright, pure blue, untouched by any other color.  If I was the flirtatious type I'd tell her Zell wasn't the one I wanted to take me.

            "Zell said that?" Tilmitt asked.  "Really? Cuz that doesn't sound like him.  Sounds more like you.  I mean, maybe he thinks it'd be cool to have another martial arts student, but he—"

            Tilmitt stopped at a dark look from Quistis and I was a little confused by the interaction.

            "So how long have you been at the Garden," Heartilly asked.

            "Six months," I answered around a mouthfull of french fries.

            "Why'd you join the Garden?"  This time it was Quistis.  I usually give a well-rehearsed, short answer but for some reason I wanted Quistis to know the truth.

            "My aunt and uncle couldn't support me any more.  I refused to be married off and this was my only other option.  My parents died when I was young."

            They looked at each other and smiled sadly.

            "What?" Always tactful, I am.

            "Just that we know what it's like to be an orphan," Quistis said.  Her eyes were sad and full of compassion.  I felt like I was falling into them and could have stared into that beautiful face forever.

            A strand of hair had fallen into her eye and tangled in her eyelashes.  Before I knew what I was doing I reached across the small table and brushed the hair away from her face, my fingers lightly touching her skin, lingering there tenderly.  She grasped my hand firmly, a soft, questioning look in her eyes.

            My heart was pounding. I couldn't believe what I'd just done.  In my panic I jerked my arm back and knocked my silverware to the floor with a startlingly loud clatter.

            "Shit," I muttered and bent down to pick it up.  A pair of legs appeared beside my chair and as I sat up, trying to avoid bumping into them I hit my head on the table.  Dazed and more than humiliated enough for one day I stood to make my escape and nearly stumbled into Squall Leonhart.  Instead I plopped rather ungracefully back down in my chair.  The crowd had followed Squall and engulfed the tiny table.

            Heartilly put her hand on my arm.  "Are you ok?

            "Yeah." I touched the back of my head and winced.

            "You weren't hurt, were you?"

            I chuckled.  "Just my pride."

            They laughed and it seemed to relieve some of the tension, but I wasn't brave enough to look at Quistis yet.  Leonhart had pulled up a chair and sat at the corner of the table between me and Heartilly, his arm draped casually over the back of her chair.

            "Squall, this is Niloka, a new student."

            Squall nodded, but didn't say anything.

            Selphie giggled.  "Squall you're impossible.  You could say something nice after the way you just startled her."

            More attention to myself was not exactly what I wanted.

            "Who do we have to thank for your presence, Squall?" Quistis' question gave me an excuse to look at her and try to see if she was angry.  I couldn't tell.

            "Rinoa says she won't be commanded like soldier and gets angry if I send a messenger to bring her to my office," he grumbled good-naturedly.

            In my six months at the garden I'd never heard him say more than a few words.  His voice was soft and smooth.  If I liked guys I might even call it sexy.  It's probably just as good that he doesn't talk much, considering how most of the girls already fawn all over him.

            "Quistis, why don't you walk Niloka back to her room," Rinoa suggested as they prepared to leave.

            "I don't need—" I started.

            Rinoa smiled.  "You're going to be the hottest gossip topic.  You sure you want to try to walk through the halls alone?"

            I didn't think walking with Quistis Trepe was going to improve the situation, but it would probably keep people at a respectable distance.  I looked at Quistis.

            "Only if you don't mind."

            She smiled, looking thoughtful.  "I was going that way, anyway."

            After the polite good byes and nice to meet you's I left the cafeteria with Quistis, followed by wide-eyed admirers.  Quistis remained silent and I didn't know what to say.  I stopped when we arrived at my room.

            "I… I'm sorry about… earlier."

            "It's ok.  I'm used to it."

            Ouch.  "I understand how you feel.  But I hope you'll believe I'm not like that.  I'm not a Treppie and I didn't mean to bother you."  There you go. Dig yourself even deeper.

            She looked around awkwardly.  "I don't usually invite myself to student's rooms, but we might want a little more privacy," she said quietly.

            I sighed, relieved that she would give me a chance, but not sure what I was going to say.  I let her into the common room of my dorm.  Luckily, my roommate was out.

            "What did you mean you're not like that?"

            "I don't want to force myself on you.  I haven't been following you or anything like that.  I don't want anything from you and don't expect you to do anything but go back to your life and forget about me."

            She tilted her head.  "What do you want?"

            The question caught me by surprise and I didn't answer right away.

            "I guess… I'd like to know you.  You seem like an interesting person."  I was sure I sounded stupid.  I was beginning to wish she'd just leave before I made a complete fool of myself.

            "Will you come to a party with me tonight" she asked suddenly.

            "What?" There's that tact again.

            "We're having a party in my quarters for Squall and Rinoa's anniversary.  Just a small group of us.  You want to come?"

            I grinned.  If I'd dreamed this it couldn't have been better.  Well, maybe if fewer clothes were involved.  "I'd love to."

            Quistis smiled.  "Come to my room at eight."  She started for the door.

            "But I don't know where…"

            She looked surprised.  "I'm sorry.  I guess I'm used to…" She shook her head.  "Anyway.  I'll come get you before the others arrive.  Is 7:30 ok?"

            "Sure."

            She turned to leave but stopped again with her hand on the doorknob.  She turned back towards me, crossing her arms and looking at me thoughtfully.

            "This can be so awkward.  But, um, I just want to be sure.  This is a date, right?"

            "I was hoping."

            She smiled again and I felt a little rush at the thought that I was the reason.  "Good," she said.  "I'll see you at 7:30."

            I think I surprised us both when I leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek.  She didn't mind, though, and said nothing as she left me to my thoughts.

*          *            *

            As her door closed behind me I touched my cheek.  It tingled where she had placed soft, full lips and I wondered what it would be like to feel them against my own.  I don't usually ask someone out so soon after I've met her.  It's gotten so difficult to know if someone is really interested in me or is just fascinated with the fame.  I sometimes envied Squall and Rinoa.  They didn't have to worry about it.  Even Irvine had grown tired of the girls who threw themselves at him and had become close to Selphie, though she was still resisting as serious relationship.  It was just easier for all of us to be with each other.

            When I got back to my room I took a quick shower and started cleaning for the party.  As fascinating as she was, I was starting to wish I hadn't invited Niloka; instead of looking forward to a relaxing evening with friends I was nervous.  She seemed sincere, but even if she was, any chance for a relationship would be complicated by all the gossip and attention.  It had already come between Zell and his girlfriend and a couple girls I'd dated in the past few years couldn't handle it, either.

            I'm not sure what it was about Niloka that made it seem worth all the risks.  Maybe it was because she wasn't giggly or star-struck like so many of the students who followed us around.  She was a little aloof, but friendly.

            I sighed.  Be honest with yourself, Quistis.  What I was really thinking about was looking into blue-gray eyes and feeling her fingers brush against my forehead.  Truthfully, I didn't know what to think about that.  It scared me a little, knowing this woman I'd just met obviously felt something more than a casual attraction to me.  But before I had stopped to think about it, her eyes had entranced me and I had grabbed her hand, not to stop her, but to stop myself from acting on the sudden flood of desire that coursed through my body.

            Niloka's subsequent embarrassment and clumsiness was endearing, really.  She must normally have so much control over herself, physically, she had to have been really flustered to lose it like that.  I think that's what made up my mind to give her a chance.

           

*          *            *

            It had taken me an hour to get dressed.  I don't usually worry about clothes.  Comfort and simplicity are my only concerns.  I guess when you grow up fighting to keep your lunch money you don't worry about fashion.  Skirts made me look weak, and that could get me hurt unless I wanted to rely on a boyfriend for protection.  Exchanging sex for safety wasn't something I was willing to do.

            After I tried on my entire wardrobe I settled for tailored black pants and a black button-down shirt with long sleeves.  The only jewelry I ever wear is a silver chain with my parents' wedding bands on it.  It'd been given to me by my aunt after the funeral and I hadn't taken it off since, except to have the chain lengthened.

            Soon after I was ready Quistis had arrived and we walked to her quarters.  I was now standing in the main room watching her greet her friends.  She was surprisingly warm, hugging each of them and smiling happily. She looked breathtaking in a long, sleeveless red dress.  Her hair was down and curled at the ends. I stood aside, sipping a glass of wine.  None of them had noticed me yet.

            After she had greeted all of them she motioned towards me.  "Zell, Irvine this is Niloka.  I – and everyone else – met her at lunch."

            They all looked shocked to see me.  It made me a little nervous, having all of them looking at me.  I smiled.  "Nice to meet you.  Commander, Miss Heartilly, I hear it's your anniversary.  Congratulations."

            Rinoa smiled and Squall wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

            "Thanks," Rinoa said.  "And we're all friends here. You don't have to be so formal."

            I smiled and relaxed a little, It was all a little intimidating.  Can you imagine having your first date at a party held by the greatest heroes the world had known?

            "Niloka is a martial arts specialist," Quistis said as she poured them all drinks.

            "Cool!" Zell nearly spilled his drink in his enthusiasm.  "Hey, we could spar sometime.  I just got the new Combat King and there's a bunch of stuff I can't wait to try out—"

            Quistis stood by me and took my hand in hers.  It almost seemed like a possessive gesture, but I didn't mind.  "Zell, calm down," she said, laughing.  "Niloka's here for a party.  You can talk business later."

            He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly.  "Sorry.  I get carried away sometimes."

            "It's ok.  I don't mind."

            He smiled and his attention was soon caught by something Selphie said.  He reminded me of a big puppy, so full of energy and eager to please.

            "Not exactly the fearless warrior of legend," I murmured.

            "We're all just people," she said a little sadly.

            "I'm sorry.  I guess it's just hard not to think that way sometimes."

            She nodded, then made some excuse about the food and left for the kitchen.  My hand suddenly felt cold and empty without hers.  Sometimes I am such a jerk.

What do you think so far? Please review and let me know.  I hope the switching between points of view wasn't confusing.  There will be more coming soon!