Disclaimer: Squaresoft owns everything but Niloka.
AN: Yes, Haruka, Niloka was inspired in part by THE Haruka, though I try to make her my own character. Hope you like her.
The others were talking and laughing. They occasionally made an effort to bring me into the conversation and I probably would have been enjoying their company if I hadn't been thinking about Quistis and feeling a little guilty.
A while later Quistis hadn't returned, so I excused myself and went into the kitchen. She was standing with her back to me, leaning forward against the counter.
She turned quickly, but her guarded expression didn't betray her startled reaction. She crossed her arms over her stomach and smiled politely.
"I'm sorry. I'm not a very good date, leaving you to a bunch of strangers."
I crossed the distance between us and leaned against the counter beside her. "Don't worry about me. Your friends are very nice. I owe you an apology, though."
She shook her head, but said nothing. I wanted her to understand my admiration and awe of what they had accomplished. That I didn't have them – her – on a pedestal and wasn't here to bask in her reflected glory. I knew that must be what she was worried about.
"Four years ago – I was thirteen – my uncle lost his job. They never had much money to begin with and things got pretty desperate. I felt guilty about being a burden. I tried to get a job, but I was too young and had a reputation for being a troublemaker. I did some things I'm not proud of to help pay for stuff. About a year later we started hearing rumors of the SeeDs who were fighting a sorceress. I wished I could be part of something like that, something more than daily survival.
"When it was all over, the rumors became stories and the SeeDs – you – became heroes. Eventually my aunt and uncle discovered what I'd been doing and demanded that I stop. They arranged a marriage."
I took a breath. I'd never told anyone this much about where I came from. It was still hard to think about.
"I ran away. Even when struggling to survive I trained myself, hoping I would be admitted to the Garden. Everywhere I went I heard stories about you and they kept me going when I thought there was no hope. And I made it. I'm here. So I hope you'll forgive me if sometimes when I look at one of you I still think of the heroes in the stories."
She turned to face me and took my hands in hers. "Thanks for telling me."
I looked into those bright blue eyes and for a moment it was like we understood each other perfectly. I leaned forward and bent my head down to kiss her softly, tasting the wine on her lips. The kiss was sweet and over much too quickly, but I didn't want to go too fast.
"Come on," I said. "Let's go enjoy your party." Her smile made me want to spend the rest of my life making her happy.
The rest of the night went well. Despite all their different personalities they were a lot of fun, and I could tell they had remained friends because they truly cared about each other, not just because of a shared past. Later we all sat down and took turns playing Triple Triad, betting silly things like you would in Truth or Dare. Quistis let me borrow some cards, since I'd never really cared for the game. They treated me like I was one of them and answered shocking questions that they'd never want to go out of that room. For some reason they trusted me. To a point, at least. After a while the alcohol really got to their heads and it started getting a little kinky. Basically innocent stuff between friends, but I think they were holding back a little because I was there. Not that I blamed them. And I can't say I wasn't glad. Hearing one of your biggest heroes tell how he'd discovered his bisexuality during a drunken encounter and another tell how many orgasms her boyfriend had given her the night before was more than enough for one evening. But they'd made me feel comfortable and I even found myself telling all these strangers about my one rather humorous attempt at sex with a guy.
At the end of the night Selphie brought out her camera for a picture of the group. I offered to take the picture, figuring they wouldn't want me in the picture, but it had a timer on it and everyone insisted I should be in the picture. We all piled onto the couch. I was at the end with Questis squished up so close to me she was almost on my lap. I felt silly with my arms pressed in front of me so I put one around Quistis' shoulders. The entire length of our bodies were pressed against each other. Almost unconsciously, I twirled a lock of her hair in my fingers. Selphie set the timer and ran over to the couch, plopping herself in Irvine's lap with her legs draped over Zell's. From the look on all their faces I wondered if she wasn't with either because she was afraid of hurting the other. A few seconds later the camera flashed and everyone jumped up from the couch and started getting ready to leave.
"Don't leave till everyone's gone," Quistis whispered to me before getting up from the couch and saying all her good byes.
When they left I started gathering half-empty glasses. "Let me help you clean up." I wish I could say the offer was selfless but I wanted to hold off leaving as long as I could.
"You don't have to do that."
"I don't mind."
We took everything to the kitchen and I washed the dishes as she put away the leftovers. She wasted nothing and I suspected that none of the leftover food would go uneaten. When she was done she stood beside me, drying the dishes.
"I hope you ad a good time." From anyone else such formal speech would sound stiffly polite, but she spoke with a warmth that made me believe she really cared.
"I did." I'm sure my eloquence was overwhelming.
She stopped what she was doing and looked at me. "I'm sorry about earlier."
I guess I wasn't the only one who'd been thinking about that all evening. I shook my head. "You didn't do anything wrong."
She put her hand on my arm. "No, I wasn't thinking. I got so angry at people who saw us just as heroes. I never stopped to think about why. It's a little scary to think what I did means so much to people I don't even know."
"Then don't think about me like that."
"What do you mean?"
"I promise to try not to think about you as the Quistis Trepe I've heard so much about if you try not to think of me as someone who's idolized you for the past few years. We're just too ordinary people. I mean if you want to see me again."
She grinned, something I'd never seen her do before. Her eyes sparkled, unguarded and open as I gazed into them.
We came together in a kiss that started softly but soon grew passionate. I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her against me, feeling the hardness of her muscular back and abs and the softness of her breasts. I moaned as Quistis' tongue pushed into my mouth, her body rubbing against mine. I couldn't believe how quickly this normally cool and collected woman became transformed with passion. I tangled my fingers in her hair, holding the back of her head as our tongues vied for control. All earlier thoughts of taking things slowly vanished when her hands slid down my back and ass, her insistent touch grinding my hips against hers as her knee pushed between my legs. Just the knowledge that she wanted me was enough to send tremors of lust through me.
We both jumped at a loud knock on the front door. Quistis blushed and ran her hands through her hair. I don't think either of us had intended to get so carried away. I followed her to the other room and waited as she let in a distraught looking Selphie.
"I'm sorry, Quistis. I just needed to talk." She looked at me and turned back to Quistis. "I can come back later."
Quistis put her arm around the smaller girl's shoulders and guided her in further. "Don't be ridiculous. Just wait for me in my room. I'll be right there."
As Selphie disappeared into the bedroom I headed for the door.
"I'm sorry," Quistis started.
"Don't worry about it."
"I don't have much free time but I wondered if you'd join me in the Training Center tomorrow? I know it's not very romantic, but I'd love to see you in action."
I laughed. That I could do. "I'd like that."
"Great. Meet me at 1400."
"Sure thing." I kissed her lightly. "Night, Quistis. I hope Selphie's ok."
Note: Sorry this is short. This story is taking a while and I wanted to post something. Quistis' point of view of the date and Selphie's problem will be the next chapter.