Any characters used in this story belong to the Squaresoft corporation, and not to me.


Neither of them ever told anyone that they met in the same dismal bar every Thursday night. It had started out as a chance occurance, which after time had become more deliberate, and now to tell anyone else would only complicate matters, so they kept these accidentally-secret meetings to themselves.

The bar itself at probably once been a reasonable place to venture to on a weekday evening at some point, but now it was fairly drab. Old stained wood, with an equally old jukebox that churned out the same scratchy old records every night. The bar owner seemed immune to it by now, as did the regulars. It was rather like being in some strange time-warp, where the music was the same, and where the strangely sour smell of old beer and sweat always remained, utterly unchanged by any cleaning that occurred.

The bar-tender had been cleaning the same glass for an hour now, idly watching some sports game which was on mute above the bar. Seifer watched it too, not commenting on the score or the players, as the other regulars were. The game as such didn't interest him, but it gave him something to do when she wasn't speaking, which was most of the time.

The blonde perched next to him on the rickety bar stool had been sipping on her whiskey for the best part of half an hour. Quistis wasn't the sort of woman who would just down her double. She took her time, getting elegantly wasted, but then again, she did everything with elegance. If she'd fallen off her bar stool, it would probably have been with elegance even then.

Seifer took a long glug of his beer, wiping off the froth from his top lip. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her looking at him with a slightly amused smile. Froth on the lip always seemed to entertain her. He didn't meet her eye, but his lips curved into a similarly wry smile.

It was strange that no one ever asked them where they were going on Thursday nights, but that was partly because everyone else was so wrapped up in their own relationships and lives that they barely noticed anything the single ones did anymore. Rinoa and Squall, Selphie and Irvine, Zell and his mysteriously nameless girlfriend who worked in the library and Raijin and Fuijin. It made for awkward company.

Three years ago, Quistis had gotten bored one night and ended up in this grim little bar in Deling City with just her book for company. Unbeknownst to her, Seifer had also ended up in the same grim little bar, sans book.

It had been unpleasant at first. Then just awkward. Then comfortably awkward. Then it had become habit. Someone to sit next to when there was no one else to sit next to.

After the war, things had changed a great deal. Squall became headmaster of Balamb Garden and shortly after settled down with Rinoa, although they weren't married. Rinoa felt they were still too young at twenty-three. Irvine had taken an apartment in Esthar, where he lived with Selphie. Zell was living in Balamb Garden where he had become an instructor in defence.

Quistis had debated staying in Balamb, but once the war had ended there was basically no more need for her there. There were no more adventures, no more sorceresses to destroy, no more people to protect. So she'd left for Deling City. She kept in touch with her old friends very regularly, but never let on to who she met up with once a week in this dingy place, for reasons she couldn't quite put her finger on.

Seifer had simply wanted to fade into obscurity after the war, and he had done just that. No one recognised him in the streets anymore. He was just another man, and that was how he liked it. He occasionally worked in a garage, tinkering with cars and the like, and that paid the rent.

Stumbling across eachother had been a blessing. Seifer never said it, and neither did she, but he secretly looked forward to these clandestine meetings. He liked the quietness of it. Deling City was a noisy, busy place. This dismal bar, the mute sports on the tv, the elegant blonde who drank with him and spoke little. He enjoyed it.

It was raining outside tonight, and the patter of water on the windows was relaxing. Quistis turned her grey eyes towards Seifer, who had turned back to the game, mouth hanging open slightly. He looked so gormless at that moment that she laughed, and he jumped and looked at her sharply.

Time hadn't changed him. He was still a beautiful, imposing man. But older, and sadder, not nearly as impulsive as the Seifer of yesteryear. Occasionally he'd lose his temper with someone over a game of pool or a knocked drink, but overall he'd mellowed.

So had she. She'd lost her urge for adventures and fights and wars and soldiers. Now she was just another attractive blonde in a bar. It felt strange, but it felt free.

Quistis knew how tonight was going to end up. Several too many whiskeys, a long golden look, tongues, stumbling home in the dark, his or hers - it didn't matter, long limbs wrapped around eachother, heat and sweat, little words, a room dark as cola, primal movements. She could feel a flutter of lust in her stomach already. Seifer was still gawping at the tv and gulping down his beer, but he was still incredible to look at. He made her feel her age, instead of the old warrior that she essentially was.

"What?" said Seifer, noticing her looking at him.

"Nothing," she smiled. "You're just looking... nice. That's all."

He didn't say anything, and went back to his drink. It was hard to know how to act around Quistis. She was usually so uptight, and so proper, that when she came out with anything that made her sound like a normal twenty-three year old, it made him nervous. Which was strange, seeing as he had enough courage when they'd both had too much to drink.

They never talked about it. It just happened. Almost every Thursday night for the last six months. Someone would move in too close, someone would tilt their head that way, and then before they knew it they were in bed together. And one was always out the next day before the other woke up. It was a very weird occurance.

After years of being primed to be soldiers, and then being soldiers, they needed some companionship, even if it was just one unspoken night a week.

"Hey, barkeep, another beer and a whiskey for the lady."

The bar-tender flung Seifer a resentful glance, and brought the drinks over. Seifer dumped a couple of Gil in his hand, stole a bit of the whiskey, and handed it to Quistis. She laughed, pretending to be offended.

"Hey," protested Seifer. "I bought it, I deserve some."

Quistis laughed again. "You have your own beer, jerk."

"Oh, jerk is it? Well, you can buy the next round then."

He was definitely tipsy now, and his eyelids drooped lazily over his green eyes. Quistis was no better, and hiccupped. Seifer's laugh came out as a huge snort, and set her off laughing again. She leaned in and rested her head on his shoulder, still smiling drunkenly. Seifer felt his face heating up.

The ice queen was melting, same time she usually did at this time of the week.

"Drink up, kitten," he said. "Let's go."

He pushed a long strand of hair out of her eyes. The moment was dizzy and heavy with anticipation. This would never get old.

She downed the rest of her drink ("Wow, she must be drunk"), got off the stool unsteadily and looked at Seifer pointedly.

"Well? Come on then."

He pulled his old grey trenchcoat on, turned the collar up against the rain and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. He was a full head taller than her easily, and she fit well into the crook of his arm. Swaying through the streets together, they didn't speak, but looked around, hoping that no one would recognise them but without being able to truly pinpoint why.

Once indoors, they were on eachother like animals - biting and clawing. Red gasps in the dark. Bodies hard from years of fighting, meshing together, any awkwardness or spite or dislike forgotten for these few brief hours a week. Any disappointments in their lives discarded for a breathless night together. They had never expected this, all through the times they had known eachother at Garden. And now that it was happening it was as if it had been this way for a long time.

Once it was over, they lay there together, tangled in the sheets, regulating their breathing again, not saying a word, but glowing. Blonde on blond. Gold on snow. Seifer, with great effort, moved himself so he could look at her, tousled and sleepy and so far away from the Instructor Trepe that he'd grown so used to over the years. Something beautiful and strong, but right now so ludicrously fragile that he swept her up into his arms and fell asleep with her there.

In her sleep, she smiled.

But it wasn't to last. In those last moments before conscienceness was lost, they both knew it.