Before we begin...

Story type: 'What if' universe of FF8 world canon, complete tweak of FF8 story

Genre: Adventure/Humor/Romance

Pairings: Seifer x Selphie, Squall x Quistis

Warnings: blood, action, profanity, (as of now) no NSFW scenes

- About my stories:

Maybe it's best to say that I never create a perfect character. Everybody has flaws, and if a character has to suffer to make a believable flow, I am sure to make them suffer. Nobody escapes what needs to be done.

If you want a character that never suffers, perfect in attitude and appearance, never sweats, never have their clothes torn from fights or have his/her hair ruined or even a scrape after blowing up the world, my story isn't for you. To blow up a garbage bin, the characters in my story WILL suffer.

If there's any problem with wording and error in my old fics, please mention it, because I do revise everything every now and then. If some stories seem awkward on the first few chapters, please note the publish date, because it was most likely they were old. Later chapters of the same fics won't have this issue. Please tell me by PM or review, and I'll be sure to clean them up.

- Disclaimer and story explanation:

This story contains twists in the canon story. I don't own FF8, except three copies of the game, and I've played it repeatedly before I attempted to write this. Many things will change. Some of the canon events will remain the same. All I try to do is to fill all the loopholes and satisfy my own overactive imagination. Some of the readers will think that this story is insane, but so did the canon story in general. I'll cherish every comment and try to make this story as fun as possible. Thank you for reading in advance.


Three Minutes Too Fast

By Cerespallas

Chapter I: I lost my Choco bag!


The sound of gunblades clashing against each other had brought her into the scene.

It was two hours before her first morning class, so when she saw her object of affection made his way from his dorm toward the Garden gate she quietly followed.

No, I am not a stalker… Quistis Trepe sighed as she hid herself behind the tree, twenty meters from the action.

This was not the way an instructor supposed to behave, spying her two students fighting each other in what the students said, 'The gunblade match of the century'. Those who said so had never met another gunbladers than Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy. Balamb Garden was too small, and most of the occupants never stepped out from the Garden, other than visiting Balamb Town and Fire Cavern. A SeeD such as herself, however, had travelled the world to see and experience another culture and scene. She, herself, had endured so much before applying as an instructor in the happy, idyllic B-Garden.

Enough about me, Quistis chided herself. Those two are at it again…

Her eyes widened when Squall fell, his hand holding his forehead, blood dripping down from his face. She debated over herself whether to stop their imprudence or simply stayed in her hiding. Squall glanced up and glared at Seifer. Quistis held her ground, sighing in relief.

He's not hurting his eyes.

The last thing she wanted was for her crush to become half-blind, it would destroy his future. Quistis bit her lip, intently watching the rest of the fight. After Squall had taken his vengeance on Seifer and scarred his forehead as well, the boys glared at each other until both collapsed to the ground of Rinauld plains, at the same time. Shaking her head at their perseverance, Quistis emerged from her hiding place and walked towards her fainted students. She gazed down to the pool of blood, two gunblades and the two offenders of the almost-horror scene.

This is stupid. They are stupid. Agh, they are young and stupid.

Quistis crouched down and cast Cure, simple and basic Cure, to Seifer and Squall. She didn't want them to wake up good and refreshed, only to go at it again the next day. After she was sure their wounds were not severe, Quistis reached down to her belt, taking out her PCS and calling someone that she knew would treat them.

"Dr. K? This is Quistis. Can you send two cadets to Rinauld Plains? I found Squall and Seifer here. No, they are okay. Oh, and can you do me a favour?"

Quistis looked down, watching the fresh, raw scars on Squall and Seifer's foreheads.

"When they arrive, don't give them anything to close the scar on their face. Yeah, they scarred each other. No, no, it's time for them to learn. Maybe this time, a permanent reminder will tell them how alike they really are."

-x-

-x-

-This is the last stop. Balamb. I repeat: this is the last stop, Balamb.-

Selphie Tilmitt jolted up from her train seat, her eyes wide. She snapped her head and looked around, noticing there was no one else in the train except her. Then she saw the door closing on her.

Shrieking, Selphie ran to the automatic doors. In the last seconds, she slid out of the train and fell onto the station floor.

"Ooouwwie…" Selphie groaned before bringing herself up. She shouldn't be sleeping on the train. Just because she'd had a late farewell party with her friends, three hours before she got into the train, Selphie'd fallen asleep during her journey.

My first trip away from Trabia and I wasn't even enjoying the scene!

Selphie sighed, reaching her hand up. She couldn't feel the slack belt on her shoulder. Selphie's eyes grew wide as she turned around. Bit by bit, the train had crawled away, leaving the Balamb Station.

-Along with her Chocobo backpack inside.

"No!" She squealed and ran, trying to stop the train that had kidnapped her bag. "Stop! My Choco bag!"

But the laws of physic were against her. One, the train was huge. She was not. Two, an unHynely amount of Fira stone fuelled the train. She only had two cups of coffee before falling asleep. Therefore, it was only natural that the Intercontinental Train ran faster than the small brunette did, leaving its parting horn to mock the Trabian cadet that once again, falling onto the cold hard floor of Balamb Station, before it disappeared completely from her range of sight.

No, my backpack… all my treasure… my money… mom's pictures… my friend's farewell letter…

Selphie felt her eyes begin to water and she curled up in her spot, ready to cry out and wail. All her belongings were gone, and she only had her cadet's uniform that she wore, her ID card and 50 Gil that Mia Tilmitt slipped into her daughter's skirt pocket, when she had reminded her-once again-to always keep a small change in her pocket, for emergency situation.

Well, that only showed her that her mother was smart and she was not. How could it be-the gentle and kind headmistress of T-Garden had a slob and forgetful daughter like her? It was a miracle of a gene. Or maybe a defective one.

Just before she began to let out her famous wailing cry, a small hand tapped her shoulder. Selphie looked up, into a coffee-coloured eye behind green turtle-framed glasses.

"Are you okay?" The raven-haired teen smiled to her. "Did you leave your bag inside the train?"

Selphie bit her lip, nodding. She looked around her and noticed that the Balamb Station was empty. There were only five people in the station: a stationmaster, a ticket seller, a rich-looking woman and them.

The raven-haired girl was wearing glasses and pulling her hair back into a simple ponytail. She wore a blue T-shirt and blue jeans. A blue medium backpack adored her back, no doubt for housing her belongings. She helped Selphie stand up, sighing. "I'm sorry I didn't wake you. I'm sitting across your seat the entire time, but I can't help waking you; you look so tired. If I did, you won't lose your bag. I'm really sorry."

Selphie smiled dejectedly and shook her head. "It's not your fault! I'm the one to blame, leaving my belongings seated next to mine like that. It's really stupid, not to mention I was sleeping the whole time!"

"Well, it's not going to come back. Your bag, I mean. The train only comes here once a day and before that, there is no way someone's not going to grab your bag before the janitor notices."

Oh well...

"Are you a Garden cadet?" The glasses girl continued, "I'm going to the B-Garden. Do you want to go together?"

"I'm from Trabia, new transfer! You're a cadet too?"

"No, I'm going there to meet my boyfriend. Kind of miss him." The glasses girl grinned. "The rules of the Garden are all the same, right? Is it okay for a guest to visit without notation?"

"Yeah, it's cool. He just has to pick you up at the gate and accompany you through the facility! Oh, by the way…" Selphie held out her hand and said, "Name's Selphie Tilmitt!"

The glasses girl shook her hand. "Nice to meet you, Selphie. My name is—" she hesitated before saying, "Heartily Caraway. Call me Tilly."

"Tilly." Selphie tilted her head. "I want to go with you, but I have no weapon. If we go through the road without one, we're going to be busted by monsters in no time!"

Tilly frowned at this. She tapped her pocket. "Well, I only have some Gil. We can't rent a car with only 500 Gil…"

Selphie motioned her new friends to get out from Station together. "Let's see… maybe if we run along, there's a fewer monster going after us…"

Tilly walked along the Station Gate, down the stairs. "I have a weapon, I use projectile weapons. Maybe we can reach Garden without too many fights…" She stopped and turned around, noticing how the rich-looking woman shook her head and groaned at them when they passed. "Can I help you, Ma'am?"

The woman looked at Tilly, her face showed her boredom. "There are only two of you from today's morning train? Great, I'm bored to death here. Listen, want to play some cards?"

The two teens stared at the woman bemusedly, before Tilly shook her head. "No, I'm not a good one. Sorry, Ma'am, but we have to…"

"If you win, I'll get out of here," said the rich woman.

Yeah, and that was going to help them-how?

"Uh... That is not a very interesting bet, Ma'am..." informed Selphie. Not that she was about to sacrifice her only 50 Gil for a Card game anyway.

"Well, how about this; I overheard your conversation. If you win, I'll buy you your choice of weapon."

The two teens looked at the woman with wide eyes. Was she serious? Did she know how much a weapon cost?

The woman crossed her arms. "How about it?"

"No way!" exclaimed Selphie began to bounce. "Nunchaku is so expensive! And… and I don't have money to bet!"

The woman waved her hand. "I don't need money. I'm the Queen of Cards, my dad owns the Card Company. Why would I rob two skinny kids? If you lost, you will pay me with labour work. You're a Garden cadet, right? If you happen to meet me in your journey as a SeeD, you WILL be my courier. That equals a basic Nunchaku."

Tilly gasped. This woman was the Queen of Cards? Her dad lost a lot of his Cards to her!

Selphie thought about it. The bet was crazy, but she wouldn't be allowed to go into her SeeD exam without a weapon. She nodded her head. "Okay! What's the rule?" Her companion sighed and drew her card out from her backpack.

-x-

-x-

"Squall… so we meet again…"

Squall tilted his head up from the infirmary pillow. From the window near the head of his bed, a woman smiled to him. She wore a blue shirt and white skirt, her arms covered with a shawl. She stayed there for a minute watching him before walking away.

Puzzled, Squall kept lying on his bed and stared at the window before his homeroom instructor, Quistis Trepe, arrived.

Quistis crossed her arms and studied her student. He's not learning any lesson, isn't he? "I knew it'd either be you or Seifer! Come on, let's go. Today's the field exam."

-x-

-x-

Selphie held the last of Tilly's card. The card owner peered from Selphie's shoulder, trying to see if her companion was going to win. With a sad huff and her head low, Selphie dropped her last card.

"Sorry, Tilly… She's good," whispered Selphie, ashamed of losing Tilly's card.

The Queen of Card smirked and chose Mesmerize and Buel card. "Well, it's not like you lost a good Card either. These are very basic! I'm impressed you don't lose all of your Cards to my level 6." She stood up, collecting her cards. "Now, ready for your first assignment?"

The two teens glanced up to their new boss with mixed feelings. Selphie stood up. "Okay, so, what is it?"

The woman narrowed her eyes to them. "There was this big, dumb man. He was supposed to take up my luggage from the port to my hotel room. He hasn't come back; it's four hours already! Go and help him, and get me two sets of shoes that I ordered from the shop across the port. Go!"

Selphie and Tilly headed toward the port. The town was pretty and peaceful. The girls passed a drunk-looking man who perched against the chair outside the station, half-dead to the world. The port was right beside the Balamb hotel. In the corner was a high pile of stacks of boxes, filled with fishes and fruits. Crows hung out on the floor of the sturdy-looking wooden planks.

"Is that him?" Tilly pointed to the big, dark skinned man with a white tank top and baggy black pants. He dragged up a massive, damp travel bag from the water, his body soaking wet.

"Hey!" Selphie called the man, who turned to them. He looked sheepish. "Is that Card Queen's luggage?"

"Eh… dropped it, ya know." The man grinned. "Supposed to take it from the ship safely, but I dropped it in the water, ya know..."

Tilly looked at the bag. "So you jumped into the water?"

"More like diving, ya know. Can't see anything under water, so dark, gotta hold on to the blocks to trace it, ya know." The man shook his head. "Fujin's gonna kicked me again, ya know, I lost all her Card. You two lost to her, too?"

-x-

-x-

Ahh… what a happy day! Yeah! If I get my hot dogs and score the field exam, today's gonna be the best day of my life!

With that thought, Zell Dincht skipped from his dorm to the hall. He woke up earlier this morning, just so he wouldn't miss the batch of fresh hot dogs coming today. How the other cadets managed to get it before him always baffled him.

What is it with people and them trying to take my hot dogs away from me?

In the hall, Zell turned his head to the left and right, looking to make sure a certain blonde with a gunblade and nasty-looking grey trench coat wasn't in his usual spot. The tall blond wasn't there-neither was his posse.

Good, he's not here.

"Zell!"

Zell turned around; three girls headed toward him. Two of the girls dragged a pigtail girl with books in her hands.

"Zell," one of the girls started, "you want to borrow 'Goodbye Pupurun', right?"

"What? Oh, yeah!" These girls were those librarians. He had been asking for the series so many times, yet he'd never bothered to remember their faces. "Well… where is it?"

The other girl smirked and winked at her pigtail friend. "You see Zell; this one knows where it is. But she got sooo many books to arrange she lost it in the list!"

"Yes!" exclaimed another girl. "We had to go to Balamb, for potions and stuff for today's Field Exam; we can't help her sorting those books. So, Zell." She turned her head to the oblivious tattoo boy. "If you help her, we'll let you keep 'Goodbye Pupurun' for two months! And her, if you want…"

Zell only heard the first part while the pigtail girl blushed furiously. "Really? Woohoo!" He jumped and punched his fist in the air. "Sure! Let's began now!" He stopped and thought aloud, "This won't take long, right? 'Coz I got a hot dog to eat and all…"

"No, not at all. Only a few minutes…" Zell failed to see the girls crossing their fingers on their backs. "So, you better start now, right? See ya!" The two girls left their friends with the boy. When Zell began to pace onto the library, they gave their pigtail friends four thumbs up.

-x-

-x-

"Here it is!"

Selphie showed two boxes of shoes in her hands to the Queen, who motioned them to follow her. She stopped in front of Balamb Hotel and held out her hands. Selphie and Tilly gave the boxes to her.

"Is there anything else?" Selphie couldn't wait to dash to B-Garden. If she ran, she might make it to her first homeroom.

"Good, my servants. Now, little cadet, your weapon is waiting for you in the junk shop. Just tell them I sent you. You, little glasses girl, are going with me. I need me a helper."

Selphie gasped. "What? But I lost!"

"Yes, but if you don't have a weapon you won't make it to SeeD, little cadet, and I won't have a courier." The woman dropped the boxes to Tilly's open arms. "Let's go, little glasses girl. Put it in my room." She walked inside the Balamb hotel, not waiting for their reaction.

Selphie grinned to Tilly. "Sorry, Tilly! If only I win, you won't be doing this…"

"It's okay." Tilly stuck out her tongue. "I'm not in actual hurry, and I like shopping! Plus my boyfriend has no idea I'm here." Tilly said, "Maybe it's better for you to go to B-Garden first. A transfer has to set her schedule, right?"

"Yes, and actually, I have a homeroom right about now…"

"Well, you have to go then! Hurry! I'll catch up with you!"

"I have SeeD Exam this afternoon; maybe we'll meet again tonight?"

"Sure! See you later!"

"Okay! Oh, and Tilly, please say thank you to the Queen from me!"

-x-

-x-

Seifer narrowed his eyes to the big lump of Raijin, who was wailing in front of Trepe's classroom. He stepped out from his homeroom and stood next to Fujin. "What's this?"

Fujin's eyes were glaring at her curling brother on the floor, as if kicking him and stomping on his back was not enough. "STUPID."

"Sorry, Fujin! Ya know, it's not on purpose!" wailed Raijin, still in his pitiful position. He knew if he got up now he'd get another kick. "She's really good, ya know!"

Seifer noticed that Raijin was wet. He smelled like fish. He sweated, which made him smell incredibly awful. Seifer shook his head, thinking I don't want to know…

Fujin glanced at Seifer's scarred forehead. "HURTS?"

A smirk tugged Seifer's lips. "Nah, not really. Thanks for waking me before Trepe arrived, Fuu." He touched his scar. Now he had a memento of his rival. Just great… He scowled. Seifer glanced into the glass door. His dear instructor was talking to Squall. She always acted so kind around his rival. Yet she snapped her every word to him.

Figures… she needs to know a stuck-up person to be one… "Come on, guys. We got a 'Chicken' to fry."

-x-

-x-

Selphie ran. She hopped on the gate's railing, ignoring the warning shout of the gatekeeper. Her new Nunchaku strapped on her back. With one last took of breath she flew right into the elevator and almost crashed her body against the wall. Pressing the close button, she tried to keep her breath steady.

"I'm late, I'm late, I'm LATE!"

When the elevator opened on the second floor, Selphie sprinted to the classroom, which location she'd memorized from the B-Garden map she got back in Trabia...Only to crash against a male student. They both took the impact; she fell backward while he managed to stop himself from falling down.

"Waaah!" she cried. Yeowch…. Numb… my luck is running out today…

"Are you ok?"

She glanced up, to the teen she bumped into. He's handsome, with a lean frame, brown silky hair and long bangs covering his blue eyes. Selphie caught a glimpse of scar on his forehead.

Maybe my luck's getting better… She jumped, grinning and tilting her head. Okay, let's see… how about asking him to show me around? How do I do that? Oh, I know! Ask him if the homeroom's over! Yay, I'm so smart!

-x-

-x-

"What do you mean, there's no 'Goodbye Pupurun'?" Zell tried to keep his voice down. I'm wasting two hours of my morning helping her, and now no 'Goodbye Pupurun'!

The pigtail girl swallowed and looked down to the floor. What was that her friends taught her to say again? Oh, yeah. "Apparently a Book Club member took it and he hasn't returned it yet... I have no idea, since the list was messy…"

Zell scowled and looked at the wall clock. The hot dogs! My precious hot dogs! "If you get it, make sure I get it first, okay!" He turned and ran, leaving the library in a mad dash.

The pigtail girl bowed her head low, cursing. Once again, she had no chance even to pull out her ticket for 'Free Hot Dog day on Balamb Café'. This was going nowhere.

-x-

-x-

Quistis stood still in her practiced position, waiting for him. Squall would be there any minute, ready to go to the Fire Cavern with her. She was actually glad he had that stupid duel this morning. He had to have this date with her.

Okay, fighting Ifrit and sweating like a boiled Chocobo inside the Fire Cavern might not be a good first date… she thought, oh, who am I kidding? It's not a date; it's a damn GF test!

Quistis turned her head when the sound of car tires screeching to a stop. It was a rented blue car with chauffeur from Balamb. The boy who rented the car moved out of the passenger seat after giving the chauffeur a tip. He was wearing a Galbadian cadet uniform. A simple, black military backpack straddled his back. The Galbadian cadet stopped when he noticed her.

"Trey," he greeted, accessorising his face with a sweet smile.

Quistis blinked. "…Nida?"

Nida tilted his head, replying with a happy tone, "Yeah?"

"What are you doing here?"

"I'm taking the SeeD exam."

"What?"

"A SeeD exam, Trey… You know, to be a SeeD you have to-"

"Nida, I know what SeeD exam is. I mean, why not in Galbadia?"

"Why not in here?"

Quistis narrowed her eyes to her ex-boyfriend, who pouted and answered, "Well, Martine get on my nerves. He said I don't have to be a SeeD to make money. If I stay and be like Kino, I won't run away from him like you."

Quistis massaged her temple. The headmaster still thought that she left because she refused to work for him again. It was only half-true. "Nida, my name here is Trepe. No one knows me as Trey, and I certainly don't want anyone to know."

"Okay. Trepe. I heard you're working as an instructor here. Good life?"

Quistis smirked. "It's… pretty okay."

"The money sucks."

She laughed. How she missed him. "Yeah. Back then, there's nobody who made more than we did. But I can still eat cheese and drink cheap wine from my measly pay now."

Nida grinned and crossed his arms. "Don't you miss being active once in a while? When I pass this SeeD test, I'm going to be a mechanic. I think I'm going to miss those days, when only the three of us running around…"

Quistis nodded, continuing for him, "…Being stupid and acting like we haven't finished the mission to get more days of drinking and smoking…" She missed it, as bad as she missed her two partners. "I haven't smoked after transferring here. Being instructor means I have to follow the rules."

"Sounds boring," Nida said, "…yet you choose this kind of life than to be with me."

The two of them exchanged grim smiles. There was a bigger, more important reason why Quistis left, and it had nothing to do with Nida. The truth was, she had begged for him to go with her.

"…But back then I was still a cadet." Nida rubbed his neck. "A dependent cadet. I couldn't do anything but to watch my girl left. Maybe it's for the best."

"…Maybe."

"Hey Trey… sorry, Trepe… If I score the Field Exam today, do you want to hang out in Balamb? I'll fill you on Kino."

"About his constant failure wooing any living creature that walks on two legs? Sure, why not?" Quistis wondered how Kino was. "Just make sure you got out from the exam alive. No one really remembers you, so they may not realize they have you on their team."

Nida snickered at their old joke. "Hey, that's my job. No one should remember me." He waved to Quistis as he made his way to the gate.

-x-

-x-

Tilly looked out from her seat in the rented car. After she helped the Queen with her shopping bags (lots and lots of it), the queen insisted her to go to the salon with her and had her hair dyed blonde.

You're plain, little glasses girl; she said… Tilly thought with a roll of her eyes. Huff, I'm PLAIN? Come on. Well, thank Hyne it's not all blonde... She absent-mindedly stroked the blond highlights on the sides of her head, separating her black hair.

There was a reason why she had to look so humble. It was hard for a general's daughter to go under the radar with her usual clothes. She managed to get a train from Timber to Balamb last night and sat quietly across the sleeping Trabian cadet.

What's her name again? Selvi? Telphie? Silvie? Oh well… it's not as if she's going to recognize me later...

The Queen of Card had given her three thousand Gil to rent a car. Tilly thanked her profusely, since she was not that capable of fighting monsters. The woman dismissed her and headed back to the hotel without even looking back.

From the edge of her glasses, Tilly spotted a male in black leather jacket and a woman, in a peach-coloured suit, running toward a big cave near the beach. They disappeared from her range of sight a minute later.

SeeD… If Seifer was right, I need them to help me… she thought.

The car arrived at the Garden five minutes later. Tilly gave a tip for the chauffeur before getting out of the car, taking her first look of Balamb Garden. Her grip on her backpack tightened. She didn't lie; she only had five hundred Gil for her journey. Ten thousand Gil sewn inside the safety pocket in her backpack belonged to her, Zone and Watts. The money wasn't for her.

She glanced down at her growling stomach. She hoped Seifer wanted to treat her.

-x-

-x-

Seifer smirked at Zell who scowled and muttered under his breath. The tattooed boy turned away from him, his head low. Not only did Dincht fail to get his hot dogs, he also score his usual detention of speeding, courtesy of the Disciplinary Committee.

-Seifer Almasy, please come to the gate. I repeat, Seifer Almasy to the gate.-

Seifer looked up as if he could see the man behind the PA. "…The hell?" he muttered under his breath. His shift just begun, and the Exam was still 3 hours to go. What did anyone want with him at the gate?

He turned to his posse. "Okay, I'm going. This might take some time, so you guys go first. Take care of 'The List'. Oh, and save Chicken-wuss for me." Raijin and Fujin nodded.

Seifer manoeuvred from his standing spot in the hall to the gate. Let's see who wants me at the gate now. Maybe instructor and her kitty are back. Nah, Kitty just leaves for a few minutes. Has Trepe notice the culprit behind her famous photo on the Garden website? …Nah, it takes weeks or a Chicken-wuss to trace that.

Don't tell me Kitty just has a chance to look at the mirror now and whine about the scar. Maybe the instructor forgets her cat food. After all, hungry kitty does scratch.

Seifer chuckled at his own imagination as he entered the gate area. The area was almost empty; there were only an old sleepy gatekeeper and one girl around. She wore a dull-looking glasses and blue coloured clothes.

Wait a minute—

Seifer's eyes widened. He recognized the girl. She squealed and ran to hug him. Seifer only had a chance to open his arms and think of one thought as Rinoa Heartily Caraway ran into his embrace.

Why now?


To Be Continued…