"It's your turn." Seifer looked across the table, waiting for Quistis to play her hand. She was acting different tonight. Distracted.
"Hey. Your turn."
"Hmm? Oh." She placed a card on the table. It fell just outside of the marked lines on the mat. She didn't notice. If he had thrown a card down like that, she would have already spun it back into position. The corners on the mat were there for a reason. Quistis hated imprecision.
"What the fuck's wrong with you?"
"I thought you liked this game. So you could show off your fucking superior mind." Teasing. Always teasing.
"Hmm." She watched her ice cubes swirl and dance in the cracked tumbler. They were the dark amber of the surrounding whiskey until they touched the sides of the clear glass. Pressed against the shiny curves, their facets turned to the simple color of frozen water. She tried explaining the color of water to him one day. He said she was being ridiculous; water didn't have a color. It was clear. She couldn't make him understand that water was never clear. Of course water had a color. It was just hard to see sometimes.
"Goddamnit, will you listen to me?" Angry now. No longer teasing.
"What is it, Seifer?" He never could stand it when she ignored him.
"Shit. Never mind."
"No, I'm listening. What is it?"
"Does it matter?"
"Yes. It does."
"That's the perfect teacher answer. 'Yes. It does.' Bullshit. Forget it. I'm getting another beer."
He stepped into the kitchen, kicking chairs out of the way. He never turned on the overhead light, always choosing to enter the tiny kitchen in darkness. The bulb in the refrigerator blinked once, twice, then managed to give him enough illumination to grab a cool bottle. His piece-of-shit fridge didn't have enough power to chill his beer properly. It was never cold enough.
She watched the sickly light turn his t-shirt from white to a spectral greenish gray. Just use the damn light switch, Seifer. That refrigerator bulb makes you look like a ghost. I'll have to break that bulb one day, so you'll be forced to flip the fucking switch. That weird light terrifies me.
He popped the top of his bottle and threw the cap on the table. Her upper lip quivered the tiniest fraction when it bounced closer to her cards. She hated the smell of beer. He knew she despised it, but she would never tell him. So, he continued to drink it when she met him for their card games. He would drink his beer, spill it everywhere, and force her to either puke or admit that she hated it. She had to break sometime.
"What do you want me to say? Should I fall on my knees? 'Oh marvelous Seifer, guiding star of the universe, what is your divine will? Tell me, so that I may bow down and humble myself before you.' Is that better?"
"God, you can be such a cunt."
"Don't use that word."
"Truth hits close to home, huh?"
"No. It's just that there are very few women who wouldn't find it offensive."
"Well, it's a good thing that I'm playing cards with you then, isn't it?" He smiled, beer dripping down his chin. He wiped it away with his hand, watching her eyes narrow slightly.
"You know, sometimes I really hate you."
"No." Another card. "You don't. Your turn, Instructor."
"I'd rather you call me a cunt."
He chuckled. "Ooh! Sensitive tonight, aren't we? Miss getting your little love letters from your stalkers?"
"You know, one of the counselors made me watch this movie one time. They thought it would inspire me to behave for you. All these sons-of-bitches jumped on their desks and started yelling 'Oh Captain, My Captain.' Did any of your students ever pull any dumb shit like that? When you were fired, did any of them try to take up for you?" Quistis said nothing.
"Aw…what's the matter? So it's not the teaching…hmm. Are you still pining for Leonhart? Damn, it must be tough. Knowing that he's pounding away at Rinoa every night and you're stuck here playing cards. With me. Again."
"Well, well, well. Still a sore spot, is it? You know, I went out with her for a while, but she would never let me touch her. I've always been curious to know if she's a good fuck or not. I could ask him, but I don't think he'd give me an honest answer. She must be lined with solid gold. Why else would he pass you up, Dear Instructor?"
"Stop calling me that!"
"I've not been an instructor for four years, you bastard. You are well aware of that fact." She downed the rest of her whiskey. "Why do you insist on doing this to me every time we play?"
"This! The jabs and the insults and…just all of it."
"What? You want poetry? Flowers? You ain't getting that here, sister. Talk to Rinoa. See if she'll give you some of her flowers. I bet Leonhart has sent her truckloads. I'm sure she would consider giving you one if you beg her hard enough." He grinned maliciously. "It would still be secondhand, but then you could say that you received a flower from him."
"You…forget it. I can't talk to you when you're like this." She stood to get her keys. They were missing. He was impossible sometimes.
"Sit down. Your ass ain't leaving tonight. Tell me. What would you have done if he actually fell for you? Honestly. Would you have been happy?" Seifer took another pull from his beer. "You are not the flowers and candy type." He pointed the bottle at her, grinning as the hops and barley made her grimace. "Hmm. No. He would have bored you."
"Seifer. Stop this. Give me my keys."
"Oh no. You have taken a wee drop too many of the devil's sweet nectar, but still not enough. So, dearest, darling, most precious Instructor, you're staying here tonight. And you're answering my questions."
"I refuse to stay in this hellhole with you. I'll sit in my car until morning. I don't care. Just as long as I don't have to look at you or listen to your bullshit."
"Pity. Now you'll have to stay and drink some more. I like you better when you're drunk. You're not nearly as bitchy." He poured another bourbon. "It's funny. They say you can tell a lot about somebody by what they drink. Who needs a psychologist when you can see a bartender? Isn't that the old joke?" Teasing her again.
Quistis shook her head. She hoped he had just put her keys in the potted plant again. He was never good at picking hiding spots. "Well, I can certainly tell a great deal about you, Seifer. You order a beer; you're a fucking asshole. You order tequila; you're a fucking asshole. You order rum; you're a fucking asshole. Shall I continue?"
"True. I've never denied it." He lifted her glass. A faint impression of her lips could be found on the rim. He traced the glossy border with his thumb, noticing how she always put her mouth on the hairline break in the glass. He told her, time and again, that she would eventually slice her lip open if she didn't start using a different glass. "But shut up. You're acting like a goddamned cunt again. You always drink whiskey. Always. Why? It would be different if you drank those fruity drinks with paper umbrellas. Then I could say you're a dumbass. But you pick whiskey. Hmm. They say it's easy to tell, but it's different with you. You're not so easy."
"Well, why do you always ask these questions and try to make me feel miserable?"
"I asked you first."
"I don't know, Seifer." She sat down again, watching his green eyes flicker with some strange light.
"Yes. You know why. You just won't say it. Why are you such a cowardly bitch? I'm dying to hear it."
"I'm not a coward."
White teeth flashed in a feral grin. "Yes, you are. A fucking coward. Why did you never break Leonhart's nose? Why didn't you bitch-slap Rinoa? You wanted to. Look at yourself. You still want to. Look how fast you're breathing. They've fucked your world up royally, haven't they? I've even heard that she's teaching now at that damned school. Ouch. That has to sting. She snagged your dream man, now she has your job. Better watch out. She may be after something else next time. What do you have left for her to steal, Quistis? Is there anything left? Is there still a soul in that pretty body of yours?"
He pushed the bottle into her hands. "What happened to the child prodigy? Balamb's wonder kid? Where did she go?" Seifer jumped on the table, scattering cards and spilling liquor over the dirty floor. He held an imaginary telescope to his eyes, scanning the dim room. "ARGHH! Get the net and fetch m' harpoon! Got me a Golden Child off the port side! She's sitting with the Sorceress' lapdog, playing cards and sipping cheap whiskey."
He fell back into his chair, laughing loudly. "You still haven't told me why you're such a coward." He watched her again. She pulled the label away from the bottle, one corner at a time, working towards the center, until nothing remained of the brand name except an ornate S. She pleaded in a small voice; "I don't want to talk to you anymore. Please, leave me alone."
"Aw, poor fucking baby. Little Quisty doesn't wanna play with big, bad Seifer anymore."
He grabbed her chin, roughly forcing her head upwards. "I hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but I sure as hell ain't the reason you're fucking miserable. I just happen to be as fucking unhappy as yourself. We make quite the pair, don't we?" He grinned when a dull spark returned to her eyes. She tried to pull away, but he held her jaw tightly, smashing her lips into each other. He might have been amused by her resemblance to a fish had he not been in such a strange mood. Her throat twitched under his fingers. The odor of beer on his hands was making her nauseous. "Yes ma'am. Quite the pair. Damned to walk in the shadows forever. Always chasing the bright lucky stars. Funny as hell, isn't it?" He released his hold, watching her rub the ugly bruises blossoming on her chin. "You goddamned bastard. That hurt."
"It was supposed to hurt. Don't be stupid. You can be dumb as hell sometimes, but you're far from stupid. I want you to wake up from whatever fucking dream you've walked in for the past few years." His eyes were on fire now. "Now answer me."
Her voice was sharpening, quickly developing a dangerous edge. "Answer what? Should I turn around and give you the chance to probe some more? I think you've missed an old wound or two. Open them all! Go ahead, you selfish fuck! You've done nothing but make me bleed again! You've asked so many questions I don't even know where to begin answering you."
"Just answer the one."
"Which one?" Quistis was screaming now. "I don't know what to tell you! I have never known! Why don't you ask yourself these fucking questions? Why, why, why? You're like a child! Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why are Seifer Almasy and Quistis Trepe fated to do nothing but play cards? What happened to our glory? Our happiness? Our fucking anything? I don't know what happened, Seifer. Why the fuck did things work out the way they did? You tell me. I certainly haven't figured it out. Maybe happiness is just meant for the favored children of the gods. The gods didn't want us. How's that for a fucking answer?"
Seifer smiled at Quistis. Her blue eyes were glowing with an impossible brilliance. "Maybe that's true, Trepe. Maybe."
He bent down, wiping beer and whiskey off her cards onto his jeans. "Take another swig. If we're destined to do nothing but play cards and drive one another mad, we may as well be shit-faced while we do it. Hm? It's not as if we have anyone to impress."
She straightened the soaked cards. "Damn it all, I really hate you sometimes."
He took his cards, contemplating his next move. "Yeah, but you'll get over it once you finally figure out how to stop being such a pompous bitch. Your turn, Quistis."
Note: I don't really know what this is supposed to be. I didn't really want to do a romantic thing with Quistis and Seifer, but I didn't want to do a they-hate-each-other-and-want-the-other-dead kind of thing either. I may work on this again, I may not. I've not decided. I'd like to make it sweet and happy, but they are just so much more fun when they're abrasive and rude.
It's just frustrated Quistis and bitter Seifer having a conversation about life. Or maybe it's the other way around. Bitter Quistis and frustrated Seifer. Odd that the female is always meant to be 'bitter', isn't it? I wish Square had done a better job with these characters. They were always much more interesting to me, maybe because they weren't as bloody damn perfect as Rinoa and Squall.