Final Fantasy 8
Whenever You Need Me

Genre: action/adventure and romance
Pairing (s): Seifer Almasy/Quistis Trepe

---From ko---
Yaaay! Just several more reviews and I'll hit 300! Please make my dream come true, readers! Review like you've never reviewed before!! …Er, please?

Much love! ---kokuro---

(Scene: in Balamb Garden, which is docked at FH)
Chapter 22: Garden…Attacked!
"Seifer…"

/Too tired…/

"…wake up, Seifer."

/…No./

Nudge.

/…Argh…/

"Seifer, get up. It's almost time for the written exam."

/…Exam? Oh. Argh./

Seifer opened his eyes and winced at the bright morning light streaming in through the only window in the room. He shifted onto his side and saw Quistis tying the sheer silk and lace curtains away from the window. Golden light danced upon cream-colored walls, and the soft white cotton of the blankets and bed sheets. "Morning," he mumbled, rubbing sleep from his eyes and sitting up. "What time?"

Quistis turned to look at him. "Good morning," she said with a smile, jumping onto the bed with him and placing a soft kiss on his lips. "Blehh, morning breath."

"Ah, whatever," Seifer said, returning the kiss. "So what's the time?"

"It's 0700 hours. You've got two more hours until the test." Quistis slid off the bed and straightened her skirt. She was already dressed in her SeeD uniform, sans the dark blazer and boots. Her long gold locks were free, a shining waterfall over her right shoulder. "Plenty of time for a shower and breakfast and last-minute studying, don't you think?"

"No. No more studying." Seifer threw the covers off of him and swung his legs over the bed. "Too much studying, no more. Listen to me! Grammar's reduced. No more." He stretched lightly and turned to Quistis. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going to have a talk with the Headmaster." Quistis shot Seifer a sideways glance, tying her hair. "It's about my vacation."

"And you're gonna talk to him like that?" Seifer asked, pointing at her.

"What's wrong with me?" she asked, frowning.

"Quistis, you're wearing pigtails."

"So? I like this look." Quistis shrugged, then sank onto the mattress, pulling out her boots from beneath the bed and pulling them on. "I think it's time I changed my hairstyle, don't you think?"

"You know I don't care."

"Of course." Quistis walked over to her open closet and pulled out an immaculate black blazer and tie. "I have to go," she said hurriedly, putting on the jacket as she pressed her lips to his in a quick kiss. "See you later, do a good job, love you lots, bye!" Seifer blinked, and he was alone in her room.

/What'd she say before she kissed me? Oh yeah. The exam. …Argh./
Wravyn strode through the hurrying crowds in the halls of Balamb Garden, her Exeter hanging by the holster at her hip. She was dressed in black leather pants, high-heeled boots, and a black t-shirt, and blended in somewhat among the sea of dark uniforms. Her hair, pulled up into a tight ponytail, hung to the small of her back, and she walked with long, slow steps. She heard a bell ring, and saw the halls empty as students rushed off to various classes. The SeeD written test had just begun.

So had the attack on Balamb Garden.

Wravyn looked around before turning her attention to the elevator before her. "Time to stop this puppy," she murmured, but froze when she heard footsteps. Quickly, she pulled out her Exeter, finger on the trigger, ready to blow the brains out of the dumbass student who dared to be wandering around at this hour.

"I thought it was you."

"…Alonia," Wravyn said quietly, though she didn't lower the gun.

"…Kat. But that isn't your real name, is it?" Alonia's pale eyes glittered, and her mouth was a thin line.

"Alonia, I don't know what you're talking about--"

"Oh, don't bullshit me," Alonia interrupted. "I was aware that you weren't what you seemed the first time we met. So cut the crap, will you?"

Wravyn shrugged. "If you say so, Al."

Alonia raised an eyebrow. "So, who are you?"

"…I could kill you right now," Wravyn said softly.

"Maybe. Or--" Before Wravyn could draw a breath, Alonia had closed the gap between them and had the point of a Katal blade pressed against Wravyn's pale throat. "I could kill you if you don't start talking soon. What's it gonna be?"

"It's a stalemate, Alonia. I don't have to talk, I just have to pull the trigger."

"Let's not argue about who's quicker here, Kat…or whatever the hell your name is. Like I care."

"Wravyn."

"Didn't I just say I don't care? What are you doing here?"

"Why should I tell you?" Wravyn demanded, frowning.

"Because I have a big sharp pointy thing pressed to your throat."

"And I have a big shiny gun against your chest." Wravyn sighed. "I don't want to hurt you, Alonia."

Alonia shrugged. "Yeah, life's a bitch, ain't it? You're gonna have to hurt me if you want to do whatever the hell you're going to do to the Garden--" She suddenly whirled around and kicked an oncoming attacker in a black jumpsuit and helmet. "Goddamn, let me finish my sentence!"

Wravyn acted. As Alonia turned back to face her, Wravyn was already casting a Sleep spell. Alonia stumbled forward, muttering a curse, and slumped to the floor.

"Bitch!" the man in the black jumpsuit spat, pulling out a handgun and aiming for Alonia's head.

Wravyn cocked her gun towards Alonia's would-be murderer. "Leave her."

"What? Why--?!"

"Leave her!" Wravyn repeated. "Look, get the soldiers on the ship ready, while I plant the bomb. And I don't even know why you followed me here without permission, I should shoot you where you stand."

"…Yes, ma'am." The man scurried away.

"Amateurs, the lot of them," Wravyn hissed, stalking up to the elevator and attaching a small, metallic box near the doors. She jogged off the stairs, her gun at the ready, glancing at Alonia. "Hyne, you just had to get in the way, Al," she muttered. "Now what am I gonna do with you?"

Wravyn reached into her pocket.

A small red light on the metal box blipped.
An electromagnetic pulse has the ability to disable any electronic equipment at a range of thirty feet. Which is really bad if said electronic equipment is functioning when the pulse disables it.

Which is exactly what happened to Balamb Garden.

All over the Garden, computers, lights, and various electronic paraphernalia shut down.

The result? Confusion.

At the exact moment Balamb Garden was shut down, a large group of armed soldiers in black suddenly burst through the Front Gate of the Garden, overpowering any nearby bystanders and immobilizing them. The armed combatants made their way into the halls of the Garden, heading off towards the dormitories, the classrooms…everywhere.

And the leader of the attack, an attractive, dark-haired young woman who waited in front of the broken elevator, had only one order.

"Find Quistis Trepe, and bring her to me. Alive."
"What the…?!" Selphie gasped, when her computer immediately shut down. "What's going on?"

The perky, green-eyed teenager was in an abandoned class, updating her website and checking on Balamb Garden security cameras. Because of her advanced, almost Estharian knowledge of computers, Selphie was appointed Head of Security by both Commander Leonhart and Headmaster Cid.

Selphie stared at the blank screen and jumped to her feet, saw that the electronic sliding door to the room was open and refused to close. Of course something was wrong. /Someone disabled the entire Balamb Garden?/ thought the girl. /But nothing can stop electronic function so quickly!/

/Except--/

"An EMP bomb," Selphie whispered.

Something was desperately wrong. Out of instinct, Selphie carefully and quietly headed out of the room, only to come to face with a tall man in a brown duster and a cowboy hat.

"Irvine!"

Irvine placed a finger over Selphie's lips and ushered her back into the empty classroom. "What is it?" Selphie asked, looking up at the tall man. "I was just at my computer when everything shut down!"

Irvine let out a sharp breath. "It's an attack, Sefie. There's a bunch of goons in black, and they're in the Garden. Right now. So what we need to do is--"

"Kick some ass!"

"Er, well, before that. The whole protect the Garden thing, Sefie."

"Oh. Yeah, that too."

The two heard voices down the hall. "That'd be them, sweetheart," Irvine whispered, "and I don't know where the others are, so it's just the two of us. We've got to get them out of here, force them back down to the first floor. There are kids in the classes." On cue, there were sudden shouts and gunshots.

Selphie nodded, her Strange Vision in her hands. "Let's go."
"Hey, Zell!"

"Kyrie!" Zell managed to say around a mouthful of hotdog. He quickly swallowed, gulped down half of his bottled water, and mustered up a small grin to the girl. "Hey, what's up?"

"Nothing much," Kyrie said with a shrug. "I was just gonna ask you something. That okay?"

"Yeah, sure!" Zell leaned back in his chair, arms crossed, smiling. It was him, and Kyrie, in an almost empty cafeteria. This was too good to be true!

Kyrie nodded. "Okay. Well, I was wondering--"

A group of people in black suddenly ran in, waving guns. "Everybody shut up!" one of them roared, "and get on the ground! On your stomachs! Your hands where I can see you! And drop all your weapons…or we'll have to do this the hard way." He caught a glimpse of Zell and Kyrie, rising to their feet. "You two! Down on the floor!"

Kyrie shot Zell a glance, and Zell nodded, almost imperceptibly. They glared at the intruders.

The leader, a burly man with a pair of pistols, stalked towards them and grabbed Kyrie by the arm. "It'd be better for you to get down on the floor…sweetheart."

"Hell no…jackass!" Kyrie brought up her knee as she said the final word.

Her attacker squeaked out a protest, then fell back on his butt, his hands between his legs. "Ohhh…!"

The others attacked.

Kyrie managed to get the first one on the ground with a punch to the nose. He cried out in pain, grabbing his bloody face, nose swelling to the size of a small apple. Zell was handling two at once, using one as a human shield against the other.

"Yeah, so, I was wondering, before I was so rudely interrupted--" Kyrie managed to halt another attack with a well-placed roundhouse kick to the gut. "If I could--hah!" An uppercut to someone's jaw, and the few other SeeDs in the cafeteria joined in the fight.

"Oww!"

"Kyrie!" Zell shouted, seeing Kyrie punched in the chest by another soldier. She flew backwards, right into Zell's outstretched out. "Ouch!" The two tumbled to the ground, Zell's breath knocked from him. He opened his eyes, found Kyrie looking down at him. "Uhhh…"

"Thanks so much, Zell!" she exclaimed. "And while I'm here, I might as well ask you."

"Down!"

Kyrie flattened herself against Zell as a body flew over them. "So, uh, yeah?" Zell asked, his heart pounding.

Kyrie smiled. "Wanna go out for coffee sometime?"

Zell blinked. "Wha--?"

The girl shrugged. "C'mon, I can't stand the suspense!" she chided gently. "Yes or no?"

"Sure, why not!"

"Okay! Call me sometime, alright?" The fight had stopped, the SeeDs being the victors. Kyrie stood up and helped Zell to his feet. "Maybe we can have some of that famous Balamb fish, right, Zell? I heard they were really good!"

Zell nodded, sure that he was dreaming, sure that he'd wake up in his dorm, there was no fight, and Kyrie wasn't just sitting on him. Discreetly, he pinched his arm.

/Ow! Okay, so it's not a dream…/

/Of course not, you sod!/ his brain retorted. /Now stop spacing out and focus on THE GIRL!!/

Zell turned his attention back to Kyrie. "They are," he said. "The fish, I mean. So, yeah, I'll call you?"

Kyrie smiled, but their conversation was interrupted by a familiar voice.

"Zell!"

"Squall!" Zell turned around, saw Squall Leonhart at the entrance of the cafeteria, his gunblade at the ready. There was already crimson blood running down the sharp edge of the Lionheart gunblade. Beside him was Rinoa Heartilly, Angelo near her. All three looked deadly serious. Zell saluted. "Yeah, Commander?"

"We're under attack," Squall said quietly. "Our priorities are to protect the junior classmen and try to push back our attackers. Have you seen Irvine, Selphie, or Quistis? Or Seifer?"

Zell shook his head. "Nope. Sorry."

Squall nodded, and Rinoa spoke. "I can try to hold them back, Squall, while Zell looks for Irvine and Selphie. Chances are, Selphie's in the classrooms. And chances are Irvine's with her." She had a look of determination on her pretty features as she looked up at Squall.

He looked back, and Zell saw him nod. /Always for the good of the Garden. Go, Squall!/

Then Kyrie spoke up. "I'll help Zell look! Is that okay…er, Commander?" she finished meekly.

Squall turned his eyes to her, and he shrugged, nodded. "Zell's gonna need all the help he can get. These guys are all over the place. Luckily, we have enough SeeDs to fight back. Indigo, go with Zell, and bring Selphie and Irvine back here. Seifer, too."

"Hey, what about Quistis?" Zell suddenly asked.

"She's with Headmaster Cid and Matron," was Squall's reply. "In the third floor. There's no way to get up there but the elevator, or the stairs."

"We have stairs?" Zell sounded surprised.

"Yeah, but they've never been used. And there's no way to get to the stairs without a keycard." Squall frowned. "Unless they scale the outside of Garden from the Quad…"

"What about the keycard?" Kyrie asked. "Um, sir."

"I have one, Selphie because she's Head of Security, and so does Headmaster Cid. But that's it." Squall shook his head. "We've gotta move."

Zell and Kyrie saluted, then ran out of the cafeteria. Squall looked over the remaining SeeDs, all looking angry and resolute. "You all heard what we have to do," he said. "I don't know what these guys want--" he gestured to the fallen men in black, "--but I do know that they're trespassing. They aren't welcome."

The SeeDs saluted. Rinoa grinned. "Let's give them hell!" she shouted.

"Yeah!!!"

No one noticed the one fallen soldier, holding a miniature microphone in his hand.
"Firaga!"

"Aaaaahhhh!!"

Just as his assailant burst into flames, Seifer grabbed his shirt, raised a black-gloved fist, and drove it straight to the man's chin. There was a crack, and Seifer released him, letting the man fall to the ground.

The blonde looked around. Complete chaos. There he was, ready to take his written exam, cool and confident, when a bunch of goons comes into the classroom and started firing guns and shouting at them. One even went so far as to hit a female cadet across the face. So Seifer, being Seifer, did the only thing he could do.

He had grabbed the guy's neck and slammed his head into a nearby computer monitor.

Then hell broke loose and a classroom full of SeeD hopefuls had jumped their would-be captors.

"You have a Junctioned GF?!" shouted a voice in his ear. Seifer turned his head, saw a tall young woman with a peaches and cream complexion and long auburn hair. Xu Magami was the only qualified SeeD in the room, being the instructor that watched over Seifer's class when they took the written test. She was busy holding back oncoming attackers with her weapon, a scythe.

"Yeah, so?" he asked, casting Thundara on a few of the men in black and helping a fallen cadet to their feet. "And it's one of Quistis' so it'll take hours if I Summon it!"

"You can try!" Xu yelled, ramming the butt of her scythe into someone's gut. "Dammit!"

Seifer shrugged, smirked, and felt deep in his mind for the Guardian Force. /This isn't the time for hide and seek--/

A voice, echoing and ethereal in his head, suddenly asked, /You called?/

/I Summon./

/…Alright./

And quite suddenly, a few people screamed. Seifer's eyes flew open and he saw the Tonberry GF waddling through the throng of people, brandishing a butcher knife like it knew what to do with it. The Guardian Force's lantern swung this way and that as Tonberry was pushed around by the fighting. Seifer saw the knife flash brightly, catching the light, and someone went down.

"THAT'S your GF?!" Xu asked, looking like she was trying to hold back laughter.

Seifer glared at her, then looked back at Tonberry. "Can't be, I Junctioned--"

And then suddenly his Summon was completed, and Seifer disappeared in a whirl of green light.

Leviathan floated in his place, serpentine eyes trained on the soldiers in black. Then it opened its mouth and shrieked, promising death to its master's opponents, or at least much pain.

Water came from nowhere and everywhere, sweeping away the men, although Xu and the other cadets felt nothing. The attack wasn't meant for them, after all. And in the middle of the water, Tonberry continued poking away with his little butcher knife, causing many a wound. Then both Guardian Forces faded away, and Seifer was back.

"--Leviathan," he finished.

"Hey!" Irvine and Selphie ran into the room. "Is everyone alright?" Irvine drawled. He saw the bodies. "Whoa. Little Tonberry did all o' this?"

"Leviathan helped," Selphie told her boyfriend. "I saw it Summoned."

"Selphie! Irvine!" Xu exclaimed in surprise. "What's going on? Give me the short version."

"Attack. Black goonheads. They're all over the place," Selphie said simply. Irvine frowned, mouthed 'goonheads?' and shook his head. "We have no idea where they came from, but they're being really mean and disrupting everything."

"How many?" Seifer asked.

"A lot," Selphie answered.

Seifer nodded. "Well, the exams have gone to hell, that's for sure," he muttered, "so we have other priorities. Mainly protecting the junior classmen and--"

"Selphie, Irvine, Seifer!" Zell sprinted into a room, skidding to a stop beside Selphie. "Hey!"

"We're here on official business!" said another voice. Kyrie appeared behind Zell. "Commander Leonhart asked us to find you three."

"Which three?" Irvine asked.

"You two tall guys and the Head of Security."

"I'll stay here and keep watch on the students," Xu volunteered.

"You need help?"

A girl had appeared from the hall. She was pretty tall, around five feet, six inches, with cocoa-brown hair that hung to the small of her back and deep green eyes. She carried a bloody sword in her left hand, a weapon that Seifer knew as the Cinqueadea. Its blade curved wickedly. "I'm Gwen Thompson, SeeD junior officer, ID number 179798. Ready to help any way I can."

Xu nodded. "And I'm gonna need that help." To the group she said, "You guys go on. The Commander might be needing you right now."
RRRRRIIIIPPP!

Squall staggered backwards, clutching his bleeding shoulder. The black-clad woman who shot him was holding his black jacket in her free hand, and sneering at him. "Thanks," she said over the sounds of gunshots and shouted spells. She fished a small card from the inside pocket of the fur-lined coat and threw the jacket to the floor. "I'm gonna need this."

"Squall!" Rinoa quickly cast a Cura, and Squall rose to his feet, his wound healing rapidly through his torn shirt. "What do you want?" Rinoa asked the woman.

"None of your business!" the girl answered. She winked at Squall. "Thanks for the keycard, Commander." And she disappeared.

"Squall! We're here!"

Zell, Selphie, Irvine, Seifer and Kyrie emerged from amidst the battling SeeDs and soldiers. Seifer looked around. "Where's Quistis?" he asked Squall, striding up to his rival.

Rinoa shot Seifer a "please-be-more-polite" look. "Third floor, with the Headmaster and Mrs. Kramer."

"The keycard."

"What, Squall?" Selphie asked.

"The keycard. For the stairs that lead to the third floor. They have mine."

"You think they're going after Matron or Headmaster Cid?" Zell sounded particularly worried.

"I don't know…that woman in black…didn't say anything."
Wravyn strode purposely into the Headmaster's office, followed by a small group of armed men. "Okay, we can make this easy, or we can make this hard. I want Quistis Trepe, and I want her to come quietly. We get in, we get out, and nobody gets hurt. Well, in this room, I mean. Everyone out there's, like, dead."

Cid Kramer moved protectively in front of his wife and Quistis. "What do you want?" he demanded.

Wravyn sighed heavily. "Didn't I just answer that question? Hyne, you people just don't listen." She aimed her Exeter at the elderly man. "Now, I really wanted this to be a clean, simple, quick operation, but you people are making it really hard. Please don't make me have to shoot you. You kinda remind me of my dad. Only he was a total bitch."

Quistis stepped out from behind the Headmaster. "And why exactly do you want me?" she asked.

Wravyn shrugged, smiled. "I'm just a mercenary, Quistis, just like you. I follow order and I don't ask questions. So I can't answer any of yours. Now, can we please hurry up?" She turned to the Kramers. "I am so sorry. I didn't mean to disrupt you, but we really need Quistis right now. We'll leave and you two can talk amongst yourselves. When you wake up." Saying that, Wravyn cast Sleep spells on the three people. A soldier hoisted Quistis over his shoulder and Wravyn sighed. "Finally!" She produced a small radio from her pocket. "Okay, people, we are done here. Our plane outta here is at the Front Gate, so clear a way there. Over and out!"
"THIS is your super-secret stairway to the third floor?!" Seifer, panting heavily as he leaned against the wall. "How many flights does this thing have?!"

"Just a couple more!" Selphie responded. She and Seifer decided to leave the fighting in the halls of the Garden to find the Headmaster and his wife. Selphie turned to Seifer. "Come on, Seifer, they could be on their way down right now! We have to intercept them!" She kept running as she said this, and involuntarily crashed into a man in black. "Yow!"

"Hey! What're you two doing here?!" asked the stranger, aiming his gun at the two. With a quick twist of the wrist, Selphie knocked the gun out of the soldier's hand with her nunchakus. Seifer quickly came up behind her and, with a well-placed punch, knocked the guard unconscious.

"We gotta hide this guy," Selphie muttered, grabbing the arms of the lifeless man and starting to drag them away.

The two suddenly heard footsteps, and Seifer quickly pushed Selphie into a niche in the wall, dragging the limp body with him as he followed. A moment later, Wravyn stalked down the stairs.

"Where's the guard?" she asked, looking around the stairway. "Oh, hell, why do I get stuck with the goddamned idiot soldiers?!"

"Right here, ma'am," said a gruff voice behind her. "And look who happened to be walking by." The black-clad guard appeared, holding Selphie's hands behind her back. Selphie struggled, but the soldier simply laughed. "Thought she'd try to ambush us with sticks."

"They're called nunchakus, you asshole!"

"Oh, shut up, midget!"

"WHAT?!" Selphie swiftly kicked the guard in the shin. "That's what you get!"

"OW!"

Wravyn laughed. "You're feisty," she told Selphie, "I like that. But as much as I like your fire, hon, can't let you kick the crap outta my guys, so…Sleep."

Selphie's eyes fluttered closed. "No…! You can't…" Her shoulders slumped and the guard dropped her.

Wravyn waved to the soldier. "Come on, let's go."

The guard nodded. "Yes, ma'am." As they left, the guard kept his hand on the hilt of the gunblade at his side.
___kokuro's corner___
kokuro: Whew! I'm done! *slumps in her chair* Soooo tired…

Alonia: *pops up behind kokuro's chair with a trumpet* Heheheh… *blows hard on trumpet*

kokuro: *sits up bug-eyed* WAI!!!

Wravyn: *looks into the room* What's goin' on?

Alonia: *rolling on floor, laughing and clutching her sides*

kokuro: *doubled over, clutching pounding chest*

Quis: Now, Al, that isn't very nice.

Alonia: *wheeze, cough, gasp!* I know! It was hilarious!! Wahahahaha!!! *cough, choke, wheeze*

Wravyn: *giggling in the corner with Lottie and Kyrie*

kokuro: You're so mean, Alonia! *gets teary-eyed*

Strifey: Dang, Bunny, I didn't know you were such a crybaby! *polishing SolarSword*

kokuro: Wai! What are YOU doing here?!

Strifey: Thought I'd bug you! *grins*

Quis: *sneaks over to kokuro's computer and gets a sneak peek at the chapter* Oooh, interesting…

kokuro: *spots Quis* Noooo! No peeking! You'll read it the same time everyone else will!

Wravyn: Oooh, what happens, Quis?

Quis: We-ell--ulp!

kokuro: *taping Quis' mouth shut* Well nothing! All of you! Out! NOW!!! *resembles Ruby Dragon* OR ELSE!!!

Everyone: EEEP! *runs out*

kokuro: *sighs* Now I can get some precious sleep… *dozes off in her chair*

Alonia: *kicks open door with a marching band playing "When the Saints Go Marching In"* Bwa ha ha!!!

kokuro: *falls out of chair* WAIIII!!!