Author's Note: Well, I have another story for you, and of course it's a Quiefer, or are they called Seiftis's? =)
I don't own FF8, or any of these characters. The story is mine. Part of the plot crosses with the plot of the game, and that part I don't own.
Chronicle One: She Said
Brace yourself for this one.
I am majorly butt crazy in love with Seifer Almasy.
And it's horrible.
The stupid things he does to get himself into trouble. Last night's temper tantrum over tomato soup was another classic. The idiotically arrogant things he says. As if he owned the world.
As if he were simply irresistible.
It'd be so much funnier if I could resist him.
But I couldn't. I was helpless against him.
It's just something about him. The small spark of self-consciousness that comes into his eyes before he transforms it into his smirk. The laughing expression that is in his smile when he thinks no one is looking.
Even though he won't show it, the way he hurts and laments his actions that he took two years ago.
People may believe Seifer Almasy is still the irrepressible jerk that he was before Ultemecia. But I know better.
Because I know him better than anyone. It's expected, seeing as I'm his instructor and all.
But even then, I will confess that though I didn't know it then...the way, the reason I know him...it's not purely academic, like I thought. I didn't know it, but...I was in love with Seifer Almasy, even back then.
Chapter 1: Disappointment
(two years previous, the SeeD ball)
So he's failed again. Doesn't matter. I'll just whip him into shape and send him out again next time. Jerk that he is, he won't take me seriously...but...well failing the test is good for him in the long run.
He needed to be taken down a step or two. His ego was getting out of hand, and I couldn't handle him. Perhaps failure will put him in his place.
I enter the ballroom in search of my prodigal student. Squall is somewhere about, but I don't care about him. Squall is in good shape. He'd gotten his license, so his ego didn't need quelling.
I find Seifer drinking punch by the gallon. "It's spiked," I warn.
"Good," he says, throwing back another glass.
"What is your problem, Almasy? I gave you all you needed to pass the test. All you had to do was stand there and you'd get your stupid rank. And instead, you blow it."
"Maybe I just like being with you, Instructor," he smirks, moving away from the table, out towards the balcony.
I grit my teeth. "You know that's a lie. Why, Seifer? Why did you have to blow it?"
Being in the darkness shrouds you from the real world. You can be anybody you want to be. You can even be yourself. Seifer becomes serious now. "I wanted to make a difference," he says quietly.
I'm not sure if he expects me to understand, and I only vaguely get his message. I'm not going to give him points for creativity. "Making a difference and being killed are two different things. You endangered yourself and others. You should have a least waited."
"Would you have listened to me?" he says.
His look is earnest, but...expecting disappointment. My answer falls in accordingly, for I don't say a word. I turn, and leave him.
I feel his disappointed gaze on me as I enter the bright lights of the ballroom.
It shouldn't matter, but it does when he smiles warmly at the brunette that throws herself into his arms in greeting.
(a few months later)
It's one thing to know that one of your proteges disrespects you. It's another to realize that he always did respect you, until that one moment when you truly really let him down.
Because you didn't believe in him.
Seifer's descent into madness was not his fault. It wasn't Cid's or Edea's or Ultemecia's. It was mine.
Because he believed in me, and I didn't believe in him. He went to find someone who did. Or said they did.
Someone who claimed that they needed him.
I still berate myself over that.
Now, here we are, face to face with him. He's got Rinoa in another room, and Squall is playing superhero, slashing away.
All I can see is the pain in Seifer's eyes as he stares at me, not flinching with the hits.
See how I don't care about you, Quistis? His eyes seem to say. See how even the physical pain that they deal doesn't even matter?
I want to cry, and throw myself at his feet, blocking him from more attack. He's been attacked long enough.
Even now, as he deals his blows, he avoids me, avoids my eyes. I am the only one who remains standing, while Squall is fighting with the last spark of energy he has left.
Thus far, I have not fought. I have observed, analyzed, as I always do. I know why I am standing. He fears to hit me. I still have that hold I used to have over him. That strange pull that made him believe in me. He wants me to guide him, to compliment him, to tell him that even though he has hurt my friends, he can still come back to me, and win my approval, because I am the one who matters. I am his instructor.
I. Do. Not. I do not save him. I take my whip out, and deal him with a blow to the face. The shocked and pained expression is all that I need to stop. Because my blow has already shut him down.
He falls back in resignation, in pain, and in despair.
Chapter 2: Detachment
(two years ago)
He comes back, tail between his legs, and the first thing he asks for? To have me as his instructor.
You'd think he'd learn.
He comes in the classroom the first day, the same smirk he always had, but...that underlying self-consciousness is gone.
It is replaced by a cool veneer of dormant disappointment...and contempt. "Instructor."
"Almasy," I address him coolly. "Take a seat."
My discipline has not changed. Not for anyone would it change. I am a straight-laced level A SeeD instructor with an impeccable record. Ok, not impeccable. One blemish. Seifer Almasy.
"Almasy, so nice of you to join us," I greet him sarcastically.
We are training on the fields of Trabia in a game of capture the flag with Trabia garden.
"He's only five minutes late, give him a break, Instructor!" Greta, one of his admirers says bitingly.
My cheeks pale to be addressed thus by a student.
Seifer looks harshly at the student. "You shouldn't speak to the Instructor that way," he says warningly.
He does not offer any excuses to me, but another glance at the rest of the class prevents any more remarks in his defense.
A few hours later, I am shivering, guarding the flag with Kalsey. Seifer stops by to check on us, and bring us news that they have located the flag and are now orchestrating an attempt on it.
I nod my head. I hope the game is over soon. I am getting cold, and I suspect that I will catch cold.
I do not know how he recognizes my distress, as I don't even shiver, but he takes off his trench and tosses it to me, and vanishes back into the forest.
I'm not an idiot. I put it on.
Seifer Almasy is the top of my class.
I cannot believe this.
His attitude is the same as ever, but I cannot shake him. He remains firmly seated in that top spot, and the cushion he has over the others...
I cannot stand to compliment him. It's like pulling out teeth. It pains me to commend his efforts, because he doesn't deserve them.
Good student, but never attends class. When he does, he comes in late. Does not participate in class lecture. And when directly addressed acridly gives the perfect answer.
And so I cannot shake him.
I would address Cid about this, but I have no idea what to say. He doesn't challenge my authority. In fact, though he disrespects me, he does not disrespect the class. It is only towards me that he directs his barbs.
He does not choose to challenge my authority, though I suppose he could. He does not allow the class to disrespect my role as instructor.
But he is still cold to me.
I see him hold doors open for ladies, and I see him offer his hand to Edea when she gets out of the hovercraft. In the beginning, in the end, an impeccable gentleman.
The dark knight. He'd always wanted to save people.
He had to know there were rules, though. I taught him that.
And he obeys the rules now. To the T. Except that he will not respect me.
I can see that searing blatant display of impetuous dismissal when he watches me. It goads me. I want to hurt him.
I want to hurt him like he's hurting me.
I am in the library one day looking for a book on Griffin, a legendary GF whose existence has always been a question.
I hear my name uttered with contempt. "You know you can always take it up to the headmaster. She shouldn't be allowed to lord over you the way she does..." an officious voice offers.
I hear Seifer's cool response. "Instructor Trepe is the best instructor I could ask for. She knows what she's doing, and she knows how to handle the situation. I might add, she gives me as much shit as I give her..."
I release the breath I did not know I was holding.
"But—" the girl starts to retort.
"We have an...agreement of sorts. We know our places. Maybe you should learn yours..." he said, voice dripping with contempt.
"Seifer, will you please tie this up for me?" Rinoa hands him a blue ribbon as she holds up her hair.
He smiles gently, fondly at her. That he can be so gentle almost frustrates me. Why does he save all that angry cool contempt for me?
I watch the exchange with cool detached interest. "Analyzing again, are we, Quistis?"
I scowl because my observations are being disrupted, but turn to my intruder and smile with cool pleasure. "Squall."
"You know, Quistis, you could cut him a break. It took us a while to do it, but we've all kind of moved on."
I nod my head as I see Irvine join the two and engage them in conversation.
"Why do you hate him?"
I look at Squall. "Hate?"
"You never liked Seifer. Even back when we were your students together, you gave me the favor."
Hate. The word was new. It was true that I had disliked Seifer from the start, and our mutually icy tenuous relations were indicative of great hostility. But I did not hate Seifer Almasy.
I rejoin Squall with that conclusion. "I don't hate Seifer," I reply softer than I expect.
"Funny, I think everyone's been given the wrong impression, then, Quistis."
Badly done, I could hear his implied reprimanding words, though he didn't say them aloud.
Squall and Seifer are barely on speaking terms now. That he feels that he's the one that should come to me and reprimand me for my lack of congeniality with him...well that was the pot calling the kettle black. "Funny," I reply coolly. "They may say the same for you."
"But they all know I respect him," he replied, and left me alone.
Thinking he just delivered some great punchline that would make me think so much more. Thinking that I'd be in some emotional turmoil over how I've treated Seifer Almasy.
It doesn't matter if Seifer Almasy hates me for what I have done, or what I am doing to him.
Because I hate myself.
I had let him down, and used his respect, his admiration for me against him.
And because of that, I know it does not matter whether or not I ever respect him; he cannot respect me anymore.
Chapter 3: Disinterest
(three months ago)
You must think me a dreadful depressing sort, but I am not. In fact, I am quite happy. I am loved by those who are dear to me.
"Qusitis, do you still have that red tanktop that you borrowed last Thursday?" Selphie walked into my room in our suite.
We live together, Rin, Selphie, and I. Our quarters are delightfully yellow. I would say overtly feminine. But it is a nice touch of softness.
My roommates keep me sane. They talk to me, and on occasion, I talk to them.
I have not told them about the feelings, the turmoil and the self-hatred I feel because of Seifer. Seifer is an untouched topic. It is as if they already know I cannot speak of him.
Seifer has never been a guest in our suite. The reason is quite simple. The girls want to give me a place where I am the freest to express and be myself.
"I washed it yesterday, let me get it," I get up from the couch, put down the magazine quiz "How well do you flirt?" and go to my room.
I open the drawers and reach into the neat organized-by-color stacks and pull out the red tanktop. "Here you go, Selphie," I turn and hand it over.
"Tomorrow is Seifer's birthday. We're taking a sailboat out into the sea...you are welcome to come, you know."
I look up at Selphie, and wordlessly grab a windbreaker and toss it to Selphie. "It gets cold on the water. You might want to bring this along."
I do not care that it is his birthday. I sit on the beach moodily, and I confess, I do look for their sailboat.
I settle down in the sand to enjoy the comfort of the warm sun, to take in the soft ocean breeze.
Content. I am so content. This is the way I wanted my life to be. Great instructor, loved by friends, respected by all...
...except one person.
Seifer Almasy still possesses that one spot he always had. The barrier between me and my goal.
I cannot fight him to win though, because I had lost long ago, by my own hand.
But what had he expected me to do? Turn my back on the book?
His SeeD exam is in another two months. I look forward to the day. At least once he is gone, I will not have the daily reminder of what I lost. At least once he is gone, I will not see him and hurt anymore.
"Seifer Almasy, hurt me? Don't be ridiculous!" I scoff.
Rinoa and Selphie look at me imploringly. "Why didn't you come sailing with us?"
"I had to grade exams. Some of us are not free to wander and do as we please," I reply teasingly.
"You know, he asked about you," Rinoa says with a small wry smile.
I feign disinterest, though I wonder at what Seifer Almasy could possibly want to know about me.
"Don't you want to know what he asked?"
I don't say a word.
Selphie smiles. "Come on Quistis, confess, you have it bad for Seifer, don't you?"
The tease Quistis approach. Hoping that if they're giggly maybe I'll become open and girlish about this with them. It's worked in the past. But not now. Not ever with Seifer. I don't want to think about him. I know I do, almost obsessively at times, but I don't ever...conclude anything.
Because I am afraid.
I smile mysteriously back at them to appease them. Let them dream.
I know the truth. It wouldn't matter if I cared or not, because he couldn't care less for me.
(one month ago)
A sense of deja vu comes over me, the way it always does when I enter the SeeD ballroom. I walk about, smiling and congratulating my students.
I take the initiative this time, because I know politeness demands this encounter. I walk to him.
He's talking with Selphie, and his posture becomes stiff upon hearing my voice.
I knew it.
He's cool and indifferent to me when he turns to me. "Thank you."
In retaliation to his cold indifference, I strike back. "I don't pretend that I shall miss you in my classroom. It's about time," I say coldly.
Again the critical one. I see Selphie's hopeful expression fall.
They are hurting each other again, her expression seems to say. She does not know that Seifer Almasy cannot be hurt by me anymore.
And that is the way it should be. As I turn around to walk away, I hear Seifer call after me "Have a nice life, Instructor."
Chapter 4: Departure
I am retiring.
I had thought that the day for retirement was far far away. I am twenty years old. I theoretically I have another thirty years for my career.
But I am tired.
I submitted my resignation earlier in the afternoon after classes. The retirement is to remain a secret tonight. In fact, I'd prefer it to remain a secret until I am far away, some time tomorrow afternoon.
I can't let him know that he's caused this.
I love him. I cannot find a moment when I could have fallen for him. He has offered no sonnets, no romantic musings...no stolen glances.
I enter the cafeteria for what my last dinner I shall have in Balamb Garden. After grabbing a tray with some mysterious brown substance on it, I walk towards the table where we always sit.
Seifer is the only one there at the moment, and I nod at him in acknowledgement.
Relations between us have become even more tenuous now because of the knowledge that I love him. I don't want him to know, so I try hard to keep my cold indifference. "Almasy."
I quelch the urge to analyze his tone, to search in the textures some evidence of deference.
We sit in silence.
I am awkward. I have never felt so awkward. We've been good about avoiding being alone. This is the first time, I realize. The first time since our encounter so long ago at that fateful first SeeD ball, where I hurt him and lost his respect.
"Can you pass the salt?" he asks.
"I love you," I blurt out.
I blush. Did I say it aloud? I look around me. No one seems to notice I just had an unusual emotional outburst. The socially inept Quistis only has to suffer her humiliation privately. It wouldn't make a difference. Either way, it hurts.
There is silence at our table. I do not look at him, and he does not look at me. I stare at the table. I turn away as I see Squall storming up to our table. The interruption is as welcome. "Quistis, what is this I hear about you leaving?"
I should have known that Cid couldn't keep these stupid things to himself. I should have just left the letter on his desk as I was leaving tomorrow.
I smile quaveringly. "You know, once Seifer left, all the challenge was gone. I'm bored. There are other things out there. I want to have fun. Be twenty years old," I say, still not looking at Seifer.
I can only imagine the things going through his mind.
Squall sighed. "I guess I always kinda expected it...you grew up too soon."
As if he knows me. He doesn't know that I'm leaving because I'm just a lovesick little girl. The true meaning of being young. To be in love, and to be in pain.
Selphie and Irvine enter the conversation as they hear the end of Squall's remark. "What's going on?"
Rin and Zell arrive as Squall delivers the news. It's as if the whole cafeteria hears. "Quistis is retiring."
"...But why?" Rinoa asks, disappointed. "Was it something we did?"
"No..." I smile. It's what I did to myself. "Nothing you did...I really liked living with you guys, and maybe I'll come back and stay with you guys every once in a while...but right now I just want to...you know, travel. Try out new things."
The conversation at the table is a mixture of the depressing and the excited. I am smiling so much it hurts.
Finally, I make my parting line and get up to leave.
I make one final glance to Seifer, who has remained speechless this entire time.
He is watching me, assessing me. Trying to make sense of me.
You can try, but it's not going to make sense. I convey to him. The way I love you...it's unexpected. It's a beautiful delicious pain. And...it's real, more real than any fantasy that sorceress offered to you.
I can send to him a million words in a split-second gaze. It makes me wonder...that we may have always somehow understood each other. Instead, I turn and walk away.
I know, you, reader, expect that he may just sweep into my room late at night, make love to me passionately and desperately, and plead me to stay.
I almost hope for it to be so myself.
But it's time to move on for me. It's time to move on from this feeling.
I don't regret letting him know my feelings, though I did not expect to. In fact, it is relieving. It almost promises that I shall be able to move on and forget him.
I pack my items.
My train leaves from Balamb at three.
Where it goes? I don't know. When I purchased the ticket, I couldn't have cared less.
I only know it will be far away from him...somewhere where I can rebuild myself. Find someone new to love.
I can love. If there is one thing I am thankful to Seifer for, it is that he made me love him.
I had not known that I could feel so deeply for anyone.
And while I can love, there is always hope.
I knew it would be awkward if they knew I was leaving.
They all take me to the train station.
We are standing at the platform, and my friends are sad. I am the first to leave Balamb, but don't they know they'll leave eventually too? The scars of Ultimecia took a while to heal, and we were together for that.
But that time is over. Our future is now.
My future is now.
As my train is called, I turn back to smile once more at my friends. "Call me back for the wedding," I wink to Squall and Rinoa.
To be continued...