Disclaimer: Final Fantasy belongs to Square Enix, and Rosario+Vampire belongs to Akihisa Ikeda.
A/N: Some of the R+T script here is taken off from the manga, scanlated by zombiescans, or from the anime fansubbed by Ayako and BakaWolf. This is a rather wordy piece but I hope it's still interesting to read from start to end. Really, this started with a few words and a vague idea; I don't know how the hell it evolved into this.
There's an author's note below for those interested in adopting this. That's all for now, enjoy!
A/N2: Reposted this in its original version (no corrections, etc) because FFnet took this down (as well as another fic of mine...) for containing one 'vulgar word' in its summary.
Check your dictionary, FFnet; 'bitch' ain't a swear word. Ask them blokes in Oxford :/ Never mind the fact that it wasn't used in harmful context. But hey, you programmed your bots to be Nazi '_'
It was a beautiful day. The birds were singing a melodious song, the sun was up and yet not overbearing with its radiant shine, and the cumulus clouds meandered in a leisurely pace with the cool breeze. It was the kind of day that literally screamed tranquility, and it was on this kind of day that Squall Leonhart felt a vein on his forehead pop.
Maybe Quistis was right. Maybe he did have to watch his lifestyle, for fear of suddenly dropping dead from an aneurysm bursting. And maybe- hopefully- it was too late.
Squall re-read the paper in his grasp before glaring pointedly at Headmaster Cid. He took a deep breath before speaking.
"What the hell is this?"
The old man was unfazed by Squall's harsh tone and continued to smile disarmingly. "It is your mission directive."
"You want me to go to school." The scarred teen made no effort to hide the displeasure in his deadpan.
Cid remained unfazed. "I want you to infiltrate and gather intelligence." He bespectacled headmaster clarified.
"School." The way Squall spoke that one word made it seem like a curse.
"Youkai Academy." Cid nodded before staring wistfully into the distance. "It sounds like a fascinating place, doesn't it?"
"No." He retorted meaningfully. Squall wanted to palm his head so badly, but he continued to portray an aura of professionalism. "It sounds like a school. Not to mention the name sounds very suspicious."
"All the more reason to send my finest into the field." Cid clasped both his hands on Squall's shoulders with a proud smile. "Look Squall, if this place really is what is says on the tin, then we need you to find out everything you can about this school. Is it really training monsters? What kind of monsters? And most importantly, how have these monsters evaded our scrutiny?"
Though Squall refused to admit it out loud, Cid did raise valid points. But even still, he did not like the mission parameters laid out. "Why can't you send anyone else?"
"I only have the admissions form for only one applicant. And as you can see," Squall flipped over the contract to read through the finished file with his signature forged on the dotted line and noted the candidate number atop. "We can't duplicate the file. So of course, with this in mind, I chose to send my best and brightest."
"Just go find another one." Squall grumbled, though he knew it was a moot point. He glanced over tiredly at the old headmaster. "Where did you get this, anyway?"
"Oh, I was strolling through a moonlit street with my darling Edea," Squall inwardly winced, still unused to the fact that Cid and matron were a married couple. "When we chanced upon a curious sight: a priest dressed in robes unlike one we've ever seen before was shuffling forward ahead of us and dropped this slip of paper. Naturally, my flower and I," Again an inward wince. "Attempted to return the flier but it was too late. The man had disappeared around the corner."
"…and so you decided to enroll me in a random school?" The brunet scowled.
"Oh, not immediately, no." Cid waved his hand. "We read through the brochure and my honey bunny-" Squall felt a piece of his soul keel over and die at the mental image. Naturally, Cid didn't notice. "-decided that you need a vacation." The old master folded his arms behind his back as he paced in front of the SeeD while recounting his tale. "Of course, we both knew you would refuse the opportunity- Hyne only knows why- and then it hit me. If I turn this into a mission, then you would have no choice but to accept!"
"I decline." Squall piped in.
He was ignored.
"So with everything in order, you shall be departing from Garden come early this Monday morning." The old man seemed to ignore that Mondaywas only a day from now. "Your acceptance letter has already arrived so all you need to do is pick up your uniforms in the dry cleaner's-" Squall blinked disbelievingly. "-and inform your friends and you'll be all set to go!"
Squall still couldn't believe what his mind just processed "…You're sending me back to school for a vacation?"
"Oh Hyne no," Cid shook his head in shock. The annoying was, Squall couldn't tell if the old headmaster was faking it or not. "My fair Edea's sending you on vacation while I am sending you on a mission. It just so happens that the location we have in mind is the same."
What felt like another vein popping forced Squall to shove the sheet of paper in front of Cid's face. "You're sending me back to school as a sixteen year old."
The old man nodded dismissively. "Yes, yes. That's only one year off the mark."
"You're enrolling me as a freshman." Squall's voice rose with each syllable.
Cid puffed his chest out like a proud, overweight bird. "Yes; the curriculum of this Youkai Academy appears to be the same as normal schools in that it comprises of three years. With you starting as a freshman, you have three years to complete your investigation! And you don't have to worry about Garden. If for whatever dire reason we will need your strength while you are away, we'll just pull you out of the school easily enough."
"…" Squall was half-tempted to start a war in another region just so that he could be pulled out of enrolling in that hell hole now- pun not intended- but realized it was cost way too much effort on his part, and would reflect a bad light on his career. With a weary sigh, he finally acquiesced to the headmaster's demands. A contract was a contract, no matter how much he dreaded fulfilling it. Which was a lot in this case.
Squall shook his head; maybe he was overthinking this. Maybe he was just being overly cynical and pessimistic about this assignment. And maybe he didn't have a scar on his head. Gritting his teeth, Squall grumbled out to the fatherly smile of the old headmaster.
The bespectacled man blinked. "Come again?"
"I said fine." Squall growled slightly louder than before. "I accept."
"Great!" Cid clapped his hands jovially. "I knew I could count on you. Oh, my Edea's going to be so happy when she hears about this! It's a good thing we booked in that new hotel in Balamb for the weekend..."
As Cid continued to drivel on wistfully about what exactly he and his sexy Sorceress had planned, Squall wondered if maybe leaving for this Youkai Academy wasn't such a bad thing after all.
If only Cid could dismiss him.
Hyne damn it.
"Ladies and gents!" The blond man slurred, raising his mug high up in the air, not caring as he leaned his full weight on the brunet locked by his arm. "A toast! To Boy Puberty's successful mission!"
Cheers rang through the cafeteria and Squall wanted nothing more than to die in that moment.
"Off me, Seifer!" The lion shoved the knight away.
It all started when Squall broke the news of his latest assignment to his friends. Naturally, Selphie jumped on the opportunity to throw a party to wish the lion well on his extended, undercover mission. Quistis hadn't been too pleased about Squall's arrangement, for reasons Squall wasn't certain of. Xu did assure him though that the Card Club King's worries were nothing serious and that, as a man, he shouldn't force himself upon a lady and her secrets but instead learn to read.
Squall had bitten back his retort that he did know how to read, and if Xu had too much to drink already.
Zell and Irvine's merry making had inevitably attracted Seifer's and his posse, who had been re-admitted back to Balamb Garden and couldn't pass up the chance for free booze and a chance for mischief. While Squall was internally happy that Seifer had lost most of his bullying streak- no longer flaunting his authority left and right- he wasn't sure if trading that for his newfound sense of mayhem was an upgrade or not, especially when coupled with Raijin's innate scatterbrained-ness.
Luckily, the albino Fujin Kazeno was always there to keep the two rowdy men in line.
Speaking of which…
"When I heard that Rinoa hadn't even inspected this boy's gunblade, I was worried he'd be a virgin forever!" He wagged his brows suggestively, causing the gathered men to cheer and chuckle. Quistis looked like she had eaten a sour grape while Selphie began cursing up a storm at the loud blond, while Xu remained smiling her mysterious smile. And Squall? He wanted to die. "But high school! Mini-skirts! The right to get your libido going with no strings attached! Paradise from all- OW!"
Fujin returned Seifer's glare with a cool gaze, folding her arms to show her displeasure at her friend's crude remarks. "VULGAR."
Squall had taken the opportunity to shove off the taller man's hold and glare in Zell, Irvine, and Raijin's direction, causing all three men to seal their lips, though Squall could also tell that they were trying their hardest- and failing- to hide their guffaws.
"Aw c'mon Fu, you know it's true!" Seifer, ever the reckless rogue, didn't realize the hole he was digging himself in. "This is little scarhead's chance to become an adult!" Squall refused to quip at the irony of Seifer's statement. "I would have said Rinoa, but she left him so this is the next best thing!"
If Squall was offended by Seifer's offhanded remark, he didn't show it. In truth, Squall found himself not caring; something in the way Seifer disinterestedly remarked about his ended love life made him realize that he had already moved on.
Or maybe he was just in denial.
Fujin kicked Seifer's leg again and glared. "DRUNK. QUIET." She leveled her visible red eye at Raijin and tilted her head in Seifer's direction. "TAKE."
"I'm not drunk!" Seifer slurred as Raijin placed his arm around his shoulder and helped him to a seat. "I was just telling the truth. You can't prove nothing, Fu."
The silver-haired woman ignored him as she turned towards the lion, who was stalking out of the cafeteria. "SQUALL." Her call halted the man's escape and made him level her with a tired stare. She bowed her head once. "SORRY."
"You're not at fault." He grumbled out before sighing and throwing an observing look at the crowd. The party continued as Selphie whipped out a mic and suddenly stood on the tables and began singing. Squall guessed he should have expected Seifer to happen as soon as the rowdy blond walked in. He returned his attention back to the albino. "Thanks."
"NO PROBLEM." Fujin nodded. For a moment, Squall thought he saw hesitation break the normally pointed intensity of her one-eyed gaze but she had quickly averted her gaze away. An awkward silence fell between the two before the silver-haired woman headed back to her group's table. "…good luck."
Squall watched Fujin leave before mentally shrugging at how awkward that was. "Whatever." He muttered to himself before turning away, only to come face to face with a smiling Xu. Squall stared. "…What?"
"I won't keep you for very long." The enigmatic SeeD stated simply before taking a step out of his comfort zone. She glanced over at where Seifer started an arm-wrestling match with Zell. "So, high school, huh?"
The curious tone of her voice did not betray the melancholy she felt inside. Not that Squall would ever notice, of course. Indeed, the scarred brunet merely tilted his head to the side questioningly. "Yeah."
Xu's eyes twinkled with a mischief not unlike the one Seifer had wielded earlier. "So, will you be chasing skirts now?" She placed her hands behind her back and leaned forward. "Because I assure you, the skirts here are shorter than wherever you're going."
With his coat of professionalism chucked out of the window now that he wasn't in Cid's presence, Squall palmed his head hard. "You too?"
The elite SeeD giggled and waved him off airily. "I'm sorry." No, she really wasn't; that much Squall could tell. "But it is a funny thought. You've participated in armed exercises, lead Balamb through a war, and slain a time travelling Sorceress, and now you're assigned to become a high school student." Squall looked at her pointedly and she smiled her enigmatic smile. "The only thing that makes this actually feel remotely like a serious affair is the fact that this academy doesn't not exist in any of SeeD's accessible records."
That little tidbit, as well as the seriousness in her voice, piqued Squall's interest. "You've checked?"
"Of course." She nodded her head. "As soon as we heard about Headmaster Cid's plans, we had to double check to make sure of the authenticity of this place."
Squall frowned at the implication of her statement. "You knew about this mission."
"Guilty," Xu giggled, not at all feeling the word. "But Quisty and I felt the need for you to reacquaint yourself with the world." She held up her hand to halt his automatic denial. "Squall, I am not here to discuss that. I'm here to inform you as to what you're about to get yourself into." Xu straightened her posture, staring deeply into his eyes. "If this place does exist and if this place does do what it says in the flier- 'training monsters to mingle with humans'- then I want you to take care of yourself Squall. I ask this not as a comrade, but as a friend."
Squall watched as she dug around something from her pocket before handing him a pen. Studying the material, Squall looked questioningly at her questioning, motioning at the red and blue buttons on the pen's body.
Xu flashed him a reassuring gaze. "Should you ever need to get out of your assignment, press the buttons in a red, red, then blue sequence."
"…" Squall looked pensive at the gleam in her obsidian eyes. "…this isn't a tracking beacon or a radio." He deadpanned, to which Xu replied with an amused giggle because she found the statement entirely silly.
"Of course not. Giving you something like that would be redundant with your mission details."
His mission details, meaning the fact that he had to write weekly status reports encrypted by a cipher of his choosing, known only by himself, the Headmaster, and one person of his choosing; standard SeeD procedure for undercover investigations. It was for this reason that Squall felt a sinking sensation in his stomach.
Squall suppressed a shiver at Xu's unreadable smile. "What is this, Xu?"
"It's a guarantee, Squall." The simplicity of her statement did nothing to reassure the uneasiness he felt. "If ever you need to abort this assignment, then do as I stated and we'll pick you up in the earliest possibility."
By Cid's admission, the only way Squall could get out of the mission prematurely was when his services were needed. Given the fact that he was only one SeeD, no matter his status, out of the many gathered, then only a truly dire situation would cause his retrieval. Like, say, if war broke out again…
Dear Hyne, did he hope he was wrong. Xu would never start a war just to get him to return to Balamb Garden, would she?
Squall glanced over at the quiet smile on Xu's face…
…He still couldn't get a read on her.
"…Thanks. I guess." Xu didn't pay any mind to the hollowness of his voice.
"It's my pleasure, Commander Squall." She flashed him a radiant smile before making shooing motions at him. "Now, before you fulfill whatever plans you have before you return to school, would you mind going to the Secret Area in the training grounds?"
The randomness of the request caught him off-guard. "…Now?"
"No, when you get back from your mission." The sarcasm in her voice felt vaguely familiar. Oh yeah… she sounded like him. Xu's demeanor brightened abruptly. "Of course now, Squall. Go!"
Though slightly put-off by her dismissal, Squall nonetheless complied with the woman's request, already having an idea what was in store for him there. Or more specifically, who awaited him in Balamb's secluded spot.
A quick glance at the gathered crowd confirmed it, and so Squall gave Xu one last nod before making his way towards his new destination. The halls of Balamb Garden were mildly deserted, though that was unsurprising given that it was already dusk on a weekend. Nevertheless, the rare cadet would wave at the renowned SeeD Commander in greeting, to which Squall would return with a slight nod as he walked, not bothering to pick up his gunblade from his dorm.
Squall stalked through the familiar training ground's path, idly wondering if there would be a time and place in his new assignment where he could sharpen his fangs. Spotting the predatory form of a T-Rexaur, Squall picked up a stone and threw it away from him without missing a step; his diversion had the desired effect as the reptilian beast's head perked up at the sound of what it perceived as prey before taking off, clearing the route for him to quickly slip through the hidden entrance.
He was not disappointed to spot Quistis' form, clad in her usual peach attire, leaning over the railways overlooking Garden.
Hearing his pair of boots behind her, the lovely blonde glanced over her shoulder before blinking at his sudden appearance and giving a soft smile. Quistis returned her attention forward. "Hey there." She greeted and Squall took the opportunity to lean on the railings beside her. "I wasn't expecting you."
The truth in her voice made Squall inwardly blink before sighing; it figured that he'd unwittingly walk in to another of Xu's machinations before he left for this long-term assignment.
'Hn…long-term…' "You're not in the party."
Quistis giggled softly at his words and he threw her an irritated glance. "You're one to talk, Squall. It's your farewell party." She tilted her head towards him, resting her cheek against her arms, her blue eyes twinkling brilliantly behind her spectacles. "Though… I suppose it is to be expected that you'd sneak out. After the ruckus you and Seifer made, even I'd be too embarrassed to stay."
Squall grunted with a sour deadness in his eyes. "Who invited him, anyway?"
"Himself, naturally." The former instructor giggled again and Squall found his lips curling into a small smirk. "That's how Seifer is; doing things his own way." Squall blinked curiously at the fond smile on her face when she continued wistfully. "In a way, he's just like you. A much louder but nonetheless headstrong version of you."
"Whatever." They spoke at the same time.
Squall glared at the laughing woman for copying his response. Quistis' shoulders were trembling as she held her sides, forehead pressed against the cool railing. Her laughter renewed when Squall folded his arms with a sour look in his eyes and she lifted one shaky hand upwards to block her view of his face.
"If you're finished..." Squall drawled in irritation, though there wasn't any malice in his tone.
"In a bit," Quistis grinned, brushing her golden locks from her eyes and straightening. "That…never grows old." Feeling, more than seeing, Squall's gentle gaze on her, the form instructor tilted her head and asked curiously. "What is it?"
"…You're smiling." He pointed out such an obvious thing.
Like a spell, the cloud of worry in Quistis' mind dissipated and her mood brightened. "For you to finally be speaking your mind…I guess things will work out alright, after all."
Squall frowned slightly at her words- didn't he always speak his mind? -but instead felt that he shouldn't comment on it. The blonde woman placed her hands behind her and stretched, arching her back and feeling the tense muscles loosen as she exhaled and leaned over the railing once again, though this time facing the brunet with her cheek rested on one hand.
"You'll be fine." She reiterated while nodding to herself, a pleasant smile on her lips. "I can say this for certain as someone that has always looked after you."
"…This is about Rinoa." He stated.
At her silent nod, Squall sighed.
He didn't quite get it, really. Were they expecting him to break down after the young Sorceress left him to do her own things? Well he wouldn't. At the back of Squall's mind, a tiny voice had always warned him that nothing lasted forever.
Not even Rinoa, and especially not her feelings.
Maybe her leaving did sting and maybe for a short period of time he had been…distressed, but Squall was used to it and he had other duties to occupy himself with. While there didn't seem to be the beginnings of a war brewing anywhere around the world, that did not mean Garden wasn't busy.
So Squall had thrown himself to his duties as a SeeD; training recruits, facilitating in an exam, and going on missions.
Just like this one, no matter how much he was against such a long-term undercover mission in such a…childish environment.
A gloved hand on his shoulder drew him out of his introspection and into Quistis' pondering eyes.
She shook her head and smiled softly. "You will be fine, Squall. Do your best and if at all possible, enjoy yourself. Make friends. Make enemies and turn them into friends. Be yourself, Squall."
Squall had changed, Quistis believed. That he picked up on her mood- and vocalized it- only proved that this young man wasn't the same fresh graduate of less than half a year ago. Despite her anger at Rinoa for dropping something she had longed for, she remained thankful of the young Sorceress for cracking the wall Squall had surrounded himself with. And while frustrated that she herself could not be the one to shatter his barricade, Quistis remained steadfast in hoping that it would crumble and in doing everything she could to make it so.
That was the important thing; that Squall would once again be happy.
This, she firmly believed.
She may have had no leadership skills, she may have failed as an instructor, and she may have even failed as a woman…
…but she would never fail as his friend.
Quistis gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze, her fingers lingering on his heat, the selfish part of her- the woman in her- unwilling to let go. Eventually, the former instructor replaced her hands on her front, ignoring the ache in her chest as she smiled brilliantly.
"I'll be looking forward to hearing your status reports, Squall." She subconsciously ran a hand through her golden locks in an attempt to calm twinge on her heart. Quistis raised her arm in a practiced salute. "Good luck and stay safe."
Squall's throat was constricted as he listened to her words. His mind screamed at him in alarm when the woman prepared to leave; he didn't know why, but he felt he needed to say something. He squashed that unfamiliar twinge on his chest and called out to her.
"Quistis." The woman turned and looked at him curiously. Squall's mind raced and he cleared his throat. "…go read the reports yourself." He stepped up next to her, not wanting her to leave him behind. Throwing one cautious look around- while it was unlikely that anybody would be spying on them here in the training center's secret area, it never hurt to be wary- Squall gave her a small smirk. "Laguna has told me my mother's name."
The former instructor smiled softly having perfectly understood his words and commented sincerely. "She must have such a beautiful name then."
As the two made their way back to Garden proper, the woman who had always watched over him couldn't help but re-affirm in her own thoughts.
Squall Leonhart would be fine.
Squall adjusted his tie as he sat on the bus that would take him towards wherever Youkai Academy was. His hand hovered on the large black keyboard case nestled between his legs and he let out a sigh as he watched the scenery.
Currently, the bus was driving through the mountainside overlooking the ocean. He already had a general idea how to get to wherever he was going, having made notes of the landmarks he had passed. Looking forward, Squall added 'tunnel by the sea' to his list. While normally basking in solitude, Squall was slightly put off by the silence.
He found it odd that he was the only one taking the bus, but he guessed that the other students have already moved in to the dorms of the boarding school ahead of time. This just went to show how scatterbrained Cid was at times. Squall had expected that he was arriving a week before classes were to formally begin so that he had time to scout the premises; trust Cid to arrange his arrival to be on the day school began.
Squall cursed under his breath.
The sound seemed to draw the bus driver's attention- a man Squall had also found odd, given the way his eyes seemed to glow beyond the shadow cast by his hat- and he spoke with his odd tone. "…You are…the student enrolling at Youkai Academy?"
"Yes." Squall deadpanned. Wasn't it obvious? He mentally shook his head; the man was just trying to make small talk, he guessed. A frown formed on his lips; he had to work on that if he was to blend in.
Maybe Cid was right in sending him on this mission. This was like practice for future undercover missions in his career.
"Hehe…" The driver suddenly chuckled, drawing his attention out of his musings. "In that case, you had best prepare yourself now…Hehehe, when we come out of this looooong tunnel, we'll be right in front of the school."
Squall looked out the window and indeed, they were still in the tunnel, oddly enough. The bus driver suddenly snapped his gaze towards him and Squall resisted the urge to berate the man for not looking at where he was driving. "Youkai Academy is a veeerrrry horrifying school!"
Squall's brow rose, wondering what the man meant, though he guessed the driver was just trying to rile him up. "Alright."
A bright flash suddenly forced himself to blink; it seemed they were finally out of the tunnel, as the driver confirmed. "Hehe…we have arrived, sonny boy…be careful."
Squall looked around and…blinked. What was up with this place? Still, taking the man's word for it, he placed the strap of his duffel bag around one shoulder and hoisted his keyboard's case with his other, throwing a smile at the bus driver as he left. "Thanks."
"…Sonny boy, you might want to not smile so much." He pointed out. "Hehe…or maybe you should. Youkai Academy is indeed a horrifying school after all."
A displeased frown formed on Squall's lips as the bus drove off; he was trying to go for pleasant with that one. Was he off? Fine, so he had to practice smiling, then. Damn it, undercover missions were harder than he thought.
Spying a large building in the distance, Squall made his way towards it, taking note of the rather unkempt surroundings. The trees were dead, there were crows cawing everywhere, and the skies seemed unusually dark this early in the morning, though he supposed that last bit was due to the impending rain, if the lightning cackling in the sky was any indication. As he continued following the path, entering the dead forest, Squall also noted the tombstones spread amongst the grounds.
It was an odd place, but he supposed monsters were attracted to this type of environment, clichéd as it was, and thus continued walking.
So lost in his thoughts was he that Squall didn't register the approaching presence until it was too late.
"Gyaaa! Oh noooo! Coming through!"
Squall turned around only to be met with a bicycle about to ram into him; the driver obviously not in control as she pedaled down the slope.
Quickly reacting, Squall sidestepped the mobile and reached a hand out to stabilize the young teen. It proved to be the wrong decision as his duffel bag slipped from his shoulder and rammed into the front wheels, toppling the girl and bike on him, ending with the both of them sprawled on the ground.
"Auu…" The girl blinked the spots from her eyes while Squall merely grunted.
"…You alright?" He asked her before double taking at the flash of pink that filled his vision. The hell? Was this normal?
Indeed, the emerald-eyed girl in front of him had the most striking hair color he had ever seen, and that was saying something. The shock of which made him temporarily forget how the younger teen was still sprawled on his lap.
"Oow…I'm sorry." His mind barely registered her weak tone as she rubbed her eyes tiredly. "I got dizzy from my anemia…" She peeked at him from under her fringe. "A…are you okay?"
"I should be asking you." He frowned. Was this girl touched in the head? "Why are you biking when you're anemic?"
"It's not all the time…" She weakly protested before suddenly realizing their position. "A-ah! I'm sorry!"
She suddenly stood up only to sway as the abrupt elevation sent her into another dizzy spell; orthostatic hypotension was a killer in anemics. Squall immediately snatched her hand before she fell backwards, though by doing so the girl instead fell right back onto him. He grunted when her full weight collided with his chest.
"Ah…sorry…" she apologized and Squall sighed heavily.
"…It's nothing. Calm down first." He couldn't find it in himself to berate such a sickly girl. He was irritated, yes, but it wasn't her fault she was anemic, right?
"Oh…" She suddenly perked up, her muddled eyes suddenly sharpening before hazing again with something else apart from dizziness. A flush suddenly adorned her cheeks and she grasped his hand in hers.
"The scent of… blood." The girl continued. Squall looked on questioningly as she raised his hand in hers; she had quite a grip for an anemic…
She couldn't what? Stand the smell? She had quite a sensitive nose; he didn't even realize that he had wounded his hand by stopping her bike.
Squall's mind blanked when the strange girl suddenly cradled his wounded hand against her cheek.
"I lose control when I smell that scent." She mumbled against his palm, though Squall didn't hear it. Instead, the hairs on his nape rose when she took a deep sniff of his wound before peeking at him from the corner of her eyes. "I…I'm sorry but…"
"…Let go of my hand…" He was starting to become apprehensive of this strange teen. Were all normal teenaged girls like this? !
She didn't seem to hear him as she kissed his wound.
He could feel her tongue tracing the bloody trail when her lips parted.
"…but… I'm a vampire."
His mind barely registered her words when her fangs dug onto his skin and sucked.
"What the-!" Squall was about to bash the attacking girl's head off his hand when she suddenly pulled back all-flustered and wide-eyed.
"Ah! Oh no! I'm so sorry!" She stood up and bowed deeply. Squall blinked as his mind tried to process what the hell was happening. "I'm sorry. I'm Akashiya Moka." The girl introduced herself. "Although I look like this, I'm a vampire."
"What?" Was this some kind of joke? ! "Vampire?"
Moka suddenly blushed, pressing her palms against her cheeks with a happy smile. "Yes~ Thank you so much for the treat. Your blood is soooo yummy! It's incredible~"
He was lost. So completely and utterly lost. What the hell? Was the flier really telling the truth and storybook monsters did exist? Or was this girl just insane?
Squall's mind quickly latched on to the important word in her speech.
If memory served him right, he recalled Zell going on about how they were bloodsuckers that were weak to sunlight, garlic, water, and crosses.
Steel blue eyes quickly glanced over the smiling girl- whose smile was slowly becoming uneasy at the brunet's scrutiny- and noted two things. The first of which was that either Zell got his facts wrong or the girl, Moka, was lying because she had a silver cross dangling from the black choker around her neck and she was standing under the sun's light; it was hard not to notice the way her pink hair shined. The second thing was that Xu was actually wrong, and that there did indeed was a school with shorter skirts than Garden.
A voice that sounded very much like Seifer rang through his ears cackling 'Puberty Boy' made him quickly avert his gaze away from her skirt as the fabric billowed with the ocean breeze.
Moka didn't notice any of this and broke out a sheepish smile. "Ah…I'm sorry." She apologized again, drawing his piercing gaze towards her emeralds. "Urmm…I guess I should have asked before drinking, right?" She clapped her hands together apologetically. "I hope you'll let this slide. It's just that, your blood smelled so delicious and I was so famished…" Moka shook her head as she was about to drift off into nostalgia; his blood had honestly tasted divine to her lips, and just thinking about it made her want to sink her fangs into the seated man's neck again… wait a second. "Ah! H-here, I'm sorry for knocking you down."
She extended her hand towards him, her eyes lingering on the scar on his forehead but quickly darted towards his own orbs feeling that it was rude to ask him about it so soon.
It was at this point that Squall noticed that she didn't seem anemic anymore. Gathering his thoughts, he accepted her gesture and patted the dirt off his clothes before picking up his luggage. "…It's fine. You apologize too much."
"Ah, ehehehe…" Moka chuckled in embarrassment as she fixed her bike. Taking the cue, Squall and the self-professed vampire made their way to the school building. Their awkward silence was broken when Moka spoke up. "Er…um…" She flinched slightly when her companion's sharp eyes snapped towards her. The pink-haired girl's gaze met the ground in a depressed funk. "Do you…so you really hate our kind…vampires…"
Squall looked at her curiously. "I wouldn't know." His sincere reply caught the girl's attention. "I've never met one before."
"Oh! That's great!" Moka's mood brightened abruptly, and Squall found himself wondering if this girl was possibly bipolar. "Then…if, you know, if you're okay with me, could you possibly be my friend?" There was an undercurrent of nervousness in her cheery demeanor that Squall picked up and filed for later. Feeling her companion's stare, she continued. "I was feeling lonely since I don't know anyone here."
For the moment, Undercover 101 kicked in; make friends, no matter how insane they may be. It'll make blending in more natural, and you never know when you'd need a meat shield to fall back on.
"Great! I'm so happy!" If possible, Moka's mood brightened even more and she flashed him a radiant smile, though Squall's attention zeroed in the four slightly elongated canines sticking out. Realizing something, Moka looked up at the tall man curiously. "Um…I never did get your name…"
A smirk formed on his lips at her innocence. "It's Squall Leonhart."
Moka blinked. "Leonhart-san?"- Squall inwardly blinked, 'San?' -"That's an uncommon name. Are you a foreigner?"
"Yes." An idea popped into his head and he smiled disarmingly at her. Moka took a sudden step back at the eerie grin on her new friend's lips, who noticed this and immediately dropped it before smoothly asking. "Would you mind showing me around sometime, Akashiya…san?"
"I'd be delighted!" She gave him a friendly smile. "Though, just call me 'Moka', alright? We're friends now so you don't need to call me by my family name!"
"Fine. Moka." Then as an afterthought, he added. "San."
The pink-haired girl giggled. "You really are not from around here, Leonhart-san." She blinked before amending. "Ah, Squall-san is more correct, right? Are you a freshman, too?"
"Either's fine. And yes, I'm a freshman." He hid his distaste at his status well. Feeling that he was doing something wrong, Squall looked at her inquisitively. "What makes you say I'm not from around here?"
"The way you talk." She pointed out before adding. "It's really strange. Your accent is perfect, but you say my name awkwardly."
He shrugged; just a minor detail then, and he could probably work with this 'foreign student' angle. "I'll just call you 'Moka', then." He stated, before raising his brow when Moka suddenly blushed. "What?"
"N-nothing. I'm just overthinking." After all, only close friends and couples referred to each other by their forenames in their culture, most especially if without the honorific. The pink-haired girl shook her head with a friendly smile. "Then…may I call you 'Squall'?"
Another careless shrug; he didn't really see the point in her asking. "Whatever."
Moka blinked, wondering what to make of his reply, before smiling softly. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Squall." The school bell suddenly rang, informing them that it was almost time for the new term to formally begin. "Ah! Find me after the ceremony, okay? Then we can tour the school together!"
Squall nodded at her before watching his new…friend walk away to park her bicycle.
The self-proclaimed vampire wasn't bad, he guessed. A bit clumsy, yes, but she was mild-mannered and above all else, helpful. Maybe he could finish this mission midway through the year, depending on how capable this girl was.
Turning his attention back to the academy, Squall walked forward confidently, all the while ignoring the cackling electricity in the skies.
Squall looked around and blinked at the midget with the large, pointy…witch hat in front of him questioningly.
"You're not allowed to wear your normal shoes indoors! Go find your locker and take put on your indoor shoes!" The bossy girl huffed before turning on her heel and stomping away.
Seeing all the other students in the locker room changing their footwear as well as trying to keep a low profile, Squall decided it was best if he did as instructed and followed everyone else's example.
Huh…so that's why he was told to bring another pair of shoes.
"Hello everyone! Welcome to Youkai Academy!" The blonde and bespectacled woman greeted animatedly, holding on to her pointer. "I am your form room teacher, Nekonome Shizuka!" She introduced herself cheerfully.
Squall idly went on the hunch that Nekonome was her surname, based on his earlier encounter with Moka; his full attention, however, was glued on to his new teacher's extra appendages.
'Those can't be ears…can it?' She looked human, so why did she have cat-like ears on her head? Unless…was she a Sorceress, too?
"Eh~ I'm sure you all know this already but this is an academy for monsters~!" Shizuka pointed out with a bright smile.
Squall blinked just as lightning cackled in the background.
Not noticing her newest student's stupor, the blonde teacher continued, tapping her pointing stick at the scribbles on the chalkboard, depicting a hierarchy of sorts between humans and monsters. "As of now, the world is under control of humans." Her tone suddenly took a dip in melodrama and she thrust her stick forward. "For us demons to survive, we have to coexist with humans!"
Squall glanced around and still couldn't see how any of these humans could be demons, though he withheld absolute judgment; his experience has taught him to keep an open mind. His hand pulled his keyboard closer towards himself.
"For that reason~" Shizuka's tone brightened again as she pointed to a list of things on the chalkboard. "School rule number one: all students must be in their human form unless special situations arise."- 'Human form. Fine.' –"School rule number two: no other students should know your true form." She nodded her head. "Understand~? Everyone should follow it well~!"
"Hmph. Boring rules…" Somebody commented arrogantly from his side. Squall glanced at the brown haired man, who had his arms folded behind his head as he leaned back in his chair.
Shizuka stared at him as she tried to remember his name before quickly giving up and looking through her notebook. "You are…" Finding his name, the blonde woman smiled. "Komiya Saizou-kun, right?"
Saizoukun slouched forward on his seat, exuding an air of superiority that reminded Squall of Seifer before Ultimecia happened. "Why don't we just eat those humans?" Saizoukun leered with a hungry gleam in his eyes. "That's what I'd do, sensei."
'Sensei?' Squall didn't dwell on that thought for too long when he noted that Saizoukun started licking his lips with an… abnormally long tongue. The undercover SeeD's eyes narrowed slightly, finally choosing to believe that this was a school for demons.
Though, since this academy was training demons to coexist with humans, did that mean there were other humans about?
"Ara~ But you shouldn't do that." Shizuka pointed out her disapproval. "Because the staff and students from head to toe are all… monsters." A cat's tail suddenly sprang up behind the teacher, causing Squall to blink in shock.
'Well, that answers that…but weren't these monsters supposed to stick to their human form?'
An ominous aura suddenly surrounded the teacher as she elaborated. "We're surrounded by a secret barrier."
"Any unsuspecting humans who enter…" Shizuka paused for dramatic purpose...that was promptly broken when she continued happily. "…would be killed on the spot. Or something like that~"
Squall subconsciously glanced at his keyboard while Shizuka's tail continued to wag happily.
"Tch." Saizoukun clicked his tongue at the woman's declaration before glaring around as if looking for something. "Now that you mention it, I smelt a human just now…"
Steel blue eyes glanced at the man beside him slowly, wondering if his disguise was up. If that was the case, Squall guessed he'd have failed his mission given the massacre that was about to ensue.
Luckily, Saizoukun didn't get anywhere as the door suddenly slid open to reveal a familiar girl.
"Ah! Sorry for being a bit late! I kinda got lost in the school after the ceremony."
Shizuka looked up. "Oh, and you are?"
The girl strode inwards cheerfully before standing in front of the class before flashing a bright smile. "I'm Akashiya Moka!"
Squall blinked again as the class suddenly erupted with cheers.
"Whoa! So cute!"
"Hot! She's too hot!"
Ignoring the catcalls as Shizuka attempted to calm the class, Moka glanced around the room as she made her way to a vacant seat, curious as to who she would be spending the rest of the year with when her eyes landed on a familiar scarred man…
…and Squall suddenly found an excited vampire in his arms when she leapt at him. "Squall!" The hapless brunet struggled to keep himself from falling off his chair. "We're in the same class!"
"Moka." Squall greeted neutrally, causing the class to once more erupt in chaos.
"Who the hell is he? !"
"Where does he get off calling her like that? !"
"Woah, he's so hot!"
"Damn punk thinking he's so cool with that scar!"
"Our beautiful girl, our beautiful girl!"
"Settle down everyone!" Shizuka tried to calm the class once again.
Squall sighed as the vampire girl extricated herself from her impromptu glomp with an embarrassed smile on her flushed face, though his eyes never left Saizoukun, who now had his eyes on him.
"Hey, look at that!" Someone gestured to his friend, who also turned before gaping at the sight.
The undercover SeeD inwardly palmed his head.
'So much for keeping a low profile…' Squall thought as he was dragged around by an eager Akashiya Moka through the hallway. He couldn't stay mad at the girl, though he did feel a bit irritable at her disregard of personal space.
He wondered if it was a vampire thing.
"Hey, hey, isn't this hallway cool?" Moka pointed out, to which Squall answered with a dead "Yes."; the tone of which the girl didn't seem to notice.
When Squall asked that she take him on a tour, he had no idea that he would be bodily dragged around by the excited vampire; Squall barely had time to grab his keyboard before they set off!
He did note though that Moka was disproportionately strong for her appearance; more than once he had tried to shrug off her hold and failed. "Let's see what's over there!"
"Fine…" This woman was as pushy as Rinoa!
Despite everything though- Squall glanced over at the unadulterated happiness radiating off Moka's smile- he couldn't bring himself to deny her. He just wished he could walk normally.
And to keep a lower profile; walking around like this was really gathering a crowd.
"Wow, did you see that girl?"
"Who's that guy? !"
"Whoa! Beautiful! I've never seen such a hottie!"
"I- I wanna date her!"
"But who's that guy she's with?"
Suddenly, a wave of bloodlust made Squall's eyes snap to alert.
"Yeah! Who the hell is that guy next to her? !"
"Bastard's trying to look cool with that scar on his face!"
"Perhaps he will leave on his own!"
"If not, that bastard is dead!"
"Let's just kill him now!"
'The hell? Are all monsters like this? !' Squall's honed danger instincts were going haywire in this school! Was this normal? !
Thankfully, the bloodlust seemed to subside when as the pair walked past the double doors. "Oh! A vending machine!"
Moka came to a stop in front of the dispensers and finally let go of his arm. She pressed a finger against her lips as she tried to decide what to get. "What would you like to drink, Squall?"
"Coffee." He replied, taking out the necessary coins. This place was just so odd; it was clearly a different environment, but there were little things that were the same as home. Like, the currency, for which he was thankful of as he placed his coins inside. While the Yens weren't exactly called Gils, the two currencies looked exactly the same.
The exchange rate, on the other hand, had Squall thinking that he might just be able to live a lavish life of luxury in this monster world. It was a real shame that there really didn't seem to be anything interesting to do here…
"Hmm…I'll get tomato juice then!" The bubbly vampire finally decided as she, too, put in her coins and selected.
Their drinks arrived with two clanks and their bare fingers touched when both of them unconsciously retrieved their beverages at the same time.
A flush of pink adorned Moka's face while Squall pulled back as if nothing happened, drink in hand. His brow rose when Moka froze from their contact. "What's wrong?"
"I-it's nothing!" Moka quickly took her drink.
The two of them made their way to a nearby bench in the shade and sat down.
The vampire punched two holes in her drink and sipped before squealing out. "It's delicious, isn't it?"
"Yeah." Squall answered disinterestedly as he, too, took a sip of his canned coffee, throwing a cool glance around as he internally memorized his surroundings.
Finally taking note of her friend's displeased attitude, Moka pouted as she looked at Squall. "Squall…am I bothering you?"
Her innocent question drew the undercover SeeD's attention. "…What makes you say that?"
"It's just..." Moka wanted to admit that he didn't seem happy with her presence but chose not to instead. Squall tilted his head to the side questioningly, waiting for her to continue, and Moka suddenly shook her head and smiled, dismissing the dark clouds in her thoughts. "Ah, don't worry about it."
There was an unusually self-consciousness in her smile, a far-cry from her earlier exuberance, that Squall wanted to comment on but felt that it wasn't his place to point out…
…why did this feel so familiar?
Thankfully, Squall didn't have to think about this so much as someone decided to cut in.
"You are Akashiya Moka, right? I am your classmate, Komiya Saizou. Salutations…" Saizou…kun(?) drawled out as he approached, a predatory glint in his eyes as his obsidian orbs zeroed in on the vampire. His eyes suddenly shifted towards the seated Squall. "By the way, why is a beautiful lady such as yourself hanging out with a guy like this, Moka-san?"
Saizoukun's hand suddenly shot out and lifted the shorter brunet by his collar.
"A-ah! Squall!" Moka stood up from her seat frantically, not knowing what to do about the sudden intrusion.
Squall merely glared down at the man. "Let go, Saizoukun." He commanded coolly, unfazed by the ruffian's blatant attempt at intimidation.
Saizoukun's eyes suddenly narrowed at the man's tone. "The hell? Don't get fresh with me, punk." Squall's body collided with the vending machine, the impact leaving a deep dent in it.
"Squall!" Moka tried to run to him only for Saizoukun's hand on her shoulder to roughly stop her.
"Hey now." He leered at the pink-haired teen. "Don't bother with that foreign trash. Come play with me"
Sitting on the floor, Squall wondered if he should intervene; helping Moka out of this squabble was not part of his mission parameters, and while he was angry at the way he was slighted, the professional in him knew it was best to keep a low profile instead of drawing more attention to himself. Really, there wasn't any reason for him to help Moka out.
After the quick internal debate, he finally decided to let this situation play out.
Though it seemed his worrying was for naught; Moka took care of it herself as she slapped Saizoukun's hand away and spoke more forcefully. "I'm with Squall now." She declared before picking up Squall's keyboard caseand running towards the fallen man, and knelt before him. "Are you alright, Squall?"
At her honest concern, Squall felt a twinge on his chest which he dutifully ignored. "I'm fine." He grunted out as he stood up with his own strength.
"Ah, I'm glad you're not hurt." She sighed in relief before taking his hand and leading him back into the building, ignoring the silently fuming monster behind.
Saizoukun watched the pair with a silent fury in his eyes. "Tch. Just watch me…" He glared at the closing doors. "I never allow a woman like you to escape."
"Geez, Squall, don't provoke Saizou-san like that…" Moka admonished him. "Calling him 'Saizou-kun' like that, what were you thinking?"
The vampire had led him to a secluded stairway, having finally escaped the crowd her presence had gathered.
"…'Saizou-san'?" Squall blinked questioningly. The honesty in his eyes made the vampire blink in return.
A pregnant silence settled between them when Moka suddenly broke out into a giggling fit, much to Squalls' chagrin.
"Oh no," The vampire wiped a tear from her eye and Squall frowned, wondering what was so funny. "No way! Did- did you really think 'Saizou-kun' was his name?" Squall palming his head was her confirmation and she burst into another giggling fit. "You did! Squall, that's so funny!"
A tick mark formed on his brow and the scarred man growled. "Funny enough to get thrown into a machine."
His deadpan abruptly cut off the vampire's laughter, though when she saw no malicious intent in Squall's eyes, she resolved to smile meekly. Moka clapped her hands as she nodded to herself. "I guess we should work on your language, huh?"
"We?" Squall tilted his head to the side. "Are you offering?"
Moka ran a hand through her pink locks when she felt her face flush. "O-of course! If you'd let me. We're friends after all, right?"
Inwardly squashing the guilt her words managed to instill in him, Squall outwardly smiled and nodded his head. 'Very helpful indeed.'
Again, Moka took an unconscious step back from the creepiness radiating off his lips and Squall immediately stopped smiling and turned his attention away. "Thanks, Moka."
"It's fine…" She smiled at him meaningfully, her eyes glittering with her happiness. "Besides…" Squall's brow rose when her face suddenly turned as rosy as her hair. "…we're on bloodsucking terms~!"
Moka seemed to be fascinated with his blood as she continued. "Be proud of your blood, Squall! You have Grade A blood; it tastes so much better than any of the blood packs I've had! Its sweetness is simply divine, and its mineral balance so perfect! It's so rich and filling!"
"What, am I your food now?" Squall's quip drew the excited vampire out of her tirade.
"Ah…well…truth be told…" Her sudden bashfulness put Squall off-guard. "That was my…first time."
"…Drinking, right?" He prodded; if anybody heard this crazy woman's words, they might get the wrong idea and he'd never be able to keep a low profile anymore.
"Of course!" Moka happily nodded in affirmation before palming her cheeks, utter bliss radiating off her in waves as she remembered the tasty treat she had in the morning. It didn't seem to bother her that her treat was standing in front of her or that she feasted on her new friend. "You're the first person I've ever bodily fed off. Until now, I've always been drinking tomato juice or blood packs." She flashed him a brilliant smile. "Squall…That feeling…I'll never forget it~!"
Somehow, despite the mortification he felt at her words, Squall still couldn't bring himself to hate this sincere vampire.
"You'll forget it eventually."
That feeling didn't stop him from trying to burst her bubble.
"Hmm?" Moka hummed thoughtfully before an eager glint reflected off her eyes. "Squall, are you offering yourself for further treats?"
He wanted to deny her. He sorely did. The Squall those many months ago would do so in a heartbeat. But the Squall now, on the other hand, sighed tiredly as he vaguely promised. "…If you're good."
Moka threw her arms around him and squealed her happiness. "Yay!"
The utter happiness with which Moka spoke was…disconcerting to him.
But it wasn't unwelcome, he supposed.
"Oh, I'm so happy you're my friend, Squall!" Moka cheered, accidentally pushing him with her hand absently before walking off. "C'mon Squall! We've got more places to explore!"
Squall's breath left him as he got embedded into a wall.
'The…hell?' He grunted. Just how strong was this woman?
The vampire and her newfound meal-and-buddy found themselves at the gates of the academy's dorms that afternoon.
Akashiya Moka, the seemingly perpetually happy vampire inhaled deeply before letting out a contented sigh as she gazed into the inviting accommodations before turning to her companion. "Isn't it simply beautiful, Squall?"
Her meal, the undercover SeeD known as Squall Leonhart, blinked. Hard. "This is the dorm?" He asked in disbelief. Indeed, never mind the gravestones and dead trees littering the front nor the crows nesting on the roof, the entire building seemed like it was going to collapse at the barest wind.
When he spied the building in the distance while walking with his companion after they both gathered their belongings- Moka and her shoulder bag, Squall and his duffel bag and keyboard case- he thought that maybe it just looked bad from afar.
He wondered now how he convinced himself into thinking something that idiot.
"Yes, isn't it amazing?" She beamed at him, pressing her hands together in bliss. "It's so cool. Such a building, full of dignity and character…"
"Right. Like an abandoned mansion." Squall retorted dryly.
"Exactly!" Moka nodded her head happily as Squall palmed his forehead. Her eyes once more lingered briefly on the scar running down between his eyes but chose not to comment, and instead smiled at him questioningly. "Oh, are you displeased? Even though you're a monster, too?" She tilted her head. "Speaking of which, what kind of monster are you, Squall?"
Squall opened his mouth, already having a practiced answer for such a question-
"Oh," Moka continued thoughtfully, cutting him off before he could reply. "Letting your true form out is against the school rules, isn't it?" She clapped her hands together apologetically and Squall inwardly palmed his head; she just answered her question with the reply he was about to say. "Sorry, I didn't mean to ask that question."
Really, this woman was just too talkative. Squall shook his head. "It's alright." A sudden thought flittered through his head. "Actually, Moka," The vampire suddenly perked up at her friend's call. "Will you be suspended since you've revealed to me what you are?"
Squall blinked at the utter terror his words caused the girl.
"N-no- I-I hope not…" She smiled shakily before shaking her head. "I mean, I didn't know about the rule when I told you…" Moka trailed off as she tried to convince herself.
"…Didn't you read the handbook they sent out?" Squall looked at her questioningly.
Moka seemed struck by his words and her whole body started shaking. "I- that's-" She looked around frantically. "S-Squall…do you think- do you think they'd suspend me? Do you think they'd kick me out?"
"So what if they did?" He honestly didn't see the problem. "The worst that would happen is that you'd have to attend a human school."
"No!" The vehemence in her denial made Squall pause. "I, never! Human schools are- they're horrible." She wrapped her arms around her waist. "I've- I went to a human school before…" that piqued Squall's interest, though in retrospect, he supposed that was to be expected; how else would these monsters have been able to get into high school and eventually find jobs as they coexisted in the human world?
"Everyone was so mean to me because of my looks." Moka unconsciously threaded her fingers through her silky pink curtains out of nervous habit. "They isolated me! I was always alone…None of those humans believed that monsters exist so I started thinking I was weird while growing up, that it'd be better if I disappeared. I- I don't want to go back to the human world, Squall." Her green eyes suddenly shot towards him pleadingly. "Squall- will I be sent back for revealing my true form?"
"…No." Squall finally spoke, and Moka listened to the warmth of his voice intently. He felt some semblance of guilt at forcing the vampire to relieve her childhood terror, but he also felt that she should just grow up. The world was harsh; she should deal with it instead of allow herself to be crushed by it.
Still, at least now he knew why the vampire was so clingy towards him. He must have been her first friend, given the traumatized manner she spoke of her past with. She was latching on to him...
…and it irritated him, because it reminded him of Rinoa, and how he latched on to her words.
And the worst part of it all, was that Moka was fated for heart ache, too, by having chosen him of all people to latch on to. Him, the man on a mission.
'Hyne damn it. Focus, Leonhart! You're not here to make friends!'
Squall cleared his throat and continued, his tone slightly more professional and lacking of its previous reassuring warmth. "Nobody else knows your identity; you told only me." Emerald eyes widened at him hopefully and he couldn't help the fond smile from leaving his lips.
The naturalness in his smile made Moka's breath hitch, though Squall continued without noticing it.
"And I keep secrets. And besides, Shizuka obviously doesn't hide her more monstrous features and yet she's still here teaching." He folded his arms. "I don't think they enforce that rule at all."
Moka blinked at realizing that one tidbit. "Oh, you're right! If sensei can get away with it, then so could we, right?"
"'Sensei'?" Squall tilted his head.
"It means 'teacher'. It's a form of respect, sort-of like how you foreigners use titles like 'sir' and 'ma'am', right?" Moka pointed out. Seeing him nod in understanding, the pink-haired vampire smiled brilliantly in gratitude. "And, thanks Squall. For, you know, clarifying that up."
"It's nothing." Squall shrugged it off before giving his companion a once-over. "Still, it's hard to believe that you're a vampire."
Moka tilted her head to the side questioningly. "Why do you say that?"
"You don't fit the stories, for one." Squall pointed out. "You're not at all grotesque or horrifying, and you're not very intimidating. In fact, you look very human."
"…Yep, of course." Moka folded her hands behind her back, staring at him fondly. "Right now, I look really human but…y'see…" She placed a hand on the silver cross dangling off her neck. "If I take this rosary on my chest off, I become the real thing. An evil and scaaaary vampire…"
"…That simple? With a rosary?"
The vampire girl nodded her head and explained with a smile. "See, rosaries have the effect of sealing off a vampire's power. Since in my original form I was hated and caused conflict, I put this on myself so I'd keep my vampire powers sealed."
Squall accepted her explanation, not at all unused to the concept of sealing powers. Odine had developed a similar technology to seal the powers granted by Hyne's curse. Sure, it wasn't perfect; a strong enough Sorceress could easily overload the device or, more realistically, take it off herself, but the main idea was there.
"Hrmm…can you take your rosary off?" He questioned her curiously.
Moka shook her head. "No. I can't remove it." She smiled a sad smile. "It's better this way, I think. I was hated because of my power; at least like this, I can live how I want. Even though I have to look human to do so."
Her words struck a chord in the undercover SeeD. "You despise humans?"
"Yes!" Moka admitted truthfully. "Don't you hate humans, too? I mean," Her green eyes flashed towards the scar on his face. "Didn't a human do that to you?"
"It doesn't matter." Squall shrugged carelessly before staring intently at the pink-haired woman. "…Hey, what would happen if the humans you hate somehow became your friend?"
"I…" Moka looked uncertain. What would she do? How would she react? "I… that's impossible. No human would be friends with monsters. And besides, humans aren't allowed into this place, right?"
As the vampire spoke her self-reassuring words, she didn't notice the creeping hollowness in her new friend's gaze.
'Guess that's a 'no' then.' Squall thought to himself somberly. Rinoa had really done a number on him. It hadn't even been a full day since he met this cheerful vampire and already she had managed to get under his skin. No matter, from here-on-out, he'd have to keep his guard up and act more professionally. He couldn't get attached to this…monster. Within the course of his stay, he'll just slowly ease his way out of her thoughts, lingering in her presence just enough to extract information and nothing else.
It was best, this way.
For the both of them.
"I'm sorry, Squall…" Moka suddenly apologized, breaking the awkward silence. "…for dumping my burdens on you. It's just…" She smiled at him contently. "You're my first friend. You're the first person to treat me like I exist- to make me feel like I exist." Her hands clasped the rosary on her heart. "I know it's been less than a day since we've met but, I'm sincerely happy that I met you, Squall." Her eyes shimmered. "I hope you'll take care of me from now on."
His chest tightened.
"…" This woman…was making things complicated. Squall turned away and adjusted the bags strapped on his shoulders. "C'mon, let's get inside and set our luggage down."
"Oh r-right!" Like a magic spell, Moka was snapped out of her wistfulness as she picked up her bag.
As the duo made their way to their respective dorms, Moka shyly called her friend's attention. "Um…Squall?"
The scarred teen spared her a glance. "What?"
"In an hour…do you mind meeting with me out here?" Moka shyly played with her hair with her free hand. "There's still a lot of time before dinner and I want to explore more."
Squall didn't think twice about accepting; the sooner he finished gathering his data, the sooner he could finish this mission and get out of this place.
Damned Quistis; there was absolutely no way he could enjoy his stay in this place.
Unnoticed by Squall who had already turned his back on her, Moka beamed at him happily before she made her way to the girl's building.
Saizou watched as that scrumptious piece of meat parted ways with that trash of a man before licking his lips.
The tall freshman had been making his way to the dorms when he caught sight of the two students in the distance, and decided to creep up towards them and listen in on their conversation. He didn't think much of their words- weak and sentimental children were what those two were, especially Moka.
That Akashiya Moka was a vampire was simply laughable! Her, a legendary vampire? Hah!
However, whether he believed it or not didn't matter; he now had leverage over the elusive Akashiya Moka. It was clear to him that scarface was bluffing when he declared that Moka wouldn't be suspended after revealing her true form just because no action was taken against their teacher.
It was sad, but it was precisely because Nekonome was a teacher that no action was taken against her. But hey, that's the way the world worked.
Scarface was obviously just trying to reassure her. Moka was simply such a naïve, gullible little girl for believing that trash's lies.
Luckily for Akashiya Moka, by the time he was done with her, she wouldn't have to worry about returning to the human world.
He licked his lips in anticipation.
Soon, that woman would be all his for the taking.
Saizou couldn't wait.
An hour later, Moka strolled outside towards the dorm's gates with a happy smile on her face as she awaited for her friend. Glancing at the time, she noted that she still had about five more minutes before their scheduled meeting; she didn't realize how excitable she'd turn out to be to finally have a friend she could speak with. It felt so good to no longer be alone.
As she placed her hands behind her back and hummed happily to herself, her mind drifted on the seemingly perpetually aloof teen with a scar running down his face.
Squall was such a strange monster; she wondered if all monsters that grew in foreign lands were like him.
Moka could see it in his eyes that there was something that was troubling her friend. Unlike her, Squall seemed to be a monster of few words, keeping to himself half the time and pointedly aloof in the other. He barely talked about himself or his experiences until prompted, though he wasn't needlessly thoughtless either.
It was like he just…existed.
When she first ran into him in the morning, she had been worried that the scarred man would instantly reject her or think of her as some weird girl and want nothing to do with her; she didn't know what she'd do if even here in Youkai Academy she would be rejected. She was surprised when the man took her hand and walked with her to the academy, and even more so when Squall listened to her.
It was a surprise, but a very pleasant one that had her spirits soaring with glee.
Squall had remained disinterested for most of the day. Or rather, he seemed more interested in everything else but those he spoke with, and when he did speak it always sounded somehow guarded to her ears. She could tell when someone was drowning in the crushing sea of loneliness- her experience had allowed her to see the signs- but what she saw in Squall was something even beyond that; it was as if he had actually learned to breathe somehow…or float above with half of his body submerged.
Guarded and always serious were two descriptions that readily came to mind.
Then that interruption from Saizou happened during their break. The brute had tossed her friend against the vending machines, yet Squall showed no reaction to it. He wasn't seething with manly retribution nor was he shaking in fear- he wasn't even groaning in pain! Instead, Squall merely stood up and dusted his clothes apathetically like it didn't matter that someone wanted to bodily harm him.
It was very unsettling.
Her womanly instincts told her there was something wrong with him, but her nose couldn't smell anything threatening about him, all the while her heart honestly felt that he was a kind and gentle monster, if the quiet smiles and little gestures he did were any indication.
However, one thing was for sure; Squall wasn't happy, and she could only imagine what horrors humans had done to him to make him like that. He seemed so burdened that he perpetually curled up on himself. It was like there was something always in his mind but he could not express it, for fear of something.
But whatever they did didn't matter anymore. He was here, finally with his own kind, and he was here with her. As his friend, Moka had decided that she'd make him happy. The fact that his blood simply tasted like the best thing since artificial-blood packs and that he offered himself for her snacking whenever she was a good was a bonus.
A much anticipated and appreciated bonus.
...Oh dear, she had only one taste; could she already be addicted?
She pressed her hands against her flushed cheeks and shook her head to clear her thoughts.
Moka wanted her friend to genuinely smile. Not any of those creepy, forced smiles he seemed oddly fond of giving, but a genuinely happy one.
Squall was a good friend to her, she honestly believed, and she hoped that he would feel the same way about her.
"Having fun, girly?" A cocky voice sounded from behind her. Turning, Moka came face to face with Saizou, who grinned down at her maliciously.
"Ah…good afternoon, Saizou-san." Moka greeted him nervously, wondering what he wanted.
Saizou glanced around as if looking for something. "Where's your little trash heap? Shouldn't he be here?"
A frown formed on Moka's lips at the way he spoke of her friend. "Don't call Squall 'trash'." She admonished.
The monster in front of her tapped his forehead mockingly before cackling. "Of course. How could I be so stupid?" He leaned downwards to level his eyes with her and Moka felt her heart race with dread. "He's not trash. He's your meal, isn't he? You little bloodsucker."
Moka's eyes widened. "H-how?"
"How, what? How did I know that little miss Moka is a vampire?" He tutted at her mockingly. "Are you sure you should be asking that and not what would happen if the staff realize that you revealed your true form in school grounds?"
Squall's words suddenly got the vampire to focus and she stared at him sharply. "It doesn't matter! I won't be expelled just because my true form is revealed!"
"How can you be so sure?" Saizou sounded amused as he grinned down on her. Moka opened her mouth to retort when the delinquent cut her off. "'Because Squall says so'? Is that what you want to say? Who would you believe, that trash's lying mouth or your own teacher's words? Are you so naïve that you didn't realize he was just trying to reassure you? Ever heard of a 'white lie'?"
"Th-that's…" Moka trailed off, not really knowing what to say. Shizuka-sensei had made the two main academy rules clear during form period, whereas Squall had spoken mostly from conjecture. And, Squall was kind, but was he kind enough to lie for her own sake…?
Seeing he had her on the ropes, Saizou continued speaking. "Well, Moka-san, I have a proposition for you." Moka did not like the sound of that, and her face showed it. "How about if you spend the rest of the day with me, then I won't disclose your dirty little secret with anybody?"
"What…?" It was obviously a trap, but what choice did she have?
"You see Akashiya Moka, your beauty is nothing like I've ever seen before. My every thought is filled with you, Akashiya Moka. If you spend the rest of today with me, then my lips are sealed."
Moka looked around, hoping someone would come to help her. Squall- where was Squall? Weren't they supposed to meet?
"Well, Moka-san?" Saizou prodded with a leer.
It was a trap, her every instinct screamed at her, but…he only wanted her to spend the rest of the day with him. And, if things started to escalate, then she'd talk him out of it, right? Despite his brutish behavior and appearance, Saizou seemed like someone she could reason with so…
The vampire took a deep breath. "A-alright…but let me tell Squall first, okay? That our plans are cancelled?"
Saizou smiled at her.
Youkai Academy…wasn't a bad place.
Squall honestly thought that.
So far, anyway. He cynically wondered when he'd start to detest this environment.
As far as first impressions were concerned, this dimensionally-isolated academy was just like any other. Aesthetics not counted, of course.
Still, it was a nice place.
Squall was able to appreciate its design even more as he drew out a rough schematic of Youkai Academy from memory. There were some places he couldn't remember quite clearly, but didn't think much of it. He and Moka were once again going to head out in a few minutes; he'd refresh his memory, then.
And if not, he still had the rest of the week before he'd send his first report. He was only starting this now because he knew, being a school, he would be bombarded with more mundane work.
Despite the initial apprehension he felt when the mission started, he was now sure of one thing, and that was that he could no longer deny the existence of these 'storybook' demons. He just hoped that the myths were accurate down to their weaknesses; else he'd be revealing his fang sooner than he wanted to. Squall felt that he really shouldn't be surprised by their existence; fantasy arose from the inspiration drawn from reality, after all.
The myths had to have some basis.
The thought made his lips twitch with a smirk.
As Squall's pen- the pen Xu had given him- scribbled about the pages, his mind wandered off to his new...informant.
Squall would be the first to admit that he had dismissed supernatural horror stories as mere flights of fancy. Growing up, Squall was focused on becoming a SeeD and mastering his trade, and chose not to dally himself with irrelevant books, as they were mere distractions.
On occasion, he did overhear his fellow students speak of horror thrills and fabled monsters, and while he dismissed those mythical beasts as mere fiction, he did take note of several characteristics on the off chance that any of the real monsters they'd encounter in the field acted similarly.
Moka Akashiya- rather, Akashiya Moka; he still needed time to adjust to all these little details- was anything but a vampire at first glance. Depending on which text one consulted, vampires were legendary beings that exuded absolute power or creeping horror with each step. Moka's footfalls were littered with an innocent cheerfulness that made him blink in wonder.
She was almost like Rinoa, and that didn't sit well with him.
He shook his head; it was still the first day, so he couldn't judge his informant so quickly.
Facts were that Moka had drunk his blood, and she confessed that her powers were sealed.
And that she was friendly beyond anything he's ever witnessed, going out of her way to drag him about. He found this trait of hers rather…sweet, if a bit incredibly naïve. But, the undercover SeeD supposed, if it wasn't for that, then he wouldn't have progressed this quickly into his mission.
Squall's pen stopped and a frown curled on his lips.
This is a mission, he reminded himself. Squall Leonhart was assigned to gather intelligence on this Youkai Academy- to confirm numbers, variety, battle strength, everything. What were the monster's intentions? How did they remain unnoticed this long?
This is a mission, so had to remain professional. He couldn't allow himself to get attached to Moka- to Akashiya Moka- and he shouldn't care about how his mission would affect the kindhearted girl. In the end, he would complete his mission and then leave the academy and the naïve vampire behind.
Besides, didn't she say so herself that she hated humans? One more person for her to hate shouldn't matter.
-Moka smiled at him contently. "You're my first friend."-
Squall groaned, palming his forehead.
Damn that vampire for getting under his skin. It hadn't even been a day yet, damn it!
He glanced over towards the digital clock on his workstation and his eyes widened in alarm.
It was already ten minutes past their scheduled meeting.
Deciding that it was best to dwell on this train of thought at a much later- hopefully never- date, Squall placed Xu's pen in his pocket and hid his report in his desk before picking up his keyboard and locking his door as he made his way to his and Moka's meeting spot.
Coming out of the main doors of the boy's dorm, Squall frowned when he noticed a distinct lack of pink in the area and wondered if maybe Moka was running late as well.
"Hey, did you see that?" A student whispered to his friend, not noticing the foreigner absently listening in on their chatter.
"Yeah! That girl was so hot!" The other boy giggled perversely. "If only I had a girl like that! Who was she, anyways?"
"No clue." The first boy shrugged. "But if there're girls like that in this academy, then boy am I glad I came here! Those green eyes, those toned legs, that pink hair! You could just tell she's a minx in bed with that demure manner of hers! Babes like her always are!"
Squall's eyes narrowed in suspicion. He didn't recall another monster with pink hair in this academy- such a color was difficult to miss, much like that blue haired girl's in class. Were these two talking about Moka? But 'demure' wasn't exactly an adjective he'd use for the vampire; she was cheerful and earnest, and had no qualms vocalizing her feelings.
"Just our luck though that she's already taken. Bastard was totally into her!"
"Yeah. Figures girls like that go for jerks like him."
"Yeah, the bastard. You sure you're alright?"
"I'm fine…he roughed me up a bit, but I'm a sturdier monster than that!"
Squall did not like the way that sounded, especially if indeed they were talking about Moka. Re-assessing the day's progression, the only person Squall could think of that fit the boy's description was Saizouku-was Saizou. Tightening his grip on the large black case his was carrying, Squall approached the two boys.
"You." He called out, drawing their attention. "Which direction did those two go?"
"The ones you were talking about. The pink haired girl and the guy she was with."
"Ah! They were heading to the woods in that direction." He pointed straight ahead. "Bastard's probably getting lucky with that babe right about now. Lucky bastard."
Steel blue eyes narrowed dangerously at the direction pointed.
"If you see another pink haired girl come out looking for me, tell her to wait."
"Huh? Wha- ?"
"What do you-wait!"
Squall immediately took off, his grip on the straps of the case he was carrying tightening. Damn it; he hoped he was wrong and that they weren't talking about Moka.
But knowing his luck, they were.
"Eeek!" Moka yelled when her shoulder collided with a tombstone. "Saizou-san…!"
Saizou's body trembled with barely constrained glee. "That sound…oh, that sound!" He licked his lips before letting his long tongue dangle from his mouth. Moka shied away fearfully at the leer stare the large man was directing at her. "Your beauty, your voice! It's just too much!"
Veins started popping up on his skin as the man continued to glower at her, visibly salivating at the woman. "Do you know how hard it was to restrain myself? Having to stay in this pathetic form when I can easily take you as you are? !"
The ground under his feet shook with its weight. Moka wanted to flee, but her trembling legs had rooted her on the spot.
"I'm serious!" Saizou threw his blazer off, his eyes growing ever more manic by the second. His body burned with the need to hear this woman scream! "I want you, Akashiya Moka! Your beauty is so incomparable to all those pathetic human women I've molested!"
Her voice; that sweet, innocent voice! It was driving him wild with the need to hear her screams.
The entire day he spent waiting- watching- this naive, trusting woman prance about with that piece of trash was agonizing; he really shouldn't have waited this long when he could easily take her.
And he would take her now!
A wave of maliciousness slammed into Moka as Saizou's nail started to elongate into pointy claws, his muscles bulging grotesquely as he grew in size.
"Arrrrghhh~ I really can't stop myself when I feel like this!" Saizou leered menacingly, his teeth turning into a serrated grin. "When I become like this…there's just no stopping it! I can't stay in my human form anymore!"
"S-Saizou-san, you can't!" She finally managed to yell over her constricted throat. "It's against academy rules to reveal your true form! You'll be expelled!"
"Gahahaha! You're so naïve, so naïve!" The monster chuckled darkly, making the hairs on Moka's nape stand on-end. "Hahaha! I'm going to enjoy this little violation of school rules!"
"No…" Moka whispered helplessly to herself. "Someone….please…"
Saizou's transformation finally stopped and revealed a giant of a beast.
"Scream for me, Akashiya Moka!" Saizou shouted as he charged forward.
Moka shut her eyes reflexively. "Squall…help me…"
"Idiot!" A familiar voice suddenly shouted. Moka's eyes flew open just in time to see Squall leap out from behind her, swinging his black case with both hands as he batted the rampaging monster's head, sending Saizou staggering backwards.
"Squall!" Moka shouted joyously and she was about to run up to him when his furious glare rooted her on the spot.
"The hell do you think you're doing?" He growled at the vampire. "Getting yourself caught up with this guy; are you retarded? !"
"I-I was scared-" Moka confessed. "He said he'd expose my true form!"
Squall turned his attention away from the vampire. Saizou had gotten back on his feet sooner than expected.
"We'll talk about this later." The scarred teen declared. "Escape now."
"What about you?" Moka asked concernedly.
"I'll be fine." He assured her, never taking his eyes away from the hulking monster.
"'You'll be fine'?" Saizou repeated mockingly before throwing his head back in laughter. "I barely even felt that hit and you think you'll be fine?"
Squall's lips thinned contemplatively. It was true given how unaffected Saizou visibly appeared. Maybe things would have been different if he had Shiva junctioned, but since discovering the effects Guardian Forces had on the wielder's memories, their use had been tightly monitored. Unfortunately, long-term undercover missions were one of the situations when SeeD wasn't allowed their junctions unless absolutely needed, and so Squall had reluctantly parted with his personal summon and confidant.
"He's shown his true form, Squall! We have to run!" Moka pleaded with him.
"About that…" Squall remained unfazed, keeping his keen eyes trained as the large monster stopped a few feet before him. Even in this distance, the hulking Saizou easily dwarfed him. "Aren't you worried about being expelled?"
"Worried?" Saizou grinned maliciously. "I'd be happy! No more having to 'learn to coexist with humans' bullshit! I'll be able to return to the human world and feast on its women! Gahahahaha!"
As the mad monster laughed in malicious glee, Squall's lips twitched into a small smile. Knowing that Saizou honestly felt this way put him at ease, knowing exactly what he was about to do. His mission details did say that he was allowed to eliminate any threats he saw fit, so long as it wouldn't create any international incidents.
Somehow, he doubted anyone would miss a monster like this.
"Run, Moka…" Squall commanded calmly, setting the bag he was carrying to stand on the ground. "If you stay here, I won't be able to show my true form."
His true form…being SeeD.
Moka was innocent. Too innocent. So innocent, that he didn't want her to see what he'd do when the cards were on the table.
And it seemed, Moka wouldn't let him do that either.
"No!" She vehemently denied his request, shakily walking up to her friend. "You- if you do that, you'll be expelled too!"
"I won't be expelled. You'll have to trust me on this."
"Yadda-yadda-yadda!" Saizou's impatient growl cut in as he raised his arm and charged forward at the pair. "Do me a favor and just die for me trash!"
Squall immediately pushed Moka into the ground before ducking under the powerful swipe and bashing the hard case he was holding against Saizou's chin. The monster merely grinned at the blow as Squall only managed to tilt his head upwards and he made another swipe with his other arm. Having no room to dodge, Squall swung the case down to guard the blow but was sent flying by its strength.
"Squall!" Moka shouted worriedly from her spot on the ground.
An annoyed grunt left his lips when he impacted against a tree. "I'm fine! Get away from here!"
"I'm interested you know…" Saizou's eyes glinted maliciously before he wrapped his large hands around Moka's throat and lifted her above ground, never once breaking eye contact with the recovering Squall. "I want to know what this 'true form' of yours is." Moka let out a choked sob when his grip tightened. "I wonder if it's any better than this fake vampire."
"L-let…go…!" Moka gurgled out.
Squall's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Put her down, Saizou."
"No, I think not." The giant chuckled darkly, his long tongue slipping past his lips to trail a slimy path down Moka's cheeks. "You see, I have the upper hand here, trash. I'll have this wench and you can die!"
"You really do want to die, don't you?" The chilling seriousness in his question drew a wide-eyed stare from the captive vampire.
"Oh?" Saizou looked on eagerly.
Instead of replying, Squall once more charged forward. Mouth twisting in glee, Saizou lifted his free arm upwards to swat the annoying pest away only for Squall to once more duck under the blow and slip between his legs, dragging his black case on the ground to slam against his feet and topple the transformed monster forward. The shock of the attack made him let go of the vampire.
"Come on!" Squall growled as he snatched Moka's hand and dragged her away from the heap. His eyes flashed in surprise before he tugged on the girl's hand forcefully, pulling her behind him just as Saizou swung a clawed hand and raked his nails against his chest. "Urk!"
"Squall!" Moka shouted, the horror of seeing her friend bleeding from taking a blow meant for her overcoming her instinctual attraction to his blood.
"Weak!" Saizou bellowed as he towered over the pair. "It doesn't matter to me if you won't transform. I'm only after the girl."
Squall glared defiantly as his mind raced for ideas. He didn't want Moka to see him draw his weapon; that would only raise even more questions from the vampire girl, and he'd end up revealing that he was a human that she so hated.
And he'd either have to kill her if she revealed his secret, or fail his mission entirely.
As Squall raised the metal case upwards to parry another clumsy but overpowered punch from the hulking monster, Squall realized that he didn't know if he could kill Moka if the need did arise.
She was too innocent in all of this.
And, Hyne damn it, she was his friend.
With a growl, Squall twisted his weapon forward, diverting another punch away from him before digging its tip between Saizou's offending shoulder causing him to stagger backwards in slight pain.
"Moka," Now that he had breathing space, Squall called the vampire hiding behind him. "Last chance. You're not going to like what you're about to see." It was the truth. He resolved that he'd fail this mission over watching his friend suffer when he could do something about it. "Run."
"No…" Moka replied stubbornly, concern for his well-being reflecting sincerely from her worried emerald eyes. In another time, Squall would have brushed her off but now, Squall could only smile sadly at the sight. "I won't leave you here to die. You're my…you're my friend!"
It was time.
He'd make Saizou pay for the pain he was about to cause Moka.
"I've just about had it with you! Die, scum!" Saizou charged forward with an angry roar.
Squall's eyes narrowed in preparation, the clasps of the black case housing his Lionheart already unfastened as the lion prepared to deal the finishing strike…
"No!" Moka shouted.
…only for his eyes to widen when Moka's pink hair filled his vision.
"Damn it, Moka!" Squall growled angrily before quickly reacting, dropping his weapon on the ground and snatching the self-sacrificing idiot with both of his arms, pulling her against his chest quickly and turning away just as Saizou's right hook flew.
There was no time to fully dodge the attack so Squall did the next best thing; minimizing the impact by jumping to the left. Saizou managed to clip Squall on his ribs, though the force was still enough to send both him and the vampire in his arms flying.
Mind immediately numbing the pain on his side, Squall shifted his weight again as they flew, letting out a pained grunt when his back slammed against the unrelenting tombstone before falling down in a heap, an unmoving Moka still held in his arms before the pain finally caught up with him, making his body sag with a pained groan.
"Urghh…Moka…you alright?" Squall managed to groan out.
"Gahahaha! I can't believe this!" Saizou cackled madly at the vampire girl's attempted save. "There are idiots like you that exist? Gahaha-!"
The monster's mad cackling died in his throat when power suddenly erupted from around Moka as the vampire slowly stood.
"What the-?" Squall, at ground zero when Moka suddenly changed, felt point black the overbearing power rippling from his friend's frame. He felt something heavy in his hands and his gaze drifted down to find Moka's rosary clasped in his grasp.
He must have accidentally taken off her rosary in his attempt at saving the vampire and subsequent flying lesson...
Wait a sec, her rosary was off? !
Moka's words suddenly came back to him.
-"If I take this rosary on my chest off, I become the real thing. An evil and scaaaary vampire…"-
'Is this…her true form?' Squall watched transfixed as the Akashiya Moka he knew began to change.
"Wh-what is she? What's this overpowering feeling? !" Saizou's voice trembled with fear, arms instinctually flying upwards to protect his body from the wave of power. "This- are you really a vampire? !"
Moka's hair suddenly turned silver and her posture exuded a regal superiority very few could ever hope to achieve. Saizou's eyes widened in shock when Moka opened her eyes to reveal the most bloodthirsty crimson shade he had ever seen as her slitted pupils focused on him like a predator, a far cry from the gentle happiness in the sparkling emeralds of the Akashiya Moka from before.
"J-just like the legends said!" He squinted shakily from behind his guard. "Red eyes and an intense demonic energy! You really are a vampire!"
Moka suddenly grinned, baring her longer fangs at him.
"What's wrong, rogue one? You're trembling." Moka pointed out. There was not a hint of mocking in her voice; only an absolute sense of superiority. The true vampire sauntered towards the hulking Saizou, who felt dwarfed even though she barely reached past his stomach. "Were you truly planning to take me by force like that?"
Something in her words made him snap under the pressure of her mere presence and Saizou immediately charged forward with reckless abandon. "S-SHUT UP!"
"Moka!" Squall found himself shouting in concern, ignoring the pain in his side as he limped as fast as he could to try and get the vampire out of the way. 'Why the hell is she not dodging? !'
"Challenging me with just this degree of power?" Moka commented nonplussed as Saizou's fist was now mere inches from her face. Squall's eyes widened in horror, having experienced first-hand what Saizou's meaty fists felt like.
A leg suddenly planted itself against Saizou's face. "Know your place!"
"GYAAAAAHHHH!" Saizou gurgled out, immediately falling unconscious from the vampire's kick. It was a good thing too, as the hulking monster was sent flying through the forest, rending each tree unlucky enough to be caught in his path in half.
Back in the clearing, Squall watched the aftermath of Moka's power unleashed in stunned silence.
"Low class cur such as you with nothing to show for your size doesn't even make a decent opponent." Moka's haughty comment caused his mind started to reboot. The vampire's attention was suddenly drawn to the partly opened black case that Squall always brought around with him and she approached it, lightly kicking it open to reveal his prized weapon in all of its glory. "Such a curious object."
Squall's grip on the rosary in his hand tightened when the vampire threw him a cool, sideways glance.
"This is a weapon, is it not?' Squall's eyes narrowed at her. He knew he didn't really make for an intimidating appearance with all the cuts and wounds letting blood seep out of his body. "You are human."
Moka's statement drew a pointed glare from the injured man. "No."
A dangerous glint suddenly flashed through the vampire's crimson eyes. "I do not like liars, Squall Leonhart, and you are a horrible one."
Squall merely replied with a glare.
"It is obvious." Moka continued, not at all fazed by Squall's continued silence. "You care for my outer self..."- 'Outer self?' -"…and yet despite having difficulty battling that lowborn cur, you never once shifted into your professed 'true form' even after your ultimatum."
"Perceptive, aren't you." Squall drawled out sarcastically.
Moka's eyes narrowed. "I will let that tone of yours slide just this once, Squall Leonhart, in gratitude for your attempts to protect my foolish outer self. Do not take that tone with me again. Now then," The silver-haired vampire crossed her arms imperiously. "You will tell me what a human like you is doing in this Academy. It is clear that you are trained in combat despite being a child, and unlike any human I have come across, you neither thought twice fighting nor showed fear when confronted against that insolent orc."
"…Only if you answer my question." Squall met her stare coolly, his grip on the rosary loosening.
There was a short silence as the two proud students watched each other before the silver-haired Moka chuckled, her white fangs gleaming in the light. "For a human to make demands of me…you have guts, Squall Leonhart. You have guts…and you are foolish." Squall visibly tensed in preparation for an attack until Moka held up her hand calmly. "Do not fret. I have no intentions of harming you for now. Come then, say what it is you wish, and maybe I shall grant it."
Squall stared her dead in the eyes before asking his question. "Is Akashiya Moka safe?"
The vampire blinked before letting loose an amused chuckle. "That is your question? You really are not as complex as my outer self believes you to be." She shook her head before walking towards the injured man, her eyes tracing every curve of his body. "I am Akashiya Moka." She declared. "To be more precise, I am the sealed Akashiya Moka whom you have roused from a tranquil slumber, and with my release, the Akashiya Moka you know- my outer self- is now sleeping."
Moka stopped right in front of him, breathing in the delicious scent of his blood. Squall remained in place, studying the vampire coolly. "Now, you will tell me what I want to know."
Sensing now was one of those times when lying would prove fatal, and that this Moka was distinctly more mature than the one he first met, Squall told her the truth. "I'm here to gather information."
"You are a spy." Moka's eyes narrowed. "Tell me which organization you belong to and their plans."
"The organization I belong to is the secret society of none of your business, and our plans are simple reconnaissance."
Moka snatched his tie and dragged him down to eye level, glaring hard at him for his insolent tongue. "Do not toy with me, Squall Leonhart. Your station is infinitely below mine. I have every right and power to end your life right here."
To her surprise, Squall suddenly gripped the fabric on her shoulder and pulled her closer to him, staring at her challengingly. "You'll find that very hard to do, Moka Akashiya. The only thing stopping me from killing you right now is that I might end up killing the Moka I know."
Again, a heated silence descended on the pair as they glared into each other's eyes.
Eventually, Moka loosened her grip, though she leaned forward towards the man as she inhaled his scent. "You intrigue me, Squall Leonhart. You are so unlike any human my outer self and myself have encountered. Very well, I shall postpone my teaching you of your proper status for another time. After all…" Her pink tongue suddenly darted past her lips to lick the trail of blood slithering down his chin before giving a satisfied moan. "My outer self so does enjoy your company and your delicious blood."
Squall continued to wordlessly watch the crimson-eyed vampire even as he felt her fingers trailing down his arm to relinquish his hold on her rosary before she pulled away from him.
"Until we meet again, Squall Leonhart." She bade him farewell as she slipped the rosary back into place. "I trust you to take care of my sentimental outer self."
"That's a given."
There was another flash of light as the overbearing aura that blanketed their surroundings suddenly lifted, and the pink-haired Moka suddenly fell forward until Squall caught her against his chest.
"Moka…?" He whispered, wondering if this was the Akashiya Moka that he knew.
"Mhmmm…" She hummed, eyes closed as if asleep. Her nose twitched and she smacked her lips together a few times before opening her mouth. "Smells…delicious…"
"…" Squall stood there in dumb shock as his friend started feeding off him in her sleep. "H-hey! Wake up, Moka!"
That seemed to snap the girl out of her trance as she blinked up at him sleepily before realizing what she was doing and quickly pulling away. "A-ah! Squall! I'm so sorry!" She apologized, bowing her head before him.
Squall idly noted that she kept bowing whenever she apologized; was that some sort of personality quirk? He shook his head from such thoughts before asking her concernedly. "Moka, are you alright?"
Moka blinked as she registered the sincere warmth in Squall's gaze before a brilliant smile blossomed on her face. "Yes! Yes, I'm feeling fine!" Remembering where she was, her eyes darted around in alarm. "Where- Squall, where's Saizou-san?" Her emerald eyes widened in worry when she finally took in Squall's appearance. "Oh no! Squall, you're hurt!"
"I'm fine." Squall waved it off; he'd had worse after all. He observed that, based on her words, Moka didn't remember what had transpired, that she had shown her true form and annihilated the hulking monster with one blow. "And Saizou's gone."
'Vampires, huh…?' He had a lot of reading to do.
"No you're not alright!" She suddenly took out a handkerchief from her pocket before trying to clean his wounds. "You're bleeding! There's blood all over you and-" Squall watched when her emerald eyes suddenly glazed over familiarly. "-it smells so deli-I mean, we have to get you patched up!"
A soft smile tugged at his lips at Moka's concern; her cheeks were flushed as she struggled against her vampire instincts, wiping away at the blood on his face. Shaking his head out of her reach, Squall stilled her nursing hand with his before looking at her seriously.
"Moka…we need to talk."
Immediately, Moka's eyes turned downcast with her remorse. "I…I know." She shot him a pained smile. "It's all my fault that you got involved with Saizou and that you got hurt." The vampire bowed her head again. "I'm really, really sorry, Squall."
"You're right, Moka. This is your entire fault." Squall agreed with a casual tone, not bothering to blunt his words. Moka flinched though she could not deny it. "You're too naïve and trusting. Still," Moka looked up at him with teary eyes. "What's done is done. I'm just glad that you're safe."
"Squall…" She was touched by his sincerity. It seemed she now had an answer to her earlier doubts regarding Squall's kindness; he'd never lie to reassure her but instead would state the truth no matter how scathing it may be.
"Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about." Squall continued, not noticing the warmth in Moka's tone. "Moka…do humans really scare you that much? Do you really hate them?"
Moka didn't answer at first, staring at the ground forlornly as memories of her childhood, growing up in human schools, resurfaced. She remembered the cold talons of loneliness that repeatedly clawed at her every day and the jeers and taunts the other kids would direct at her whenever she'd try to convince them that vampires were real and that she was one.
The rejection she felt while growing up- the isolation she was subjected to just for not being human- it was so traumatizing to her that even now her body trembled at the mere memory…
"…I…" Her eyes snapped towards Squall, baring her helpless gaze as she searched for the truth of her feelings. Squall looked at her not with his usual apathetic gaze but one that urged her to speak her mind, that he'd accept whatever words that would come out of her lips.
Reassurance…that he is her friend.
"No, I don't really hate humans." She found herself admitting softly. "It's just…humans and vampires are so different. Because I'm me, I always felt that I'd eventually suck a human's blood and end up hurting them." Moka gazed at him sadly before shaking her head and channeling a smile at the listening man. "The truth is…I just wanted to have a friend while growing up. But I guess I was worrying for nothing; I've found you now, Squall, and I'm incredibly happy. I guess some monsters do have drinkable blood after all, right?"
Squall's lips twitched when his will almost faltered at her words. He inwardly steeled himself; he'd decided now that this vampire, Akashiya Moka, was his friend, and he owed her the truth. Whether they'd remain friends or not after this though…
…he still owed her as much.
"Moka, I am a human." He told her bluntly and Moka blinked, her smile frozen on her lips.
"I am human." Squall repeated, staring straight through her to show that he wasn't lying. "My name is Squall Leonhart, and I am a spy sent to assess whether Youkai Academy is a threat to us humans." A wry smirk formed on his lips. "I'm not even sixteen."
"You're- you're not joking, are you Squall?" Moka asked shakily, her grip on her handkerchief tightening.
"No." She was doubting herself and beginning to deny him, he could see. Well, there goes his mission, he guessed. With Moka now knowing his true nature, it was only a matter of time before she report him to the staff and he'd be hunted. Squall needed to evac, pronto.
"Why are you telling me this?" She whispered with uncertainty, to which Squall gave her a soft smile.
"Because you are- were my friend." He averted his gaze to a spot behind her, walking past the vampire to retrieve his weapon.
He didn't make it far before her body pressed against his back.
"Wait! Squall, what do you mean by 'were'? Are you planning on leaving?"
Squall glanced at her over his shoulder. "You already know my secret and so my mission is compromised. I also don't blame you for hating me."
His words struck a chord in her and her grip tightened. "Stop! I- I can keep your secret, Squall. I promise. And, whoever said that I hated you?"
Squall blinked at her declaration, not believing his ears. "But you said-"
"I said that…I'm happy that you're my friend, Squall." Moka told him warmly, and Squall felt the utter mortification of his bullheadedness. "So please don't go…"
Moka was so…sweet and trusting and naïve and innocent and sincere and…she still wanted to be his friend.
And he was about to walk out on her the way people had walked out on him.
Except they didn't, he now realized. His friends back at Garden had remained with him despite everything he said and did, and now even this sentimental vampire, who he hadn't spent more than a day with, was willing to overcome her past if it meant remaining as his friend.
Hyne, was he an idiot for overcomplicating things…
"Moka…" He whispered her name in gratitude and relief. "Thanks."
Flowers as pink as her hair blossomed on Moka's cheeks at the sincere smile on his eyes and lips. Finally, she felt relieved, Squall had opened up to her, even if just this once. She finally saw how her first friend truly looked behind the cool walls he had erected around himself.
And she liked the man she saw inside.
Moka felt a happy tear slip down her eye. "A-ah!" She stuttered in embarrassment. "S-sorry-"
A warm finger wiped the trail from her cheeks, causing the vampire to blush at the intimacy in Squall's gesture.
As expected, Squall didn't notice it.
"Uhmm…Squall…" Moka asked after she had managed to calm her racing heart.
"What is it?"
Moka pouted slightly. There he was, back again; Squall's aloof self.
She sighed. "Do…do you really not mind my, y'know, drinking your blood?"
"Doesn't it hurt?"
He shrugged without a care. "Not really. Though I'd appreciate it if you'd ask before drinking."
"Ah…I see…" She nodded, an alluring flush still adorning her cheeks. "Hey Squall…?"
Squall looked at her quizzically before sighing.
"…Fine. Go ahead."
As the vampire happily drank her fill from her new friend's neck and carotid vessel, Squall amended that maybe Quistis had the right idea in how he should go about living in this…working vacation.
He wasn't sure if today was only a taste for what he had in store in this mission, but maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.
He just might enjoy it, even…
Squall quickly tapped on Moka's hand to get her to stop.
...Even though his first friend was a vampire seemingly addicted to his blood.
A/N: Crack fiction at its finest, and wasn't R+T's bus supposedly a transdimensional locomotive (a possibility of this is Squall finds himself in Tokyo with the R+T cast)?
There are so many 'Final Fantasy High School' fics about, so I thought 'hey, R+T is set in high school' and 'it'd be lulzy if a deadpan snarker/stoic straight man/BAMF with a BFS and above all else tsundere like Squall is placed in a high school setting'. After all, Squall is still 17 (though at that age he'd count as a senior by Japanese standards, so I had Squall's written age altered). Apart from his age, FF8's setting fits the modern world best, with FF13 afterwards. There's also Squall's humanity, so Moka won't have any problems dining on him.
I could turn this to be an AU in my Post-World B 'verse (Lightning's "schoolboy" anyone? Or, Squall and Lightning could keep sending letters to each other, where Squall's ranting about the bizarreness of the academy while Lightning laughs her ass off), but that would overcomplicate this piece. The main idea is really just to show a method of introducing Squall into the Rosario + Vampire world, with him replacing Aono Tsukune.
I doubt I'll ever update this though, so this will be relegated to my 'Once in a Blue Moon' pile.
If anybody wants to continue this, be my guest.
Issues that could, but not necessarily have to, be tackled on are Squall's amorality regarding fighting, his way of attracting crowds unconsciously, and of course, how would Squall's presence alter the R+T cast and plot. Another issue that can be dwelled upon is what it really means to be human. This can go either the lighthearted rom-com route (Squall being a child soldier opens the doors for Sousuke Sagar-esque misunderstandings, if a bit milder), or the dark and serious drama route, or even both; Squall's character actually fits well in either case. Running gags could be the culture shock for Squall and how that affects not only him but others as well, as I've portrayed here. Other gags could be how Squall's pathetic in Japanese literature, history, and geography for rather obvious reasons, and is repeatedly trying to be recruited by music clubs because he carries his 'keyboard' around all the time. Other typical high school hjinks abound, too.
Also, as you can see from my portrayal of Squall, he hasn't fully recovered from Rinoa's departure. He's less of a jerk now in the sense that he's started thinking about other people, but is coping by being clinical with his decisions and thus still comes off as a jerk when he opens his mouth. On the other hand, Outer Moka's innocence is slowly shaping into the magic bullet that will pierce our Lion Turtle's shell. At the moment, Inner Moka acknowledges Squall as a competent human and possible protector of her weaker Outer self; it'll be up to you how their relationship will evolve, though her strict loyalty may potentially overcome Squall's abandonment issues.~
My only condition is that you send me a note so that I know what to look out for.
Well, that's it for now.
Kudos to those that found this, and more kudos to those that read this.