Triple Triad King
Disclaimer: I own NOTHING except this story.
Edits 11/1: Updated the chapter with what I've learned in recent months. Hope it's better.
"The cards originated when a psychic named Orlan modified these tarot cards for games. The game became popular with soldiers passing time between battles. As its popularity spread, each region developed its own rules and picture variations."
—Tutorial - FFVIII Info Corner
Chapter 1: The Open Rule
General Caraway's Mansion, Deling City
"So what you're saying is that you lost to Martine, therefore losing Ifrit?" Squall was genuinely at a loss.
"He has truly mastered his technique, and with such powerful cards, I simply could not defeat him," General Caraway mused as he tapped his chin thoughtfully. "You can find him at Fisherman's Horizon if you wish to challenge him."
I mean we literally JUST played…
"Martine is exceptional at this game. I trust that you will not be disappointed."
I'm certain I didn't even leave this room…
"I also trust that you will take care of my daughter's card. It has sentimental value, you see."
I guess I did go save before challenging you again…
"So," the general said with a somewhat dismissive tone. "I imagine you have a long road ahead of you, Squall Leonhart. I look forward to our next meeting." And with that, he curtly showed the brunette SeeD out of his mansion.
As soon as Squall was greeted by the cool Deling air and the farewell of closing doors, he released the sigh he had been holding in. He had never heard a more improbable excuse for declining a Triple Triad challenge, and he suspected trickery on the General's part. He caught Zell shadow-boxing by the Save point while Selphie sprung to her feet at the sight of his return.
"So how'd it go? Did ya win?" the nunchaku specialist chirped, smiling expectantly.
Zell lowered his dukes and let his upper body go limp as he cried out in relief. He was never was a big fan of waiting around. "Finally!"
"Not exactly." Squall almost felt dejected, but a reassuring slap on the back from the hand-to-hand specialist replaced it with irritation.
"Hey, that's great! Tell us on the way back!" Zell said with a grin, jogging off to hail a trolley that would take them out. "C'mon, let's go!" As soon as he left, Selphie went over to her brooding team leader, fidgeting all the while with her hands behind her back.
"It's weird, but I never noticed how much this stuff means to you." She leaned on one foot and tilted her head to the side. She thought it was strange how much more emotion he showed when he put his literal cards on the table. And he always came out on top; he was a natural. "Is it fun? I bet it is the way you play it all the the time."
"It's not for everyone. Come on, we're going to Fisherman's Horizon." The lion narrowed his eyes, knowing in his mind that the hunt was on. Nothing would stop from getting his damn Ifrit back. Once he started down the path Zell had taken off to, he was stopped by a gentle, albeit firm hold on his arm.
"I just wanted to ask if you would…"
Growing impatient, Squall turned to face her. He had an implacable look in his eyes when he took in her startled expression.
The little brunette squeaked when she stared up at him. Without really thinking it, she closed her eyes tightly and blurted out, "Teach me!"
It went without saying that Squall was a young man of many talents, but few hobbies. Of those hobbies that did not involve not giving a damn, there was no mistaking that he had one very big obsession: Triple Triad. He lived it, breathed it, and loved it. But did this love always exist? No, he was a different person then. But how did his conquest of Triple Triad King begin? That was a story easier told if one were to peek at the 7 cards tucked neatly away in his gunblade case, should one ever dare look through that.
Several months earlier…
Squall was still reeling after returning from the SeeD Field Exam. The war-torn city of Dollet was something of a blur in his mind, but the battle was still so vivid. He was glad it was over, and decided to catch some much needed rest in his soon to be former classroom. Tonight was his last night as a student, after all, so one last nap on his desk felt like a good way to say good bye.
He was sitting at his desk with his head down, enjoying the moment of peace and relaxation. It would've been the best nap he'd ever had if not for the eraser nub poking at the top of his head. Squall lifted his head and saw Quistis Trepe, the smirk on her lips doing little to ease his frustration.
She poked his nose once. He glared.
"You did it again," she remarked, a smile tugging at her lips. "Shouldn't you be getting ready?"
Squall sighed and leaned back in his chair, palming his hair tiredly. "You're still the only one who notices...and I'm not really looking forward to the party."
The buxom blonde touched her lips when she chuckled. "First, it's my job as instructor to notice these things. Second, we both know it's MORE than just a celebration."
"So why aren't you getting ready?"
She opened her mouth to respond, but hesitated. She lowered her gaze and huffed.
He noticed how she licked her bottom lip, as though carefully choosing her next words.
"Squall," Quistis began, raising her leg up to sit on his desk, but more so leaning than sitting in any case, "tonight isn't about me. It's about you, the graduates, and the future of SeeD." She was clutching her notebook to her generous bust, looking down sternly at him. It was like she picked up on something deeper to her student's unease. Never mind that her creamy white legs were in plain view.
SeeD, huh? I don't feel any different. Guess that comes after. This is my new duty, my responsibility.
"You're doing it again," she said with a frown.
She buried her face in her notebook to laugh at his expense, her body trembling with glee. With that, Squall got up and started for the exit. He was set on leaving this class, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him if only for a moment.
The lovely blonde prided herself in being able to read him best, and she knew that he longed for something substantial. That was normal for a human being, and Squall was very much that even if he forgot it at times.
"One last thing before you go." Quistis got up from the desk and walked in front of her student as she continued, "When you find something...something special that you really enjoy, I want to know about it. Just keep me in the loop, ok?" She was serious, that much he could tell. "That's all I ask." She flashed him a sideways smile when she made her way out, the sway of her hips much livelier with the spring in her step.
Squall thought about that for a moment before he left the classroom. For good.
These days, things tend to happen for no apparent reason. Take Squall for example, having left not too long ago after his instructor, who would be taking the elevator first. Because of this, he would have to wait for it to come back, but during this waiting period, another man would slip on a banana peel and miss the chance to take the elevator down with the lovely Instructor Trepe. Said man has seemingly no purpose here on this floor and is now also waiting. Had Squall left first, the man would be waiting with Quistis in tow, and perhaps he wouldn't have slipped. But as fate would have it, or perhaps for no reason at all…
Squall, while normally in the market to give not a single damn, stopped at the sound of the man in the hall. He was plain, harmless looking, but maybe out of his mind. Either way, for the next few seconds, Squall was all ears.
"My brother gave me these cards but they're not really my thing. You can have them if you'd like."
Received 7 cards!
1 Funguar, 1 Gayla, 1 Gesper , 1 Caterchipillar, 1 Fastitocalon-F, 1 Geezard, 1 Red Bat.
"Huh." And out went a very nonchalant Squall, down the elevator where he would meet destiny.
Geezard flips Cockatrice from the right, 5 beating 1.
"Mine. In your face!" The running kid immediately resumed his run around the circle area as though nothing happened, both lessening the impact of Squall's triumphant yell and confusing him as to how well he seemed to deal with losing a lv.8 GF card. Squall awkwardly cleared his throat as two students tentatively passed by. He took off to his room, giddy with the addition of his second rare card. His Ifrit was impressive without a doubt, but this new card filled him with a desire for more.
It was strange to think that he got more feeling out of a card game than being a SeeD, and this was a game that he could've picked up earlier in all his years of being here; so much time wasted. Squall felt alive, and no matter how strong his deck would become, he would always keep the first cards that helped him feel that way for the first time in a long while.
Once he was in the privacy of his room, he started getting dressed for the big celebration. He had changed into his new SeeD uniform, perfectly fitting like a glove. Looking at himself now, he looked and felt like a new man. He lifted his head up high and went on to the ballroom. Who knows? He might even dance.
Selphie held his bicep a little tighter, the flush on her cheeks deepened as she looked up at him. Normally very talkative, the little brunette was unsure how to follow up on her out-of-the-blue demand. Thankfully, she didn't have to.
"So, you want me to take you as my student? Teach you everything I know? To drill you hard until you know everything I have to offer?" he said with a tone that was alien to her; it was like he was exuding power and dominance with every word. "Willing to take all that?"
Selphie leaned into him ever slight, drawn by his aura in a way she could not explain. The child-like curiosity in her gaze meant he had her full attention and more. "You'd teach me, right?" she said, whispering almost. "Teach me..now?" Selphie felt a thrilling shock run down her back, tickling her firm bottom as she slowly raised herself up on her tip toes.
"Trolleys are here!" Zell yelled from the distance, snapping both of them out of a very interesting trance. "C'mon! Trolleys are here!" Yelling louder this time.
With that, Squall deftly untangled himself from Selphie's alluring web and followed the loud, shrill calls.
The former Trabia student fumbled with her words as she tried to reiterate how much she wanted him to drill her. "H-heeey! Are you gonna…S-Squall! Heeey! You didn't answer!"
"Later, come on." Squall stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked off.
Selphie groaned. She cursed Zell and mentally kicked him, which made her kick the Save point.
"Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!"
Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping!
A/N: Reviews much appreciated