Quistis Treepe (Square's Final Fantasy VIII)
Rinoa Heartilly (Square's Final Fantasy VIII)
Set during the Timber Broadcasting Station episode
Ephemeral; fluttering; inclined to disappear.
That, in a word, is Quistis' first impression of the future Sorceress.
Elusive and evanescent, like a fugacious dream.
A glimpse of light blue – her dress – of shiny black – her beautiful, long hair. An impression of worry etched on her lovely face, so pale, a momentary amusement at the way she chews her lower lip nervously.
And an unexpected sense of kinship, of similarity, at the confusion reflected in her dark brown eyes, the warring wishes which, Quistis thinks for a mere instant, mirror so well her own mood, her own struggle between the training that is forcing her to realize the full scope of this mess of a situation and the affections and desires that push her towards denial.
Of course, Quistis is too distracted to pay much notice to the impressions her analytical mind is taking in and storing safely for later review, like she's been trained to do for half her life.
But a part of her, a deeply buried one that only comes out very awkwardly in handfuls of moments that never play out as she wishes and always leave her humiliated and crushed, is soaring with sudden hope at that fleeting feeling of affinity, at the rocking belief that their souls are very possibly resonating with each other – even if, the coolly logical majority of her sharp mind points out with disdain which she isn't sure is directed to the world or to the raven-haired beauty or, most likely, to herself, the girl who is fleetingly but surely captivating her is not even noticing her.
How could she, with the two best gunbladers in the world mere steps from her? Quistis knows that for all her supposed successes, she will never truly compare.
All of this is immaterial however, fanciful fantasizing that should be left for leave nights and that Quistis can only afford on the field by virtue of being a genius, and that is going on only in a mostly muted part of her brain anyway.
Her conscious attention is otherwise engaged at the moment, focused on the mission she needs to complete despite the complications that keep arising, preoccupied with Seifer... Seifer who's snapped, her charge, her student, and perhaps more, without her noticing, and how could she miss something like this, when he's so important to her, despite everything, despite the fact that she never knew how to handle him and now it's the same as always, she's hurt by his behaviour and chocking on her heartache and most of all she's lost and uncertain, projecting determination and a collected, level-headed façade that only comes out as annoying bossiness because in reality she has no idea how to deal with this...
But luckily, Squall is there – Squall who has rejected her so hurtfully, and didn't even realize it, Squall who is so cold and passionless and emotionally stunted, yet for some reason knows how to connect with people like she will never learn to, Squall who is a natural at taking charge and making the world go as it should, a born leader even if he stubbornly refuses to recognize it – and she has no qualms dumping her responsibility on his shoulders, because he can bear it - unlike her, he will not be conflicted in doing what must be done, because he has the strength and will to go through with the mission and the clarity of mind to figure out how, because, most of all, Squall is the only one who can get Seifer to acknowledge him, truly acknowledge him, and it has always been like that between those two, and she might be jealous of this connection of theirs, in a way, but she is also counting on it, counting on Squall to bring her student back when she so clearly is unable to.
Counting on Squall being better suited at handling command of this mission – of any mission, really – and it is a bitter pill to swallow, but it is a pill filled with truth and Quistis, for all her faults, is nothing but brutally honest with herself.
And that is why she knows that handing over her hard-worked-for but still not earned leadership to Squall is the best choice she could possibly ever make.
And that, too, is why she sees the gaze Rinoa offers him – him, who is so cold Shiva looks cuddly in comparison, who is so wrapped up in his own head he'll barely acknowledge anyone who is not labelled clearly as 'client' or 'team-mate', and even then, only so far as the labels can cover them, or perhaps, explain them – and Quistis recognizes it, the admiration, the determination to melt the ice, the budding affection and possibility of success and accepts it, all of it, even as a fugacious pang stabs her heart, regret for something that might have been, under different circumstances, under a different sun – if she was different, stronger inside, more worthy of the radiance that Rinoa's smile promises – but now will never be, not even in her fantasies, because Squall is here and he absorbs gazes and loyalty and devotion like his black outfit absorbs light, unwillingly, even unknowingly, but surely and inexorably...
Quistis' attraction for the black-haired Sorceress-to-be is nothing more than a momentary fantasy anyway.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize – be it character, location, idea or line – belongs to others; I may be playing with them but I make no profit from this.