The Orphan Chapter 3

Love and War

By Kate Lorraine

Quistis Trepe had always wary of Seifer Almasy, her most capricious and unruly student. However, only recently had she come to believe that he was actually dangerous. He was always disillusioned and hopelessly ambitious but his recent escapades with the sorceress Ultimecia had proved that he was more than a simple troubled teenager. Quistis' thin brown brows arched as she watched the threesome creep out of Dr. Odine's laboratory. Raijin was rubbing his shoulder as though he had recently been abused by Fujin. Seifer was walking out front holding his gunblade in one hand.

"Do you think they stole something?" Selphie asked, squeezing her hands in her lap.

Quistis shook her head.

"I wouldn't be surprised," she whispered.

"I say, let's attack 'em first and ask questions later." Irvine added helpfully.

"But Seifer isn't with the sorceress anymore, is he?" Selphie stated, inquisitively.

"Hey sneaking into Odine's lab looks plenty suspicious to me. There is some plenty powerful stuff in there, how do we know they didn't take some ultra-Ultimecia-bringer-backer or something? You think commander Squally would want to have to deal with that again?"

Quistis noticed both parties looking toward her for a decision. They had been following Seifer for days now and there was no clue as to what the party was up to. To confront them would blow their cover, but Quistis knew that she and the others were needed back at the garden. In addition she too was as curious as Selphie as to Seifer's purpose.

"Alright, let's go." Quistis stated as she stepped out of the car and stretched her legs. Somehow, she knew in the back of her mind that this was a impulsive move, something completely unlike herself, yet somehow it just seemed like it was long overdue.

She waved to Selphie and Irvine to follow her as she began walking towards the trio. They lost the element of surprise as Irvine boldly called out "hey you Seifer!" as they came within visual distance.

Raijin jumped a foot off the ground as he heard Irvine, Fujin merely widened her eye but Seifer presented them with his predictable smirk.

"What a pleasant surprise Instructor, I didn't realize you would go to such lengths to look out for your favorite student," Seifer stated with his usual sarcasm.

"What were you doing in Odine's Laboratory, Seifer?" Quistis asked.

"Yeah, what did you take, you little imp." Irvine added.

"Take? As in steal? I'm shocked. I was just visiting an old friend."

"Enough with the games." Quistis snapped. "Do you want the Esthar government to be informed of this Seifer? Do you want an entire army after you? The objects in that lab are highly classified, you won't get away with it. Confess now, and we might consider letting you leave peacefully."

"Yeah, Seifer, you are nothing without the backing of the Galbadian army. The Estharians will crush you like a bug," Irvine stated.

Seifer's face twisted in rage and he brought his gunblade up to Irvine's throat in one flashing motion but Irvine was no fool. He brought the trigger of his rifle up, pointing it at Seifer's chest.

Selphie was jumping nervously from foot to foot as the two eyed each other.

"Quistis .. . " She whispered helplessly.

"Stop it. Stop! Both of you." Quistis snapped, once again taking the role of the teacher.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Raijin and Fujin pulling out their weapons ready for a fight.

Selphie, meanwhile, had her Strange Vision out as well. No no no, it was terribly wrong. She had never intended for there to be a fight, much less for Irvine to face off with Seifer. Well, she secretly critiqued herself, what did you expect with a hothead like Seifer, some people never change.

Quistis reluctantly pulled out her Save the Queen, trying to keep an eye on both Raijin Fujin and Seifer at the same time.

However, much to her surprise, suddenly the expression on Seifer's face changed as he withdrew his gunblade.

"I'm sorry, I don't fight women," he stated with a smirk as he brushed his blond hair back. Irvine pushed forward but Quistis caught him just in time.

"Let it go." She said. Selphie rushed to her side to take Irvine's other arm.

"This isn't the end of it." He assured Seifer, as he threw the two women off.

Seifer and the others laughed and they retreated into their rented car and drove away leaving a pile swirling dust glowing in the moonlight.

"That was a close one," Selphie stated.

Quistis shook her head breathing quickly as her heart slowly began to calm.

Yet it skipped a beat once more as her cell phone suddenly came to life.

She picked it up. "Hello?"

"Yes this is Nida, Quistis, listen, something terrible has happened."

* *

Squall waited in the front parlor of the Caraway mansion impatiently. After leaving the Ragnarok they had been welcomed by a couple of ambassadors of President William Deling, the former Deling's younger brother. They were taken to a long conference in which Deling had apologized for the actions of his brother in a long verbose speech and swore never to form any alliances with any sorceresses in the future. That of course was preposterous since the only sorceress in existence was Rinoa who wasn't about to seek world domination in the near future. Squall had never liked politicians and being a dictator, Deling did not strike him as a man he would choose to be friendly to. In the short duration of his stay, Squall had already seen quite clearly that Deling did not have the support of his people, even less so than the former Deling. Galbadia was on the brink of revolution and it was no wonder that Deling did want hostile feelings from SeeD. As a act of good will, Deling had agreed to liberate Timber, which had long been a thorn in the Deling family's side anyway.

There was supposed to be some sort of ball tonight, to celebrate Deling's new reign of hope, as he termed it. Squall had brought Rinoa to visit her father. On the doorstep to the mansion she had reminded him of his promise not to leave her. He had simply shook his head and muttered his usual "whatever." However, as they stepped in the front door, they were informed that General Caraway was not in. Rinoa's apprehension had immediately turned to giddiness as she told him to wait in the parlor as she went to retrieve something.

Squall looked up at the clock as the minutes ticked by. Somehow he was not enjoying his new position as SeeD's commander, as they called it. This was Cid's job, and it had been thrown upon him without choice. On thing he had learned over the course of the last few months was how important it was to question everything. He would not let other people make his choices for him anymore.

His train of thought was interrupted as the door swung open and Rinoa peeped in.

"Hurry, let's go before he shows up."

Squall wearily got to his feet as he walked across the room, towards her.

" I thought you came here to talk to him."

"Umm. . I'll talk to him later. Come on." She opened the door all the way and quickly grabbed his hand. He finally saw what she had gone to "retrieve." She was dressed in a deep blue gown with a see through shroud around her shoulders. As she walked, the material of the gown glittered as she tugged him towards the front door.

"You look . . . nice." He said, awkwardly. That was what she expected right?

She giggled, practically doubling over. "Don't even try it Squall. You sound silly. Don't worry, I know how you feel. I can tell by looking at your face."

He frowned at that.

As she placed her hand on the doorknob she was suddenly thrown backwards into his arms. General Caraway stepped into the room.

"Rinoa, . .. and the SeeD." He said, arching an eyebrow.

"Hello Mr Caraway," Rinoa said "I came to . . . visit you but you weren't here."

"Still won't call me father? Huh?"

Rinoa frowned.

"I thought you never noticed when I stopped."

He shook his head.

"So SeeD, I heard that you got promoted. Congratulations."

"Oh stop it, Caraway, don't pick your allies among my friends."

Caraway frowned at her.

"Overreacting? I might say, just like your mother."

"My mother was the perfect woman. It was you who destroyed her. I came here today to let you know that I'm alright, not that you would care. Well, I've informed you of it . .. so I'm leaving now. Come Squall, . . we are leaving. Come."

Rinoa grabbed his arm and tugged him out the front door which Caraway had been blocking. She hurried down the front steps nearly tripping over the high heels in her haste. Squall caught her a second time on sidewalk as she tripped over a crack.

He shook his head. "He's not chasing after you, Rinoa," Squall said.

"Squall, remember how you told me about how you felt strange around Laguna? Well multiply that by a thousand and you still won't know a thing about my feelings for that man."

"Forget it, if there is no way for me to understand than let's stop talking about it."



After a few moments of silence, Rinoa turned back towards Squall.

"Where was it again?"

"The Presidential Mansion. Over there." Squall pointed absently at the large structure a block away.

Rinoa nodded. "I see people going in. Let's go Squall, come on."

"What change is this? I thought you hated Deling's guts."

"Well it's a different Deling, and Timber has been liberated. It's been so long since we've last been to a party Squall." Rinoa's voice grew quiet, "anyway, I just have this feeling that tonight is special, that there won't be one like this ever again. You don't have to say anything, Squall."


Rinoa fixed her shroud. It rustled quietly, reflecting the glittering moonlight.

"No, actually Rinoa, you are special. I feel as though every night I spend with you is unique in some way, and these nights will never come again." He smiled subtly, "but don't tell anyone I said that okay?"

She smiled.

"Let's go, look, they are waving at you, Squall."


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