What If...? Seifer Never Joined Garden?

By Malice Shaw

"Hurry up boy! Don't make a loser outta y'self!"

I hate this job. The money's no good. The sun beating down on my shoulders burning my skin to toast isn't exactly very much fun either. And every night I go home to my charming ten foot by ten foot room with my mother timidly stepping on eggshells, as if I'd inherited my pop's temper, and collapse in my bed, sore as hell and praying for the weekend to ram it's way here as fast as it can just so I can have a moment to breathe for Hyne's sake.

It's not the best way to live, but hey, if I'm to live under my old man's roof for much longer, I have to help pay the bills somehow. He got me this job as a dock hand. Told me the day I became an adult; instead of getting a birthday cake with fluffed frosting, I was told I'd either have to start forking over five hundred gil a month or be out on my ass. And since I couldn't exactly find a nice warm place without the company of hot and cold running roaches in Deling for less then twelve, you bet I was willing to stay, even with my timid mother and asshole father who still thinks it's alright to take the wicker stick to my ass, despite my age of eighteen.

This town's nothing but commercial bullshit. Everybody coming from here and there to attempt to get rich quick in the gambling halls of doom as I like to call 'em. Nothing will ever take away the memory of seeing some drunk hound who gambled away his family's grocery money in a damned hour, money that was supposed to be taken to the store and buy enough food to feed his wife and his two little twin girls for a whole week. His old lady found him, slumped over one of the change machines drooling out of the corner of his mouth, stinking to high heaven of expensive booze and cigarette smoke. Half heartedly I wanted her to slap his face into the machine, take her two hungry young girls and walk out of there. But instead, she stood there cryin' her heart out like a banshee for him to get his ass home and sober up. She'll probably sell herself on the streets to feed those poor kids. Or not. Too skinny and frail looking to be a hooker. Will probably end up begging in the streets for some spare change to buy her girls a hot dog to share in this over priced hellhole they call Deling.

Now don't get me wrong here, my life ain't all bad, and neither is this town. I was adopted by the Almasy family when I was six years old. Too young to remember, they claim, but I still do. I remember being in the back of the truck, with my parents in the front driving while my older brother holds me close, to make sure I don't fall off. They were real nice at first, trying to make me feel comfortable, and my brother, he was thirteen at the time, seven years older, started out to be my body guard since I was as scrawny as they come. I don't know what happened to my real parents, and fuck if I care. They at first told me they were dead, too bad, but from what I'm hearing I was dumped on my grandma when they were sent over seas and never decided to come back, so I was an unwanted kid. Not fully an orphan, cause they were still living, and I was sent to the orphanage the day my sick old grandmother died. I was five at the time, and I met some real funny kids while I was there.

One of them was some blonde haired loudmouth boy, a little younger than me. He always babbled on and told the lady of the orphanage about any little plan we had, bawling and whining all the way. I never liked him much. Always used to call him names, like Chicken, and Wuss, and he'd start the water works like nothing else. I'd get sent to the corner, and that only fueled me up to try and break him down even more once I got my face outta the wall. He was always swatting flies, as I called it. But actually, I liked him. Deep down I did. He was a fiery kid, I give him that much, and if I tried, I bet we could have been pretty good on each other's levels. But his refusal to even try and break it out with me screwed that up royally. I still wonder about Zell sometimes. But not as much as I used to.

The other two, I can never think of a time those kids where playing separately from one another. I know they couldn't say each other's names right, so they made up nick names for one another, like Sefie, and Irvy. I always thought the girl was way too happy for her own good. Annoying little sprite that was in need of a fly swatter, she always used to edge on my nerves with her perpetual smiles and laughter. Sefie she was, and I could remember thinking that even with all her annoying qualities, she was so tiny but had so much strength in her thin arms it shocked me. She could lift and play like anyone else, and from what Matron told us, I guess she was so small due to being born premature. Her mother died during childbirth, and her father gave her to the orphanage when the medical bills due to her bad health when she was a baby were so high he couldn't continue his crack binge. Which would be sad, but the girl doesn't remember it, I only remember hearing Matron talk about it to her husband, that Cid dude. He was rarely around anyways. Irvy, on the other hand, his parents died in the sorceress war that was going on at the time. He was one of the only kids my age. Not much to say about him, except he sure liked playing cowboys and Indians, with us being the redskins tied to the stake while he jumped around shakin' his ass while waving around a toy gun, and throwing marbles in the air, pretending they were victory bullets.

I remember Sis clearly, even if some of my memories are clouded with age. She was so sweet and kind, it scared the hell outta me. Even when I drove her nuts, she always tried to be my older sister, caring for me and all that crap. I could throw her into the sandy beach by the orphanage as many times as I wanted and she'd still pick herself up, brush her skirts off and smile. I gave up after a while, and just ignored her. Eventually I let her become my 'older Sis' and even started calling her Sis after a long long while. Even started to love her too, like a Sis. Always helping the Matron, because she was the oldest out of us all, around three years my senior. I never knew about her past, how she came about to the orphanage, or her parents, because even when I asked, she refused to tell. She left after a few years, before I was adopted. The orphanage soon became a very lonely place.

Two people stand out most in my mind. One of them was a cute little blonde girl who was always such a bossy nosy body. But I really, REALLY liked her. Never wanted to hurt her, and even tried to a few times and I still feel guilty about it. She had hair like gold, and eyes like an electric current. If you've ever seen a lightening bolt, the outline of energy, then you'd have the color of that young girl's eyes. She was around my age, maybe that's why I attuned to her so well. But every time I made another person's life miserable, she would get on my ass like an overbearing mother, and when Sis left, she tried to take her place, which I hated. So I started being mean as hell to her, I'd make her cry, poke fun at her love of Triple Triad (a card game I myself have actually come to like) and pull her hair down. She hated having her down and in her face, even if it did make her look like a young girl again. Beautiful hair, she had. Mine's paleblonde, but hers? True gold. Quisty, I called her. Everyone called her that, because her name was complicated and hard to remember. I had a lisp back then, and it usually came out like Kwithy. But she knew when I wanted to talk. I used to think, that some way, some how, we'd meet again. But not anymore. She stopped paying attention to me as soon as he came.

He, being Squall. I remember him, and my blood boils at the memory of the kid. He was smart but quiet. We were told his mother died and his father was gone, and he had nowhere else to go so here he was. He was a good kid, and Quisty took a shine to him, much like Sis did. He warmed up mostly to Sis, for reasons I don't know, and that just made Quisty jealous. I wanted her to be jealous of me, not that guy. I saw him as competition the day he came, but since then, I've mellowed out a lot. I was the big guy on campus before he showed up, and when he did, this lone wolf like guy with the scared attitude pretty much took the show. Sis practically fell all over herself to make him happy, and so did Quisty. Irvy, Sefie and Zell even humbled in his footsteps, and that just made my jealousies that much worse. Being as young as I was, I didn't understand the feeling inside, so I lashed out as much as I could, making everyone's stay horrible in my company. I'm still trying to decide if I regret it or not.

I still wonder about those guys.. hey, I guess I'm wrong. I see those memories and still smile at them. I do remember those kids. I think of them as my childhood. Not much of one, but still a childhood. But the thought still crosses my mind about them. I've grown out of my lisp, and Sefie's probably grown out of her premature problems, Irvy, hey I can just see him flashing an Exeter, a real nice gun. Zell's probably a boxer somewhere, maybe famous and rich because of it, and Quisty is probably a teacher somewhere. She was adopted soon after I was, that I know. Her papers where being signed the day I was taken away.

Squall.. Squall. Like his namesake, the guy's a fleeting wind. I never even bothered to learn much about him, even though I should have, so I have no idea where he might have ended up. Possibly from being a bum on the street to President of Esthar. The president now, Laguna Loire? Looks a lot like him. Could there be a connection...?

Nah. No way. That would be too rich even for my blood.

"Hey Almasy! Get your ass into gear kid! Time's off! You're girlfriend's waiting by the docks for ya too!"

I nod to the foreman, pulling the cap off my marker with my teeth to label the last shipment that came in. Shoving the marker to my mouth, fatigue makes me miss and I hit my chin, and curse the ink as I cap it manually. Pulling a handkerchief from my back pocket, I rub at my chin, and feel the stubble growing there. Great, forgot to shave that morning. My girlfriend doesn't like it much. I know what she liked. She prefers clean shaven men, pale skin, blue eyes, and dark hair, like hers. Well, I'm platinum blonde, green eyed, and have a perpetual tan from this docking job, but she's still with me from the summer we spent together about a year and a half, almost two years ago. I wonder if I should shave, just to please her, and decide that I'm too damned tired and just want to relax before tonight. I knew that tomorrow was the fourth year anniversary of my brother's death, killed right there on the docks. Family time at the cemetery tomorrow was gonna be a bitch.

Looking up I see her, her long dark hair and slanted eyes smiling on me. I can always feel her eyes on me. Once upon a time it enticed me, the feelings of those chocolate orbs on my back but now, it sort of annoys me, like being watched. Her mother was Julia the singer, a one hit wonder before she died in a car crash when the girl was only three. Her father and her don't get along anymore, just the loss of her mom being most of the reason. Of course, the army general lost his wife and still hasn't gotten over the fact Rinoa looks so much like her. I guess it's because every time he looks at the young girl he's reminded of his wife he lost. From what I heard he feels responsible because he was meaning to get a new car, but didn't do it. The break line gave out, and Julia wrapped her car around a tree, causing her to be thrown out through the windshield and breaking her neck. She died on impact. The woman never did like how seatbelts felt, and thought that since it was just a small ride, decided that wearing one would be quite useless. She'd be alive today if she did.

Rinoa wrapped her arms around my waist and hugged me. I hug her back, but the feeling is still there. We've stopped having sex, and all we do now is complain about our lives, talking. I'm not a pervert, but it's just sort of happened. We used to be a passionate pair, us two making other's jealous with our kisses, but now there's only a little spark that ain't lighting up no flame. I used to love her with my heart, my soul, but a few months back I looked at it and wondered what I really felt, and I could only come up with pity, and being a brother. I know in her soul she feels the same, that we're growing apart, but she needs love somewhere and since she's not getting any at home from her ice cold father, and she's grown so comfortable with me.

"Seifer, let's go out to dinner. I'm hungry, and we have an hour or two before the parade starts." She almost whines. I just nod and lead her towards a cafe that I'm well known for. Saria, the waitress, wants me. And maybe I just might comply.

We sit down in separate booths. Saria saunters by and grins at me while handing me a menu, and almost tosses Rinoa one. My girlfriend doesn't notice but I do. Brotherly instinct kicks in and I glare at the waitress, who shrugs and rips out her pencil and pad.

"What’ll ya have, handsome?" She slurrs, trying to be sexy. She wears about ten pounds of make up and foundation, not looking very natural, but like an embalmed corpse. Rinoa tried that once, and I laughed so hard I thought it was Halloween. Or April Fools day. Shrugging, I mumble that just a cheeseburger and fries will do, along with a side of coke, and Rinoa just asks for a salad. The girl eats like a bird, and it always bothered me. I wonder how she couldn't go hungry and just summed it up to her being a major closet eater, stalking the fridge at midnight. I always want my woman to feel comfortable around me and other people to be able to clear out a whole damned buffet if she feels the need to. I like that in a woman. One who can out eat me in any contest and not be embarrassed by the fact her lipstick is smeared is my kind of broad.

Saria walks away to retrieve our orders and Rinoa starts to babble on and on about her life, and why it sucks. I listen every once in a while, nodding just to let her think my ears are open while I go on thinking on where Deling is going to. A new sorceress is taking over, I forget her name, and don't want to remember it. Sorceresses are bad news to me, too much power for one person to wield. Of course, deep down I'm enticed by that power. The power, I can't believe it. Who wouldn't want it? I know I would. The ability to control so much would be absolutely incredible. Make a country fall at my knees and lick my boots clean when I come home from the docks. Hell, if I had that power I wouldn't even be working on the docks. A sorceress from what I've learned also has to have a knight, a stupid guy who'll take a bullet that's meant for her own heart. I wouldn't be a knight to anyone. Not even Rinoa, because we all have to watch out for our own hides and stop worrying about someone else's for a change.

Rinoa's voice leaks into my ears less and less when the door of the café jingles. I'm used to that sound. Every once in a great while I'll look to it to see the next sap who comes in and decides to try out the deli, the salad bar, the beef steak and fried potatoes. Stay away from the chile though. That stuff is dangerous on the digestive track. Saria taught me that.

The door jingles again, signaling an incoming patron. My head pulls away from Rinoa's babbling and I look towards the café's next victim.

Some cowboy walks in. Long auburn hair, pretty damned long if you ask me, down to his waist. Dressed in a trench coat, I liked that, vest and a hat as well as a sharp pair of boots, he slips into a booth almost unnoticed by the crowded place. He puts his elbows on the table and pulls his hat down low over his face, but anyone could tell the guy's scowling. I wonder with half a mind what he's so upset about, and when Saria saunters over to him, he holds up his hand with four fingers, and mumbles so low I can't hear. Saria plants down four menus and leaves, and the cowboy smiles politely before resuming his brooding position.

Rinoa taps my hands and asks me if I've heard anything she's said. I just mumble that I have and she resumes her talking and I resume my watch.

In walks another pair. A short blond guy I couldn't put at more then five foot five to my six foot two frame and an even shorter little girl like waif, brunette with huge green eyes and a petite mouth. Just looking at the blond, I can tell he has one huge muscular physique, I'll give him that. I can only see the side of his face, so I wonder what people in the café are staring at him for. The guy looks at them and snarls, and they all look away like a receding line of turning heads. From what he's wearing, I can tell he's the type that likes to T-board a lot, with those puffy pants and short jacket, black tank top too. He leans down to the cowboy, and my eyes grow wide when he removes his jacket. On his upper forearm is a freaking HUGE tattoo, of a dragon, circling a name. My eyes tell me it's of Jebadiah Dincht. Dincht, Dincht.. that's so familiar it rings my head like a crazy bell. The blonde throws his jacket to the other booth and sits down. I now know why everyone was looking at him funny. Crossing his face is yet another huge black tattoo, almost shiny. On any other man, I have to admit it'd be tacky and ugly, but for some reason, it fits that guy like the sharp looking gloves he's wearing.

Rinoa babbles on, but I am no longer listening.

The brunette waif-like girl, skinny and absurd, wearing a yellow denim dress, throws her pack on the floor and sits down next to the cowboy, gripping his arm in her hand and talks to him. He looks at her and smirks, lifting his free hand to remove his cowboy hat and placing it on the table in front of him. The young sprite girl reaches down into her bag and adjusts something from inside, and I notice the handle of the Ulysses rifle, and the corner of some sort of nunchaku. The gun obviously belongs to the cowboy, and the nunchaku..? The girl. It's light weight and not too heavy, even though I'd much rather read about blades and guns.

All three of them lift a menu to their noses and sigh, reading it thoroughly. The blonde man takes the leftover menu and places it beside him. Obviously they're waiting for someone else.

I look back at Rinoa, who was babbling on over her salad. Saria delivered our food with out us knowing. I lifted a french fry to my mouth and chewed on it numbly, a nagging feeling hitting me pretty bad. I don't know why I'm even interested in those three, or why I want to know who's gonna walk in next and take a seat by the tattooed wonder. I didn't know how hungry I was until I ate my first french fry before I started mauling my own food.

The door jingles once again, and the table's occupants roar with sounds of welcoming their last member.

Once again I'm drawn to look. I wish I hadn't.

She's beautiful. Hyne, she's drop dead gorgeous in her pink, peach and maroon outfit. Just by the way she walks I see she's a strict teacher sort, but she can't be any older then I am. She's strict looking, but with a slight upturn in the corners of her mouth that shows she can be playful as well. She's fucking gorgeous, with her long blonde hair and sweet face. Her hair's up somewhat, with long golden locks trailing on the sides of her face. Beautiful. Perfect. And so serene. I can't see her eyes, but something in my gut tells me they're blue. Like a certain blue I always loved a long time ago. Her outfit is somewhat like a skirt and vest, her age showing in the teenage way of how she wears her silver rimmed glasses and the peek-a-boo navel she's flaunting unnoticeably. But for a reason I don't know she looks saddened. The urge to go up to her and comfort her is strong. But I don't know why. In a way, it feels like seeing a goddess cry, something you don't expect and aren't allowed to see unless you're fully trusted in the goddess' company.

At her side is a whip, which she pulls out, rearranges and places on top of the cowboy's hat before taking her place beside the blonde man. He wraps his arm around her shoulders and whispers to her, but I can tell they aren't lovers. It's like an older brother comforting his younger sister after a bully called her ugly. The young brunette reaches over and grips her hand, whispering to her. I catch a few words, my hearing drowning out every sound except for their conversation. I pick up the words "it's okay" and "We'll help him" and a few "We need you's" from their mouths. All this time I'm eating the same french fry and not knowing it. I was famished when I started, but looking down, Rinoa has almost completely finished her salad, and I've barely eaten a few bites. She goes on eating it leaf by leaf (an annoying habit) and talks while I continue my spying.

The cowboy looks my way and hushes them, lifting a heavy arm to point. The sprite girl stares, and so does the blonde man, but the beautiful blonde keeps her face lowered. I try to will myself to look away, and almost do before the cowboy shouts at me, then whispers to his companions. I try hiding my face, growing red under my tan before I embarrass myself further. Rinoa barely notices, instead drifting off into her own little dream world, her talking pulling herself into it, and I try harder to become invisible. Listening to him shout out once again, I realize it's not in anger or rage, but rather in curiosity. Taking a chance, I lift my head to look at them from the corner of my eye. Now the blonde woman looks at me, and I'm right. Her eyes are blue.

Sprite girl pulls herself out of the booth and stands up, letting the cowboy out. He reaches down to unravel the whip from his hat and tops it on his head. I wonder if I have a chance to leave before he comes but then realize he's striding over, tall, almost my own height, and I curse that my wallet's still inside my pants. Pulling out the right bills would take too much time and Rinoa's off in her dream world and I'm not usually the type who runs out on a date.

The cowboy's standing right at my table now. I gulp and look up at him. The heat's still in my face when we meet, hazel eyes to green, like an old showdown. His tongue runs over his lips before he says something, but the ringing in my ears keeps his first words from hitting my brain.

"What?" I cracked my voice to talk. The cowboy licks his lips again before speaking. Nervous one he is.

"Seifer?" He asks again, shifting his weight from foot to foot.

I nod up at him. Rinoa stops her rambling and becomes enchanted with our talk.

The cowboy takes his hat off, and starts breathing deeply. What's his problem?

"Remember me?" He almost whispers, and thrusts a hand into his pocket. Staring up at him is freaking me out, so I pull myself from the booth and stand up, leaning against the table. I look into his face and cross my arms over my chest, and realize that my own heart is beating against my triceps.

"I.. don't know." I almost whispered. But I did know who he was. Because it hit me right then and there, after those words left my lips. Feeling vulnerable, I reached into my chair and pulled my denim shirt from its resting position and slipped it on. It was too big for me. It used to be the shirt that wrapped around my father's beer gut but I still liked it. My brother used to wear it. And it still smelled like him.

He thrust his hand straight from his pocket to mine, his face holding no other emotion but subtle shock and curiosity. I let my own rough palm squeeze into his before he whispered his name. "I'm Irvine.. Irvine Kinneas?"

He confirmed it. I said in a hushed whisper. "I-Irvy?"

Irvine nodded at me, a smile breaking his lines lips. "Yeah.. Seifer."

Every breath I took seemed to burn. Irvine pulled me into a stiff hug, the shock of my own psyche allowing him to do so. I'm not all for guys hugging me at ALL, but for some reason I let him do that. My arms felt around his back to hold him as well, and I blinked back a few memorable moments and just let myself be drawn into the present.

Irvine pulled away from me then, smirking and grinning from ear to ear. He placed an arm on my shoulder and called to the others waiting at their table to join him. They did, walking towards me in a manner that reminded me of an army line. I realized upon closer inspection on who they were, but Irvine decided to introduce them anyways.

"Seifer, man.. Remember Selphie? And Zell?" He said, pushing the young waif and tattooed mongrel towards me. Selphie's smile made my memory jog faster, and I remember dunking her into the ocean a few times, ruining her perfect yellow sundress she always loved to wear. Her fascination with yellow never died, obviously. She jumps up and squeezes her arms around my neck, almost happy to see me. I'm shocked at that, since terrorizing her was one of my fondest moments. I guess she really can take a horrid joke. I disentangle her arms away from my neck after a few minutes without air to breathe gets to me, and look at her. Premature at birth, and just barely tapping the five foot mark, she never did grow up. Her innocence makes me smile.

Zell comes forward now, and just stares. I twitch at that. He may be over a half foot shorter then me, but he's got more muscles on him then I could ever have thought he could. At his sides his fists clench, one at a time, and he stands upright, throwing the monkey evolution theory to shame. His mouth twists into a half smile and he thrusts a huge hand at me, and I encase it in my own, unsure of what else to do. Taking my hand in his own, he whispers "Seifer.." and starts to crush it in his strong grip. I wince slightly in pain and pull my hand away, holding it n my uninjured palm. Smirking at him, I shake my head slowly. "You've really grown up, Zell."

The comment makes him grin. He shoves his hands into his pockets and sheepishly backs away. I comment on his tattoos and his eyes light up, as he tells me the story behind the dragon on his arm, and the one on his face. Jebadiah was his adopted grandfather, and the tattoo on his face..? A drunken night when he turned fifteen. Still a recluse, I say. Again, he grins at my comment, and excuses himself, running to his table to fetch his jacket.

Irvine laughs then, and reaches over to the young blonde who stood in the background. She holds her hands clasped in front of her, and her eyes lowered to the ground. Irvine smiles weakly at her, and whispers in her ear to look up at me. When she does, I know who she is, and speak her name before she can say it herself.


She looks up at me, and I feel myself drowning in her water colored eyes and loving it.

"Seifer.. hello." She whispers, the corners of her lips turning up into a smile. Gingerly, yet like fluid motion she wraps her arms around my shoulders and pulls me into an embrace. I almost melt into her, smelling her hair, her scent. It's a clean, sweet smell, but I can't tell the difference. I want to linger there, for almost an eternity, before she pulls away and resumes her stiff composure.

"It's been so long.." I whisper to her, pulling her hands into my own. My feelings for this girl come raging back, which I have to say, feels very, VERY weird.

"Yes.. it has, hasn't it?" She speaks, her voice low and throaty. Her eyes trail past mine to Rinoa, who I had almost forgotten was present. "Who's this?" she asks me.

I'm shocked at the lack of hesitation in my voice. "Just a friend."

I can feel Rinoa's glare on my back, angry and whiny. But it's true. Our love's gone, faded away now. I've faced it a long time ago. This is my way of making her face the facts as well. I mean, come on, you can't fool someone all the time if you don't want to. I know I don't.

Quistis turns to Irvine and whispers to him that she isn't hungry after all. Irvine nods and smiles sadly at her before wishing me well but stating that he is starving and they have a mission to do. Selphie and Zell both wish me luck, and promise to come see me in the near future. For reference, I write down my number and address, hand it to them, nodding and telling them to give me a call. We have a lot to talk about. Quistis stands before me and smiles up at me, her full lips pouting. Even though she was all grown up, she still holds the innocence of her youth in her eyes.

"Let's talk." I whisper to her, and lean down to sit in the booth. She sits next to me, prim and proper, and smiles. Straightening her skirts, she lets her breath out in one hazy sigh and lowers her head. My face must show confusion, because she looks up at me and blinks.

"I..I'm an Instructor now at Balamb Garden." She says. I was right, a teaching position for her.

"That's great, Quisty. I always knew you were a sucker for authority." I snicker at her. She smiles at me, now looking at me for a few seconds before turning away.

"I'm dating..or I was.. dating.. Squall Leonhart.. Remember Squall?" She asks.

"Just barely." I lie. "He was the guy with brown hair right? Always a loner. How's he doing?"

Her face falls at that. He must be dead then. Cruel, I think to myself, cruel cruel cruel-

"He's possesed.." Her hand slips to her lips. "I mean, I shouldn't have said that."

"Why not?"

"We're.. I mean.." She gulps hard then. "We're on a mission. While we're here. I can't say what it is.."

I nod, silencing her with a finger. "A need to know basis?"


"Then let's not talk about it anymore." I sigh, running a hand through my sun bleached hair. We speak about our lives, hers and where she grew up mostly. I speak of mine fleetingly, instead finding myself wanting to know about her, how she was, where she was, what was going on. She inquires about me as well, and actually seems interested to boot. A far change from my talks with Rinoa, who instead likes to babble on about herself and the subjects of cute guys, as if I were one of her flirty little girlfriends. Nevermind the fact I was her boyfriend, and even though the talks pissed me off to every degree, I eventually found myself not caring anymore.

"How about you?" Quistis asks me, seemingly more relaxed now.

"What about me?"

"Are you dating anyone?"

I look across the table to Rinoa, who is silently seething. I look back to Quistis, and again I drown. "No. Not anymore."

We talk again, for just a few minutes it seems, before Quistis turns her face to her watch and her blue eyes go wide. "Damn!" She whispers, pulling herself up from her seat. "We've been here an hour, and we're already five minutes late!"

I stand up after her, and walk her back toward her table where the others are dropping bills to pay for their food. We say a few quick goodbyes, and I hug all of them, even Zell, who seems more then happy to do so. Walking them near the exit, I pull Quistis back to me and embraced her, hard, once again, and feel the sensation of being high. She does the same, as if we are the only ones in the café, so I decide to make my move before I lose her again. Leaning down, I kiss the corner of her lips, and whisper into her ear to give me a call. The smile she gives me is worth any wrath Rinoa might toss my way after this.

After our good byes, I trail back to my seat and turn to my food. I look at Rinoa, and realize I have been ignoring her for the past hour and a half. I sip from my now flat soda and cough, starting to speak. "Rin-"

Her soda hits my face faster then anything I could have thought. The last thing I see of her is her retreating form, running out the door, and leaving me with the bill.

Shrugging it off, I take my denim shirt and wipe my face with it before setting it down. Relaxing in my seat, I stare at my food and smile. My stomach reminds me something here and now, loudly; I'm hungry again.


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