Author's Note: OK, I'm a beginner. This is my first attempt at writing FF8 fiction and I'd like feedback if you care. Maybe I should tackle a shorter fic, not a super long one with 7 different characters and 7 different perspectives and 5 or more major problems going on at the same time. But hey.

Barbed Wire

Part II: Complications

By Jamaica

Zell:

"You're not planning to wear that to the Triangle, are you?"

Seifer's snide remark hit me from behind. Figures he'd be the first one here. If not to make fun of me, then say something smart about my place or my attire or something. Asshole.

"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" I said defensively. I had on a white T-shirt, blue shorts, and my red sneakers. Hey, anything wrong with this? I especially didn't spike my hair. I know the tattoo was kinda eye-catching, but that's something I can't do about. We're trying to go to this normal club right? So I needed to look normal. And what we wore in the Garden was not really normal, I had to say.

But after I turned around, my eyes got kinda big. Seifer was wearing his trench coat, yeah, duh. But underneath he just wore his black pants and went topless. He was also wearing the silver choker that he always wears. And there was a glimmer on his left arm. Silver armband?

"What are you staring at, chicken wuss?" Seifer sneered.

"STOP CALLING ME THAT!!" I jumped at him. I absolutely hate being called that by anyone. Especially by him.

Seifer dodged my blow. Just then, my door opened and I ran right into someone coming in. "Whoa!" I staggered a little and regained my balance. I heard a snicker. Seifer, one of these days... Just ya wait.

It was Squall. He looked different, too. An off-white shirt clung to his body, accentuating his muscles. Instead of his usual feathery jacket, he had on a plain black leather jacket, a little bit leaning on the tight side. Black pants with about two million belts on, except this time, the belts were chains. He had on all this usual jewelry and his hair was as disheveled as anything.

"What's up with you two?" I exclaimed. "Y'all look like y'all are gonna go beat up somebody or something. I thought we're going clubbing?"

"What kind of club do you think we're going to?" Squall walked to stand beside Seifer. Lovers, my foot. They made me sick.

As you could tell, I'm not much of a gay person.

"Normal one," I answered.

Seifer rolled his eyes. "You never heard of the Triangle before, have you?"

"No," I admitted. "So? I'm not a freak like you two. Goodness, just what'll happen to me if I walk in that club dressed in these?" I gestured at my outfit. I betcha Ma would agree with me. Thank all the world that she's gonna be okay.

"You're gonna get beat up without even setting your foot in the hall," A voice sounded behind me. I swooshed around, only to be shocked out of my head. Again.

Irvine was leaning on the doorframe, but he had a complete color change. He wore a simple black vest that hugged his hips. Tight dark denim jeans nicely shaped his long legs. The jeans were torn at the knees, obviously on purpose, and the waist was so low that it barely reached his navel. He had the same cowboy boots and hat on, but the outfit itself screamed "Hot damn!" to everyone around him, girls and boys. Now I ain't gay and I ain't attracted to guys whatsoever, but I gotta say Kinneas outdid himself this time. He looked sexy as hell.

And judging from the expression on the other two guys' faces, I wasn't the only one thinkin' that.

"Okay, okay, I got the point," I said impatiently. "But I ain't got nothing to wear. I have nothing black or tight or leather or nothing!"

"You don't have to dress exactly like us, Zell," Irvine said to me as he strolled in the living room. "Just not... that."

Tch, fine.

I was about to go upstairs to change when my door opened one last time. This time, clunking sound of high heels zipped through. Huh? I wonder how Quistis pulled this off and whether she knew what the club was really like.

I felt myself stiffen. Every other guy in the room was frozen, too. Oh my God in heaven somewhere, this couldn't be our Instructor Trepe, could it?

Quistis was astonishing. She had let her beautiful long hair down, for once, and brushed it stick straight. She wore dark makeup, like black eyeshadow and eyeliner and stuff like that. Her lipstick was blackberry wine colored, very rich. She had on a dark blue iridescent dress, with spaghetti straps on her shoulders. The neckline was not super low and therefore didn't reveal anything too dirty. However, the dress's slit was high up to her thigh, and on both sides, too. A single wide golden belt curved her hips. Her boots were those kind with a skinny little heel. You know, the kind you always wonder how a woman could even possibly walk in without falling on her face before she covered two meters. Those boots were blackish, too, with a green sheen, and they came all the way up to her knee. She had on two sparkling earrings and they jingled as she moved, a gold cross necklace, and some stringy bracelets on one wrist and a cuff on the other. A purse draped casually from her left shoulder.

I couldn't move. I couldn't even talk. Damn. She didn't look very modest, but she definitely didn't look slutty. She just looked, so, sexy.

"Well, are we going or are you just going to stand here staring at me?" Quistis smiled at us. She checked us out each from head to toe, then her eyes landed on me. "Zell, you are not planning to wear that, are you?"

"Uh, not anymore," I managed to find my voice. Jesus, she looked so hot. I really needed to change, fast. I wondered what she would be like once we get there.

I ran upstairs as fast as I could and rummaged through my closet. Finally, I managed to throw on a dark grey shirt and some green shorts. I know it didn't really match, but who cares? I re-spiked my hair. Well, might as well look punk. That Triangle club should accept punk at least. I didn't feel like getting rejected at the door because I didn't dress appropriately.

The first thing I saw when I came back downstairs was Seifer and Squall tonguing each other. Puh-lease, man! Then I saw Irvine talking to Quistis. Well, more like drooling over her. That guy really needed some stuff in his head to shut down those hormone drives. What's worse was that Quistis didn't seem to mind at all. She was actually kinda flirting back.

Whoa. We're all gone crazy. Yep, that's the problem. This night-out thing was a really really bad idea. Oh, yeah.

"Ahem!" I cleared my throat loudly. "Are we going or not?"

"We're waiting for you, kittie-cat." Seifer purred at me. Disgusting. Stop it, please. I stuck out my middle finger at him. He just laughed and headed toward the door. Squall followed.

"Hey, you may not hog her all night, cowboy," I walked up to Irvine and pointed to his face. "There's another straight man here."

"What, you want a piece of the action, too?" Irvine smirked. "OK. But that's for the lady to decide."

Quistis looked at me, smiled a weird smile, and then hooked her hand through Irvine's arm. "Zell, you are so cute." She said. Oh no, I didn't like where this's going. "But I like to kiss up to a guy, not down."

Oooh. Damn! What the hell? "Somebody drugged you or something?" They gotta. What the hell happened to the modest and serious Instructor? She was behaving so much like, like, I don't know, somebody else.

And she's not that much taller than me, even with her 3 inch heels. Nope. I ain't that short.

What's this? Being-Mean-To-Zell-In-Any-Way-Possible Night? What did I do?

Man, I wish Selphie's here. Then she'd keep that cowboy in check and Quistis would have to stick with me if she wanted someone to hang on to for the night. Geez. Of all the rotten luck.

I hope Selphie's having more fun than I was right now.

Selphie:

"Jen!!!" I yelled and ran toward the four of them, especially Jen in the middle right. "Oh mi god y'all are actually here I'm so excited and man, I miss y'all so much!" I gushed. Man, it's been forever!

"Whoa, whoa, jeez louize Selphie, or should I say S-Bomb?" Jen grinned and hugged me. Then all four of them said loudly together: "Freeze it down!"

"Shut up! You guys are so mean!" I pouted jokingly. Oh, I missed them so bad so bad so bad!

"So what's up on your side of the mountain?" Steve asked, swung an arm around me as the five of us walked out of Balamb Train Station. The early evening's air rustled at my face.

"A lot of stuff," I answered him. "Oh, wait, I heard you and Matt changed your names? Why?"

"Because Steve is such a dorky name. I mean, come on, we're in a band called Junk Yard, and my name is Steve? That's so Hexadragon." Steve told me.

"What?" What is 'so Hexadragon?'

"Ugh!" Mai groaned. "Would you stop constantly using monsters to describe stuff? He picked that up from somewhere. 'So Hexadragon ' is like, you know," she chewed down on her gum, "not cool. Hexadragon is like the fire monster, and fire is not cold, so it's not cool."

"Stop saying crap about me, Jamaica! You won't ever stop chewing gum." Steve ranted back.

Mai stuck her tongue out at Steve. Jen giggled beside me. As usual, I didn't hear much from Matt yet.

"Hey, Matt," I called up to him. Yes, I was still the shortest among them. Mai used to be around my height, but she got a growth spurt some time while we're apart, and with those chunky platforms she towered above me. "What's up with your name? Don't all of you have a name that start with a J now?"

"Mmh-hmm." His husky voice replied. "My name is Jocifer."

"Jeep," said Steve.

"Jamaica, but of course that is my complete birth name, you just don't use it." Mai said.

"And my name is... ta da... Jen. How exciting." Jen was always the sarcastic one. We used to label her "The Sarcasm Queen." We still do.

"So you gotta get one, too," Mai poked me in the ribs.

"Why?"

"Because you're gonna perform with us. Wait, we are going to perform here in your Garden or whatever right?"

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, Jamaica, why did you think I invited you here in the first place?"

"Ahem,"

I looked up. Jen was pointing to a big bag tightly sealed with some rope. Oh, yeah, the Heroes. Right.

"Because of this?" Jen smirked. Oh shush.

"Wow, this town is pretty nice," Steve remarked. "Hey, you got any clubs. Let's go clubbing!"

"Yeah, definitely!" Mai shrieked loudly. And she was calling me the S-Bomb? "Got anything good here? Wait, I think there's this weird little cult club or something. What's it called?" She smacked her gum. "Joce, you know?"

"The Triangle," Matt replied.

"NO!" Steve suddenly stopped. What? We all stared at him.

"What, Steve?" I asked.

"My name is 'Jeep.' And no, I will not go anywhere near a cult club. Okay?" He picked up his suitcase again, which he had dropped when he stopped.

"Why not?" I didn't understand. Steve wasn't this jumpy or scardy when I left them. "What did y'all do to him?"

Jen snickered. "The only person capable of doing anything to scare him like that won't look right in a skirt."

Mai cracked up.

Huh?

"Even if he attempts to," Jen added.

"Jesus, Jen!" Matt slapped Jen on the head. Mai was laughing so hard now that she spit her gum out and it flew on the gravel. I was still confused. Matt's not, wait, what?

"You -" I pointed absentmindedly at Steve. " - you're gay?"

"NO! I AM ANYTHING BUT THAT!! SCARE ME, MS. SMARTYPANTS. SCARE ME!" He was hollering now. Yeah, holler like that in Balamb and see what the street people's expressions were like. It was a bummer.

"He's homophobic," Mai told me while she took out another piece of gum. "Some guy was hitting on him after a concert and they tried to do something and he got so scared after that."

"What did they do?" I asked.

"He won't tell us," Jen said. "And no, Jocifer had absolutely nothing to do with this. I was just making him mad."

"You damn sure were," Matt grumbled. He fell silent after that.

"OK, well, we gotta go somewhere. I got waaaayyyy too much energy to burn off." I chimed. "I know another club that's like, regular, very very regular, so Mr. Homophobia here won't run away screaming. It's on the other side of town, though."

"What's the name?" Mai popped a bubble in her mouth. Okay, so it was not just chewing gum, but bubble gum. I wanted one.

"Orange," I replied. "Can I have some gum?" I extended my hand.

"Really? Major cool." Mai handed me a square.

"Um, should we go back to your Garden and drop these off?" Steve asked. He indicated the suitcases and bags them four were carrying. Good point.

"Yeah, well, the Garden's out of this town. But I got y'all a car, so we're good." I turned from my previous direction and went toward the town's door. "So come on!"

"Anybody gay you know?" Steve asked timidly. He really was homophobic, wasn't he? Goodness, what did those goons do to him?

"No. I'm pretty sure the Garden support regular couples more. If people know stuff, they ain't telling nobody about it. I don't know anyone, so relax." I assured him. He was wrung tight. "Hey, Matt, whatcha looking at?"

"Nothing. A bunch of people in all dark clothing just walked off. Probably heading to the Triangle." He shrugged.

"Yeah, right, I'm sure that's what you're looking at." Mai smirked. "You were checkin' out that chick in that blue dress, weren't you? I saw ya. Uh-huh, no running away from that."

"Too bad she's not available." Jen grinned, too. "See how she was hanging on to that guy, who's quite cute, by the way. You know them, Selph?"

Dark-clothing people? Nope. All my friends are quite colorful. Well, except Squall, but you know, it's Squall. "Uh-uh. Y'all are so slow, man! Stop looking at Balamb people right now. We can look at them later at that club. Race y'all to the car!"

With that, I ran off ahead. They soon followed, but I was way faster. Well, I didn't have those suitcases, but that doesn't count. No way.

This felt so right and familiar. I felt like I was home again. That's a feeling I could use for a long long time.

Squall:

I could hear the music's beat before I even walked into the door. The Triangle wasn't that big, but the sound system was so wonderful that I could totally get lost in it. But one bad thing about that was that it would certainly distract all of us from concentrating on our problem. Or, my problem. We sure picked a good place for serious conversation.

"Well, here we are. How long has it been? Four months?" Seifer's voice sounded to my right. It had indeed been awhile since the last time we came.

"About," I replied. "You guys ready?" I turned my head back toward my other companions. Quistis and Irvine were laughing at something, while Zell was looking at the road, visibly sulking. He seemed jealous or mad, or both. Ah, so I was not the only one who became suddenly interested in our dear Instructor.

"Yeah," Irvine said back to me. "It's not like I haven't been to a cult club before."

"He's such a bad liar," Seifer nibbled at my ear. "I bet he never even came two blocks within somewhere like here before. He's just too damn proud and trying to hard to be suave to admit that."

I looked at him surprisingly. "You are talking about the worldly gunman back there, right?" Nothing Irvine had done would surprise me.

Seifer snickered. "Yeah, right, that's just a stupid image."

Really? I opened my mouth to say something else, but Seifer wrapped his arm around my waist and kissed me on the temple. "Come on, baby, let's go have some fun."

I smiled darkly to myself. Yes. Fun. Without any fear present back in Garden. I leaned my head on Seifer's shoulder and we walked into the black scene. I glanced back for a second, making sure the others were following us. They were. I then turned my attention back to the room full of dancing people, music, sweat, liquor, and other substances.

"Where are we going?" Quistis came up to us. She had a lost look in her eyes, but they were full of excitement also. It had been a while since I saw her excited about anything. In fact, I didn't think I ever seen her excited, period.

"A table first," Seifer answered her. He scanned around the room. Then he led me toward the back corner. We moved through the moving people. I felt stiff. I needed, no, wanted, to be out there. I wanted Seifer out there with me, grinding into me with the beat. I wanted him.

"Damn," Zell looked around the scene as we all got an empty table and seated ourselves. "This is place is so... nasty."

"Really?" Seifer smirked. "Scared?"

"No way!" Zell immediately got defensive. "I ain't scared of nothing!"

"Oh? So if... ."

"Shut up! Shut up!" Zell plugged his ears. "I also don't need you conjuring up scenes just to see if I am scared of them."

"So you are scared of something," Seifer continued. He could be such an asshole when he wanted to be.

"Geez, leave him alone for one second." Irvine cut in.

Seifer raised his eyebrow. "Why are you defending him?"

"No reason. Aren't you tired of being an ass sometimes? Because I certainly am tired of your remarks."

Okay. The cowboy wanted to deliberately go against Seifer. And he was doing a pretty good job. I thought those words he uttered won't be heard until somebody's in Hell. Maybe I should say something. Seifer's my boyfriend, after all.

"I'm going to get some drinks," Quistis stood up, deliberately distracting those two. "What do y'all want?"

"Margarita," I said. The rest of them agreed with me.

"Wait, this place doesn't even check for I.D.?" Zell asked disbelievingly. "They could have kids like under 15 here."

"I doubt that," I said to him. "If you have enough guts to come in here, you have enough reason to drink."

"Whoa, then we shouldn't let a lady go somewhere by herself, now should we?" Irvine started to get up, but Zell beat him to the clock.

"I'll go!" He jumped off the chair and dashed into the crowd.

"Desperate much?" Seifer snickered again. His eyes wandered for two seconds and turned back on Irvine. "So, tell me, you gay?"

Irvine looked at him like he was crazy. Then he smiled a little. "No."

"Bi?"

"No."

Seifer narrowed his eyes. "Somehow I don't believe you."

"Suit yourself."

"Don't worry," he said each syllable clearly. "I will. Hey, Squall, you want to dance?"

Wanted that for a while now. "Sure." I took his offered hand and walked toward the dance floor. The music was moderate-paced but with a very good bass. Perfect.

Seifer had thrown his trenchcoat on his chair before he took me out on to a desolate spot. I smiled. The light in the room bounced off his muscles in a seductive gleam. I had a sudden urge to lick his nipple. But before I could do anything he bent down and kissed me. Sweet.

I started to move with the music ringing in my ears. My hips slowly began to rotate against his. It felt nice. Seifer released my mouth and started to move with me. He really was a good dancer, even though he didn't look like it. Or nobody expected it.

I noticed we were beginning to catch people's attention. Probably not because of the gender thing, but because of Seifer's naked torso. Eye-candy, as they called it. Well, people, back off. He's mine.

"Enjoying yourself?" Seifer asked me.

I nodded. "I haven't felt this good for so long."

He chuckled. Then his eyes turned serious. "I... I'm really sorry about last night. I didn't mean to -"

"It's okay," I cut him off. "You were right. It's my fault. I don't want to keep us undercover, but I was truly scared. Truly."

"I know. But it's frustrating to not be able to... well, first of all, it's fun to watch people freak. And second of all -"

Geez. Fun? But he didn't get to finish his thought, for I heard Quistis' voice calling out my name. I was more than a little disappointed. I mean, we were just getting started.

But, I guess it's business first and fun later.

Rinoa:

It's already past 12:30. Why weren't they calling? Hello? Please, I really wanted to get this over with. I needed the ideas. I needed Squall. I needed, well, some solution so I won't be caught in a stupid loveless marriage along with 3 other unhappy men.

Pretending sucks. It really does.

"Bling!" Yes!

Finally.

I stood up from the chair I was sitting in and walked again to the computer. The screen flashed back on. These calls seemed routine by this point. I wished I was in Balamb.

No, actually, I wished I was in Timber. That's where Ryan's at at the moment. He crashed in at the house of leader of the Forest Fox, to avoid any Galbadian disturbances from that man. Since Timber's been liberated, there was a slim chance of any Galbadian officials there anyway. But, you never know.

Whoa. What was that?

I stared at my screen. What had happened to everyone? They were all dressed so dark andů well, dark. Even Zell. Where were they? What happened?

"Uh, hi." I squeezed the words out. My throat felt kind of dry. "How's everybody doing?"

"Rinoa, it's okay. We haven't all gone crazy or anything." Irvine smiled. They sure looked like it. "We're at The Triangle. It would be kinda suspicious if we showed up all spit-spat, so, we conformed."

The Triangle. Well, that explained it.

"So, what's up?" Seifer asked me. "What's your big emergency?"

"Quistis hasn't explained it to you yet?" That girl did not intend to help me at all, did she? She probably still had lingering feelings for Squall, and was using this as an opportunity to get back at me. Wait, that's not right. This was Quistis. She wouldn't do such a thing to me. Plus, she knew Squall's gay.

"No. I was hoping you would." Seifer took a sip of his drink, whatever that was.

Great. Again. But I really shouldn't be complaining. After all, I was the one asking for help.

So I shrugged and explained the entire episode to them again. I know, it's getting annoying. But that's what happens when everyone's at different places at different times.

The first reaction was from Zell, who hopped up from his chair and exclaimed "What?!" so loudly that I bet the people around them were staring. The second one stood up was Seifer. That figures, too. He wouldn't be too happy about my request. What was I supposed to do? I was locked up already.

"You can't marry him," Seifer told me simply with a hint of menace in his tone.

"No kidding!" I exclaimed. "I don't want to. The question is how can I make those two people change their mind."

"They're going to invade the Garden if she doesn't." Quistis added. "I don't think we're in tip-top shape to fight the entire Galbadian army. Again."

"The entire army? What, that Carraway guy is the leader now or something?" asked Zell.

"Yeah, dumbass, where have you been for the past 6 months?" Seifer snickered. Zell flicked him off and was about to pounce on him, but Irvine dragged his wrist back down on the table.

"Hey! You're supposed to be helping me here, not fighting among yourselves. So far I haven't heard a suggestion yet." I was angry. What was up with them? They weren't being too friendly.

Irvine's sharp gaze suddenly shot at me. He then laughed softly and leaned on his arms on the table. "Rinoa, it really isn't our problem."

What?

"Don't give me that look." All the others were looking at him now. "If the kid's Squall's, then I'm sure we'll be more than willing to help you on this thing. But the kid's last name will be Sullivan, not Leonhart. So don't scream at us like it's our fault you're in trouble. Guilt trips aren't that easy to take."

I felt my lips came apart. "Guilt trips? What are you talking about? I'm in distress!"

"Why don't you just tell them the truth? Tell them Squall is gay and he has a boyfriend and the kid is not his but Ryan's. See what they'll do."

"They won't believe me," Didn't he understand?

"How do you know if you haven't even tried?"

"It won't work. You don't understand!"

"We won't until you tell us," Squall's quiet voice came out liquidly. "What's the worst they'll do to you?"

"They already locked me in!" I didn't know what's the worst they'll do. I really didn't. Maybe Irvine and Quistis were right. Maybe.

Zell scoffed. "Now look, girl, I know there's no way anyone can lock you anywhere if you don't want to be there."

Okay, how's this helping me? "Wait, why are you all taking sides with Kinneas?" His reputation shouldn't make his words at all convincing. Yet . . ..

"Something wrong with me?" Irvine's voice became kind of jagged.

I cocked my head. "Aren't you the type who want to be a girl's big studly protector? I thought the first person to get me out of this jam would be you, but guess not. Meany."

He smiled. "I am helping you. First you go to your father and tell him the truth. If he reacted badly to it, why don't you just go and find Ryan and marry him? I thought you were always against your father anyways. Plus, according to you, all they cared about is you not staying in their house. If they're that inconsiderate and heartless, then they shouldn't give a damn about whom you're actually living with. Go with Ryan and live in, I don't know, Esthar or something."

That wouldn't work. Talking to that man, first of all, was impossible. "Impossible."

"Really? Or are you just too afraid to do it? Too afraid to admit that he's right for once and there are consequences to your actions?"

My actions? This pimp was talking about my actions? "Me? Look who's talking?!"

He smiled again. He really needed to stop it. "Rinoa, how many girls that I've hit on are the damsel-in-distress type? I have yet to get with a needy girl."

"Hey!" He wanted to be suave and hint that I'm helpless, fine. "If you're calling me that, well, remember you did hit on me, too."

"That was when we first met. It became the other way around after a while, didn't it?"

Dirty bastard! I did not throw myself at him, thank you very much. Seifer started laughing. "She sure did." He then turned to me. "You did."

"Uh-huh." Zell agreed.

What was this? This was crap! They... ugh! "Squall? Quistis?" Where's Selphie when you needed her? She wouldn't be cracking on me at this moment. No, she'd be here giving me a good solution.

"Irvine's suggestion is actually... pretty good." Quistis said. "Maybe you should try -"

"Out of the question! You know what? This is a mistake. I shouldn't even ask any of you in the first place. Forget it. Forget it! So if the entire Galbadian army comes on top of your head, don't be mad at me. Good night."

I turned off the computer and slammed it shut.

Seifer:

"Bitch."

I glanced at Irvine. I figured he gotta be a little drunk to tell Rinoa all those stuff he said. I mean, I wouldn't even say those things to her. He didn't look that sober, that's for sure. There was a faint flush on his cheeks and neck, making him look even sexier.

"So what happened to the womanizer?" Zell downed his own drink. "You didn't charm Rinoa much."

"I don't charm that kind of woman." Irvine shrugged.

"Since when did you become selective of your target?" I poured myself the rest of the Margarita bottle. Quistis brought like, 4 bottles, and now we're down to one. So it was fair to say that all of us were a little tipsy at this moment. "I thought you hit on anything that breathe."

"Watch it, man." He pointed at me. Then he turned toward Quistis. "You want to dance?"

She giggled. It was so odd to hear someone like her giggle. "Sure." She took his hand and walked toward the dance floor.

I heard a loud sigh coming from Zell. Huh? Chicken wuss was a little jealous. Fuck, that guy makes everybody jealous. "Jealous much, chicken wuss?"

"Shut up!" he growled at me.

Squall, who was sitting between us two, sighed. "Zell, why don't you just go to the dance floor and chat up a girl? You are at a club. Go grab a spoon. Or are you scared that your girlfriend might disapprove?"

Zell laughed a short, bitter laugh. "Heh, she dumped me like, a hell of a long time ago. Saying I wasn't sincere enough. Tch. And as of this minute, the only spoon I want to grab is Quistis." He didn't take Squall's bait. Stupid. Do all people stare at good advice in the face and ignore it like it's bad for them or something?

I looked away to search for the dancing couple. I found them somewhere in the back corner. Holy shit, what the fuck were they doing?

Well, I didn't know what it looked like to others, but to me, they were dancing like everyone else was dancing there. That means they're basically screwing each other on the floor with their clothes on. No, pardon, with some of their clothes on. You ever seen lap dance in a strip bar? Well, it looked like that, only worse.

"The hell?" Squall noticed them too. "That can not be Quistis. Right?"

"Man, what did y'all give her? I said somebody drugged her, now I'm very sure they did." Zell stood up and crossed his arms. "I'm gonna go over there and..."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, sit your ass back down, boy." I pushed him back down on his seat. "I got it covered, okay? Just sit here for now."

Zell's eyes were huge. "Wha... What are you doing?"

I grinned. "That would be none of your business. Come on." I dragged Squall with me, toward the two twisting freaks. Well, maybe I shouldn't call them that considering what I used to do here, but I'm gonna. I stopped a few yards away from them and spun Squall into my arm.

"Dance." I ordered. And we did.

"What are you doing?" he asked me softly in my ear. His breath tickled my earlobe. My back was to Irvine and Quistis now, so I could only rely on Squall's observation.

"What are they doing?" I asked.

"Dancing."

I smiled. "Does that cowboy look hot to you?"

He pulled back immediately with a shocked expression. It was so funny. "Seifer!"

"Does he?"

He paused for a second. Aha, pauses in this case means yes. I mean, come on, Kinneas was so fucking sexy I felt like raping him. But of course I wouldn't. No, I'm not that horrible. Anyways, Squall sighed a little and put his head back on my shoulder. "What do you plan to do?"

Now he's on my boat. "Not much. But, you know, I pity that chicken wuss. What do you say we give him a chance?"

"How?"

"Keep Kinneas busy. Simple."

"Busy?"

"Oh, all right. Pry him away from Quistis and fuck with him. Just a little, though. Get him back fair and square about that kiss this morning."

"You still haven't let go of that? You were messing with him first."

"So what if I was! He surprised me. Now I'm gonna surprise him. You game?"

Squall scoffed. "You're nasty, do you know that?" Right. There was an odd glimmer in his eyes. "But," he grinned. "I'm game."

I stopped my dancing. "Come on, then." We made our way through the dub daze and stopped right by the two. They halted as soon as they saw us coming. Quistis seemed even more drunk now. In fact, she seemed high.

"So, what's up?" Irvine asked us. He could tell we were up to something. Ha.

"Nothing. Um, we need to talk to you for second. Well, I need to talk to you for a second." I said. "And Zell was kinda down. It's not really fair that you get all the spotlight and he get nothing."

Quistis smiled genuinely. "Okay, okay, I got your point. I was being unfair to him, that's true. You go ahead, talk. I'll go sit down."

After her slim figure disappeared behind the crowd, I turned my attention back to Kinneas. He cocked his head. "You're here to pry me away from my girl?"

"She's not your girl." Squall said defensively. "This isn't the place to talk. Follow me." He walked off even further to the corner. I knew where he's headed. He's going toward one of those hidden rooms where the lights would just barely miss the door. It was designed that way for, um, activities besides dancing. Okay, fine, it was like the hotel room after a Prom party. However, Irvine, being a first-timer like I know he was, looked confused.

Squall pushed open one of the unlocked vacant rooms and us three strolled in. I closed and locked the door behind me. Show time.

I remained behind Irvine. He was looking at Squall. "What do you want?" He asked.

The magic words. I walked quickly up to him, grabbed his wrists and wrung them behind his back. He didn't struggle at first, but then the shock wore off and I felt the muscles tightened under my hands. Strong muscles, too. So I leaned over and licked a spot on his neck. "You." I whispered the answer into his ear.

Well, that must've worked, because he stopped struggling. A half-bitter half-ironic laugh escaped his throat. "Ha. Did I not plainly state that I'm not gay?"

"Well, you're at least not homophobic because you're not freaking out." I started kissing down his throat. He was warm, thanks to all those Margaritas. I ran my tongue back up, found a spot, and started to suck on it. He's not gonna leave the room without a hickie.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Squall came up to us. He reached down and opened up Irvine's vest, then dropped it on the floor. He knelt down halfway and started to kiss one of Irvine's nipples. I knew he wanted to do that before we even left Zell's house. Oh, trust me, I know my lover. He won't admit his silent desires, but I know them.

A light moan came from Irvine's lips. Aha, so he's enjoying this. And he blatantly defied that he's gay. All right, maybe he's not gay or bi. He's just not afraid of us men like most people would. Plus, one fool around doesn't make you not straight.

I stopped sucking on his throat. Time to focus on something else. I knocked his hat off, then freed one hand to pull off his ponytail holder. He wasn't even trying to resist now, so there's no point holding on like death. But, I didn't trust him that much yet, so I still kept one hand. Squall was slowly pushing us back toward the wall. His mouth left Irvine's nipple and moved downward to the abs muscle. I, on the other hand, started nibbling on Irvine's ear while my free hand roamed down to the small of his back.

And that's when he started having a spasm.

Quistis:

"Hey," I greeted Zell, who was sitting lazily on the chair with his back to the wall. He stood up in surprise as I approached him. Oh, was I being so awful?

I smiled at him. The liquor was making the room a little blurry, so I plopped myself down in front of Zell. "Do I have something written on my forehead or something?"

"Huh? No." Zell shook his head. "Why aren't you dancing?"

"Do you want me to go back to Irvine?" That was a rhetoric question. The expression on his face told it all. "See? So why did you even bother with that question?"

"I don't know. Geez, if you're gonna be here making fun of me, then I don't want you here. Leave." He sat back down and poured himself another glass of Margarita. "Go!"

Jesus. I ignored him and grabbed the liquor bottle. I have never drunk so much in my life, but I didn't care. I got myself another full glass and downed it in one gulp. It tasted wonderful.

When I put the empty glass down, Zell was staring at me. His expression was on the borderline of concern. "Uh, Quistis? How many glasses have you had?"

I shrugged. "Don't know. At least a bottle or two. Who cares?"

"I do."

Interesting. Huh. "Oh?"

He rolled his eyes. "Yeah. I mean, we all do. Not to be accusing or something, but you are so totally out of it tonight it's not even funny. It's not just me who think so, ask any of them other guys. Where are they right now, anyways?"

I didn't know. They disappeared. So I shrugged. "I wouldn't be worried about them if I were you. They can take care of themselves."

"Yeah, but you apparently are on the verge of collapsing."

I laughed. How ridiculous. Me? Right.

"Something bothering you, girl?"

No. Nothing was bothering me at all. Besides for the fact that I needed to change my looks and personality in order to appeal to him, I was perfectly fine. So I shook my head and reached for the bottle again. I was so thirsty.

Zell snatched it away from me. Hey! "Zell!"

"What? Girl, you drink any more you're gonna get severe alcohol poisoning. Look, I know this is not you. Not the real you. Why the sudden change?"

My voice turned dark. "This is the real me. You think only Selphie and Rinoa can have a wild side? I'm not just full of serious bookworm crap. I can be fun, too."

"By drinking yourself to death?"

"Good God, Zell, liquor can't kill me at this stage."

"What will?"

"He can," Oops. Hah, Dincht got some skills after all. How on Earth he got my slip of tongue, I didn't know. The lights in this room seemed brighter to me than usual.

"Who? Squall?"

What? "Squall? No, he's got a boyfriend, darling. I don't think I'll go tamper with that stone."

Zell's face was about as serious as he could ever get. "Irvine, then?"

I sighed. Struck core. "He's taken, too. But you know how screwed up a person can be. Pick the battle you can't win and charge with all your might, even if it'll leave a trail of thick, dark, and warm blood. Glorious."

I said all these with a half-smile on my face. For some reason I felt like laughing, even though a knife had split my heart in two. The lights grew even flashier, and the room started to spin. A nap seemed nice right now.

"You..." Zell fumbled. "Are you in love with him?"

"Tonight's show is as far as I could hope for." I eluded his question. "To him, I'm just a one-time lust object. Tomorrow it'll be like before, he'll be with her, not me. He's a player, I know. I'm not stupid."

"It... it might not be as hopeless as you might think."

Odd comment. "Right. You're just trying to cheer me up. Well, accept reality, darling, he's been interested in Selphie since we were kids. I remember everything. So the chance of me is as broad as you take on an Elnoyle single-handed without any GFs or magic." Zell's eyes narrowed. "Wow, I never knew you're so... depressed." "I've been like this for a while now. It's not a sudden thing." "You ever talked to anybody about any of these?"

No. Who would listen to me anyways? They would always be expecting me to be perfectly collected, as in the Instructor Trepe they knew before. Or the Quistis Trepe that fought with Ultimecia and won. Or the cold, calm, and cool Quistis with not many emotions but flawless logic to guide someone out of a mystified situation. That was all.

That was all there ever was about me.

I still didn't answer Zell's previous question. He probably already figured it out from my silence. It's not that hard.

"Why do you think that nobody cares about you?" He suddenly asked. I didn't think nobody cared about me. They just don't care enough about me in that way.

"Feelings have no 'why's. They have 'are's." I answered.

"Does Irvine have any idea at all?"

Oh he must've been kidding. "Of course not. Zell, didn't I repeat frequently about Selphie and his relationship?"

"That thing they have can't really be called a relationship, can it? I mean, I don't know about anybody else, but to me, it looks like Selphie and him are thinking of two different things. She's in her own bubble and he's, well, out of the bubble. I don't know, maybe you should try talk with him or something."

I laid my head on my arms on the table. I was getting sleepy. "Zell, why are you urging me to get with him? I've seen the way you looked at me all night. You're willingly pushing me toward another guy. Why?"

"Well, see," his voice kind of strained. "OK, I admit it. The thing I have for you is probably just lust. I never seen you look this way before and it's like, whoa, hot damn! But, but, you're so miserable. You are so freakin' beyond miserable, actually, and I, or anyone else who knows you, for that matter, hate to see you like this. Really, I'm not joking. Since you helped me with my problem, I'm gonna help you with yours."

His problem? Oh, right, his mom. I didn't feel like speaking any more. Too tiring. The room's getting darker. Odd, it was bright as fire before, now it's like a black hole sucked away all sources of radiance. Voices and music were blending together into a monotonous hum.

I needed some sleep.

"Quistis? Quistis?!" Somebody's calling me. But it seemed so far away. Oh, well, let it drift. No need to answer anything.

Too tired. Sleep. And why was the ground spinning under my feet? Or was it the table that's moving? Who cares.

The light's gone out.

Irvine:

I gasped when felt Seifer's hand slid down my spine. My most sensitive spot was right in the middle of the small of my back, and his fingers were on it. Let me tell ya this, if you think nothing besides touching the main event would set a guy off, you're so wrong. I mean, like, you're so off the map it's hard to even try to come back.

And Squall had to choose that exact moment to slid to my crotch and unzip my pants. I felt all the blood rushed down and I knew Squall could feel the erection. Or see it. Or both. Seifer obviously realized his touch was doing more than he had intended for, so he kept right at it, messaging in a circular motion. I leaned back into Seifer, into his working fingers that sent waves of shock into my head. I felt his erection, too. He was harder than me.

"Fuck," I whispered. They were driving me to the point of ecstasy, and Squall hadn't even touched me yet! But it didn't feel right. Heh, no shit it didn't feel right. I'm not gay. I'm not even bi. This was a pure physical thing and I really didn't want my first time to be a pure physical thing, with two guys, although my body and hormone both told me to.

I forced my mouth to obey my will. "Stop."

Squall stiffened. He raised his head up and looked at me directly in the eye. Seifer was still massaging my back, but it turned softer. And he strayed away from that spot. However, he still didn't let go of my wrists.

"What?" Squall asked.

"I said, stop."

"Whoa," he stood up and backed away a step. "Irvine Kinneas preventing someone to give him a blow job. That is unheard of. Have you drunk so much that you're actually sober?"

Man, I'm not a damn whore. OK, maybe I act like it, but that's all act! I rolled my eyes. "Have you ever seen anyone giving me a blow job?"

"No. I don't think you'd let us know about stuff like that. Isn't that kind of private?"

"Fine. Change of phrasing: Have you ever seen me go off somewhere private with less than two people?"

He thought about it for a second. "Yeah. Selphie."

"Selphie doesn't count. Plus, you don't really think she's the kind to give a blow job to anyone, do you?"

Seifer snickered behind me. He let go of my hands and moved a little to the left, away from me. So we're actually talking here now? Look how this turned out. I zipped my pants back up.

Squall glanced at me sideways. "Wait a minute, you two are dating, right?"

Um. "She thinks we are, but no. I don't think that way about her. She's too... I don't know, I've known her for too long. She's like, my best friend, and my sister. That's about it."

"Well," he scoffed, "you think it would be a little more convenient to tell somebody that? I'm not talking about just Selphie herself, either."

I kept my voice flat. "You mean Quistis?"

I met his gaze. His expression turned soft. "I think she's in love with you. It's the truly-madly-deeply kind, too."

We stared at each other for a second or two, then I looked away. I couldn't look at anything else now, except the bare wall. "What do you want me to do about it?"

"I don't want you do anything if you don't want to."

Shut up. Dang, pretend in that stupid not-caring tune if you like, but we all know you care more than you ever realize. Squall is so predictable.

But he got me thinking. Quistis was in love with me? I mean, I know she'd been subtly flirting with me for a while, very subtly, until tonight, which I still did not understand what the hell happened, but hey. I didn't know what to make of her. All right, let's skip tonight's one exception, but on average day she never seemed to talk over the line with me. Ever. I wasn't sure she was even on the line. But something's there. It's invisible, but it's there. And I was so fascinated by it for some reason.

Was I? Was that what affection, not just physical or skin-deep ones, I'm talking about real ones, was like? So tangible but so amorphous. It's like, the atmosphere. Or the scent of grass right after rain. Or, I don't know, something.

"He's quiet. That's not good. He's never quiet." Seifer's voice crept into my ears. What did Squall see in him anyways? Oh well.

I turned my gaze back to Seifer. He had walked to where Squall had stood, and Squall was heading toward the door. "I'm gonna bolt, check on the other two make sure they don't get drunk and wreak havoc." Squall opened the door and disappeared back into the loud music.

I crossed my arms. "You didn't talk much either for the past 30 minutes."

"Oh, my bad." Seifer rolled his eyes. "Look, I have no idea that Squall agreed with me to take you here to talk to you about this. I thought he just wanted to fuck you like I did. So whatever he's accusing you of, I don't know and I frankly, don't care that much."

Yeah, right. "Seifer, you lie as much as you accused me of. I believe you on the fuck part, but don't throw some you-don't-care kind of statements. You know that's not true."

I picked up my vest and put it back on. Seifer shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "You really are a virgin, aren't you?"

"I've been saying that for how long now and you just got it. That's not bad, for you." Now I picked up my ponytail holder and the hat. I deliberately turned my back to him just as I heard his quick footsteps behind me and a hard shove got me into the wall.

"Hey, listen, cowboy, that's the fifth damn time you deliberately shoved your foot up my ass. You wanna know what that feels like? I can do that right now." His hand closed on my neck. I felt a smile surging out of my lips. So I finally ticked him off, eh? Took a while.

"No." I lilted my voice. "Now you know what Squall felt before the Ultimecia thing and how Zell feels right now whenever you picks on him." I removed his hand from my neck slowly and turned around. "Feels very good, doesn't it?"

Seifer's face turned to surprise. He remained shocked for a minute, then backed away slightly. All those smirk and arrogance that he still kept after he got with Squall disappeared out of the window. Good. Somebody needs to tell him that, to his face.

I smirked and slid toward the door. He didn't chase me, but his eyes followed my every move. I twisted the knob, pushed the door open, and dissolved back in the dance room.

I quickly made my way toward our table. When I got there, Zell and Squall were both standing up and ready to leave. Quistis was lying on the table; passed out, probably. I wasn't surprised at all. I had only two glasses of Margaritas, and I know Squall didn't have any. She hogged basically the whole thing. 4 bottles. I mean, come on.

"What are we going to do now?" Zell asked.

I sighed. Then I leaned over and picked Quistis up, careful not to wake her or let her skirt's slit show too far up. "Well, we can't go back to Garden now unless we sneak in. And I don't think any of us are in the mood or shape to climb over fences. Zell, you think we can crash at your house tonight?"

"Sure," Zell shrugged. At the same time Squall asked, "Where's Seifer?"

"Here," The person asked made his way toward us. "We're going to chicken wuss's den?"

Zell ignored him this time. Quistis shifted in my arms. She subconsciously put her head closer to my chest. Something was aching and I felt blood rush through my ears. I shook my head, and it went away as quickly as it came. Odd.

"Yo, Kinneas, riding a horse somewhere?" Seifer pushed me from behind. "Let's go."

All right, all right. I frowned a little and followed the other two out of the Triangle. I realized I needed somewhere to sit down and rest, bad.

Selphie:

"Squall? Quistis? Hello?!"

I yelled into the Garden's dorms. They should be able to hear me, and it's not even 9 o'clock. They're not in bed around 9, oh no. I gotta let them all meet my friends from Trabia. Oh, yeah, and also let Zell see Jen with the Heroes and then watch how happy he gets. You know, he'll jump up and down and he will wear that big ole grin of his. Watching him happy makes me happy.

"Where is everybody?" I mumbled to myself. "Irvine? Zell? Anybody here?"

No answer. Huh.

"Selph, where's your boyfriend?" Mai nudged me in the ribs. "I heard so much about him. Now I'm so curious to meet him."

"Oddly, he's out." I searched around the hall once more. "So is every other person I ever told y'all about. Hmm." I shrugged. Oh, well, no use worrying about it right now.

"Wow, this place is big," Jen commented. "Much bigger than Trabia." She lifted her suitcase up and strolled toward one of the dorm rooms. "Which ones are ours?"

"Waaayyyy down there." I pointed toward the back. I was going to talk to Squall about using one of his spare quarters to house my friends. But he's out. I guess he won't mind if we take stuff first and tell later. Nah, he won't.

The five of us shuffled along toward the end of the hall. I knew for a fact the last two rooms were empty. Jen and Mai could share one while Matt and Steve take up the other. I told them the plan, and they all agreed. Yep, Miss Planner Tilmitt.

"Spacious!" Mai exclaimed as soon as she stepped in the room. "Heh, I have more room in this double than my single back home. You're rich. Who's your sponsor?"

"Uh, somebody from Esthar." I replied. I wasn't going to tell them the president of Esthar was the Headmaster's dad. No way. Then somebody would start complaining about unfairness and it'd end really really ugly. It'd be a mess.

"Whom should I give these to?" Jen threw the bag of Heroes on table. "Who's your doctor?"

"Dr. Kadowaki. It's kinda late right now though. We can give her the stuff in the morning." I wanted to go out and hang with them tonight. I mean, the Heroes won't go anywhere by themselves. "You know, we need to catch up first. What happened this past year? The last time I saw y'all, y'all were still an unknown little band. Now look what happened?"

"We're still an unknown little band." Steve's voice sounded behind me. "Only Trabia knew us. That's about like, what, 500 people?"

"Well, never mind that." I bounced up. "You're gonna all perform here, and we're gonna throw a big bash, and everyone in Balamb will come and see you. Then they'll tell other people, and soon you're all gonna be famous!"

"Right, and that'll just happen in two weeks, huh?" Jen rolled her eyes. "And Jeep, you and Joce are ready already? You finished unpacking?"

"Unpacking, what are you talking about? Unpacking can be done tomorrow, tonight I want to phoenix out." Steve spun around in a circle just as Matt opened the door.

"Phoenix out?" I raised my eyebrow.

"Fly out and cruise, he meant," Mai translated. "So you just threw your stuff in your room?"

"What else?" Matt shrugged. "Are we going now or what?"

"We're going, we're going, jeez." Jen said impatiently. "You guys are really desperate to find some girls to hit on, right?"

The guys didn't say anything.

"Uh-huh." Jen snickered. "Well then, let's head out."

"I'm hurt. We don't count as good enough dates for you?" Mai made a puppy-face. Steve cracked up while Matt just looked away. Mai slapped Steve on the back of his head as Jen locked the door behind us. The students that were still up gave us some weird looks, but didn't stare long enough to bother anyone.

"Hey, you got a training center here?" Mai suddenly perked up. "Balamb continent seemed too mild to get anything horrible."

"Jamaica! That's nice." It's Steve's turn to slap her on the back of the head. "Good way to make the SeeDs here feel superior."

"What?" She exclaimed. "What are you talking about?"

"You're saying there's no hard monsters here. So the SeeD who trained here all face easy battles. And therefore not as skilled as us because we have to fight harder monsters." Steve explained.

"No way in the wild world did I say that!" Mai nearly shrieked. "I was just -"

"OK! You two, catfight should not start on the first night you're here." Jen shut both of them up. "Anyways, Jamaica, what were you saying to Selphie?"

By that time we all reached the gate and were headed toward the car. I didn't bother to park the car back in the parking lot because we're gonna head back out. Matt opened the door and held it open for us girls to get in first. I guess he wanted to drive this time. Cool. He's a good driver so I wasn't worried.

"I was wondering if there's any monster that's strong enough here for me to try out my newest concoction." Mai unwrapped another bubble gum piece and plopped it in her mouth.

"Which is?" I asked. Curious.

"I don't know the name. It's like this, right. You mix Meltdown and Pain . . ."

"Whoa, that's impossible right there." Steve cut in. "Since when could you do that? They'll just explode or cancel each other out or something."

"Have you tried?" Mai's voice took a note of disdain.

"Yeah."

"What happened?"

"They exploded."

"Exactly." She chirped. "But if you throw them out at our opponent, it'll explode on them and the damage is tremendous. I tried it on a Blue Dragon once. That thing went down like a stone. All I needed was a couple of Limit Break hits and it's dead. So quick. I done it by accident though because I was panicking, but anyways, there ya go. And if you like, throw in some Firaga or Flare or if you dare, Ultima, then that's a mighty spell."

"Don't throw Ultima with that." Matt said from his driver's seat. "You'll create such an aftershock that you'll hurt yourself."

"What can you do if you do hurt yourself or someone else accidentally?" Jen questioned. She was more interested in Life/Death and Time/Support magic more than the Elemental/Static ones that Mai loves. That's the reason Jen collect Heroes. If you want someone to be your backup restoration master in battle, you got yourself a girl. Matt's more into the physical weaponry and Steve tried everything to perfect his Mug/Rare Item skills. So if you put the four of them together in one big battle, whoo, monsters, watch out. They're literally undefeatable.

And me? My place is the Limit Break area. My Limit Break is still the best among them, no matter what. That's why they always ask me to come along with them to go training back in Trabia. It was so fun.

Plus, ever since I came to Balamb Garden, I get to control GFs. That's a big plus.

"If that happens," Mai continued, "you better have some Elixir or Hero ready. I don't know because I never hurt a person with this before. It's gonna be pretty nasty, though."

"Is this it?" Matt turned around and asked me. He had driven to the back of Balamb, near the docks. Good directions, man.

"Yeah, keep going a little further... turn left here... uh-huh, see that big huge orange sign on the roof? Yep, that's it." I pointed to a yellow-walled building. Matt spun the car into a complete stop and turned off the engine.

"All right!" Steve popped open the door. "Let's go p-a-a-a-r-r-r-t-t-t-t-y!"

Quistis:

I was falling. Down and down in a spiral mist. I knew the bottom was near, yet it took me eternity to reach it. After an excruciatingly long wait, I saw the mist darkened and felt something solid on my back. No pain followed, but a hollow sensation spread from my spine to everywhere else on my body.

Then all was black.

My eyes snapped open. Soft covers draped across my chest. A feathery pillow neatly folded under my head. I was staring at a ceiling slightly bathed with the morning sunlight. The sun had just risen and was seeping through a window at the other end of the room. Whose room was this?

I started to get up on my arms, but a sudden rush of pain slammed into my temples. I groaned quietly and furrowed my brows. Nausea immediately followed. I smelled Margarita deep in my throat. Margarita?

Oh.

Memories came back, too. Bits and pieces, of course, but they're there, nonetheless. My my, what did I do last night? I could not believe that was actually me dancing in the shadows, with...

Oh my goodness. He must've thought I was a slut. I probably did deserve that title judging by the way I was acting. Terrible. Terrible!

Another wave of pain jolted me straight out of bed. Whose bed was this again? It's not the Garden dorms. The last thing I remembered was talking to Zell about something, then I fell asleep. And now I was here.

I shook my head violently, as if that would make the pain disappear. It did wake my tired eyes more. I pushed the soft cover off of me and swung my leg over the edge of the bed. That's when I noticed I wasn't alone in the room.

Two figures lay by my feet. One had blond hair and the other one was too dark for the dim light to reflect off. I then saw that my high-heels were put beside the bedstand and all my jewelry sparkled on the drawers. I still had my dress on. A slightly uncomfortable garment to be sleeping in, though.

I slid off the bed quietly. I saw the punching bag and the gun display on the wall. Oh! This was Zell's house.

"Awake already?"

I jumped at the source of the whisper. Seifer half sat up on his arms, careful not to disturb Squall. His eyes were focused on me.

"Yes." I said quietly. "What time is it?"

"About 5:30. Got a headache?"

I smiled sadly. "Yes, that too. Um, I'm going to take a shower. Where is that?"

He shrugged. "This isn't my house, go ask chicken wuss." He then felt me stiffen and snickered. "Dear instructor, you're not expecting me to ask him that, right?"

"I, well," I gestured at my clothing. The dress was chosen for one night only. I had planned to reverse back to what everyone was used to - the emotionless and logical instructor - after the night. When I present myself today, it would be formal and not, well, slutty.

Seifer made no movement to get up off the floor. Odd. I then noticed a heap of clothing on the other side of the room. I recognized his trenchcoat and Squall's leather jacket. And their pants.

Oh. Okay.

Seifer shifted under his cover. "You gonna stand there until the sun comes out?"

"The sun's already out," I replied. I walked past him and got out of the room. There was a tiny door on the end of the hallway. I guess that's the bathroom. Hopefully Zell had robes stashed in there.

The bathroom was actually pretty spacious. I opened the wall cabinet and was delighted to see bathrobes folded on the shelves. Who knew Zell was such a tidy person.

I quickly showered. The water felt good on my skin. And whatever bodywash Zell uses smelled very refreshing. I dried my hair roughly with a towel and put a robe on. That's when I glanced up and saw myself in the mirror.

I looked... strange. Not in a bad way, but still strange nonetheless. Then it dawned to me that for the first time in weeks I had slept for more than an hour in the night.

Makes me wonder what I looked like everyday for the past however many weeks. Nobody even cared enough to ask me why did I look like crap. Nobody even cared enough to tell me I looked like crap.

No point getting depressed now. I smoothed my hair and stepped out of the bathroom. I headed downstairs. The sun was out completely now.

Zell was on the sofa. He sat up groggily when my footsteps woke him. He yawned. "Mornin'."

"Morning." I replied. "Slept well?"

"Uh-uh. I prefer my bed, or even my room. But Squall won't let me go near you since you're kinda out." Zell grumbled. He didn't realize what he had said to me until two seconds later. Then he covered his mouth and his eyes widened.

"Good going, Dincht. Say whatever that's on your mind." Seifer's voice sounded behind me. "Anything else you want to add?"

"Shut up!" Zell put his hands on his hip.

Squall appeared behind Seifer. He was wearing everything he wore last night except for the leather jacket and his chain belts. All Seifer had on were his pants. They certainly didn't plan to wear these back to the Garden, did they?

"Just from your complaint it's right to not put you in the same room with Quistis." Squall commented.

"Oh, so it's right to put you two in there?" Zell got defensive. "And you two didn't do anything inappropriate, right."

Someone chuckled. We all looked toward that direction and saw Irvine strolled in from the guestroom. He must've spent the night on the rug.

"What's so funny, Kinneas?" Seifer crossed his arms. Irvine smirked at him but didn't say anything. Instead, he turned to me. "Did you sleep well?" he asked.

"Yes, actually." I answered. "I guess my insomnia is cured."

"Oh, really?" He raised an eyebrow. "Well, that's great for you. I, on the other hand, wish I could say the same. So, Seifer, tell me, was it that good?"

I stifled a laugh. Squall's face turned bright red and he looked away to the wall. Seifer just stared at Irvine in the usual "I'm so gonna kick your ass" way. And Zell stepped back slightly in shock. The guestroom was directly below Zell's bedroom. I must've been really out last night because I heard absolutely nothing.

The source of attention simply grinned.

"Fuck you," Seifer finally said.

"You tried but failed, remember?" Irvine's voice was still flat and steady.

"Whoa whoa, okay! Okay. Let's forget about this and figure out how to sneak back in Garden, shall we?" Squall stepped in between Seifer and Irvine to keep either side from swing a fist. What was Irvine talking about? I didn't remember anything like that.

I didn't even remember what I said to Zell. I remembered what I did last night, but not what was said to me or what I had said. Maybe I should ask Squall later about some specifics I must've accidentally either dished or received. But Squall was right. We needed to figure out how to get back to Garden and not be so obvious.

I myself was actually okay. My outfit was left in the car. Where did I park the car, though? Probably near the docks. Yes. Yes, it was next to the curb. I could simply drive back and walk through the front door.

"Sneak back? Man, I can just walk in, baby. I got my stuff here." Zell chimed. "It's y'all that need to sneak back."

"Sneak back, my ass, chicken wuss." Seifer said. "I look the same as I always do."

"STOP CALLING ME THAT!!!! YOU'RE IN MY HOUSE, FIRST OF ALL." Zell yelled. "AND SECOND OF ALL -"

"Zell! Calm down!" Squall ordered. He then sighed. "Okay, Zell, go upstairs and change. We have to go our separate ways or people'll get suspicious. Irvine, did you sneak out?" Irvine nodded. "Quistis?" He looked at me. I shook my head and told him my car's whereabouts. He nodded and continued. "Well, Quistis, you and Seifer drive back. Kinneas can walk with me, along with Zell, except when we get there Zell could walk through the front door and we'll take the back. This way we can split up the time."

And from the way he assigned the parties, time wasn't the only thing he wanted to split up.

"Good plan." I said to Squall. "I'm going to go upstairs and get my things." Irvine's eyes were searching to meet mine, but I avoided it and spun around. There would and could be nothing between us. I accept that fact a long time ago. No need to hope anymore.

So I went back upstairs and stuffed all my jewelry in my purse. I didn't notice anyone was behind me until he tapped me on the shoulder, which made me jump visibly off the ground.

"Seifer! Goodness gracious you scared me to death!" I gasped. "Don't do that."

"I need your keys."

"What?"

"I need your car keys."

I narrowed my eyes. "Why?"

He rolled his. "You're not planning to wear that bathrobe and walk down the street to your car, are you? I'm gonna drive it here and pick you up."

I smiled. "Squall told you to do that?" I unzipped a pocket of my purse and handed the keys to him.

"No. Kinneas did."

My hand froze. Seifer had to grip and yank the keys out of my fingers. He then smirked. "I'm just playing. It is Squall, the all-powerful commander sending out his concerns."

I relaxed a little. "Well, let's go then. We need to be back there before everyone noticed the doctor's assistant's missing."

We walked back down. Seifer put his trenchcoat back on to cover up his naked chest. Zell was nowhere in sight, probably changing in the bathroom. Squall was pacing and Irvine sat on the sofa.

"Well, I'll be right back." Seifer said to me. He turned around, open the door, and left.

Zell:

I sighed a little. The way from Balamb to the Garden was not long, and heck, I've been so many times up and down this road that I can trace every step blindfolded. The sun's out and it's warm. Good thing was that the morning monsters're not out yet and the night monsters just retreated, so this road was relatively peaceful. Selphie's friends should be here now, right? That means Ma's definitely gonna be all right. I smiled to myself and started to whistle.

I glanced at my two companions. Squall was scowling, as usual. And Kinneas was just, weird. Yeah, weird. He was unusually quiet right now, way different from his previous attitude this morning. They're both lost in their own thoughts. Well, I sure wasn't gonna go pry into either one of those heads. Dangerous grounds to be testing in.

Seifer and Quistis should be there by now. Man, I wonder how nice their trip was. They should be talking at least, right? Instead of moping around here, like these two silent rocks. I kicked a stone off the road and watched it rolled into the bushes.

Squall suddenly stopped. He scoffed in frustration. "Irvine Kinneas!" he yelled.

Irvine stopped. But his back was to both of us. "What?" He asked in his even tone.

"What are you going to do?"

"What are you talking about?"

"You know too damn well what I'm talking about." Whoa. Squall and profanity usually don't come together unless he's really pissed beyond belief. I thought I was the only one that let Irvine's wanton ways to bother me, everyone else just don't care enough to care. Guess not.

Irvine didn't turn around. He didn't answer, either.

"Look at me." Squall ordered quietly. Somehow that's scarier than him yelling.

Irvine slowly turned around. His hat was pulled low so we couldn't see his eyes. "Since when did you care about Quistis so much?"

"Do you love Selphie?" Squall asked. "And I mean exactly that with that question."

Irvine just stared at him. After a few seconds, he replied. "Do you love Rinoa?"

Dead silence. On both sides now. I looked back and forth between them. I couldn't read either of their expressions. Did I not say their heads are dangerous grounds to be picking on? I rather pick Seifer's head and get a bloody nose from that.

"Thought so." The ghost of a smile flickered on Irvine's lips.

"I did love her."

"You did or you thought you did?"

"Moving on from girl to girl and suddenly discovering your sexual preference are two different things."

"Huh. Are they?"

"Hey!" I spoke up. They both saw me as if for the first time since we stepped out of the house. "You two, stop your word-play games. Aren't y'all tired from circling around and never get to a point? Irvine, if you don't know what the heck's going on in your own heart, just say it. I mean, nobody's gonna judge you because you don't know. And Squall, if he doesn't know for like, a long time, you ain't gonna suddenly make him get an epiphany now in the middle of the road. Let's get back to Garden first. Plus, I'm hungry!"

They continued to stare at me. What?

"I can't believe it. Zell Dincht is actually making sense?" Irvine grinned. Shut up.

I turned back to the road, ignoring them now. From their footsteps I knew they're following me. Good. I returned to my whistling and continued until I saw the Garden's front door. * * *

"Where were you?!"

I put my hands up to my ears in protest. My gosh, that girl can be so loud. "Geez, Selphie, I went home to fix a few things. You don't need to kill my eardrums because I made a side trip to Balamb."

Selphie groaned. "I was looking for all 5 of y'all yesterday. Did you all sleep early or left or what? I couldn't find anybody. And I couldn't introduce you to my friends!"

"Where are they now?" I asked her. All I saw was her standing there waving her arms up and down wailing.

"Well, I need to find all of you first. I don't want to introduce the same people five times!" Selphie looked around. "Aha, there's Quistis!"

I turned around and saw Quistis walking along with Seifer. They both changed: Quistis in her SeeD uniform and Seifer in a white shirt and laced up pants. He looked kinda odd, I mean, you ever seen Seifer in something less than military arrogance attires? No. But, anyways, they made their way over.

Selphie gave Seifer a weird look. See, I wasn't the only one! She shrugged, and her smile was up again. "Now where's Squall? And Irvine? They need to be here, too! It's a group thing!"

"Group thing?" Seifer cocked his head. "Who cares about them anyways?"

"I do. So shut up and we're gonna wait for them, okay?" Selphie said defiantly. "Oh, there they are! HEY!"

Loud, loud, loud, loud, loud! She jumped up and dashed to Squall, who managed to put on a straight face despite her overwhelming enthusiasm. She told him something; I couldn't hear it, but Squall's eyes got bigger and bigger. Then she turned toward another direction and waved.

"What is she doing?" Quistis asked me. Beats me. I looked at Selphie's waving direction and noticed 4 people. Her friends from Trabia, probably. The quartet walked toward us casually, well, except for the redheaded girl in front. She just ran.

"Aha, so you must be Squall!" The girl squealed. She's as loud as Selphie, maybe more. Bubbly, too. Ha, I like her already.

"Guys," Selphie spoke up, "Meet The Junk Yard."

Junk Yard? What?

"They're a band, duh!"

Oh.

"I'm Jamaica." The redhead continued. "And that's Jen, Jocifer, and Jeep."

"All J's?" Irvine raised an eyebrow.

"No, that's not their name. That's their stage name!" Selphie's voice took on a note of whine.

"Yes, it is our name." The guy named Jeep said back. "Ignore what she call us. She's dumb."

"Am not!"

"Are too."

"Am not!"

"Okay, okay." Squall cut in. "I apologize for last night's inconvenience. I had some other business to take care of. Well, as headmaster of Balamb Garden, I welcome you to our base and home."

Squall:

"Perhaps we should find a more convenient place to talk and introduce ourselves." Quistis crossed her arms. "It might take a while and we're in the hallway right now."

Good point. "How about the Quad?" I suggested. The quad had just been renovated a few weeks back, under Selphie's request. Ah, maybe the Junk Yard or whatever she had called her friends were the sole reason for that. She wanted them to perform here.

So she had planned this way before the crisis with Mrs. Dincht? That means the Heroes were just ...

I stopped myself before my head ventured any further. It wouldn't get anywhere anyways. I looked around and everyone seemed to agree with my suggestion. Whether because it's sensible or because I'm headmaster, I didn't know. I extended my hand, "After you." The guests should know their way around here. From what I could understand, Selphie pretty much showed them everything. I meant exactly everything.

I walked second to last, with only Seifer trailing behind me. I knew why he was there too, but I deliberately ignored him and concentrated in front of me. To be more accurate, on the four Trabia arrivals. They sure did stand out.

The girl that ran straight toward me was named Jamaica. She had fiery red hair, as in the true-color red. You could tell she dyed it, but it was an amazingly natural dye job. Her hair was shoulder-length with the most bouncy ringlets protruding out. Her eyes were narrow and cat-green. She had on a loose men's shirt with ruffles at the sleeves, loose long pants and relatively flat heels to match. I couldn't describe the color of her clothing, for there were too many. It was like a painter had carelessly splashed the fabric with any color he could find. However, it looked very nice. A red choker finished the outfit.

The other girl had long dirty blonde hair pulled into a ponytail behind her back. She had large brown eyes with thick long lashes. A bright orange metallic headband rested on her head, contrasting greatly with her huge green earrings. She's dressed, if you could even call it that, in a light lavender leather bratop and a black leather skirt. The skirt was not short, but it's made with two pieces of fabric connected with a crisscrossing pattern of black strings. In other words, you could see all of her legs from the sides, and she was not wearing underwear. A pair of thigh-high boots with the color of shiny magenta clung to her feet. She had chains strung from her earshell to earlobe, several earrings, and a nose ring.

The guy named Jeep had his thick black hair slicked back. He's in a fitting T-shirt with some intricate design that I didn't recognize all over. His green pants were tight, but not binding enough to restrain movement or display anything inappropriate. He was also wearing legwarmer, obviously for fashion because the Garden was in the heat of summer. His shoes were made of some synthetic material unknown to me. They looked soft, but also sturdy. I wouldn't be surprised if those shoes had steel plates mounted under them, like tap shoes. In fact, judging by his movement and style, Jeep looked like a professional dancer.

Jocifer was the tallest one among them. He had his electric blue hair spiked and the tips were dipped in a frosty green. He was wearing a long-sleeve cinnamon shirt with iridescent flames traveling up his arms. His pants were gray, and they were very big. It looked wide enough to put two people in. A pair of combat boots on his feet and a small dagger tucked into his pants leg gave the only sign among the four that they're associated with SeeD. He had an earring in his left ear and a bunch of necklaces. Fingerless gloves draped his hands.

I raised my eyebrow slightly. Traces of elite soldiers on the Junk Yard were minimal. I could not ever picture Selphie among them, yet there she was, laughing and seemed to be having the best time in her life. She looked closer to them than to any of us, even Irvine.

"Talking to yourself again, commander?"

Seifer's voice jerked me out of it. I gave him a look and ignored his remark. So we're back at the pretense once more, weren't we? Whatever happened last night among all 5 of us seemed to disappear. We got sucked right into the previous routine.

Except for one person. Kinneas. He barely said two words ever since we got back. The usual grin on his face was gone, and that is saying something. I reflected on my talk with him this morning. Maybe I had been a little bit harsh. I just didn't want Quistis to get hurt. She is like my sister, and I care tremendously about her.

"So how long have y'all known Selphie?" Zell asked as the ten of us gathered on the Quad floor. Before anybody could answer, though, I took the words in my hand.

"Wait a second, Zell, let us introduce ourselves first -"

"Oh, no need no need," Jamaica popped some gum in her mouth. "We know all about you. All of you, in the most detail possible because S-Bomb here e-mailed us about everything."

"I so did not!" Selphie protested.

"S-Bomb?" Seifer raised his eyebrow. "Quite appropriate."

"Hey. You can't make fun of her, only we can." Jeep hopped off his seat. He was sitting on the stage.

"Says who?" Zell stood up too. But Quistis hushed him for the sake of, well, all of us. No beginning could be good with an argument.

"Okay, look," Jen waved her hand. "Knock off these macho guy crap. I didn't come here just to watch people fight. We're all Selphie's friends. Period."

"And hopefully we'll become friends here," Jocifer added. But there was something else in his words. I stared at him, and he didn't notice me at all. He was too busy staring at Irvine. What?

"Who're you, though?" Jamaica pointed to Seifer. "Selph never mentioned you much."

Jen groaned, obvious annoyed at Jamaica's choice of words. I stifled a laughter. Seifer smirked. "Me? Oh, I'm Squall's - oof!"

I knocked my elbow into his stomach. His choice to sat behind me. "- ultimate rival." He changed his words. "But it's all past now. She didn't mention me because, I assume, she doesn't like me much."

"Nobody likes you much," Zell grumbled. "Except maybe - Ow!"

This time it was Irvine who slapped Zell on the head. Quistis gave him a look. Selphie blinked. "What? What's going on? Somebody's not telling me something about someone. I want to know!"

Oh no you don't. "It's nothing." I spoke up. "I'll tell you later. When do you want your concert to be held, Selphie?"

"Oh, right!! Yeah! Guys, the concert is gonna be here!" Selphie jumped up.

"Yeah, we got that four months ago," said Jeep.

"No, idiot. Here, as in right here, in the Quad." She sighed exasperatedly. "Y'all're gonna perform like, tonight."

"TONIGHT??!!" All nine of us exclaimed at the same time. Selphie didn't even flinch. She calmly (relatively) repeated herself. "What's wrong?"

"Yo outta yo mind, that's what's wrong." Zell snickered. "Girl, there's no frickin' way we can set up the Quad for tonight."

"But it's perfect! Sure we can. It doesn't have to be all fancy, you know. I can string up the lights myself. Then all we need is some decorations, which is all easy, and wiring and sound is already set up. Right, Squall?"

I put my hand between my eyes. She really thought this over, probably weeks ago. "Yeah, there's no problem with sound or anything. But Selphie, your friends just got here. Oh, by the way, where are the Heroes?"

"In my room, safe and sound." Jen replied. "Look, Selph, us four are ready to go anytime. We may need a few hours to practice, but it's good on our side. Your side is what I'm worried about."

"That's why we need to get to work now!" Selphie turned into her "planner" mode. "So who's gonna help me string and adjust the lights?"

Her eyes naturally wondered to the tallest men in the room, which are Seifer and Irvine. They both shrugged, accepting the offer. Then she assigned the rest of us jobs. Huh, I always thought Selphie had potential as a leader. She showed it last time while we're at FH. But this time she outdid herself.

"So what are we doing?" Jeep asked. "I don't want to, and don't need to, practice all day."

"What do you want to do?" I asked. They were free to do whatever they want.

"See the area and maybe fight some monsters." Jamaica's eyes glinted. "But, we need a guide. I mean, Balamb is not that hard to navigate and all, still."

"Heh heh, right, Jamaica. That's why you want a guide." Jeep chuckled. "So who do you want?"

"Shut up." She rolled her eyes. "Him." She pointed to Seifer.

"Uh, no, he's my light-stringer." Selphie tapped her on the shoulder.

"Oh, whatever! You got your boyfriend. I can borrow your not-so-close friend, here, can't I?"

"Come with us, please," Jen said to Seifer. "The only reason she want you to come is because she don't dare ask anyone else to come, for obvious reasons."

"That is so not true! I -"

"I'll come. Okay. Case settled." Seifer put up his hand in protest. There was laughter dancing in his eyes.

"Um, I'm gonna take the Heroes to Ma first." Zell spoke up. "Can you show me to your room?"

"Sure," Jen replied. "I was about to leave anyways. Guys?" The four of them turned around and headed to the dorms. Seifer gave me a quick kiss on my temple before following them. Selphie was busy talking to Quistis about decorations that she missed it.

I wonder when I should tell her.

She finished with her instructions and turned to me with another one of her dazzling smiles. "Well, people, let's get to work!"

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