For His Love
Rinoa held fast to Squall’s hand, staring up at him in a most disconcerting way. Studying him, in fact. He chose to ignore her scrutiny. He knew her well, and she was sorting things through in her mind, which were destined to become part of "the talk". Rinoa may have been blind to many of Squall’s faults; she worshipped him, in fact. She was not, however, stupid, and she was at this very moment gathering her courage to broach the discussion. If I can just get to my room before she starts talking, I’ll be okay.
"Squall?" Her voice was small, careful. He groaned inwardly. Oh, Hyne, here we go.
"Yeah?" That’s it Leonhart, keep it casual. "Can I ask you something?" She was still holding his hand, her shorter legs taking twice as many steps to keep up with his long strides.
"Sure." Being used to his one-word answers, his short manner was lost on her. "Well," she paused, more than a little nervous, "I was wondering…are you…I don’t know…angry with me or something?"
That’s it? I just had my best friend’s tongue down my throat and she thinks I’m mad at her?!
Squall resisted the urge to laugh. He stopped walking and grasped her by the shoulders. "No, Rin. I’m not angry with you." Her eyes brightened a little at that, but then the frown was back. "You’ve just been so preoccupied all day-I thought maybe you were mad that I’d come up to your room like I did last night." She looked embarrassed as she spoke. "I didn’t mean to be so forward, it’s just that…"
He hushed her with a finger to her lips. "Rinoa, I know what you’re trying to say. I don’t think you’re forward." He hesitated a moment. What in the hell can I tell her? Sorry to do this to you Rin, but I think I’m in love with Zell? No way….
He rubbed her cheek with the side of his thumb. Her big dark eyes stared up at him, so trusting, so innocent. How can I break her heart?
"I’m just going through some things right now that I need to deal with, that’s all."
Rinoa looked unconvinced. "Is it me? Did I do something? Squall, you have to tell me what’s going on. Maybe I can help you sort things through."
He was shaking his head. "No, Rin, this is something I have to figure out on my own. You wouldn’t understand."
She shut her eyes tight as he spoke. She looked as though she might cover her ears to block out his words. Then she suddenly lifted her head to look at him. Her eyes were suspiciously bright and he prayed that she wasn’t going to cry. Oh, Hyne, please, anything but her tears.
There were tears in her eyes, but she wouldn’t allow a single one to fall. "Don’t shut me out, Squall, please."
He heard her words, and he caught the meaning behind them loud and clear. Don’t stop needing me. That’s what she meant, what she wanted to say. Squall opened his mouth to reassure her, but she was turning away and rushing up the steps, down the hallway, back to her room. Damn!
Maybe it was better that she’d gone. Whatever reassurances he could have offered her were sure to be a lie. How could he tell her how he felt? He didn’t even have the luxury of that knowledge for himself.
He stood there, at the dorm’s hallway entrance, his hand resting on his gunblade, his head down. When did things get so complicated? Could it be any worse?
"Hey, Commissioner…" A familiar husky voice interrupted his thoughts. Spoke too soon. Squall didn’t even look up to greet the advancing figure, just stood there, head bowed, his hand covering his forehead.
"I’m not in the mood, Seifer, haven’t you caused enough trouble for one day?"
"Well, the day’s still young…" His voice heavy with sarcasm, Seifer leaned against the railing, Hyperion clanking against the metal.
Squall looked up at him, his own frustration quickly turning to anger. "Dammit, Seifer, drop the act! I let you back in here to redeem yourself and you’ve been a thorn in my side since day one. Do you ever plan to take SeeD seriously? Do you ever plan to take yourself seriously?" His voice was beginning to carry and he took two steps toward Seifer, leaning into him menacingly. "I know you fucked up, you know you fucked up, the whole damn Garden, no, the whole damn world knows you fucked up! Get over it Seifer, and try to make something out of yourself. You’ve been given a second chance to do something with your talents. Don’t waste it or you’ll regret it. I’ll make you regret it." Knocking him aside with his shoulder as he pushed past him, Squall stalked off toward the training center, not bothering to move out of anyone’s way. Not that it would have mattered. People were stepping aside to avoid contact with him. His temper was legendary.
Seifer stared at Squall’s retreating form in utter disbelief. And a smile spread slowly across his face. Squall Leonhart had indeed become a worthy adversary. Seifer felt something akin to pride rush through him. If he only knew how serious I was…
Selphie and Irvine passed Squall on his way to the training center. He didn’t acknowledge them, simply continued on his path. Selphie looked over her shoulder at him as he passed. "What’s his problem?" She asked Irvine.
Irvine shrugged. "Since when does he need a reason to be in a bad mood?" Sounded perfectly logical to Irvine, which was why he was unprepared for the look she shot him. "That’s not fair, Irvy. He’s been in a really good mood lately."
Irvine held his hands up in mock surrender. "Okay, Okay, Selphie, I take it back!" He swept his hat off his head and held it respectfully against his chest. "I’m calling a truce here, baby. I suppose your love for me can hardly compete with your loyalty to our Commissioner…can it?" His eyes sparkled with mischief, although she knew he was being sincere. Behind his lighthearted façade lurked someone who needed constant affirmation. Selphie knew that from experience. "Oh, Irvy…there is no comparison…don’t you know that?" He moved in beside her and nuzzled against her neck. "No comparison? Not even a little?" She giggled as he began to tickle her neck with his lips.
"Oh, please! Get a room! I’ll even let you have mine…for heaven’s sake!" Selphie jumped back and blushed. "Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s rude to sneak up on people?"
Quistis pursed her lips. "You can’t sneak up on someone in public, Selphie, and besides, didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s rude to make out with your boyfriend in a crowded hallway?"
Selphie paused, pretending to consider that last remark. She finally leaned into Quistis until their noses touched. "No." She kissed Quistis loudly on the cheek, then turned and grabbed Irvine’s hand. "Come on Irvy, let’s go." She looked back at Quistis. "And your door better be unlocked!" Sticking her tongue out at Quistis, she skipped off, dragging Irvine behind her. He looked back at Quistis and Zell and shrugged haplessly. "Poor Irvine." Zell murmured. Quistis snorted most indelicately. "Hah! Poor Irvine my butt. He loves it, don’t let him fool you."
Zell had to laugh at that. "Yeah, I guess you’re right." He looked around, his eyes scanning the area for Squall or Rinoa. "I don’t see them, I guess they went back outside."
"Who? Puberty Boy?" Zell spun around at the sound of Seifer’s voice. He immediately brought his fists up and flexed his shoulders. "I’m warning you Seifer…"
Seifer held up a hand. "Relax…I’m not looking for a fight."
Zell sneered at him. "I guess not, you’ve done that once today."
Seifer’s eyebrows drew together in irritation. "Don’t get mouthy, Chicken Wuss, I was just messing around earlier. I guess things got out of hand."
Zell was shaking with rage. The nerve of this guy! Quistis stepped forward and laid a hand on Zell’s forearm. He calmed somewhat at her touch, although still wary. Seifer watched her, admiring her composure, her form. She turned her gaze to Seifer, her blue eyes cool, assessing. "That’s enough, you two.
Quistis regarded him casually. "And I hardly think Squall would appreciate being called Puberty Boy Seifer, particularly as he’s been named Commissioner and you’ve yet to make SeeD…don’t you agree?"
Seifer stood straight at that, rigid in his dignity. But he covered his hurt easily. It was something he did well. But her well-placed barb had gotten to him, and Quistis saw that immediately. So, you’re not so untouchable as all that are you, Seifer?
Zell stepped forward. "Where’s Squall?" He demanded. Seifer leaned back against the railing once again. He took his time answering as he pretended to study his gloves for a minute. Zell moved toward him again, quickly losing patience.
Quistis held him back with a touch. Seifer smiled indulgently at him. "The good Commissioner was headed toward the training center, I believe. Took off like the devil himself was after him."
Zell looked at Quistis, but he no longer held her attention. Shrugging, he turned away and headed for the training center.
Seifer and Quistis didn’t acknowledge his departure. Seifer flashed his arrogant grin at Quistis, causing her to frown at him. "Don’t give me that grin, Seifer Almasy…you will be disciplined for today’s episode."
He grinned again. "Oh, Instructor, do your worst."
As soon as he was out of Seifer’s line of vision, Zell broke into a dead run. He didn’t pause until he reached the training center. Banging open the door, he moved quickly inside and glanced around. It wouldn’t do to be attacked. He was unprepared for battle, he just needed to find Squall.
Moving through the trees, careful of the low hanging branches, Zell spotted him. He was standing about ten feet away, swinging his gunblade at a bite bug. His shirt was lying off to the side, along with his jacket. His pants hanging low on his narrow hips, his hair sweeping into his eyes, his chest glistening with sweat.
He wasn’t even concentrating on the battle; his thrusts were wild, not calculated. Zell licked his lips. Watching Squall fight never failed to excite him, but this…this wild, blind savagery was something different altogether. He’d never seen Squall like this. Uncontrolled, undisciplined. It was a side to him that had remained, thus far, hidden. Zell continued to watch him move this way and that. His breathing was ragged, but his steps were light.
He’s toying with it. Just prolonging the battle. Squall brought his gunblade down hard and the bug fell, vanished. He tipped his head back and shook his hair out of his eyes. After a moment, he picked up his clothing, gathered it closely against him, and Zell watched him disappear through the entrance to the balcony outside.
He stood there, frozen in his indecision. Squall hadn’t seen him, he could still leave and Squall would never know that he’d been watched. He looked from the balcony’s entrance to the door of the training center. Your move, baby. Checkmate.
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