Author's Notes: Uhh, I created some unlikely relationships (as in, family relationships) between two certain characters. Lots of hints in this chapter; guess who's related?
High 'n Low Beginnings
Chapter Two - Quistis
"Class, may I have your attention please?"
The young blonde woman stood patiently at the head of the classroom, her hands clasped before her. Gradually, the class quieted down, the catcalls and hoots fading into a respectful silence. Squall hid a yawn as he watched Ms. Trepe, the young English teacher.
He had stayed up late last night eating granola bars and writing his English essay about Greek mythology, partially because he was engrossed by the ancient myths and partially because he was trying to avoid his father and Seifer. The two had returned home from the Thai restaurant around midnight, laughing uproariously at some joke or another. Squall hated that. Although he could barely stand being in Laguna's presence for more than five minutes – the man was such a blind optimist- he felt jealous at how quickly Seifer got into his father's graces. Squall had overheard Seifer make some comment about Squall's anti-socialness as they passed by his closed bedroom door and Laguna had laughed. Laguna had laughed. Squall couldn't remember the last time he had made his father laugh. Was it years ago? Had he ever really made his father laugh?
Squall scowled at his paper, where he had been absently sketching people. Seifer's arrogant face dominated most of the paper, lips curled in a sneer and eyes narrowed maliciously. Squall had had plenty of time to examine Seifer's face, having eaten breakfast with him that morning. The blond man had proved his culinary skills by conjuring a sumptuous breakfast consisting of fluffy, golden-brown pancakes, scrambled eggs that, for once, weren't runny and didn't have bits of egg shell in it, hash browns done to a crisp- just the way Squall liked them- and bacon. Laguna had already left for work by the time Squall left his room, but the moody teen didn't miss him. He was used to eating breakfast alone, so he was (un)pleasantly surprised when he saw Seifer sitting at their kitchen table, drinking a mug of freshly brewed coffee and reading the morning newspaper.
The man's intensely green eyes had left the paper only once to gesture at the plate of food that had been left for Squall with his coffee mug and then he had ignored Squall for the rest of the meal. Bored, Squall had watched Seifer the entire time. The blond was an interesting person, that much was certain. The previous night, he had seemed to be a cool, slightly arrogant and easygoing college student, the exact type of person that Squall couldn't stand. He despised the people who were at ease with themselves and the world, who could take everything in stride and not be changed by it.
Yet, as he watched Seifer read the paper that morning, he began to suspect that there was more to the man than he had first perceived. He had seen Seifer sneer at a critic's over-enthusiastic promotion of a sappy play, shake his head and sigh sadly at an article about the deaths of four children in a fire, and mutter to himself about "bloody stupid politicians and their lies". And then, when Squall realized that he had been staring at the blond man for too long and had missed his bus, Seifer had politely offered to drive him to school. When Squall pointed out that his school was in the opposite direction of Winhill University and that driving him would make Seifer late, the older youth had waved his hand in dismissal. He stated that he had business at Squall's school anyway; otherwise, he might not have offered Squall a ride and would have let him walk to school alone.
Squall almost admired the blonde's arrogant honesty. He had agreed to the ride before he could think twice. He ended up in the passenger seat of Seifer's silver car, breathing in the unique mix of Seifer's cologne and the faint scent of cigarette smoke. He had watched Seifer pull out a cigarette and put it in his mouth without lighting it, merely letting the white stick hang loosely from his lips. When the older man had noticed Squall's gaze, he had smirked and explained that although he enjoyed the occasional smoke, for the most part he just needed something between his lips. Squall had ignored the innuendo, looked out the window as they pulled up to his school and got out with a muttered "Thanks", oblivious to the curious stares from his classmates.
"Mr. Leonhart, would you mind paying attention to class? Or would you rather visit Principal Kramer in the office?"
Squall blinked at Ms. Trepe, who was currently standing next to his desk with her hands on her hips, and realized that he had completely missed whatever she had been saying. He could hear his classmates' giggling as they waited for his response.
"…sorry…" he said, his quiet voice barely audible. He didn't care about the threat to send him to the principal's office, but he hated having attention drawn to himself. It wasn't that he was self- conscious- because he wasn't- but if he was sent to the principal's office, inevitably there would be some intrusion upon his life by his aggravating peers. He remembered the last time when something like this had happened, two years ago, in his Math class. The teacher then had been considerably less patient and less understanding than Ms. Trepe, and had sent him to the principal's office. Although Principal Kramer had let him off with only a warning, Squall had suffered congratulations and amazement from his classmates for nearly three weeks. Zell still teased him about it sometimes.
"…-to be handed in on Monday. And remember, midterms are approaching in December," Squall came back to reality with a start, realizing that his attention had drifted again. "So be sure to begin studying now. Cramming may seem attractive, but I doubt very much that it'll help you on the midterms. Squall, may I see you after class?"
The bell rang. Students rose all around him, chattering and picking up their books and papers. When the last teenager had disappeared through the door, Squall approached Ms. Trepe's desk. The young woman sat calmly, shuffling through her papers and generally acting as if she had completely forgotten about him. Squall knew that wasn't the case. This had happened before. He braced himself for the barrage of questions he knew was coming.
"Squall." Calm blue eyes regarded him solemnly as Ms. Trepe folded her hands before her. He gazed coolly back at her. Squall, not for the first time, marveled privately at how different from her brother she was. Where her brother was energetic, bouncy, and never stopped moving or talking, Quistis Trepe could sit still for hours without moving, and could hold a person's gaze for an indeterminate amount of time.
"Squall, tell me, is something wrong?"
Squall scowled and looked at the floor. The young teacher was patient.
"…no." Quistis leaned forward and tried to get him to look at her. Sullen gray eyes rose reluctantly.
"You know that's not true, Squall. You've been quieter than usual, and you keep on drifting into that little world of yours. Tell me what's wrong, Lion."
Squall flinched at the nickname and slumped into the chair in front of her desk. He stretched his leather-clad legs before him and burrowed down into the fur collar of his bomber jacket.
"…I don't know." He said quietly. When Quistis frowned in disbelief, Squall gave a frustrated groan. "Seifer. He's the new renter."
Quistis's eyebrow lifted, encouraging him to go on.
"Been thinking about him all day." Squall admitted grumpily, obviously not happy that he had to tell her about his private thoughts. "He's different."
"Different in a bad way?"
"Or, different in a `disturbs Squall's routine life' way?" Squall scowled again. "I thought so. Squall, I'm sure he didn't move in simply because he wanted to bother you."
`Of course not. He didn't even know me.' Squall rolled his eyes.
"But you can't come down hard on him simply because you're not used to him, Lion. I'm sure he's just as uncomfortable about this new arrangement as you are."
He remembered last night and the flicker of jealousy that had risen when he heard Laguna laughed and scowled some more. Quistis leaned forward and touched his shoulder lightly, ignoring his sudden tenseness.
"Squall, I've known you for a long time. I know you're not as callous as you like to pretend to be," Squall remained stone- still, "So give the guy a chance, hm?"
*"Come on, Squall. I'm just asking you to give the guy a chance."* Laguna's voice echoed Quistis's.
"Whatever." He rose and nodded at her politely. "Ms. Trepe."
The stormy-eyed student picked up his bag and left, leaving only the faint scent of leather, which quickly disappeared.
Quistis got up and closed her door, locking it, before sitting at her desk again. Opening a drawer, she slowly picked up the well-worn picture that lay on top of a pile of floppy disks and pens. In the photograph, a thirteen-year old Quistis stood behind two young boys, a shorter blond one who was brandishing his fist at the camera and grinning crazily, and a smiling brunette child who had his arms linked with both Quistis's and the blond boy's.
Quistis touched the dark-haired boy's face with her fingertip and sighed.
"Oh, Squall. What's happened to your smile?"
Return to Archive | next | previous