Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 8 > Everybody Else's Girl


by Kadrin 0 reviews

Xu and Quistis, across the years.

Category: Final Fantasy 8 - Rating: PG - Genres: Romance - Characters: Quistis - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2005-05-06 - Updated: 2005-05-06 - 1526 words

Xu brushed an imaginary spot of lint off her SeeD uniform, and frowned. She knew the uniform was perfect, had spent hours in front of a mirror assuring that it would be so, and yet she worried about it. Thinking about it logically - and Xu always did - it was a ridiculous thing to worry about. A class of cadets three years younger than her were not going to notice if her uniform was slightly dirty. No matter how much she rationalised it away, though, it still annoyed her. By the time she reached the classroom door, she'd decided that it was just stress, and that she was justified to be stressed. Xu was seventeen years old, had been a SeeD for just over a year now, and had been sunk into so much administration by Cid and NORG that she only kept her Rank through scoring well on regular tests. She was not, she thought, the right choice to teach a class, even if it was only a relief.

Their regular teacher had been in the Training Centre, keeping up his skills and his Rank, and had fallen into the old trap of assuming that since he could take on a T-Rexaur, a few Grats should be no problem. Kadowaki had been optimistic that he'd regain his vision within the year, and meanwhile, Xu had been assigned to his class. "Because there's no one I trust more for this," Cid had told her, deeply serious. "All the classes have produced great SeeDs, but I've got a feeling about this one. Two of them have chosen the gunblade as their weapon." Thus having assured Xu that the future of Garden and SeeD were in her hands and her hands alone, and that if she failed in one lesson all of SeeD's great unknown purpose would be lost, Cid had handed her a dossier on every member of the class and wished her luck.

Xu had evaluated contracts that could mean the death or rebirth of nations without a second thought. It was ridiculous that she should worry about teaching thirteen and fourteen year olds, no matter how many gunblade prodigies might be among them. Keeping that in mind, she signalled the door to open, and stepped through.

She identified the two boys in the front of the room instantly. Cid's notes had mentioned them exhaustively, riddled with hints that they were the most promising he'd ever seen, cloaked in words like 'destiny' and 'future'. Physically, they were hard to miss - Almasy's long, grey trenchcoat and Leonhart's leather stood out amongst the other classmates, all of whom were in their cadet uniforms - but the fact that Almasy had finished a long and complicated insult on the other's ancestry by shouting "goddamn Leonhart brat" was more of an indication. Squall was the only Leonhart in the class, and Seifer the only student who would go to such lengths to provoke him.

Squall said nothing in return, but neither did he back down, staring at Seifer like a SeeD staring down an Anacondaur.

Unless Xu missed her mark completely, the blond girl who came up to place her hands on Squall's shoulders was Trepe. Cid had praised her talent and discipline in the notes he had of her, but they seemed to be drowned out by his focus on Seifer and Squall. Her calm under pressure, though, made Xu wonder if Cid had picked the wrong students to focus on.

"Seifer, stop." The way she said it made it sound like a reasonable order to be obeyed. "Squall, don't start. There's no reason for you two to fight now."

"I can't run away," Squall muttered, probably thinking that no one could hear him, "or I won't get to see Sis again."

Allowing a fight to break out before her first class started was not the best way to begin her stint as a relief, Xu believed, and while she might appreciate never having to teach a class again she wanted to do her duty as a SeeD. She took another step forward, allowing her foot to touch the ground a little more heavily this time, a slightly louder tread ringing out through the classroom. The three students turned to face her, so abruptly they almost seemed to jump.

Leonhart looked guilty, trying to cover it with coldness. Almasy didn't even bother trying to disguise thwarted anger. Trepe, though - true to the form Xu expected of her from the little in Cid's notes and her reaction to the two boys fighting, Quistis looked calm with only a bare undertone of worry. Interesting. /Chose the whip, /said Cid's notes, /for a reason she has not mentioned to her instructors/.

"Instructor?" Trepe asked, perfectly polite, sure to use the formal title that Xu must claim.

"Temporarily," Xu replied, smiling, because it seemed a good idea to smile. "Instructor Lan suffered an accident in combat, and will return when his injuries are fully healed." No need to tell them he'd underestimated three Grats, gone in without his GF junctioned and tried to grapple one of them. When Xu thought about that, she was a little less worried about her temporary Instructor-ship. Surely she /had /to do better than the last one. "If you'll all return to your seats, we can start the lesson."

Leonhart remained silent, walking slowly to a seat in the back of the classroom. Almasy seemed to want to challenge him further, but there were some things even Seifer wouldn't do in front of an Instructor - he, too, slouched back to his seat. Close to Leonhart's. Xu had time to wonder whether Almasy stayed close to Leonhart to challenge him constantly or whether he challenged him constantly to stay close to him, before walking to the seat in front of the class and sitting as if she belonged there.

It was the best way to deal with her students, she reasoned.

They knew she didn't belong there, but perhaps she could persuade them otherwise.



It was a moment of packing up papers before Xu realised that she was 'Instructor', and thus she turned around far more quickly than she needed to. "Yes," she asked, before noticing the student in front of her and adding, "Quistis?"

The moment she called Cadet Trepe by her first name, Xu realised it had been a bad idea. While there was no point in spending time in regret, there was no way she could go to back to the more formal, proper name now. It was startlingly easy to call Cadet Trepe Quistis, though.

"Do they know how long Instructor Lan will be hospitalised?"

They're that desperate to get rid of me? "I'm afraid they don't. The best indication Doctor Kadowaki can give us is that he should be out before the end of the year. I'm sorry I can't say more."

Quistis nodded. "So do you think we should continue studying for what he teaches, or for the course you laid out?"

"Are they so different? Headmaster Cid didn't give me a lesson plan - he said Instructor Lan didn't work with them. If you could tell me what he taught you, I could change the topics."

"But," Quistis started, and then seemed to consciously recompose herself. "Your lesson plan seems better."

She didn't seem adept at talking to Instructors beyond the pure formal level, which was fine by Xu, as she was far from adept at being an Instructor. "Really?" she asked.

"Instructor Lan focused too much on the basics of physical combat and monsters, in my opinion, leaving out the basics of Guardian Forces, junctioning, and paramagic that makes SeeD what it is," Quistis said, head- down. Her stiff voice made Xu almost think she'd practiced the speech. "Your lesson plan would seem to provide a more well-rounded approach that Instructor Lan's lacked."

All Xu's rationality hadn't managed to erase half as much of her doubt as Cadet Trepe's quiet voice. She was absurdly touched. "Well... thank you, Quistis. I'll talk to Headmaster Cid about it." A brief pause. "Why do you ask?"

Quistis looked up, this time. "I need to study as much as I can. I'm taking the field exam next year."

Xu stared.

"May I be dismissed? The food goes quickly at lunch," Quistis explained.

She nodded, still silent. Quistis brought one hand up, palm in, straight up against her cheek in a textbook SeeD salute, and the classroom door shut behind her as she left.

The moment the doors had closed, Xu flipped through the papers in her hand until she found Cid's notes on the students. Quistis' notes said nothing about any intent to take the field exam, but they did list that she had recently turned fourteen.

Taking the field exam at fifteen, Xu thought to herself. Even I waited 'til sixteen, and I was the youngest in my class.

She looked up at the closed door, as if trying to see through it and watch Quistis leave.

She was quite sure now. Cid could watch Leonhart and Almasy as much as he wanted. Xu's choice for the most promising student in the class was entirely different.
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