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 - 1829 words

"Hey, are you waiting for someone?"

Xu looked up, though not very far. The SeeD who had asked the question was looking up at her, an eager-to-please expression on his young face, and Xu knew instantly that he'd just put on the uniform ten minutes ago. He was obviously still washed away in the combined waves of awe, overwhelming pride, and mortal terror. He was sixteen, Xu assumed - a little younger than average, for a new SeeD, but certainly not unheard of. Xu herself had made SeeD at sixteen.

"I'm just asking 'cause the ball's already started, and..."

"Thank you," Xu replied, her professional SeeD smile on her face. "I'm fine."

He nodded nervously, and then ducked away: she watched him walk quickly into the ballroom, and wondered for a moment why she wasn't doing the same.

Hey, am I waiting for someone?


And there was Quistis, her uniform immaculate - of course it was, she'd never worn it before.

Xu smiled, a much more sincere smile than she'd given the other SeeD, and raised her hand. "Hello, Quistis," she said, walking towards her. They were used to each other's first names by now: Instructor Lan had recovered much faster than Dr. Kadowaki had expected, and relieved Xu of her relief position, teaching the SeeD cadets himself from the great wisdom that had gotten him hospitalised. Quistis sometimes quietly admitted to Xu, during their games of Triple Triad, that she'd much rather Xu had taken the position permanently. Xu had laughed, and said that she'd rather not deal with Almasy's private war with Leonhart for another few years.

Almasy had been even more intolerable than usual that day. The moment he'd heard that Quistis was attempting the field exam, he'd signed up for testing himself. He'd never admitted why, but Xu thought she knew - there was no way he'd let any member of his class outdo him, no way he'd let Quistis become SeeD before he did. Xu was a little ashamed of the satisfaction she'd felt when Seifer had failed, but she couldn't deny that she'd felt it.

Besides, it barely brought her a fraction of the satisfaction - and, she admitted, joy as well - she'd felt on hearing that Quistis had become SeeD. As young as any SeeD who qualified to take the exam, and she'd made it. Xu, for all her happiness, was barely surprised at all.

Quistis didn't hug her. Xu had only been her friend for half a year, but that had been long enough to realise that Quistis was never anything but decorous, even with her closest friends: speech always perfect, clothes always perfect, even down to her precise laugh. Xu accepted that as a part of her friend's personality, but secretly, her greatest joys were the moments where Quistis laughed a little too hard, or said something beyond "Goodness"... seeing Quistis as Quistis, rather than Trepe, the SeeD Rank 8 the world expected.

Of course/, Xu reflected, /a lot of it isn't really an act... but she's still being who everybody else wants her to be.

"Shall we go in?" she asked, offering Quistis her hand.

Quistis took it, and it was only the moment they passed through the double-doors that Xu realised: she was walking into a ball with Quistis on her arm. The implication was something she hadn't even considered before, but in the brief few seconds before Quistis' classmates approached her, she wondered if it pleased her or not.

Xu didn't know the first few by faces, nor did she really notice the streams of compliments they paid her (for a moment, she wondered if the last boy had really muttered "of course, you're all just playing into my hands" after his one-sentence congratulations, but put it out of her mind). The last two, on the other hand...

Leonhart had said, simply, "Good work", and then turned away before Quistis could thank him.

Almasy was more complicated. His expression was a war between two emotions, struggling so fiercely that Xu could make out neither. In the end, he said "Leonhart said it. You passed," and turned away himself, in a different direction. His words were civil - if barely - but his tone made it a considered insult. In a brief moment of anger, Xu almost lunged after him. Quistis laid a hand on her arm, just a quiet touch, and Xu realised that she might have been closer to making that lunge than she'd thought.

She also realised that, implications or not, she enjoyed having Quistis' hand on her arm.

Before she knew she was doing it, she was considering asking Quistis to dance. After all, Quistis was one of four SeeDs who had graduated, one of four SeeDs this ball celebrated. Before the night was over, she'd likely be asked to dance ten or more times, and why shouldn't one of those invitations come from her closest friend? She'd taught Quistis to dance, was it so strange that she should ask her to demonstrate the skills she'd learnt, just once?

She wondered, for a moment, how Quistis would react. For a SeeD to dance with a partner of the same sex wasn't expressly forbidden at SeeD balls, but it never happened - custom would look down on it, and the dancers would likely receive stern censures from Garden Faculty members with their faces concealed in the shadows of their hats. Even though it wasn't what everyone else expected, what everyone else /wanted/, might Quistis agree to dance?

"Certainly," Quistis said, with a smile, and Xu looked at her with some shock.

While she had been trying to justify asking Quistis to dance, a boy she hadn't noticed had offered his hand, and always-professional Quistis had accepted it. She smiled to Xu for a moment, and then walked with him onto the dance floor, and Xu tried to persuade herself that the sick, angry feeling rising in her stomach wasn't jealousy. But if not jealousy... then what?

Without thinking about it, she took a flute of Garden-function champagne from the hired caterer, and watched Quistis dance.

Of course, she did it perfectly. That was no surprise at all. When Xu had been teaching her, she had stumbled, and tripped, and occasionally giggled a great deal over a wrong step, but before she had ever tried to dance in public, she'd practiced until she was perfect. She had a natural grace, too, that made her seem like she was dancing even when she walked, and made her deadly with her whip. She was a credit to SeeD in all things, and watching her, Xu felt a strange sense of pride rise to join the other feeling /not jealousy not jealousy not jealousy at all/.

And then Quistis and her barely-noticeable partner took a step to the right, and Xu found her eyes locked with Seifer Almasy.

When he noticed her, he looked back, challenge easily visible in his eyes... and in the end, it was Xu who had to look away. He almost smirked at that, and then turned back to his conversation. A short grey-haired girl and a large dark skinned boy were hanging on to his every word. Xu had seen neither of them around Garden, and both were very noticeable.

Maybe it was the champagne, though Xu had been drinking the occasional social glass of wine for two years now and certainly didn't get even slightly drunk on one glass of Garden-function champagne. Maybe it was Almasy's arrogance, the self-importance that she'd dealt with for her entire term as relief Instructor. Maybe it was because she hadn't asked Quistis to dance. At any rate, she set down her half-empty glass of champagne, and walked purposefully around the dance floor to where Almasy and his posse stood.

"Instructor," he said, upon seeing her. The title certainly had no respect in it; quite the opposite, it was a challenge.

"Not any more, Cadet Almasy," Xu responded. The girl and the boy were looking at her - a moment of shock, as Xu realised the girl only had one eye - and Xu started to feel that it had been a bad idea to bother with Seifer, over such a tiny thing. But she was committed now. "Why did you speak as you did to SeeD Trepe?"

Almasy seemed to take a moment to remember, and Xu knew that this was a stupid thing to get angry over... but she /was/. When he spoke, it was with the same challenge, the same arrogance, the same barely-repressed anger, as flowed through everything he did. "Was that a problem, Instructor?" She considered reminding him that she wasn't /Instructor/, but that was undoubtedly what he wanted. "She passed, and that's all I said."

"Do you resent SeeD Trepe?" She used all the cold, dispassionate non-feeling she could put into her voice - SeeDs were occasionally required to be interrogaters, and Xu had done very well at that.

"Why would I resent Trepe, Instructor? I have four more years to become SeeD."

But you wanted to be first, you arrogant ass, and it shows. "No reason. Carry on, Cadet Almasy." She stalked away, then, and used the best of her patience to pretend she didn't hear what Almasy was saying to his posse about her.

The music came to a finish, with a few brief violin strings, and the audience applauded. Xu picked up her glass, and watched the dancers disperse, feeling the sick knot of not jealousy disperse as Quistis took a flute of champagne and came to her, her perfectly straight stance seeming to be at odds with her genuine smile. Quistis' smile, not SeeD Rank 8 Trepe's.

"Xu?" she said, a half-question that served as the prelude to a real one.

"Yes, Quistis?" Xu replied.

"May I have our picture taken?"

It was such an unexpected request that for a moment Xu had no response, and Quistis took that moment to give her explanation. "Tomorrow I have my first mission. Three other SeeDs and I are tracking down Galbadian deserters in FH. SeeD aren't particularly welcome there, so the mission may go on for some time..." she smiles so sweetly, Xu thought, disjointed, /even when she's nervous/... "and you're my best friend here, and I'll miss you. I'd like to have a photo of us."

Xu still paused, for a moment, just to work out whether Quistis meant... anything besides what she had said. Quistis' expression seemed just about to change, the smile about to give way to something else, and that finished Xu's decision for her. "Certainly, Quistis," she said.

Quistis - or maybe SeeD Rank 8 Trepe - did a very good job of hiding her emotions, but Xu still saw the relief and happiness in her expression, and wondered why it touched her so strongly.

They posed together for the photographers, and when Quistis stood a little too close to Xu for the kind of photograph she'd mentioned, Xu noticed, and found herself surprised that it made her glad.
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