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


by Kadrin 5 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 - 1942 words

"Hey, are you waiting for someone?"

/Time Compression/, Xu thought. She was twenty-two, Ultimecia was defeated, Esthar and Galbadia were divvying up the world between them and snarling at each other as they did, all of Garden was uneasily celebrating the return of a young revolutionary (/SeeD Rank 9 Almasy/, would wonders never cease?), and a just-promoted SeeD seemed to know she was waiting for Quistis. But at the same time, she was eighteen, no one had heard of Ultimecia, Galbadia was misusing its military and Esthar was locked away behind a forcefield, all of Garden was gathered for yet another SeeD ball, and a just promoted SeeD seemed to know she was waiting for Quistis. Even without insane Sorceresses from the future, memory played its own tricks on Time. Xu wondered if she should write a paper.

And, incredibly, he was continuing, the exact same words and phrases: "I'm just asking 'cause the ball's already started, and..."

"Thank you," Xu read her line, smiling her professional smile. "I'm fine."

She watched him walk into the ballroom, and wondered how long it would be before another young SeeD turned up and asked her the same question, read the same lines. The SeeD from Quistis' ball, who'd asked the same question - how old was he now? What Rank? How many missions? Was he still alive?

Hey, am I waiting for someone?

But Quistis didn't appear, and that was probably for the best. If Quistis had appeared in that Time Compressed moment, Xu would have expected a fifteen year old, in her first SeeD uniform, smiling the dizzy smile of a new SeeD, who would very decorously not hug her before they entered the ballroom arm-in-arm. And if they'd reflected in a mirror, Xu would see herself as twenty-two and eighteen, Quistis as nineteen and fifteen, both of them as ageless as Ultimecia.

It was for the best. Quistis, ever-punctual Quistis, was probably already inside. Nineteen, of course nineteen, a Rank A SeeD who'd saved the world from the Sorceress and Time Compression and Hey, are you waiting for someone forever. When Xu was nineteen, she'd been a fairly good Triple Triad player, and Quistis had already been better than her.

She went through the doors with nobody on her arm.

This ball, Cid had decided - with more than a little nudging from the Garden Festival Committee, which was to say Selphie - would be for more than the new SeeDs. It would be for the Sorceress Team, and the end of Time Compression, and the salvation of the world. Certainly, Cid remarked, there had already been an event in celebration, but why not make it more formal? And so the ball was thrice as extravagant as Quistis' ball, and twice as much as last year's, when the completely unremarkable SeeD Rank 7 gunblader Leonhart had been welcomed into the fold, and Quistis had spent an hour before the ball in Xu's room, quietly numb at the loss of her Instructor's license. The lights of the previous balls had glittered, while the lights of this one nearly blinded. The band - almost an orchestra - played the same traditional Balamb songs and SeeD anthems, and the floor was thick with dancers. SeeD Rank 9 Almasy, of course, was in the centre of the dance floor, consummately dancing with Sorceress Heartilly, looking like he'd rather be anywhere else. Commander Leonhart was off to one side, his expression unreadable. Of the three of them, only Rinoa seemed to be enjoying herself, and from what she knew of the girl, Xu thought Rinoa could enjoy herself on the Bika Snowfield.

Everything shines but the people, Xu thought, with some humour.

She herself had no real care for the dancing, and no desire to celebrate a traitor who hadn't been a good man even when he'd been loyal. Four years ago, Quistis had smiled in a photograph, and if not for that smile, Xu would have asked Cid to make her apologies for her at the SeeD ball as she had far too much paperwork to do.

Instead, she smiled at Cid, and walked over when he beckoned her to join him. He was standing with a glass of wine in his hand, talkiing with Edea, and Martine, and - of all people - the Esthari President Loire and his two chief advisors, all of whom looked ridiculous in Esthari formal outfits. Privately, Xu thought the President would look rather ridiculous in whatever he wore.

"Of course, Garden intends to work very closely with Esthar, now that you've opened your borders," Cid said, and Loire nodded appreciatively, for all the world like a twelve year old who'd just been told he could join a special club. "I feel we have a great deal in common. Xu, have you met President Loire?"

She had, once, soon after Quistis' return from Time Compression. He'd challenged her to a card game, she'd beaten him soundly, and he'd looked so hangdog that she'd taken a Belhelmel card instead of his prized rare card. (Why had he owned a Squall Leonhart card? Who had painted it?) She smiled, and extended her hand. "It's always a pleasure, Mr. President."

"Oh, hey," he replied, shaking. "Was it... hang on, I've got this, I never forget a face... Nida?"

"...Xu," Xu replied, holding back laughter.

"Xu! That's right. Hey, it's really good to see you again! We should have another game of cards!"

It was impossible not to like a man who had fond memories of losing a card game 9-0. "I would be honoured," she said, smiling. "I'm afraid I'm needed at the moment, though - do any of you know where Quistis is?"

"Quistis," Laguna mused. "Was Quistis the short guy with the pointy hair?"

"She's out on the balcony, last I saw," said Kiros, in between rolling his eyes at his President.

"Oh, /her/," Laguna said, chagrined.

Xu thanked them, bowed to the President, saluted Cid, and walked away.

The dancers didn't part for her, and Xu didn't expect them to. She walked around the edges, around people gathered in tight knots of conversation. Selphie physically caught her sleeve as she passed and managed to extract a sworn promise that Xu would assist with this year's Garden Festival ("it's going to be the best /ever/!"), and Irvine flirted with her for a moment before Selphie turned up and threatened him with Tonberry. Finally, she reached the edge of the room, and looked out to the balcony.

Quistis, decked out in full, formal SeeD regalia, was leaning on the balcony's edge, looking into the sky. For all Xu could tell, she was counting the stars. It was not at all like Quistis to attend an event and then duck out within the first ten minutes, not at all like her to not even pretend to listen to Cid's conversation. Xu took a flute of champagne from an attendant and walked out to join Quistis.

Quistis didn't notice her until she laid a hand softly on her shoulder.

"Hello again, Quistis," Xu said.

"Hello, Xu," Quistis replied, not turning around.

Xu walked around, leaning against the balcony next to her. "What are you thinking?"

Quistis drew in breath for a moment. "That I'm very lucky," she said, still looking up.

Four years ago, Xu would have been as decorous as Quistis, and would have let that slide past her. But she'd hugged Quistis in her room, and kissed her on the Ragnarok, and memory's false Time Compression didn't bring everything together. "You don't look like you think you're lucky," she said, quietly.

"You're right," Quistis said, after a pause. "I'm really thinking that I should think I'm lucky."

A moment's silence.

"Do you know that Cid restored my license?" she said. "I'm Instructor Trepe again. Cid said that the Faculty expected to be able to move me off active duty and back into the classrooms within the next year. I've only got one more mission scheduled."

She passed Xu a slip of paper, and Xu read it over quickly. She was more than familiar with printed SeeD orders. "From within SeeD," she noted. "You're to negotiate a full treaty of integration with the White SeeDs."

"The SeeDs at Ultimecia's castle wore White SeeD uniforms," Quistis said. "I don't understand Time Compression or time travel or whatever happened to us, but I told Cid that maybe it was - is - important to have the White SeeDs on our side to prevent future events, and maybe we need the White SeeDs just because we have them in future. He said that was very clever and gave me this mission."

"A little anticlimactic, after saving the world," Xu said.

Quistis nodded, and spoke with much more passion. "That's exactly what I was thinking. One day I'm with you on Ragnarok, then I'm with Squall and I'm fighting Ultimecia, and... in a week, I'm going to the White SeeD ship alone, and I'm going to negotiate a treaty, and then I'll be teaching cadets again." Her voice fell, again. "I just thought there would be more."

For a moment, they watched the stars together, in silence.

"I want to say something," Xu said, "and it will sound trite, and saccharine, and stupid. I will be in serious danger of breaking Regulation 109B, and you know that I follow regulations as closely as I possibly can."

"Except 26E," Quistis said, with a slight laugh.

"I'd like to say, though... if you want something to match saving the world..."

Xu, eloquent Faculty Advisor, always picked to write Cid's speeches for him (which he never read beforehand and always filled with ad-lib) found she was struck dumb. Quistis didn't say anything, didn't hurry her.

"...well, I think you match that every day," Xu muttered, dry-mouthed.

Quistis stared for a moment.

"And if you want me to, I will apply to Cid to be deployed with you to White SeeD. In fact, I want you to let me apply to Cid, because I want to go with you. And..."

Xu reached out again, much slower than on the Ragnarok - or maybe that was a trick of perception, Time Compression in miniature - and kissed Quistis. Quistis touched Xu's hand, leaning into her, completely unsurprised. No falling stars passed overhead, no fireworks burst in the sky, no flowers bloomed. It was probably better that way.

"...and I'm going to kiss you now," Xu said, pulling away.

"I imagined you would," Quistis replied, with a slight smile.

The band finished the Waltz For The Moon with a flourish of strings, and a young singer stepped up to a microphone, crooning out the first few lines of Eyes On Me as the band played behind her.

"Would you like to dance?" Quistis asked Xu, gesturing half-heartedly at the dance floor.

We could flourish ourselves in front of everyone, as Rinoa talks about how this is her and Squall's song, and the Faculty look down on us and probably try to find a way to demote us for it. Or, on the other hand...

"Why don't we go down to Balamb?" Xu replied. "We could walk down to the seashore, or have a drink together at a cafe, or..." She paused. "Or we could take a train to Timber and join the Forest Mongeese."

Quistis smiled, and took Xu's hand in hers. "That sounds wonderful," she said.

Besides, Quistis is taller than me now, and I never taught her to lead.

There were no falling stars, or fireworks, or flowers. They drew attention as they passed, glances and stares, and they neither noticed nor cared. Arm-in-arm, in formal SeeD uniforms, Xu and Quistis left the SeeD ball like heroes.
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