PuPu's Saga Chapter 11
by Jeremy Chapter
Setting 11: 2018 DAY 15, Trabia
"It little profits
an idle king,
by this still hearth, among
these barren crags."
-Tennyson, Alfred, Lord
"I don't want to see Rinoa ever again."
Ifrit nearly choked when he heard
that comment come out of Squall's mouth, even though he saw it
coming. Still, it was his Master's final decision, and he would
not dare meddle with that.
spirit," Diablos cheered with some enthusiastic clapping.
"Not ever?" Cereberus B
questioned, still hopeful that they could turn the grievous
mistake in Squalls reasoning.
Diablos quickly ducked into one of
Doomtrains random dining cars and pulled one of the
speakers off from the dilapidated and rotting walls, and then he
slipped into the car where the CD player for the entire intercom
system was hooked. Instantly Cereberus Bs argument was
drowned out by the speaker that was blasting out the heavy
orchestra music of "Liberi Fatali." Briefly he wondered
if anyone had the English translation of the lyrics.
Doomtrain fumbled around before
finally turning off all the peripheral lines of power in his
system, putting the speaker system out of commission and throwing
Diablos out of the train.
"Well, at least not for
awhile. I have to think," Squall continued after awhile.
"Act on instinct, boss,"
Diablos chimed in, "because then you will be doing what your
heart tells you, and that cant be wrong."
Ifrit saw past the good-natured
guise of the demonic GFs ill-advised suggestion; in their
present situation, Squall was not in the right mind for anything
except to fool himself, and Diablos knew it. Cereberus A and C
did not see the harm in taking Diablos proposal at face
value and did not think enough to search for the evil intention
behind it. They began murmuring in approval and to Ifrits
horror, added the
If you didnt like hell so
much, Id send you there, Ifrit meditated.
Cereberus B could guess where
Ifrit was headed, and subtlety motioned for him to stand down. After
all, Cereberus B reasoned, Diablos is doing his job
of guarding the Master, even if he does prefer killing
Rinoa then bringing them together so the Master has one less
thing to worry about in his off time. Im sure while Diablos
may be flawed, but he is still a decent creature on the inside.
"Do you want me to kill her
for you?" Diablos asked Squall eagerly, refreshing his
earlier offer. Squall, had, by then, Diablos noted, rested his
head in his palm and was rubbing one of his eyes wearily in the
face of the setting sun.
Never mind, Cereberus B
Squall had the "I heard you
the first time" look but didnt comment.
Does it really matter?
Squall thought in response to Diablos question. He
surprised himself, but he was could not tolerate another second
of mulling over the same prosaic topic. His first reaction would
of course be to take the first and easiest solution.
"Sure," Squall finally
replied, realizing how indulging in this outrageous idea would
take his mind off the subject and offer him a temporary sanctuary
from the confusion he felt.
The fact that none of the GFs had
entertained in the idea, save Diablos, that their Master would go
along with a joke of such ineffable nature and that all of them
had grown accustomed to Squalls barely speaking at all was
blatantly obvious to him when he looked back and saw them all
staring in stunned disbelief.
For some reason though, the idea
that they were shocked tickled him, and he shrugged internally. At
least Ill get a few seconds of silence with that answer.
He caught himself sporting a rare
smile and slipped back into his usual grim, uninterested
expression, his eyes darting around instinctively to make sure no
one saw him slip.
Doomtrain decided that he would
ignore Squalls acceptance of Diablos offer and
continued, "So is that it, then? You are just going to walk
away from her?"
"How does that make you feel,
turning your back on a girl who saved you from Time
Compression?" Ifrit asked, giving Squall a hostile, verbal
"How could she save me if she
was a normal girl?" Squall countered without flinching.
"Thats even more reason
to go after her, because shes so special," Cereberus B
concluded, hoping this last argument would settle the case.
Squall shook his head and crushed
the cigarette butt in his hand.
"Precisely because she isnt
normal. Probably only a sorceress could have tracked me down in
the post-Ultimecia time-compressed netherworld," he rejoined
with renewed conviction.
"How did she manage to save
you by the way?" Ifrit asked, crossing his arms.
Cereberus C agreed, "you never bothered to tell us."
There was this golden feather
that appeared out of nowhere and I touched it.
quickly responded, dismissing his previous thought.
"Thats it? Plain and
simple?" Cereberus B questioned skeptically.
"Thats what sorceresses
do, isnt it?" Squall replied smartly.
"So what if shes a
sorceress? She still saved your life!" Ifrit snapped.
"I thought we explained this
to you already. Rinoa does not qualify to be anything except a
girl. And one that loves you too," Doomtrain supplemented.
"What do you know about
love?" Squall shot back. "When was the last time you
went on a date, Doomtrain?"
"Doesnt it mean
anything to you that she found you?" Cereberus B asked
quickly, deciding that they had digressed. "Did you ever
think about that?"
"Yeah, well maybe I didnt
want to find her!" Squall shouted, slamming his fist into
When none of the GFs responded, he
felt confident enough to add another quip just to let his answer
sink in even heavier. "Did you ever think about that?"
He thought about saying something
else, but decided against voicing it. Maybe I didnt want
to be found.
The GFs were speechless, and
coming up short with any new points.
"That cant be how you
truly feel," Cereberus B said with a concerned look
spreading across his jaws.
Squall narrowed his eyes and
focused on the orange horizon, determined not to answer. What
right do you have to ask me how I feel? I dont have to
justify my actions to you! Ive never asked you how you
felt, so why should you give an Ifrit about what I think?
"What about all those things
you said to her along the railroad at sunset, and in the Balamb
infirmary while she was out cold?" Ifrit pointed out.
Squall froze, his mind still
registering what was just said.
"You forget that some of us
were junctioned to you while you carried Rinoa to Esthar on
foot," Ifrit reminded him.
Squall colored. No one was
supposed to hear that!
"I know that conversation you
had out of Fishermans Horizon was private, but you cant
really turn off a GFs hearing," Cereberus B added.
"If you are so concerned with
her mysterious ability to find men, why dont you all help
her find herself a man," Squall retorted bitterly. Before
this day ends I am going to shove Amnesia Greens down each one of
"She already found one,"
Cereberus B said plainly, "but hes been rather
Squall was silent.
"You saw what happened on the
balcony," he began to justify himself. "She left
"He wasnt talking about
you," Ifrit clarified.
Squall initiated a motion to spin
around, but faltered in the middle of it, finally settling with
keeping his head facing straight forward.
"Just testing you,"
Ifrit admitted a second later, "and if shows that you still
"I dont need you to
test me," Squall growled angrily. Testing you is my job,
not the other way around. Get with the program.
"My job as your Guardian
Force is to prevent you from making the biggest mistake of your
life by throwing away-"
"Your job is to do what I
tell you to do," Squall reminded, cutting into Ifrits
lecture. "Besides," he added, "If you like her so
much, why dont you chase after her?"
"I would if it was in my job
description," Ifrit returned.
"Watch it. I dont like
your tone of insubordination, Ifrit," Squall cautioned.
"Well, I do a little more
than block pot shots meant for you from the enemy," Ifrit
"If you have so many other
vocational skills, why dont you make yourself useful and go
braid Rinoas hair or something," his Master rebuked
"You know just as well as I
do that Rinoa doesnt braid her hair," Ifrit replied.
Squall blinked. She doesnt?
Guess that shows how well I know her.
"Hell, the last person that
touched her head ended up in the infirmary for three weeks, but
she would instantly drop her
aversion towards braiding if you asked her to," Ifrit
commented. Guess that shows how well you know her.
Ignoring Ifrits last
comment, Squall said, "I didnt know Rinoa was
disinclined to doing that."
"Of course you wouldnt,"
Ifrit continued smoothly, as if he had been expecting Squall to
say that. "You were spending too much time trying to learn
as little as possible about how the world really works."
"What makes you think you can
preach to me? What do you know about life? Youre just an
entity that steals our memories that offer you a vicarious tap to
the real world," Squall accused the GF, trying to undermine
his credibility in order to dodge the personal attack.
Ifrit corrected, "we GFs earn experience and level up by
ourselves. We dont really need you to teach us how the
world works with your second-hand scraps of knowledge."
"You have to admit that since
you memoryripping GFs are in the business of robbing
parts of my past from me," Squall parried defensively,
"you cant blame me for not recalling if Rinoa has ever
worn her hair differently."
Ifrit feigned an absent-minded
look. "I wasnt aware that those memories of the past
were of any value to you since you obviously dont care
about nurturing the present. And taking a few antiquated moments
from your life isnt our business, and it isnt
how we learn things. We have AP points each battle to teach us
"But in all your
confident wisdom, Im sure you realized that,"
Ifrit abrasively added in afterthought. "Or did you forget
"If you hadnt leeched
it from my mind-" Squall began.
"You cant always hide
under that excuse, Master," Ifrit cut in. "At least try
to open up and give Rinoa a chance. Besides, we both know that I
cant steal every image in your head with Rinoas hair
done the exact same way every time."
"What would you rather me
do?" Squall yelled, a mile past exasperation. "Go
wearing a white napkin tucked
under my chin with a gay, blue ribbon bow-tied around my neck,
and cufflinks for the hell of it? Why not just add a leash and
collar with a tag that says, I am Rinoas slave?
Hey, and while Im at it, I might as well go dye my hair
blonde and buy blue pants with fake tails nailed on their
His audience was so silent that
they could almost hear the Snow Lions braying in the distance.
Diablos finally raised his hand, beckoning for permission to
speak. Stepping forwards slightly, he coughed artificially and
put in, "I think I speak for everyone here when I say I dont
have the slightest clue what you are talking about."
Cereberus C was laughing
uncontrollably before Cereberus B gave him a look that suggested
that it wasnt meant to be a joke.
Cereberus A wagged his tail
nervously before saying aloud, "I think you are
"But hey," Diablos cut
in, "if you still want to go with the hair-dying idea, you
should get it done gray, like Sephiroth."
"Who?" Cereberus B
asked, knowing he was opening a door to yet another ludicrous
repeated, "from this video game I found hidden in the Garden
"I wasnt aware that the
Garden facilities were open to GFs," Squall mentioned,
visibly unhappy with Diablos mooching.
Diablos tried to pull off the most
innocent smile he could, excusing himself with, "I just saw
Zell playing it a few times. Hes a Final Fantasy VII
Diablos wiggled his fingers
"On a side note," he
added, "this is precisely why we should have GF-protection
laws to circumvent this kind of discrimination."
"Youre never going to
sell that idea off to Cid," Squall said.
"What kind of a name is
Final Fantasy?" Cereberus A asked with a frown.
"I think the most important
question is how in the world it garnered enough interest to
engender six sequels," Doomtrain spoke up.
"Come on, guys," Diablos
pleaded, "dont dis my favorite game. And you have to
admit that Final Fantasy VII is a better title than
the foreign RPG called Space Warriors VII."
"Hey!" Cereberus C
exclaimed. "Ive heard of that game before! Its
the one with a girl named Tifa in it, right?"
Diablos shrugged, replying,
"I only play games in English."
"This is getting us
nowhere," Ifrit muttered, rubbing his temples.
"So remind me again,
Ifrit," Squall stated, plainly frustrated himself, "why
you are so concerned about her?"
"Im not concerned about
Rinoa," Ifrit replied. "You are my priority, and its
my duty to tell you that you arent helping yourself by
rejecting new components that might prove to more beneficial if
integrated into that tiny, insecure world of yours."
"You are making too big a
deal out of a girl. And a client at that!" Squall pointed
"She has got to be more than
a client," Ifrit stated flatly.
"Yes," Squall agreed,
taking no time to think, "shes way more nosey."
"She isnt nosey,"
Ifrit explained slowly, "she just cares about you and wants
to understand you."
"I never asked her to care
about me, so why should she expect me to care about her?"
Squall countered stubbornly.
"A more selfless person would
not cower under moral obligation," Ifrit reprimanded.
Squall exploded, throwing his hands up and tossing his finished
cigarette away. "Its an option, and the world isnt
going to end if I refuse."
"At least go find yourself
some other girl then, if you wont have Rinoa," Ifrit
"Bad move, Ifrit,"
Cereberus B chided, pulling his fellow GF aside.
"To Diablos with propriety,
and Im sorry if Rinoa is expendable, but Im not about
to lose another Master," Ifrit explained quietly in
Cereberus Bs ear but with an unusual evenness in his voice.
All three Cereberuses decided it
better not to inquire about Ifrits previous Master.
Doomtrain and Diablos both frowned, but similarly kept their
"Ive watched him
squander his potential for too long. Rinoa isnt the only
girl whos ever going to have a shot; there are tons of
girls in Balamb Garden that want him, so why push him when he
clearly doesnt want any part of it?" Ifrit hissed at
the other GFs, but mindful of keeping his voice below Squalls
"Youre starting to talk
like him, now," Doomtrain noted calmly. "Besides, he
doesnt know what he wants right now."
"Oh, and you know what he
wants? Some mystical inner voice speaks to you and tells you what
others are thinking," Ifrit mocked.
"Why are you defending him
when you know hes wrong?" Cereberus B asked
"Because I have a job to do,
and so long as my Master ends up with a healthy lifestyle that
might include some girl that he is actually happy with, for a
change, then Ive done my job well and I can pat myself on
the back," Ifrit answered quickly as if on cue.
Cereberus B looked at Doomtrain
for support, but the latter was actually seriously considering
the point Ifrit just made. Diablos was always ready to support
the dissenting underdog, and seeing how the other two,
weaker-minded Cereberuses were vacillating, Ifrit convincingly
pointed at the depressed Squall, slumped in his mental swamp of
"Does it look like were
doing a good job?" Ifrit ridiculed, raising his voice
slightly. "Logically, I would say that we are doing
"Dont get sarcastic
with me," Cereberus mouthed. "Were in the middle
of the problem. Something is happening. You cant just let
him throw that away."
"Throw what away?" Ifrit
returned. "In case you havent noticed, that shroud of
depression that is always clinging on him like its part of
his skin is no accident. And we could help him take it off or try
to get him to see why its good for him to be depressed all
day long and try to make him come to terms with why he should
appreciate Rinoa the shroud. Im looking for the most
expedient way to get the Master out of this emotional stagnation
and onto the next phase in his life. We are wasting valuable time
here, and I dont know what youre priority is,
but Im actually trying to accelerate his psychological
development instead of pissing him off and inhibiting his coming
to terms with himself by keeping him locked in an unpleasant past
that he just might not give a Shiva about!"
Diablos whistled. "That was
one hell of a monologue, buddy! You got my vote."
He chuckled and unleashed a wicked
grin. "Lets smoke her!"
Cereberus B glanced agitatedly at
Squall, who still hadnt looked up, and then slapped Diablos
with one of his paws.
"Just look how long it has
taken him to reach this point. He was entirely closed off before
Rinoa began to crack that
obstinate shell of his," Cereberus B pressed on, hoping to
win over the last few unsure spectators.
"He wasnt entirely
depressed before Rinoa began to crack his shell, as you call
it," Ifrit rebuffed. "And what glorious point of
improvement has he reached? I dont believe hes ever
been in a deeper trance of consternation!"
Cereberus A nodded, sensing that
Ifrit had the upper hand in this argument. The movement annoyed
Cereberus B, who fell silent.
"Havent you noticed
that our Master hasnt said a word through this entire
discussion? He is so centered on himself now, more withdrawn than
ever because Rinoa has driven him so much farther into his shell,
because she threatens him when she tries to get close and invade
his personal space," Ifrit brought to all the GFs
Seeing that Cereberus C, his last
hope, was more interested in biting and inspecting his nails,
Cereberus B sighed, shook his head, and set himself down in
Diablos took this chance to nudge
Ifrit in the stomach and whisper conspiratorially, "You
mentioned Shiva in that heated speech a moment ago. Was that a
conscious choice because you are still irked from her shooting
you down on your last date?"
Ifrit was used to Diablos
meddling, but todays frenzied sequence of events had peeved
him so much that he pushed Diablos back a few steps and warned
him, "I dont know what you are talking about. As if
you didnt already know, I cant even touch her without
"Hey, if you dont want
her, Ill take her any time," Diablos offered amicably.
He didnt fool Ifrit for a
"Do you have any idea how old
Shiva is?" Ifrit asked. "I think shes out of your
"GFs are like wine; they get
better with age," Diablos chuckled.
Doomtrains wheels suddenly
creaked back to life, and Diablos paused at the sound of the
labored by steadily accelerating engine. He slowly rolled over to
the edge of the cliff next to Squall.
"Need help, Master?" the
locomotive GF huffed with fumes pouring from his mouth whenever
Yes, I do. I, Squall Leonhart,
"No, I dont,"
"I meant with the Malboro
cigarettes," Doomtrain rephrased.
Squall looked down on the ground
next to him and saw what Doomtrain was talking about. Over ten
cigarette butts were lying around, which surprised him.
Has it really been this long? I
thought I was on my second!
"My regular attack is the
equivalent of a few packs of those things, so if you want to get
a real high in record time, just call," Doomtrain puffed.
"Hey! I dont tell you
when not to smoke," Squall argued.
"Calm down, chief,"
Doomtrain said, easing off a bit, "I just want to
"Go help someone who needs it
then," Squall scolded caustically.
"Im trying," was
the cool reply.
"Lets play a game. Well
call it Quiet Time, okay?" Squall spelled out
for him patronizingly. "This is when I take time to gather
"Care to share your
thoughts?" Doomtrain continued, undaunted.
"I think alone," was the
SeeD commanders unequivocal answer.
"Then you're alone,"
Doomtrain concluded sadly.
Lowering his head slightly, he put
his engine in reverse, and faded out of view.
I didnt formally dismiss
you yet, but whatever, Squall noted and mentally shrugging.
He took in another deep breath and
exhaled the smoke slowly. He did not notice Cereberus B pull
Cereberuses A and C away as well, nor Ifrits exit,
following the example.
It was like an unplanned but
mutually-understood funeral procession that delighted Diablos,
the only onlooker. Suddenly his grin receded as a gust of wind
blew by, and his head jerked in attention. After a moment, he
flashed a nefarious smile and licked his lips, the frequency of
his wing flapping boosted.
"Oh, I smell Quistis,"
he whispered sneakily. "A dash of rose, some vanilla, and
something I cant quite place my finger on."
Squall heard him and ordered,
"You cant place my finger on any part of her, got
"Do you want me to go into
stealth mode so she can't see me?" Diablos asked, ignoring
"I'd prefer it if you just
left," Squall snapped, not wasting any time by mincing
Not chagrinned, Diablos chortled
quietly and prepared to obscure his own visibility, entertaining
in the thought of getting close to Quistis without her knowing.
"Im not kidding,
Diablos," Squall continued gravely, "dont try to
frisk her while youre in stealth mode. "You remember
how that G-Returner nearly couldnt revive you after what
she did to you the last time you tried to pull a stunt like
that?" I dont care what you got a glimpse of.
"Thank you for the warning,
chief," Diablos hissed back, licking his lips. "Ill
wait until she junctions me then." But you should have
seen what I got a glimpse of.
After Squall heard the revolting
sounds of Diablos self-liquefaction what categorically
accompanied every one of his transformations out of the human
visibility spectrum, he laid down on his back and put his hands
under his head as a cushion.
Maybe if I get down low enough
she wont see me.
"Ha! I finally caught
you," a cheery voice called out, no more than ten meters
Dammit! Diablos take you! It
"Good for you," Squall
replied with a purposely over-exaggerated giddiness in his voice.
Isnt there some place I
Quistis squatted down and tried to
initiate a friendly conversation, hoping that Squall would
respond. I wonder if hell notice my new outfit.
"Wow, I had no idea the
snowfield was so pleasant in the summer."
Squall rolled his eyes, still
facing the sky. Shoot! No place to hide. Guess I have to
Quistis looked around, rubbing her
arms apprehensively as she asked, "Is Diablos lurking around
here again?" Come on, Shiva, hunt that bastard Diablos
Squall shrugged. Do I have to
listen? Oh, wait! Those clouds over there look mighty
Diablos shook his head. He would
have whistled had he not known that she would have caught on
instantly. Knowing Quistis, she probably has Shiva filtering
through the entire spectrum just to catch me.
That meant that he would have to
work extra hard and continue switching through frequencies
himself. It was not easy to do, and Quistis had probably counted
on making Diablos exert himself so much that he would have little
time to enjoy the view.
After some careful consideration
though, the demonic GF was almost entirely convinced that
whistling would be worth it. If Squall would just turn and
look at her, my Shiva!
Even though Squall had not paid a
pennys worth of attention to her yet, Quistis straightened
out her matching white shirt and shorts.
"I guess I am sort of pale.
Maybe I should spend some time away from Shiva," she
commented aloud. There was a musical ring to her voice, like
Squall had no intention of
replying, but the ensuing silence became so heavy that he at last
acknowledged her rambling with a grunt.
I dont think hes a
man. Diablos pondered bemusedly. There must be something
wrong with him if he doesnt fall dead at first sight. Shes
Squatting had become tiresome for
her so Quistis ventured forth and took a seat right beside
Squall, virtually on his arm just to make sure he noticed.
Squall shifted uncomfortably in
response, but didnt push her off. What now?
Quistis eyed him for a few
seconds, inadvertently disclosing her delight at his choice of
street clothes. That orange and black shirt is pretty cute.
"I see Im not the only
one whos trying out a new wardrobe," she said
cheerfully, determined not to let the conversation drag. She was
encouraged by the fact that Squall hadnt pulled away, and
so, taking the initiative, she bent down dangerously close to
Squalls face and stared straight into his eyes. Squall
in baggy jean shorts, I never would have guessed.
Diablos wiped the purple drool
coming down his chin. Look at those legs!
"You clocked out rather early
today," she whispered conspiratorially.
"Yeah, so?" he replied
"Oh, nothing," Quistis
responded evenly, "just getting the ceremonial small talk
out of the way."
"Well, if thats all you
wanted, then you can go now and feel satisfied that youve
managed it well," Squall told her, patronizing as ever.
"I didnt search all
throughout Garden and finally come out here for you just to make
small talk," Quistis spelled out for him.
"Okay, you got me,"
Squall grumbled crossly, "so now what do you want?" Say
you want me to leave. Say you want me to leave
"I want you to take me
seriously," Quistis implored. Were not on the
script anymore! Shiva, what do I do? Dont panic. Dont
"Is that it?" he asked
with indifference, never once blinking during the entire time she
had her eyes locked on his.
"Yes, please dont
refuse me this," Quistis begged.
"Okay, Im glad we had
this talk. Bye now," Squall snapped after pretending to
He thought it was about time that
he actually put some effort into moving her so he unlocked his
fingers from behind his head and started getting up. Apparently
Quistis wasnt convinced that the conversation was over
because she leaned over, putting her weight on her arms to pin
his head down with his hands still beneath it. His expression
suggested genuine surprise mixed with mild annoyance, but she had
Quistis repeated. Good one, Quistis. Im sure that
sounded really smooth to everyone else too.
Diablos shook his head. Great
Eden! Just look at her, you fool!
Squall repeated, "I told you
already. This conversation is over," and tried to sit up
Realizing how precarious it was
for her to put all her weight on one side of Squall when he could
just easily take advantage of her awkward balance and shift her
aside, Quistis decided the only thing for her to do was to
straddle him and grab his wrists.
"Were not through
yet," she declared, her voice faltering slightly.
(sexualharassment- by Malla Kelly Barrie Tobuck, *groans* "a
die-hard loyalist to 'PuPu's Saga'".)
he makes me say that after each one, really...-pheonix
For a moment no one said anything.
Diablos was too stunned to continue swapping frequencies, but he
was sure that Shiva would be so dumbfounded by this turn of
events that she would undoubtedly stop hunting for him.
"You know this isnt
infringing at least seventeen SeeD regulations in the
manual," Squall cautioned, even though he had a feeling it
wasnt going to make much difference. Even though she was
now flat on top of him and it would prove difficult to throw her
off, she was pretty light and benching her would not be
"Yeah, so?" Quistis
retorted, using Squalls own words against him.
He saw that too, and the frown he
had been wearing for a while wearing darkened. If you didnt
smell so good Id tell you to drop dead and get out of my
"The Disciplinary Committee
is going to have your rear for this," he daunted.
It was an idle threat, and both of
them knew it.
"That doesnt scare
me," she rebuffed. "Does it scare you?"
"What do you mean?"
"That Seifer might have me at
his mercy," replied Quistis.
"Seifers not on the
committee anymore," Squall said.
"Then you have nothing to
worry about," she stated simply.
"Who said I was
worried?" Squall asked.
She felt like choking him, and she
would have if she didnt adore him.
"You cared enough about her
when you fought past Seifer to save her," she pointed out
Quistis nearly choked on something
as she finished that sentence. There was an awkward feeling
tugging on her inside, both liberating and restraining at the
"Maybe I shouldnt have
been so hotheaded," Squall conceded, to the amazement of
Quistis. It was clear diminution of Rinoas importance to
"You dont mean
that!" she pressed. She was the only one who ever got a
real reaction from you.
She could feel her heart beating
"Youve been staring
into my eyes for the past five minutes. Do they look as if they
are kidding?" Squall pointed out firmly.
"What about jumping into
outer space to save her?" Quistis asked. Why am I trying
so hard to defend Rinoa? Because shes a friend, I have to
Squall paused before finally
uttering, "Now that was just stupid."
Quistis was about to argue with
him, but she could not fight all the parts of her body screaming,
"This is your chance! You finally have him alone and
available, dont talk about someone else!"
But I cant just back-stab
her like this, she censured herself.
"Can we talk about something
else?" Squall said at last, giving in.
Quistis smiled and nodded. So I
got him! Hes finally willing to talk.
At the same time, she let out a
sigh of relief, realizing that she couldnt force herself to
talk about Rinoa for much longer. Now to think up a new topic
"You know, I cant even
smell Diablos stench," Quistis noted lightly and
Sorry, honey, Diablos
smirked, I wont make that mistake again. I prepared
ahead of time with the grass-scented cologne.
Squall shrugged and took that
chance to lean up a bit and get a second whiff of her scent. Diablos
was right, he reflected, she has a on a dash of
rose, some vanilla, and something I cant quite place my
He wasnt quick enough
though, and Quistis caught him as he unwittingly laid his head
back down. She pretended not to notice what he had done, but she
couldnt suppress a sudden blush.
"What was that?" she
"What was what?" Squall
shot back in denial.
"Okay," she said
amiably, letting him off the hook, "just checking." My
ass that was nothing.
"So why are you here?"
he asked hastily, deciding that this was a good time to change
"Well, I came out to find
you," she answered.
"That was a given. Was there
something in particular that you wanted?"
Quistis eyed him for a while
before catching herself. She blushed, becoming self-conscious,
and looked away quickly.
"I meant to talk about,"
Squall added, hoping that she didnt get the wrong idea,
even though it was painfully obvious to both of them that he was
a step late.
"How about why you treat me
like dirt," Quistis suggested bluntly, remembering her
original intention. This hadnt been how she and Shiva had
talked it over, but she had gone so far in the confrontation that
it seemed a waste to squander it being polite now.
"I always thought dirt liked
it on the bottom," Squall retorted wittily.
"As you can probably tell,
you thought wrong," she shot back icily.
"So, Quistis, I guess the
question is why you are treating me like dirt," Squall said.
"I just wanted to let you
know how it feels," Quistis snapped, trying as hard as
possible to be mean.
"Well as far as I can tell,
it feels great," Squall answered playfully.
"No, seriously," she
pleaded, giving his upper chest a few quick but serious raps. He
coughed and threatened to pull his gun-blade out of its case if
she didnt stop, which of course they both knew he had left
back in his room.
"Why dont you just say
it?" she asked, tilting her head to the side.
"Say what?" he rejoined,
honestly confused. Is she honey-scented too?
"Why you never say how you
feel," Quistis pressed him.
"I told you just now, didnt
I?" he argued. Come on, I know this. What is she wearing?
"But you dont
usually," Quistis reflected bitterly. "Usually you just
"Must be the shirt,"
Quistis looked down at her white
outfit, visibly pleased with herself.
I meant my shirt, but whatever,
"But it seemed like you
resented me, or loathed me," Quistis continued.
"Thats because you
wasted five full minutes of my time that I could have very well
spent somewhere else. Thats five minutes of my life that I
will never get back, Quistis."
"Ive been sitting on
top of you for the past five minutes," she pointed out.
"Dont you have something better to do?"
"In my humble opinion,"
Squall replied smoothly, "these past five minutes were well
Quistis blushed and tried to find
the next thing to say.
"So because of those five
minutes you havent felt like talking to me at all?"
"That and because you always
pulled me away from Seifer, never telling him to stop
first," Squall griped.
"It shows for whom I cared
more," she explained.
"I dont need your
concern," Squall told her. And I dont need you.
"I cant exactly switch
it off on command, Squall," she emphasized.
He shrugged, saying,
"Whatever. I dont need it."
Quistis made a face, but
eventually guessed what Squall really meant. At least he didnt
say, "I dont need you."
"You just dont want to
feel obligated to care for others in return," she charged.
Squall didnt reply, which
meant either she was right, or he wasnt listening.
worry," she assured him, "youre off the hook. I
dont need you to care for me."
Squall hadnt replied, even
though he was still looking at her. This meant either she was
really right or he was falling asleep.
Hes faking, she
"I know you hear me,
Squall," she said, giving him a push, "and you cant
fool me with your I dont need anybody fašade,
because thats crap!"
Squall didnt say it, but she
knew he was thinking the same thing about her speech.
"Do you honestly think that
youve totally grown into the Sis, I can take care of
myself mentality over the years like some old
Thats none of your
business, now is it? Squall thought angrily, but still
careful not to flex a single muscle in his face.
"I have news for you,
Squall," Quistis went on, "those trousers are falling
apart, and every patch is just another mark of insecurity and
I am not self-conscious,
and I can take care of myself.
"Is that why you cant
stand having the sole responsibility for anything, Squall, like
making choices for all the SeeDs?" she poked.
Im responsible for
myself, isnt that enough?
"Is it because you dont
want to let anyone down, like Ellone let you down?" she
Why dont you mind your
"Is that why you didnt
try to stop Esthar from taking Rinoa when she voluntarily
capitulated, because you didnt want to interfere with her
choice, and because you were afraid to make a choice for
Im never afraid! You dont
know what youre talking about!
"Well you flunked that one,
Squall," Quistis chided. "It wasnt just any
choice, it was the right choice that you failed to make for
I had nothing to do with that,
so dont push that crap on me!
"Do you know what being
chicken-wuss means, Squall?" Quistis asked.
Dont even go there.
"Running from the
consequences isnt chicken-wuss," Quistis explicated,
"its cowardice. Refusing to make a decision because
you dont want to accept the consequences, expecting someone
to step in eventually and make the call, and avoiding
confrontation, especially about yourself, now that is just
Squall exploded, sitting up and
both her arms just below the shoulders. She cringed as his face
turned red and he began to shout at her.
"You presume to know
everything about my past just because you saw me standing in the
rain?" he hissed.
"You think that just because
you were my instructor once you can chastise me now at your
leisure?" Squall snapped fiercely.
"No, Squall, I-"
"Since when did you suddenly
become the undisputed authority of virtue?" he demanded.
"I just wanted, ow-"
"What qualifies you to carp
at my indecision when youve had your shot as an evaluator
and you flunked it?" he pressed on caustically.
"I bet thats how you
lost your job," Squall chewed out menacingly, "because
you spent all your time judging how others handled themselves
when you couldnt even handle your own mess!"
"Squall, youre hurting
me," Quistis murmured meekly between sobs.
Time stopped for him as he
realized what he was doing. He had gripped her skin so hard and
had been squeezing without realizing it. He slowly softened his
grip and moved his hands away. Tears were dripping down and
darkening his orange shirt from her chin, and she clasped herself
in a defensive reaction, still shivering. Oh Eden, I screwed
this one up.
"I might have flaws,"
Quistis sniffled, "but you didnt have to say all those
awful things about my career."
Youve done it now,
Squall. What were you thinking?
"Look, Quistis," he said
apologetically, "Im sorry. I didnt mean what
"I wasnt fired, you
self-righteous prick," she replied icily, wiping her eyes,
Squall looked blank.
"Why would you do that?"
"Youd never find me
attractive if I was your superior," she explained, rubbing
her arms. "I figured you might be more easy around me like
that night I asked you out to that secret meeting place. Cui
bono, you just hated me more."
"I didnt hate
you," Squall comforted her, "but I just thought it was
okay to be distant since you admitted at the beach by the
orphanage that it was just sisterly feelings you had for
He wasnt sure exactly how to
proceed, but it just made more sense to try to put his arms
around her. She fought him off half-seriously to be sure, but
eventually she just belted him a few times in the stomach, and
then succumbed sulkily.
"One has to save face
somehow, especially when others are around," she confessed
with true bitterness in her voice.
"Im sorry," he
apologized again when he couldnt find anything else to say,
"I didnt know."
"That night, on our little
date," she continued, "you really made me
feel insignificant, like I wasnt even there."
Thats ironic, Squall
humored himself, even though he knew his timing was
inappropriate, since Im the one who always wants
"Why do you like me
then?" he commented instead, giving her a reassuring
She frowned in thought, but
snuggled a little closer, still looking off to the side.
so-" she hesitated, unsure how to describe him.
finished for her.
"And nonchalant, I
suppose," she added for him. "Youre no different
from a wall when I try to talk to you, Squall, and you never take
"Im a wall that likes
to growl at people," he suggested.
"Oh, stop it," she
fussed, punching him again.
"What?" he cried in
defense while craning his neck slightly to examine the aroma from
her hair. Ill just take a quick sniff here, and no one
will be the wiser.
She felt his movement and guessed
what he was up to, but didnt do anything about it.
"I hate myself," she
pouted as she marveled, "I cant stay mad at you for
"Thanks," Squall replied
and then added with a scowl, "Rinoa can hold a grudge for
Oh shoot! Quistis thought. I
knew I couldnt put this off forever. Why cant I just
enjoy the moment?
"Are you ready to talk about
Rinoa yet?" she brought up grudgingly, nestling deeper.
"No," he replied,
clasping her a little tighter. I dont even want to think
"You promised though,"
she insisted unenthusiastically. Why are you doing this,
"Was I drunk when I did
that?" he joked.
"No," Quistis snapped,
exasperated, "but it was probably the line you used to blow
me off a few minutes ago." Because Im a decent
"You got one thing right at
least," Squall admitted with a grave tone.
incorrigible!" she exclaimed.
"If you say so," he
"Youre really hard to
talk to, Squall," she sighed. Dont give me any of
that If you say so bull.
"I am," he concurred.
"Yes, you are," she
repeated after him even though it wasnt a question.
"Well you always choose hard
topics. Cant we talk about something else?" he begged.
"Whats so hard to talk
about? Isnt that all guys think about?" Quistis
informed her, "I only think about her whenever I come across
you." Because you always beat it out of me.
"Gee, thanks," Quistis
replied at length, unsure what his remark meant. Would that be
a good thing or bad thing?
"Maybe its because youre
around whenever shes not," Squall suggested.
Quistis sighed, realizing that
Squall had a point.
"Im only here to second
you," she said, "and Rinoa would have been here for the
past two weeks had you not scared her off."
"What are you talking
about?" Squall demanded.
"Do you know why she really
decided to stay at Balamb for two weeks?" Quistis asked.
"Just as she said, to give me
time to settle matters here," Squall replied, waving in the
direction of Nova Trabia.
Quistis shook her head and pointed
at Squalls heart.
"She was giving you time to
settle matters here," she said softly.
"Whats there to
settle?" Squall asked.
"You could stop trying to
hide your feelings for her," Quistis hinted. I have a
similar problem with you.
You have a similar problem with
me, Squall thought to himself.
"She should be headed over
here anytime now," Quistis remarked, "and Im sure
these two weeks have been harder on her than they have been on
"Im not as trouble-free
as you think," he responded.
"So have you been longing for
her to the point of insanity?"
"Not really," Squall
answered smoothly, and holding up his newly lighted cigarette,
added, "since these babies can be really friendly too."
"It's not healthy for you,
smoking that is," Quistis commented.
"There's no physical proof of
that," he offered immediately, and in Quistis opinion,
"The Malboro chop shop
executives have been hiding behind that excuse for years,
Squall," Quistis cautioned. "You dont really
think theyre telling the truth, do you?"
"Farmers shall rule the
world!" he exclaimed, dismissing her rhetorical question.
"You mean the Malboro
growers?" she questioned.
"I guarantee it," he
continued zealously, "they will!"
"I think you had better give
that last bit up to me, Squall," Quistis suggested.
He pulled back faster than she
thought was possible.
"I meant I wanted to give it
a try," she said weakly. I hope he buys it.
He stared down hard at her, so she
did her best to project an innocent smile. He handed it over
"Dont waste it,"
he told her, "and remember to inhale."
Quistis reached out and took the
"I take it this doesnt
make me look too attractive," she commented.
"You should practice it while
your annoying fan-group is parading after you then," Squall
"With them at least I know I
matter," she pointed out.
"If you think smoking is
ugly, maybe if I do it around Rinoa more, shell get over
it," Squall theorized.
"I think shes too far
gone to do that," Quistis grumpily informed him.
Squall shrugged as though it was
none of his business.
"If anything," she added
while deciding whether or not to take a puff, "shell
start thinking that shes even more unattractive than the
M-BTRs and wonder if shes having a bad hair day."
This conversation was getting too
heavy for her, and she decided to give the M-BTR a try. She ended
up in a coughing fit.
"Youve never had a
joint before, have you?" he asked as she gasped for air.
"Youre turning green,
Quistis," he informed her, still coughing.
"Pale, even," he added
after another look.
Squall chuckled for the first time
in her presence.
"Rinoa has been looking
rather pale, don't you think?" Quistis asked suddenly.
"She has?" Squall
"She's too skinny, too,"
Quistis answered with a nod. "The last Tornado spell we used
to lift the weather balloon for that report nearly blew off the
ground. I think she's losing too much weight."
"So now you are doing some
thinking," Squall applauded. "Good job."
me," Quistis warned, slapping his thumbs up away. "So
tell me what you really think."
"I think from time to time,
but not about Rinoa," he replied at last.
"Why not?" she demanded.
"I told you," Squall
explained exasperatedly, "I dont think about her until
you bring her up, which means she hasnt crossed my mind
until just a moment ago."
"I thought that girls were
all guys thought about," Quistis told him with a puzzled
look on her face.
"No," Squall clarified,
"we have better things to fathom."
"Like what?" Quistis
asked, looking up at his face.
"Like A09 motorbikes and the
newest editions of Weapon Kings," he answered.
"I think you should reset
your priorities," Quistis muttered crossly.
"You mean put Weapon
Kings in front of motorbikes?" he considered.
She slugged him.
"So you would rather think
about some dumb magazine than a girl? Me even?" Quistis
pressed, raising her voice slightly.
"Pretty much, but if it makes
you feel any better, I know the photographer of Weapons
King, and the guy owes me a favor," Squall replied.
"How is this supposed to make
me feel better?" Quistis retorted quizzically.
"I could probably get you on
the cover page if you dont mind wearing nothing but next
months showcase gauntlet," he offered chivalrously.
Squall could only dodge three of
the next twenty blows. Had to try. Oh, well.
"Look," he said, trying
to calm her down, "Im just telling you how I
would go about getting my attention."
"Do you know thats shes
been trying to get your attention ever since she met you?"
Quistis brought up.
"I didnt know
that," Squall admitted honestly.
"She thinks that you care
about all the little things that everyone else might miss."
"I hardly notice them
sometimes," Squall remarked.
"You do notice everything,
but you don't care about anything," Quistis corrected.
point?" he asked.
"You have to at least tell
her that you dont care, otherwise start caring," she
"If you know so much, why cant
you just tell her?" he pointed out.
"She won't listen to me, so
its up to you," she said, placing the responsibility
in his hands.
"If she has convinced herself
of that, what does it have to do with me?" he asked.
"She doesn't want to
do that, Squall, she just wants you to like her,"
"Well I dont want her
to become a slob," Squall noted.
Quistis could have slapped him,
but again he seemed too adorable to mangle.
"Squall," she said in a
"What makes you so sure shell
go easy on herself once I tell her to stop?" he argued.
"Im not so sure myself,
actually," Quistis conceded.
"At any rate, shell
probably think that I took notice because she missed a spot or
something, and was just trying to be nice. Then shell
double her efforts," he went on.
corrected, "youre never nice to anyone."
"You know what I meant,"
he said annoyedly.
"Yes, I do," she
admitted, "and as much as I hate it, youre probably
"So," Squall reasoned,
"it would probably be best if I did nothing."
"Thats what you were
aiming for all along, wasnt it?" she questioned.
"You just dont want to lift a finger."
"Whatever works best, you
said it yourself," Squall parried.
"It would work best for me
if you would go and tell her how you feel, Squall," Quistis
"Well I think Ill just
bend over and comply with whatever pleases you then," Squall
"Would you really?"
Quistis gasped, putting her fingers over her mouth. Im
holding you to your word.
She interrupted Squalls
denial by flopping down hard onto him with a huge kiss.
Damn, he thought, I
think she took me seriously. Now Im obligated.
Hehe, she laughed to
herself still pinning his mouth in place, now youre
"What are you doing?"
Squall asked, fighting to remove his mouth.
Quistis froze and neither
exchanged any words. A look of embarrassment spread across her
face as her mind registered what she had done.
"Im sorry, so
sorry-" she stammered, and broke away from him. He tried to
stay her and ask her what was wrong but she just ran.
unrequited (by Carina Edberg, a die-hard loyalist of PuPu's
I give up. -pheonix
Squall sat up and watched as
Quistis silhouette disappeared back towards the Garden.
"I had nothing to do
with that," he said aloud.
Being more confused than
irritated, he swung his legs around back over the cliff and
slouched forward, resting his chin on an upturned palm. I just
dont get any of them.
"Diablos?" he called
out, wondering if the GF was still loitering. I doubt it,
otherwise he would have made a wise crack by now.
He was right. Diablos did not
answer his Master, a technical impossibility for a junctioned GF.
So Im alone at last.
He breathed deeply and noted
bitterly that all the fuss had cost him most of the sunset. The
last lingering traces of light were fading into oblivion, and had
the kiss lasted a minute longer, he would not even have been able
to see the pink shades smolder into lavender as it was changing
The wind had picked up slightly
since he last made note of it, perhaps three hours ago. Sheets of
waves were now racing across the ocean surface like peels of
apple skin sheered by an invisible knife. Wisps of wind tugged
perseveringly at his hair, and he wondered briefly how
exhilarating it would feel to accept their invitation and jump.
Thank Eden Im not as dumb
as my father, he reflected. Short of thirty Tiamats, theres
nothing that could possibly make me want to throw myself off of
by Carina Edberg, *croak* "a die-hrad loyalist to 'PuPu's
please, e-mail him if you want this insanity to stop...-pheonix
Something was wrong.
Squall paused, unsure exactly what
excited a premonition that caused his stomach to tighten. He
looked about the horizon, anticipating
well, he didnt
know what to anticipate, so he just kept on looking. The waves
were still crashing below, the ocean surface gleaming as it
churned under the suns fading corona.
Maybe Im just hearing
things, he told himself, shrugging off the willies.
This time he heard it for sure. It
was a delicate but clear scream for help towards his right. He
searched in that direction and saw, eight degrees above the
protruding shoreline, a person floundering in hysteria. Closer
inspection revealed a shrieking girl trying frantically to stay
afloat. Interestingly enough, he almost mistook her as being bald
until he realized that her long hair shared the same color as the
No, wait, Squall corrected
himself, shes trying to swim away from something.
He squinted, trying to focus a
little better on the waters around her. His eyes widened after he
spotted the hard-to-miss flaming red fin.
What I wouldnt give for not
taking a closer look, he regretted bitterly. Personally I
give her less than twenty seconds before it reaches her.
She screamed again, the shrill
echoing inside his hollow self, tugging at his deepest conscience
that not even the viciously demanding SeeD training could totally
Why do I even bother? he
moaned, rolling his eyes and throwing his hands up. I must be
a goddamned nice person.
She screamed bloody hell.
That was disconcerting, he
noted mentally, now twirling his fingers. Lets see, Im
sure I can find some excuse. Havent I already done a good
deed for the day? Come on, Squall, think, think!
She screamed bloody hell again,
realizing that the Fastilochon-F was closing in.
Shake it off, you wuss. Come
on, youre supposed to be a hard-ass.
He couldnt believe that he
was losing the internal struggle with himself.
Oh, what the hell, he
commanded, "pull her out of that mess."
"As you wish, Master,"
the water dragon GF hissed, phasing back into reality. It lurched
its head back and blared its menacing war cry.
Squall shut his eyes involuntarily
and winced at the pain left ringing in his ears from the
thunderous tone. When he pulled his arms away from his ears,
which he didnt realize he had covered, and opened his eyes,
he scowled. What good was THAT? Trying to scare her out of the
There was a moment of silence.
What are you doing now? he
reproached the serpent-like GF caustically.
Leviathan looked up from his
sun-basking position naively and blinked.
"My warm-up exercises,"
he replied in a matter-of-factly way.
Ditto, Squall registered
grimly, eyes falling. His animation sequence usually takes
about a minute, and thats time we dont have.
"Ifrit," he tried next,
motioning towards the girl, "you take a go at it. Leviathan
will probably drown her anyway."
"Im not hungry, but
thanks for asking, Master," Ifrit declined politely as he
reappeared from nothingness.
A less tempered SeeD commander
would have been foaming at the mouth. Ifrit balked and
apologetically offered up, "Do you honestly want me to pluck
her out of the ocean? You know what happens when come in
contact with human flesh, dont you?"
A barbecue, Squall
capitulated, but jeered anyway, "Come on you hydrophobic
goat! I thought a bath once a century would lighten up your
This is definitely not good;
gotta think up something quick. Holy Shiva, do I need a smoke!
"Theres always time for
one of these," he murmured as he drew out another Malboro.
As an added bonus, Ifrit lit it before he brought it to his
The girl was now beyond hysterical
with the monster nearly on top of her.
"Ifrit," he commanded,
"I need some of your Mad Rage."
Ifrit clapped his paws together in
preparation for working his magic.
Thirty Tiamats? Squall
scolded himself bitterly. Ha! Im a smart guy, all right!
Disdainfully he took one
exorbitant puff on his cigarette and then tossed it over the
edge. It was fascinating in a scary way, watching it fall and
realizing that he would have to follow it. Taking a deep breath
and clearing his head until he could feel his blood heating up
unnaturally and his fears diminishing, he surged forward and took
a running leap off the lonely precipice.
I bet Laguna shouted something
really dumb when he did this.
by Carina Edberg, "a die-", no I WON'T say it again,
once for each artist is enough!)