A Picnic and Playful Banter

Chapter 3 - Sentimental Brilliance

By Darkest Desire

Things had settled down once more as everyone lapsed into a momentary silence. It wasn't an uncomfortable one; everyone was merely enjoying the warm sunshine and nice day, so uncharacteristic of Balamb Garden. Everyone seemed to be somewhat lost in their own thoughts as they lounged out on the picnic cloth, basking in the sun.

Selphie was idly picking at the grass, tearing pieces of it off and placing them between her thumbs before bringing them up to her mouth and blowing. She was trying to make a whistling sound this way, but all that came out was a whoosh of air. Giving up after her third failed attempt, she decided that talking to the rest of the group would be far more interesting.

"Too bad Raijin and Fuijin are on a mission right now," she commented. Even though she didn't know either of them too well, she had been rather disappointed that they couldn't attend the little get together that she'd planned.

Rinoa seemed to be in the same frame of mind. "I bet they would have like to come," she added from where she was laying down on the picnic cloth, the sun warming her face and her eyes closed.

Even Zell seemed to agree, although maybe more for having some of Seifer's friends there to distract Seifer than because he truly wanted Raijin and Fuijin around. "It would have been cool if they could've come. I know Fuijin doesn't say much, but Raijin says enough for both of them...ya know?"

Everyone chuckled at the Raijinisc sentence. 'Ya know' was as identifiably Raijin's as 'whatever' was characteristically Squall's.

"He sure does," Seifer intoned from where he was lounging, referring to Zell's earlier comment about how Raijin talked enough for two people. "He's starting to learn when to keep his mouth shut, though. Of course, Fuijin kicking him every time he says something he shouldn't or that she doesn't like is a pretty good way of getting it through to him." Seifer smirked at that, thinking of his posse's typical antics.

"I'm glad you guys came back," Selphie said sincerely, a warm smile gracing her face. Everyone else smiled slightly at that, even Squall, silently showing their agreement with that statement.

Quistis, however, decided to voice her agreement. "I have to admit that I am too. It...it just wasn't the same without you." She seemed somewhat uncomfortable admitting this to Seifer, unsure of what his response would be, but seemed glad that she had done so none the less.

"Yeah, you couldn't have left, not after the whole orphanage gang just got reunited," Selphie added enthusiastically, breaking the uncomfortable silence that Quistis's comment had brought with it.

"Oh come on, stop with all the sentimental bullshit already," Seifer said gruffly, though they could all tell that Selphie and Quistis's words had really meant something to him.

"That's not very nice, Seifer," Rinoa remarked teasingly, a small smile lighting up her face.

"Who ever said I was trying to be nice?" was Seifer's smart-alecky reply, a cocky smirk on his face as per usual.

"Smartass," Squall commented with a snort, shaking his head at Seifer's typical attitude. It was funny how easy it was to get back into the habit of exchanging insults, even if they didn't really mean them now.

"You're one to talk," Seifer intoned dryly. Although Squall didn't usually say much, what he did say was sarcastic more often than not.

"Whatever," Squall replied in his typical fashion, smirking mockingly at Seifer.

"How did I know you were going to say that?" Seifer asked rhetorically, with a smirk to rival Squall's.

"Because that's what he always says?" Zell asked somewhat sarcastically, comically raising one of his blond eyebrows up.

"Yes, it is. When did that start anyway?" Quistis remarked curiously, a contemplative frown on her face as she tried to recall an answer to her own question.

Everyone paused to ponder Quistis's question over (except for Rinoa who had never been a part of the 'Orphanage Gang' and was, by now, feeling somewhat left out), but no one seemed to be able to come up with a definitive answer.

"Hmm...I don't know. Squall wasn't like that—you know with all of the 'whatevers' and the brooding and everything—when we were little, at least not that I can remember," replied Irvine in an attempt to answer Quistis's question.

"I'm right here, you know," Squall commented irritatedly to Irvine, annoyed at the way everyone was talking about him and his behavior as if he couldn't hear what they were saying, despite the fact that he was sitting right next to all of them.

"Whatever," Irvine said in response, smirking as Squall glared at him unhappily, annoyed at having Irvine poke fun at him once again.

Everyone was amused by this and Selphie even went so far as to giggle before hastily trying to redirect the conversation and consequently abate Squall's ire.

"Yeah, I don't remember either," she remarked truthfully, before another (and far more important) thought came to mind. "Hey, when did the whole rivalry thing start?" Selphie asked, thinking back to their childhood together. "I remember that Seifer and Squall used to play together a lot; in fact, I think they were even friends."

"Yeah, they were pretty funny, too," Irvine commented before letting out a loud chuckle. "Hyne, I remember this one time when Seifer and I were having a 'wrestling match' to see who would get to play with Squall; I don't remember why, but that's not really important anyway. Seifer won, only because he cheated—" Irvine was saying before Seifer, who was offended (or at least pretended to be) broke in saying that he hadn't needed to cheat because Irvine was a wimpy, little..."—anyways, Seifer won, so he got to have Squall play with him. Seifer said he wanted to pretend to be a knight in shining armor, like from the fairy tales that Matron used to read to us, and he needed Squall to be the princess because he was mad at Quistis—I think she told Matron that he had poured mud down Zell's shorts or something—and Selphie kept annoying him. And, apparently, you can't be a knight if there's no princess. I tried to tell him that princesses were supposed to be girls, so Squall couldn't be one, but he wouldn't listen to me. Squall was only like three, so he wasn't really old enough to be offended, I think I was like four and Seifer was five already, but anyway, Seifer even stole Selphie's daisy chain that she'd been making and made Squall wear it as a crown. I was kind of mad at Seifer for it back then, but looking back it's absolutely hilarious," Irvine finally finished, no longer able to control his laughter, which had been threatening to interrupt the story all the way through.

By now, everyone except for Squall (who was bright red with embarrassment) and Seifer (who looked as if he could murder Irvine on the spot; he even reached for his gunblade before disappointedly finding it absent from its usual spot) were overcome by bouts of laughter; Selphie and Zell were rolling around on the ground they were laughing so hard.

"Let me get this straight," Rinoa started after she had some control over her laughter, "Seifer made Squall be his princess? Oh Hyne, that is just so cute!" she practically squealed, before reverting to giggling uncontrollably.

Squall glared at her; how could she possibly think it was cute? It was embarrassing as hell; why in Hyne's name did Irvine have to bring that up? With this thought he shifted his glare to Irvine and if looks could kill, Irvine would have been six feet under.

"Well, Squall looks like a girl; why shouldn't he have been able to be the princess?" Seifer commented, trying to take the heat off of him and make Squall even more embarrassed.

"I don't look like a girl you stupid prick!" Squall yelled angrily. He would have challenged Seifer to a duel, but seeing as neither of them had their gunblades with them, he did the next best thing; he threw Rinoa's plate, unfinished macaroni salad and all, straight at Seifer's smirking face.

The plate hit square on, sticking to Seifer's face and hair before slowly slipping off to land in his lap. His face and front part of his hair was gooey with the macaroni. Everyone was in a state of shock, mouths hanging open, unable to believe that Squall of all people had just done that.

Seifer was the first to recover from the stupor. "That's it, puberty boy, you're going down!" he cried, enraged at the audacity Squall had to mess up not only his immaculate hair, but also his favorite outfit, not to mention his face. With that, he leapt across the picnic cloth and onto Squall.

"Fight! Fight! Fi..." Irvine cried out, before hastily shutting up at the look that the rest of the group (bar Seifer and Squall) was giving him.

Irvine and Zell at Selphie, Rinoa, and Quistis's insistence reluctantly attempted to pull Seifer and Squall apart as Seifer viciously poured vanilla pudding in Squall's hair.

Once the Seifer and Squall had been pulled apart and their appearance was finally noticed—pudding dripping from Squall's hair, macaroni in Seifer's, salad dressing and a couple pieces of lettuce hanging off the front of Squall's tee shirt, grease spots and small pieces of fried chicken marring Seifer's gray pants—everyone (including Seifer and Squall) burst out laughing.

Yep, maybe Squall and Seifer had been friends when they were kids, and still were; they just had an odd way of showing it.

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