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Back to Balamb
Chapter 13 - Seifer Visits Balamb
I walked around Balamb, idly window-shopping while keeping an eye out for Squall. I had already stopped by Zell's house. He had told me that Squall was probably at a bar already. He went on, telling me about Squall's nights at clubs. About Squall's drinking and promiscuity when he was an emotional wreck. Ending his speech saying, "Find him, Seifer. Please."
I had already checked all the local bars and open clubs. *Shit. Where is he?* I was worried. I didn't know what he was going to do after last night and this morning. *Looks like you've royally fucked everything up again, Almasy.* Guilt formed in a cold, hard ball in my stomach. I looked around anxiously, trying hard to fit in with the other afternoon shoppers. *If I was Squall and feeling shitty, where would I be? What would I be doing? Besides drinking or getting stoned.* I looked around. A piercing shop caught my eye. "Tiffany's Drill and Fill," I read aloud. The name intrigued me. *Hmm, sounds kinky.* I sighed. "Well, I've been here two hours. May as well go back to Garden with something to show from my shopping." I walked up to the shop and opened the door. A little bell tinkled.
"Hang on!" A feminine voice called from a back room. I quickly adjusted to the incense-laden air and dimness, and I began looking in the cases. A short, leather-clad woman with berry-red hair entered, ankle-high black boots clicking on the wood floor. She looked me up and down. "You're a newcomer. Welcome." She smiled and held out a hand. "I'm Tiffany." I smiled back, and shook her hand. "As in 'Tiffany's Drill and Fill.' How'd you come up with that name, anyway?"
"I was high," she said flippantly, still gently grasping my hand. "What are you interested in today? Earrings, chains, or a tattoo? Maybe something a bit more," She cocked a ringed eyebrow, "Uplifting?"
*There's a blatant hint that she's selling more than just jewelry.* "Nah, I just came in to look at earrings."
"What's your name, handsome?" she asked, releasing my hand. "You seem familiar. Someone from the news, maybe…" She furrowed her forehead. I could tell she didn't remember and wasn't just being coy. You kinda learn these things when you've been broadcasted as a mass murderer and baby-raper and whatever else they decided to blame me with.
I considered telling her my name was Kevin Trepe, and that she must be mistaken. *But I like her.* "My name is Seifer Almasy." I turned back to the case I had been studying. *And now for the inevitable question…'The Sorceress' Knight?!'*
"Ah, yes, the Sorceress' Knight." She said this with satisfaction and a hint of amusement.
I turned back to her, impressed and wary. "Yes I am," I answered, even though she had stated the title instead of asking it. She stood there looking a little puzzled. "What?" I was too tired to snap the question.
"You don't seem capable of such… evil." Tiffany responded softly, still puzzled.
"I was under the Sorceress Ultimecia's control for most of it," I said. *What is with this chick?*
"Ah. That explains it." She nodded and her smile returned. "Looking for something in particular?"
I shook my head. "Nope. Just my friend."
"What friend is that?" She was pretending to hide her amusement.
Now I wrinkled my forehead. "My friend Squall. Twenty years old, dark hair, always scowling, has a scar on his forehead." She knew Squall, probably had just talked to him. If I didn't like her, I'd think she was keeping him hostage. *Or… in bondage.* I couldn't help it. I laughed, despite my worry. "Where is he?" I mock-growled.
I didn't faze her. "In the back room, drinking coffee. Go on back," she said. I was already on my way.
"Squall?" Seifer stepped through the black velvet curtain separating the back room from the store.
"Seifer! What are you doing here?" I jumped out of my seat, barely preventing my coffee from splashing.
"Looking for you." He walked into the room, looking at the tattooing equipment Tiff had set up. "Nice," He nodded approvingly. "I like her, y'know."
"Who, Tiff?" *Weird conversation. He barges in here obviously worried about me, and now is acting normal.* It *was* an act.
"Yup. What does she do, read auras or something?" He wasn't serious about auras, but he was curious.
I laughed, trying to imagine Tiff spouting off about someone's aura while circling them in her black boots and favorite leopard-print miniskirt. "No, she's just good at figuring out personalities by how a person moves and talks. She's amazing. I've never seen her proven wrong." I stopped, looking at Seifer. He was staring at me. I looked down at myself. *Did I actually spill coffee on me or something?* Nope. *Probably the outfit.* I silently cheered, feeling tingles running down my back. *He's staring like he's never seen me before.* "What?" I wanted to tease him a bit.
"Uh, unusual clothing for you."
I shrugged. "Not really. You wouldn't know, would you?" *Fuck! I didn't mean to sound like a prick!* "Sorry! I didn't mean it like that!" Too late. I saw the hurt look in his eyes before he turned.
"Need a ride back to Balamb?"
Seifer nodded and went back out the curtain. I set my mug down on the counter and followed. He continued walking and waited outside the shop's door. "Thanks, Tiff," I wrapped my arms around her.
"That last comment wasn't very nice."
I winced. "I know." She pulled away and looked at me, gently trailing a finger down the scar Seifer made.
"He's a good man," she said softly. "Deep inside. And afraid. Just like you. Tell him." She finished firmly.
"Does he care about me?" I needed to know.
"You know he cares. Does he love you? You need to discover that for yourself." I searched her face. *Damn. She knows how to hide what you're looking for.* I sighed.
"Thanks, Tiff. See ya later." I gave her a kiss on her cheek. "Love ya."
"Love ya, too." We waved as I walked out.
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