Notes: Been tempted to write this for a while. Snarky Rinoa, cool Squall, dominant Seifer. Rrr. Hope it came across well, it's my first attempt at the pairing.

Game, Set, Match

By Almasy

Rinoa studied the line of dead grats proudly, pinwheel swaying loosely in her hand. It had been easy. Her head sang with drawn magic. She wished Squall could have seen her strategy; watched her weakening them with clouds of purple sparkles before knocking out the trio with one spinning toss of her weapon. Squall always appreciated things like that. Seifer preferred seeing her after all of the battling was done; preferably in an accommodating shower.

Stretching her hands over her head, she watched the fallen insects disappear into dust. Yep, life at Balamb Garden was good. She had been training for around eighteen months to become a SeeD, eager to be as professional as the team around her who'd fought to banish Ultimecia. She'd wanted to learn how to protect herself, so that she wouldn't have to rely on Squall. Reliance on men had never done her any good, she mused; her thoughts cast back to General Caraway, her father. Shaking off the memory of herself as an unworldly, naive teen, she concentrated on her progression. This summer she would take the test. Then, she could be just as much the fighter as Squall, and he could stop acting like a mother hen around her.

Sure. Like that would ever happen.

Walking back through the wild shrubbery, she chuckled to herself. Curing Squall of his protectiveness was something she would never be able to do. Ever since the end of the war, and that final battle, Squall had become closer to his friends; more fearful of losing them. With Rinoa, his feelings were bound doubly strong. She was his Sorceress, his girlfriend, and one of his two best friends. It was a masculine, domination kick and it was a childish fear of being left alone, all in one. Seifer, however, was just as bad. Actually, she corrected herself, Seifer was worse. He had the protectiveness and a foul temper to boot, and if anyone so much as laid a finger on Rinoa, the only solution was to chain Seifer down. She had grown used to her boyfriends' irrationalities by countering them with her own independence. More and more nowadays, she admonished them for taking control of her life and sought to iron out the problems she faced by herself. They didn't like it, but she refused to have it otherwise, and slowly, they were easing the pressure. The SeeD training definitely helped, Squall took a disturbing delight in watching her kill things. He'd have really liked seeing those grats eat dirt.

As she exited the Training Centre, she got a full eye view of what appeared to be a very fired-up Seifer Almasy. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to be the sort of fired-up that she'd hoped for, and she prepared herself for the onslaught of his temper.

"Hey." He said, word thick with restraint. She nodded, running a hand through her raven hair and studied him. He looked almost nervous in the midst of his anger, wondering how to explain his thoughts to her. She had a temper to match his, if the occasion so demanded, and he knew that she hated being patronised.

"I heard what Giles said to you." He eventually began, eyes dark and glowing. She resisted the temptation to drag him into the shower and make better use of his energy, and replied smoothly.

"If you'd have been there yourself, you would have heard it first hand." It was a running game between them that Seifer, also training to pass SeeD, was not the most diligent of students. It rarely showed in his marks that his attendance to classes was rare, if it happened at all.

"That's not the point. Why did you let him, that...scrawny little teacher, say that to you?"

"What? 'Rinoa, your fighting technique is the weaker point of your skills; you can't slack off with your weapon simply because you have the command of magic?' Oh, my God, I am so utterly offended. I feel I must kill the rat immediately." Her voice dripped with sarcasm, and her dark eyes glowed with mischief. Standing, pinwheel hanging from the hand on her hip, she laughed throatily. "Seifer, it's alright. I'm a big girl now, I can handle criticism."

"Do you know how insulting that is? How out of place? His talking to you like that; a Sorceress, a war hero! You defeated Ultimecia, Rin; you don't need to take this shit. He should be thanking you, not spitting on you." Seifer's voice began higher, more incredulous, as he struggled to understand his girlfriend's opinion. It wasn't his fault, she realised. He just didn't like to see her castigated after all that she'd been through. He'd escaped serious punishment for his part in the war, that the victorious could be reprimanded at all was a sore subject of guilt and pain for him. Just as she was about to speak up, to soften his wiry temper, she heard a deeper voice filter through the green, leafy surroundings.

"Who's insulted Rin?"

Oh, Hyne, she thought. Squall. Just what we need. Two against one. She pulled off her arm bands as if preparing for battle and stared at the pair of them defiantly. Squall stepped through the heavy bowers in a haze of black and blue; Lionheart glowing in anticipation of grats and T-Rexaurs. His eyes were soft, surrounded by thin bangs of chocolate brown and it took a minute, as it usually did, for her to align the image of him as her lover and as a fighter. Sometimes, he just looked so damn vulnerable.

"Giles," Seifer informed him, before she'd had a chance to diffuse the situation. "He made an ass of her in class."

"Seifer..." Rinoa intoned darkly, sending a sharp look in his direction before returning her gaze to Squall. The softness in his eyes had become steely, and she watched his gloved fingers tensing on the helm of his blade. She sighed. "He gave me some pointers on my weak points, told me how I could improve my game. What's so wrong with that?"

"He shouldn't be!" Seifer interrupted, ignoring a pointed look from Squall. "It's insulting, it's patronising, and you're better than that. You defeated a Sorceress and now some tiny little teacher thinks that he can bring you down? It's bullshit, Rin, and you don't have to take it." His eyes almost saw through her, she imagined, as she felt the familiar warmth of his hot, jade eyes on her. She loved Seifer's heat, his passion, so balanced out by Squall's calm and cool passiveness, but sometimes, she wanted to sink her pinwheel into his skull.

"If I was like this...well, firstly I'd be the most arrogant person alive, but secondly, what would be the point of my training? What he said was what a teacher should say, his instructions were only to make me a better SeeD. If I can't handle that, then I shouldn't be trying to get SeeD. If I were so vain, so conceited, that I couldn't accept some constructive criticism, Gods, Seifer, I'd loathe myself."

After a second's pause wherein she swore she could hear their collective heartbeats, Squall broke the silence with his quiet, authoritative tone. "She's right."

It was often that he played the role of pacifier and judge in the battles between his lovers, but it was rare that he sided with Rinoa over issues about her protection. Both her and Seifer's jaws nearly hit the floor, and she cast him a genuine look of shock.

"What?" He shrugged with the tiniest hint of a smile. "I'd loathe you quite happily if you were as arrogant as Almasy."

"Prick." Seifer spat under his breath, though his eyes began to soften with amusement. He looked at Squall a little longingly, and Rinoa smirked as she recognised the expression on his face. Squall, she knew, would never pick up on the sly glances of lust and it thrilled her that she was able to spot them, fleeting secrets in burning eyes.

"No, she's right. She wants to be taught, so let them teach her." He finished, almost with the expectation of closing the matter. He looked anxious to go and practice, and she couldn't blame him. He was a fighter himself, always aiming to improve his technique and hone his skills. His comprehension of her situation made sense, she realised, as she glanced over the cold flickering of his glowing blade.

"Thank you, Squall." She said wryly, grinning slyly at Seifer, who glowered and made a sulking face. "I'm glad someone around here can tell the difference between helpful and insulting. And Seif, you really should hear what Giles says about *you*, if you think he offended me." With a wink, she patted him on the shoulder and headed for the shower. Let those two work off their male pride, she thought. There was only so much testosterone she could take.

"He pulls a stunt like that again, though," Squall added as an afterthought. "And he'll have to talk around a gunblade."

Still walking, she waved a hand dismissively at her lover. "If the pair of you want to be without a girlfriend, you go ahead and be the cavemen. That's fine by me. There's plenty of men around here who could use a bit of my magic, if you know what I mean."

She could almost see them glancing warily at one another, sussing out the seriousness of her threat, Squall blinking and Seifer glaring. The sudden rush of footsteps didn't surprise her, and nor did Seifer's moving her against the wall of the Training Centre as Squall sandwiched her between them both.

"What magic would that be, Princess?" Seifer whispered huskily, a slow smirk spreading across his face.

"Who says I'm telling you?" She smiled back sweetly, knowing that the game was under her control now and that Seifer was no match for her. She was immune to his pestering, his sulking and his teasing, all too aware that he was more obvious in his need than she was in hers. She usually had the upper hand, and she relished it.

"But these poor, humble, and so very, very sorry Knights want to know." Squall interrupted, his speech uncharacteristic for anyone's ears but for his lovers', Seifer and Rinoa being all too familiar with Squall's submission to them both. Once in the mood, he was distinctly stubborn and would employ most methods of getting them into bed. Even begging. Her eyes flickered at the sensation of Seifer running his lips over her shoulders and the back of her neck and then she looked at Squall, whose eyes hungered, practice forgotten. One of his hands worked against her stomach, drawing soft lines down her side, tickling sensitive spots whilst the other arm surrounded her, touching Seifer. Wanting. She grinned at him.

"You'll have to fight me for it."

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