Notes: Ahh! I've been away. What have I missed? Hm.. well, this is the prologue to my new FF8 fic. It's really more a teaser than a prologue, it's so damned short. No magic. No weird stuff. Just the team dealing with everything after Ultimecia's been gone for awhile. Don't let the pairing throw you off. It's a challenge, but I'll try my best to make it believable.
Dedicated to: Mike. With his beautiful shining soul, and his sad eyes. Never stop believing in the good, Mike. It's somewhere, even if we can't see it sometimes.
Warnings: Nothing special. No gore. No pointless angst. I only do mild angst. No males being pregnant. None of that. Just a real look, at characters who should have been real. Oh wait, there is a warning for yaoi fans. There are het pairings in this fic. If that grosses you out, deal with it. No smut. Unless Mike asks for it.
Chapter One - reunion
FIVE years seemed like a long time, but really it wasn't. "Are they all coming?" He looked to the woman standing beside him. Her dirty blonde hair was pulled up in the bun he remembered so well. She had changed very little in the last five years. She was a little heavier, her smile was more frequent and true, but other then that she was the same Quistis Trepe she had been when they fought together to defeat Ultimecia.
Quistis nodded, her eyes scanning the room, "Yes, they should all be here. The only one we weren't able to reach was Seifer." She turned her gaze onto Squall, a small smile tilted her lips, "But Raijin was pretty sure he could find him."
Squall nodded, running his fingers through his hair. When he dropped his hand his hair was sticking out in odd little spikes. Quistis saw this and smiled, reaching out to smooth her fingers over the spikes, tidying his hair. He watched her, captivated by the tiny frown that marred her brow as she focused on what she was doing. "There." She patted his hair one last time then moved back.
She met his gaze, mildly surprised to find him staring at her so intently. She didn't look away, instead she stared right back until finally he turned his head and the contact was broken. //What was that all about?// She wondered, rubbing her hands down her skirt.
"Zell." Squall said quietly, a small smile tilting his lips. The hyper, energetic blond was just now entering the hall. Squall watched as Zell stepped into the door, looked around, spotted them and started to wave like a mad man.
"What is he wearing?"
Not his typical sufter outfit, as Squall liked to think of it as. Instead Zell was wearing, of all things, a suit. A plain black suit. Mind you, the shirt was not buttoned all the way and the tie hung loose, but it was a suit nonetheless. "I never thought I'd see the day." Quistis laughed softly as Zell ran over to them.
He was still essentially the same, like Quistis. His spikey blond hair was up in the same style. The tattoo on his cheek stood out just as vividly as it did before. Or maybe more so? Squall frowned a little as Zell jumped into Quistis' arms and gave her a hard hug. His eyes ran over Zell's extremely thin body. If he didn't know it wasn't plausible, he'd say Zell hadn't eaten since the group disbanded five years ago. Zell pulled back from the bone crushing hug he'd just subjected Quistis to. His eyes were shining with joyful tears. "You look great Instructor!"
"Zell, please," Quistis laughed lightly, "I am -not- your instructor."
"Ah, hell. You should have been! And a guy can dream, can't he?"
Squall waited, expecting some sort of boisterous greeting from Zell. What he got, was a little anti-climatic. Zell glanced over at Squall, nodded with a little smile, muttered; hi, and returned his attention to Quistis. Squall stared, surprised and more than a little bothered by that odd greeting. Zell had always been a bundle of energy with everyone, especially him. Always following him around, begging to see his gunblade. This Zell, the one who ignored Squall completely, was hard to accept or come to terms with.
Quistis seemed to notice Squall's discomfort. She glanced over Zell's head. Their eyes met and a wealth of understanding passed between the two. His eyes said; Something is wrong with him. Her eyes answered; I don't know. "So what have you been doing Instructor!?" He asked, sounding like the exciting little bundle of nerves he normally was.
Quistis shook her head, smiling, "I've been working as editor of a magazine that runs independantly in Esthar."
"Independantly? Like, no ads and junk?"
Quistis looked mildly baffled but she nodded, "Well, yes, I suppose."
"Cool. What's it called? Where can I get it?"
"ZELL!! QUISTY!! SQUALL!!!"
The loud scream made them all turn their eyes to the entrance where Selphie had just busted in. She was wearing the same awful yellow dress she had worn before. She waved her arms wildly, then started to run toward them. Unfortunately she was no more aware of her surroundings then she had been at seventeen and she ended up running into a poor waiter. They both crashed to the floor, the tray of wine glasses the waiter had been carrying flew through the air and landed, every last one smashing on the hard tiled floor.
Zell and Quistis winced, "Ouch." Quistis murmured, moving away from Zell and hurrying over to help Selphie.
"And everyone calls me the airhead." Zell muttered with a goofy grin. He placed his hands on his hips, watching as Quistis helped Selphie stand.
"How have you been?" Squall took the opportunity to question Zell.
Zell glanced at Squall, smirked and shrugged. "Fine." And before Squall could say anything further Zell had moved away. Squall watched with a deep frown as Zell hugged Selphie and helped Quistis wipe the glass carefully from the back of Selphie's outfit.
Zell was acting extremely cagey and it was starting to really prick Squall's nerves. The hall was soon starting to fill with noise. Selphie was loud as always, and she, Zell, and Quistis were soon talking amongst themselves. Squall could have joined them, but he preferred to stand back and just watch them for the moment. Or more specifically watch Zell, who was really bugging him.
"What do you mean the party started without me? The party can't start without me. I -am- the party!"
"IRVINE!" Selphie ran into the cowboy's arms, squealing with joy.
Squall watched, smiling. Irvine, out of all the others, had been the one person who irritated him the most. But by the time Ultimecia had been defeated he had learned to respect the sharpshooter, and understand him. He walked over, taking his turn shaking Irvine's hand, a little surprised when Irvine gave him a loose hug. Irvine, as usual, smelt of cigarettes, gunpowder and mint. Irvine patted Squall's back as he pulled away from the hug, "Nice to see you, leader man."
Irvine turned to Quistis, giving her a hug also, then finally to Zell. The little blond laughed and backed up a few steps, "Nu uh! No hugs. I don't swing that way."
Irvine laughed, growling and pouncing on Zell, forcing the smaller man to give him a hug. "We're old buddies, Zell! Quit being such a homophob."
Neither noticed the curious tension that had come over Squall at their teasing. Quistis did though, and she reached out, placing her hand on his elbow and giving him a smile when he looked at her. He nodded, understanding what she was trying to tell him. Zell lightly punched Irvine as they broke apart, "Damn.." he was blushing, and Squall was left to wonder why. Surely an innocent hug wasn't enough to make a man blush?
Now the chatter was very excited as the old friends caught up with things, Squall stayed out of it. He preferred to watch and listen than to try and make himself heard. Out of them all, he was the only one who was still with SeeD. He was mildly surprised to hear that, but said nothing. Instead he listened as Zell spoke of his job as a sports consultant, Selphie spoke of her job as a model (of all thing), and Irvine shared the shocking news that he was a male stripper, and a highly sought after one at that. Quistis was the most shocked by this news, but really it made sense. Irvine was the type who would love that kind of attention and he certainly wasn't shy about his body or sexuality.
Really, the job that surprised Squall the most was Selphie and her modelling. She hardly seemed the type to sit still long enough for that type of work, but she had brought a magazine to prove it, pointing out her picture in an ad for teen clothing. Apparantly after helping Trabia Selphie had gotten bored of life as a SeeD, so she quite and became a model. After being persuaded by her boyfriend at the time. After much prodding from Irvine she admitted she'd had at least seven different boyfriends in the last five years.
The next to arrive was Rinoa, soon after Raijin and Fuijin made their appearance. Side by side as always. Matron Edea and Headmaster Cid showed up a few hours later and finally a familiar blond stepped into the hall. No one noticed him at first, too busy with catching up and talking. It was Irvine who first noticed the ex-knight. He glanced up, heart stopping when he saw Seifer in the doorway. Seifer looked every bit as handsome and formidable as he had when they last saw him. Irvine nudged Selphie and she glanced at the door, squealing when she saw Seifer.
She greeted him like she greeted all the others. With excitement and a huge hug. Soon everyone filtered over to greet Seifer. Only two stayed back, Squall and Rinoa. "You haven't seen him?" Squall murmured as they watched everyone greeting Seifer.
"No... yes." Rinoa whispered. She glanced up at him, "He comes to me every weekend.." She smiled a little, "Squall..."
He looked down at her with surprise, "Every weekend?"
She nodded, "Yes. We... yes." She seemed to want to tell him more.
Before he could say anything else the group was back upon them. He reached out, shaking Seifer's hand and saying a rather reserved hello. Seifer smiled at him, but his eyes were soon on Rinoa. They didn't say hello, but Squall saw something in the look they gave each other that made him believe what she'd just told him. The silent communication and instant chemistry he sensed between the two was evidence of a relationship. One that wasn't five years estranged, rather one that was five years old.
Soon the reunion was in full swing, and his worries were put aside for the moment. There was time to figure things out later. Now was the time for meeting old friends, not figuring out old mysteries.
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