Azure eyes were focused off at something in the distance; focused, as
though taking aim to snipe off some pitiful animal. But he had
definitely said my name. "What?" I asked with the same lack of
emotion he had said my name with.
His gaze flicked back to focus on me, freshly playful. "What do you
think? Roses or lilies for my date tonight?"
"I don't know," I muttered dourly, narrowing my eyes. "Get your
dating advice from somebody with more experience and quit wasting my
"Aw, c'mon! At least choose one of the two!" he prodded, throwing an
arm around my shoulders and smiling warmly. "Pretty please?"
"Lilies and a breath mint," I ground out, tension rippling across the
muscles in my back and arms.
Irvine blinked, drew back, and breathed into the palm of his hand.
"Hm. No onions on the hamburgers beforehand, I'll keep that in mind."
He grinned again and winked at me. "Thanks, Squall. See ya!"
I watched him salute his goodbye with his thumb and index finger
pointed out like a gun before he turned away and strode back out of my
office, slipping his hands into the leather chaps over his jeans and
pulling both the leather and denim tighter over his body - particularly,
the back of it, which I was catching full view of now.
My gaze immediately returned to the book in my hand, but no matter how
many times I read the same sentence over again it wouldn't sink in,
and I couldn't move on to the next one. Something about chemicals on
I looked up from the book, thankful for the distraction from my own
thoughts though my expression remained blank. "What is it?"
"Ms. Rinoa is here to see you."
Short, strawberry-blonde hair tied back in pigtails, large round
glasses, and innocent green eyes. The girl was an eager student but a
horrible assistant. "I asked for no interruptions while I studied,
Meryl," I said quietly. I was probably angrier than I looked, but
everyone always says I look angrier than I ever am, so the frightened
and apologetic expression on her face didn't surprise me.
She fidgeted with the cuffs of her uniform and looked at her feet. "I
know sir, but - Mr. Kinneas and Ms. Rinoa both said it was very
important. Oh! And I brought Mr. Kinneas the drink he asked for -
ohh, but I left it in my office! Pooh!" She suddenly blinked and
looked around. "Eh? Where'd Mr. Kinneas go?"
A sigh escaped my lips. "He left. Don't worry about him. Where's Rinoa?"
"In my office, seated - oh, no! I forgot to offer her a drink! Does
she like coffee?" Meryl bit her lip and appeared very much to be a
worried mother. "But young women these days don't drink coffee,
right? I can offer her tea - or Whiskey like Mr. Kinneas wanted! You
think she'd mind that it was already poured with him in mind? - Or
maybe I can just dump that one out and pour her a fresh one. Does she
like ice -?"
"Yes!" she squeaked.
"Show Rinoa in. Stop worrying about the drinks, and just go back to
your office," I said in the same quiet demeanour, as she released the
death-grip on her sleeves and nodded with a smile.
"Yes, Instructor Leonheart!" she smiled, bowing quickly before leaving.
The room was silent for several minutes as I cleared my head and put
the book back on the shelf. Several more minutes passed and a sigh
escaped me as I took a seat at the heavy oak desk and began to look
over several papers from my last class.
Knowing Meryl, she was keeping Rinoa busy with quick, chipper chatter
and offers of everything under the sun from beverages to tiny
appetizer cakes she kept in my office refrigerator for just such an
Which happened several times a day.
Which annoyed the hell out of me.
I had plenty of time to kill, at least. I sat back in the chair and
looked through the reports. Fail, fail, fail - pass? One eyebrow
arched slowly as I read the name on the paper. Meryl, of course. No
matter how hard the exams, no matter how difficult the tests, she
always passed with flying colours.
I just wished sometimes that she'd have as much finesse with reality
as she did with battles and strategy.
Rinoa slammed the door to my office behind her, and I heard her roar
of outrage through the heavy wood before she marched through Meryl's
office and slammed her door too.
I stared at the ceiling, leaning further back in my chair and lacing
my fingers together over my stomach. A few rogue locks of hair fell
before my gaze, and I blew them out of the way in annoyance as actual
anger brought my eyebrows together in a deep frown, rather than the
apathetic expression I had been giving Rinoa through her entire rant.
What the hell did she want from me?
More time, more time, that's all she ever came to me for any more.
We need to spend more time together, Squall. We need to be alone
with each other more, Squall. You love your job and your students
more than me, Squall.
I didn't have more time to give her; the time I spend in the Academy
was already too much, and the constant headaches were getting worse.
More time, more time! Fuck. There was no way I'd quit my job; as
much as it stressed me sometimes, it was one of the few things that I
Well, there were some things I'd change.
There was a knock at the door, and I took a slow, calming breath,
relaxing the muscles in my face until it appeared apathetic once more.
The door opened just a little, and I saw a small, freckled, slightly
upturned nose peek through the doors. "Instructor Leonheart?" Meryl
whispered nervously. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," I replied casually, sitting up as she opened the door all
the way and stood in the entrance, biting her lower lip. "Have you
printed out the papers I asked you to?"
She smiled warmly. "Yes! And I hole-punched them and stapled them,
too!" A blush of happiness warmed her cheeks as she held up her hand
and whispered, "And I know you didn't ask me to, but I also organized
all the files from the -"
Meryl squeaked and dropped the stack of papers she'd been holding, and
Irvine halted his mad dash into my office beside her, crouching down
and helping her scoop up the mess quickly before straightening the
stack and handing it to her.
"Sorry bout that, missy," he said warmly, winking and touching the tip
of her nose with his finger. "Didn't mean to frighten ya."
Meryl blushed madly and nodded with another quiet squeak before
turning and heading back into her own office, closing the doors behind
Irvine grinned and strode over to my desk, leaning forward and placing
his palms flat on top of my student's papers, preventing me from
picking them up and doing any actual work today. "She's cute,"
"She's seventeen," I replied flatly. "And you're dating someone right
now. What do you want this time?"
"The lilies. What colour should they be?" he grinned, staring at me
maliciously and knowing for a fact that he was wasting my time.
"I'm going to tell you where to put those lilies if you don't stop
bothering me during work hours," I growled, leaning forward and
staring at him dangerously.
"I can't help it," he replied, still smiling as he pulled his hat off
his head and held it to his chest, as though pledging a solemn vow.
Several auburn locks fell in front of his face as he breathed, "I've
been looking forward to this date for weeks. Just thinking about it
makes me har--"
"Kinneas, if you finish that sentence in this office, I'll see to it
that you're never permitted in this wing of the Academy again," I
He sighed and lifted his hat, dropping it on his head and slipping his
thumbs into his belt loops. "Fine, fine. You're so uptight about my
date." He leered, "Are you jealous?"
"No," I replied immediately.
His eyebrows arched. "You're even snippier than when I left you a few
hours ago. Did Rinoa come to see you again or something?"
"-Yes," I muttered, a defeated sigh escaping me as Irvine's smile faded.
He took a seat on my desk and crossed his arms. His lips parted as
though he were going to say something, but he shook his head and
closed his mouth, looking at me soulfully. I wanted to punch him in
the jaw. My relationship with her was none of his business, no matter
how much of it he knew.
Damn cowboy always seemed to be able to nose his way into my affairs
and find out the things I didn't want anybody knowing. And the worst
part was, he knew what I was going through; Selphie had been the same
way before she'd finally broken up with him, and it had been hell on
him both before and after it was over.
Now, months later, he was back to being the same Irvine, always on the prowl.
And in my goddamn office, on my goddamn desk, talking about date this
and date that any time he had a date with his latest special someone.
"Hey Squall," he finally said, smiling at me over his shoulder.
"Cheer up, man." He blew me a kiss, and I pretended not to notice,
though I'm sure he could see the heat I could feel in my cheeks, even
though I was frowning fiercely and staring down at my tensed hands.
Irvine stood and dusted off the back of his jeans before me, drawing
attention to the tight cloth hugging his body once more before he
shrugged and headed towards the doors. He opened them, looked back at
me with his wild smile renewed, and closed them with a tip of his hat
my way. "Later!"
I growled audibly before composing myself and straightening my
clothes, then the papers Irvine had mussed up. I marked them quickly
and placed them in the outbox where I'd grab them tomorrow before
class, and organized everything I needed to have for tomorrow's
training as well.
There was no way in hell I was going to finish the work I had hoped to
today, and I reasoned that if I budgeted my time well tomorrow
morning, I'd be able to finish it before first class.
If Meryl didn't happen to accidentally shred my papers again.
If Irvine decided not to come into my office and brag about the
night's adventures to me.
If Rinoa didn't come and yell at me once more about the way our
relationship wasn't working.
I wanted to blame the first two for all my tension, but they were only
small tinder on the flames compared to the tension Rinoa gave me every
few days. With a defeated sigh, I turned off the lights in the office
and opened the doors, locking them behind me.
"Oh? You're done for the day, Instructor Leonheart?" Meryl asked in
surprise, tilting her head to the side as she looked up from her
"Yes. You can go home whenever you like; good work today Meryl," I
said as gently as possible while tension riddled my body and soul.
She smiled and nodded. "Have a good night!" she called as I left her
office and headed down the hall to my quarters.
Looking down at a strange noise, my expression became grave as I saw
what I'd stepped on upon entering my quarters. A letter.
Just like all the other letters she left after a fight, shoving them
under my door and running off to cry somewhere.
"Shit," I muttered, bending down and picking it up, walking into the
room and dropping my jacket over a chair and taking a seat on the bed.
I stared hard at the letter for several seconds, debating simply
throwing it out, but I knew there'd be a quiz on it later by Rinoa
herself, asking whether I'd read it or not and what I'd learned from
I pulled apart the folds and skimmed through the sentences. Bastard,
asshole, waste of her time, annoyance, no good for her, not the same
any more, growing cold, growing apart -
I tossed the paper into the trash and lay back on the bed, closing my
eyes and letting the day's few accomplishments drift over me,
double-checking it all in my mind and trying to remember if there was
anything I could have possibly forgotten to look after.
I was tired, so tired of her; tired of the one-sided fights and the
letters, tired of the insults thrown my way.
At first work really had been the reason I couldn't spend as much time
with her, after the large promotion to Senior Instructor. But as soon
as that happened, I got to see a side of Rinoa I didn't like - bitter,
And it overpowered what I had liked about her in the first place by tenfold.
My bedroom door opened and closed, and I heard the click of the lock,
sealing out the world from the two of us. I prepared for the sound of
shattering glass, or her soft sobs, squeezing my eyes shut and hoping
that it wouldn't take too long. My head was throbbing, and my temper
was growing shorter by the minute.
A set of hands settled heavily on my shoulders, and my eyes snapped
open at an odd scent wafting around me.
"I brought you lilies," Irvine whispered with a smile, his eyes
dancing with delight as he straddled my hips and sat on them, pinning
my shoulders to the bed and tossing the bouquet above my head.
"You're early, you basta--" I didn't get to finish my sentence as he
leaned forward and crushed his mouth against mine, and when I parted
my lips to protest, his tongue filled my mouth immediately.
A deep blush crossed my face as his hands slid down my arms and found
my palms, skimming across them until his fingers laced with mine,
keeping me from fighting back.
He shifted his body so that his thigh moved between my legs, and he
began to grind it against my groin slowly through the cloth of my
uniform pants with those damn leather chaps.
A moan escaped me before I could quell it, and he finally drew away
from the kiss, looking down at me with that same wide smile. "Sorry,"
he breathed, winking. "I was too eager for my date - I couldn't wait