Knight of Sunset Chapter 2
Enjoy the little things,
for one day you may look back
and realize they were the big things.
- Robert Brault
Together they walked a quarter mile, neither speaking a word. There is always a solace within the comfort of silence. The journey in itself was a good hour walk, and Quistis loved the time alone, but at present, she loved the time in his company. Today's journey proved slightly more difficult, as the humidity made it almost impossible for her clothes to dry. Not to mention, she sadly lost her shoes when he tossed her in the water. However, she didn't care. Right now, she was grateful for the opportunity to help one of her former students; moreover, someone she believed to be part of her family.
The sun had now started to fall, but the colors on the horizon remained vibrant.
"She told me that the past could be changed," he spoke quietly, embarrassment in his voice. "I actually believed her. Maybe next time I would have passed the exam, and been somebody not the screw-up that everyone thought."
It was a question she wanted to ask, but never expected an answer from. Seifer Almasy voluntary, without coercion, tried to explain his actions and what led him to the decision. One that would forever haunt him, and those whose lives he touched.
"Seifer we never thought you were a screw-up. Yes, you did have behavioral problems, but maybe, I was just too busy to see what was really bothering you. I blame myself."
Shaking his head, she could tell he was upset. The man placed his right hand to his forehead, a sound between a laugh and an angry sigh escaped his lips.
"Geez Is that all you think about, what you could have done? Let me tell you, I don't think you could've done anything for me back then. The choice was mine; I made it. I set myself up for the fall, but falling was the only thing that could bring me back down. I needed the failure hell; it was the one thing I was good at."
Now she was the one to remain silent. The tide had been rising steadily for the duration, and now what used to be over her toes now covered her ankles. She saw a hill up ahead, and the grassy side it offered. Silently she led him to the knoll, and he followed without question. The dirt mixed with her wet feet creating a mud, which now coated her toes. As she sat down, Quistis attempted to brush what new formed mud she could off her skin. Never looking at him, she tried her best to comfort him using only her words.
"Seifer, you were good at several things at Garden. Please don't say that. You were are still one of the best Gunblade specialists that Garden has trained."
"Yeah but I came in second to Leonhart. Even if I beat him I always was second, to the instructors, to fellow students to you. Always."
"Seifer, you know that is not true. I looked upon you as equals; you two were the best students I ever had I might have favored him a little more, but that was my problem. I lost my teaching credentials because of it."
"Favored him a little more? That is like saying a Ruby Dragon is a little more difficult to fight than a bite bug... a dead bite bug even."
She had to laugh at his analogy. Unfortunately, it was true. She pulled out a scarlet barrette from her pocket, managing to gather long strands of hair up. Again, her hairstyle was the way he remembered, the unique way Quistis Trepe had of wearing it, something that only belonged to her. Sighing outwardly, she closed her eyes, feeling the warmth of the setting sun upon her face.
"They're engaged. It was just announced today."
Watching her face as it glistened with sweat and rays from the sun, his heart reached out for her. He knew the feeling of failure not that she failed. However, it wasn't the engagement; it was the loneliness that dismayed her. Seifer Almasy completely understood her unease.
"Quistis you're not upset they're getting married, are you? You're upset because it only makes you feel that much more alone. Everybody has found someone but you and the one person you thought would never be in a stable relationship is, and from what you can tell it's perfect."
Damn him again.
How could she have not seen how similar they were before? Not only had he said it better than she ever could, he could sympathize the feelings, not only empathize.
"Well, I can tell you as a fact it's not perfect," she tried to say jokingly, although it came up flat. "But yeah I mean its Squall Leonhart for Hynes sake... the guy who never went on a date in his life. For him love just walked in a cream-colored dress, and pointed to the stars. But those of us who were trying we weren't so lucky."
"Maybe you were trying too hard and never stopped to look in front of you," he said looking deep into her eyes. Realizing he was technically 'in front of her' right now, Seifer desperately wished that he could retract that statement. Moving his fingers across his scar, he turned away uncomfortable.
"Ah I have no idea what I meant, could we pretend I didn't say that."
For the first time since Seifer chanced upon her, the instructor felt awkward again. Not the fear from earlier, but a strange sense of uneasiness. From how personal their conversation was getting. Contrary to belief, Quistis Trepe was not the type to show outward emotion; except on rare occasions. She tried to cover up his obvious embarrassment by writing it off as a joke although the words haunted her.
"Pretend you didn't say what?" the instructor teased smiling at him. "Nice job Quistis," she thought, "make yourself look like a total idiot."
"Ah yeah. So I guess that's what you're doing out here by yourself Instructor? Don't you know it's not safe to be out here alone? You never know the kind of riff-raff you might run into."
"I'm a big girl Seifer, I'll take my chances. But yeah I just needed to get away from everyone for a while. Just time by myself, not to be who they think I am whether it is the instructor, the Trepies focus of worship, or the happy bridesmaid."
"So who are you right now?" he asked hesitation in his voice.
She thought about the question for a moment. No answer really popped clearly into her head. Therefore, that would only leave the obvious choice.
Smiling at him in content, she said, "I'm Quistis Trepe."
For it was true. Right now she wasn't hiding behind masks and facades she was just being her. Something she couldn't remember doing around another living soul in a long time.
"So, Quistis Trepe, you really think they aren't going to kill me on sight?"
Laughing aloud she answered, "I never said that I'm pretty sure you'll be toast for a while. But, they're your family. Everyone makes mistakes; they will forgive you in time. The first step is to ask forgiveness, without that, you will always be an outsider. You will fit in again, and it will be like old times."
"I don't remember going to many family functions that involved sacrificing family members," he replied acting light-hearted over the past mistakes. "Hey, look it's time to sacrifice Aunt Rinoa onto the barbeque fire then viciously challenge Uncle Squall to a gunblade duel over the last of the potato salad."
"Hey," Quistis laughed. "Actually I went to a few family outings that ended up like that. That might have been one of the better scenarios."
"Family?" he questioned. Then hoped he hadn't offended her with the tone in his voice.
"My adoptive family the Trepe's. Things really didn't work out there; it was only a matter of time before I ended up at Garden."
In all his memories, he never thought about the two of the orphanage gang who had been adopted. Zell and Quistis had another family, if not by blood, that the others could never claim.
"Oh sorry I forgot about that. Do you still keep in contact with them?"
"Sometimes," she tried hard not to let tears come to her eyes. "I think that was my greatest failure I felt like I wasn't good enough for them. By that time, I was older, and they had really wanted a baby I just came with a lot of emotional baggage they couldn't handle. Don't get me wrong, I love them for trying but I found my real family. You er the ones from Matrons. I could never ask for anything more."
"I ruined it, didn't I? Everyone was happy before I came into the picture?"
Turning to him, she put her hand on his cheek, making him look her in the eye.
"You didn't ruin anything. It was time, fate, and circumstance. No one action destroyed anything, no one action saved anything."
Their eyes locked. Quistis couldn't help the smile on her face, or noticing the contact of their skin. It seemed so foreign, yet so familiar. His eyes looked deep within her soul, and she could feel a chill in the hot August air.
"Instructor, do you remember the time I kissed you?"
Her eyes widened, and a sudden apprehension took over. Nowhere in her memory had she ever kissed Seifer Almasy, she was sure that would register. Chuckling at the fear in her reaction, he had to help her out of this situation. Feeling her body tense, she looked more the frightened child.
"Seifer I never "
Cutting her off he smiled, "Yes, you did. It was one of the memories, which surfaced later. We were at the orphanage, before Sis left, and playing hide and seek. You and I both managed to go behind the wood shed, and hid in the tall grass. Selphie was trying to find us, but Irvine kept pulling on her skirt so she ended up chasing him around screaming. So, that left you and me."
Reaching back into the depths of her mind, she pictured the scenario. He was right. She remembered him leaning over and kissing her quickly. Her eyes were shocked at the action; they were all but four years old. Then it came back.
"I I slapped you afterward, and then you pulled one of my pigtails we both got in big trouble. But, neither of us would say what started it. We were both too embarrassed," she said her cheeks blushing.
"Yeah didn't want the other guys thinking I was 'uncool' cuz I kissed a girl; you didn't want the girls to think you had 'boy cooties' so it was our secret forever."
"Forever," she replied remembering their pact. "We said it was our secret forever and swore if we told, the other one would have to eat worms."
"I still have never needed to eat a worm to this day," he said smugly. "You?"
"No," she whispered. "But I remember now. It wasn't because I thought you had cooties. It was because I thought you were really cute, and didn't want the others finding out that I liked...."
His eyes lingered on her a little bit longer before closing to a smaller distance between them.
"Quistis, tell you a secret. I did it, because I thought you were cute."
With those words, he filled the last centimeters as their lips touched for the first time in fifteen years.
Something in the kiss seemed familiar, yet unknown. It was not one of great length, but its importance would signify more than either could know
Quistis was the first one to break away. "Seifer, I can't do this it's just too sudden. I I don't know how I feel, you don't know how you feel let's just ."
"I'll wait," he said looking into her eyes.
Standing up, he offered her a hand. "Come on it's getting dark. We have a Garden to crash."
Accepting it his arm, she gracefully stood up. A look of mutual understanding passed between them it was too soon. But, not all together impossible.
"Hey Quistis," he said playfully. "Thanks for not slapping me this time."