Raijin jogged forward with his usual easy lope as I entered Balamb Garden. I came to a stop just inside. He halted in front of me to put his hands on his hips, breathing deeply.
I watched him with a raised eyebrow. "WIMP."
"Gimme a break, Fujin." huff puff "It's not like we need to train every day anymore, ya know?" puff puff "We're at peace, ya know?"
"Yeah. Yeah. Ready for anything." Raijin straightened and gestured back toward Garden. "Seifer wants a report, like, yesterday, ya know?"
I strode past.
Raijin picked up the pace to walk beside me. "So what're ya all gung-ho about anyway?"
I clenched my jaw and sent him a sidelong glare.
He raised his hands, eyes wide. "Okay, okay. I won't ask. I just thought I should know. We're a posse, ya know? We don't keep no secrets from each other, ya know?"
I looked away again. "DUTY."
"Ya, well, I'm on security too, ya know? I should know."
I halted and faced him, grabbing his shirt front. "STOP."
Raijin struggled with my hold on his shirt. "Okay, okay, Fujin. I'll stop bitchin'."
I pushed him away and strode forward again.
"Why're you in such a bitchy mood?"
My sidelong glare flashed.
He backed off, hands raised. "Sorry."
I looked away again. "GO."
"Okay, Fujin. I'll tell Seifer you're on your way." He jogged ahead.
I scoffed and continued forward. At times like these I wondered why I put up with his lax attitude and minimal amount of discipline. But then I remembered his undying loyalty. We had been through a lot together, strictly because we were a 'posse'. 'Damn selfish bitch! Don't care 'bout no one but--' I pushed it roughly away, fists clenched.
I halted near the information booth in the main corridor and looked up toward the elevator. Sally Regal descended, previously 'employed' in the library, current standing: Zell Dincht's girlfriend and Investigation Squad 'Cracker'.
"REGAL." She halted in front of me, brown eyes mirroring her fear. That fear annoyed me. Sally Regal was scared of everything. One of the reasons I couldn't understand why Seifer had placed her within the Security Team. "WHAT?"
She flinched slightly. "Um... I'm going to the cafeteria to get some sodas. You want anything?"
I blinked and an eyebrow arched of its own volition. "NO."
"Okay." Her lips trembled in a forced smile, which faded. "Um... B-Bye." She walked past.
I stared after her and then focused ahead once more and ascended the stairs to enter the elevator. I pushed the button for the basement level. ...'to get some sodas'. Plural. My mind flashed-- I clenched my jaw, pressing my lips together as the elevator doors slid open. A spark coiled my insides, but I pushed it aside and stepped from the lift.
Seifer straightened from where he stood over a SeeD he trained for Network patrol and caught my gaze. He looked to his office and then bent back over the young man's shoulder to instruct. I didn't acknowledge the signal. I simply headed for his office.
'Dammit, Ahndra, finish your studies at Garden. It'll be a helluvalot safer than staying--'
I clenched my teeth and entered Seifer's office, standing at attention in front of his desk as my gaze focused on the Balamb Garden insignia worked into the beige carpet. I clasped my hands behind my back, feet spread shoulders-width apart as I waited.
'...if that damn drunk hits you one more time...'
'...that's right, you sex-hungry bitch--'
I cringed and clasped my hands tighter. Bastard...
'I'm gonna kill you, you sack of shit.'
I relaxed my grip and released a deep breath. The throbbing of my left eye had started again. It always did when I thought of my father and the hell I'd lived for 16 years before finally going to Balamb Garden. The beatings. The rapes. The drunken rages...
The door closed. Footsteps approached and stepped around to the desk in front of me. I didn't look up. I stared at the insignia on the carpeted floor beneath his desk, and then the black loafers as Seifer leaned against it. I felt the intense scrutiny and slowly looked up, expression guarded. I was getting tired of looking up...
"Report," Seifer said slowly.
Seifer curtly nodded. "Good." He regarded me as he sipped his coffee.
I held his gaze. 'Let me go up with you.' "DISMISSED?"
Seifer studied my expression a moment; then he set his mug to the side. "No. Not yet." He crossed his arms.
I waited. 'I'll loan you some money...'
"Marshal said something about a hole in a wall outside the security section."
I didn't react. I didn't say anything. 'Ahndra... he's gonna kill you. I know it.' ... '...come with me to Balamb Garden...' Seifer adjusted his crossed arms and even crossed his ankles as he continued to lean against the desk.
"Why the hole, Fujin?"
I momentarily clenched my jaw, memories sparking in my eye and throbbing within my scar. "RAGE."
"With Marshal?" Seifer pressed. "Something I need to nip in the bud?"
My lips formed a thin line. "NO."
Annoyance rippled within the calm. "Why the hole, Fujin?" he asked again.
The throbbing became a sharp pain within my brain. "BEWARE."
Seifer leaned forward, getting in my face as no one but him dared. "Tell me why there's a damn hole, Ahndra!"
My eye narrowed and my jaw began to ache. "FUJIN."
"Why's there a hole, Ahndra?"
White rage flared. I punched him in the face. He took it, rotating his jaw slightly before looking back to me. His gaze didn't lessen its intensity.
"DEAD!" I retorted.
"Like hell she's dead." He pointed at me. "She's right here, only she's too damn afraid of the past to--" I struck out. He caught the fist-- "look it in the face and spit in its eye," he finished.
I jerked my fist from his grasp and turned on my heel.
"I didn't dismiss you," he barked.
I halted, fists clenched.
Footsteps approached and then Seifer stood in front of me. He clenched his jaw, arms crossed as he held my gaze. "Who did you really want to hit? Me? Or your old man?"
I narrowed my eye. "STOP."
Seifer took firm hold of my arms. "Dammit, Ahndra--"
I shoved myself away from him, eyes flashing. "NEVER!"
Seifer's jaw muscle twitched as he stood across from me, hands balled into fists as the glare on his face hardened his expression. Finally, he lifted a hand to point roughly at himself, jabbing his chest. "I'm not your old man! I'm not gonna beat you around! I'm not gonna--" Seifer's hand lowered, and for the first time in my life I saw guilt in his green eyes. "Dammit, Ahndra! I just want you to talk to me!"
I could only stare at him. Words and their uses had been lost a long time before.
Seifer released a quick breath. "Hell," he muttered as he turned away. Seifer jerked open the door and strode out into the main security division. "Dismissed," he called over his shoulder.
I balled my hands into fists and stared after him. My eye throbbed.
‹ Back † Next ›