“Mission! Mission! Mission!”
“We’re aware,” Zell growled.
“Mission! It’s been so long since I went on a M-I-S-S-I-O-N!” Selphie sang at the top of her lungs.
Squall sighed and shook his head as he stared down at the ground. Irvine was leaning up against the wall and a sleepy Quistis was leaning against him, staring off into space. Selphie was dancing now, and handing out their mission papers which only she had seen. Squall took his and for a moment he felt the world collapse.
“We have to DANCE?!” Zell groaned.
“And no break dancing Zell,” Xu announced as she came forward, “This is a masquerade, you will receive dance training in two hours, I suggest you all eat breakfast and change into the outfits provided for you over there.”
She pointed to a closet on the other side of the briefing room and waited patiently for them to edge warily over to it. When the closet was opened Zell mock-died in horror, Squall flushed crimson, Irvine hooted and began to laugh as Selphie and Quistis both squealed at the same time.
Even Xu had to smile as they both took out large bejewelled dresses and spun around holding them against themselves. Little masks were held on to the hangers and were decorated with sequins and other shiny objects. Slowly the men of the group took out their costumes, old-fashioned shirts with billowing sleeves, deep V-necks and everything in exotic colours.
“Please no tights…” Zell whimpered, searching the closet.
“These…they…they’re puffy…” Irvine looked in dismay at his “pants”.
“Stop snickering!” Zell shouted at the girls who were doubled over looking at their male counterpart’s costume.
“Hee!” Selphie’s giggle was gasped out from behind her hand.
Quistis lost her breath and ended up kneeling on the floor crying with Selphie collapsing at her side. Xu shook her head, smiling, it was a rare sight to see Quistis so happy, she was usually very composed.
“All right ladies, that’s enough, you even have the cowboy blushing now,” Xu politely reminded them of their place, “Pairings for the dance are Squall and Selphie, Irvine and Quistis, Zell, you’re with Michelle, she will be late this morning but for now you can work on the steps by yourself. All right, everyone get changed.”
Quistis and Selphie scampered off happily, eager to get into their dresses while the boys dragged their feet and gave Xu wounded looks that she dismissed immediately.
“Zell stop crying, Squall you’re a Commander, Commander’s don’t pout, Irvine, you are NOT wearing your trench coat over the tunic,”
Quistis’ blue eyes settled into Irvine’s violet orbs as they slowly walked around each other palm to palm. Her dress was a deep violet-red with black embroidery on the cuffs and a swooping neckline that had tiny gold beads strung along like dew drops on a spider’s web. The dress brushed the floor around her and made a quiet whisking sound at every movement that had Irvine’s heart in a knot. He doubted he could have looked away if he tried.
He had liked Trepe for a while, but pursuing her was not as easy as it was for any other girl. Trepe could turn a man’s hot blood into ice with one of her disarming gazes, and you couldn’t just ask her on a date, Irvine had seen that scenario before. The poor SeeD had been victim to a blank stare and then Quistis simply turning away. Irvine was a cowboy, he was used to women, and he prided himself in thinking that his intuition was usually right, which it was. It had told him that over their relationship, he and Selphie were becoming more like siblings, and she had agreed. Intuition had told him the girl with pigtails in the library liked Zell back, and that had been right. Every girlfriend had been planned for Irvine, and he only had to look at a woman before he could sense little details about them.
And Quistis was broken.
This was a woman who didn’t believe in love. It was impractical, it was foolhardy, and it took up unnecessary time. But she still wanted it. Irvine believed truly that Quistis just didn’t know how to reach for it.
“Irvine?” Quistis asked suddenly, snapping him out of his thoughts.
Quistis raised her eyebrows, “Xu said we could stop.”
“Oh…OH!” Irvine jerked to a standstill and stared wide-eyed at Quistis who only appraised him calmly.
Beyond Quistis, Squall and Selphie were staring at Irvine, both looking mildly confused. Squall’s arms had slipped loosely around Selphie’s waist and he didn’t seem to notice. The little brunette was decked out in pale green dress with darker green trim and topaz stones for accents. Her emerald eyes were slightly glazed over, her cheeks stained a faint pink, but there was some clarity in those eyes of hers, and it told Irvine that she was well aware of what was up.
“Right, sorry,” Irvine took a deep breath and quickly composed himself.
Xu, appearing not to notice, made them practice three other dances. Through these Irvine’s fast foot work and Quistis’ natural grace made them float over the floor and even receive applause from Xu and Nida, who had come down to watch. When they slowed to a stop, and Selphie and Squall gently parted, Xu was beaming.
“Wonderful, you four will be perfect out there. Zell, Michelle’s here, so you two can practice together now. Quistis, Squall, you’re in charge of the reports. Selphie, Irvine, please go stock up the Ragnarok.” Xu instructed.
They split up breathlessly and as soon as Selphie and Irvine turned the corner she jabbed him playfully. Irvine rolled his eyes but smiled and ruffled her hair.
“You look so sexy,” Selphie remarked, teasingly.
“Please. Men do not belong in tights and puffy pants,” Irvine groaned.
“Don’t worry, you get a mask at the real thing,” Selphie said brightly, “I’m excited. It’s going to be fun.”
“Yep.” Irvine agreed, his eyes gazing down the hallway as they walked.
“I don’t usually like diplomatic meetings but this one will be a BLAST cause we get to dance and stuff. We’re rightin’ WRONGS be-tween FIGHT-ING NAAATIONS!” Selphie screeched, beginning to belt out a song as she twirled down the hallway.
Irvine cringed and quickly covered her tiny mouth with his larger hand, picking the brunette up. She hung in his arms like a puppet, legs swaying side to side as her eyes stared at him.
“Remember that talk we had about quiet time?”
“This is the time.”
“You looked like you were enjoying yourself,” Quistis remarked as her and Squall walked down the corridors to their offices,
Squall looked at her blankly, which made Quistis smile, “You weren’t frowning or glaring.”
Quistis grinned and then let the conversation die at that. She knew Squall well enough not to start a massive chat session on a small detail, because it would only annoy him. They made it to the main instructor’s lounge that several of the top SeeDs had access to and took over two of the computers.
Instantly reverting into instructor-mode, Quistis gazed into the computer screen as her fingers flashed over the keyboard below. Windows popped up and scrolled under her commands and soon she had finished the first starting report and was straight into the extra research she always provided her companions with.
“The Qun’sho Royal House is our host, they are trying to make a settlement with their neighbouring nation’s main power, the House of Crescent knights. The Qun’sho are a proud family but had their honour slighted over a political mistake, unnamed here, but they recognize the strategic gain of having their closest neighbour being their ally. Offended with an accusation, the House of Crescent Knights nearly attacked them, but now both royal houses would like to see their relationship restored by the marriage of the youngest son and daughter.” Quistis outlined briefly.
“Marriages like that shouldn’t exist.” Squall replied over his screen top.
“This one is beneficial though,” Quistis shrugged, “It’s our duty to make sure nothing gets out of hand. Should be simple.”
“A quick job to get a few juniors practicing patrol,” Squall agreed.
Quistis looked up and saw Xu running towards her with a brilliant smile, “It’s your lucky day.”
Trepe raised her eyebrows and took an outstretched folder from Xu. She opened it and quickly scanned the writing while Squall finished his report and quietly observed. Quistis’ eyes widened and she looked at Xu in shock,
“They’re giving me back my Instructors’ degree? Who left?” Quistis asked in amazement.
“We lost a trainer and a weapon’s instructor. You’re filling in for the trainer and a Miss Trianon Elvelyn will be filling in for the weapon’s instructor.” Xu announced.
“I don’t recognize the name,” Quistis frowned slightly, “Well…I…I don’t know what to say.”
“Be happy Quistis,” Xu smiled gently, “But get this mission done first. We’ll restore your old classroom.”
Quistis smiled again, she felt shaken up though, she turned to her computer and logged off as she stood up, holding the folder tightly to her chest. Excusing herself politely she left the lounge in a hurry, she didn’t know where she was going but she now had a lot to think about. Being an Instructor again would mean taking time our to mark, design quizzes, take juniors on their trip to the Fire Cave, and stay in a classroom. She would have less missions now but…teaching…wasn’t that everything to her?
The blonde found herself drawing closer to the Training Chamber, she would soon be spending even more time in there. Deciding that some physical exercise would be good for her, Quistis walked into one of the locker rooms and found her training outfit. Cramming the folder into the locker she shut the door and grabbed her whip as she headed out.
Inside the chamber it was humid and warm. Plant life scurried here and there, or was stationary as many agreed plant life should be. Quistis took up some routine exercises before finding a few monsters that she teased and danced around before defeating.
After several hours she was covered in a sheen of sweat and breathing hard with exhilaration. Fighting felt good for her muscles and spirit and it lightened her heart of all its troubled thoughts.
Turning back, she returned to the locker room and was surprised to see another woman inside. She didn’t seem to have noticed Quistis yet and so the newly made instructor took some time to carefully observe the woman, someone Quistis had never seen in Garden before.
She was tall, probably five foot eight or so, but it was her hair that set Quistis off. For one thing, it was bright cerulean, and it was in ringlets that fell all the way to her calves. Her skin was very pale, and it almost worried Quistis to see someone so white, but when the woman turned Quistis was frozen in shock.
“Greetings,” the musical tone of the stranger lit the air, “My name is Trianon, and I’m a new instructor here.”
“Um…um…hello,” Quistis managed faintly.
The woman had large eyes framed in black lashes but her irises were in constant motion. Deep purples and blues and emerald greens ran around in circles inside the colourful orbs. Ignoring Quistis’ shock, Trianon extended her hand,
“And you are…?”
“Oh! I’m sorry, Quistis Trepe, also an instructor,”
“Pleased to meet you,” Trianon replied, looking at Quistis curiously, “Well. I’m going to go practice, I’ll see you later no doubt. I believe we’re in the same mission.”
“Yes,” Trianon smiled and then walked past Quistis swiftly.
Quistis was still gaping from the strange hair and eyes of the woman, but she didn’t have time to be doing nothing so she hastily changed and ran back to her dorm. Something was very different about that woman, but the SeeD couldn’t place it just yet. She would have to do some back up research to find out who Trianon was.
Sliding into her desk she reached for her laptop and logged on, finding the Balamb network and then finding a search engine that was usually quite good.
Three hours later Quistis had used every engine possible and had come up with nothing. According to the world, Miss Trianon Elvelyn didn’t exist.