Author's Note:

Aka, warning. This chapter has smutty content. The lemon is after the line break. Let's just say, that this chapter earns the story its M rating (as if Seifer's colorful vocabulary didn't do that already). If you don't like lemons/sexual content/smut, then do not read past the line break!

You've been warned. To the rest of you, enjoy the chapter!

And I can barely breathe
When you're here loving me
Fire meet gasoline
Burn with me tonight

Sia - Fire Meet Gasoline

The booming echo of the gunshot caused chaos to break out across the plaza. Frightened screams from those in the crowd shattered the silence and closed in on Quistis in an overwhelming cacophony of sound. But nothing could overshadow the terrified cry that had come from Rinoa only moments before. Now, she cradled Squall's still body in her arms.

Quistis tore her eyes away from the disturbing sight and pushed herself up from the stage. Looking down into Laguna's eyes, she asked, "Are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere?"

Despite the fact that his face was pale and his eyes were slightly disoriented, Laguna nodded that he was fine and Quistis scrambled to her feet, rushing over to Squall and Rinoa. She stooped and grabbed the radio from where she'd dropped it when she dove for Laguna, and frantically spoke into it, her voice shaking. "Knight! Knight, do you copy?! What is your position?!"

Seifer's voice immediately came through the radio, causing a wave of relief to wash over Quistis. "The entrance! He ran like a fuckin' coward and I'm going after that son of a bitch!"

"Wait! Take backup with you! Do not engage alone, Knight! Do you hear me?! Do not engage him alone!"

"Fuck that! He takes a shot at the commander and I gotta let him go 'cause there's no one else around? I'm going after him Ice Queen, whether you like it or not!" he responded snidely and the radio fell silent as he cut the call.

"Knight? Knight, respond!" Quistis spat before shoving the radio into her pocket. Damn it Seifer! Why can't you ever follow orders?!

She knelt down beside Rinoa and placed her hand on the sorceress' shoulder. "How is he?"

"I cast Cura already and he's breathing, but he isn't waking up. There's still so much blood and I...I can't use Curaga because I don't have any...I-I'm too...I can't focus right now, not with his...blood all over me…" Rinoa trailed off as she erupted into loud sobs, her shoulders quivering with each exhale.

"Rinoa. Rinoa, look at me," Quistis prompted. When the sorceress glanced up and met her eyes, she continued. "He'll be okay. Squall is strong—the strongest of us. With your support, he'll pull through. Here, take my Curagas and once they dig the bullet out, just keep casting until the bleeding stops. I have to go after Seifer, so I need you to stay here and watch over Squall and Laguna. Can you do that, Rinoa?"

Rinoa nodded fervently, her gaze immediately dropping to focus on Squall's face again. Quistis touched the sorceress' shoulder gently, closing her eyes as blue light engulfed the two of them. Once the spells had transferred, she stood, her eyes scanning the stage for Kiros and Ward. She found them crouching by the president, trying to lift him to his feet. Rushing over to them, she instructed, "We need to get Laguna back inside and safe. I assume you two are taking care of that?"

Ward nodded and Kiros said, "We already requested a medical team for Squall. They should be here shortly."

Quistis stared out at the panicked crowd before nodding her head again. "Good. Squall was hit in the shoulder somewhere but with all of the blood in the way, it's hard to tell how serious it is. Also, see if you can manage some crowd control in the meantime. I need to go after Seifer," she instructed, before jumping down from the stage.

Quistis turned back to Kiros and said, "When the med team gets here, make sure they take Squall inside as soon as possible! I can't have them out here right now. The less I need to worry about, the better."

Kiros nodded and Quistis attempted to move forward through the crowd. People were sprinting in all directions due to the pandemonium—some were running away from the stage, others were frantically pushing anyone who got in their way aside, as they tried to find their loved ones. She squeezed in between bodies and apologized for forcing her way through the throng.

After what felt like ages, she managed to break free from the crowd and came to a stop on the street in front of the Palace. With a quick glance in both directions, she realized she couldn't see Seifer anywhere. Lifting the radio, she asked, "Knight, come in. Where are you?"

"Can't talk...right now...Ice...Queen," Seifer replied, his words interrupted by heavy breaths.

"Where are you?! I'm coming to meet you," she explained.

"Over by the Airstation. Might wanna hurry," he insisted.

Due to Esthar's enormous size, running to the Airstation would take far more time than Quistis had. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a man in a seafoam green convertible, trying to start up his car. He was obviously panicking, as she could hear him muttering to himself from the other side of the street. He kept dropping his keys and had to bend over, time and time again, to pick them up.

She sprinted over to him and called out, "Excuse me! I need to borrow your vehicle!"

He glanced at her with wild eyes, his hair sticking out in all directions, as if he'd been running his fingers through it constantly. "W-What? Are you kidding me?! Did you see what happening just now? I gotta get outta here! Sorry lady, you're on your own."

"I'm sorry, I think you misunderstood. This is an emergency, and that wasn't a request. Move over!" Quistis demanded as she swiped the keys out of his hand and shoved him aside.

He fell to the ground, sputtering in disbelief and she hopped over the closed door, right into the driver's seat. After fumbling with the keys for a few seconds, she found the one with the biggest keycap and shoved it into the ignition, engaging the clutch as she turned the key.

Once the engine roared to life, she quickly shifted into first and sped off, in the direction of the Airstation. The wind whipped her bangs around her face, and if the situation hadn't been so dire, Quistis might've taken the time to appreciate the stolen—or rather, borrowed—vehicle.

Minutes later, the illuminated Airstation loomed up ahead and Quistis saw a glint of metal flash through the air as it reflected the spotlights that were shining down on the street. Hyperion was poised in the air above Seifer's head, the blade ready to strike. In front of Seifer, stood the man that had shot Squall.

She slammed on the brakes and the car skidded to a stop, a few feet away from the two men. Shutting off the car and tossing the keys onto the passenger seat, she opened the door and rushed over to where Seifer and the man were dueling.

As Seifer swung, the man threw his hand up into the air and a glowing azure force field surrounded him. The gunblade glanced off and Seifer lost his balance. When the blond stumbled, the suspect took the opportunity to pull out his pistol, aiming straight for Seifer's face.

"No!" Quistis cried out as she caste Haste and when she was slightly less than a foot away from them, she wrapped her fingers around Save the Queen's leather handle.

She pulled the whip off of her belt hook and jerked her arm back, allowing the coiled weapon to unfurl in the air behind her. With a flick of her wrist, the sharpened tip shot forward and looped around the man's wrist, slicing into his skin as she yanked the gun out of his hand. It clattered to the ground and she ran past it, leaving it behind.

The suspect cried out in agonizing pain as he cradled his now useless appendage, glaring at Quistis as she neared. Seifer regained his footing and swiped Hyperion through the air in frustration as the man turned tail and fled once more.

"Like hell am I lettin' you get away from me!" Seifer bellowed, before darting after the other man.

"Seifer, wait!" Quistis shouted after him. When he didn't listen, she groaned and chased after them.

Since Haste was still active, she caught up to Seifer in no time at all and threw her hand out, ready to cast Slow on the retreating man. Seifer glanced over at her and his eyebrows shot up before he reached out and grabbed her arm, yelling, "Don't! He-"

By then, it was too late and the spell had already left Quistis' hand. When it reached the suspect, instead of successfully slowing him down, the vibrant blue shield of Reflect surrounded the man again and the spell quickly rushed back to hit Quistis, catching her off guard.

"Hyne-damn it! I was trying to remind you that he cast Reflect! Stay here!" he spat, before rushing off.

With excruciatingly slow movements, Quistis came to a stop in the middle of the street. It felt like she was trying to move through viscous quicksand. Though she couldn't move normally, she could still follow Seifer's movements and saw that Seifer had caught up to the suspect, tackling him to the ground.

Hyperion slid across the street when the two men hit the reflective cobalt surface. Seifer reared up and punched the suspect repeatedly in the face, before the other man managed to block Seifer's last hit with his forearms. He hooked his leg around Seifer's waist and rolled them over, gaining the advantage. With his other hand, the suspect pulled a blade out of his inner coat pocket and brought it down point-first towards Seifer's face. At the last second, Seifer's hands came up and he braced them underneath the suspect's wrist, trying to push the man's arms away.

After a few tense seconds, Seifer managed to win the power struggle and bucked his left thigh, throwing the man off of him, and causing the blade to fly out of the man's hand and through the air. When the suspect hit the ground again, he rolled and tried to stand, but Seifer wrapped his fingers around the man's ankle and tugged, causing the man's chin to smack against the street as he fell back down.

The man twisted around and kicked at Seifer's face, his boot connecting with the gunbladist's chin with a sickening crack. Seifer let out a "Fuck me!" as the man scrambled to his feet. His eyes darted around and when he realized his gun was closer than the knife he'd just dropped, he sprinted for it, jumping into the air to gain momentum and sliding along the road when he neared it.

His fingers wrapped around the handle of the pistol and Quistis' tried to warn Seifer, only to have her mouth open centimeter by centimeter due to Slow still being active. Frustrated, she slowly reached up into the air and cast Esuna, feeling the sluggish pall over her body fade as the circular blue rings traveled from her head to her feet. Once the spell finished, she leapt towards the man and snapped her wrist out to the side and then forward. The momentum of her swing caused Save the Queen to curl around the man's neck, the barbed tip of her weapon stabbing into the thin flesh protecting his jugular, and he froze.

"Drop the gun and get on your feet!" she commanded.

The man raised his hands into the air, the pistol falling onto the street as he pushed off of his knees, rising to his feet at a languid pace. Once he'd backed away from Seifer, the blond rolled over and shoved himself up off of the ground. With a sneer on his face, he stalked over to where Hyperion had landed, snatched it up, and stomped back over to the suspect.

"Alright, asshole. Let's see who the fuck we're dealing with, huh?" he spat, before yanking the cap off of the guy's head.

After a brief moment of silence, Seifer scoffed and said to Quistis, "You have to be fucking kidding me. It's the dickwad from the condos. The one who told us Marcus moved?" He turned back to the man and questioned, "The hell are you doin' trying to shoot the President?"

When the man didn't respond, Seifer glanced down at Save the Queen, before turning to Quistis. "Y'know, he can't exactly talk while your whip is wrapped around his neck," he stated.

Quistis rolled her eyes before pulling back on the leather coil, allowing Save the Queen to unwind. When it fell to the ground, she jerked her wrist and the entire length of the weapon shot up into the air and back into her hand. After looping it together and placing it around her belt hook, she strode over to stand beside Seifer and scrutinize the suspect.

"We need to question him. Let's head back to the Presidential Palace," Quistis instructed as she moved behind the man to secure his hands.

"Got it, Ice Queen," Seifer confirmed.

When Quistis reached for the suspect's arms, the man reared back and headbutted her in the forehead, causing white stars to pop up all over her vision. She staggered back and inhaled sharply at the unexpected pain, as Seifer reached forward to grab the man's midsection. The suspect ducked and swept his leg out, knocking Seifer to the ground.

The man about-faced to dart around Quistis but he obviously hadn't expected her to recover as quickly as she had. Not a second after he'd brushed past her, she loosed Save the Queen and the whip flew through the air, winding around the man's ankle. She yanked it back and he crashed to the ground again, twisting around to reach down and pull the leather coil off of him.

She hurried over to where he'd fallen, but the suspect managed to untangle himself from Save the Queen's hold and got to his feet. Quistis caught up to him just as he moved to break into a run and grabbed his shoulder, whirling him around.

The suspect used his newfound momentum to leap towards her. He reached into his jacket again and a flash of metal caught her eye. With a sharp inhalation of air, she reflexively jumped away and grabbed the man's wrist as it flew in her direction, twisting it up and to the side to disarm him. He threw the blade he'd been holding into the air, only to grab it with his other hand and slice it across Quistis' abdomen.

She cried out, the blade leaving a searing trail across her stomach, and she fell to her knees. While she was incapacitated, the suspect sped past her. Pressing her hand into her side, she groaned at the pain as Seifer sprinted over, skidding to a stop and kneeling down in front of her.

"Hyne-damn it, he's getting away. Holy shit! You're bleeding all over the place!" he shouted.

"I'll be fine! Go after him!" she directed. When Seifer still didn't move, his eyes fixated on the blood that was spreading rapidly across her clothing, she pointed at the suspect's retreating figure and yelled, "GO!"

"Tch, damn it!" he exclaimed, before springing to his feet and racing off after the suspect.

Quistis pulled her hand away from her stomach, feeling light-headed once she saw her fingers coated in her blood. With heavy breaths, she reached down to cast Curaga, only to remember that she'd given them all to Rinoa before she left the Plaza. She knew Seifer would have some, but he'd just ran off, per her command.

Great plan, Quistis. Such a fantastic leader you are…

With shaky legs, she stood and began making her way back towards the car so that she could drive to the Palace, where she knew she could get medical attention. She'd only made it about four steps when a sharp spike of pain shot through her midsection, radiating from the stab wound outwards, and she collapsed to her knees once more.

She tried to take small breaths so as to limit her movements, but it was difficult when all she wanted to do was inhale deeply to calm her racing heart. Heavy footsteps reverberated on the semi-hollow streets and Quistis glanced up at the sound.

Seifer was rushing back towards her, the tattered hemline of his grey trenchcoat flapping behind him. When he reached her, he knelt and placed her arm around his neck and lifted her to her feet.

"S-Seifer? What are you doing?! I asked you to-"

He interrupted and said, "Yeah, I know what you asked. I barely made it around the corner before I decided it was stupid as fuck and turned around. I'm not gonna leave you here to bleed out."

"But need to catch...the suspect! He-"

Seifer interrupted her again and yelled, "I know, Trepe! Damn it, you stayin' alive is more important! You don't have any Curagas, do you?"

"No, I...Rinoa has them to keep Squall alive..."

"Figures. All I've got is Cura, so it'll stop the bleeding for now. We'll have to patch you up all the way when we get back," he explained as he gestured towards her stomach with his hand. Bright tendrils of light snaked through the air, winding their way around her before glowing and then dissipating into sparkling fragments of energy.

When the spell had done its job and healed Quistis—albeit temporarily, and only on the surface—Seifer wound his arm around Quistis' waist and they headed towards the convertible Quistis had stolen. They'd only been walking for a couple of seconds before Quistis started to feel lightheaded again, and she placed her hand on Seifer's forearm.

He looked over. "What? What's wrong?" he asked.

"I...I just feel dizzy. We might have to slow down…" she trailed off.

"Slow down? It's already gonna take us five years to get there, at the pace we're goin'," he rebutted.

"I know, I'm sorry, I just-" Quistis broke off in mid-sentence, the edges of her vision fading as dark tendrils crept across her eyes. She pressed her hand to her forehead, trying to shake the blurriness from her eyesight, but to no avail.

She swayed and Seifer reflexively tightened his hold on her to keep her upright, his eyebrows low over his eyes. Within seconds, Quistis lost consciousness and fell backwards, only to have Seifer sweep his arm underneath her knees and her upper back, cradling her gently. He stared down at her face with tight lips, before glancing at her blood-soaked clothing.

"Don't die on me now, Trepe," he mumbled as he ran towards the nearby car with Quistis unconscious in his arms.

Murmurs of quiet conversation, followed by the soft sound of a closing door, woke Quistis. She kept her eyes closed though, appreciating the darkness behind her lids.

Taking her time, she slowly cracked an eye open and sighed in relief when she saw that the room was nearly pitch black. It must still be nighttime. it even the same day?

When she attempted to sit up, a sharp spike of pain lanced through her and she hissed, wrapping her arm around her midsection in reaction to the unexpected agony. Leaning up against the headboard, she lifted the hem of her tanktop up, only to find that her stomach was hidden underneath layers upon layers of gauze. She sighed, letting her shirt fall back down to cover her injured midsection again.

The life of a SeeD. Just another scar to add to my collection, she thought bitterly as her eyes flitted around the room.

When she realized that her surroundings were familiar to her, her forehead scrunched up and she pinched her eyebrows together. This room.

The last thing she remembered was Seifer helping her to her feet after the suspect had ran off. They'd been all the way out by the Airstation and the Palace was quite a ways away—halfway across the city to be precise. She tried to search back through her memories, but found that she couldn't remember anything about how they'd gotten back to the Palace.

He must've brought me back on his own. These bandages...I'm assuming the doctor patched me up. I wonder how bad it was?

With inconvenient timing, her body reminded her that she was still human and currently had the pressing need to use the toilet. She let out a groan and swung her legs over the edge of the bed and tried to stand, her thighs shaking at the effort. As she made her way over to the attached bathroom, she dragged her fingers along the wall so that if her knees did give out, she could at least try to catch herself and avoid face-planting onto the floor.

She staggered into the room, flipping on the fluorescent lights as she passed through the doorway. A shiver ran through her when her bare feet touched the cold tile and, irritated, she thought, Every, single, time. You'd think people would invest in heated floor tiles.

She quickly took care of business, and ambled over to the sink to rinse her hands. As she finished, she glanced into the mirror at her reflection. Her hair was an absolute mess—tangled, knotted clusters of the normally fine strands stuck out in multiple different directions. Her eyes were slightly swollen, likely from sleeping for an extended period of time, which told her that it had been more than just a few hours since her last conscious memory. With stiff fingers, she rubbed the crusty remnants of her slumber from the corners of her eyes.

Now that she had ample time to process what had happened over the past few days, her obsessive-compulsive nature came back to haunt her and she started to tally up the list of things she could have done differently. The longer her mental list got, the more she seemed to shrink in on herself until the last, major thing she could've changed, drifted through her mind.

Laguna...I could have just cast Protect on him and then I would've been able to stop the bullet that hit Squall...I could have prevented everything.

Tears welled up in her eyes at the realization that she'd failed yet again, and as the drops of moisture trailed down her cheeks, she buried her face in her hands and sobbed, her shoulders shaking as she quietly broke down, alone in the bathroom.

She sunk down onto the frigid porcelain floor, her sobs escalating in volume. For the next few minutes, she didn't move from that spot, feeling like her chest would implode from the heavy emotional weight that she could never seem to get rid of.

Over the sound of her weeping, she didn't realize that someone had walked in until she heard boots scuffing against the carpet. With a gasp, her head shot up and her gaze traveled up the length of dark cargo pants, past his casual white t-shirt, and up to his turquoise eyes.

Seifer stood in the bathroom doorway, staring down at her with his mouth tight. "The hell you doin' out of bed, Trepe?"

"I-I had to use the bathroom and…" she trailed off as she wiped her hands across her cheeks, trying to hide the fact that she was crying.

Apparently, it did little to hide the other evidence against her because Seifer sighed before stepping into the room. He held his hand out to her and she studied it intently, debating whether she wanted to accept his help or not.

"It's just a hand, Instructor. Whether you wanna admit it or not, you need help. It's gonna hurt like a bitch if you try and get up on your own," he insisted.

Hesitantly, she placed her hand in his and he pulled her to her feet in a surprisingly gentle manner. Once she stood in front of him, she averted her gaze, embarrassed that he'd walked in while she was having a mental breakdown.

Seifer placed his fingers under her chin and swiveled her head back around, so that he could look into her red, swollen eyes. He tsked at her before saying, "Let me guess: you're blamin' the whole damn thing on yourself right about now, aren't you?"

"It was my fault, Seifer. I took point on this mission. I should've made sure that I'd covered every possibility, protected every member of the team," she whispered.

"That's a lot of work for one woman. Even if that one woman is you, Trepe."

Quistis yanked her chin out of his grasp and dropped her gaze. "It was my responsibility."

"Like I was your responsibility?"

Her eyes darted up to meet his, and he raised his eyebrows at her in a single, sharp motion. "You blamed yourself for me when shit hit the fan during the war, too. You remember that?"

"I-I do do you remember that?"

"I told you that I remember a lot more than people think I do. This wasn't your fault, Trepe. I know you feel like it was 'cause Puberty Boy got hurt on your watch, but he's capable of handling himself. And he's fine, by the way.

"Just because you were in charge and things went south, it doesn't mean it was automatically your fault. I was damn well capable of making my own decisions back then, and it was stupid that you blamed yourself for my involvement with E-Ulti-damn it, the sorceress. That was my call, not yours."

"But if I had been a better instructor, guided you better, then maybe-"

"Will you stop?! For Hyne's sake, do you even hear yourself? You're makin' excuses so that you'll be in the right, so that you can justify taking the blame for everything. It's not your fucking fault!" he railed at her.

Tears spilled over onto her cheeks again and after letting out a shaky breath, she tried to argue, "You don't know that it isn't. What if I had made sure that Laguna was protected? What if I had been standing closer to Squall and had leapt for him instead? He wouldn't be lying in a hospital bed right now and Rinoa wouldn't be going through unneeded stress. She's pregnant for Hyne's sake!"

"Alright, one, Puberty Boy's been up and about for like two days. He's fine. Two, how the hell were you supposed to know the psycho was gonna shoot him and not Pres? Three, so what? You gonna stress over shit for her? That ain't your job, Trepe. Your job isn't to be a friend. It's to be a leader, to be a SeeD! You did what a SeeD is supposed to do in that situation: you protected your target, at all costs."

As she cried harder, she blubbered, "That might you see it Seifer, but I-"

With a disgusted scoff, Seifer trapped her face in his hands and commanded, "Stop, Trepe. It's not your fault. And for fuck's sake, stop crying. I can't handle seein' you like this."

"Then leave! I didn't ask you to come in here and pretend that you care!" she shouted.

Instead of responding to the antagonism in her voice like Quistis thought he would, Seifer brushed his thumbs across her cheeks instead, wiping away her tears for her. At the uncharacteristically compassionate gesture, she gasped and tried to lean away from him, unsure of how to react.

"Will you just let me fuckin' comfort you? Do you really hate it that much when I touch you?" he sniped.

She was about to retort and say yes until memories of the last time they'd been alone in a hotel room flashed back through her mind. A blush spread across her cheeks when she realized that no, as a matter of fact, she didn't hate when Seifer touched her. She'd just been in denial about how much she actually enjoyed it.

"I never said that I did," she mumbled.

"Well I never said I was pretending to care either, so I guess we're even," he responded, before pulling her into his chest and wrapping his arms around her shoulders.

Quistis stiffened for a moment before relaxing into his embrace and lifting her arms so that she could place them on his back. They stood there for a few silent minutes, entwined around each other. With her face pressed up against his bicep, she muttered, "Why do you care, Seifer? We were never exactly friends and during the war I...I was forced to make a lot of decisions that weren't to your benefit."

She could feel his chest rise and fall as he let out a long sigh. When he spoke, his deep voice resounded around her. "You were...When I saw you...damn it," he mumbled before trying again. "Seeing you there on the street like that, with your guts practically hanging out, bleedin' all over the place...I freaked out. The whole time the doctor was working on you, I couldn't sit still, I couldn't stop thinking, 'What if she dies?'. The fuck would I do if you died?"

Suddenly, he changed the subject and asked, "Do you remember when we were kids? Back at the orphanage?"

After she nodded imperceptibly, he continued. "I was always chasin' you around and bullying you. I was such a little shit."

"Yes, yes you were," she readily agreed.

He chuckled and said, "When I got to Garden, you, Puberty Boy and Chicken-wuss had already forgotten about me. I was pissed. We'd spent most of our childhood together and I wasn't even important enough for you to remember me."

She tilted her head up and furrowed her eyebrows. "You know that's not why, Seifer. It was because of the GFs."

"Yeah, I know. I mean, I know that now. Back then though, I was just straight up pissed. It got worse with every year and by the time you made Instructor and I was placed in your class, I did everything I could think of to get you to remember me."

"That's why you always acted up in class?" she asked incredulously.

"Why the hell else would I be such a dick? I mean it was funny seeing you all red in the face but I had a reason for all of that shit. What, you thought I was just an asshole all the time?" he pressed.

Quistis' eyes darted back and forth as she mumbled, "Well...yes."

"Tch, figures. Anyway, I sound like a fuckin' pansy for admitting this but...I missed you. I missed teasing you, I missed that annoying giggle of yours," he said softly as he swept a loose strand of her golden hair behind her ear. As he traced his fingers along the outer edge of her ear, down to her earlobe, he murmured, " I've never heard you laugh since then, except for that time at the bar,"

"Oh…right," she gasped, a trail of warmth lingering where he had brushed against her skin.

His fingers drifted down to cradle her cheek and he brushed away the last remnants of her tears before whispering, "If I kiss you again, are you gonna punch me?"

"Wouldn't you just block it? No Seifer, I'm not going to punch you," she replied, shaking her head slightly.

"That's consent enough for me," Seifer mumbled before lowering his head, bringing his lips closer to hers at an excruciatingly slow pace. She moved her arms from his back to wrap around his neck, trying to pull him down faster as she tilted her head up. He chuckled and hovered over her, causing his breath to fan out and tickle her lips, and she licked them in anticipation.

"Someone's eager," he teased.

"No, I just want you to distract me," she admitted.

A smile spread across his face, a sight that was unfamiliar to Quistis, and she placed her hand on his cheek, her eyes widening in surprise. His expression quickly fell and he asked, "What?"

"You just...I've never seen you smile like that," she commented,

"Yeah, happens," he mumbled as his gaze dropped and focused on her lips.

The air in the room seemed to thicken and he leaned down again, brushing his lips lightly across hers. Goosebumps broke out along her skin and she shuddered, causing Seifer to tighten his arms around her waist.

Finally, he pressed his lips firmly against hers and she gasped at the shock that coursed through her body. He used that to his advantage, and slid his tongue into her mouth, caressing it along the side of hers, causing waves of pleasure to roll through her lower abdomen.

Her fingers wandered up into his hair and she grasped the thick strands tightly, as the intensity of the kiss heightened. She didn't know how this was possible, considering they'd only done this once before, but it was as if Seifer knew exactly how she wanted—no, needed—to be kissed.

Skillfully, he rolled his tongue against hers, meeting her every movement with a twist of his own. Each time their tongues separated, only to reconnect, her heart jumped in her chest. By this point, it was beating so hard that she swore hecould hear it.

After a few minutes, Seifer broke away.. With rough hands, he pushed her back into the cabinet and when she bumped up against the hard surface, his pelvis pressed into hers, causing her to gasp. He had obviously enjoyed the kiss just as much as she did, because she could feel his hard length through the stiff material of his pants. His hands encircled her waist and he turned her around until she faced the mirror again.

Quistis raised her eyes and almost didn't recognize her own reflection. Her cheeks were flushed and her already pale irises looked even brighter in her excitement. Seifer lowered his head again and planted fleeting kisses along her neckline as he moved his hands down, his fingers lightly grazing across the skin above the waistline of her leggings. She sucked in a breath and her eyes slid shut at his touch, the sensitive skin of the curve of her hip tightening in anticipation.

The feeling of Seifer's fingers drifting through her hair elicited a soft moan from her, and she opened her eyes again in time to witness the golden waves of her hair cascading down onto her shoulders—he'd removed her clip. When she raised an eyebrow at him through the mirror, his expression morphed into something far more devilish than she was used to seeing, the corner of his lip curled up in a smirk..

After he brushed the fine strands forward onto her chest, he leaned in and whispered along her outer ear, "You should let your hair down more...Instructor."

Normally she hated that damn word, but in this moment, in that deep, suggestive tone that he'd used, she found that she didn't mind it nearly as much as usual.

He swooped in then and nuzzled her before nipping gently along the edge of her neck. When she sucked in a breath, she could feel his smiling lips against her skin. His hands wandered up from her waist to hook underneath the hem of her tanktop, lifting it up inch by torturous inch as she watched their reflections.

Once his fingers skimmed the bottom of her bra, he paused and gazed into her eyes through the mirror, asking for permission. When she nodded, he leaned away and pulled her tanktop up and over her head. The sudden chill in the air caused her to tremble and after shrugging out of his t-shirt as well, he embraced her again from behind and the warmth of his skin on hers felt incredible.

She leaned into him, craning her neck back so that she could rest her head on his shoulder. He trailed his fingers up her stomach, pausing when he touched her bandages. Wrapping her fingers around his, she mumbled, "Don't stop."

At her command, he continued moving his hands up until he cupped her breasts in his palms, kneading them gently. A soft sigh left her lips and he reached up, peeling both of her straps from her shoulders. She lifted her arms and pulled them out of the straps, allowing him to reach behind her and unclasp the hook. Afterwards, he tossed her bra to the ground.

With nothing in the way now, he reached up again and grazed his thumbs over her nipples. A bolt of pleasure shot straight to her core and she let out a throaty moan that caused Seifer to glance up at her in the mirror.

"Seems like you're a fan of that," he teased.

She pinched the top of his hand in retaliation, and he feigned offense before pulling her around to face him again. Cupping the back of her head in his hands, he leaned in and kissed her passionately, his tongue stroking hers in all of the places he'd found earlier that sent shivers down her spine.

Without warning, he pulled away and moved down her body, taking her nipple into his mouth and flicking his tongue across the peaking bud. Throwing her head back as another moan escaped from her, she wound her fingers into his hair again and pulled, causing him to moan in return; the vibration from his throat seemed to reverberate through her body.

Releasing her from his mouth, he traveled farther down and hooked his fingers around the waistband of her leggings. Before he pulled them down, he glanced up at her, his turquoise eyes bright in the luminescence of the bathroom light. She nodded and he tugged them down ever so slowly, his eyes never leaving hers.

Once they were pooled around her ankles, she lifted her feet out of them and he pushed them aside, caressing the sides of her slender legs as he moved back up. He toyed with the band of her red lace thong before straightening completely and grabbing her tightly around the waist, lifting her up onto the cabinet's countertop. At the feeling of her abdomen stretching, she winced and when Seifer saw her face scrunch up, he froze and asked, "Are you okay?"

She nodded fervently before hooking her legs behind him. "Stop asking me that, Seifer. I'm not a porcelain doll. I'm fine," she insisted, and in order to bring the mood back, a sensuous smile teased at her lips as she pointed at the lower half of his body. "Is there a reason you still have your pants on and I don't?"

He laughed and backed up, bending at the waist to pull his boots off. They clattered onto the tile when he tossed them aside, and he undid his belt, shoving his pants off. He kicked them away as well, and now stood before her in nothing but his black boxer-briefs.

Quistis took the time to admire the view.

Seifer had always been fit; he had the type of build that was stockier than Squall's lean body, with broad shoulders and heavy muscle mass. His biceps were massive, and Quistis could follow the prominent vein in his upper arm all the way down into his sinewy forearms. From there, her eyes traveled back up to his wide chest, and then down past the ridges and indents of his rippling abs.

When her eyes traveled even lower, she averted her gaze at the last minute, avoiding the visible bulge in his underwear. It was funny—she'd enjoyed the feel of it pressing into her, but looking at it was something else entirely.

Seifer scoffed and stepped closer, causing her to tense, her shoulders hunching up. After coming to a stop in front of her, he grabbed her hand from her lap and pressed his hard length into her palm. At the intimate touch, her face turned bright red and she started sputtering in protest, trying to pull her hand away.

"If we're gonna do this, Trepe, you can't be shy," he stated.

"I'm not shy, I's that…"

"Look at me," he commanded.

Timidly, she lifted her eyes from her lap and raised them to his. His vivid stare bore into hers, and she gulped down the lump in her throat.

"How 'bout you take over? Will that help?"


"Here," he said as he moved closer, into the space between her legs. He lifted her hands and placed them at his hips, on top of the band of his underwear and continued. "Your turn."

Quistis opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out, so she closed it again with a snap. Hesitantly, she slipped her fingers underneath the elastic band, like he had done with her leggings earlier, and pushed down, little by little. The fabric caught on the tip of his member and she reached around the front, pulling the band up and then over, exposing him.

Seifer covered her hands with his and slowly helped her push his underwear completely off, hooking his arms underneath her knees afterwards and pulling her to the edge of the counter. He slowly pulled her lacy thong off and threw it over his shoulder, adding to the pile of discarded clothes on the floor before taking a step forward.

At the feel of his cock brushing against her wet slit, she moaned and he echoed her sentiment with a groan of his own. When he didn't do anything, she looked up at him and breathlessly asked, "What are you waiting for?"

"When was the last time you got your contraception shot from Kadowaki?"

Taken aback at the slight change in topic, Quistis stuttered when she replied, "U-Uh, a month ago. I'm good for another six months."

Seifer nodded before cradling her cheek in his hand. The rough calluses on his palm scratched against her skin as he questioned, "Are you sure you want this, Quistis? I don't want to be another one of your regrets."

"Oh Seifer," she reassured as she leaned into his touch. "You won't be. I want this."

He nodded again and crushed his lips to hers as he thrust up with his hips, entering her all the way to the hilt. If her mouth hadn't been otherwise occupied, she would've cried out. Instead, a muffled cry escaped her, only to be swallowed up by him. Her hands shot up to his shoulders and she dug her fingernails into the skin of his back, her chest heaving as she took in deep breaths through her nose.

Pulling back until only the head was still in, he broke the kiss and leaned his forehead against hers. He wound his arm around her, his fingers curling around her ribs, causing her to arch her back. Without warning, he thrust again. She let out a deep, guttural moan as she moved her hands from his shoulders to brace herself on the counter against the harsh jerk of his hips.

Each time he stroked her inner walls, it felt like the fire inside of her grew, like she was combusting from within. Her eyes slid shut and she threw her head back once more, lost in the throes of ecstasy. The sounds of his moans and her breathless gasps filled the room.

His rough hand trailed down her body, massaging her breast slightly before he lowered his mouth to latch onto her nipple again. Her lower abdomen fluttered with every flick of his tongue, and when he moved his hand down to the apex of her thighs, she inhaled sharply in surprise. With unpredictable motions, his fingers circled her clit, never once touching it directly—though he came close plenty of times.

She let out a frustrated cry and he chuckled around her nipple before straightening. Finally, he stroked against the sensitive bundle of nerves and a hoarse moan left her. His eyes darkened at the sound, and her inner walls quivered slightly around his cock, buried deep inside of her. He let out a husky groan, his head falling onto her chest.

Pulling out and placing his hand underneath her ass, he lifted her into the air. Not expecting the sudden motion, her arms quickly looped around his neck and she let out a squeak before asking. "What are you doing?!"

"I'm gonna finish this right. I'm taking you to bed," he insisted.

"Personally, I thought the counter was working out just fine," she quipped.

"Hey, I'm not disagreeing," he replied as he carried her out of the bathroom and traipsed over to the bed. "I just want to watch you come on the bed."

At his choice of words, she blushed again and he laid her gently on top of the comforter, climbing on afterwards. His hands encircled her ankles, lifting them up and placing them around his waist once more. In one fluid motion, he slid into her and she arched her back again. Planting his hands on either side of her head, he loomed over her as he drove into her, the motion of his hips relentless.

Her moans escalated in volume as the tension within her built. She dragged her nails down his back, her hands coming to a stop on his firm ass. When she squeezed his cheeks, he let out a strained moan, staring down at her with wide eyes.

"Well that was a surprise," he muttered into her ear.

She pulled his hips into hers, causing the spot on his pelvic bone above his penis to rub against her clit. A harsh cry left her and he tucked his legs underneath hers, rearing up so that he could start teasing the sensitive spot again. From higher up, Seifer was able to watch Quistis' lithe body undulate beneath him, as she arched her back every time he thrust into her.

When her moans became less throaty and more breathy, he switched from flicking her clit to pressing against it, alternating between using harder and lighter pressure. The searing heat within her spread to her extremities, and she could feel the tension in her lower abdomen reaching its peak. Her fingers wrapped around his forearms and in a raspy, breathless voice, she said, "Seifer, I...I…"

He leaned over just slightly so that he could still reach her clit and whispered, "Let go, Quistis. For once, trust me and let go. I want to see you lose control because of me."

She threw her head back, her brilliant golden hair spreading out in a halo around her as she cried out his name, and the world seemed to come to a complete standstill.

The sight of Quistis shattering into a million pieces as she orgasmed around him, paired with the feeling of her shuddering around his cock, caused Seifer to come as well and he let out a harsh grunt as he pulsed within her.

When Quistis came down from her high, Seifer's face was nestled against her neck and he was bent over at the waist, still buried inside of her. With arms that felt like lead, she lifted her hands and lightly massaged his scalp as she ran her fingers through his hair.

At her touch, he raised his head and gazed into her eyes, propping his head up against her, cradled in her arm. A smile teased at the corners of her lips and he laughed briefly when he saw it, asking in a gruff voice, "What're you smiling about?"

"I'm not allowed to smile?" she asked softly, feeling like she was floating on a cloud. Her limbs weren't numb necessarily, but she felt light, at ease...comfortable.

"Never said that. I already told you that you're beautiful when you smile."

Her smile widened and she continued caressing his scalp, causing him to groan softly at the relaxing sensation.

After a few minutes, he pulled out of her and got up from the bed, trekking over to the bathroom and returning with a towel shortly afterwards. With gentle hands, he cleaned the traces of their passionate, shared moment from her inner thighs, tossing the towel to the floor before climbing back on and laying down on his back, folding his arms behind his head.

She rolled over and placed her hand on his chest, snuggling into his side. He brought his arm down and curled it around her back, his fingers lightly tracing patterns into her skin. They laid there beside each other in silence, the soft sounds of their breathing filling the air. It was an easy silence though, nowhere even remotely close to the awkward silences they'd shared over the past few months.

As more time passed and neither one of them broke the silence, Quistis' eyelids kept fluttering shut and she fought her body's natural indication that she was falling asleep. When Seifer glanced down and saw that she was forcing herself to stay awake, he muttered, "Go to sleep, Trepe. I'll still be here when you wake up."

"Will you?" she murmured groggily.


"...Pro...mise?" she asked, her eyelids already completely closed as she slurred her words.

Seifer chuckled and in a soft, reassuring tone, replied, "I promise. I'm not leavin' ya."

Quistis hummed as she drifted off into the land of dreams, her cheek resting on Seifer's rigid chest, his arm wrapped protectively around her.

A/N: Well, well, well. Ten chapters later and Seifer and Quistis finally get around to it. I know, I built up an insane amount of sexual tension so it's about time they did the dirty, am I right?

First things first, thank you so much to everyone who reviewed the last chapter. I was particularly proud/happy with chapter nine and it warmed my heart to read all of your reactions. Seriously, I'm not spouting crap when I say that your guys' reviews mean everything to me; they really do. You guys keep me going. As always, thanks to Franny Mika, KingRamses, my wonderful guest reviewer whom I love so much, AJ Maxima (especially for reading through the story in its entirety thus far, in one sitting nonetheless), Sukiartestudio and Ally Todd.

Thanks to pikachu xo , tercero8, and enigmalace for the favs. Thanks to taderfuzz, AJ Maxima, and enigmalace for the follows :)

Last bit of business, thanks to Arenoptara and Layla Evercrest for beta-reading. Again, I'd love to hear your guys' thoughts. See y'all next time.