A/N: I wrote this as part of a writing exercise for an anonymous prompt of Seiftis + Game. I had a LOT of fun with it. ;)
Even in the Ragnarok, the trip to the Deep Sea Research Center took an eternity. They were seven hours out of Deling City with nothing but the flat, blue expanse of the ocean to see out the ship's windows.
Selphie didn't seem the slightest bit bothered by the interminable wait. She sat at the pilot controls happily plugging away at the buttons — not occupied with flying the ship, Quistis knew, because without any landmarks to speak of the trip was always made largely by auto-pilot. Plus, she could see familiar lines of text flashing by on the HUD where Selphie had obviously used the on-board satellite hookup to log onto the Garden network, which gave her a near infinite amount of things to do, such as chat in the forums or work on her blog.
The trip was wearing much harder on Seifer, who had spent most of it thus far pacing and sighing and trying to sleep.
Quistis, too, was beginning to feel the numbing grip of boredom, the book she'd brought along lying open in her lap, her eyes blurry from spending so long within its pages.
Seifer slapped his hands down on one of the panels. "Okay. Come on. There's got to be something to do on this damned ship. I'm desperate."
"We could play Triple Triad," Quistis suggested.
"Yeah. We could. But when has that ever been fun?"
She shrugged. "You said you were desperate."
He blew out a dramatic breath and flopped down into his seat, his knees spread wide and his head thrown back. His fingers tapped an impatient rhythm against the arm rest for a second, and then he shot back up.
"Okay. Triple Triad. But let's make it interesting."
Selphie swung around. "Winner takes all?"
"I was thinking more like…loser takes something off."
Selphie rolled her eyes and scoffed. "No thanks. I've got work to do."
"How 'bout you, Instructor?" He eyed her with a wicked grin. "Care to play?"
He tilted his head at her mockingly. "What? Scared to show a little skin? Come on. I'll go easy on you. Promise."
Out of the corner of her eye, Quistis saw Selphie glance over her shoulder. "Umm…Seifer, you might not want to—"
"No!" Qusistis interrupted. "I'm in. I'll play."
They both looked at her, shocked, though Selphie turned her head away from Seifer before he could see her grin.
"Okay then." Seifer cleared a space on one of the panels. "What rules are we going to use?"
"International waters, so…all of them."
He furrowed his eyebrows at her, a hint that something might be amiss playing across his face. But he shrugged it off and nodded.
Sure of herself, and trying like hell to hide it, Quistis settled into the seat next to him and fished her deck out of her pocket. It was a trimmer set than Seifer's, who glanced at her collection with a self-satisfied smirk. She ignored it, smiled at him serenely, and asked, "Would you like to go first?"
The first game was over in less than five minutes.
Quistis swept up her cards and had to bite her lip to keep from laughing as Seifer glared at her.
"Well?" she prompted. "Go on. You know the rules."
Swearing under his breath, he stood up, tore off his coat, and tossed it onto a nearby seat. The muscles in his arms, bared by the vest he wore underneath, flexed as he clenched his hands. With a huff, he sat back down.
Selphie snickered under her breath.
"I take it back," he said. "This is war."
Quistis couldn't help it — her heart beat a little faster. She was, at her core, a competitor. She liked being challenged. She liked winning. She loved being the best. And no one was better at Triple Triad than her.
They played furiously.
To his credit, Seifer showed some promise.
"Ha!" he yelled when he edged her out for the first time. "In your face!"
Already divested of his boots and his socks, the exclamation lost most of its power.
He waved at her. "Take it off, Instructor!"
She rolled her eyes and reached down to pull of her boots.
The next round went to her, and Seifer took off his belt.
Then he won again, and Quistis lost her socks.
Selphie turned around to watch when Quistis ended the next game by shouting, "Same plus combo!" and Seifer responded by unzipping his vest. He maintained a cocky, self-assured smirk as he pulled it off, revealing a broad, rather impressively chiseled chest. Quistis felt her stomach tighten. Of course he was in fantastic shape — they all were. But that didn't make seeing so any less thrilling. When she managed to rip her eyes away from his flat abs, wide shoulders, and drool-worthy frame, she found him watching her with an arched eyebrow.
"Enjoying the spoils of your victory?" he asked.
"Actually…yes," she retorted.
He snorted and started a new game.
To her surprise, he won.
She swiveled in her chair, not sure what to do. Her outfit didn't have many component parts. She'd dressed comfortably, expecting to spend the day napping and reading. If she'd known she was going to get roped into a game of strip Triple Triad, she'd have put on her damn uniform.
Finally, in a stroke of genius, she reached up and unclipped her hair.
"Wait a minute! That's not fair!"
"If your belt counts, then so does my hair clip."
"No way. Skirt or shirt."
Quistis turned to look at Selphie for backup, but Selphie merely shrugged.
"Ugh. Fine." Irritated, she pulled off her shirt.
Not even bothering to hide it, Seifer looked straight at her breasts, the tops of which were quite shapely and well exposed by her lacy, black push-up bra. She crossed her arms over her chest, then uncrossed them quickly when she realized how much extra cleavage it gave her.
Seifer wanted war…she'd give him war.
She demolished him in the next game and watched with perverse satisfaction as he took off his pants. The win left her breathless with excitement. Heart pounding, her whole body flushed with heat and energy and something not unlike arousal, she clutched her cards tight in her hand and turned to face him.
"Do you forfeit?" she asked.
His jaw clenched. "Hell no! I'm in this to the bitter end. Deal the damn cards."
She did, and grinned when she looked at what ended up in her hand.
The game went slower than all the rest, both of them focusing hard on securing a win. Seifer had a lead going into the last move, and she saw every muscle in his body tense as he laid down his final card and waited to see what she'd play.
Quistis bit her lip hard. "Still don't want to call it quits?"
"If you insist…"
She laid down her final card — Seifer's card — and turned over the one next to it to win the game.
He stared, open mouthed. "What?! You can't beat me with my own fucking card! How did you even get it? Who'd you win it from?"
Quistis covered her mouth with her hand, dying inside.
"Don't change the subject. You know the rules."
He glared at her hot and hard.
"Come on," she prodded, beyond ecstatic and onto a state of dizzy euphoria. "I showed you my little Seifer. Now you show me yours."
With a savage curse, he got up and yanked down his boxers, then tossed them over his shoulder at her as he stormed off the bridge.
"Oh…my…Hyne," Selphie breathed, then swung around in her chair and began typing furiously. "My blog is going to get like…a zillion hits."