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Fandom: Hell Bus

Teaching

Posted by first_seventhe on 2009.02.18 at 10:49
Teaching

Fandom: FFVIII
Characters/Pairing: Quistis/Rinoa
Rating: PG

Claim: Quistis/Rinoa
Themes: #36: Hourglass; #46: Office work; #74: Learning

Summary: A sleepless night in Balamb; Rinoa looks to understand, and Quistis can't really explain.

- - -

It was too easy for Quistis to slip out of her dorm room at night and back into her tiny office – Instructorship having been hers for the asking upon their glorious return – on nights she couldn’t sleep. It was easier than patrolling the halls (where she’d invariably run into Squall) or seeking refuge in the Training Center (where she’d once run into Zell in a precarious position with that one girl from the Library), it was safe, and the couch in her office was actually rather comfortable if the mood to sleep ever returned. Plus, she could get work done that way – rather than lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, which was not only boring but much less efficient.

Tonight it hadn’t been nightmares, or even memories – just a vague sense of malaise that buzzed in her head as if trying to get her attention, then faded away when she turned her thoughts to it. After an hour of lying in bed playing hide-and-seek with a feeling she couldn’t even name, Quistis was fed up. So she slipped on a pair of sweats and a cardigan, and made her way through the corridors to her office. The quizzes she had waiting for her could induce sleep in anyone, if her students were any example; her couch would be free, if they did.

Except that it wasn’t.

The door slid shut behind her, and all Quistis could think for a moment was: How did Rinoa get access to my office?

Rinoa was curled up on the couch, with a blanket over her and a binder full of notes she’d apparently been trying to read underneath her cheek. Her hand dangled off of the couch, fingertips brushing the edge of Angelo’s fur. (The dog was snoring. At least, Quistis hoped it was the dog.) The sound of the door closing had made Rinoa twitch; now, her eyes fluttered, then blinked, then opened.

“Mmmph,” Rinoa said. She looked up at Quistis drowsily. “Hi, Quisty.”

“Hello,” Quistis said, bemused. “How in the world did you get in here?”

Rinoa waggled her fingers in response lazily, and yawned; Quistis suddenly remembered that Rinoa had gotten a light scolding last week for using her magic to manipulate the locks on Squall’s door with electricity. Quistis made a small mental note to remind Xu to update the padlocks on their file cabinets; as far as she knew, anyway, sorceress magic couldn’t imitate an actual key. Yet.

Rinoa sat up slowly. The movement made Angelo groan, slightly, before shifting her weight and falling right back asleep on top of Rinoa’s feet. “I’m sorry, Quisty,” Rinoa said. “I just wanted to – to ask you something.” The sentence was interrupted with another yawn.

“So you fell asleep in my office, hoping I’d show up at-“ Quistis glanced at the wall. “Rinoa, it’s 3:30. Don’t you think you should get to bed?”

“Shouldn’t you?” Her voice was dreamy, and she looked up at Quistis with all-knowing eyes. “I knew you’d be here.”

Quistis took a step closer, a little suspicious. “Rinoa, are you feeling alright?”

“Are you?” Rinoa looked up at her, the smile on her face too innocent to be anything but teasing. “You’re here in your office at 3:30 in the morning, looking wide awake and ready to… are you here to work, Quisty?”

“I was,” she said, glancing bemusedly around her office. “But any sort of distraction will do.”

Rinoa picked up the binder lying on the couch next to her and patted the cushion in invitation. “What were you reading?” Quistis asked, sitting down in the newly-empty spot and attempting to arrange her feet in the way most amicable to Angelo. “Something very interesting, I’m sure, if you fell asleep on top of it.”

Rinoa clutched the spine of the binder tightly for a moment, and said nothing; Quistis glanced down, and was surprised to recognize her own handwriting on the cover. Notes on Junction Theory as Applied to Paramagic: A Review and Postulated Theorem by Q. Trepe.

“You’re reading my paper?” Her voice went a little high.

Rinoa blushed, looking a bit guilty. “I already read your paper,” she admitted. “I came in here to ask if I could borrow your notes from writing it, but they were sitting on your desk, and it didn’t say PRIVATE or anything like the folder over there, so…” She shrugged. “I only wanted to look through them.”

“Why are you reading my paper?” It was still a bit of a shock; the paper had been well-recognized by the scientific community, but Garden hadn’t been all that interested, mostly because Quistis’ new reputation hadn’t brought any grant money. There was still a copy sitting on Squall’s desk; it was decorated with coffee-cup stains.

“Because you wrote it,” Rinoa said, and her words were so honest they both blushed. “I mean,” Rinoa corrected herself, “I just…” She paused, and looked down at the binder in her hands.

“I just want to understand it, is all,” she said slowly, her fingers going knuckle-white around the binder’s edge again. “And you’re the best place to start – you taught them all, Quisty, so I figure if you teach me too, I’ll… I’ll get it.”

Quistis shook her head, disbelieving, fingers lifting to press against her lips in thought. She reached her hand out to touch Rinoa’s. “What is it you’re trying to understand?”

“Everything,” Rinoa said, her voice thick with emotion. Her hand released its grip on the binder and tightened instead around Quistis’. “I’m here, and I don’t get it. Squall’s SeeD, and I don’t get it. I’m a sorceress, and I don't get that either.” She looked upward towards the ceiling, and blinked away tears. “I’m sorry.” She sniffled, a little bit.

Quistis squeezed her hand back. “Rinoa, that’s four-a.m. talking,” she said gently. “You’re tired, and it’s making you frustrated. It’s alright.”

“It’s not, though.” Rinoa shook her head; silky hair tapped the back of Quistis’ arm. “I had to – I had to come see you, even though it was late. I just got here an hour before you did. Somehow I knew if I waited…” Rinoa leaned forward, slowly. “The room was full of you,” she said softly. “And you always make sense.”

“It’s my office,” Quistis replied, a little unsure as to what that comment even meant.

Rinoa giggled a little bit, leaning to the side so that she could press her cheek into Quistis’ thigh. “Yes, but this is where you think. And I thought that maybe, if I came here, I’d understand it a bit better.” She laughed again. “Understand you a bit better, maybe.”

“Me?” Quistis was fairly glad that Rinoa wasn’t looking her way, since she was blushing. “I hope my paper didn’t confuse you quite so badly.”

“It got me thinking,” Rinoa said, her breath warm through the fleece of Quistis’ sweatpants. “You taught everyone, at some point – you made SeeD before anybody else, too. And if I want to understand what’s going on…” She sat up, slowly, giving Quistis a half-shy, half-playful look from under her hair. “I thought maybe I should figure you out first.”

“Oh.” Quistis’ heart was suddenly beating a little fast. “I’m not sure there’s much to figure out, Rinoa,” she joked, trying to sound calm and not disappointed. “It’s just me.”

“Don’t be silly.” Rinoa shook her hair away from her face and reached out to touch Quistis’ cheek, lightly; her fingers traced a smooth line down to Quistis’ lips. “You don’t think so, but that’s part of the puzzle, see.” Her index finger lingered on Quistis’ bottom lip for an instant, before slowly dropping away. “There’s plenty to figure out.”

Quistis couldn’t do anything but blink, her mouth still slightly open; her bottom lip tingled.

“And,” Rinoa murmured with a smile, “I am going to figure it all out, you’ll see.”

She leaned forward, slowly enough that Quistis knew what was happening but not so slow that she had any time to react. Her lips brushed against Quistis’ cheek first, gently, and it was more a warm gesture of affection than anything. Then Rinoa bent her head, and Quistis tilted hers just a little bit, and their lips met: just a feather-light touch, at first, and then Rinoa moved forward as Quistis stilled in surprise, her heart racing. Rinoa’s kiss was friendly, demanding almost at once; her lips were soft, and Quistis leaned into it a little more than she’d intended, lengthening it a little before they both drew apart slowly.

“I like puzzles,” Rinoa murmured against her lips, and they both laughed. Rinoa drew back farther, but not shyly; she kept her eyes on Quistis, quizzically, as if trying to figure something out. A smile played her rosy lips.

“What?” Quistis was, in fact, a little shy and a little confused; but there was something about the magic of oh-four-hundred hours, something that made this less embarrassing and more – more simple: much more simple. Thoughts could be thought in the morning.

Rinoa bent down and picked up the binder lying on the floor. She handed it to Quistis, the same smile still playing on her lips. “Read to me?”

“Read you my notes?” Quistis took the binder, surprised, but didn’t open it. “Rinoa, you must really be looking for something to put you to sleep.”

Rinoa giggled, and settled herself down along the length of the couch, her head pillowed against Quistis’ leg. “Read me a bit, then,” she said.

Quistis propped the binder up against the arm of the couch; her other hand lowered, slowly, until it rested the dark ebony pile of Rinoa’s hair. “If that’s what you want,” she said, bemused and curious. “But don’t blame me when you don’t remember it.”

Rinoa’s eyes drifted shut; she smiled. “There’s always tomorrow,” she murmured. Her head nudged slightly against Quistis’ leg, seeking the most comfortable position; Quistis shifted her hand slightly, and stroked through the silky hair pillowing against her thigh. Rinoa made a cat-like noise, and smiled again; Quistis let her fingers still against Rinoa’s cheek for a second, then moved her hand back into the soft tangles of hair.

“Why don’t we just start tomorrow?” she asked, closing the binder with one hand and lowering it as close to the floor as she could before dropping it; she didn’t want to wake Angelo.

Rinoa smiled sleepily in response. “I’d like that,” she murmured.

Quistis leaned her head back against the cushion of her couch, and slept.


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