Part: 51 & 50
Fandom: Final Fantasy VIII
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Squall/Zell eventual, Full Cast
Rating: M overall
Summary: Squall draws a strange spell from a strange beast, but when he casts it, nothing seems to happen -- until the next day...
Notes: 2007's NaNoWriMo fic, edited. May contain gratuitous butchering of game mechanics and also, lots of Shiva. Some of this has been posted randomly in unfinished forms. ^^;;
"Fifty-one, right?" Squall said as he rolled over. He knew what time it was without looking and it was still dark. He stretched, yawned, scratched, and headed for the shower. "You going to say anything?"
He could almost see Shiva smiling, her arms wrapped around her body, sitting and watching as if she was far too amused.
"Yeah, I know. Let's see how today goes and then we'll change the routine a bit. Maybe I'll go back to sleep or something. Make a few more paper airplanes, um..."
"Maybe I can learn to have some fun."
Grumbling under his breath, he began to undress. He did need to shower, after all, mystery echoing spell or not.
Quickly he turned on the water and closed the shower curtain. The temperature would be irritatingly perfect in just a minute. He made a face at himself in the mirror and jumped up and down once. Sticking out his tongue, he saw that it was free from purple spots.
No horns, either. But his hair was sticking up a bit and he was a little hungry but that was about it. Slightly more awake than the day before, at least. Though coffee sounded wonderful.
Maybe he could just take off to Balamb, staplers be-damned. He wanted a new modification on his gunblade based on something he'd seen in a magazine. Maybe he'd just buy a new gunblade because everything would reset overnight. He could finally have everything he wanted, if only for a few hours.
Devious ideas began to form in Squall's mind and Shiva began chattering excitedly.
"I wish I could understand you," Squall said as he got into the shower. The water was in fact perfect. Again.
Not bothering with his uniform, opting instead for his casual leather and white t-shirt, Squall was halfway through his second cup of coffee when he came upon Quistis in the hallway.
"Good morning!" she said, waving. Still wearing pink, and holding the same paperwork.
Yes, it was definitely still the same day.
"Morning," Squall said. He waved, almost without thinking.
"I heard that spell was a complete dud," she said as she stopped. "Sorry I had to miss it, but I've been grading papers for the last week and if I don't keep grading them every waking hour, they'll never get done."
"Because your aide broke her wrist, right? Why don't you bring those papers by this afternoon and I'll help you out. They're the History of Political Strife on the Galbadian Continent ones..." Squall thought that was everything. "I'm on my way to see Ellone in the library - let her know I'm fine and that dud of a spell didn't do anything to me. Yet."
"No horns, right?"
"No horns," Quistis said flatly. "See you later then."
Squall nodded and kept going. Knocking on the door to Xu's office on the way, he didn't wait for her to answer and instead yelled inward about needing staplers sent to his office.
Something hit the door as he closed it. Probably a stapler.
He kept going, right to the library where Ellone and two of her white SeeDs were pouring over a pile of textbooks.
"Morning," he said as he walked over.
"Squall! Are you okay?" Ellone asked quickly, standing up and looking him over.
"As far as I can tell. No one's mentioned that I've grown horns or anything. I slept okay. Xu threw a stapler at me," Squall said. He was rather proud. In a few days, he'd have the day's conversations down to single sentences.
"You'd be cute with horns," Ellone replied with a small giggle. "But watch those staplers."
"Anything for you, Sis," Squall said. "Just wanted you to know I'm okay."
"How'd you know I was here?" she asked. She hadn't stopped staring at him.
"Didn't," he said quickly. "I, uh, am going to give Quistis a hand grading some papers so I wanted to brush up on last century's Galbadian civil strife."
"Let me know if you feel odd at all," Ellone said. "Especially when you remove the spell to store it."
Squall nodded. He'd cross that bridge later in the day. For the moment, he had a book to find and ignore, and then he had a date with a few paper airplanes, the new Aching Need CD, and Quistis' giant pile of term papers.
"Do I really have to do this fifty more times?" Squall asked the empiness of his room as he stumbled in well after eleven. Instead of being caught by Selphie, he'd been grabbed by Nida and asked to help construct a night repair mission for the white SeeD students.
There was no response. Shiva was quiet. He tried to remember when he'd first started hearing her, but he didn't have an answer. She'd either taken that memory or it was on such a routine day that it hadn't been worth thinking too much about. Maybe it had been so slowly that he hadn't realized she hadn't always been there, talking to herself or to him in the language that must belong to her kind.
"I wish I could understand you," he lamented. "I think we'd have a lot to talk about. We've been through a lot together. If I liked girls, I'd marry you. Seifer would laugh and call us both 'The Ice Wife' or something."
Suddenly there was chatter. He must have made her laugh. Or woken her up. He'd often thought it must be boring being cooped up most of the time with little to do. He didn't know if she could talk to any of the other summons who were (or weren't) junctioned elsewhere.
"I hope you're agreeing," Squall said with a yawn. "I don't think I want to be awake for the reset, so I'm going to go to bed."
Slowly he changed into his night clothes and settled into bed. Barely awake, he barely processed the voice as it spoke:
And then he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
"Fifty," Squall grumbled as he stretched, scratched and yawned, almost at the same time. "Why did I have to draw that many times from that stupid random magical monster? This is worse than a bad movie plot. But I've done the time warp before..."
He knew it was early, and dark, so he stumbled to the shower without even thinking about it. Maybe he wouldn't take a shower on the next repeat. Maybe he'd just wash his hair, which he knew was sticking up.
No horns. Maybe he could find some fake horns... No, he didn't have enough time to do it because he didn't have an option on when he woke up.
Just a happy, amused feeling engulfed him in response.
"Fine, fine," he said as he turned on the bathroom light and headed over to the shower. He just turned on the cold tap - might as well do something different. And then he stepped right in without checking his reflection.
The water was, as a welcome change for all of about half a second, ice cold. Jumping back out, Squall stared at his own reflection for a second before laughing and reaching to turn on the warm water as well.
"That Aching Need CD was pretty good," he said to himself. "Should see what else the students are into. I've never followed that stuff, but they seem to know what they're doing."
He was certainly more awake than he had been for the last few tries at the morning, though coffee still sounded really good. Maybe with a bit of sugar.
About forty minutes later, Squall found himself heading towards his office in a white t-shirt and a pair of dress pants. He had put just a bit of sugar in his coffee and was on his second cup when he saw Quistis approaching.
He made a mental note to get her something not-pink for her birthday.
"Good morning!" she said, waving.
"Morning," Squall replied, giving her the usual wave.
"I heard that spell was a complete dud," she said as she paused. "Sorry I had to miss it, but I've been grading papers for the last week and if I don't keep grading them...
"...every waking hour, they'll never get done." Squall finished with her in perfect unison. "You're predictable too, sometimes."
"Well I'm sorry that my aide broke her wrist while fending off a pack of Grats that had attacked some younger students!" she exclaimed. And then she stomped off down the hallway.
Squall took a sip of his coffee. He felt a little guilty about making Quistis angry, but it wasn't permanent. It wasn't even temporary. It was utterly fleeting and he could be sickeningly sweet another day.
And he'd saved a few minutes of conversation.
On his way to the library, he actually popped into Xu's office and looked around. He had to admit that he didn't visit her very often - usually she came to him with piles of paperwork and everything else.
"Morning," he said as he took a sip of his coffee.
Xu looked up, somewhat confused.
"Is there something I can help you with, Commander?"
"Have you had breakfast yet?" Squall asked. "I just grabbed some coffee but there were a ton of Everything Bagels left."
Xu stared for a few seconds. "Are you feeling okay? I heard that you tested out an unknown spell last night..."
"Feel great," Squall said quickly. "I just thought you might like breakfast. I know you come in early just to get a start on my backlog."
Blinking and rather speechless, Xu got to her feet, smoothed her skirt and nodded.
It was nearly lunch time when Squall and Xu left the staff section of the cafeteria. Honestly, Squall had never bothered to really connect with his very skilled right-hand woman and he now totally regretted it. He was already a little upset that none of what they'd talked about would ever be remembered by anyone other than him and that was even negotiable given Shiva's habit of eating the more tasty of his memories.
"Yes, you," Squall hissed once he was alone. He still needed to find Ellone and there was no time like the present, though he supposed an entire day of dodging her could be interesting as well.
Shiva was quiet.
"What, is it so wrong that I'm going to do things completely different?" he asked. "Get used to it. I have forty-nine more trips through this and if I have to keep going the same way every day to get to the same conclusion, I'll go crazy."
When he got to the library, Ellone was still there, albeit with only one white SeeD beside her.
"Sis," he said as he approached. "Sorry to keep you waiting, but I'm fine. No weird after-effects unless I've grown horns in the last few minutes."
"No horns," Ellone said with a giggle as she looked up. "You'd look cute with them, though."
Maybe he'd try a tail next time. Or a third eye.
"Anyway, if you get a chance and you don't have to do it today, I just need a short statement about your analysis of the spell," Squall said. "Do it tomorrow, if you're in the middle of something."
"I can do it today," Ellone replied. "I'll stop by your office later."
Squall nodded and took that as a cue to leave.
On his way back to the cafeteria, he quite literally ran into Nida, who had his hands completely full. Parts scattered everywhere and Squall winced.
"Night mission for the White SeeDs, right?" he asked as he scrambled to pick things up.
"Yeah. How'd you know?" Nida asked as he tried to gather everything together.
"Ellone must have mentioned it," Squall tried, hoping it sounded good.
"I'm just stumped on how to do it," Nida admitted.
Squall smiled. They'd come up with a brilliant idea the night before.
"I've got just the thing," Squall said as he gathered half the parts into his own hands and marched off towards the garage. "Follow me. This'll only take a few minutes and you'll have the perfect test."
Nida didn't say anything, though Squall was expecting the words 'mysterious spell' to pop out of his mouth at any moment.
"Okay," Squall said to himself - and Shiva - when he got back to his room for the evening. "Made Quistis mad, but I can fix that tomorrow... Got to know Xu, told Ellone everything was okay, helped Nida, sent Zell to help Selphie, broke up the Aching Need fight... Didn't do a shred of my own work, but it doesn't matter because it would just be undone..."
Shiva chattered for a minute and Squall nodded.
"I'm always going to miss something and I can't well make myself a list the night before," he said. "I suppose by the time this is over, I'll just get everyone's problems solved and actually have some time for myself. Unless I just want to use the next repeat to read a few books."
He paused as he began to undress.
"Could always feign horrible, spell-related disease and stay in bed."
Somehow, he always knew when Shiva was downright chiding him.
"You're no fun sometimes," he said before frowning. "And neither am I."
He finished changing into his night clothes and grabbed for the book Cid had given him.
"I knew I forgot something," he grumbled as he tried to remember what page he'd been on. "I'll have to write Cid a nice note about this and pick up something for Matron. Once time straightens out, I mean. No sense in doing anything tomorrow - er, next repeat."
Shiva didn't say anything, but Squall wasn't expecting anything from her.
Instead he read for the better part of an hour, finally only turning off the light when midnight approached. He still wasn't sure he wanted to be awake for the reset, if he could be.
Closing his eyes, he waited for Shiva's voice, crystal clear and full of promise.
And then sleep claimed him.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!