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-two," Squall grumbled. The day before had been fifty-three, and the number had meant something... It was still dark as he yawned and stretched, finally remembering as he sorted everything out in his head.
"Fifty-two! It's going down!"
He just didn't know what 'it' was exactly - the number of days til he could un-junction Shiva again and be rid of the spell that would be gone at that point anyway. There wasn't much sense to it, but that was to be expected - nothing really seemed to be ordinary when it happened to him.
"Shiva?" he questioned, wishing she'd say something. She was there, smiling and amused, which just felt odd. Quiet, content, and Shiva rarely went together. "I know it was you."
Grumbling more with sounds than words, Squall began to pull off his sleep clothing. A shower sounded really nice, especially after all that construction the night before. Generally his junction kept him free of minor aches and pains, but he still expected to feel a little stiff. But there was nothing. Other than the mystery spell, he felt rather wonderful.
He turned on the water and closed the shower curtain before peeking over at his reflection in the mirror. No scales, spots or horns, though he supposed if Ellone wouldn't mind horns, he wouldn't either. Everything was normal - hair sticking up a bit from being asleep, scar across his nose in the same direction as normal... Truthfully, Squall was a little hungry and a little still-not-awake, but that was to be expected.
He didn't even know what was on his agenda for the day - probably looking over other requests for work and assigning teams. He didn't even want to think of the unfinished report on Trabia - that could wait until Zell drew the monster and copied the sketch for him. Maybe he could get to Balamb for those gunblade modifications. And the staplers, unless Xu knew of a stapler stockpile somewhere else within Garden.
Squall was surprised that the temperature didn't need adjusting when he climbed under it. Usually he had to fiddle a bit or someone upstairs would also be showering and hot would mean cold or cold would mean hot. It seemed like it would be a rather nice day.
Half an hour later, in full uniform and with his usual cup of coffee in hand, Squall smiled when he saw Quistis in the hallway.
"Good morning!" she said as she waved. Squall noticed she was wearing the same thing she had been the day before. But he was as well. He always wore a uniform, after all. For all he knew, Quistis had cornered the market on dominatrix-pink.
"Morning," Squall replied with an echoing wave.
"I heard that spell was a complete dud," she said, stopping. "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."
"Huh?" They'd already talked about the spell, and the papers. Quistis frowned.
"You know, the spell from last night," she said. "Rinoa said to let her know if you're acting funny, because there might have been some invisible side-effect..."
"I'm fine," Squall said quickly as he forced a sip of coffee. "Just need a little more coffee. I feel fine. Or I will, once I wake up."
Squall nodded, trying to remember what they'd talked about the day before.
"Isn't your class aide supposed to be helping you?"
"She sprained her wrist against a pack of Grats," Quistis said with a slight eyeroll. "At least you never did that. But she can't do any writing for at least another week."
"Come by this afternoon," Squall said, rather sure he had figured it out. "Bring a stack and I'll give you a hand."
"History of poitical strife on the Galbadian continent?" Quistis questioned.
"Yeah. I think they'll be a piece of cake." After all, he'd already gone over them once. But there went the staplers.
"Thanks, Squall - er, Commander," Quistis replied. "Knew I could count on you."
"Yeah... Have you seen Ellone? I guess Rinoa was concerned, but I want to tell Sis first that there weren't any strange effects from that spell..." Other than the apparent time warp. But he'd done time warps before, after all. He could deal with a time warp. He might even dance through it.
Pieces began to click together in his head...
"Haven't seen her," Quistis said. "But if I see her, I'll let her know that you're looking for her."
"Thanks." Squall headed down the hallway, trying to disguise the faintest hints of a smile with his coffee. He was just thankful that he'd figured it out so quickly, before he could panic. If that was really what was going on, after all.
But it was an echoing spell, and something was counting down repetitions.
He was stuck in the same damned day.
"Maybe," he said to himself. "I'll see tomorrow."
When he got to his office, he called Xu to inquire about staplers. Within a minute she'd appeared, piled a dozen on his desk, and exited, all without a word.
Ignoring the Trabia report, Squall got a headstart on his other paperwork. Even if it would be undone the next morning - er, the next repeat of the current morning, he would at least know what was going on. And he had time to kill until Ellone knocked.
He was just finishing his second paper airplane when there was a knock at his office door.
Stuffing the planes quickly into a drawer, Squall called for Ellone to enter.
"Quistis said you were looking for me," Ellone said as she closed the door behind herself. "Are you okay?"
"As far as I can tell," Squall said. "Quistis caught me half-awake, but I don't feel weird and I slept okay. Xu brought me some staplers earlier and didn't say anything about, um, growing horns."
"You' d be cute with horns," Ellone replied, giggling. "So you just wanted to let me know you're okay?"
"Well, I do need you to write out a statement for the official report, just about your interpretation of the spell."
"Can I sit at your desk?"
"Sure," Squall said. He did need a bit more paper for airplanes and there was a file-drawer of that. "The spell is already taken care of, but I do need to find a few forms and I've never been good at finding anything in the file cabinets. Do you think Cid made all these forms?"
"Made all of... I don't know. You should ask him next time he calls. I have to fill some of these out too and it's a pain..." Ellone admitted as she switched places with Squall.
"What have your SeeDs been doing, anyway?" Squall had only skimmed those forms.
"Basic mechanical training," Ellone reminded him. "Our mechanic was injured and I appreciate you letting us borrow your facility and your instructors."
"For you, anything, Sis," Squall said. "You were in the library this morning, right?"
"Yeah, how'd you know?" Ellone asked, looking up from where she'd been writing.
"Good guess? I thought you might be looking up information on that creature," Squall said. That had been close - one little poke to confirm had almost given too much away.
"You don't have many high level books, but I have a few clues, at least," Ellone said. "Zell's going to sketch out the monster so I can send it to Esthar. I took a look in his memories, but I can't very well send those."
Squall turned enough so that he couldn't be seen and he smiled - that was the entire conversation they needed to have.
Ellone finished quickly and gave him a quick hug in parting.
"Well, Shiva, am I doing okay?"
She chattered for a moment, but nothing in a language he knew.
On his way to the cafeteria, Squall ran into the same group of students arguing over whose turn it was to listen to the new Aching Need CD that one of them had bought and was letting everyone borrow. He grabbed it away and handed it to the girl with the red hair. Tomorrow, or, next repeat, he'd give it to someone else.
And he managed to get both a hot dog and a bit of non-dried macaroni and cheese. Though he certainly wouldn't snub Quistis and her snack.
"Next time there's some weird mission that I get to go on, you're coming too," Squall said as he neatly put the stack of draft-read papers down in front of Quistis.
"How'd you...? I mean, thanks, um..." She blushed. Obviously he was going to have to find a better way to phrase 'you're a good teammate and I bet you're sick of teaching. We should go kill things in a platonic way because I can't get it up when it comes to naked girls even though I really, really tried.'
Actually, he could probably eventually say that.
"They're easy reads," Squall said. "But higher level than I ever had to do. You're going to have a good class."
"You know all this stuff anyway."
"I like to read. When I have the time."
On his way back from dinner, Squall managed to snag Zell and tell him Selphie was looking for him, even if she wasn't. And without having to do any heavy lifting, he found himself back in his room, finally picking up the novel that Cid had given him at least a year before. He had all the time he needed to finally get through it - it might even be good.
Finally, he changed into his night clothing and settled into bed.
"Fifty one?" he asked the darkness as he rolled over.
"Fifty one..." Shiva's voice echoed in his mind.
He had no trouble getting to sleep.
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