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by Lady Aliena

Chapter 1

Have you ever had something or someone in your life and you never realized just what you had until it was too late?

That's how it was with Selphie.

Everyone knows about the battle with Ultimecia and all the events leading up to it. That's been publicized all over the world. By anyone's standards, we're all celebrities. But what people don't realize, is how you come to depend on those around you.

I remember of all the people who came back into my life, Selphie Tilmitt was the one I clicked with the most. Growing up in the orphanage, she was my special playmate, so it made sense that things would not have changed after all these years. As we pursued, first Edea, and then Ultimecia, she and I grew closer and closer. And when it was all said and done, we were inseparable.

But, the stupid person I am, I threw it all away.

During that special victory celebration when we came back, Selphie and I ended up alone on the balcony where we had seen Squall and Rinoa talking. I wanted to tell her what I was feeling.

"So..." I said.

She smiled, her green eyes sparkling, "So..." she mimicked.

And then we spoke at once. Laughing, I insisted that she go first.

"Well, I don't completely know how to say this. I've never been this forward before."

"Just say it," I insisted. So, she took a deep breath.

"I...kind of..." her voice trailed off. "Well, we've been through a lot and I find myself..." her eyes shifted to the floor,"...kind of attracted to you. I LIKE you, Irvine."

It was exactly what I wanted to hear and exactly what I was afraid of. I wanted to shout to her that I liked her too, that I would do anything for her. But, I was afraid. Afraid of giving up my freedom, of giving up all the attention I'd been receiving from the beautiful girls at the Garden. She looked up at me hopefully, but I hurt her. For the one word that left my mouth was, "Oh."

"Oh?" she asked, her eyes tearing up a bit.

"I'm sorry, Selph. I just..."

She tried to laugh once more and wiped a tear away, "It's fine. I think I'm just a little overwhelmed by everything that's happened. In fact, I see someone over there I've been wanting to say 'hi' to. I've got to go!"

She hurried off and I was left alone, mentally berating myself for what I had done. Or rather, for what I hadn’t done. For everything I hadn’t allowed myself to say to her.

The next few weeks were a bit awkward, but soon, everything seemed to return back to normal. I was planning on taking my SeeD exam so I could officially become a SeeD, just like Squall, Quistis, Zell, and Selphie. Cid had offered me honorary SeeDship, but I turned it down. I wanted to earn it like everyone else. Besides, I needed something to occupy my mind and my time. Selphie and I started talking again and pretty soon, we put that one night of our minds. At least, she seemed to have put it out of her mind. I couldn’t.

One day, a new group of transfers entered Garden and Selphie started shrieking when she saw one of them.

“Umm…do you know him?” Quistis asked.

“Sure do!” Selphie chirped, running towards the young man. I scrutinized him. Medium height, medium build, brown hair, brown eyes, kind of nondescript looking. But with Selphie rushing into his arms, he lit up. I guess she had that effect on everyone.

“Westley!” she cried.

“Selphie, is that you?” he picked her up and swung her around.

“You HAVE to meet my friends!” she dragged him over to where we stood. Down the line, she went.

“This is Squall…” Squall nodded, “…Quistis…” she smiled, “…Zell…” he punched Westley’s arm, “…Rinoa…” she muttered the word ‘hi,’ “…and Irvine.” I just stared at him, not really saying anything, not really reacting, but he didn’t seem to notice. Selphie kept talking, “This is one of my close friends from Trabia, Westley Moreland. What are you doing here, Wes?”

He laughed and said, “I’m a transfer. You should have guessed that.” He added warmly, “It’s nice to meet you all!” Selphie grabbed his arm before he could say anything else and dragged him away.

“I can’t wait to show you the Garden…” she was saying. For some reason, after they had left, I found 4 pairs of eyes on me.

“What?” I demanded and walked briskly away to my room.

The weeks continued to pass and I finally took my SeeD exam. I did better on my field test than my written test, but I passed nevertheless. Truthfully, I think I could have failed both and still have gotten my SeeD license, but that’s ok. I still worked hard and in my mind, I earned it. Westley had become a regular member of “the gang,” though I tried to stay away from him if I could. But at the same time, I didn’t want it to become obvious I was avoiding him. I went out with a different girl every night, but on every date, I found myself staring into emerald green eyes mounted on a beautiful face, framed by a cute, flipped-up hair-do. It didn’t matter what the girl looked like…all I saw was Selphie.

I guess I simply went through the motions of life. I laughed and joked with everyone, and went on the occasional mission to keep the peace, but when it came right down to it, there was only one thing I wanted and I had thrown it all away.

Sitting down on a hill outside of Balamb one day, polishing my Exeter, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Startled, I swung the gun around and aimed it at the intruder.

“Whoa…Irvine…it’s just me! Put it down!”

“Quistis, sorry. You startled me,” I dropped the gun and picked up the polishing cloth, resuming my work.

“Are you ok?” she asked, sitting down beside me.

“Yeah. Why?”

“Irvine,” she stared directly into my eyes. “Why don’t you just tell her what you feel?”

“Excuse me?” I said, frowning at my friend.

“Ever since Wes came, you’ve been acting strange. Distant. Selphie told me about that night when she told you what she felt and you…”

I felt myself getting hot. Angrily, I shouted, “That’s none of your business! She shouldn’t have said anything!”

“Irvine, I’m sorry. But, you’re my friend and so I’m going to just say this. You are only hurting yourself. You know what you feel for her, what you’ve always felt for her. Why can’t you just tell her?”

“You wouldn’t understand…” I mumbled.

“Do you like her?”

“Of course!”

She frowned. “Then why won’t you-”

I cut her off. “I was going to, but for some reason, the words wouldn’t come out. I would do anything to change what I said that night, but I can’t. And now she’s got Mr. Perfect from Trabia always by her side…”

“Just tell her,” Quistis said. “You’ll feel better if you get it out. Even if she doesn’t reciprocate, at least you’ll know you were truthful with her.” She stood up and kissed me on the cheek, leaving me alone with my rifle. She was right, you know. Quistis was always right…I at least needed to be truthful with her.

So, that night, I asked Selphie to meet me on the balcony where I had messed up that one night. Bouncing in at the appropriate time, she walked over to me and leaned against the railing.

“So…” I started.

“So…” she mimicked.

“We haven’t really talked in a while, you know?” I commented, looking at her sideways while she nodded in agreement. We both opened our mouths at the same time and in a repeat of the last time we were here, began to talk at once. Laughing, I insisted she go first. I was determined to get this right this time.

She sighed and said, “Well, you know how Westley came here as a transfer? Well, with the repairs at Trabia being almost finished, we talked to Cid and we’re going to return out there to teach. Just like Quisty and Xu!”

I breathed deeply, “You and Westley?”

She nodded and continued, “Umm…Irvy, you remember the last night we were here?”

How could I forget it?

“Well, I’m glad things happened the way they did. Wes and I have just clicked and it was like old times. I really like him, Irvine. I think he may be the one…”

My throat was dry. This was definitely not the way I thought tonight would go. I was supposed to declare my love, putting an end to my life as a ladies’ man. We were supposed to live happily ever after. We were supposed to end up together. That’s what happy endings are all about! Not this! I finally found my voice and whispered, “Well, I only want the best for you, Selph. You know that.”

She smiled up at me and asked, “You mean that?”

I nodded. And after a little pause, she asked, “What did you want to tell me?”

I shook my head, “Ah, I just wanted to see how everything was going with you, but…ummm…I have a mission first thing in the morning, so I should probably be getting to bed pretty soon. You understand, don’t you?”

She laughed and replied, “Of course I do!” Leaning over to give me a kiss on the cheek, she said, “Take care of yourself, Irvy…” and walked out the door, leaving me alone with my thoughts.

I never knew what I had until it was gone. And now she’ll never know what I really felt. What I have felt since we were children. I guess, what I’m trying to say is, be honest with yourself and with the ones you love, because you never know when they might walk out of your life forever…

Chapter 2

I don't know how long I stood there on that balcony that night after Selphie left me. I was too lost in my thoughts, hating Westley, but at the same time, silently thanking him for making my little Selphie happy. So lost was I that I didn't hear someone creep up behind me. I jumped when the person began to speak.

"Irvine? What are you doing out here?"

"QUISTIS!" I whirled around and barked at her harshly, "What? Do you enjoy sneaking up on me like that all the time?"

Her blue eyes narrowed and she folded her arms to her chest. "Should I start sewing little bells to the bottom of all my clothes just so you'll know when I'm around?" she asked dryly.

I stifled a laugh. Quistis was normally so serious. It was hard to believe there was actually sarcasm coming from her mouth. I nodded back to her and replied, "Yes, why don't you? I'm sure Rinoa could help you with that."

"Very funny," the corners of her mouth curled up in a smile. "So?"

"So what?"

"Did you tell her?" she asked. I could see her bursting with curiosity. I shook my head and started pacing beside her. "Irvine, why not??" she exclaimed.

"I just couldn't!"

"What do you mean? All you have to do is say 'Selphie. I like you. I always have. I-'"

I cut her off. Whirling around to face her and spreading my arms wide, I'm afraid I kind of shouted at her. "It's not that easy! Did you ever go up to Squall and say that?" She blanched a little at the remark, so I continued. "Yeah, it was only obvious!" I stopped and looked at her. She was staring down at the floor, the look on her face particularly unhappy. "Quisty, I-"

"I don't like Squall. I never.I.I'm sorry, Irvine. I'll leave you alone," she said quietly.

"Quistis, wait!" I sighed. I always hated doing this, but it had to be done. "I should be the one apologizing. Not you. I was going to tell Selphie, but then she revealed that she liked Wes. She's going with Wes to Trabia." I shrugged and looked away.

"Oh, Irvy, I'm sorry," she said softly.

"If you don't mind." my voice trailed off.

"Of course," she nodded. "I'll leave you now."

"It's nothing personal."

"I know."

I watched her walk away. When she was gone, I slammed my fists down on the side of the balcony. I was messing everything up. First I lost the one I loved and now I was pushing away a friend.


A week later, we were all standing outside. It was time for Selphie and Westley to leave to return to Trabia. The girls were all crying as Selphie made her goodbyes.

"It's not like we'll never see each other!" she sobbed as she hugged Rinoa.

"I know.I'll just miss you!" Rinoa cried. Quistis joined in and they were all sniffling and the floodgates had opened! Squall, Zell, Nida, and I kind of stood back and let the girls have their time. Finally Selphie came to me. She stood on her tiptoes and I embraced her tightly.

"I think I'll miss you the most, Irvy," she whispered to where only I could here.

"Me too, Sefie. Me too." I held her, not wanting to let her go, but looking up and meeting the stare of Westley, I relented and stepped back.

Slowly she turned and joined her old friend. With a final wave, they boarded the aircraft that would take them to Trabia. We all stood there waving as it took off. When it had been in the air a while, Nida turned to the rest of us and produced several decks of cards from his pockets. "Anyone up for Nerts?"

"Nerts?" Zell asked puzzled. "Is that supposed to be a game or something?"

"Oh yeah, it's great! Come on, I'll teach you!"

"I think I'll stick to Triple Triad," Rinoa said and the others laughed. They began to walk back into the Garden, leaving me still standing out there, now staring at the aircraft, now a tiny dot in the sky.

"I miss her already too," Quistis said softly, patting me on the shoulder twice, before turning to join the group.

"Goodbye Sefie." I mouthed to myself.


The next several weeks, I'd always catch Quistis looking at me. Ordinarily, I'd be thrilled to have one of the most beautiful girls at the Garden checking me out, but for some reason, it bothered me. I couldn't stop thinking of Selphie. And then, each time I'd see Quistis, she'd smile and then quickly look away.

"Oh great." I commented one day, sitting down with Zell in the cafeteria. Quistis was standing in line getting her food.

"Wha-?" Zell asked, shoving a hotdog in his mouth. I couldn't understand how he could get a whole one in there and not choke. Oh wait..he did choke once. Heh.

"It's Quistis. Have you noticed her looking at me a lot lately?"

Zell gave me a strange look before gulping his hotdog. "You wish!"

"No, I'm serious. Ever since Selphie left, she's always seemed to be around, always wanting to talk, always asking how I am. And she's always looking at me, smiling at me. I just don't know how I feel about that."

Zell rolled his eyes. He just didn't understand. "Irvine," he said. "You just need to get over yourself. She smiles all the time at me. Does that mean she suddenly likes me? Or Nida! She smiles at Nida too. Oh my word! I think she's got a thing for him! And don't think.?"

His sarcasm was getting to be a little much for me at the moment. Right then, Quistis came by. She placed her tray next to mine. "Hey, Irvine," she said quietly. "Are you doing alright?"

I stood up. "Fine, thanks. But if you'll excuse me." I said to the two of them and grabbed my tray. From the corner of my eye, I saw Quistis looking perplexed and Zell rolling his eyes again. I didn't care. I just had to get out of there. I didn't know how to let Quistis down easy, so I did the next best thing.

I went to Cid.

He agreed to send me on the next available mission. And it turned out to be the very next day. A group of scientists were interested in renovating the Deep Sea Research Center, and they had requested a SeeD to escort them down there in the event that something unforeseen would have happened. So I left without a word to the others and flew them down. As I had thought, the mission was no big deal. We had already fought the creatures down there the last time we had gone, so when the scientists got there, all they found was an empty facility. Yeah, there were a few small beasts here and there, but with a few blasts of my gun, they were all history. I just stood back and watched them as they made their notes and looked at all the pieces of equipment. One of them looked kind of like Selphie from the back. I felt my throat go dry because I almost thought..but then she turned around and I saw that it wasn't her after all, so I relaxed.

I was disappointed that the mission was such a short one, but as soon as I got back to Garden, I requested to be sent on another one. Cid raised one eyebrow at me, but agreed that he'd contact me the next time something came up.

I was walking back down the hall to my room when someone shoved me against the wall. I found myself staring into a pair of angry blue eyes.

"Irvine Kinneas, what is your problem?" Quistis demanded.

I looked nervously down at her and said, "Umm, Quisty? This really isn't a good time. I.uh."

"I don't care. You've been avoiding me. I want to know what's going on and I want to know it now!" she said sternly.

"Can we at least talk in there where the whole Garden won't be listening?" I gestured to my room. She shrugged and released me with a nod. We walked into my room and she sat down on the bed, looking up at me expectantly. I paced all around her, formulating what I would say in my mind.

"OK, look. It's just that." I paused and started over. "You see, I." I sighed. This wasn't going to be easy. "OK, I'll just tell it to you straight. I'm still not over Selphie. I'm not ready to get into anything serious right now. I know that sounds weird coming from me since all of ya'll always tease me about loving women so much, but Quistis, I just don't think we should." I trailed off, fumbling over my words.

She stood up and gaped at me. "You think I'm trying to come on to you?"

"Well, you're always asking me how I feel. You're always looking at me and smiling and."

"I look and smile at ALL my friends! I ask ALL of them how they are because, surprise, surprise..I may actually CARE what's going on in their lives!" She exclaimed, the agitation becoming more and more apparent in her voice.


"NO! I'm not finished! I knew how much it hurt you when Selphie left. I was worried about you and wanted you to know that you had someone here who sympathized with you and wanted you to be happy. But I realize now that I can't even show that to you without you thinking that I." She shook her head. "How arrogant you are, Irvine Kinneas! You win.I quit!" She stormed out of the door. I ran after her.

"QUISTIS!" But the only response I got was a flip of her hair as she briskly walked away. I went back into my room and slumped down on my bed, frustrated. Zell had been right. And I just made a really stupid mistake.

And after that, she didn't look or smile at me at all.

Chapter 3

"Come in, Kinneas."

How did he do that?? I stood outside Cid's door holding my hand up to knock. I looked around to see if there were any cameras or something around that would have indicated I was at the door, but saw nothing, so I shrugged to myself and pushed the door open.

"Ah, there you are!" Cid rose from his seat and adjusted the waistband in his pants a little. "You said you wanted to leave on the next mission, so I've got one here and I think you'll be one of the best qualified for it in light of your previous experience at the Deep Sea Research Facility."

I nodded and took the chair in front of his desk. I would be more than happy to get away from this place right now. I was still missing Selphie and I had angered Quistis. She still wouldn't talk to me, much less look at me. I tried to apologize many many times, but she wouldn't listen. Zell told me it was a woman thing, but I didn't want to accept that! Oh well.I turned my attention towards Cid.

He slid a file my way. I opened it up and frowned. There were pictures of the research group I had recently escorted. "What's going on?"

Cid shrugged. "They disappeared. After you gave them the all clear for the Deep Sea, they returned a few days later to make final notes for renovations and see what needed repairing. They haven't been heard from since. They had requested some supplies from us, and Nida made the delivery. Only, when he got there, there was a ship, but no people."

"Are you sure he didn't make a mistake? I mean, it is Nida you're talking about."

Cid chuckled, but his face grew serious. "There was no mistake. I need you guys to find out what happened to them. I shudder to think that we'll have a repeat of history."

I thought of the young woman on the research team who looked kind of like Sefie. What would I do if it were my own Sefie who had disappeared. Oh wait.she's not my Sefie anymore.

"I'll go."

"Good! I'll alert Quistis Trepe and Zell Dincht and you can be on your way first thing tomorrow morning. That'll give you time to gather whatever you need."


"Yes, of course. You didn't think I'd send you alone, did you?"

"Can't Nida go instead?"

Cid laughed. "I don't think so. I mean, you know Nida."

I sighed. Great! Just great! This was going to be a long mission.


"Zell, will you please tell Irvine to cut it out?" Quistis asked primly. I just looked at her and then down at my fingers which I had been drumming against my seat.

"Quistis says cut it out." Zell slumped down in his seat. The ship was on autopilot, so we were relaxing a bit in the cockpit. Quistis was flipping through the client folder, trying to gain some insight on what might have happened. I was just sitting, staring off into space, lost in my thought until I was so rudely interrupted.

"Zell, can you please tell Quistis that the day I cut it out is the day she can just-"

"WHOA!" Zell cut me off before I could finish my sentence. Quistis glared up at me fiercely. I gave her my best smile, which seemed to make her angrier. She looked away and I chuckled to myself. "Quistis, Irvine says no," Zell told her. He was beginning to squirm.

"Zell, tell Irvine if he doesn't cut it out, I'll take my whip and-"

"OK, OK guys!" Zell jumped up. "Haven't you had enough of this? I mean, come on! You're adults! Not little children. If you're gonna be like this, I'm out of here." He briskly strode out of the cockpit, shaking his head.

Quistis stood up and flashed me another angry look. "Yes, Irvine, grow up!" She started to walk out of the cockpit as well.

"Miss Maturity has spoken again," I said grandly. I was beginning to get real annoyed with her. Selphie would never have acted that way. Quistis stopped when I said that and slowly turned around. She got a look in her eye. One I knew too well. Oops. I had gone to far this time. She held out her hands towards me and I leapt out of the way just in time. Her degenerator spell hit the client folder and it flipped off into oblivion.

"What'd you do that for?? You could have killed me!" I yelled angrily.

"Oh, I'm sure it wouldn't have killed you. Just sent you to a place much more suitable for you than here." She yelled back.

"Quistis, stop. We need to talk. Come on, we grew up together." I held out my hand to her.

"Those memories are still hazy for me." She said hotly.

"But they're still there," I insisted. "We've always worked together. We've always been friends. I made a mistake and I'm sorry. I know I hurt your feelings, but are you going to hate me your whole life?" I shifted from foot to foot and looked up at her with remorse on my face.

She sighed. "I don't hate you, Irvine. I guess I have been overreacting a bit, but I don't understand why I can't just be there for you without you automatically assuming that I want you or something." She walked towards me and sat down in the chair next to where I was standing.

"You're right, but just think of it this way. What if all of the sudden, Zell was coming up to you all the time, and always looking at you, and always talking to you.Wouldn't you start to wonder?"

"No," she shook her head.

"Honestly." I said.

"Well, maybe a little but--"

"There. Now you know where I stood. I'm sorry Quistis. I was wrong. OK?" I grinned. "You've got a little temper on you, you know that?"

Her face eased into a smile and she nodded. "Yeah, I try to keep it hidden, but every once in a while, if something really bothers me."

"Heh, you must really think a lot of me if I bothered you that much!" I laughed.

She looked at me, her face serious. "I do, Irvine. I really do."

I put my arm around her and gave her a hug. I've learned that all women need hugs for closure in fights like these. We didn't notice Zell walk in.

"Sheesh!" he exclaimed. "I walk out for 5 minutes."

Chapter 4

"Bring her down slowly," Quistis instructed. Zell had insisted on sitting in the pilot seat and taking over. He said he had watched Selphie dozens of times and how hard could it be? I was a little nervous about that, but he actually did pretty well, once he got used to all the controls. We had been flying over water for what seemed like hours until we saw the Deep Sea Research Center peeking up over the horizon. Zell took a deep breath and grabbed the throttle. He slowed the Ragnarok and hovered lightly above the facility.

"Let 'er down right there," I pointed.

"I know!" he said. "Brace yourselves! I'm going down!" He gently touched down the Ragnarok to the ground, only shaking us slightly.

"Impressive," Quistis folded her arms and smiled at Zell.

"Did you ever think it'd be anything but?" he responded.

"Well, now all that's left to do is take a look at this place and see if we can find any clues as to why these researchers disappeared or where they went!"

"Yeah," Quistis agreed. "It really makes no sense that their ship is still here but they aren't!" she pointed to the vessel sitting right outside.

We gathered our supplies and made sure we had our weapons and everything in order. The first thing we decided to look into was the ship itself. Maybe Nida had been mistaken. Maybe the researchers were on their ship and it wasn't working properly or something. Maybe all they needed was some mechanical help! I kind of didn't think this was the case, but it certainly didn't hurt to try.

We walked up to the ship - it was really impressive - a gleaming silver streamlined body: the latest technology out of Esthar. I had seen the prototypes in a magazine. I whistled.

"She's gorgeous!" Zell said, in awe.

Quistis laughed. "It's just a ship! Come on!" She stepped forward and I grabbed her arm.

"Wait! You can't just walk in there like that! You don't know what's in there. We need to take caution," I admonished her. She didn't seem to like that too much. She narrowed her eyes at me.

"Irvine Kinneas! I am not 8 years old! I've been a SeeD much longer than you have! I think I know how to investigate things, ok?"

I held up my hands and chuckled a bit, after punching Zell in the arm (he was snickering at me). "You're right, you're right! You are Queen," I said properly, bowing to her.

"Oh knock it off," she laughed, rolling her eyes. But you know, I think she liked me teasing her like that.

We cautiously boarded the ship and looked around. Zell activated the power and Quistis pulled out her whip as the lights blinked on. There was an eery calm inside and everything was silent, except for the hum of the lights. Quistis took a few steps and the click of her heels echoed through the entire ship.

"This is kind of creepy," Zell remarked with a frown.

"Why? It's just an abandoned ship." I rummaged through the ship's log and found nothing unusual.

"I don't know," he said. "Maybe it's just because we don't know WHAT happened to them."

Quistis came back, "I've searched all the quarters and the break room and found nothing." She spread her arms and shrugged.

I silently cursed to myself. What was going on here? People don't just disappear like that! Well, we obviously weren't going to find anything here so the next step was going down into the Research Facility. I knew that in the past, some weird stuff had happened down there. I sighed and looked at the other two, "Then let's head out and see what we can find down there," I motioned towards the door. They nodded and we exited the ship.

If Zell thought that ship was creepy, I can't even imagine what he was thinking as we descended down into the research facility. I had been there before only a week or so ago and it had seemed fine. I thought of the researchers, how they had laughed and joked, how excited they had been. This building was cold and damp and there was something there, though I couldn't tell exactly what.

Something wasn't right.

"Maybe we should split up," Zell suggested.

"I don't know," I hesitated. "I have a bad feeling about this place.

"I agree with Zell," Quistis said. "If we split up, we can cover more ground."

"I'd really feel better if we didn't," I insisted.

Quistis laughed. "What's the matter? You're not afraid, are you?"

"Me?? Of course not! I'm just worried about the safety of you two," I responded.

"Oh, of course!" Quistis smiled slyly. "Well then, for OUR sake, Irvine, we'll stay together. Is that ok, Zell?"

Zell grinned, "Fine with me!"

Quistis looked over at me and winked. I was really glad things had smoothed out between us. She really was a neat person and she did have a good sense of humor. I guess she had just always been shadowed by Selphie in my mind. It was shame, really. I think Quistis and I could have been good friends long ago.

We descended deeper and deeper into the facility and the air grew colder and mustier. The feeling that something was wrong was growing inside of me. I looked over at the others, wondering if they felt it too, or if it was just my nerves.

"Look at this!" Quistis got excited. She had found a scrap of what looked like paper from a notepad. It had been stuffed in the corner. I ran and grabbed it from her. Smoothing the wrinkles out, I saw the feminine scrawl of writing. It said:

They're here! We've been hearing them coming, and Oh Hyne, they're he-

I looked up and met Quistis's worried eyes, as I passed the paper to Zell. I shook my head. This was getting stranger and more bothersome.

"What does it mean 'They're here?' Who's 'they'?" he asked.

I was bout to answer when I noticed a red blinking light in the corner of the room. Running towards it, my eyes widened in horror when I saw what it was. There was nothing supernatural about this! "We HAVE to go now!" I shouted to the others.

"But there's a couple more levels we haven't yet investigated!" Quistis protested. "We found one clue...who knows how many more there are!"

"THIS is why!" I exclaimed, angrily pointing at the bomb planted in the corner. "Apparently, someone didn't want people investigating. They planted this here and it looks like we activated it!"

"CRAP!" Zell shouted, racing towards the stairs. With a sense of urgency, yet trying to remain calm, Quistis and I followed suit. We had just made it out the main entrance when the bomb went off, decimating the facility. The shock of it threw the three of us to our knees. Debris was flying everywhere. I looked over at Quistis to make sure she was ok, and that's when I saw a large piece of debris strike her.

"QUISTIS!" I cried, running to her. Cradeling her in my arms, I carried her to the Ragnarok. There had seemed to be a chain reaction of explosions coming from the facility and I knew the whole thing would be resting on the bottom of the sea within minutes. Zell had run ahead to the cockpit and immediately sat down, preparing for take-off.

I carried Quistis back to a quiet room and laid her down. I grabbed a couple of emergency blankets and pillows out of the supply closet and sat down beside her, trying to get her body comfortable. Zell's voice echoed across the intercom.

"You should see it! It's sinking fast! Get to a window now!"

I shook my head. There were more important things I had on my mind. I looked down at Quistis, her golden hair escaping from the slip she always wore it up in. Her clothes were torn and her face was bruised. Her breathing was becoming more and more shallow.

"Hold on, Quisty! You better hold on!" I held her hand, almost angrily. Why did she have to get hurt? "You're not weak! You're probably the strongest of all of us. YOU HOLD ON, YOU HEAR??"

She didn't respond. "Don't..." I pleaded with her. I squeezed her hand. "I don't know what I'd do if you...hold on!"

Part 2

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