PuPu's Saga Chapter 13
by Jeremy Chapter
Setting 13: 2041 DAY 15, Nova Trabia Garden Officer’s Lounge 1F
"A woman was leader of this deed."
Selphie couldn't tell for sure if her legs were still attached to her body.
Usually even if she worked hard and long enough to lose the ability to
communicate with her lower body's nervous system, she could make sure just by
looking down and do a quick check with her eyes. Today was different though.
Today, she was visually challenged.
I hope no one sees me with these on, she worried. The officer
lounge looked empty when she came in and plopped down on awkwardly over-sized
SeeD-approved sofas. It seemed safe enough to whip out her binocular-like
spectacles and try to ascertain the current status of her thigh-hip connections.
After some struggle to lean forward far enough to see both of her waxed legs in
their entirety, she sighed happily and sank back into the huge sofa. It was
surprisingly easy to sink into. I wonder if anyone would notice if this thing
In fact, the plushy material had come up so far around the edges of her body
that she was becoming aware of the danger of being totally engulfed. As the sofa
continued to adjust itself and pour itself out around her contour, Selphie felt
the need to question whether her slim shape just happened to afford the sofa
maximal absorption capabilities or if she was heavy enough to continuously
displace the sofa stuffing with no apparent diminishing marginal rate of return.
Both possibilities frightened her, and so she decided it was a good time to
Much to her dismay, the harder she fought, the quicker she sank. Pretty soon,
she was completely immersed in sofa plush. Had Selphie not left her nunchakus on
the common table beside her construction portfolio, daily Garden news sheet, and
evening officer reports, she would have tore the couch apart. The sentiment of
regret coursed pitifully through her veins.
Deciding to look on the bright side, Selphie decided to check herself out while
she was hidden from view. For some reason she felt fat even though she could not
locate single locus of flab to grip. Half cheered, she reflected, Well, if
anything, eating disorders only apply to Rinoa.
The sofa had covered her face for awhile now, mashing her glasses against her
face, and the number of things less pleasant than that feeling was coming
dangerously close to approaching the number of times Irvine hit his mark that
one time they hired him to assassinate the Sorceress- zero. After much straining
and less than comfortable contorting, she managed to remove her eyeglasses and
return them into the pocket of her orange jump suit.
"Wait! Back up a minute!" Selphie corrected herself out loud. "My
sweaty…itchy…ugly construction uniform."
A fair amount of effort went into producing the desired, caustically emphatic
effect for the last words in the pronouncement. Another flood of remorse raced
through her. Tonberry be damned! I left my orange skirt in my suitcase!
Selphie began bawling, wishing earnestly to be sitting in the standard-issue,
conference-room-style, upright chair by the common table where she could just
reach down into her suitcase and produce her casual dress. She missed her dress
and freedom so much that she started to list aloud the number of things she
would give up just to have access to those two things.
Her day had been awful and even now, when she finally had a moment to herself,
it showed no sign of getting better. Unless of course, she griped to herself,
one considers being swallowed by a sofa and kept from the rest of the world
forever a great way to top off a day of various accidents at the construction
site, losing a contact lens, and getting trounced in the intro to engineering
with applications class by the level 4 SeeD students!
Selphie could not understand why the rest of the group had it so easy. There was
no tangible reason that she could think of that might explain Headmaster Cid’s
decision to have her supervise construction all by herself. Just because she had
uploaded her personal journal online and organized the Balamb Garden Festival
Committee for extracurricular functions, he and everyone else automatically
assumed she was enthused with the idea of directing the ground crew. To tell the
truth, she deeply resented having to perpetuate her cheery disposition 24-7. It
made everyone think she actually liked having all this responsibility and being
the last officer to clock out every evening. Selphie’s mood went from light
showers to treacherous downpour on the analogous weather meter.
It isn’t fair, she fussed, how Squall can just sit by the beach and ignore the
problems of the world when I get to rebuild an entire Garden?
Selphie really did want to help rebuild her home Garden, but what meant by
"help" did not go so far as to include the totally unattractive role of wearing
a construction hat, misinterpreting messy, indecipherable blueprints, being
embarrassed in front of the workers when she held them up, or trying to remain
undaunted by the humiliation she felt when they finally found it convenient to
point out just how wrong she was. The ratio between the number of orders she
announced through the distastefully masculine-sounding loudspeaker and number of
declarations she had to make rescinding her previous order was fast approaching
one to two because she had gotten herself in the habit of botching every initial
order of correction.
On the bright side, she confessed stormily, after these past two weeks, I’ve
proved myself so completely inept to every worker that I have no more face to
She thought about what she just admitted. Is that good or bad?
She observed nothing but silence for a few minutes, wondering which of the many
events of her day was most responsible for her feeling so crabby and
dissatisfied with everyone in the world, including herself.
And that Irvine! she protested with nostrils flaring. Where is he? He’s been
site-seeing with Zell for the past two weeks.
More meekly and perhaps even resentfully, she added, Why couldn’t he have taken
The missing words "instead of Zell" at the end of her thought were implied.
Oh, wait, she caught herself just in time with a sudden blush that surprised
her, there is no way I’m going to think about him.
But even in that almost insignificantly short span of time she took to bring him
up, Selphie had somehow managed to frown and miss his company. But what was
there to miss when all he did was prod her into smacking him, or acting so goofy
that it would be impossible to take him seriously anytime afterwards, or censure
his wandering eyes and arms when he snuck away from her to hang around, and
oftentimes all over, Quistis and those squealing SeeD trainees. If a facial
reproach was not the remedy, a lengthy verbal castigation or in some extreme
cases a de-cleating, full-body tackle could be relied on to keep him in order.
Eden knows how mad he made her sometimes!
Selphie’s countenance darkened at the cognizance of the possibility that Irvine
was having the time of his life with whatever and whomever he might find
titillating, having finally escaped her tyrannical clutches. Not that there’s
any reason why he isn’t allowed check out other females since he’s not beholden
Immediately after that thought, her eyebrows quivered for a second as a new,
scary idea dawned on her. Why should his spending time on other girls bother me
Impossible! she broke into her own train of thought furiously and quickly
dismissed it in all of its absurdity. For some reason though, the possibility
was so overwhelming and had caught her so completely off guard that it had
created a suffocating effect and threw off her breathing patterns. She would
rather be daily ravished by three Behemoths simultaneously than go out with him!
It was unlikely that any of the teenybopper Garden interns would pass him up,
though, so she resolved to make sure that it would be the end for whoever so
much as batted her eyes, licked her lips, tossed her hair, giggled, ran her eyes
over him head to toe, brushed his fingers past his arm, or jutted her hips in
his direction. It would be literally the end.
Forcing herself to move on to the next topic, she wondered what besides Irvine’s
absence, which she could and had plainly ruled out, could induce her to feel so
depressed and crabby?
It could be a number of things, Selphie acknowledged with a sad sigh. Where do I
She revisited first the awful three hours during which she whipped all the
workers through the demolition of a good two days’ work because she had read the
plans wrong. All the while she had prayed that Squall would not notice that they
were tearing more structures down than they were putting up, but with his
constant dereliction of office, it was by no great feat of providence that
Squall never stumbled upon the deconstruction site and wonder what was going on.
The wrecking crew had been doing a satisfactory job, but morale was low so she
went down to the ground floor and tried to inspire everyone with her presence as
a figurehead. Her decision, she soon realized, was badly miscalculated, and the
most probable reason why morale had fallen in the first place was because of her
Selphie whimpered ashamedly at the recollection of poking her nose into the area
marked for leveling via explosives. In retrospect, just bugging the jackhammer
operators would have been a better idea than observing the detonation team’s
progress without the protocol safety goggles. But she had found the eyewear too
bulky to put on her face and clashed too much with her orange construction
uniform to include it in her wardrobe, even for five minutes. And now Selphie
She rubbed her left eye, still swollen from catching that nasty bit of concrete
shard, picked up by the mischievous wind and insidiously carried over to her
side. She had cried in pain and instead of just waiting for medical support, had
rubbed it furiously, working up a storm in the inflamed socket and a great deal
of huff from her. On top of all that, the oppressive sunlight that had been
bearing down on her all week was very near giving her a heat stroke to go with
the distastefully dark tan. The temperature had become so unbearable in the
construction uniform that after the accident occurred, she just threw it off
without caring if she had anything on underneath. It just so happened that she
had her skimpy but trusty orange skirt to cover her.
Still, her body was gleaming with sweat as she stepped out of her own personal
oven of a costume, and because of her crippled left eye that resembled a wink,
her every action was misconstrued as an invitation for a pick-up line. It was
beyond her workers to grasp the concept of ethnographic analysis, in the true,
semiotic approach of ethnography, of her non-wink, or twitch, as opposed to a
wink, so every guy in the quad-to-be thought he had a date with her this coming
weekend. It was not beyond her to realize after a few failed attempts to educate
them that all additional attempts would be futile as well, and that she would
just have to bear their swooning, just like she had to bear her job.
Meanwhile, her impairment was bad enough to make Selphie relinquish the use of
the contact lens in that eye, though she stubbornly tried to walk around for
another hour with just one contact. The lustier passersby tried to hit on her,
mistaking her for being drunk and winking at them. Those she dispersed with
screams of harassment through her still fully functional loudspeaker. After
that, she felt it wiser to restore the accursed orange jump suit to her body,
but unwilling to risk sunstroke, she decided to pack her orange skirt in her
Eventually, after stumbling around like she was learning to walk all over again,
Selphie had to take out the remaining contact and toss it on the ground. Not
satisfied with just doing that, Selphie retraced her steps and made sure that
she had trodden over it. This flurry of kicks and stomps was veneered by her
hopping up and down on it. The students who walked past her during her episode
took it with more consternation than confusion, and only one gathered enough
courage to ask her if she needed help finding the infirmary. She tried to dunk
him in the nearby fountain, of course, but whether because her eye was hurting
so much or because of the lingering fear in the back of her head that she might
hurt him due to the lack of water in the fountain, she stayed her hand and
settled with just knocking him over.
A further nuisance, which Selphie did not look forward to handling, was calling
up one of her aides at her Balamb office to have her send replacement contact
lens via Chocobo Express. Each pair had been prescribed by Dr. Kadowaki as being
effective for one month of wear. Selphie had planned for her next replacement
set to be shipped to her along with all the other domestic supplies by the
biweekly transport. She had not planned on discarding her current set of
contacts so soon and have to wait for that transport’s next arrival, still a
lamentable number of days away.
Deeply nested in between the folds of the sofa, Selphie shivered at the
realization of the cost of an overnight delivery via Chocobo Express for her
contacts. Even if she had 100,000 Gil to burn, she wasn’t sure if they would get
it to her all in one, or in this case, two pieces.
While they’re usually dependable, she fretted, every now and then you get a
chocobo rider who misreads his map, confuses his routes, or lights up the
chocobo’s apportioned Gysahl Greens and smokes it on the road. What you end up
with is a hungry and unforgiving chocobo who will eat its rider when he gets so
high from the fumes that he falls off the mount.
Selphie remembered other bizarre cases where either the chocobo or the rider
grew hungry enough to exhaust both the chocobo’s feed and its tag and began
eating the contents of the package they were delivering. She cringed at the
thought at what her contacts tasted like. For this order, she would need a well-
fed chocobo with abnormally brisk feet and a well-fed rider who wouldn’t be
smashed on some random toxin, on the leg of the trip to her anyway.
If Selphie’s arms had wider ranges of motions, she would have covered her face
in despair; she hadn’t begun to list the number of natural mishaps that could
arise on any trip, including a sprained ankle on land, a torn wing muscle during
the overseas flight, a thunderstorm, or a head-on collision with another chocobo
going its maximum speed.
She sighed loudly and miserably. Chocobos are everywhere! Chocobo taxis, chocobo
air lifts, other chocobo mail carriers, and even fast-food chocobo delivery
Danger, it seemed, was ubiquitous if not imminent.
Selphie considered the alternate solution of buying a new set from Dr. Kadowaki
in the Nova Trabia Garden infirmary down the hall. How much did they cost again?
Selphie almost cried when she recalled the figure she paid for her last set.
After the initial purchase had put a nice gapping hole in her budget, the
additional purchase of a second set, a decision made largely in response to her
foresight that now turned out to be quite propitious, had sucked her credit dry
and then some.
Tears forced their way out of her swollen eye sockets at the remembrance of the
number of experiences she had during that period when Squall refused to drive
her from Balamb Garden to the town store to buy items for her womanly needs. The
Garden infirmary did not provide them, and for all the Gil that Rinoa got from
her daily allowance from her father or that Quistis received from Garden
benefits as a SeeD instructor or Nida from similar benefits as a heavy-machinery
operator, none of them were ever willing to lend her any from their own
respective stocks. Every time Selphie had an emergency situation, they refused.
Thus deprived of aid and bereft of both a ride to town and the means to take a
choco-cab, poor Selphie was forced to run from the Garden to the Balamb store
and suffer a myriad of itchy and uncomely Bite Bug welts. She was not
particularly happy with Rinoa, the richest one of the three who had spare Gil,
not bailing her out.
But I showed Rinoa! she affirmed proudly. I stole the entire box of chocobolates
from the Balamb Garden cafeteria and made off with all of Zell’s coveted hot
She was not sure what any of her grievances had to do with Zell, but she was
sure he had to be punished anyway. Surely someone had to reimburse her for the
humiliation to which she had been subject even after she’d entered the town.
It might as well be Zell, she figured.
She preferred to ignore the blatant non sequitur and focus on how far she had to
stoop to amass the money needed to buy the products she badly needed. The store
manager refused to budge an inch, as if some charity in light of Selphie’s
plight would kill him. In order to procure the required Gil, Selphie had to
hobble around town, soliciting for donations and oftentimes receiving instead
the rude kicks that beggars have to risk and, once incurred, endure. Repeated
occurrences had eaten away so much of her dignity that it was a wonder to
Selphie herself how in the Ifrit she had managed to not to just surrender
herself to do any of the "favors" the choco-cab driver requested in place of the
taxi fare, as she could have debased herself any more than she already had.
No! she told herself forcefully. I’m better than that!
And yet, she could not dismiss the stifling disbelief that covered her when she
evaluated where all her efforts had gotten her- this fine mess.
All because of some contacts! Selphie marveled in disgust mixed with
dissatisfaction. Contacts to which I don’t even have access!
Selphie’s eyes narrowed at the thought of Dr. Kadowaki again. While she was out
begging for pocket change the good doctor had passed by in her shiny new sedan,
never bothering to cast a glance in her direction. Given a choice though,
Selphie would have preferred anonymity for she was not proud of what she was
doing. Once classy car had even splashed a good deal of roadside filth that had
collected in a murky pothole onto Selphie’s leg. At the time she had been in
such a state of desperation and embarrassment that there was little problem in
resolving not to press for reparations.
Selphie now wondered how Dr. Kadowaki could afford so expensive a ride.
No doctor can possibly make that much from customary wages, Selphie analyzed,
unless he makes huge rips off fraudulently bloated fees.
The truth hit Selphie like a bag of bricks. To Diablos with it! The price for my
contacts is outrageous enough!
Until just then, she had no idea that being gypped could feel so awful. The
connection she made between her penury, the so-called "specially-priced contact
lens," and Dr. Kadowaki’s wealth bore a gnawing hole through the back of her
throat and into the depths of her stomach. It was only fitting that the drilling
effect be implemented figuratively on her organs as it had already put a
figurative hole in the pocket that contained her wallet. It was painstakingly
obvious to Selphie that while her skirt never afforded her the luxury of a
pocket, the fact did not preclude her losing the luxury of having a purse or any
kind of luxury at all.
Unsurprisingly the results of her comparing the price of a brand new set of
contacts to that of the overnight Chocobo Express delivery for the last five
minutes were inconclusive. The only conclusion she had reached was the certainty
of her maliciously complete destitution to complement her tragic career as a
construction forewoman and visual impairment, the remedy of both of which were
still very much in question.
Well that’s just GREAT!!! she screamed internally with no one particular
addressee in mind. I hope you all rot in hell! And take Diablos with you!
She flailed helplessly in the sofa’s unrelenting clutches, venting all her
bitterness on the imperturbable buffer between her and the rest of the world. It
got her nowhere, and after a moment, when fatigue finally overcame her, Selphie
settled down and sulked quietly.
It can’t all be bad, she reasoned. I’m sure there has to have been at least one
part of the day that was good.
She searched and searched and searched.
"Crap-dammit!" she cursed. "Nothing at all!"
Well this is clearly unfortunate, she huffed, but then considered, What about my
Selphie’s eyes flashed at the suggestion. She had forgotten all about her lunch
break, and if there was anything she could count on to brighten her day, it
would be that.
At least that’s what Rinoa always said, Selphie thought gingerly, Rinoa, who has
never had a job in her life!
She briefly wondered if all her hostility towards her fair-skinned companion was
legitimate. Passing over the fact that Rinoa was probably having the time of her
life, lounging around the sun deck at Balamb Garden without a care in the world,
Selphie still had cause to furrow her brows and grind her teeth together. It
wasn’t because Rinoa was selfish or because she was dead rich and spoiled, but
because Selphie was sure that her girl friend probably had a more expensive,
classier, heartier, and in all ways better lunch than she did.
Face it, Selphie, she told herself, Rinoa has everything better, maybe because
she’s better in every way.
If she tried she might have been able to slap herself. What are you thinking,
stupid! No way is Rinoa better than me!
The conviction disappeared from her face again and she moped, "Then why does
everyone gawk at her and why does her skin glisten like a lady?"
The sterner side of Selphie replied, I can be a lady too.
Nodding, she straightened up and affirmed with resolve, "Of course I can! I can
be gentile! I can be elegant!"
The less confident side of Selphie recoiled and shakily posed, But then why is
she given chopsticks at Garden Noodle every time she sits down at a table?
Selphie frowned at the illumination of inequality in service. Yeah, they always
give me a fork!
That can’t be because Rinoa LOOKS Asian, can it? her confident side scoffed.
"No, that’s too obvious," she mumbled under her breath and continued to rack her
brains for another solution.
Trust me, her more self-assured side continued, it’s because you look Caucasian.
"The restaurant doesn’t discriminate!" Selphie chuckled, dismissing the
outrageous notion. "Besides, Rinoa isn’t even Asian."
Not even with her black hair, how she orders her meals in some oriental dialect
or tips the waiter in yen? her confidence sneered at her.
You shut up! her insecure side disagreed in a manner quite unlike her insecure
side. It’s obviously because Rinoa is a better person.
Are you off your rockers? her confidence screamed in return. I’m definitely
better than that-
"Enough!" Selphie cried, officially ending the conversation with herself.
Having put her foot down, figuratively, she tried to ignore the sickening
feeling churning wildly in her bowels. It was sickening because she remembered
how even when she and Rinoa went to Garden Noodle together, Rinoa would always
receive chopsticks without having to ask, and she just the opposite. If Rinoa
was reserving seats before her party arrived, every seat would have a pair of
chopsticks in front of it. If Selphie herself arrived early, a fork marked each
seat. Each experience renewed the stigma of it all, just like being branded over
and over by a hot poker in the same place to reveal the desiccated scar that her
heart had tried so hard to heal.
"They gave me a fork today," Selphie mumbled sadly, "even though I didn’t eat
She couldn’t decide if the latter part of her sentence was propitious or not.
Frankly she was in no mood to give Squall’s little burden another thought.
Selphie focused on what happened at Garden Noodle during her most recent lunch
break. She had ordered beef wonton noodle soup but they had given her the item
without wontons. Their argument was that the soup in which the noodle was
immersed had been saved from boiling the wontons. Technically they reserved the
right to give or withhold wontons from the beef noodle with soup from wonton
boiling. They also lectured her on how she should have specified her desire for
wontons by ordering the beef wonton noodle soup with wontons. At first she had
tried to argue with them, pointing out that it seemed redundant to use the term
wanton twice in the name of a single dish, but the head cook had snapped at her
how ordering beef noodle soup instead of beef wonton noodle soup implied that
the noodle was made of beef.
At that time Selphie was still convinced that she could win the debate so
summoning all her courage, she pointed out to him that because there were no
separate slices of beef in the noodle soup and that all the beef happened to be
in the wontons, Garden Noodle would be falsely advertising if they gave her beef
wonton noodle soup without either the beef or the wontons. Had the head waitress
not stopped her husband, the chef would have smacked Selphie with whatever blunt
utensil he happened to be holding just then. Unfortunately for Selphie the head
waitress was more polemical than her spouse and had a much better grasp of the
English language. The woman had proceeded to point out how beef wonton noodle
soup without wontons could still technically qualify as what the restaurant
advertised because even if there was no beef in the bowl itself, the soup had
been made in part from wontons in which beef had been wrapped. Thus, the essence
of the beef pervaded the soup which now filled the bowl of noodles. Further, had
they included separate slices or chunks of beef, they would have to change the
name of the dish from beef wonton noodle soup to beef wonton noodle stew, and
anyone could see that it was not a stew.
Thus sinking all of Selphie’s hopes to acquire her wontons and squelching any
cause for further complaints, the head waitress left her crying at her lonely
table, wishing Irvine had been sitting next to her during the polemic and act
goofy enough to draw the brunt of the restaurant staff’s wrath.
Any appetite she had left disappeared when she realized that she had not
specified which of the eight types of noodle she wanted in her noodle soup; all
their noodle soups could be served with eight different types of noodle, and by
not asking for the third type, her favorite because each strand was wide and
soft, she ended up with the stringy, hair-like noodle which was impossible to
pick up without the use of chopsticks. Selphie glared at the smirking waitress,
completely aware that this predicament had been the evil woman’s plan all along.
Not ameliorating the situation at all was the fact that the default stringy
noodle was also the most expensive of the eight noodles. Selphie was not unaware
of the waitress’ calculation of this small detail either. Once, two dining
experiences previous to that one, she had gotten into heated argument with the
head waitress about the validity of charging more for the default option than a
specialty. That confrontation had left her in tears as well.
So then, because both her appetite and utensils were been lacking, Selphie had
been doubly unable to eat her wontonless beef wonton noodle soup, by now cooled
to a stone-cold, gruesome, curdled block of grease. The smartest thing she could
think of doing was paying for the meal and attempt to strut out of the
restaurant in her gritty construction uniform with as much pride in each step as
she could muster. That activity, too, was discouraged when the cashier chased
after her while flinging the loftiest bunch of invectives she had heard in a
long time, demanding that she leave at least fifteen percent over the bill for
gratuity. It didn’t matter to him if Selphie was exactly zero percent grateful
and wanted a complete refund for a dish she hadn’t touched, he just had to have
3 Gil before she was allowed to walk out the door.
Later that day there would be floating around the underclassmen student body the
rumor of a level A SeeD dressed in an ugly construction uniform, wailing her
heart out at the entrance of Garden Noodle, trying vainly to shell out the 3 Gil
she needed to buy her freedom.
It suddenly occurred to Selphie, sitting snugly where she was, that being
trapped in the sofa was probably the safest place to be. This furniture-induced
asylum of hers was a pseudo-treat-yourself, organically healing getaway where
she wouldn’t have to be bothered by anyone and could have time to herself. She
hadn’t felt this state of peacefulness since she planted those three rosebushes
at daybreak, right before she had to don her jump suit and prove her
incompetence to the world yet again. They had taken her awhile, but she was an
early riser and she enjoyed the tranquility of the dawn. Besides, the roses
never complained, letting her do her job the way she wanted to.
Selphie’s face revealed a grin. At the expense of sounding redundant, which she
felt she could comfortably afford, she celebrated internally, It’s my personal
Just then she heard the hissing sound of the automatic door opening, followed
shortly by the clicking sound of a pair of high heels. Selphie groaned on
reflex. Just great!
Sunken though she was inside the sofa, she could smell the distinctive lily
scent that now flooded the air. Only one person she knew could be reeking of so
much perfume, that scrawny, whiny, little-
"Instructor Tilmitt?" the SeeD trainee called out in a prissy, squeaking, high-
Selphie rolled her eyes. It was clear that little miss Lily, also a daddy’s
little girl like some blue-and-black-clad general’s daughter she knew, was
poking her nose inside the restricted officer’s lounge to see what it looked
like and maybe to catch a glimpse of Squall napping. It was no secret that all
the teenybopper girls whom Garden edified started out this way.
Too bad for Rinoa, Selphie reflected, many of them ended that way too.
Lily in the meantime had strutted towards the center of the room.
You’re not supposed to be sneaking around, Selphie thought giddily. Girl, you
"Instructor Tilmitt?" Lily called out again. "I saw you come in here."
To Diablos with her! Selphie swore silently. Now I have to get up.
It did not occur to her how embarrassing the view was of her hand, poking out
between the cushions and waving frenetically in the blind hopes of catching
Lily’s attention, was until it was too late. Lily tried her best not to giggle
too hard before rushing over as quickly as her high heels would allow and try to
pull her instructor out of the sofa.
While Selphie was not a heavy body to lift, the unorthodox angle at which her
arm breached the surface afforded little leverage for her short pupil who was
even less heavy and whose fingers were much more dainty. Selphie took the
opportunity to squeeze those detestably smooth, virgin hands with her own
weapon-broken, callused ones.
While no more than half of her intent was geared towards pulling the squeamish
girl into the same ridiculous position she was in, the frivolous tug caught Lily
while she least expected it. The girl teetered unstably for a split-second
before falling into the snare. This strange development surprised Selphie more
than it did her victim because the last thing she needed today besides a visit
from Ultimecia was Lily Furgle’s face on her chest. Granted it wasn’t there long
because the poor girl immediately began to struggle and scream, Selphie’s
anxieties did not diminish, due largely to how quickly Lily’s painted
fingernails found her face and how deep the girl’s high heels were digging into
For once Selphie was glad to have been wearing the plastic construction uniform,
which dulled the points of the heel sand distributed the force of the thrusts
over a larger area. With the mini-skirt on, Selphie’s leg would have had no such
protection and the unpleasant gash that would have no doubt resulted from the
shoe to skin interface would haunt her as a permanent stigma of her ineptitude.
Nothing like a flesh wound to remind you of your follies, Selphie contemplated
It was obvious that Selphie’s well-being was not one of Ms. Furgle’s priorities.
She was frantically pushing her instructor down in order to propel herself up.
Had they been in the water, it would not have been a pretty sight, assuming that
it was pretty at the moment.
What are thinking? she corrected herself. Pretty? If we were in the water, this
would be murder!
The girl continued to push Selphie deeper into the sofa.
Ingrate! Selphie fumed. Where is your sense of duty?
She was only fooling herself though; it’s not like her first reaction in a life-
threatening situation would be to sacrifice herself for the salvation of a
Ironically teaching the differential equations class with Lily in the front row
asking questions off of a list was what had exhausted Selphie so much that she
decided to flop down on the couch in the first place. Now they were together in
this mess, she and her least favorite student. It would not be inaccurate to
describe Selphie as being weighed down by the largest grievance of her day, in
both the literal and figurative sense.
The girl refused to listen to her commands, drowning out Selphie’s shouts with
her own screams as she continued to flounder around. Those high heels are really
beginning to hurt.
Lily was lucky enough to break the surface and pull herself out before Selphie
took the liberty of breaking her ankles. With one final shove with the foot,
much to Selphie’s consternation, Lily was out and scrambling for the door.
Before she could make it out of the door, Selphie managed to vocalize a threat
to lower her grade in the class. When she heard the skidding sound of Lily’s
high heels against the floor, she knew the ruse had worked. The girl pulled off
a tight revolution in one smooth motion to face Selphie and chirped indignantly,
"Hey! You can’t do that!"
"Why not?" Selphie countered.
"The instructor’s code doesn’t give you that privilege!" Lily argued, making an
effort to jump up and down to emphasize her point.
And how would you know that? Selphie thought with a frown. Actually I can’t fail
you because we need you father’s donation to pay for all the materials for the
new Headmaster’s quarters..
"How about out of the goodness of your heart, then?" Selphie posed.
Lily seemed to consider it semi-seriously before replying, "Nah."
Selphie rolled her eyes. My whole life, as I know it, has been dismissed by one
"I’ll give you extra credit," Selphie sweetened the deal. And I won’t rip your
"I don’t need the extra credit," Lily responded politely.
How about your heart? Do you need that? Selphie thought in a rage.
Instead of saying what she wanted to say, she deferred to the plea, "What do you
Lily, obviously expecting her instructor to hand her the carte blanche, blurted
out almost immediately, "A one-on-one session with Commander Squall!"
Selphie had seen that coming, but lifted her eyebrow simply because the girl was
audacious enough to say it. Not a chance, sweetheart; the other girls would tear
you apart the moment they found out.
"You don’t want anything else?" Selphie asked on the slim chance that Lily was
being facetious just to distress her.
"Nah," was the same, terribly annoying reply she got.
"That’s impossible, even for me," Selphie said honestly. "A kiss is the best I
"Not good enough," Lily pouted.
"Take it or leave it," Selphie pronounced flatly. Just don’t leave ME!
Lily flipped her smooth, excessively-washed hair over her shoulders as she was
accustomed to do while she thought.
Selphie was praying in the name of every GF that Lily had been purposely over-
"Fine," Lily decided after another moment of excruciating silence, "what do you
want me to do?"
"Help me out of here," Selphie said at a speed where there would be no way a
listener could mistake her words or misconstrue their meaning as a whole.
"I’m not strong enough to do it by myself," Lily whined lazily, "so should I go
find some help?"
Selphie’s answer was immediate: "That would be no, hun." Trying to embarrass me
in front of other people, are you? Well, I won’t give you the satisfaction!
"Grab my nunchakus from the desk and hand me on end," Selphie suggested instead.
"Hand you your what?" Lily asked, not sure what language her teacher was using.
"That’s not a dirty word, is it?"
"Goddammit no!" Selphie shouted, flailing her arms miserably. "My ‘Strange
When the girl did not move, Selphie clarified, "Those two long sticks that are
chained together lying on the table." Is there anyone home upstairs?
After walking to the table and fiddling with the "It looks too heavy for me
Shiftless little waif! Selphie reflected savagely. How much did your father
Somehow, Lily Furgle managed to lift the weapon. From the clumsy knocking noises
she heard, Selphie assumed her student had picked up at least one end of the
"Good girl, now hand me one end and tug with all your might on the other,"
"But it’s heavy!" complained Lily, and rather disturbingly a sniffle followed,
as if she was close to tears.
She is probably blistering her hand, Selphie guessed with some degree of scorn,
but I guess the Adamantine in the "Strange Vision" can be a little trying for
one who has never handled anything heavier than her comb.
After much shuffling, one of the sticks finally found its way to Selphie’s
Wahoo! Selphie rejoiced. It’s about time!
"Now tug on the other end as hard as you can," Selphie instructed.
There was no tug from the other end.
"Lily?" Selphie called out. Come on! Let’s get this show on the road!
"So I get a kiss from Commander Squall for saving you?" Lily questioned
"Yes," Selphie assured her with some amount of exasperation. Let’s go, let’s go!
"Where will he kiss me?" asked Lily curiously.
Selphie was on the verge of breathing fire. Covetous little punk!
"Do you want me to get out and show you?" Selphie snapped caustically.
"I just wanted to know," replied Lily with a quivering voice.
"Our original deal was that you’d get to kiss him," Selphie clarified. "I said
nothing about Squall kissing you."
"Why do I need you then?" Lily asked.
Just wait till I get out of here, Selphie thought, saying at the same time,
"I’ll hold him still so you can pull it off before he can run away."
"You promise?" Lily asked.
"Mercenary’s Honor," Selphie swore, perfectly aware that she was using a
standard term in the SeeD manual of operations that allowed the beholden to
wheedle her way out of 412 possible predicaments without perjuring herself. If
her memory did not fail her, a promise made under duress to ameliorate the
plight of the enunciator was situation 65.
Lily snorted in a very unladylike way.
"No deal," she said, "because you’ll just cop out using clause 65 as cover."
To Diablos with you! Selphie cursed. Oh well, Squall will forgive me.
"Not sure if Rinoa will though," she added just softly enough to escape the
attention of her subordinate.
More loudly she conceded, "Fine, Lily, if I renege, you can kiss Irvine and
Lily found herself in a highly delectable situation and began tugging on her end
of Selphie’s "Strange Vision" with all the force she could summon from her
delicate, first-class limbs.
Little by little, Selphie’s arms and construction uniform materialized from the
sofa which wasn’t giving up without a fight. Lily redoubled her efforts and
abruptly Selphie popped out of her snare and landed on the cold Garden floor.
Lily, who had managed to catch herself and forgo the fall, did not move to help
Figures, Selphie said to herself before turning her attention to her newly
Her knee had met the ground awkwardly and she rubbed it gingerly. All the while,
Lily had not budged.
Well, it’s obvious that she’s not going to offer me a hand, Selphie concluded,
but the fact that she hasn’t walked away is sure evidence that she still wants
"What is it now, Lily?" Selphie asked, trying to pick herself up. It was a
difficult task because she had not moved her legs since the sofa engorged her.
"I actually came in here to ask about a differentials problem in the homework
you assigned," Lily notified her.
You’ve started next week’s assignment already? Selphie gaped and rolled her eyes
almost instantly. I don’t even remember from which textbook it was assigned.
Lily smiled proudly and out of nowhere pulled out some notes and a pencil.
Oh great, Selphie thought, a chance to revisit today’s fifty-minute session of
stump your teacher because you think it’s fun.
"What is it?" Selphie dared to ask. Go ahead, give me your best shot.
"Problem 34," her student read from her paper, "Chocoboy has lost his GF
Carbuncle and cannot refine his supply of elixirs into mega-elixirs-"
Selphie chuckled, forcing Lily to pause for a second. The word problem had
humored Selphie in two ways: First, with the wording, and second, with its
choice of guardian force. Carbuncle belonged to Quistis, who probably wrote the
book, and she would never in a million years lose a GF.
No way is our Quisty as dumb as Chocoboy! Selphie thought confidently.
Frowning at the interruption, Lily coughed and then continued reading, "- so he
prepares a 10-liter vat full of water. He does not realize that this will slow
the mixing process considerably, but you do because you are SeeD trainees."
Selphie snickered again, but this time Lily ignored her and went on, "Chocoboy
pours in one liter of elixir every twenty seconds. If he stirs steadily enough
to homogenize the vat’s contents so it will pump out a well-mixed liter of
solution at the same rate he is pouring the solute in, how long will he have to
mix before he starts to produce mega-elixirs? Hint: 10 well-mixed parts of
elixir is equivalent to 1 part mega-elixir."
Lily looked up from the page as she finished, catching the exact moment when
Selphie’s eyes lit up at the realization that it was a mixed rate problem. It
was exciting for Selphie because she actually knew how to answer it.
Selphie was sure now that the problem had come from Quistis Trepe’s Useful
Differential Equation-Solving Skills To Have As a SeeD Trainee because Quistis
had actually pulled her aside and showed her how to do the exact same problem
while writing the book, unless of course she was plagiarizing. Selphie had tried
to get her former instructor to shorten the title, but Quistis was a die-hard
attenuated textbook-title author.
Selphie eagerly pointed out how the solution equation to problem 34 was the same
as the solution of a linear, first order, non-homogeneous, differential equation
as a function of time with initial conditions, and whose rate of change set
equal to one liter of elixir divided by the total volume of the vat minus the
total percentage of elixir concurrently exiting the vat. Clapping her hands
together as if to dust off any moss that had gathered there during her
professional explanation, Selphie beamed.
Lily Furgle had never encountered a situation in which Selphie played the more
intelligent one so she did not know how to handle her instructor’s swaggering.
She decided to ask her teacher about nonlinear, nth order, piecewise-continuous,
non-homogenous, differential equations.
Selphie wisely deferred to Squall’s unique knowledge of solving such problems;
it was obvious that he came across it routinely during his work. She thus
tricked Lily who skipped happily out the room under the naďve pretense that
Squall was the god of Laplace transformations that she needed to vanquish to
evil that piecewise-continuous, differential equations posed to the entire free
How juvenile, Selphie commented dully. Shaking her head, she sat down by the
desk, finally getting the chance to check out the docket for tomorrow as
dictated by her construction portfolio.
On the first page she rediscovered the damage assessment. It embarrassingly
confirmed her original suspicions; they had indeed shipped out more tons of
wreckage than tons of construction material. The standing figures exceeded their
original financial allowances, implying that Selphie could have built more than
one Garden with all the resources she had already used. It was a miracle that
whoever was sponsoring the whole reconstruction had not backed out. Selphie
herself did not know the identity of the backer, but at this moment she was more
troubled by hiding these numbers from Squall, onto whom she would, of course,
shift the blame. Nerve-racked, she began biting her nails.
I better hope Squall is too infatuated with Rinoa to notice this small, trifling
detail, Selphie kidded herself. It was growing increasingly obvious that her
facetiousness wasn’t fooling anybody. She knew she was very lucky to have so
gifted a cover-up committee that could juggle the misappropriated construction
crew and the demolition team following their footsteps, and make her look good
in the process.
Selphie laboriously regained her composure and scanned over the next page.
Complaints of leaks and cracks in the walls of the new rooms, neither of which
were good. Her chief architectural advisor had left a note in the margin that
was screaming to be heeded. She groaned and woefully clasped her forehead.
I might as well just cross interior design off my list of dream professions now,
Selphie counseled herself. Maybe they’ll have something open in the landscaping
She flipped to the next sheet and smiled. In perfect script were all of Dante’s
notices for her to keep in mind. The cursive letters could best be described as
bubbly-looking, which she thought was extremely cute.
"Donny is extremely cute," she whispered to herself and mused, "What a funny
If he hadn’t been recently transferred from Balamb Garden to assist her, no one
would have caught the grievous mistake she made earlier that day that could have
easily cost the Garden millions of Gil and the entire second and third floors.
And while there was no record in the Garden computer network of his being
assigned to her under Cid’s orders, she knew that the old Headmaster was looking
out for her and had sent him secretly to repair the image of leadership in the
"That or he is just keeping tabs on me and making sure I don’t endanger any
lives," Selphie surmised without any seriousness in her voice.
"He could almost pass for a little boy," Selphie mused, returning to analyzing
Dante, "if he weren’t so serious."
If he’s not careful, Selphie theorized, he’ll turn into Squall!
At the thought, Selphie laughed so hard that she almost fell out of her chair.
She found it quite hilarious and had to make an extra effort to exercise some
maturity and return to her reading like a exemplary forewoman.
She turned her attention to the news sheet. She didn’t bother to any of the
articles she thought were lemons, focusing instead on the calendar of upcoming
events. Nothing really important was scheduled within the next two weeks.
Selphie dreaded the repetitively unproductive inter-Garden conferences and the
equally tedious attendance of regular intra-Garden workshops. The only thing
that caught her eye was the upcoming masked ball. Well-advertised and hyped up,
the huge dance promised to be quite a thriller. Selphie’s lips curled
unnaturally, revealing a smirk as she saw the theme of the ball: The Lunar Cry.
There would be more than a few sorceresses or Rinoa simulacrums at this big
costume party, of this much she was sure.
Selphie read over the section more carefully out of curiosity and discovered
that there was also a short segment set aside during the dance for a break-
dancing battle. Her face lit up, remembering that this was the perfect
opportunity for her to extract some new moves from Squall, who had always been
reluctant at the orphanage to show her any techniques or tricks.
Just as she was finishing up the article and about to dismiss the rest of the
news sheet as unnewsworthy, by chance her eyes ran by what looked like an
amusing photograph. Raising her eyebrows, she took the time to inspect the item
at greater length. It did not cease to disappoint her sense of humor, not that
she expected an image with the caption "Semi-tame Goat Terrorizes Quad, Injures
3" would have.
Even though it was not a cleanly-taken picture and could have easily been taken
for a photographer’s spoof, Selphie tried to make out the images anyway. The
quadruped certainly did resemble a goat, but she had never known a wild goat to
wander into a densely human-populated Garden nor had she seen any goats being
secretly raised in the dorms. According to the report, authorities had not been
able to arrive at the scene in time to apprehend the animal, which the amused
students had been peacefully feeding for awhile before it decided to charge a
few of them with its horns. It seemed clear to Selphie that it had been fed by
hand before, but she could not place a finger on what provoked its aggression.
Still, she reminded herself, there could have been a million things that excited
the animal. Overcrowding, being cornered, a loud voice, an offending touch-
Selphie stopped herself, realizing, These all seem to indicate that it was not
domesticated at all.
Blindly searching for the cause was becoming too confusing and too hypothetical
for Selphie to delve into any further and because of this, she lost interest in
it the instant after.
What else is there now? Selphie wondered in a completely disinterested mood. She
leaned back in her seat to stretch and yawn before restoring her elbows to their
place on the table where the resulting position of her palms could provide the
best cushioning arrangement on which to rest her chin as she tried to finish off
the remaining announcements. She was determined to peruse all the officer
reports while expending as little energy as possible; her energy was in short
supply and she needed to save it for dreaming good Selphie-dreams.
Selphie was convinced that she would dream better if she wasn’t completely
pooped out when she fell asleep; the better the condition of the person, the
better the quality of dreams. Irvine had laughed at the notion when she
mentioned it absent-mindedly once. He also woke up the next morning in the
infirmary with a black eye, an end which Selphie felt justified in having
The recollection of Irvine’s overnight hospitalization was uncannily well-timed
because his name appeared in the security chief’s report, the recognition of
which brought all eight of Selphie’s cylinders to a clunking halt. Her eyes
widened and for a moment she felt light-headed.
"I-Irvine is back!" she stammered, almost not believing it.
Kicking back into action, Selphie’s mind added spitefully, And he hasn’t come by
to see me yet?
The report, which Selphie had picked up in her left hand upon seeing his name,
was now somewhat crumpled, her hand having tightened at the thought of Irvine
purposely avoiding her, possibly philandering in the girl’s locker room.
Meanwhile, her right hand had reached instinctively for her nunchakus. She could
imagine Irvine’s smirking face and the perfect spot in between his eyes where
she could reintroduce her "Strange Vision."
She looked back down at the paper, hoping to find out what he had been up to.
While she smoothed it out and set it flat on the table, she swore reprisal if it
turned out that he had been involved in any episode that warranted a suspicion
of his womanizing.
"Irvine Kinneas stripped of all Nova Trabia Garden basketball court privileges
and sentenced to all due compensation for damages and injuries," Selphie read
from the sheet.
Holy Shiva, Selphie murmured. Unbelievable.
Her right hand, which still gripped the "Strange Vision," seemed to speak, "You
got off easy this time, cowboy, but just you wait."
Selphie checked the rest of the report out and whistled. Not only had Irvine’s
court privileges been revoked because he summoned Jumbo Cactuar and Tonberry
King and thus violated the new rule that banned GFs from the court, but he was
sure to be in serious debt from the looks of the extensive damages the two GFs
inflicted on the court, equipment, baskets, backboards, surrounding buildings,
and any of the players unfortunate enough to have been playing in his line of
sight. There was no estimation of the aggregate cost of reparations listed.
Apparently Jumbo Cactuar had popped out of the ground, breaking the concrete
floor of the court and sending the huge blocks in all directions. The mustached
GF proceeded to spring into the air and fire a thousand needles randomly into
the surroundings. Some needles ended up decorating the backboards and walls of
the court, but others found their way to the flesh of innocent bystanders and to
the skins of all the basketballs in the area. In total, he had sent forty-odd
persons to the infirmary and popped eighteen basketballs. There was no way Dr.
Kadowaki could have been pleased.
Tonberry King had also opened up a whole in the floor of the court, climbed out,
waddled over to the only backboard that remained standing after Jumbo Cactuar’s
"1000 Needles" attack, and chopped it in half with his chef’s knife. Having
satisfied themselves, the two GFs both nodded in harmony and disappeared. They
had reduced that part of the sports center to rubble.
Selphie assumed that Zell had been at the scene with Irvine and had somehow
provoked his partner into coming up with so hair-brained an idea.
Knowing those two, Selphie extrapolated from the text with the help of a little
intuition, they probably scrambled over the fence like jackrabbits to escape the
needles the moment they realized that Jumbo Cactuar was counting down to his
It was not a question of who identified the danger first, but why in the world
neither one of them chose to knock the GF out during its post-summoning prep
time for activation. Even so, it was likely that Zell had gotten off without a
punishment since his name was not mentioned, and even Irvine was released from
custody after only an hour and a half of detention.
So he still had plenty of time to visit me at the construction site today,
Selphie reasoned, even after he decided to go ahead and play basketball without
dropping by and saying hello first.
Unnecessary was the reiteration of the sad truth that he hadn’t.
Feeling a storm of passion rising within her, she tried to single out each
element of the emotional tornado but found it difficult to differentiate between
anger, worry, and amusement. No longer comfortable with just sitting in the
lounge by herself and reading when she was really just itching to find Irvine,
Selphie flipped through the rest of the officer reports in a haphazard manner
fashion, catching only fragments of sentences or those printed in bold
lettering. These she paraphrased and read aloud for no other reason than to
provide some basis for her to say later that she had read them, even if she
wasn’t really paying any attention to the words:
"Ranger reports observable increase in aggression of creatures in the forest;
something making them rowdy; cases and complaints of theft continuing to rise
steeply; Quistis Trepe and Disciplinary Committee have identified the culprit
allegedly responsible for all the thefts-"
She lifted her eyebrows here, impressed by their blatant overestimation of a
single man’s ability to menace the entire society of that Garden, but continued
"Selphie nominated to arbitrate two cases tomorrow; case one with McChocobo’s
restaurant franchise litigated by customer who burnt her tongue on some coffee-"
Selphie chuckled at the frivolous plaintiff, ready to dismiss the case right
there and arrange for the eatery to counter-sue.
People these days, she said to herself with incredulity, will make up anything
She continued, "Second case involves car company General Feathers being sued by
a foreign customer whom the company had the local constables arrest because she
was being rowdy when in reality she was only trying to ask about a problem with
a car that they had sold her earlier-"
Selphie scoffed and made a mental note to herself that the car company was not
to win this case, which was a clear instance of tribal discrimination due to a
She flipped to the last report, reading, "Chairman of construction on medical
leave; blue Malboro cigarettes; Dante to assume position; the end!"
She had secretly congratulated Dante when she read that, but was so relieved to
get the summaries out of the way that she didn’t stop to cheer for him in mid-
sentence. Clearing the clutter of papers that she had tossed all over the desk
while she going through them was all that remained between her and her quest to
crucify Irvine. Shoving them all messily into her briefcase was no problem for
All of this was done in a single breath, and in her second she had already
grabbed all her belongings and was heading for the door when she remembered that
she was still in her scratchy, plastic, forewoman’s uniform.
Did I wear this throughout the differential equations class? she wondered in
"No wonder all my students were laughing at me today," Selphie groaned.
Well, Doomtrain take them all! she cursed, realizing that it was too late to
At least I still have my skirt in the briefcase, she comforted herself, which I
should probably put on now if I don’t want anyone I know to see me in this
disgusting, clashing, retro jump suit!
The fact that it smelled as bad as it looked expedited her decision to and act
of taking it off. Selphie did not see changing in the lounge as that big of a
problem, especially since the officer’s lounge was one of the most infrequently
used rooms in the compound A, and quite possibly the least used room in Nova
As she unzipped her jumpsuit, under which she had nothing to cover her, she
assuaged her lingering doubts, figuring that since she hadn’t seen any of the
officers all day, it was highly unlikely that they would walk in on her while
she was changing now.
As Selphie reached inside her briefcase for her orange skirt, she added
mentally, Irvine and Zell especially, since they had been avoiding her all day-
Her thought was interrupted by the hissing sound of the opening door.
In that second of alarm Selphie was frozen stiff, vacillating between diving
behind the sofa or quickly slipping the rest of her skirt on. In that moment of
indecision, a dark, curved, boomerang-like projectile zipped through the air and
caught her in the head. Selphie clasped her head that was throbbing in pain, and
fell over behind the couch. The unfastened skirt fell to her ankles.
Later she would be able to replay the sequence of events back to herself and
describe the color of the boomerang as more of a purple, but whose edges varied
a good deal from black to pearl. She would even realize that it was a blade-like
horn, not a boomerang. At the present, however, Selphie was too dizzy to see
straight, and indecent besides, but decided to stand up and retaliate.
All her senses of perception were going nuts but she could make out two distinct
voices in the haze and a figure She paled when she realized that the voices
belonged to Irvine and Zell. She quickly reached for her skirt with one hand and
her nunchakus with the other. Three images of Irvine appeared to run through the
door in her direction. She tried to clear her head and focus on just one of the
images, but her perception did not improve.
It was obvious that he had come in to retrieve the boomerang, or rather what
they had been using as a boomerang. Whether he was chasing it because he threw
it or Zell threw it was irrelevant to her. Among the few other things that
Selphie was able to discern were the cheap water-gun in Irvine’s hand, how he
was firing the water-gun at some target outside of the door and beyond her line
of sight, how he was running forward even though his head was turned, and the
shouted dialogue between Zell and himself. It seemed like Zell was chasing
Irvine in a water-gun fight and Irvine had not looked to see if anyone was in
the lounge, which meant that he hadn’t spied her yet.
"Take that, Zell!" Irvine yelled confidently in mid-stride while firing another
shot. "Maybe next time you’ll think twice before slandering Rinoa’s mother!"
"You couldn’t hit me even if you had your Exeter," Zell taunted in return. "This
only proves that you’re dead wrong about Julia because your grasp of music is as
bad as your aim!"
"You’re just making up this Faye Wong character just to be difficult," Irvine
shouted back, "because you know you can’t win this water-gun fight!"
"Ha!" Zell scoffed and retorted, "If you can’t hit a stationary target while
she’s trapped behind bars, what makes you think you can hit a moving one?"
"Very funny, Zell," Irvine hooted, dodging another spray, "but records show that
the copyright for ‘Eyes on Me’ belongs to Julia Heartilly! You might as well
admit defeat now!"
"You can fight all you want," Zell called to him, "but if your 800-Gil
peashooter can’t even find its target, how are you going to squirt me with that
2-Gil plastic toy? Believe me, Faye Wong performed that song!"
"Who has even heard of this Faye Wong?" Irvine gibed as he continued to run
forwards. "Just be a gentleman, Zell, and surrender to save us both some time!"
"Being gentle is something we leave to you," Zell sneered from just beyond the
door, "Mr. Crybaby who can’t take the pressure in intense situations!"
Selphie considered her options during this loud exchange. She could just cover
her face and run past them without putting her skirt on, and in that way
preserve anonymity at the cost of displaying everything, but she realized that
even if she took her "Strange Vision" and trademark orange skirt with her, there
would still be telltale signs left in briefcase that would lead back to her.
That left her with no choice but to go with the only option that remained. She
considered reconsidering, but the remembrance of his not visiting her when he
had every opportunity to do so hardened her soul enough to make sure that her
hands would not go soft during the deed.
After Zell’s last taunt, Irvine began turning his head back around to see where
he going, fully bent on throwing an insult that would level his rival, when all
of the sudden everything went black and something knocked him over the head. He
collided with the blow at such a speed that he was knocked off his feet and
managed to sail over some furniture before hitting the ground hard where he
remained, lying face down in a crumpled heap. Irvine groaned something
Selphie went over to his side and pulled her skirt off of his head where she had
tactically tossed it a second ago. Then she proceeded to put it on over her and
tried to fasten her two breast clasps as quickly as her nimble fingers could,
but she only managed to get one done before Zell appeared in the doorway.
As soon as he saw her fiddling with her skirt, he looked away, well aware of the
repercussions of doing otherwise. At the same time he asked, "By Odin! Selphie,
what are you doing?"
"What did it look like I was doing?" Selphie rejoined just as she finished the
last clasp. Raising her nunchakus with both hands menacingly, she demanded, "Did
you see what I was doing?"
"No, no, I didn’t see anything," Zell replied honestly, "Besides, Mina would gut
me alive if I did."
Selphie shot him a "You’re getting off easy this time" look. Then she took a
better look and asked, "What in Eden are you riding on?"
With a smile that had obviously been practiced, Zell looked down at his equine
animal and patted it proudly. He then sat up straight, pointed at himself with
his thumb, and yapped, "Look at me, I’m a knight, I’m a knight! I’m the
Selphie was not amused, and tapped her foot to show that she was still waiting
for an answer to her question and that he had better not repeat the joke for
"Don’t you see the sign?" Zell asked with a hint of condescension that forced
Selphie to raise an eyebrow. "It says ‘Donkey.’"
Selphie looked at the piece of paper taped to the dark gray, fur-covered side of
the goat-like creature. There was a word on it formed by crayoned-in letters of
Only these two morons, she thought, shaking her head, would take a child’s play
tag seriously. Besides, he read it wrong; it's upside down.
"By the way, it says ‘haxuoCl’," she informed him coldly, "not ‘Donkey.’"
Zell scowled and asked, "Why do you and Irvine use the same nonsensical word? Am
I missing something?"
Apparently even Zell had enough wattage in his attic to figure out that he
probably had overlooked something, and so he leaned over and scrutinized
"What do you think?" Selphie challenged him.
Zell thought three times as long as he normally would have to make sure that he
had a good response before answering, "A donkey with dark gray fur on the bottom
and silvery hair on the top."
There was a long, embarrassing pause as Selphie tried to find the right words to
launch her tirade and Zell tried to maintain a look of confidence to show that
he would stand by his answer to Ifrit and beyond.
"Selphie?" Irvine murmured, still lying face down on the ground but dimly
recalling that Zell had mentioned her name at some point in the past.
"Yeah, she’s here," Zell replied dryly.
Trying to be funny, he added, "Why? Didn’t you see her?"
Selphie gave Zell a look which smacked so unmistakably of intolerance that he
silenced himself immediately.
Irvine was by now slowly regaining his mobile skills and he moaned, "I think I
ran into a pole. Either that or a rod of some sort."
Looking fearfully at the ends of the nunchakus that Selphie still wielded
firmly, he remarked, "Well actually, Irvine, you just about hit it mark with
Ignoring Zell’s pun, intended or unintended, Selphie demanded, "Who threw the
Rubbing her temple where it had struck her, she thought furiously, If this
leaves a mark, I will gut both of you!
"It was Zell, I swear!" Irvine confessed honestly, cowering in the corner.
Please don’t gut me, Selphie!
"It was Irvine, I swear!" Zell professed at almost the exact same time and
matching the same degree of truthfulness in tone. Please don’t gut me. Selphie!
Unable to decide which one of them was the actual defender and ruling out the
skill and coordination required of both men for them to have hurled the
boomerang simultaneously, she decided that it would be best if she dealt with
that issue later.
"Where did you find ‘haxuoCl’?" she went on and asked, still troubled by Zell’s
"We found him a few minutes ago just outside the quad," Irvine replied. "He was
close to finishing his meal of these three rosebushes that some genius planted
without protective fencing."
My rosebushes! Selphie cried internally, her heart skipping a beat.
"I found him first," Zell chimed in proudly, "and the boomerang."
The two men saw how close Selphie was to spitting fire and immediately assumed
they had once again offended her with something they said.
All that effort put into planting them! she mourned, half-way hysterical.
Calming herself without making a display was a great labor, and as she struggled
with it, Irvine decided it was the best time to bring up a proposition that he
had been saving until the right moment. Granted this was not the best of times,
he figured quite correctly this was the only chance he was going to get to fit
it in their interaction.
Clearing his throat, he began, "Hey, Zell, you know how we are paid based on the
number of steps we walk during a mission?"
Zell indicated the affirmative, not the least bit surprised at the random topic
Irvine picked to mollify the tension in the air.
"Did you ever notice that a group of three gets paid the same amount of money as
one person even though they triple the number of steps taken altogether?" Irvine
Zell hadn’t ever noticed that.
"Do you know why this is?" Irvine asked him.
Zell did not know.
"It’s because the two people that are following the leader just go over his
steps," Irvine explained simply, "and there is no reason why Cid would pay the
party three persons’ worth of salaries for the same path of steps that one
"What’s your point?" Zell asked, his interest in Irvine’s ramblings fading
rapidly because he found something else about ‘haxuoCl’ that was more amusing.
"Even discounting Rinoa because she isn’t a SeeD," Irvine elucidated, "we could
still extort five times our current wages from Cid!"
Pure genius! he thought giddily. I’m so lucky Quistis rants and raves out all of
her subconscious ideas when she gets drunk.
"But I thought you liked working with us," Zell prodded him with a tone that
denoted that his feelings had been hurt.
Pure genius! Zell reflected. So unlike Irvine.
"I do, I do," Irvine reassured him, and Selphie, hurriedly, "but you have to
consider social welfare!"
He proceeded to regurgitate verbatim for them what Quistis had said to him, "By
only paying us one fifth of the amount we could have, which also translates to
how much Cid is willing to pay, he is converting a lot of consumer surplus, that
would be ours, into his producer surplus. We as a society are being cheated
doubly because he isn’t maximizing the labor he can hire at a set wage still
profitable for him to offer, thus creating massive deadweight loss."
How Irvine was making it seem like he’d realized this all by himself and the
fact that he was so right only increased Zell’s suspicion that it wasn’t really
Irvine’s idea and incited him to ask from his mount, "This sudden for propensity
for Gil wouldn’t by any chance have been inspired by the current 590,000-Gil
debt you owe to Garden, would it?"
Damn! Zell is unusually bright today! Irvine silently swore. And I was really
counting on this scheme to pull me through this financial crisis!
His hopes were going down in flames. The emotional devastation he was feeling
now was so different from the thrill he got from catching up with Quistis the
night of the cocktail party in Balamb Garden. She had rebuffed his first few
attempts to get cozy with her at this celebration where he thought they were
supposed to let go and have a little fun, well deserved from saving the world
and defeating Ultimecia. After all, was a hug from a blonde in pink too much to
ask for after enduring a return trip from Time Compression?
He sighed, recalling the events of that hectic night. After Selphie had chased
him around the ballroom a couple of times with a fork, Cid had saved him by
calling them over and giving them their next assignments. Basically he got stuck
with Zell on some weather survey. Afterwards, he’d figured that a breather from
Selphie and the corollary chance to reacquaint himself with the Balamb Garden
honeys was auspicious, and left under the pretense of looking for fresh
camcorder batteries, but for some reason Rinoa had left the party early as well.
The difference between them was that she was looking for her room, running by
him in tears.
She locked herself inside and wouldn’t answer his knocking. Quistis soon
followed and tried to talk to her as well, but all they could hear were sobs. He
left her coaxing Rinoa through the door and went to one of the stockrooms. On
the way he ran into the cute pigtail girl from the library. He remembered that
she was Zell’s girlfriend but had forgotten her name.
Irvine scowled and tried to recall it now. Was it Tina? Gina? Something like
that, maybe Rena. No! Mina! That’s her name!
Sitting on ‘haxuoCl,’ Zell wondered what in Eden had Irvine to smile about.
Doesn’t he realize that Selphie is preparing to whack him with her nunchakus?
Unfortunately for Irvine, he was too engrossed in recreating his own history to
be aware of the real world and its real dangers.
So Mina was her name and he had run into her as she was leaving the Garden. He
was surprised then because he had seen her leave relatively earlier than had he;
out of the corner of his eye the second time around the ballroom with Selphie in
pursuit he had spied her making a quiet exit. He doubted that Zell had even
noticed her leave.
Obviously she had lingered, but by now had made up her mind to just go. Still,
she recognized him and remembered his name, so they made some friendly chit-
chat. He told her that he was on a quest batteries and she told him that she was
looking for a photograph that she had dropped. It wasn’t that important so she
was leaving for Galbadia without it. Irvine wasn’t really listening at the time
and so he didn’t comment. She too had nothing left to say. During this awkward
silence it became quite clear that neither of them would have engaged in the
conversation had it not been for propriety, it was agreed upon to postpone the
discourse for a more opportune time.
He continued on his way and found another storage room by the ballroom entrance.
While rummaging through some boxes of electronic peripherals and hoping that
some cute girl would find her way to that closet and lock them both inside, Zell
had run by, skidded to a stop when he saw Irvine, backed up, and asked if he
knew where Mina had gone. Irvine purposely said that she had gone to the
restroom and that he had nothing to worry about because she wasn’t going
anywhere. After hearing that, Zell had sped down the hall even more speedily,
just as Squall stepped out into the corridor from the ballroom exit.
Squall hadn’t noticed Irvine but walked straight past him and to the radio
control room. He had muttered sarcastically, "A message from him? This ought to
The moment Squall disappeared into the room, Quistis rounded the corner at the
far end of the corridor and began walking in Irvine’s direction. It did not seem
to him at the time that she noticed the sound of Squall shutting the door behind
him, she being visibly distraught for her own reasons. He heard her mutter, "Now
I have no chance," and assumed that she was upset because Rinoa had refused to
open the door and show Quistis her doll collection, or whatever girls happened
He had followed her back to the party and watched her down multiple shots of
vodka before stopping her. Her red face, alcohol-reeking breath, garrulity and
boisterousness all indicated that she had had enough to drink for one night, if
not longer. So he sat her down and took advantage of her verbosity, picking up
her ingenious idea which he had hoped to cash in himself. She had been raving
other suggestions and ideas that she would never have vocalized or acted upon
had she been less inebriated. How happy he had been!
Irvine’s revisitation of that glorious night was interrupted by a knock from
Selphie’s "Strange Vision." The blow to the head left a ringing sound in his
ears, causing his eyes to vibrate in the process.
Zell whistled and smirked. He should have seen her coming.
Selphie was still furious and took the time to deflate Zell’s invisible bubble
"By the way," she informed him maliciously, "that’s not a donkey that you’re
Zell purposely made no reply, intent on showing her that she couldn’t disturb
him or his bubble if he was determined not to be disturbed.
"I figured it out while Irvine was trying to sell his idea, which, by the way,
was founded on skewed economic principles," Selphie continued.
Zell made sure that his personal bubble of happiness was still intact, even
though he was curious what she was getting at.
Selphie knew she had him and moved in for the kill.
"I didn’t recognize it aft first because I’ve always seen them with their
horns," she said. "That purple thing you were using as a boomerang was the
Zell was beginning to sweat. He looked around frantically to make sure his
bubble was still there.
And now for the checkmate, she thought with a blend confidence with malice. Yes,
I will break you.
"You’re sitting on a Mesmerize."
Its identity revealed, the monster bucked its rider off and galloped out of the
room and down the hall. It happened so quickly that Zell didn’t have the time to
be frightened. Luckily for him, though, he landed right on top of Irvine, who,
while attempting to rise to his feet from the place where Selphie had put him,
indeliberately managed to position himself right where he could break his
Selphie watched as ‘haxuoCl’ the Mesmerize made his getaway, painfully aware
that they would have to go hunt it down later. Briefly she wondered how a
Mesmerize could have found its way into Nova Trabia Garden; while nomadic tribes
of Mesmerizes would occasionally migrate through the Bika Snowfield, they were
most abundant in the plains of Esthar.
How did this one get all the way out here by itself? she pondered.
Irvine moaned weakly as Zell wondered why he had hardly felt anything during
what should have been a nasty fall. Selphie was not about to let Irvine get away
that easily, though.
"Could you be more selfish?" she chastised him as she forced him to his feet.
"This is for coming up with that proposal to separate us for money," she said as
she belted him in the stomach.
She struck him so hard that Zell, who was just observing the penalty, whimpered.
There was no dispute that his bubble of happiness had been popped.
"This is for leaving for two weeks without calling," Selphie justified herself
as she threw an elbow across his jaw.
It connected soundly, inciting Zell to wince. Irvine, meanwhile, was writhing in
pain and shivering in fear.
"And this is for not coming by to see me earlier," Selphie elucidated,
concluding the punishment with a devastating slap to his face that knocked him
off his feet and onto the table.
While she was doling out the blows, Zell had somehow grabbed a pillow and was
now trying to hide behind it. Irvine, on the other hand, was paralyzed.
Selphie’s glower unexplainably melted into a sorrowful frown and she raced over
to him with a cry. He cringed, fearing another onslaught, but she only wept and
her hands over his face to see if he was okay, much to the amazement of both
Just when Irvine thought it was safe lower his guard, though, Selphie suddenly
scowled, wiped away the tears, and slapped him again. No sooner did Zell hear
the loud slap was Selphie bawling and kissing Irvine again.
She suddenly realized what she was doing again, pushed him away from her and off
of the table, and then ran out of officers’ lounge covering her face with her
hands and crying uncontrollably.
That was new, Zell confessed to himself as he came out from behind his pillow-
Irvine slowly rose to his feet, rubbing his stomach and then checked his jaw.
"Your nose is bleeding," Zell notified his companion.
The look he got from Irvine communicated, "As if I couldn’t feel that."
Walking over to Zell, Irvine held up his hands questioningly and asked, "So was
that good or bad?"
Zell looked at Irvine and made a face before walking over and slapping him.
Irvine misread Zell’s parody of Selphie and tackled his assailant with a battle
Outside in the hall, Selphie was crying so hard that she couldn’t see where she
was going. She bumped into Quistis, who was also red-faced and shaking. They
exchanged surprised looks before Selphie moved closer to hug Quistis and then
rested her cheek on Quistis’ shoulder where she continued to sob.
"Irvine?" Quistis spoke first, guessing the instigator of Selphie’s ocular
Selphie nodded, nuzzling her face deeper into Quistis’ shoulder, soaking that
part of the white shirt.
Quistis in a white shirt? Selphie marveled. No way!
"There, there, now," Quistis comforted Selphie and stroked her back soothingly.
"Boys will be boys."
Selphie eventually regained her composure and asked between sniffles, "Why are
you so red?"
"It was nothing," Quistis replied though her face reddened. "Some administrative
stuff, that’s all."
In Selphie’s opinion, Quistis’ body was extremely warm while her clothes were
somewhat cold and damp.
"Were you outside just now?" she asked her colleague.
"Yes, I was," Quistis answered.
Selphie couldn’t guess what possible administrative duties Quistis had to
execute outdoors that could get her so heated up.
"On the way here a black and silver goat-thing ran past me," Quistis brought up
hastily, changing the subject.
Selphie looked straight into Quistis’ eyes and said, "Zell."
Quistis nodded, understanding perfectly.
"I won’t ask," she replied.
They walked back to officer’s lounge and peered inside. Zell and Irvine were
wrestling on the ground, each striving for the upper hand.
Whoa! Quistis thought, blushing slightly. That’s pretty risqué.
"Whoa!" Selphie cried. "You two getting to know each other?"
Irvine was about to shout a reply when Zell freed his hand from Irvine’s hold
and tried to cuff him. Irvine dodged and they ended up rolling on the ground,
cursing each other.
"I think they need some alone time together," Quistis told Selphie purposely
loud so that the two men might hear her.
"Yes," Selphie agreed in good humor, "it’s cute and all but we’d better leave
"Play nice, kiddies," Quistis called to them before the two women turned to
leave, in the process of which Selphie made an attempt to wave good-bye.
That got Irvine’s attention and he pushed Zell away.
"I’m going to find ‘haxuoCl’," Irvine used as an excuse to quit the fight and
chase the two females.
"Keep going until you smell it," Zell advised Irvine with a trace of disdain.
"Not a problem," Irvine shot back, "I’ll just follow the scent you left on him."
He raced off before Zell could get in another word.
Zell jumped to his feet and ran after him, but stopped at the door; Irvine had
already reached the ladies who were walking side-by-side and proceeded to put
one arm around each of them. Even though both ladies immediately threw his arms
of their waists, there was something about Irvine’s rampant womanizing that
bothered Zell. It might have been how comfortable Irvine was with flirting.
Zell took out the photograph of Mina and the stranger without really knowing
why. They looked really close, and way too close for Zell not to worry.
Zell’s thoughts shifted back to Irvine, the busy bee that visited one flower
after the next, as if they were all the same to him and one wasn’t enough.
He felt disgusted and wondered, How does he do it?
He sighed and, looking back at the photograph of Mina, asked aloud, "How could
she do it?"
It was all too confusing and heart-wrenching for Zell to think about. He wanted
an explanation. He wanted a piece of that guy in the picture. He wanted to ripe
him to shreds. He wanted to-
Zell took his last thought to the wall, not entirely aware of what he was doing.
His fist broke though an inch of the concrete and sent cracks running out
radially from the smashed epicenter.
He gulped, scared by the sight of mutilated wall that he affected in his rage.
Better get out of here before Squall sees it, Zell told himself.
He ran out of the room and headed for the Chinese eatery by the entrance of Nova
Trabia Garden. Just outside the lounge he was tripped up by a really short
Garden student whom he assumed was a child.
Zell pushed past him rudely and callously shouted, "Outta my way, punk!"
He did not know that this one action of his would cost him the world.