Was it dreams coming true? Or nightmares coming un-true? How does one describe the most fantastical, terrifying event that ever happened in history?
Some of them insisted that it was life-changing, (well, mostly Zell) as if there was some normal steady course of existence that would have happened instead. As if Ultimecia stole everyone’s scripts and suddenly everyone was forced to make a new destiny.
Okay, so what happens after the ultimate showdown?
Everything usually just got bigger and stronger; a new thing to fight, a new goal to work for. Suddenly though, the real challenge was to create purpose from nothing. Cobble together whatever skills accrued in a short life for the whole point of taking down a being of such immense power then make them relevant and marketable to the Balamb municipality and the surrounding regions.
They had their big party, maybe a last hurrah of their adventures, or to give a final farewell to innocence. Cheers and hugs and few stolen kisses, most notably all those winks and nudges directed at Squall, who did a fair enough job proving them right. And maybe a bit from Selphie, who couldn’t help but try to see if the flirtatious sharp-shooter from Galbadia was worth all the fuss and the generous helping of teasing and flirting he regularly doled out on any and all ladies.
Life went on. Garden continued on. Squall still the leader, Rinoa still his adoring sorceress, Zell and Quistis putting their skills to good use. Selphie trying to convince everyone to get matching tattoos to commemorate their great battle. Irvine vetoing her crazier ideas first before Squall had to do it.
Irvine adored her though, and when she wasn’t being particularly weird, he enjoyed her enthusiasm. He especially enjoyed her enthusiasm in regards to their personal relations. In bed.
Currently, he was over her, pushing himself into her warmth as she made the obligatory sounds and reactions she knew he loved so well due to the years they’d been together. He was glossy with a sheen of sweat, somewhat from exertion, but also the stifling heat trapped in his room during the typical Galbadian Summer. It was okay. She’d survived worse.
Not that she didn’t complain, she let him have it every time she visited him on his home turf. Always too hot, and he didn’t mind a bit.
His long bangs jostled against his shoulders, errant hairs sticking in the sweat and making small web shapes on his skin. Her legs were sticking up and bouncing around like riding an imaginary bicycle upside-down.
“Uhn uhn uhn uhn” she repeated to his rhythm.
“I’m close, babe.” His movements became jerky and he shifted his weight to his left arm, freeing his right hand to reach for her chest. Only half conscious, he squeezed her small breast, made smaller from her position below, and she cooed at him automatically. No big deal, really. Her mind was on work anyway. It doesn’t have to be stellar every time, does it? She liked making him happy, and he was easy to please. That’s more to say for the other guys she knew. You’d have to be a sorceress to figure out how to get a smile out of Squall. SeeD-related Missions were few and far between, so most of her time was focused in morale and administrative duties anyway, and-
“Babe. Babe. Selphie. Help me out here.” Her eyes refocused on his and she smiled a bit sheepishly.
“Stop following. Go the opposite way. Feels better” he said.
“Erm, yeah. Sorry!”
She suppressed a grimace, probably a habit she was absorbing from the Commander, and reasserted her attention to the moment. Her guy. Tall, lean, and auburn-haired, with a manner learned from the outskirts of Deling. He filled out in the years since they met; his face squaring off, torso broadened. She didn’t remain static in that time either, getting into her second decade and a more sedentary career path worked their way into her rear end.
She felt her thighs shifting weight with each thrust. A for-real jiggle of the thighs. The grimace was creeping into her mouth now. His breaths became short gasps and she knew with some relief that the show was almost over. She traced a line in between his pecs as he came into her, but he didn’t acknowledge her touch. He had too much happening on between his legs for much focus anyway.
Three final strong thrusts, a grunt, and he found release. He pulled out of her, and pushed off, landing on his back to her right. He let out a sigh and looked at the ceiling. She turned her head and looked at him, willing him to make eye contact, just so much as to show appreciation for her efforts. Seconds pass and he just breathes deeply, bringing his body back down, eyes closing.
Oh well, at least it’s good exercise, right? Who needs fun when you’ve got comfortab-
“Did’ja really mean it when ya said you wanted me to quit Garden?” He frowned at her question, and took a moment to choose his words
“It’s okay if you wanna stay on, babe. I just… I’d like to see you working someplace with a future. You deserve better.”
“We have a future because of Garden, though” she replied, recalling back to when they fought together to take down the time-witch Ultimecia and stop her time compression from decimating their world.
“Yeah, a privileged system that just happened to coincide with all that magic and end-of-time hubbub. Garden was only made to fend of crazy sorceresses. It’s destiny is done… ” he laughed at how maudlin he was sounding and put his hands behind his head. “But it’s been five years. We still have to grow and move on, so I think-”
She balked. “You think… You think I haven’t grown? I haven’t learned? I haven’t-”
This wasn’t going the way he planned. Actually, this conversation never did. The past few years he’d been trying to get her to detach from her role at Balamb, and doing his best to build a life of his own, away from Galbadia Garden. But she held fast to that Balamb; he knew it was probably a hangover from the time she lost her first Garden. But five years was enough already.
“Babe, don’t be puttin’ words in my mouth I didn’t say. You have learned, but Garden has not. It doesn’t have a purpose anymore.”
“Just because G Garden was completely absorbed into the Galbadian military, does not mean Balamb has no purpose. It has a responsibility to all the students who went through it. I have a responsibility to it, too.”
She was right about that. Garden had a responsibility to get out every single drop of mercenary blood from the minors that had been surreptitiously dumped in her bosom. Just kids, and they were handling weapons and violence when they could hardly control a boner in the middle of class-
“I just think you can do it without “Garden” emblazoned on it” he looked over at her finally, ”just, like, open a clinic to help them. Independent-like.”
“Irv. Irvy. I know you want that for me. You’re all too happy to cut off everyone and have your own thing. I know you mean well, but it’s just not that easy. There’s money, and resources, and… just things I can do with the others and Cid. Helping together.”
He sighed, she wasn’t going to budge on this. He was all too happy for her selflessness to be bestowed on the world, but it was time to make their own future together and just be a little bit more inward thinking. He could only be so patient, after all.
“Selphie.” He looked back up at the ceiling, “What about us? Are you still happy with me?”
She felt a weight in her gut at his words. Part of her was furious that he would even accuse her of not being one-hundred-percent Team Irvine. Her loyalty and affection knew no bounds and she smothered him in it at every opportunity. Although, realistically, the opportunities arose less and less. And that’s when she felt a pang of guilt; had he known? Did he feel that disconnect? Was she bored of him?
It wasn’t possible. That’s not a very nice thing to do to him! Selphie Tilmitt gives one-hundred-and-ten-percent of her heart to everything!
She lifted herself up and rolled into his side. He stayed still, but looked down to her with an eyebrow raised. Gingerly, she rested her hand on his bare chest, but her eyes took on an intensity that he hadn’t seen in a long while.
“I love love love love love love LOVE you, Mister Kinneas. If I’m not happy with you, who else could I even be happy with?”
Selphie felt conflicted as she folded up her dirty clothes and packed them into her duffel bag she used for her usual weekend with Irvine. It had been comforting to see him, as usual, but he would always press her with hints about leaving Garden. Hints about being more serious about him. Hints about giving him some kind of family.
She just couldn’t get into that with him, he understood her position of loyalty to some extent, but she also felt she couldn’t fit into his kind of ideal partner. She was his fantasy girl since they were small, the girl to which all other girls were compared. He got her finally, but she liked to fly crazy spaceships around the map and that wasn’t exactly a part of the fantasy.
They all watched Squall and Rinoa as the model pair, bonded so romantically by fate, the princess and her knight to ride off into the sunset. Now that was how it was supposed to happen.
Selphie recalled the time a few months back when the girls had met up for drinks in Balamb after Garden hours; Rinoa, Selphie, Quistis, Xu, and a few others who worked in the administrative realm. The new girls were dying to get some dirt on the boss and slyly picked at Rinoa for input.
“Really, he couldn’t be nearly as terse at home, Rinoa? He’s a fair boss, but it’s hard to believe he’s younger than me!”
“Now, now,” Quistis interrupted, “We’re all allowed to have our work-face.”
“He is just really intense about work, guys” Rinoa explained, “He just doesn’t want to romanticize Garden. It’s hard and he wants everyone to see that. As for home…” she brought her chin the the center of the table, conspiratorially, and wiggled her eye brows, “imagine his outrageous desire for success when looking for the G-spot” All the girls broke into peals of laughter at Rinoa’s bawdy comment.
“Alright! Alright, fair enough! I have to see his face on Monday with that in mind!”
Rinoa held up a finger, “Just don’t let on that you know his secret, or I’m going to have to sleep on the couch. He hates when I give away that he has a personality. What about you Selph, you and Irvine have been together about as long as we have. Still working on taming the wild behemoth?”
Mid-sip, Selphie sputtered, “Behemuff?!” She coughed and made an expression as if she had bit into a lemon. “I… we’re fine. Nothing new.” The girls still stared at her, expecting something interesting. She blinked and looked around the table at each of them. Then around a second time.
“C’mon. No talk of wedding bells? Getting him to buy a place in Balamb?” one of the office ladies inquired.
Selphie shrugged, doing her best to look disinterested. Honestly, she’d like to know if there was anything interesting herself.
“I think he wants me to choose between him and Garden.”
Rinoa’s smile faded guiltily. A sense of discomfort eased over the girls, except Quistis, who spoke up first, “Seriously, Selphie, why would he do that? Garden was for us. You, me, him. It’s beyond simply being ‘our home’. It’s the very physical manifestation of family. He… he’s being totally unreasonable.” She looked to her drink and wrapped her hand around it defensively.
Selphie explained to the best of her ability, “He was the only one who was in Galbadia. He just… got a different feeling about Garden from that. And I, for sure, had tons of good memories from Trabia. He just saw this nasty, regimented place that tried to force him into a box he never really fit.”
“So what are ya gonna do?”
Selphie picked at the wooden skewer in her drink and poked at the ice while she considered, “Just the same, I guess. It’s fun seeing him in Deling City. He has that marksman training thing happening, too. He loves showing off to his students. Bam! Bulls eye, every time! They’re mostly city police, so he makes good money from the contracts. I mean, he hates the mayor but has to really suck it up! His home is great, small, but-”
“Y’know, ” Rinoa had to cut off Selphie there, because the girl was always proud about her man’s accomplishments and tended to prattle on and on about them. “We’d miss you, but if you wanted to move closer with him, it’s understandable.”
Selphie tried to read into Rinoa’s remark, and it’s not like it wasn’t true. Rinoa would move mountains to be with Squall. Well, more the other way around, but still. Actually, Rinoa would drop anything and everything to follow him. It was her nature, her story. It was easy enough to give up the material comforts worthy of the general’s daughter to stay with her true love. But, was that possible for Selphie? Being active in Garden and supporting their current administration was her soul. Was it also her heart? It wasn’t fair. Rinoa played her part beautifully, standing alongside her soul-mate, pouring inspiration into him.
“I can’t give up Garden. It’s my purpose. And, I think he gets that too. So we just do our best to make it work! And absence makes the heart grow fonder, y’know?”
Rinoa just nodded, but couldn’t quite get at Selphie’s conclusion. Selphie continued, “If we got too serious, we’d have to make kids next. Imagine! I have plenty of kids at work.”
“Accurate assessment, Selphie“ Quistis gave a knowing look to her fellow Garden staff members, “And thinking of work makes me want another round” she stood up from the table and beckoned the others, “What’s your poison, girls?”
The new girls asked for refills and got up to use the ladies’ room and Xu stood up to join Quistis at the bar, to order something excessively complicated and use that to critically examine the bartender. They left Selphie and Rinoa alone, both a little bothered at the way the conversation had gone. Rinoa, not wanting to look like the smug victor of the gossip circle, had to say something.
“We’ve been trying.”
“Trying what?” Selphie asked.
“Trying to make kids.”
Selphie hitched and her chest nearly floated to the ceiling. “No! No way! Your babies will be so incredibly-”
“Trying, Selphie” she stressed, and Selphie’s eyes returned to their normal size.
“Whaddya mean? Like, problems?”
Rinoa sighed, “We don’t know. I talked to Kadowaki about it, but I think I have to find a specialist. We’re not in a rush, mind you, but it turned into this thing where… we’re a little worried.”
“Oh Rin… Rinny Rin, I… umm. Let me know if I can do anything! I mean, I was adopted, so there’s that and-” Selphie stopped her words, but feelings were bubbling over. As if Selphie was the one confessing to the news.
Rinoa pat Selphie’s arm accordingly “Please don’t get upset, it’s a pretty common thing, really. But…” Selphie’s eyes were enormous and watery, and she stared at Rinoa, “It could be the nature of sorceresses, or just everything we went through.”
Rinoa noticed the other girls returning to the table and her voice softened, “Magic, Guardian Forces… Time Compression… could be anything”
Selphie looked at Rinoa, feeling a pang of shared sadness. She looked over at Quistis who has just sat down, setting a collection of drinks on the table. Quistis looked startled at Selphie’s intensely forlorn gaze. It was a pure beam of sadness directed right at her.
“Selphie, I’m fine with being single, I’m 23, there is plenty of time to-”
Selphie put her head in her arms and cried. Quistis looked completely bewildered. Rinoa shrugged and just pat Selphie on the back.
“I think three drinks is her limit, guys.”
Selphie withdrew her lips from Irvine’s as she hoisted her bag over her shoulder then made a mad dash for the train back to Balamb. She kept thinking about her conflicting desires as she climbed the steps to the car, and it churned uncomfortable emotions in her stomach. Time compression, sheesh. We are all so messed up, she thought to herself.
Irvine was doing pretty well, however, and maybe that’s why she needed to be with him. Not financially, but because he was a emotional rock. He was firm in his ideals, his passions. He had been a flirt and a huge goof when they first met; it was not love at first sight, as some would like to recall. Her fondness came after a fair deal of relying on each other for survival. But he also used to piss her off constantly. Was that it? The whole stable, nice guy thing wasn’t her type? Did she want to go back to the immature flames of jealousy?
As for herself, in the five years since, she shut down the part of her brain that loved to tease boys and flirt with reckless abandon. Was it his fault? Or just the nature of getting older? She yawned and her eyelids drooped as she mulled over the state of things.
The state of Selphie Tilmitt.
The train was rolling along the tracks and she halfheartedly peered out the window. The train was a great place to be contemplative, for its rhythmic movements and the quiet solitude of the SeeD car. Actually, it wasn’t the SeeD car anymore, just a luxurious reminder of times past, but she reserved it as often as it had been available for the long over-night journey back home. Hopefully she could do more sleeping and less thinking.
“Train sleeps are the best sleeps” she mumbled out loud to no one. “Trains are always waaay awesome.” She kicked off her shoes and laid her legs across the plush velvet bench seat, letting sleep take her off to somewhere else.
She dreamed she was floating in a mass of clear jelly. She was bouncing around, and giddy with the awareness that she could breathe the stuff. She hit the smooth, rubbery walls and giggled, “Hey, this is pretty fun! Woo-hoo!” She did a flip and walked a full 360 degrees, defying all sense of reality, when suddenly there was a deep sense of gravity and a strong tug. “Hey!” she cried out, when there was a light. She was getting sucked towards it, and she couldn’t decide if it were a good thing or a bad thing. Don’t go into the light, they say… It means you’re dead! But, what good was floating around this dark place?
Her mind stopped obeying her commands and she whooshed through the light. As, as dreams are apt to do, her perspective blinked to a new point. She was overhead, watching Rinoa, donning a medical robe and held down in stirrups, sweat on her forehead, flailing and clearly in agony. She knew what it was.
Her eyes blinked open and Selphie let out a long breath. She had been holding it in the duration of that dream, until the significance jolted her from slumber. It went weird fast. It was way too weird and uncomfortable. Like, the brain processing her fears and making it… ugh, just weird!
Well, that’s dreams for ya. The car was dark and only the flickers of lights from the occasional settlement reflected off the window. Endless plains, a sea of grass. Surely, she still had hours to go.
I used to have good dreams on trains, didn’t I? She pouted to herself. She turned over, lying on her stomach and resting her cheek into her folded arms.
Let’s try that again, shall we?