Emerald Storms

Chapter 24

“And now, when I look back on it all, trust is something that changes all too easily with the smallest of events. The encounter with Seifer…he could have been shot…watching Selphie take Morgan’s hand to dance, what would have happened if she had shown mistrust? We had to use trust to get through our mission that week ago…and I wonder, now, if Irvine feels that Trianon betrayed him in someway. I haven’t seen Instructor Elvelyn lately, though Squall assured me she is teaching out the rest of her semester at least. She’ll have to make the choice whether or not to stay Irvine’s Guardian Force or to junction herself. She never explained how she walked so long as a free GF, I don’t think she will explain, like every other guardian, she remains mysterious and secretive. The department of magic is desperate to hire her, imagine a GF teaching magic, what better a person…or thing…. I’m not sure what GFs refer themselves as. We’ve all sent letters to Laguna, thanking him for destroying the sensors…Kerei asked him to next time shoot them down before she started running but I think she somehow had fun.”

Quistis paused in her writing to look out the window. A bird was perched on her balcony but a muffled crash from the room down the hall sent it flying away.

“Selphie is trying to organize her belongings. She admitted to a letter from Galbadia that gave her a business proposal and it seems she might take it. Even though Squall says he’s fine I’ve already noticed him returning to his icy self. I’m not sure what Selphie will do; she’s reluctant, even though Seifer and Irvine assure her that Galbadia isn’t so terrible. Balamb will feel empty without her though.”

The pen dropped from Quistis’ fingers and she looked out her window again, blinking back a couple tears. Her best friend leaving, it was hard to imagine the old orphanage crew being torn apart just as it had been put back together. Standing up and shutting her journal, Quistis slipped into a terrycloth housecoat and poured a glass of wine. She curled back up on her couch and pensively took a sip.

A knock on her door gave her reason to stand up again and it revealed to be Seifer, so she smiled and felt marginally better. The two headed back to the couch where Seifer embraced her and silently held his golden angel.

“I’m really glad you came back, Seifer,” Quistis whispered, “It just wouldn’t have been right for you to give up.”

“I never give up,” Seifer replied softly, “I just…pause sometimes.”

Quistis grinned.


Selphie growled in frustration. Since her room had been torn apart she had organized and cleaned it. Now she was doing the same thing over plus packaging. She had a tour of Galbadia in three hours, and would be moving in by the evening. Sighing in frustration, the brunette tossed a box of video camera tapes into one of her boxes and headed for the cafeteria.

The immense white eatery opened up to her, full of laughter and happiness. Feeling better immediately, Selphie located the table her friends usually used and sat down to decide what to eat.

“May I join you?”

Selphie jumped and then smiled, “Yeah sure, how have you been Trianon?”

“Well, thank you,” Trianon sat down, obviously troubled, but not saying anything.

“You have your sapphire back,” Selphie noted.

“I will be keeping my freedom,” Trianon acknowledged awkwardly.

“Good,” Selphie smiled, “Oh, Irvy’s here!”

Trianon stiffened and lowered her head to hide behind a curtain of curls. Irvine came, bearing a tray of food and sat down beside Selphie, also uncomfortable with the situation. Watching her two friends for a moment Selphie grinned and then made an excuse out of going to get food. When she left Trianon chanced a look at Irvine, whom she hadn’t spoken to for a week.

“Thank you for returning my freedom,” She said softly.

“Well, I had ta, I mean, you’re a teacher an’ all,” Irvine shrugged and looked down.

Trianon nodded and then looked around for a bit, watching Selphie as she mulled over ordering food.

“Trianon…”

“Yes?”

“…How…how old are you? Guardian Forces…I mean…” Irvine stopped and looked around awkwardly.

A silvery-sounding giggle game from Trianon and her eyes sparkled with merriment, “I am a young guardian force, about 1448 cycles old…though…I may have miscounted somewhere in there.”

Irvine’s eyes widened, “But you look so young!” he blurted out, then promptly turned scarlet.

Trianon laughed again, “I told you, I am young.”

Irvine stared at her for a long time and then frowned, “I guess…I guess I must seem like a kid to ya.”

“Not at all,” Trianon whispered somberly.

Irvine’s eyes snapped up to hers. Emotion flashed between them like currents of electricity and right in the middle of their heated silence the intercom burst to life.

“Instructor Trianon to the Department of Magic.”

Trianon flinched, tearing her eyes from Irvine and standing up in a hurry.

“I better go,” As she strode past the cowboy her fingertips brushed his cheek, a small motion of affection.


“You guys sure left a lot of cargo in here,” Nida said in surprise as they began to unload the Ragnarok.

“Yup,” Selphie beamed and pulled a massive crate to the edge of the cargo hold and began to tilt it into her chest to lift up.

Both girl and crate wobbled as she took a step back, completely dwarfed by the wooden box. Nida’s eyes turned to saucers and he lunged for the girl while on the other side of the docking bay Squall dropped his list of supplies and rushed over.

Nida grabbed the crate just as Selphie slipped backwards, falling straight into a waiting Squall. He scooped her up into his arms and nuzzled her cheek while she squealed, both of them ignoring the crash behind them as Nida toppled over on to the ground.

“I’m going to get us some refreshments!” Selphie announced, dropping out of Squall’s embrace and tearing off.

Smiling as she left Squall turned to retrieve his clipboard when he realized Nida was sprawled on the floor with the crate beside him, contents strewn everywhere. Sighing, the commander knelt down to clean up.

“Come on Nida, we can’t take a break,” He said tersely.

Nida just stared.


Selphie darted into the cafeteria and seeing Irvine and Quistis sitting together over coffee, she bounced over.

“Hi-hi!”

“Hey Selphie,” Quistis greeted, “Aren’t you supposed to be helping Squall and Nida with unloading?”

“Yup, just grabbing a few drinks, it’s hard work. Where’s Seify?”

“In the Training centre with Zell and Kerei,” Quistis smile.,

“Ooh, we could use their muscles too, well, I better hurry, see ya!”

Irvine waved as his ex girlfriend dashed off. Sighing softly, and fondly, at the memories she invoked he changed his thoughts to Trianon. There could just be a chance with the guardian force. If he used all his charm, all his wit…

“What brought that smirk on boy?”

Irvine blinked and looked at Quistis, “Just…ah…plottin’” he grinned roguishly.

“You devil.” Quistis smiled, “I’m going to organize a class, see you Kinneas.”

Irvine waved and then stood up. A new smile crossed his face and he sauntered out of the cafeteria. Time to dazzle an instructor. Striding up the steps and lounging against the wall of the elevator, Irvine wondered how he could court the lass.

A peek in her classroom revealed the instructor to be curled up in her chair analyzing papers and frowning, though not in an angry way, merely for concentration. Irvine slid over gracefully and noticed she had her calendar schedule open, filled with scrawls, cross-outs and little notes. She was so enrapt in her reading she didn’t even notice the cowboy until he slammed his finger down on to one of the few white squares.

“Master! I mean, SeeD Kinneas,” Trianon jumped, sending her pen clattering to the floor.

“Irvine will do,” He grinned and then pulled a straight face, “I can’t help but notice, you’ve missed an important date.”

Trianon blinked and then leaned forward to see what he was gesturing too, “An important date?”

Irvine chuckled as she began flipping through pages and muttering about various meetings, “Are you sure? I thought I had them all—”

Our date,” He announced, “will be put there, see?”

He grabbed a pencil and quickly drew a little heart on the blank square, “I’ll swing by your place,”

Trianon stared at the little square, then looked up and stared at Irvine, “A-all right. What are we going to do?”

“Surprise,” Irvine winked and sauntered off with a grin akin to that of a five-year old who had just been given 20 gil for a candy shop.


Trianon looked back down at the little heart. A relationship with one outside her race hadn’t really been a thought previous to meeting Irvine and now she was puzzled. Grabbing the papers, her removal of the weapon’s department, Trianon ran out of her classroom back to her dorm where she locked the doors, shut the windows and lay down on her couch.

Closing her eyes she quietly let her body be born away to the only place she thought she could go. Home.

Fields of lush grass and pink-leafed trees broke into her consciousness and already she saw Psyche running towards her.

“Psyche,” Trianon met the guardian force in an embrace.

“Trianon!” Psyche beamed, her black almond-shaped eyes sparkling, “You are troubled?”

Trianon nodded and the two wandered to where Siren usually sat, under a green-leafed tree with her tiny siren helpers all around her.

“Trianon, you return again,” Siren smiled and beckoned the two over.

Bowing her head slightly and then sitting cross-legged on the spongy land, Trianon frowned and looked at Siren curiously.

“I am a guardian force.”

“You are.”

“It is my duty to serve.”

“It is.”

“I think I’m interested in a human.”

Siren stared at her for awhile, “Trianon, tell me it isn’t Squall, Shiva had that problem and has—”

“It isn’t,” Trianon hastily interrupted, “My previous master, Irvine Kinneas…”

“And you are wondering if you should stick to your guardian duties or resume life as a mortal?” Siren asked.

“I am. I think…I think I would like to experience something different, something more,” Trianon groped for words.

Siren smiled, “So few of us are given the opportunity to pose as mortals. With your pointed ears and your pale skin, you only have two strong differences to those you live with, take advantage of it Trianon,”

Taking a deep breath, the assassin nodded, “But yet, shall I junction myself if there is need? Or restrict myself to one life only?”

“You are immortal. You have endless lives to play with, Trianon, just have fun,” Siren beamed.

Exhaling slowly, Trianon nodded and brought her knees up to her chest. She hadn’t had to deal with mortal problems for quite awhile. What trouble that auburn-haired indigo-eyed male caused her.


“I am the man.”

“You’re the man?”

“I am the man.”

The man?”

“THE man.”

“Why?” Zell looked at Irvine, perplexed.

“I have won the heart of my fair lady,” Irvine announced with the flourish of a hand.

“You mean the heart of your magical, immortal guardian force,” Zell stated blandly.

“Details.”

“…Important ones,” Zell argued.

“Quiet.” Irvine snapped, “I’m having a good day.”

“Glad you are,” Squall walked up with a scowl.

“What happened to you?” Zell raised his eyebrows,

“Remember our original plan of smoking the prison men out?” Squall sighed.

“Yeah, we didn’t need to because their main attack was in the control centre and not the field,” Irvine shrugged, “Lucky break for us.”

“Nida dropped one of the canisters,” Squall growled.

“You don’t mean…”

“The entire docking bay is shrouded by smoke,” Squall fumed.

“…and let me guess…” Irvine began.

“It’s pink.” Squall finished.

Zell laughed openly, “Consider it her last act of terrorism before she ends up in Galbadia.”

Squall winced, “She’s taking her tour now...”

“Sorry man,” Irvine said softly, “I know what she means ta ya,”

“Yeah,” Squall looked away and let his face harden over, “She won’t be too far away.”

“That’s the spirit,” Irvine clapped his back and then tipped his hat, “I’m going to train for a bit.”

“See ya,” The blonde and brunette waved.


Selphie peered into the massive mechanics room that opened up before her, lined with shiny tools, multiple power supplies, and every bit and piece of machinery she could ever ask for. Running her hand over the smooth surfaces of the tools, the SeeD smiled to herself.

“This is so cool!” She grinned.

“We thought you’d like it,” Her tour guide smiled with her and handed her a sheath of papers, “Here’s the contract, if you want, you can start tomorrow morning on acquainting yourself with this lab. Everything in here is yours to use, you can create anything you want, within the deal agreement.”

Selphie nodded eagerly and quickly scanned the papers. Her own lab, technicians to help her, and unlimited resources! Everything she could possibly want. Just as she was reaching for the pen to sign, Selphie caught sight of a small sentence written in black.

“All creations are the sole property of Galbadia, the creator and engineers, technicians, designers and modifiers will have no say in the treatment and use of any mechanical creation…” Selphie looked up at the tour guide, “You mean, if I made a ship I have no control over what happens to it? I’m not going to pilot it by default?”

The man laughed, “Why would you pilot it? You’re the engineer, engineers don’t pilot ships, they build them.”

“But the ships are mine, I build them,” Selphie blinked.

“But under contract you build them for us, you give them willingly over to Galbadia,” The man said breezily.

“No!” Selphie stamped her foot, “I want to fly my ships.”

“But if something happens to you, who would build more?” The man stared at her, perplexed.

“I…er…” Selphie paused, all of a sudden she made up her mind, “I’m going back to Balamb.”

“Miss Tilmitt!”

Selphie threw the papers at the bewildered man and then turned to flee from the room. She made it three hallways away before smacking into a blue pressed suit.

“STOP.”

“Erk!” Selphie looked up into the solitary red eye of Fuujin, “Oh, hi-hi!”

“GOING?”

“Yeah, this place isn’t too friendly when it goes to designer’s rights,” Selphie pouted and accepted Fuujin’s helping hand up.

“TOO BAD.”

Selphie shrugged, “You do what you have to do, I’m going to get on the train to Garden now, see ya!”

The SeeD walked stiffly away. Fuujin had always rattled her a little; the silver-haired woman was intimidating and far too stoic for any woman her age. She hadn’t made it far, though, before the second half of that dynamic duo had scooped her up right off the ground.

“Selphie! Haven’t seen ya in awhile, ya know!?” Raijin’s grinning face beamed at her.

“Eep!” Selphie squeaked as she watched her shoes hover over the ground, “Ehh…hi-hi, um, put me down?”

“Oh, sorry, jus’ happy to see ya, ya know,” Raijin blinked.

“When are you and Fuujin getting back to Balamb?” Selphie inquired as she was set down,

“After this semester, ya know, great to see Seifer soon, really miss that blonde,” Raijin grinned.

“Well, see you soon then!”

Selphie waved and completed her escape from Galbadia. It was a long two-hour walk to the nearest train station. Outside the night was thick with blackness and silence had descended on the world.


Squall walked to the end of his office. He paused at the door. He walked back to his desk. Squall turned and walked to the end of his office. He paused. He walked back. Door. Desk. Door. Desk.

“I’m going crazy.” He stopped in the middle of the floor.

Running a hand through his hair, Squall advanced to the door and actually made it through this time. It was three-thirty in the morning, but he knew at least one man would be awake. Arriving at the training centre, Squall slid through the doors and waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. He walked through the foliage slowly but making enough noise to alert the man of his presence.

“An’ what is our stoic commander doin’ up so late?”

Irvine Kinneas dropped down from a branch he had been perching on and flashed Squall a smile, “Missin’ Selphie, right?”

“Yeah,” Squall didn’t know why he was ruffled by the cowboy’s words, “It’ll be weird not having her around.”

Irvine shrugged, “She’ll be back.”

Squall eyed him, “Will she…”

“Selph’s a social butterfly and she depends on her friends,” Irvine let loose another dazzling smile.

“All right, why are you so damned cheerful?” Squall demanded.

“Date with Trianon,” Irvine did a little dance.

Squall stared, “Irvine. She’s a guardian force.”

“…That doesn’t matter to me right now Squall, come on, let a cowboy be happy.” Irvine pulled a pout on his face.

“…Right. Well, best of luck to you two,” Squall said.

“Shooting competition?”

“Sure.”

Irvine and Squall often had competitions. Gunblade versus Exeter. Even though Irvine won most of the games, Squall had a few on his back as well.


Morgan sat staring at the outside world from the window in his cell. He was blind now, but the warmth of the pale sun told him where to face. Bandages swathed his body from where the Guardian Force had exacted her rage on him. They had healed him, and put him on trial, but under the plight of Carrie’s pleas they had decided to keep him in Garden until he had fully recovered.

The young girl gave him every meal, helping him organize trays of food so he never knocked anything down, and sometimes feeding him. When he walked he leant on her for balance while she crooned softly to ease his panic, locked in the darkness as he was. He was sentenced for life, though the courts were reviewing their decision based on his young age and on the fact that, now blind, he wasn’t too much of a threat.

During the confession the SeeDs all stood with stony eyes as Morgan related his scheme. Carrie was taken from the room when her emotions took over and she became hysterical. She hadn’t forgiven him yet, but her love for her older brother was overwhelmingly strong and despite that his apologies had been unanswered, Morgan felt safe close to her.


Selphie hugged her arms. Frustration was welling up in her heart. Galbadia didn’t fit her needs, Balamb restricted her, and Trabia would have no use of her technology. Sighing softly and looking around Selphie thought she could see a spark of light that designated a train station.

When her tired feet reached the platform she noticed a new route had been added. It led fairly close to the Orphanage and a small smile quirked at her lips. Buying her ticket and hopping on the small train Selphie looked out into the inky surroundings.

Stepping off into a cool breeze, the sound of waves crashing on indigo shores sent a ripple of nostalgia running up the girl’s spine. Softly letting her feet drift down the sand banks, Selphie found a dry spot to sit down on. With the end of the Sorceress Wars they all had lives to live out. Squall would be Balamb’s Commander until he accepted the headmaster position Cid had offered him. Zell was enrolled in so many martial arts competitions that he would probably enter super-stardom and retire early to the city of Balamb. Irvine was training to be a full-fledged SeeD, so he had a few more years before any decisions had to be made, Quistis could remain an Instructor as long as she liked, and Selphie?

“I want to be an engineer and a pilot,” Selphie whispered.

She stood up sadly and began to walk down along the edge of the waters. Spray frothed against the sand and dotted her legs as she strolled quietly, consumed by her thoughts. She wanted a healthy career doing something she wanted and getting rewards. Her creations were her own, and Selphie didn’t want to give up their rights to someone, or build only what the Garden wanted. Dreams of her own company floated in her head…her own team of mechanical geniuses…maybe a school for those technologically gifted…

Selphie knew she would have to start somewhere though. Balamb could offer her a good reputation if they sent her designs over the world. The new creative ideas Selphie harboured, however, would go unnoticed.

Twirling slowly and feeling her boots sink in the mud of ocean-washed sand; Selphie let herself wade in the frigid waters up to her calves. She didn’t notice the cold, so deep her concentration was. Wind swept her hair in circles and tangled the short chestnut locks as troubled emerald eyes traveled over the sea pensively.

Maybe this was as far as she would go in life. She was undeniably rich, but not enough to buy the resources for her models. Ships were expensive to build, and she’d need the space and tools as well. A sigh escaped her lips.

“Running away does nothing,” Selphie said quietly to herself.

Hauling her numbed legs out of the water, Selphie trudged up the grassy slope and ran her fingers along the walls of the old Orphanage. Deciding it would be more peaceful if she stayed, the girl knocked quietly on the door, though she doubted anyone would be home.

“Yes?”

“Oh!” Selphie gasped, “Matron!”

With a grin bordering on tears, Selphie wrapped her arms around the woman and held her tight.

“What are you doing here?” Selphie asked.

“Just, waiting,” Matron gave her a secretive smell and invited her daughter inside.

Selphie inhaled the sweet smell of cinnamon cookies and her face lit up even brighter. Sitting down at her old chair and watching Matron lower herself gracefully into the seat beside Selphie, the two drank apple cider with their cookies, enjoying a comfortable silence. Matron watched the young girl closely and could see the turmoil in the deep green eyes.

“Selphie? What brought you to the ocean, Little One?”

Selphie looked up and then shrugged. Putting down her cookie and taking a sip of cider she looked down at the table for a moment before telling her story in a quiet voice.

“I…I’m not sure where I’m going anymore. SeeD doesn’t ever end, it doesn’t ever start. W-We need lives but I don’t know where to begin, I was never taught a beginning…I was just there,” Selphie said emphatically.

“I’m sorry this troubles you sweetling,” Matron replied sadly, “These things will open up for you in the future. You still have a few semesters left at Balamb before you have completed your training, and even then you can remain there.”

“I don’t know if I want to,” Selphie frowned, “I love Balamb…but I want to be an engineer!”

Matron smiled fondly, “Don’t worry Selphie, the administration and higher-ups care about every Seed, Cadet and Junior, we’ll make sure you end up happy.”

Selphie stared at the raven-haired saint across from her. The soft eyes held only warmth, love and promise that the brunette felt wash over her. Nodding quietly and staring into her cider, Selphie nodded again.

“Yeah. Okay.”


A resounding bang broke the still silence of the morning. Feeling his back being pressed none-to-gently against the locker doors, Irvine Kinneas stared into the wild eyes of Squall as the shorter brunette rammed the cowboy into the lockers again.

“You said she’d be back!” Squall snarled, white-hot anger flowing through him.

“I-Sh-She will!” Irvine gasped, “Ow, man, this hurts let me go,”

“You promised!” Squall hissed, “I waited up all night.”

Irvine hadn’t ever been on the receiving end of Squall’s anger before and now he knew why Zell, Rinoa, and Quistis had always treaded so lightly around him. Gently easing Squall away the cowboy softened his eyes and sighed.

“I thought she would be back, Squall, I really did. It’s hard to imagine her leaving her best friend and boyfriend so easily, and I still think she’ll be back. Maybe she decided to stay the night there,” Irvine soothed.

Squall dropped his arms and echoed the sigh, running his hands through his hair. He was so madly in love with the little girl now, but he only ever seemed to realize when she was gone. His heart thumped painfully against his chest.

“I need her,” He whispered.

Irvine smiled sadly and hooked an arm around the commander’s shoulders, “So do I, she’ll come back or we’ll give her the puppy eyes-- that’ll lead her back.”

Steering Squall away from the locker room, Irvine walked him to one of the quieter lounges and let him go. Quistis usually came there during her break and she was the best person to talk to in all of Garden. As if he had read Irvine’s mind, Squall sat down and put his face in his hands, breathing softly and hoping the blonde would come.

As Kinneas left he saw Trianon sauntering down the hallway. He swore that woman never just walked, she was always gliding, or sliding, dancing along in her own little way. The sway of her hips had caught his eye more than once and this time when his eyes rose to hers he was surprised to see the faintest of blushes on her cheeks.

“Damn, I am good,” He whispered as she disappeared from view.


“Dismissed,” Quistis’ sharp tone rang out as she tapped the console in front of her and made the holographic lesson disappear.

“Heeey, Trepe!”

“Kinneas, don’t you have class?” Quistis raised her golden eyebrows at him and adjusted her glasses.

“Yep, just swingin’ by to let you know theres a package to take care of in the SeeD lounge, East-side!” Irvine winked at her.

“Does it have grey-blue eyes and a scowl?” Quistis winced.

“Seifer’s right, you are on fire!” Irvine grinned as she narrowed her eyes and then he dashed away before her hand could find the hilt of her whip.

The hallways were full of chatter as Quistis stalked through them, wondering what she could possibly say to Squall. Her boots clicked on the marble floor and then abruptly paused when she came to the lounge door. Squall was sitting like a statue on the couch, completely still and unmoving.

Opening the door and peering in, Quistis slipped over to his side and sat down.

“Well, Squall?” She asked.

Squall looked at her for a moment before letting his back fall against the couch, “I don’t know.”

“Miss her?”

“Yes.”

“Love her?”

“Pretty sure.”

“She’ll come back,” Quistis smiled.

Another look slid her way, “Why does everyone know that?”

“Because it’s Selphie.” Quistis grinned and patted Squall on the shoulder, “Just give her some time to realize that Balamb can become the household of her dreams. We may be graduating soon, taking the last of our courses, but you are the commander, and I’m a teacher. We’re not leaving. Irvine and Seifer still have to finish their courses, since they started later than us, and why would Zell leave? Cid is his main sponsor for all the martial arts! Selphie doesn’t want to go away from us any more than we want her to leave.”

Squall pondered this for a while before nodding sharply. Quistis smiled again and the two lapsed into a comfortable silence. It was a friendly silence that had been the main cement in their relationship for the many years they had shared. Quistis had used to think that because of their companionship, Squall was meant for her, but now she realized it was simply what made them close.


Zell was bored. A bored Zell was never a really good thing, for it paralleled a bored Selphie. Lining up paper balls along the edge of his desk, the crystal blue eyes scanned the room for targets. The only student he really knew in the class was Kerei. Her short black hair was a dead give-away to her location, three rows up and perfectly situated next to the aisle. Zell took aim.

“Eek!”

“Yes Miss Kerei?” The instructor gave the young woman a look.

“S-sorry,” Kerei mumbled, ducking her head.

As soon as the instructor continued to read, the girl whipped her head around and located Zell quite quickly. Her aqua eyes narrowed, especially when she saw how many paper balls he had lined up. Pursing her lips she pretended to take a few notes, soon scribbling them out and then crumpling the piece of paper. While she worked, Zell hit her with three of his smaller paper balls, causing a few students to snicker.

Clearing her throat, Kerei stood up and began to move towards the back of the class where a garbage can stood. As she neared the blonde, looking increasingly worried at her closeness, Kerei suddenly whipped the ball at his face and broke into loud laughter when she hit him square on.

“Kerei! Zell!” The instructor growled.

Zell jumped up and by chance looked outside. A small red car was nearing Garden and the yellow jumper was unmistakable.

“Selphie’s back!”

“Zell!” The instructor yelled again.

“Let’s go!”

Zell grabbed Kerei’s hand and the two raced out of class. Several stares greeted their mad flight to the elevator but both Zell and Kerei were physically fit for anything. When the two fighters did make their destination they were able to walk into the elevator with an air of casualness around them as if nothing had happened at all.

Leaning against the wall and brushing back her longish bangs, Kerei eyed Zell and smirked.

“We’re going to be in trouble for that.”

“Pfft!” Zell grinned, “It was a first real offence, we’ll be fine.”

Kerei nodded and smiled, her eyes sparkling with happiness. She had thought Garden was too stiff to pull pranks in but Zell had been steadily changing her mind about that. When the doors opened, the two walked out calmly until Selphie was inside, where upon both ran to her.

“Selphie!” Kerei beamed.

“Seffie!”

Selphie squeaked as Zell picked her up and twirled her, her squeak turning into a squeal of happiness. When she was set down she hugged both of them and then promptly yawned.

“Galbadia isn’t as glorious as it looks,” she announced with a pout.

“Aw, don’t worry about it Selph,” Zell shrugged, “You still have a semester or two before you graduate.”

“I know,” Selphie bit her lip, but then smiled again, “Where’s my Squallie!”

At that moment a tired Irvine wandered out of the elevator. He stopped dead when he saw Selphie and then dashed towards her so fast that she had hardly blinked before he had scooped her up.

“Selphie! Thank Hyne you’re back! He’s driving me cra-a-a-azy!” Irvine buried his face in her shoulder and clung to the little brunette.

“Squall…?” Selphie ventured.

“Yes!” came the muffled reply.

“Squall!” Selphie shrieked as the man himself came out of Dr. Kadowaki’s with Cid.

A sharp stormy gaze widened as the girl flew into his arms. Selphie wrapped herself around her boy and snuggled close, beaming up at his surprised and faintly blushing face. He leaned down; trying to ignore the bemused looks around him, and kissed the girl softly, smiling at her squeal. Holding the girl close to his body, Squall nuzzled her gently and sighed into her hair.

“I’m glad your back Selphie, I love you,” He whispered.

Selphie’s eyes widened and promptly shimmered with tears. A warm wave washed over her, full of longing, safety and love. Her arms circled Squall’s neck and the Commander found himself in a bruising kiss.

Zell and Kerei shared a beaming grin and quietly shuffled away from the two SeeDs. The two fighters had cheeky smiles on their faces when they happened to pass Quistis and Trianon. The two Instructors had identical stoic faces, but when the news of Selphie’s return came to them, Quistis shrieked and tore off to see her friend while Trianon smiled softly but happily. As she watched the blonde teacher pounce on Selphie with a cry of happiness, Trianon’s shoulder was tapped by a serious Cid.

“Esthar just called, we have a lead on the man in charge of the prison inmates,” Cid informed, “We have a mission, the time has come for you to decide if you will be an instructor and a soldier or a Guardian Force.”

“I would like to teach,” Trianon replied gently, smiling more now, “Are we departing immediately?”

“Two days,” Cid replied, handing her a stack of folders, “Distribute these to the other SeeDs…but give them some time to see Selphie.”

Trianon nodded and watched Cid’s eyes sparkling. His fondness for the SeeDs impressed and gave her comfort, for Trianon had felt it sad that children would give up their lives to work in battle. Holding the folders to her chest, Trianon ran through them and found her own. Cracking it open her eyes widened, then narrowed, and her blushing face snapped up to find Cid. The old man had run away.

“Yo! Trianon!” Irvine jogged up to her and flashed her a smile, “Mission folders?”

Trianon wordlessly passed his over as she stared at the floor. Irvine studied her before poking her gently, “You’re tinted like a lovely rose m’lady.”

When she didn’t answer, only turned redder, Irvine shrugged and opened his folder. For a moment he stared at it, then he quietly closed it.

“I’m a servant.” He informed her dully, “I’m going to be a butler.”

“I’m a maid.” Trianon whispered.

“We’re snipers,” Irvine protested weakly.

“What’s with the faces?” Zell bounded over and was given his folder along with Kerei. The two both let out happy cries, making Trianon and Irvine glare.

“I’m a body guard!”

“Me too!” Kerei squealed.

The pout on Irvine’s face was priceless, and even Trianon cracked a smile. Soon everyone had wandered over and received their information. Quistis was to be a secretary, Squall a chauffeur, and Michelle another maid. Stationed elsewhere, Selphie would be part of the backup squad with Nida, the two of them posing as engineers and mechanics. The mission was to infiltrate the lead's home ground and look for evidence.

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