Cid leafed through a series of papers on his desk and sighed softly, throwing them into a small stack. There were no outstanding missions to be taken up at the moment, which, on one hand was good because it meant peaceful days, but on the other hand it meant for a school full of bored SeeDs. His thoughts of becoming more of a university than a military unit resurfaced and he wondered if he could make it work. They’d need more research done to extend the life of the available courses but didn’t he have a whole mess of SeeDs to do it?
Quietly becoming excited, he began to scribble on a sheet of paper, drawing graphs, maps, and jotting down everything that came to mind. Three hours later with a stack of notes he rushed to Xu’s office and threw them on her desk while borrowing her phone to babble excitedly to Matron.
Xu let her eyes flick over the papers and she smiled slowly. This would be a perfect new beginning to tide Balamb over when missions became scarce. She just hoped the SeeDs would go along with it smoothly.
“Meeting.” Squall announced in a clipped tone as he stuck his head into Quistis’ dorm and promptly withdrew it after the message was over.
‘Don’t look at half naked Seifer. Don’t look at his clothes all over her floor. Quistis is not sleeping with Seifer. She is not.’
Shuddering at the mental image, Squall shook his head to clear his mind and went to go find Zell. A giggle from Quistis drifted out of her room sending the commander to a brilliant shade of scarlet.
Zell was easy to find. The blonde was training with Kerei out in the Training Centre and both of them were flushed with excitement and covered in sheens of sweat. It was easy to see that Zell had become Kerei’s idol, and Zell had been feeling more confident now that someone appreciated him as much as Kerei did. The two were inseparable in class and during practice.
“Hey!” Squall called from the doorway, hailing their attention.
“Yo!” Zell grinned, before doubling over, “Urk! Time out Kerei!”
Kerei, who had pulled a fast punch on him, though light, laughed and flicked her long bangs out of her eyes, “What’s up Squall?”
“Cid’s called a meeting, see you there.” Squall gave a tiny salute and swung off to locate Irvine, Trianon and Michelle.
When everyone was rounded up they trooped to the main conference room and pulled up chairs. Squall was surprised to see almost all the instructors also present in the room but he decided it must be something concerning the future of Balamb.
Cid walked in and sat down at the head of the table, shuffling through stacks of papers and trying to keep the smile off his face. He cleared his throat and allowed a few minutes of quick shuffling as everyone found seats and got themselves organized before starting.
“This is a very spontaneous meeting, and I apologize for the urgency of it but this simply cannot wait. As you’ve all known, I’m sure. Balamb cannot function solely as a mercenary unit. There will not always be a mission at hand to carry out, and if there are no missions, then it is safe to say Balamb will not be receiving the funding it requires to operate. To extend the life of our dear establishment I am going to be launching Balamb into a fully functional academic university. We will hire more instructors, professors, and draw in more students. Of course, any self-respecting university also needs updated information and up-to-date research in order to prolong the information of its courses.” Cid stood up and paced slowly, letting this information sink in.
“What about the missions and the military backing of Balamb?” Quistis asked instantly.
“Still there. SeeDs will still be trained here and missions will still be accepted. However, the amount of SeeDs we have is far greater than we need at this point,” Cid continued.
A great number of faces paled at this, and Cid hurriedly rushed on, “So I will be placing you, scattering you, around the world on temporary leave to research varying subjects for the …ahem…University of Balamb Garden.”
Quistis’ eyebrows rose and she seemed pleased. A researching trip would be more like a vacation. Balamb did need to head in a new direction but by keeping the military units training they would still provide a safe presence for someone to turn to. She could see the panic dimming from her companions and they all waited for Cid to continue.
“I’ve had all the academic instructors review their courses and consider what needs to be changed. I’ve made special ‘missions’, if you will, for the SeeDs to carry out over a six-month period. You will conduct these in pairs, for the most part, and not all of you will go.”
Troubled looks shot back and forth.
“And so the break up is thus: ” Cid paused for dramatic effect, “Quistis is to research psychology, the effects of diplomacy, and emotions in as many creatures the Garden has contacted as you can. Being that you will be poking around in some touchy areas of creature psyche, I’d recommend bringing someone along with you.”
Quistis smiled, almost shyly, and cast a sapphire gaze at Seifer who nodded and squeezed her hand. Psychology had been a favourite subject of hers that wasn’t covered much in Balamb, and Creature Psyche would open up some interesting finds, especially with telepathic life forms.
“Selphie, I’m sending you to go find building materials for Balamb’s new Zodiac fleet. The best of the best, and don’t worry, it will all be paid for, of course, you’ll need someone who knows Balamb’s inner workings through and through.”
Selphie’s eyes widened and she jumped out of her seat, “I can go with Squallie!”
Squall didn’t know whether to smile over the six months with Selphie or wince at her nickname for him. He could see the smirks on Seifer, Irvine, and Zell’s faces grow. Selphie, however, was too excited. She had sat down but was now scribbling out plans and places to go, adding in little touristy things to do as well. A six month trip to grab as many high-tech trinkets for her ships was the perfect getaway, and with Squall at her side not only was she in for the most wonderful romantic holiday…but Sir Laguna would grant her the best mechanics from Esthar! She cast him an excited look, her green eyes twinkling, before sending a grateful glance to Cid.
“On magic studies I’ve decided Instructor Trianon can look at this “new GF” matter and collect data for a new set of courses. I wish you to take SeeD Michelle with you, as she is new to the life of being paired with a Guardian Force. Start with teaching Michelle the basics, then move on to your higher objectives,” Cid instructed.
Trianon nodded and gave Michelle a soft smile. The Guardian had lost some of her stoic nature towards the other SeeDs and was beginning to blend in better.
“Zell, Kerei, and Irvine shall remain as SeeDs on call. I think two martial artists and a sniper make a very good fighting unit. You will also be in charge of training the cadets, I hope you’re ready for them.” Cid smiled.
Disappointed that he wasn’t going with Trianon, Irvine nodded slowly and managed to give Zell a happy smile. He was sad though, Squall got to be with Selphie, and Seifer got to be with Quistis, why hadn’t he been paired up with Trianon? Kerei passed the Cowboy a sympathetic glance but before she could even say anything, Cid was dismissing the SeeDs.
As they filed out Irvine sighed and found Trianon’s hand.
“I wish I could go with you, I get a bad feeling inside every time we’re apart,” he said quietly.
“Don’t worry, I will be around while training Michelle.” Trianon stroked his hand with her thumb.
Irvine nodded and then looked at his folder, “Well…I better go over what I need to do. When’s your next free opening? I still owe you that date.”
A grin graced her pale face, “It will not take long to train Michelle, I will take her out tonight, and for the next three days. So…on the fourth? Wednesday?”
“Sounds good, darlin’,” Irvine leaned down and gave her a soft kiss as he strode away.
“We should take these…and these…and this…oh! Do you think we’ll need these?” Selphie held up wetsuits and diving gear.
“Why would we need that?” Squall stared at her, “Do you expect to go diving?”
“I did once,” She said nostalgically, “It was fun swimming with all the fishies…so you don’t think we’ll need it?”
“…No.” Squall kept staring at her.
“Well, I never know what to pack!” She wailed.
“Some clothes, maybe a book or something to read during travel, money, lists of things you’ll need to buy for the ships. All your bottles and whatnot in your bathroom,” Squall waved his hand in the air, “You know.”
Selphie nodded and grabbed everything he said before peering into Squall’s suitcases for more ideas. They would leave tomorrow morning, neither of them wanting to wait any longer for this ‘vacation’ of sorts. Six months was a long time but Selphie was looking forward to it. She could visit Trabia, and Sir Laguna, and maybe find out more about the mysterious man named Squall.
Trianon smiled at Michelle as the two of them climbed into the Ragnarok. Both of them had agreed to go somewhere secluded where giant spiders would be overlooked and the enemies wouldn’t be knocked out after one hit. Neither of them knew Serachnid’s power level, and this would be the perfect opportunity to find out.
With Nida volunteering to be their captain, the three of them set out into the golden afternoon. A map lay neglected on an empty seat behind them, a red marker having circled their destination, with its coordinates memorized by all three SeeDs.
“When I was young, the Island Closest to Heaven really was named for what it was like. Everything there was so lush…” Trianon smiled wistfully, “But then it was corrupted and now stands no different from the Island Closest to Hell.”
“Still. The Island Closest to Hell will make a great place to practice.” Michelle beamed, “As long as we stay away from those Ruby Dragons.”
“Yes, they might be a bit too difficult for us right now, for our purpose,” Trianon agreed solemnly, rising from her chair as the island came into view.
Nida took them down gracefully and then opened the hatch for the two women. When the trio had climbed out, all smiled at the balmy air. Autumn was being held off by a fighting summer.
“Well, shall we walk around and lure some beasts to us?” Nida asked cheerfully.
“Sounds good to me!” Michelle grinned, striding along the turf.
They spent three hours fighting the smaller dragons, and even by chance a Ruby Dragon. The sun was setting, making their world dim to a muted golden glow, and Trianon decided they had done enough work for the evening. As they started back to the Ragnarok Nida paused and held his arm up.
“Does the ship look weird to you?” He asked,
Trianon looked up from where she had been studying her sapphire. Irvine had given it back to her for her mission, which had made her sad, but she understood the necessity of it. As she looked up her sharp vision instantly saw the problem.
“A malboro!” She looked alarmed.
“Oh no…” Michelle backed up, “I’m awful at fighting those,”
“Most people are,” Nida swallowed, “What do we do? Wait for it to leave the ship?”
“That could take ages,” Trianon shook her head, “We need to fight it off.”
“Trianon…I didn’t equip myself with the defences needed to take on a Malboro.” Michelle whispered.
“Then stand back and use Serachnid,” Trianon replied, starting forward, “We only need to hold it off for as long as it takes to get Nida in the Ragnarok.”
The malboro was clearly agitated about something. Its long tentacles were coiled around the Ragnarok and it was pushing the ship closer to the edge of the island. Sea spray crashed against the shores and dusted the ship with a spattering of droplets, making the SeeDs all too aware of how close their ship was to sinking into the wet sands.
Gearing up, Trianon unsheathed her relatively simple blade and dashed forward. She cut deeply into one of the rubbery tentacles and was pushed back immediately. The malboro roared at her and let go of the Ragnarok with all but two of its arms, turning its attention to the SeeDs.
“Michelle!” Trianon yelled, scrambling for purchase as arms swung all around her.
The Spider burst into creation, wrapping the Malboro in its sticky web and freezing the creature. Sparks ran down the spider’s legs, hissing and popping as they skittered over the web and up into the Malboro, electrifying and sending up puffs of smoke. Serachnid seemed to highly enjoy the ordeal, sending shockwave after shockwave until his magic was exhausted. The Malboro, after being freed from the web, roared even louder, its injured arms flailing.
“Michelle!” Trianon escaped from the arms and dove towards the younger girl as an appendage came rushing down at her.
The two of them rolled to safety, but the Malboro was not done. Gearing up its most feared attack, it let out a cloud of noxious gases, sending Michelle reeling and Trianon to a dizzying halt.
Nida had been creeping along the underbelly of the ship and hadn’t even noticed the change in his companions. Michelle was stumbling around as if she were drunk, her eyes blinded and arms trying to find the catches to the brace of her daggers. Trianon was only suffering from mild poison though, her status as a Guardian Force making her nearly invincible to status ailments.
Seeing that Michelle had been rendered useless, Trianon held her sword tightly and made another rush at the beast. This swing chopped off an entire chunk of the tentacle that was careening down at her. The Malboro went insane with pain and began to writhe everywhere, the motions making Trianon at high risk. She stood at the very base of the beast, trapped within the wildly swinging arms and trying mightily to get out unscathed. As the cerulean-haired woman tried to make a run for it, a large tentacle swept her off her feet and into the air. Trianon bit her tongue to keep from crying out as she landed in the grasp of the Malboro, its rubbery limb circling around her torso and squeezing the life from her. The beast batted Michelle around like a rag doll and was still pushing the Ragnarok into the ocean!
Trianon felt her face go scarlet with the lack of air she so desperately needed. The tentacle was holding her so tightly it was cutting through her belt, and she watched in dismay as her potions, sheath, and every other item she carried fell uselessly to the ground. Unfortunately for Trianon she had other things to worry about. Her sapphire was caught on the tentacle’s suctioned bottom and the chain was digging into her neck. She knew if the sapphire came off her greater power would be shut down, and worse, what if they lost it?
“Ni---da!” Trianon gasped out as much as she could, “Help!”
Kicking at the tentacle didn’t do much, but if she could distract it enough for Nida to get into the ship and begin firing maybe they stood a chance. As Michelle fell to the ground below, completely unaware of her surroundings, Nida managed to get to the hatch. He paused, looking at the green creature, and noticed to his horror that Trianon was being waved in the air and slowly suffocated.
“Leviathan!” Nida summoned urgently, watching the sea serpent deal out its fearsome damage and send the Malboro reeling.
The action let Trianon grab a breath of air and she used to yell at Nida, “Nida! My sapphire!”
The panic in her voice reached him instantly and Nida felt himself pale as the tentacle squeezed her again and shook her fiercely. A small blue glitter fell from the squirming form of Trianon and Nida leapt into the battle to save it.
The chain had been ripped but its brilliance was what led Nida to its location. He scooped up the fragments of chain and darted away from the creature as it swung an arm to him. As he wrapped the broken chain around his wrist he felt a sickening lurch inside him. Trianon vanished from the Malboro and slammed straight into his mind.
Disoriented beyond belief, Nida stumbled straight into the Malboro. He had half a mind to cast Esuna on Michelle and just as he watched her sit up and hold her head in her hands, a thick, seared off end of a tentacle pounded into his body and sent the man flying straight off into the water.
Quistis put the last of her binders away and looked at the assortment of suitcases she was bringing with her. For six months she had two medium-sized bags of all-weather clothes and a third for her notes and tools. Seifer dragged two large bags into her dorm and the two stood in a moment of silence, looking over their belongings.
“Six months, think we have time to hit the beach in there?” she asked, a smile hovering on her lips.
“The study of crustacean psyche sounds like it would be remarkably interesting,” Seifer remarked, a smirk forming.
Quistis grinned now and poked him in the ribs, “When was the last time you were on a real vacation?”
Shadows flitted over Seifer’s eyes and he shook his head, “A long time.”
“So there you go. We will want a holiday to break up research anyhow, as long as we meet all our obligations on time I see no reason why we can’t have some play too.”
“Ah, Trepe, always thinking about your job first,” Seifer ruffled her hair which made her shriek.
“Relax Trepe, it looks good down,” Seifer rolled his eyes,
“Seifer Almasy let us establish one thing: you do not put tangles in my hair!”
Nida resurfaced and spat out a mouthful of salty brine. Clinging to the shore as waves crashed on top of him he dragged his soaking body up the bank and watched Michelle fire every spell she knew at the Malboro from behind the Ragnarok.
The air had been knocked out of him with the swing, and Nida clung to the sandy grass, trying to catch his breath. His entire body rang with pain from the solid hit of the tentacle to his body.
The Malboro was fatally injured by now, its limbs were limp and body slumped over. Nida took the risk of crawling around it to get to Michelle and as his tired arms pulled him through the grass he felt relief sweep through his body—One last water-based spell at the Malboro tumbled down.
Michelle rushed over to him. It was dark by now but her eyes had adjusted enough to locate the man and collapse beside him.
“I’m okay…well…sprained leg maybe, got any cures?”
Nida sighed at the cooling sensation and slowly sat up, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Michelle sounded close to tears, “What happened to Trianon?”
“Her sapphire got snapped off her neck, I wrapped it around my wrist,” Nida took in a few gulps of air.
“Then where did you put it?” Michelle inquired worriedly.
Nida looked at her in confusion and then stared down at his wrists. His bare, empty, wrists.
“Oh Hyne, it must have fallen off!”
Michelle paled and then bolted to her feet, scrambling over to the Malboro and dropping to her knees where she frantically searched through the grass. Nida was soon with her limping, and still injured, but his heart was heavy and telling him it was a lost case.
“Michelle…it may have come loose in the ocean.”
“No! She’s not gone! She’s around here somewhere!” Michelle screamed at him, her fingers digging through the sand in her panic.
Nida felt tears burn at his eyes, “I’m telling you Michelle, I got thrown right into the water, the waves pulled it off me.”
“Then we’ll search in the ocean!”
Nida tried to grab her uniform as the pigtailed-woman dashed into the water. He missed her by a scant inch and despairingly followed her. In an hour of silence they sloshed through the water, digging through the sand, and finding nothing.
“I was thrown into the deep bank over there, we can’t find it at night, Michelle, we can come back in the morning.”
“The tide will have changed! She’ll be lost forever if we don’t find her now! Go get the waterproof flashlights from the Ragnarok!” Michelle ordered shrilly.
Nida nodded woodenly. Guilt wracked him and tears overflowed from his eyes. His heart felt like ash. Stumbling back to the ship he found the flashlights and paused by the Comm. System.
“This is Ragnarok to Balamb, come in please,” He whispered brokenly.
“Nida? Are you okay? What’s wrong?” Xu’s static voice came in.
“Xu…oh Hyne Xu…” Nida began to cry in great heaves against the speaker grill, “I-I lost her…Xu I lost her! Michelle’s in the ocean, just a mess…all torn up…both of us...and I…I lost…her…”
“Nida? Hold on, I’m sending back up.”
Xu ran down to the dorms and starting banging on Selphie’s door. The brunette answered almost immediately, and her brilliant smile faded when she saw Xu’s wide eyes.
“Something’s wrong, Nida called but he wasn’t coherent, something went wrong with Trianon and Michelle, I need you to take the Aries and get over there with medical supplies. Take Quistis and Seifer, you might need his strength and her skills.”
Selphie grabbed her utility belt off her dresser and waved at Squall who was watching her with obvious concern.
“What did Xu have to say?”
“We gotta go, something happened with Trianon’s mission,” Selphie announced, grabbing his hand, “She said Nida wasn’t coherent, and I know Nida better than anyone, so something is really wrong!”
The ran down to Quistis’ dorm and dragged her out of her room with Seifer, the blonde couple baffled by Selphie’s ferocity but once learning of the problem quickly cooperating with Selphie’s urges to move faster.
The four of them piled into the Aries with medi-kits and weapons as well as blankets and tools just in case the Ragnarok was down. The Aries took off and accelerated to maximum speed with Selphie’s fingers flying over the controls. She made it there in a quarter of the time it took the Ragnarok, and her landing was as smooth as glass.
Squall grabbed his gunblade and jumped out of the hatch, running in the direction of the large dragon-like ship. Behind him, Selphie and Quistis came with medical kits and Seifer began to set up a temporary shelter.
The sight before them was one of utter distress. In the darkness, the figures of Michelle and Nida splashed in the water, screaming and yelling at each other and both of them going under into the inky blackness only to erupt back up coughing and crying. Squall jogged into the ocean up to his knees and frowned at the sight of them.
“Nida? Nida! What the hell are you two doing?” He called out to them, his hawk eyes unbelieving what they saw.
“Squall! Thank Hyne, I lost her, we gotta find her because I lost her and she’s somewhere down here we just don’t know where!” Nida came sloshing up to Squall, bear-hugging the commander and soaking him in the process.
Squall pushed the man away and gripped him by the shoulders, “You lost who? What are you talking about?”
“Where’s Trianon?” Quistis asked as she slowed down and gingerly stepped into the water.
“She’s gone!” Nida collapsed into tears again,
“She’s not gone! She’s NOT GONE!” Michelle’s voice tore holes through their hearts with the rawness of it as she fell to her knees and under the waves.
“Michelle!” Quistis ran in deeper and hauled her out, but the violet-haired woman struggled and fell away from Quistis, swimming to one of the deeper areas off the coast and diving under water.
“I lost her...I lost her there…” Nida shuddered, looking to where Michelle had just disappeared.
Selphie caught up with Squall and shared a look of scared confusion with him and Quistis. Squall pulled, and had to force, Nida out of the water while Selphie began to set up torches. With an out-of-place cheerful glow around them and Seifer bringing a large blanket and temporary shelter with him they surveyed the damage to Nida.
“He’s been walking on an injured leg, it’s nearly dislocated, he’s got cuts and bruises everywhere, all covered in sand…Nida you know better,” Quistis said in a crushed voice.
Selphie’s eyes filled with tears at the sight of the wrecked man and she looked back into the murky water where Seifer and Squall now fought to keep Michelle out of the dark pools.
“What happened here Nida? Start from the beginning, who did you lose? Trianon?” Selphie asked, her worry beginning to grow.
Nida nodded, “Lost her…in the ocean,”
As he dissolved into heaving sobs Quistis and Selphie were horror-struck with the implications. Did Trianon drown? Or was it the relic? How did Nida come to be holding it? How would they get it back?
“Let me GO! LET ME GO!” Michelle slammed her fists into Seifer’s chest and snapped her back straight into Squall’s jaw.
Both men took the blows stoically as they dragged her along the sand and grass up to the shelter.
“No! No! No! NO! NO! NO!”
“Subdue her!” Quistis ordered, “We’re not going to get anything useful out of these two.”
“Wait, look over there,” Selphie pointed, “Malboro corpse.”
“They fought a Malboro?” Seifer raised his eyebrows, “Hyne, look how big it was!”
“Full grown, probably an ancient one,” Squall surmised, shaking his head, “so they fought a Malboro, somehow Trianon ends up in her relic…and gets thrown out over the bank?”
Quistis nodded, her stomach twisting in knots, “Her relic is a pretty big sapphire…but it’s not big enough to withstand those waves. She’s probably been carried out…who knows how far by now…”
“Oh Trianon…” Selphie shuddered, “No wonder Nida is so upset, and Michelle too…oh, Trianon…oh Hyne, what do we tell Irvine?”
Her sparkling emerald eyes shimmered freshly with tears, and the four SeeDs sat in quiet contemplation, the only sounds being the soft weeping of Nida and the crashing of the waves.
As somber as it was, Selphie turned and looked at Balamb for the last time before parting on her six-month journey with Squall. She drew in a shaky breath, wishing it wasn’t such a depressing departure, and buried her face into Squall’s chest. He enfolded her in a tight embrace and kissed the top of her head, leading her into the Aries for their flight out.
Cid stood, deathly pale, beside Xu, and they two waved off the departing SeeDs with Zell behind them. Quistis and Seifer had left only moments before, their heads bowed in mourning as they climbed on the train.
“Well…that’s the last of our departing SeeDs…” Cid said gently.
“It is,” Xu agreed quietly.
“I’m…ah…I’m going to ….you know…see if there’s been any improvement.” Zell said hesitantly, trying to keep a stoic face but his sadness clearly showing in his berry blue eyes.
He walked back into Balamb and headed for the infirmary where Nida, Michelle and Irvine all sat. Nida’s face was red and puffy and Michelle’s was streaked with tears. Irvine, bless the Cowboy’s heart, had encouraged Nida to get better and insisted the entire ordeal wasn’t the man’s fault at all. Even though the violet eyes looked like they were dying, Irvine hadn’t shed a tear, and he hadn’t laid any blame on anyone.
“Hey guys,” Zell peeked in and quietly took a seat between Michelle and Nida.
Kerei was holding Michelle tightly, stroking the girl’s cheek and whispering comforting words to her while tears slid down the knife-thrower’s face. Zell put an arm around Nida’s shoulders and tried to manage a shaky smile, he failed, but somehow the message ‘it’ll be okay’ reached Nida and the man nodded.
“I’m going to get some rest, been up a while,” Irvine said in a heavy accent.
Zell nodded and held up his hand, “Hey man, if you need us, we’re right here.”
Irvine smiled gently, and shook the offered hand, “Ah know, and ah’m grateful.”
Stepping out of the infirmary was like taking a new breath of air. Irvine flipped his ponytail over his shoulder and headed to the dorms with steps of lead. He passed his and went straight to Trianon’s, keying her door open and reeling in the citrus scent that accompanied her every movement.
The deep blue furnishings and black ornaments gave him a sense of comfort in their soft darkness, and he kicked off his shoes and went for her bedroom. Closing the doors behind him he rested his body there and looked around. It was almost too much, too many memories and promises unfulfilled and too many thoughts of and representations of the woman he loved.
Feeling a tremble start in the depths of his being, Irvine Kinneas crumbled to the ground and wept for woman he had loved, and lost.
“Do you think he’ll be okay?” Selphie whispered, snuggled into Squall’s arms.
“It’ll take awhile,” Squall said in an equally quiet voice, “He loved her, I don’t even know what I’d do if I lost you…I’d be devastated.”
Selphie nodded, her eyes filling with tears, “Poor Irvine!”
Her little gasp was accompanied by a sob and she buried her face into Squall who rocked her quietly and felt his own eyes become wet.
More dry-eyed than their friends, Quistis and Seifer sat silently on their train, reflecting about the Guardian Force. Seifer had never really known her, but Quistis felt that she had, and she stared blankly out the window, her heart frosting over her sadness and keeping her face slate as stone.
Wednesday was sunny, brilliant, and would be the last day of summer for that year. Irvine Kinneas loaded up the Ragnarok and took it out that morning for a spin. Ultimately he ended up exactly where he knew he’d end up…on the Island Closest to Hell, and there he walked out and stood by the shore.
Waves lapped peacefully there, and even the island’s inhabitants weren’t coming out to ruin the day’s glory. Irvine sat down and stared out at the cerulean waver, as rippled as his lover’s hair and just the right colour…
“Hey there, Trianon,” He called, “Jus’ as promised, our date, Wednesday, just like I told you.”
He spent the entire day there, thinking of her, thinking of the new beginnings of his friends and how in six months they’d all be back, telling him adventures they’d been on. How he’d see Selphie bound over to him, dropping gifts for her friends everywhere, and Squall behind her with a slow smile as he picked them up for her…
…Quistis and Seifer, both perfect soldiers in their posture and subdued as always. Quistis glowing like sunshine as she always did when she was around her Knight. Her holding out a stack of notes for Cid and the professors, her calm spirit only quietly bearing the fact that she was proud of her accomplishments…
…Zell rushing out with Kerei and Michelle, the three of them jumping around, greeting everyone, Selphie crying because she’s happy to see them…Squall even allowing himself to laugh at her enthusiasm as Quistis smiles knowingly at his transformation…
“And I’ll be there…smilin’ too. Thinkin’ of your smile, your beautiful smile, and we’ll all be together...because every Wednesday I’m coming back here to look for you Trianon.”
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