(no subject)
i'm not crazy
tetsuyanomura

Selphie couldn’t understand what was going on—everything was happening so fast, and she had just been thrown off of her feet.  A wide pane of glass—probably one of the train’s windows—shoved her forward until she hit a wall, and then the pane shattered against her back.  When she stood back up, she was shocked to find that none of the glass pieces had cut her… and that she was standing on one of the train’s walls.  She looked at the broken, open windows that were directly above her, and covered in flames.  Then she realized that the train had fallen onto its side.  –Then she realized that the train was still moving--still skidding across uprooted train tracks, pieces of which were beginning to fall in through the windows!

Selphie screamed and dodged the deadly-hot planks of wood and metal,  but there was nowhere to run from the shower of sparks, or the deafening sound of the train and tracks screeching off of one another.  All of the cabin doors were bent beyond opening, or blocked by tangles of metal beams and light fixtures.  And the windows--  Selphie couldn’t even look at them without the tears in her eyes getting seared.  Having run out of options, she did what any SeeD equipped with combat training, Guardian Forces, and magic would do:

“Help!  Hot spunky white girl in distress!!”  Selphie flailed.  “I can’t die--  Not until the Garden Festival!  This was supposed to be the year that ‘Booyaka’ reached meme status!!

A small explosion tore a hole into the bottom of the train, which—because the train had fallen over—was just beside Selphie.  She jumped and ducked away, and when she looked back up, a second shot had been fired, making the hole even bigger.  Irvine, holding onto a cable from the underside of the train, swung in through that hole and rolled into Selphie’s hallway.  –And he didn’t stop rolling until he hit his hat and head against a pile of rubble.  “OW!” Irvine shouted.  He rubbed his hat, adjusted it, and pushed himself up—all while twirling and flicking his shotgun until it was reloaded and facing the falling-apart floor.  “Did someone say ‘hot’?  And ‘white’?”

Selphie squee’d—yes, she squee’d—and sprinted into Irvine’s arms.  When he caught her, he put the length of his shotgun around her back protectively.  Selphie laughed and shouted, “And ‘spunk’!”

“… yeah, that too.  Why didn’t you summon Carbuncle?”

“I wanted to see if you’d come save me!!”

Irvine—stared.  And then the train shuddered, and one side of the hallway burst into flame.  “Shit!”  He pulled Selphie to the hole he had made and grabbed the thick cable that was still dangling there.  “Grab on!  And don’t let go!!  We’re gonna need to climb up the side!”

“Aren’t you going to help me?!” Selphie asked with one hand already clutching the cable.

“Honey, Doll—“  He lifted his shotgun and kissed its barrel.  “I only got two hands!”

Selphie glared so hard that the ends of her hair curled even higher.

- Two Minutes Later –

“NO!  MY BABY!!!!!!” Irvine cried.  Literally.  The way his eyes nearly popped out of their sockets forced the tears out of his face as he watched his shotgun, having been knocked out of his hand by Selphie, fall under the out-of-control train.  The train smashed the shotgun--and Irvine’s heart--into sharp bits that sprayed the hordes of Galbadian soldiers who fought around the wrecked train tracks.

“I’M your baby,” Selphie shouted with a big huff.  They had to shout to be able to hear each other; they were surrounded by hundreds of warring soldiers smashing weapons into one another, the sun was being blotted out by Galbadian paratroopers revving velocycles (aerial motorcycles), and then there were the train’s spinning, sparking, screaming wheels just beside Selphie’s and Irvine’s heads that could tear their faces off if they made one wrong move.  Despite the noise, danger, and Irvine’s hysterical crying, they were able to climb up onto the side of the train, where they were finally able to see what was going on:

Their train had been derailed and toppled over by Galbadia Garden, which was now hovering above Deling City, protecting it from enemy forces.  Irvine recognized some of the distant vehicles, and the nearby soldiers’ uniforms: Arachnid robots from Dollet, and guerilla soldiers from Timber.  “This is revenge,” Irvine whispered.  The smoky wind whipped his hair into his face.  “For all of the—harassment, and the occupations.  Galbadia’s finally getting its comeuppance.  They probably think Balamb will side with Dollet and Timber.  –We have before, after all, but we were under contract.”  He stroked his chin.  “But why now?  Did they want to make a point?  --Show Galbadia that Esthar isn’t their only enemy?  And even as these plains erupt in violence, and Deling is besieged, Galbadia has attacked us—one of their very few allies.  It doesn’t, make, any, sen—“

“Awwwwww, moogle balloon!!” Selphie exclaimed.  Irvine tensed, and his train of thought was destroyed.  Selphie giggled and jumped up and down on their still-sliding-out-of-control train as the giant moogle-shaped parade balloon approached.  Irvine screamed when the moogle’s pom-pom smacked into him and almost threw him off of the train.

“Grab on, Sir!” Watts called from on top of the balloon.

Zone waved with both hands at Selphie and Irvine.  “Hurry!  Climb up the pom-pom—we need to get you off of that thing before it collides with that mountain!  And before my stomach hurts; I get airsick real easuurrgh—“  Zone grabbed his stomach and kneeled against the balloon.

Irvine looked around frantically before asking, “What mountain?  I don’t see—OH MY GOD IT’S LIKE EIGHT NORGS  He and Selphie leaped onto the moogle’s giant pom-pom and climbed up the cable that connected it to the rest of the balloon.  “This is the most humiliating thing I’ve ever done,” Irvine commented on the way up.  As soon as Selphie and Irvine reached the top of the balloon, they watched their train crash into a mountainside and explode.  Metal bars, pieces of furniture, and porcelain splinters—all of them on fire—flew out of the explosion.  “Well,” Irvine started while taking out a cigarette.  That was convenient.”  Selphie smacked the cigarette out of Irvine’s hand.

“Zone, Watts!”  Selphie crawled across the balloon, because she was afraid that she’d fall off if she got too close to the bulbous edges, and gave the two one hug each.  “You saved us!  You saved the Garden Festival!!  Everyone, on ‘three’!  One, two, three!  BOOYAKA!!

- Six Silent Seconds Later -

“Deling canceled the summit,” Zone explained.  “They’re not interested in peace talks.  They’re going after Esthar, whether the rest of the world likes it or not.  This morning Deling had Timber’s TV Station closed off—they said they were preparing to air the summit, but they just shut it down.”

Watts nodded furiously and said, “The Forest Owls saw it all firsthand, Sir!  The soldiers pulled the plug!  The whole TV Station went dark!”

“Then we received word from Dollet that Deling was having the Radio Tower shut down.  They used some bullshit excuse about the radio signals interrupting Timber’s broadcast—“

“A ridiculous excuse, Sir!  Timber’s wired—the cables run underground!”

“That’s when we knew,” Zone said while his eyes darkened, “Galbadia was up to no good.  They were trying to cut off communications for just a few hours, to prevent us from getting ahold of you.  Just enough time for them to set sail to Esthar and launch their attack.”

Selphie smacked her hands together and exclaimed, “This is so exciting!  It’s like a movie!!”

“Then Galbadia’s halfway across the ocean by now,” Irvine said solemnly.

“No,” Zone said and shook his head.  “Dollet attacked their vessels, and Timber went in by land—we attacked Deling City.  We’re still attacking.  But it won’t work--  Not now that Galbadia Garden’s come to Deling’s defense.  We thought that the Gardens were neutral.  That they’d stay out of it.”

“You thought wrong,” Selphie said without skipping a beat.  Her facade of glee was gone.  She wasn’t even smiling.  “We’re not neutral.  We’re not political forces.  We’re just cogs.  We get hired.  And we do our jobs.”  She broke off eye contact with Zone, slapped her hands against her hips, and then slipped her hands into her pockets.  Irvine looked at Selphie and opened his mouth a little, but then chose to remain silent.

Watts swallowed.  He looked at the red sky—quickly turning to night—before looking at Selphie and asking, “Then why are you here, Sir?”

Irvine answered: “Because we’re under contract.  By Esthar.”

“To stop this war,” Selphie whispered.

Zone and Watts looked at each other.

“So you’re not doing it because it’s right,” Watts said, abandoning his air of excessive politeness.  “You’re doing it because… you’re getting paid.”  Watts smiled, but it disappeared quickly.  “If I were to hire you to destroy Timber—“  Irvine and Selphie stopped breathing.  “Would you do it?”

The moogle balloon flipped over!  Everyone screamed as they were tossed apart.  Irvine grabbed onto the pom-pom, and Selphie grabbed one of the moogle’s wings.  Zone dangled from the moogle’s navel, and Watts dangled from Zone’s leg.  The moogle squealed and began to deflate as air leaked out of it.

“SHIT, we’ve been hit!” Irvine yelled.

“Who would shoot such a cute moogle?!” Selphie cried.

“An enemy,” Zone said between grunts.  He tried to climb to a safer spot, where he wouldn’t have to hold on for his life 70 feet above the ground, but it was impossible; the balloon, as air poured out of it, was turning and spinning out of control.

“They saw us steal it, S-Sir!  They know it’s us!!”

“Watts!” Zone shouted while looking down.  “—Oh my GOD, don’t look down Watts!”

“Why not, Sir?!  ……..  AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Loud popping noises assaulted their ears when the moogle balloon got filled with even more bullets.  They were no longer spiraling out of control—they were falling directly into Deling City.  The pancaked balloon smacked hard against everyone’s hands, and everything flipped—

“We’re going down!!” Irvine shouted.  “Selphie!  Grab my hand!”

Streaks of neon lights swirled around Selphie.  Skyscrapers and windows reflecting fireworks and fire in the starlit sky.  The balloon scraped Selphie’s palm when it got ripped out of her grasp.  The last thing she saw was the full moon.


(no subject)
i'm not crazy
tetsuyanomura

“Squall.”

I’m falling with the rain.  It’s not the fall that’s scary.  It’s the rain.  It’s not supposed to be raining.  –I know how I know that: I’m dreaming.  This is a nightmare.

There’s a wall of golden light above, and it’s being split by a silhouette: Rinoa.  When she reaches for me, I see this look in her eyes.  Despair.

She can’t do this alone.  –They huddle on the floor to discuss strategy.  She’s spoiled.  Ignorant.  Edea would have killed her if she’d had the time.  What a stupid plan.

“You okay, man?”

Is that a scream?  Is she calling my name?  Her mouth is gaping open, but I can’t hear a thing.  It’s because I’m dead.  I can feel it.  The thought of her being left to her own devices—a sorceress without a knight…              She broke my heart.

“Squall!” Zell shouted—and then he screamed when Squall popped off of the couch, yanked the gunblade out of his waistband, and struck Zell across the face with its blunt end.  Zell crawled backwards with his nose clutched.  He stared at Squall with wide, dumbstruck eyes.  Squall stared back with a similar look and blurred vision, but not at Zell—at the blood that was trickling down between his fingers.  Though they remained silent, the train passing over the tracks got louder, and the smell of blood got bolder.  Zell finally fell off of the couch, scampered up to his feet, and ran out of the cabin.

Squall looked at the spotted trail of blood Zell had left behind.

Less than five minutes later, Quistis entered the cabin—and Squall was already looking at the doorway, because he had heard her (and her high heels) coming down the hallway.  As soon as they made eye contact, Squall looked away and resumed his search.  He went through the rest of his suitcase and zipped it up after finding nothing.  He knelt down beside the beds and looked under them, and under their covers.  He went back to the couch to check its cushions again.

“What the hell did you do to him?” Quistis asked quickly and softly while stepping around the blood tracks, deeper into the cabin.  “He’s not Seifer, you know; he can’t take—“

“I was sleeping, I was having a bad dream, and he decided to try to shake me out of it,” Squall recited monotonously.  “I, a SeeD with a couple of unusual experiences under my belt,” he said while turning away from the uplifted couch pillows, to look at her, “reacted.”

“Poorly.”

Squall just shrugged, turned back to his task, and waited for the lecture.  After a few awkward seconds, he looked back.  She wasn’t even folding her arms.

“You should apologize,” she said.

You should use a Cure on him and move on with your life.”

“He doesn’t need one, thanks for asking.  His nose isn’t broken.  Shockingly.  –Though he may wake up tomorrow with a black eye.  Maybe you and Seifer

You and Seifer you and Seifer—we’re not fucking married.

have finally learned how to pull your punches.  And you know we don’t go around using spells for every little thing, Squall.  They’re dangerous.  Guardian Forces are dangerous.   We only use them in the most dire of predicaments.  And I hope you exercise the same caution as well.”  She—unfolded her arms, and glared at herself, because she didn’t remember folding them.  “… what are you looking for?”

“My gunblade.”  He tossed the last cushion down and stood in the middle of the ransacked, upturned cabin, dumbfounded.

Quistis blinked and said, “You didn’t bring it.”

“I did.”

“Galbadia  is not allowing weapons or military presence at the summit.  We went over this.”

“But I brought my gunblade.”  Squall dragged his pointer finger down the side of his face in thought.  “I just had it.  –I hit Zell with it.”

Quistis froze, and she only resumed breathing when she figured it out.  “You snuck it aboard the train.”  She looked away and smiled in awe.  “Squall, you’re… not a teenager anymore.  You’re the Headmaster of Balamb Garden.  You’re the leader of one of the most respected military forces in the world--  You can’t just go around breaking laws like this.  If Galbadia finds a weapon on you, the peace talks are over.  They’ll consider—“

“Odine Bangle,” Squall said with the cock of his head, and with squinted eyes.  Quistis was caught off guard by both his body language and the mention of the obscure Estharian trinket.

“Excuse me?”

“The Caraways had an Odine Bangle in their mansion.  Rinoa wanted to use it to subdue the Sorceress.  –And it would have killed the Sorceress if she had been able to get close enough.”

“Squall—“

“But General Caraway… didn’t wanna use that.  He created an elaborate plan instead.  An assassination mission.  –He recruited Irvine Kinneas, a sharpshooter that couldn’t even fire without crying.  But the Odine Bangle was there all along, right under Caraway’s nose.”  He eyed her.  “Right under yours.”

“… where is this coming from?” Quistis asked while shaking her head.

“Didn’t Rinoa tell you about the Bangle?  --And you ignored her.  You knew that Irvine probably couldn’t even shoot a fucking load and you—“  Squall was interrupted when Quistis marched forward and slapped him across the face.  His faint-as-fuck smile uncurled when he saw the tears in her eyes.

“That night,” she said with a flutter.  She stepped back.  Her heels scraped up the dried blood.  “That was the most terrifying night of my life, Squall.  But it’s over.  –And I’m sorry if I could have done better.  If you think I made some bad decisions.  And we all did.  I’m sorry for that.  But it’s over.”  She clutched her face to try to hide the fact that her lips were shaking, but it wasn’t working.  She left in a hurry.  The automatic cabin door slid shut behind her.

Squall swallowed.  And sniffled.  He felt hot.

Why am I letting her affect me like this?  She means nothing to me.  –She’s better off with Seifer.  And Seifer’s better off with her.  They’re both needy people.  I feel like shit.

You should go talk to Zell, Siren suggested.

Why bother?

Because he looks up to you, Quezacotl whispered.  Like a brother.  –Like you looked up to Ellone.

Squall laughed out loud.  Yeah, that’s just what he needs.  An Ellone.

You should do it to keep yourself busy.  To keep your mind off things.

Squall closed his eyes and inhaled.  He felt the train’s air conditioning chill the sweat on his brow.  He—smiled.  You know me too well.

More than you know yourself, Squall Leonhart.  Quezacotl looked on.  More than you know yourself.

--

Squall walked into the bathroom and

“Fuck off,” Zell said.

closed the door behind himself.  Zell was standing over the sink, glaring at Squall through the mirror while prodding the bruises already forming around his nose and eye.

Squall looked down at the bloody tissues in the toilet.  “Sorry.”

So that’s what it feels like.

Zell immediately took his fingers away from his face.  He turned and looked even more like a deer in headlights than he had in the moment just before Squall had struck him with his gunblade.  He glared.  Hesitantly.  “Really?”

After Seifer and I cut each other up, we were both smiling.  My smile didn’t last long;  I got pretty pissed when I realized it would leave a scar.  But I didn’t break down.  I went to the infirmary, got stitched up, and got over it.  I wonder if Seifer ended up like this.  Squall stared at the red rings around Zell’s eyes.  Hunched in front of the bathroom mirror, crying.  –Or did he laugh it up?  Maybe he didn’t even give a fuck.  Maybe I’m the pussy.

Zell punched Squall in the shoulder.  Squall looked down, uncertain whether he had been punched or assaulted by a gentle breeze.  Apparently Zell Dincht was incapable without a pair of iron knuckles.  Squall tensed up when he felt Zell’s fingers curl around his shoulder.

“I know what happened,” Zell said with a consoling nod.

Get out.

“Between you and Rinoa.”

Now Squall was the one in the headlights.  Zell gripped Squall’s shoulder tighter and said, “If you need someone to talk to.  –You know.  Man to man.  I’m right here.  And trust me, I got quite a way with the ladies, and to be honest with you, I think Rinoa’s just looking for attention.  Affection, you know?  She’s a girl, man.  She wants you to be jealous.  She’s probably waiting for you right now--  Waiting for you to go up and take a swing at Seifer, you know?  Make her feel needed; that’s what girls are—“

Squall grabbed Zell’s hand and almost broke it when he bent it backwards and pushed Zell backwards into the sink and up against the faucet and mirror.  The back of Zell’s head smeared gel across the mirror.  Squall’s gloves left temporary white marks on the skin everywhere they grabbed Zell—and there were lots of areas to push the blood out of, because Zell was shirtless, because he had taken his shirt off after getting blood on it.  When Zell tried to push Squall off, Squall caught the incoming hand and slammed it against the mirror so hard that it cracked, but didn’t fall apart.  Zell felt the skin of his back slide across the cracks in the glass.  Zell felt the faucet turn on and water soak one side of his shorts.  –Zell felt Squall kiss him hard on the lips.

“What the ffff—FUCK are you doing?!”  Zell sandpapered his mouth with his arm.  –He reached for the toilet paper roll.

“I don’t care.”  Squall stumbled out, and away.

“Squall?”  Selphie watched him sprint across her, down the hall.

Squall slammed open the cabin door and followed the blood tracks to the treasure and there it was sitting right there under the upturned cushions.

Squall.

“Just leave me alone stop saying my name please.”

Calm down.  Everything

“JUST STOP TALKING”  HE CRASHED DOWN ONTO HIS KNEES, IN FRONT OF THE COUCH, WITH HIS FOREHEAD AND HIS HAIR JUST A HAIR AWAY FROM THE GUNBLADE’S EDGE.  A BEAD OF HIS SWEAT EXPLODED WHEN IT HIT AND BLURRED HIS REFLECTION IN THE GUNBLADE’S SURFACE.

Seifer gouged Rinoa’s hair with his gloved fingers.   The terrain in the windows of their bedroom turned from forests to mountains.

“I won’t have it,” Squall squeaked between his heaves; something a little more unsettling to witness than crying.  Something without tears.

An explosion rocked the train.  Everyone heard and felt the train as it attempted to screech to a stop.  Squall could smell smoke.  He—smiled.  He—smiled.  He—grabbed the gunblade by the hilt.  He stood up, and his silhouette behind the wall of thickening smoke was eerily still considering the way the train was tilting back and forth.  The lights went out.  He heard Quistis shout, “Galbadia Garden has defected!  We’re under attack!!”

Good.


(no subject)
i'm not crazy
tetsuyanomura

Squall ripped off his reading glasses and looked away from the book, at Rinoa.   She was lying on her back, halfway off the bed, with her hair hanging down and touching the bedroom floor.

“Stop,” Squall said.

Rinoa looked down from the ceiling to make eye contact with him.  He was sitting on the edge of the bed beside her.  “Stop what?”

“You’re chewing too loudly.”  Squall put his glasses back on and resumed reading.

“I’m not chewing.  I’m sucking.”  Rinoa watched Squall tense up and smirked.  “It’s a Jolly Rancher.”

Squall smiled and smacked the book shut when he realized that he wasn’t going to get anything done with Rinoa around.  He reached over her, to the nightstand, and turned the lamp off.  Their room went almost completely dark.  They could only see what little was illuminated by the moonlight coming in through the wide Garden windows.  They could only hear the ocean that Balamb bobbed in—and each other’s breathing.

Squall heard Rinoa stop breathing.  He glided his hand into her hair and she said, “I’m seeing Seifer.”

The particles in the moonlight stopped.   Squall’s blood stopped.  His breathing stopped.  First he felt hot, but then the cold shiver up his spine told him that he was cold.   He realized that Rinoa had caught his wrist to keep him from playing with her hair.  He peeled her fingers off with his free hand and then got off of the bed.  He went up to the window and looked out at the sea.  He finally inhaled—shakily.

“Sorry,” she whispered.

I could say a thousand things to hurt her right now.  That she’s annoying.  That she’s a child, that she’s—nothing special.  No talent to speak of.  She put her friends in danger regularly, without a care, and this whole Sorceress thing probably isn’t over; she’s a walking time bomb.  She’s one of the stupidest people I’ve ever met.  Squall turned his head, but there was no way to tell if his silhouette was looking at her.  Bitch stole my ring.

This again,” Rinoa said with an aggressive sigh.  “Squall, don’t leave me in the dark; say someth—“  He tossed something at her, and it jingled when she caught it.  Keys.

“E-11,” Squall said before leaving.  Rinoa’s new dorm room.

--

Squall was in the Training Center, at one of its balconies, overlooking the center of Balamb Garden and the ocean it sat in.  The salty night air moved his hair, and the fur on his jacket.  Every time the wind stopped, Squall was assaulted by the smell of the Training Center’s jungle: damp and mossy, with a hint of blood.  –He heard something come through the nearby brush, and turned with extra caution, because he hadn’t brought his gunblade.  It wasn’t a T-Rexaur, because the ground wasn’t shaking.  It wasn’t a Grat, either; Grats always traveled in packs, and Squall could tell, by the way the tall grass moved, that it was a lone predator that was stalking him.  Quezacotl’s electricity surged through Squall’s brain, ready to awaken unfathomable powers that Squall had not been forced to use in several months.  He felt the burning, tingling sensation of magic fill his fingertips—and then Quistis walked out of the grass and onto the balcony.

“I heard what happened,” Quistis said.  She folded her arms and inspected Squall carefully, because she hadn’t seen him in quite some time.  –He hadn’t changed a bit.

“What the fuck,” Squall said through clenched teeth as he forced the magical energy to disperse, “are you doing here.”  Putting Quezacotl away was like trying to shove an elephant into a doghouse.  It hurt mentally and physically, and blasted Squall with cascades of memories, but he was experienced enough with the process to where it almost didn’t show on his face.  Almost.

“That’s not a very nice way to greet a former instructor.”  Quistis noticed the magic-infused sheen in Squall’s eyes disappear.  “And a friend.”

“You were fired, and—“  Squall touched his forehead, sighed, and leaned hard against the balcony’s rim.

Quistis couldn’t help but smile.  She approached the balcony’s edge as well, and leaned over it.  The water, and her reflection, gently churned as Balamb Garden approached Galbadia.  “I’m here to help with the peace talks, remember?”

Yeah, I remember.”

“Are you okay?”

“No.”

She laughed, shook her head, and stood on her toes for a second.  “Of course not.  You just got, …”

“Actually, …”  Squall closed his eyes and inhaled loudly through his nose.  “Wouldn’t have worked out anyway.”  When he opened his eyes next, he was staring at the full moon.  “You know that.”

“Would you hate me if I said I do?”

“I hate you for a bunch of other reasons,” Squall said—and a few seconds later he lost the battle and smiled.  He even looked her way.

“You’re not nervous?”

“No.”

“Four months since the incident.  –No one’s finished picking up the pieces, and already Galbadia is looking to start a war with Esthar.”  She put her elbows on the balcony’s rim and held her head up with her hands.

“It’s why they hid for so long.”

“If these talks don’t go through, … your father could be in danger, Squall.”  Squall turned away so fast that Quistis almost missed that horrified look on his face.  “… but I’m sure everything will go well; I promise that I’ll—“

“He’s not my father.”

She stared at his back.  The chirping and bustling of the Training Center intensified.  Almost a minute passed before she said, “Just like old times.”


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