SUMMARY/WARNING: This story, in its initial form begun sometime last year, was originally
my attempt to write a serious Squelphie. It evolved instead into my explication of Ultimecia's
motivation in the game. While elements of Squall/Selphie remain, it is no longer a Squelphie
in any real sense of the word (Consider this fair warning, Squelphie fans!). The original
summary went something like this:

Remember when Quistis warned everybody about getting stuck in a time warp at the end of
the game? Well here it is, Squelphie style. What if only two had survived, and both their
names started with S? Some people are just incorrigibly demented, and I happen to be one of
them. The continuity is probably messed up. The facts are probably screwed up. The names
have been changed to protect my right to misspell. Just read it. I apologize in advance.

~~~
"Warped," part one
~~~

Selphie stumbled, her heels riding the loose rocks across the empty plain. The light above her
was eerie, no longer the darkness she had experienced after the battle, but a sick kind of grey
instead, like the sky on a rainy day.

She felt as unnatural as her surroundings, her skin hanging on her bones strangely, her
muscles aching and stuck to the skin. Her brain throbbed with dizziness so that she was
beginning to doubt her memory again. It couldn't have been the GFs. She couldn't remember
using one...

Unless she was dreaming, almost everyone was dead, dissolved into this strange thing called
time. She remembered the way she had felt during the battle after they'd thought Ultimecia
was gone, the white light she'd turned into, like snow moving through water, and everything
went away...so slowly. Selphie had been standing next to Squall, her fingertips buzzing with
leftover magic, a gentle blue color that made limbs screaming with pain look pretty.

Ultimecia had combusted...or so they had thought, and then she was back, but not at all the
way they had expected. There was no flourish or bang, but she was calm and peaceful as she
came, as if she was confident enough of her own inevitable victory that she needed nothing to
scare them further. They were already afraid.

Time shall compress, all existence denied.

Selphie had been afraid when she'd heard muscles like her own collapse against the invisible
floor, when Ultimecia had told Griever to "make them bleed..." The thing that had picked up
Irvine's body looked deceptively like an angel. Selphie knew better—there were no angels
here. Zell and Quistis had gone down together silently, and Rinoa had screamed...

...all existence denied...

Then it was the two of them, Squall and Selphie, and she cast cure spells on them until she
thought her body might shatter. Ultimecia had been talking to them, saying things that didn't
make sense for her to know...who was this...thing? It certainly was no woman, with it's
faceless body like colored eggshells...

Was this what happened to sorceresses? Was this what was going...what would have
happened to Rinoa? But it didn't matter. Rinoa was dead and soon they would be too. Selphie
didn't have time to cure them again. It wouldn't have helped anyway, so she struck out her
Shinobu with the only desire she had left—to inflict pain on someone else. Squall was kneeling
with his sword at his side when the Sorceress broke up into flecks of light, and then Selphie
could remember nothing.

They had succeeded...sucSeeDed...Selphie walked on into the emptiness, telling herself that
they had succeeded. It was only a matter of time before success would secede to death,
before she collapsed, knowing nothing of her success but pain.

She walked along with eyes low and head lower, so when she finally stumbled upon a leg, she
skidded to the ground. When she reached out to break her fall, the sharp rocks grated against
her palms.

"Shit!" Her head whipped around to see what had tripped her. "Squall!" His body lay
peacefully against the rocks, his skin and clothes dark from the explosion. All existence
denied... But he had not been dissolved by time... She leapt toward him, shaking him as
frantically as she could. His shoulders were cold. All of him was cold.

She dropped him when she winced, the itch across her shoulderblades becoming too much to
bear. She touched it and her back seemed to catch on fire. Her eyes snapped shut as if to
contain the sensation and then opened again to reveal her own hand soaked with blood. Her
brain flooded and she collapsed, face first into the body.

~~~

Selphie stretched her hands above her head lazily, feeling slightly choked as she came to. She
was delightfully warm. Then she opened her eyes suddenly. She had been dying just a few
moments ago, hadn't she?

But now she was in her dorm room. The warm feeling had to do with Balamb Garden's slightly
overzealous heating system as well as her own Trabian-knit blankets. The choked feeling was
because for some reason, she was wearing her SeeD uniform in bed, and the high collar was
cutting off her oxygen supply even more than usual. She had the distinct impression that she
was supposed to be somewhere, when she heard three knocks at the door.

"Uh...come in?" She offered, unsure, loosening the clasp at her throat.

Squall walked in casually, looking very much alive, and dressed up in his SeeD uniform too,
though his hair was as haphazardly coifed as ever. He looked at her strangely, probably
because she was looking fairly strange herself.

"You rang?" he asked with almost half a grin tugging at his mouth. What the hell was going
on?

"I did?"

He looked petulant. "Don't tell me you're feeling guilty now! It was your idea and now you're
gonna to blame it on me, and of course everyone's gonna believe you because you never do
anything wrong..."

"What are you talking about?"

"You really don't remember?" He looked surprised, and then worried. "Were you using your GF
today?"

"No. Maybe. I- don't remember." Never a good sign. She rubbed her head and cringed,
revealing the wear of the battle with Ultimecia in her mind, even if her body couldn't feel it.

Squall was beside her in an instant, one heavy arm slung over her shoulders. "Maybe you
should go see Dr. Kadowaki." His eyes searched her face in confusion. She hadn't meant to
give him the hairy eyeball, but he was acting so weird! The Squall she knew wouldn't have
come into her room making sarcastic jokes, let alone expressing concern for her like a...well,
like a normal human being. There had to be some reason for this...

"What was my idea? Why do I have the feeling that we're missing something important right
now?" she asked, trying to look comfortable in whatever dream or reality this was.

"I'm going to kill you if you're faking this," he answered playfully, and then grew serious when
she didn't smile back, "We're supposed to be at the dance right now, Selph! I can't believe you
don't remember—you planned the thing!"

She clapped her hand to her head. The SeeD graduation ball...so they were in the past. But
this wasn't the past as she knew it. In the past she remembered, she'd been on time to the
graduation ball and she'd certainly stayed straight through to the end. She remembered
talking to committee members about the upcoming musical performance she'd planned, and
Squall... Squall had been dancing...well, sort of dancing, with Rinoa.

"Why are we here?"

"I don't believe this. You were the one who suggested we cut out early. They're already three
hours into it by now!"

"I suggested we skip it? I wouldn't..."

"Selph," She stopped talking when Squall put a finger to her lips. She studied his face. He still
looked the same, his bangs falling over his icy blue eyes, the scar on his forehead etched
carefully between them, but there was something very different about the way he was looking
at her, about the way he was touching her face... His hand moved to her back, and before she
knew what was happening, he had pulled her toward him and he was kissing her.

Her eyes shot open, and she gave him a quick reflexive shove. They broke apart and she
stared at him with her mouth open. "Squall!" She demanded, too surprised to be outraged.

"What?" He stood up looking almost as freaked out as she was.

"What's going on?" She didn't know what else to say.

"What do you mean? What's the matter with you? You were using your GF, weren't you?" He
took her hand and pulled her to her feet, "You need to see Dr. Kadowaki." The sense of
urgency in his voice had grown exponentially.

"Hold on, Squall. Just um...give me a minute, ok?" He looked confused so she tried to calm
him by taking his hand in both of hers. "I want to see if I can remember..."

He watched her warily.

"Please, Squall." She looked into his eyes and noticed an unusual softness in them. His
eyelashes fell against his cheeks.

"Aright," he agreed, "but...I still want you to see the doctor eventually..."

"Sure thing." She smiled at him. "Maybe I'd better sit down." She took a spot at the foot of
her bed and Squall sat down next to her. "I remember planning the dance, of course," she
reassured him. He nodded his head encouragingly. "And I remember showing up there, and
everything was a disaster so I had to fix all the decorations, and then you showed up, and you
were sulking in the corner because you didn't want to come in the first place...and then...I was
talking to Nida about the junior committee officers..."

"And then?" Squall prompted her, when she didn't say anything more.

She scratched her head. "I can't remember anything else."

"You came over to make fun of me for standing in the corner."

"I did? But what about Rinoa?"

"Who?" Selphie blinked. That was the missing piece. Rinoa.

"What happened after that, Squall?" He was getting ready to take her to the infirmary again,
she could tell. He seemed to consider for a moment and then he sighed and leaned back
against the wall.

"You made me dance with you, don't you remember?" She shook her head.

"What else?"

"We went outside because Seifer was making fun of us, and then..." He paused and looked
down at the floor shyly. "...we kissed...and then...you said we should sneak out early if I
wasn't having any fun, but we should go out separately so nobody caught us...and we could
meet in front of your room..." He still wouldn't look her in the eyes. "Selphie...if this is your
way of blowing me off..."

"No!" He looked startled when his eyes finally connected with hers. "I mean I really don't
remember, Squall. I'm not trying to...blow you off." Her mind worked furiously. Something
had happened to or with Rinoa so that she wasn't here...there...the night of the dance, and
that meant that Squall had never danced with her...and Lord, she and Squall had kissed, and
he was looking at her like she had just kicked him or something...

So this is what would have happened had Rinoa never appeared at the dance. How odd! As far
as she knew, in the past that she remembered, Squall had never given her a second look, and
she'd just always assumed that without Rinoa, he would have never reached out to anyone
else...that no one else would have reached out to him...

He stood up. "I'm gonna go now. You should go see the d—"

Without thinking she reclaimed his hand and stood up in front of him before he could turn
around. He was so tall, she thought, never having noticed it before. He looked like a different
person in his uniform...it suited his serious disposition so well and she felt a pang of nostalgia
because even though she was here right now, it was as though she was looking back at the
past, but from a new angle that she'd never before considered...

"Squall."

He bent his head toward her, inquiring.

She had always been curious...

It took him a long, sweet moment to respond to her lips, and when he did the surprise was
breathtaking. He kissed her back innocently, as though he was searching for something that
he could only find within her... She leaned against him and drew her arms about his waist,
trying to pull him closer all the while...

He touched her back.

Her body exploded in pain.

A voice. Her own? No. Someone she should remember...

Rinoa is not simply dead, idiot...Rinoa dissolved into time...it's as though she never existed at
all...

It was a voice that sounded strangely like the sorceress. But that was impossible. She was
dead, wasn't she? But the voice was still there, insistent as it had ever been.

Time shall compress, all existence denied.

~~~
END, part 1.