A/N: Hello, it's Wakizashi! Wow, been a long time since I wrote anything for the Final Fantasy VIII section of FFNet. Maybe you've read my poem; probably not, but if you have, you'll more than likely know who my favorite character is... ...It's Laguna. Okay? Yes, I know he's clumsy, and horrible with words, and I'm not really sure how he ever wrote articles for a magazine if he couldn't even use proper grammar, but... I still adore him. He's such a sweetheart. And, well, pretty hot. Anyway, this is kind of a three-shot fic, but I hope you like it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Selphie, Laguna, Zell, Irvine... or pretty much any characters, places, or any elements of the game whatsoever. I'm just borrowing them for a while. Oh, and I'm also using a few songs, but I don't own them, either.
Love and Presidents
a Final Fantasy VIII three-shot
Hi. My name is Selphie Tilmitt, and I have a confession. It's not anything bad, like I robbed a bank, or I drowned a bag of puppies or anything. It's just kind of stupid, really. And pretty much everyone knows about it anyway, so it's not like it's a huge deal. The only thing is, no one really knows the full extent of it. But anyway, here it is.
I have a gigantic crush on an older man.
See, I told you it wasn't a big deal. But it's been eating me up inside, and I felt like I had to tell someone. Because I mean, I can't tell any of my friends, even my best friends, Quistis and Rinoa, because they'll just laugh at me, or tell me it's just infatuation or whatever. And obviously, I can't tell him, because... come on. Who am I? I'm just a kid. And he's the president of a whole friggin' country!
Oh. Yeah, I guess I haven't even told you who he is yet, have I? His name is Laguna. Laguna Loire. He's the president of this technologically advanced country called Esthar, and he kind of just fell into the job when he was barely even thirty. He's also the father of one of my best friends, Squall Leonhart. See, Squall's mom Raine died giving birth to him while Sir Laguna - that's what I call him - was halfway across the world looking for Ellone, Raine's adopted daughter. So Sir Laguna didn't get to raise Squall, and actually he didn't even know he had a son until Squall was seventeen. The whole story's pretty nuts, but basically their relationship isn't the best at the moment. I mean, Laguna wants it to be better, but Squall's, well... He's kind of a booger.
But he couldn't have gotten it from his dad, because Laguna is... wonderful. He's like, the sweetest guy I've ever known. He's had so many bad things happen to him, but he never lets it get him down. And he's so funny. He traveled all over the world when he was younger, writing for this magazine, Timber Maniacs, so he always has all these hilarious stories to tell. Like, one time, he was cast in this movie to make some money, and his friends Kiros and Ward were supposed to play the dragon, but then a real dragon showed up, and Sir Laguna didn't know it was real until it took a swipe at him!
Oh, and if that wasn't enough, Sir Laguna is super...wickedly... hot. He's like, forty-eight now, but he still looks dang good. He's got this long black hair that he usually wears pulled back, and these gorgeous sea-green eyes. Whenever he smiles, I just expect to see a sparkle in his teeth. I swear, even his eyebrows are hot. All my girl friends agree, he's a total fox.
But that's not the point. You see, I can never tell him. Not only because he's so much older than me, and more important, but also... I kind of, ahem... already have a boyfriend. And Irvine really is a sweetheart, but I just get kind of mad at him sometimes, because he's such a flirt. It's weird: the feelings I have for him are totally different than the feelings I have for Sir Laguna. Does that make sense?
Never mind, I've got stuff to do. I recently took the exam to become a SeeD instructor, and I passed! In fact, I more than passed! I aced it! Booyaka! So anyway, I'm sitting here in the Balamb Garden cafeteria right now, watching my friend Zell Dincht stuff his face with hot dogs. And suddenly I see my other friend, Rinoa Leonhart, come bursting through the doors, her dark hair streaming behind her, and she shouts,
"Squall and I are leaviiing!"
I bolt to my feet, knocking my chair over, nearly speechless with shock. Nearly. "What?" I cry in dismay. "Are you kidding me? Why are you leaving?"
Rinoa comes over to our table and sits down heavily. "The Headmaster at Galbadia Garden is retiring, and Squall agreed to take his place. It's all official."
"Whuh-buh-burr--" Zell hastily swallows the food in his mouth and tries again. "What do you mean, it's all official?" he says despondently. "You guys can't just leave! Especially now, right when Selphie's just been accepted as a SeeD instructor!"
"Yeah, what about me?" I whine. "We were gonna have a party to celebrate! There was gonna be food, and cake, and dancing!"
"We'll still be at your party," Rinoa assures me, patting me on the arm. "We're not actually leaving for another two weeks."
"But it'll still be crappy!" I protest. "Nobody will have fun, because they'll all be so sad about you guys ditching us! My party will be a total downer!"
Rinoa sighs in exasperation. "Selphie, we're not ditching you at all," she replies. "Squall just has a lot of responsibilities. And so do you, now that you're an instructor. We're all just growing up, you know?"
"Boo," comments Zell, throwing the remains of his lunch down on his tray.
"And it's not like we'll never see each other again," she continues, as if she hasn't heard. "We'll come and visit all the time, and you can visit us at Galbadia. Have you forgotten that you have unlimited access to the Ragnarok, Selph?"
"No," I mutter, leaning forward and resting my head on my arms. The Ragnarok is this airship that was designed and built in Esthar, and I was the first non-Estharian to fly it. Not that I'm bragging or anything.
Zell's blond cowlick seems to droop noticeably. "Aww, man," he moans, "this sucks."
Rinoa sighs again. "You know what, let's just talk about it later," she says. "Why don't we go over the plans for your party? It's this Saturday, so we don't have a whole lot of time. What kind of cake do you prefer?"
I shrug. "Don't care," I reply listlessly.
"All riiight." I try to focus, but I'm just SO bummed. Squall and Rinoa are LEAVING, I keep repeating in my head. I never thought we'd be separated.
"Umm, well, chocolate, obviously," I hear myself saying.
Rinoa nods. "Good choice."
"And don't forget, Selph, you told me I could be your deejay," Zell reminds me, "so you should probably give me a list of all the songs you want."
"Don't worry, I will," I say in a monotone.
"Booya, baby!" Zell leans his chair on its back legs. "I am a deejay, I am what I plaaay!" he sings rather badly. "I got believers, believin' in meee..."
"Oh, and we still need to finish getting out all the invitations," says Rinoa. "Let's see, we need to send them out to Ellone and her husband, the Kramers, Zell's mom... and if you really insist, Seifer, Fujin, and Raijin--"
"Dammit, I can't believe you're inviting Seifer!" Zell blurts, his chair legs connecting with the floor with a sharp crack. "He won't even come!"
"Settle down, spaz," I tell him, rolling my eyes. "We all grew up together. I'm not not going to invite him. And even if he doesn't come, at least he'll know I don't hate him."
"--And of course," Rinoa continues despite our interruption, "Laguna, Kiros, and Ward will want to come."
At this my head shoots back up. "Sir Laguna?" I repeat.
Zell smirks. "Your boyfriend," he teases, and then adds a second later, after I punch him in the arm: "Oww!"
"Stop hitting Zell, Selphie," Rinoa chastises. "Hey, in fact, why don't you call them up on the video phone? It'll be more personal that way. And plus, you know how busy Laguna is; he might not even get the invitation in time."
"Yeah, I'll call them," I say calmly, rubbing my damp palms on my thighs underneath the table. "That'll be cool."
Okay, don't panic, I tell myself. You can do this. It's not a biggie. All you have to do is call him up, tell him all about the party, and say that he and his friends are invited. Possibly ask him if he'll dance with you... Well, maybe not. If only...
I'm sitting in front of the video phone in my dorm, my fingers poised above the keypad. Why am I so nervous? What's the big deal, anyway? Oh my gosh, how do I look? Do I even have makeup on?
Hurriedly I run to the mirror and check my appearance. Not bad; hair is cute and flippy as usual. I change my earrings as an afterthought and sit back down. Selphie, you're such a dork, I think to myself. Just DO it.
So I take a deep breath and dial Esthar's area code, then punch in the president's private line. (Only a few people know it, and I'm one of them! Booyaka!) It rings a couple of times, and finally Kiros Seagull answers, to my disappointment, and partly, relief.
"Um, hi, Mr. Kiros!" I say, a little too cheerfully.
"Oh, hey, Selphie," he says with a smile. He's really nice, by the way. "I'm guessing you want to talk to Laguna, right?"
Am I that obvious? "Yeah, if he's not too busy," I reply with a nervous laugh.
"Nah, he's probably playing Hangman with Ward. Hold on, I'll put you through to him."
"Okay, thanks." I swallow hard and try to sit patiently. My legs are shaking under the desk. What the heck is wrong with me?
Oh, yeah, now I remember.
There he is, President Laguna Loire, grinning boyishly at me on the video screen, his sea-green eyes sparkling from thousands of miles away. He's dressed in a dark blue suit with his tie knot pulled down, and his hair is pulled back, except for a few stray strands. Wow. Wow.
"Uh, h-hey, Sir Laguna," I hear myself stutter. Idiot! Just be normal!
"Those're real pretty earrings you're wearing," he remarks casually, drumming his long fingers on his desk. "Did you put 'em on for me?"
I blush furiously and shake my head. "What? N-no way!" I lie. Geez, how did he know?
"Suuure, whatever you say, Selph," he says smugly, leaning back in his chair with his arms behind his head. Why did he never become a model? "So, what do I owe the pleasure?"
Hmmm. I know I called him for a reason. What was it? Oh, yeah! "Well..." I can't help but giggle as I anticipate his reaction. "I just wanted to let you know, I took the SeeD instructor exam, and I passed! I'm an instructor!"
"You are? Selphie, that's great!" Laguna beams at me, and I can almost feel the warmth from his smile. "A bona-fide SeeD instructor, huh? So when's the party?"
I feel myself frown in confusion. "What? How'd you know about it?" I ask.
Laguna raises an eyebrow. "What do you take me for, kid?" he says reproachfully. "A party girl like you passing the instructor exam and not throwing a shin-dig? It'd never happen."
I laugh. "Yeah, I guess you're right." Oh, Sir Laguna, how well you know me... "Well, anyway, it's this Saturday here at Balamb Garden. There's gonna be cake and dancing, and it's gonna be awesome." In fact, I'm so excited that for the moment I forget that Squall and Rinoa are going to be leaving soon. "But yeah, you totally have to come, Sir Laguna." I already feel myself blushing as I add, "It would really mean a lot to me."
And as Laguna leans confidentially toward the screen and looks around to make sure no one's listening, I already regret saying it. "Are you sure your boyfriend won't get jealous?" he asks in a whisper.
"Hey, shut up!" I say indignantly, fully aware I'm showing disrespect to one of my elders, and not to mention, the president of a very powerful country. But he's cool with it.
Laguna laughs indulgently. "Don't worry, Selph, I'll be there. I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Whoo-hoo!" I squeal, unable to control myself. "Awesome! Oh, and don't forget to tell Mr. Kiros and Mr. Ward that they're invited, too."
"I'll be sure to tell them. And congratulations, kid."
I grin. "Thanks, Sir Laguna. See you Saturday!"
I push the 'End Call' button and slump heavily onto my desk. How did I manage to get through THAT? I wonder. But at least he's coming. He said he wouldn't miss it for the world.
But he also called me "kid".
Kid? Is he joking? I mean, come on! I'm twenty years old here! That's like, a fifth of a century! That's a long time, if you think about it!
Oh, who am I kidding? Nothing's gonna change the fact that he's over twice my age, even if he is a hottie. There's no getting around it: I am just a kid to him.
But that still doesn't mean I can't look unbelievably awesome for my own party.
Wow. I can't believe that's me. That wicked hot girl sitting on the other side of the mirror is actually me?
I must say, Quistis Trepe is a miracle worker. This morning I got up, took a shower, and got dressed looking like I always do: just another short, stick-thin girl with short brown hair. Well, I guess it's not short; it's longer than it used to be. But I usually just flip the bottom out, so it looks shorter. And now... Holy Hyne! Quistis has turned me into a bombshell! I shouldn't be so surprised, I mean... Quisty always looks so pretty, and I knew she'd do a good job. But man!
I have curls. And not just any curls. I'm talking those cute, perfect curls you see on other people, that you could never do to your own hair. Well, I have them. Complete with two sparkly clips to keep them out of my face when I'm dancing. And I'm wearing this gorgeous pale green, sleeveless dress, with silver flowers embroidered on it. And I have pearly green eyeshadow to match.
This is nuts. I shouldn't look this good.
"Wow, Quisty," I say as she dusts some glitter into my hair for kicks, "you're the best. I mean, I look like a princess!"
Quistis smiles, pushing her long blond hair out of her face. "Don't mention it, Selphie," she replies. "And it's your special day, for goodness' sakes! You should look like a princess!"
I guess it IS my day. I can't believe it's already Saturday. My party's going to be starting in just eight hours. And yet, I'm still weighed down with sadness about Squall and Rinoa leaving. And deep down, everyone else is thinking about it, too. And they'll all be forcing themselves to be happy for me.
Zell was right. This sucks.
Ooh hey, that reminds me, I have one more song I want to add to my dance list! I hope it's not too late for Zell to put it in there. Boy, will he be mad!
"Do you know where Zell is?" I ask Quistis, who has just finished fabulizing me.
"Um, yeah, I think he's down in the ballroom," she answers, closing her makeup kit. "You can probably still catch him. Just try not to trip in those heels!"
I grin. "You know me, graceful as a swan!"
"Hmmm, more like an Ochu."
"Hah-hah," I say sarcastically, though secretly lifting the hem of my dress carefully as I stand up. "Thanks, Quisty," I tell her, hugging her tightly. "I'll see you downstairs!"
I hurry down the hall to the elevators, my dress billowing behind me. As I get on and descend to the first floor of the Garden, I reflect on what awesome friends I have. With Quistis doing my hair and makeup, Zell being my deejay, and Squall and Rinoa helping with the decorations even though they're so busy with moving to Galbadia, I feel like I should be doing something, too. But, like Quistis said, it is my day!
Actually, the only person who doesn't seem to be doing anything is Irvine. I mean, that's cool, it's not like I care or anything. But he is my boyfriend, right? You'd think he'd be doing something to help.
Oh, well. I'm not going to let it bug me. My day, my day.
As I arrive in the ballroom, I'm completely blown away. The tables are laid with shimmery silver cloths, with candles and flowers and glitter strewn all over them. There are green and silver balloons, and streamers, and... Oh, my gosh, no way! A smoke machine? My friends rock!
"Whoa, Selphie!" Zell exclaims, taking off his headphones. "You look smokin'!"
I laugh. "Thanks, so do you!" Which he does. For some reason I thought he might look weird in a tuxedo, but he actually pulled it off quite well.
I feel a hand on my arm, and I turn to see Squall in his tux, his lips curved in a slight smile, which is his all-the-time smile. "You look great, Selphie," he says in his quiet voice. "We're all really proud of you."
Suddenly I feel a surge of affection for this dead-serious stick-in-the-mud, and I hug him tightly, my eyes blurry with tears. "I'm going to miss you so much, Squall," I say thickly.
He chuckles, patting my back awkwardly. "Take it easy, Selphie," he says. "We're not dying or anything."
"I know..." I pull away with a sheepish smile. "I'll come and visit every chance I get."
"Just don't crash the Ragnarok," says Rinoa, coming to join us.
"Why does everyone have such little faith in my flying abilities?" I demand, putting my hands defensively on my hips. "I am a fantastic pilot!"
"Rinoa just gets airsick," Squall whispers to me surreptitiously.
"No, I don't!"
"Hey, Zell," I say, eager to escape the couple's ensuing argument, "is it too late to add one more song to my list?"
"What? Are you serious?" He rolls his blue eyes. "Oh, sure, Selph, now that I've got them all in a specific order, and if I rearrange even two of them, it'll mess everything up, and - yeah, I can do it," he says with a grin.
I hug his arm. "Thank you," I reply, slipping a piece of paper into his hand. "You can put it at the very end, if it'll make it easier."
"Hey, where's Irvine?" asks Squall in a mildly annoyed voice. "We agreed that since he's one of the tallest SeeDs at the Garden, he should help put up the streamers. Put his gangliness to good use."
"I'll go look for him," I volunteer before anyone else says anything. "It's okay," I tell them as I hurry out of the ballroom. "I'm not doing anything productive besides running around anyway."
Wow, you'd think with Irvine being so tall, he'd be easier to find. But I guess Balamb Garden is a pretty big place. Still, I have to go to the cafeteria, the infirmary, and the training area before I get any luck. As I arrive in the library, the girl with the pigtail - whose name, which I finally found out, is Meilani - greets me with a cheery wave. "Hi, Selphie!" she says. "Congratulations, by the way!"
"Thanks!" I say breathlessly. "Have you seen Irvine anywhere?"
"Yeah, actually, he's in the back of the library right now with, uh..." Suddenly her face turns red. "With, uh... uh..."
I can feel my eyebrows draw together. "With, uh, who?" I ask.
"With Xu," she says, biting her lip.
What the heck? Why does she look like she's afraid I'm going to kill her or something? I don't have any reason to be... Not unless... Maybe if Irvine... Oh, no way. There is no way.
"In the back, you say?" I repeat calmly, pointing in the direction she indicated.
"Um, yeah, but--"
I ignore her, moving deeper into the library. Students look up at me as I pass, and I realize my fists are clenched. I try to relax them, but discover I can't. They won't even budge. Already I can hear Irvine's smooth drawl, and a female giggle in return. As I get closer, I can make out what they're saying.
"Yeah, trust me, darlin'. She's way too busy planning the party. She won't find out."
I almost don't want to look, but I know I have to.
I step around a bookshelf, and there's Irvine Kinneas, my boyfriend, with that Xu girl sitting shamelessly in his lap. She's twirling his long, reddish-brown ponytail in her fingers, and he's grinning like a moron. They both start as they see me, and Irvine jumps to his feet, causing Xu to tumble to the floor.
"Selphie!" he exclaims. "I-I can explain! It's not what it looks like!"
"Oh, give me a break, Irvine, do you think I'm an idiot?" I snap at him. I can feel my fingernails digging into my palms. "It's exactly what it looks like. I heard you talking. 'She won't find out'? Looks like she did, Irvine!"
By now Xu has gotten to her feet, brushing the wrinkles out of her skirt. "Calm down, Selphie, it's just a misunderstanding," she says, a distinct pleading tone in her voice.
"Calm down?" I repeat. "Are you kidding me? You were sitting in my boyfriend's lap. What is there to misinterpret about this?" I shake my head in disgust. "Why am I even wasting my time with this? I have better things to do."
I stalk out of the library, but Irvine, with his long legs, quickly overtakes me. "Sefie, don't be like this, baby," he says desperately. "You know I love you! It was just a stupid mistake!"
I stop walking and round on him furiously. "No, you know what? It wasn't a mistake, Irvine." He stares at me silently, his eyes wide. "I was meant to volunteer to go looking for you, I was meant to find you in here, so that I'd finally realize what a creep you are. And now that I have, I can't believe I didn't see it sooner." I turn and walk away.
"Selphie, I'm sorry!" he shouts.
"Don't talk to me," I say without turning. "If you come to my party tonight, I'll have you thrown out."
Why am I not crying?
I know I should be. I mean, Irvine and I have been going out for about two years now. We've definitely been through a lot, and I know I should feel sad that it's over... But I'm not. Here I am, sitting here on the edge of the stage out in the Quad, in the dress I'll be wearing, without a date, to my party... and I'm not sad at all.
Yeah, I'm angry. The guy totally cheated on me, after all. And for all I know, it might not even be the first time he's cheated on me. But sad? I just don't feel it. I guess he never really meant all that much to me.
Actually, that whole being dateless thing is what's really got me bummed. Squall and Rinoa will be together - duh, they're married - and Zell's taking Meilani, but now I have no one. I'll be totally alone.
Wow. Suddenly I don't feel that psyched about this party.
I look up, fully prepared to throw something if it's Irvine, but instead I feel my breath catch in my throat as I see quite a different figure walking toward me. A much more welcome one. "Hi, Sir Laguna," I say with a genuine smile.
And Lordy mercy, he's in a tuxedo. No wonder I don't feel all broken up about Irvine. He never made me feel like this.
"Sorry if I'm too early," says Laguna as he steps forward and enfolds me in a hug. "I didn't have anything pressing to do today, so I thought I'd just spend the day here. Is that okay?"
Is that okay, I think to myself, basking in the warmth from his embrace. If I had my way, you'd never leave. "Yeah, that's fine," I reply, pulling away regretfully. "I'm glad you're here."
We both sit down on the edge of the stage, and Laguna looks at me again, like it's for the first time. "Wow, Selph, you look beautiful," he says, and instantly I blush. "What? Don't be embarrassed, it's true! Absolutely gorgeous. And so grown up." Then he frowns. "But there's something missing. You're not your usual..." He pauses in thought.
"Insane self?" I suggest.
Laguna laughs. "I was going to say 'effervescent', but okay."
"Wow," I exclaim, "someone's been using a thesaurus!"
"Come on, gimme a break for five seconds, will ya?" he says defensively. I smile down at my shoes, and Laguna nudges my shoulder with his. "I can tell something's bothering you. What is it?"
I sigh. I guess everyone's going to find out anyway, so I might as well just tell him. Besides, I could never keep any secrets from Laguna. Well, except maybe one. So I take a deep breath and tell him about the incident in the library.
By the end he's shaking his head. "That little punk," he says quietly. "I'd like to grab that goofy cowboy hat of his and beat him over the head with it."
"Don't be mad, Sir Laguna," I tell him, more than a little surprised by his indignation. "I'm really not that upset about it. Actually, I'm almost kind of relieved that it's over."
Laguna frowns. "Relieved?"
"Yeah," I hear myself saying. "I mean, you know that feeling you're supposed to get when you know that the person you're with is the right one? Well, I never really got that feeling with Irvine. So now I don't have to worry about whether he's the right one or not, because I know he isn't."
Did I just say all that to Sir Laguna?
"Well," he says after a while, "I'm glad you're not upset about it. But I am." I look up at him, and his usually cheerful face is dark. "I can't see how he could treat you like that; how anyone could. He should have been thanking his lucky stars every day for having a girl like you."
Um, okay. That's like, the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me. Man, I wish I was older, or he was younger, or... something! "You're the best, Sir Laguna," I can't help telling him. He waves away the compliment. "So where are Kiros and Ward?" I ask him.
At this Laguna grins. "Last time I saw them, they were staring covetously at your congratulatory cake. Hopefully they won't demolish it until after the party starts." I laugh, shaking my head, and then Laguna clears his throat. "So, uh... You probably heard about Squall and Rinoa."
I sigh. "Yes. I'm so cheesed off at them. I mean, I'm glad for them and everything, but at the same time..." I shake my head. What am I trying to say? "It's like, everyone's growing up, and getting separated, and I kind of thought we'd always be together. I feel like..." I don't even want to finish, but Laguna's looking at me all expectantly. "...I feel like I'm being left behind."
"I know how you feel."
My head whips around to face him. "You do?" I ask incredulously.
Laguna nods. "Yeah, I know exactly how you feel," he says, looking straight ahead of him. "Like all your friends have their own lives, and their own stuff to deal with... Like they don't need you anymore." He nods almost imperceptibly. "Yep, I know that feeling very well."
I stare at him for a while until I realize my mouth is hanging open. "I..." I don't even know what to say. "I would never have guessed that you could even know what it's like. I mean, everyone loves you. You're just... awesome!"
He laughs, but it's a quiet, self-effacing sort of laugh. "Well, yeah, I know people care about me and everything," he says. "You'll never hear me complaining that I don't have friends. Kiros and Ward are the best friends a guy could have." He gives a little shrug. "But Ellone's married now, Kiros has been seeing this woman for a while, all you kids are growing up... Squall's got a wife and a career, and, let's face it, he's never really needed me." He sighs. "Or, well... You know what I mean."
Not really, I think to myself, and then say it out loud before I can stop myself. "No, I don't, Laguna," I tell him quite seriously. "I can't even understand how YOU could be saying all this. People need you. There's a whole country that needs you!" I need you, I add mentally.
At this he waves his hand dismissively. "Not really, if you think about it," he replies. "The people don't really know anything about me. I'm just like this guy that runs everything behind the scenes. I'm sure if I was assassinated tomorrow, Esthar would be over it in about a week."
I examine his calm profile, too stunned to speak. I can't believe what I'm hearing. I always thought of Sir Laguna as this brave, invincible guy who never let anything get him down. How long has he been carrying around these feelings of worthlessness? I mean, he's a hero! He saved Ellone from becoming the next sorceress. He saved a whole country from being ruled by a psychotic, tyrannical dictator. How could he possibly think that nobody needs him?
He shouldn't have to feel this way. He's the most amazing man I've ever met, and he should know that there are people who need him. He should know that he's appreciated.
"Let's get out of here," I hear myself saying.
Laguna looks at me sharply. "What?"
"You heard me," I tell him, hopping down from the stage. "Let's get out of here. There's something I think you should see."
He jumps down, too, shoving his hands awkwardly in his pockets and looking, I must say, rather cute. "Right now?" he asks uncertainly. "In our fancy clothes? What about your party?"
"We'll be back in time," I assure him, striding swiftly out of the Quad toward the parking lot in the North block, leaving him no choice but to follow me. "I'm not allowed to help with the party, and I'm not looking forward to running into Irvine anywhere, so there's really no reason to stay here right now. Are you coming?" I ask him over my shoulder.
"Well, I, uh, it depends, you know?" he replies eloquently, trying to keep up. "It depends on a lot of things. For instance, where are we going?"
I turn around to face him. He looks like a confused little kid. "Just trust me," I say sincerely. "You'll be glad you came."
He hesitates for a moment, and in that moment, I hear the sound of footsteps running toward us. I look around furiously, hoping it's not Irvine coming to make a last desperate attempt at winning me back. If it is, I don't want Sir Laguna to see it. I kind of don't trust him not to deck Irvine at the moment.
To my surprise, it's not Irvine, but Zell, running toward me frantically. "Selphie, wait up!" He stops in front of me, breathing hard. "We all heard about Irvine," he says. "Meilani told me what happened. I'm so sorry, Sefie."
He hugs me, and I smile. For all the retarded things he does, Zell really is a sweetie. "It's okay," I tell him. "So where is he?"
Suddenly Zell grins. "In the infirmary," he replies. "When Squall found out, he sucker-punched him in the stomach." I wince. "Not the wisest action for the future headmaster of Galbadia Garden, but I doubt it'll come back to haunt him any time soon."
Laguna sighs and shakes his head. "Oh, hi, President Loire," Zell says nervously, noticing him for the first time. "I was just, uh... Don't be mad at Squall. Please? Sir?"
He laughs. "Don't worry, Zell," he says. "I don't blame him for losing it. I was mad when I found out, too." He smiles. "And no more 'President Loire, sir's. Call me Laguna."
"Right, right. I keep forgetting." Zell scratches his head. "So what's going on?" he asks. "Why were you in such a hurry just now?"
I clear my throat. "Well, we're uh... We're leaving the Garden for a while. We'll be back before the party starts."
Zell frowns. "What? Where are you going?"
"Good question," pipes in Laguna.
I suppress a groan. Why should I have to explain myself to everyone? Can't I just do what I want without everyone questioning it?
I lean forward and speak into Zell's ear. "We're going to Trabia," I tell him quietly. "Sir Laguna's experiencing some low self-esteem right now, and I'm going to show him that there are people who look up to him."
He looks at me with wide eyes as it dawns on him. "The Shumi tribe?"
"Can I come?" he asks, quite loudly. "I added that song to your track list, and I did a sound check on all the speakers, so everything's pretty much taken care of." I roll my eyes. "Please? Come on, Selph!"
I sigh. To be honest, I really don't want Zell to come. It's not that I don't absolutely love him, but I just... I kind of wanted this to be just Laguna and me. I've never actually been alone with him for any serious period of time. And I mean, it's not like I would ever do anything stupid, like tell him how I feel or whatever. But it would be so awesome, just some one-on-one time with Sir Laguna...
"Sefie, look," Zell says, his voice so low that there's no way Laguna can hear him. "I know things kind of suck right now, with Squall and Rinoa leaving, and with Irvine being a bas-- uh, a big jerk," he quickly corrects himself. "And I know... I know you really like Laguna," he whispers, and I glare at him. "But if you go off alone with him, feeling all confused and weird right now, you're going to say or do something you're gonna regret."
I stare at him, wondering how retarded I must look. WHY am I so transparent?
"Fine, you can come," I finally grumble.
"Yes!" he shouts, doing a backflip in his tuxedo. "Booya! Can I fly the Ragnarok?"
"No," I say flatly.
A/N: Well, that's it for the first part of my three-shot. Tell me what you think! Am I nuts for writing a Selphie/Laguna fic? I personally don't think so. But then, crazy people usually don't think they're crazy.