Not literally, it's not like she has asthma or anything, but sometimes when they've been fighting for hours on end but nothing's come out of it, and she stops, it just seems so much harder to keep on going. To keep the pace, to fight the fight, to win.

And it's not like she's not used to them, either. They're her family, she decides early on. Her dysfunctional, argumentative, prank-pulling, loveable and disjointed family. She loves them all, more than words could tell, more than her incoherent strings of English could ever relate. But sometimes even she feels as though they're wearing thin, like something that's been stretched and pulled so much that it's never the same after.

There were always times for tears and laughter and anger, however, in their disorderly, collided worlds.

Like when Irvine had snuck into Selphie's dormitory, and stolen some of her undergarments. The most probably perverted reason as to why was never divulged, not to her, but Selphie had then, in retaliation, stolen all his clothes (excluding the underwear, wisely enough) and used her magic to burn them. When Irvine came out of the communal shower in his too-tight towel (much to the chagrin of the males, and the joy of the females) and yelled down the corridor, shouting obscenities and the like, Selphie had wisely hid.

It was a strange love, theirs. Something that, again, she couldn't describe in words and she didn't feel like emotions could quite cover, either. Sometimes it was there, so clearly and so surreptitiously at the same time so everyone around them got caught in the whirlwind of confusion. And at other times so small, so miniscule, that not even Shakespeare himself would be able to tell that they were in love.

And then there was her own relationship with Squall. Bittersweet, to the point, but yet so vague and undetermined that sometimes there'd be these silences, those goddamned awful awkward silences, in which they had nothing to say and then that's when they'd really start communicating (no, not like that––well, not all the time).

So, really, she's not a professor of life and after a battle with a particularly brutal bunch of fiends that she can't identify the name of, she doesn't exactly feel like explaining in scientific terms anyway.

So that's why it's just too hard to breathe, for her.

Like when Selphie cries and she feels like the world is crumbling and the apocalypse is coming because Selphie never cries, not publicly, not in front of her, and she doesn't want to see it happening because she's so useless and while she heals wounds, she also adds salt. Because she just does that, and she's never so good at comforting when people cry and when it rains.

Like when Irvine goes all glassy-eyed and gets lost in reveries of what could have been, what should have been, how he shouldn't be an orphan and he really does miss his family and then he doesn't talk, and Selphie doesn't know what to do, and she feels terrible, because Irvine is their strength; their foundation. Without him backing them with his endless philosophies, there's nothing there. And they can't function. Like someone trying to run without legs.

Like when Zell and Quisty feel depressed because they can't do anything, because they'd made a mistake, and they both really worry about the trivial, and she comforts Zell (and Quisty) but they don't pay heed to her. Zell the mechanically-inclined, thinking he's an academic failure, and Quisty thinking something of the opposite, she can't decide.

Like when Squall slouches off because she's been mean, she's said something she shouldn't have said and she's crossed that boundary, but she can't go and apologize for fear of being rejected. So she hides away and eventually her friends sort it out, because they're good like that, her friends, but then she still feels, beyond all recognition, like someone who isn't quite whole; someone suffering from malnutrition. Even when Squall says it's okay (because she never really thinks it is, not with him.)

Like when she feels useless because they're all fighting and she's left behind, trying desperately to catch up, and since when did they all get so good? And she realises she's, yet again, the weakest link; the first to break, the one to watch as the others follow her lead and are drawn to slow oblivion. She's the one who can only watch, because her and following plans through are like chalk and cheese.

So, really, this fight, and the parts that nobody ever tells (like when everyone cries, like when people die, like when mistakes are made, like when it's too hard) are warrants for tears. They're warrants for asthma-bouts. They're the beginning, and the end.

She realises it's easy to ignore what people say, but it's not easy to ignore what they do; what happens. It's easy to scream but it's not easy to laugh. It's easy to comfort, to talk but it's not ever easy to amend, to communicate. And it's also easy, so very easy to give up, to lose hope, to give the responsibility to everyone else.

But, God, is it the hardest thing in the world to keep going.


That's when her family comes into play. When the going gets rough and there's nothing to do but sit around and glare and wait for the inevitable, they all miraculously find humour in things that would otherwise annoy them. That's when Selphie smiles, and Irvine jokes, and Squall smirks and mock-insults, and Zell goofs, and Quisty rolls her eyes, and they all back her. They all keep her strong; they all become her glue, because without them she would be broken.

And she knows that sometimes it's hard to breathe, but you have to, right? Because if you don't then you fade away, and when that happens the link is broken, it's messed up (even if you are the weakest, because even the weakest has its place) and no one feels so strong anymore. They can't face anything, they can barely face themselves.

Her heart feels like cracking in two when she feels the others slipping away from her, and words are said that can't be taken back, and deeds are done, and blood and tears are spilt, but in the end her heart's mended by those same people. Because they're family (although decidedly not biologically related; that would be scary) and that's what families do. They stick together, they fall out, and they're each other's best friends and worst enemies.

There's Squall, the base of everything, their rock. In the middle of a fight, he's the one who shouts the orders and tells people when to duck, when to strike, when to withdraw. He's not their leader (because they don't have one; they're all too stubborn) but he's the importance, and also at times the very bane of their existences.

There's Selphie and Zell, the comic reliefs, the people who can lend their attitude and resilience to others when they need it; the helping hands and trustworthy friends. She's the one who defies Squall because she can't stand it when he bosses her around, he's the one who swears when there needs to be profanities, but they're the ones who support and mend emotional conflicts, Squall the physical.

There's Quisty, the knowledge bank who can be asked about any SeeD-related, math-related question in the universe. The one who will always strategize, the one who makes up the long-term plans and the one who's prepared to knock sense into her when she's being un-SeeD-ly or pretentious.

And then there's Irvine, who doesn't talk much during battle and is something of a flighty character, but he's their protector. He watches all their backs, and when something comes their way, he intercepts it. He silently ensures they're all safe, they all stay alive (because they have to, otherwise he'll have nothing left) and that they all pull through.

And she? She doesn't know what she does, but then again she supposes that none of the others realise their roles either. She does what she can, gives what they need, takes what she needs and helps when she knows what to do.

So, yes, she knows that even if at times it's so hard to breathe, so hard to keep on moving and going forward, so hard to keep motivated, the others will somewhat coerce her into keeping a bounce in her step and keeping a smile on her face; a real one, this time.

And then, she's sticking to her philosophy because she likes it and it's the only thing she's really got to keep the fire burning (aside from the fact that she's saving the world, saving everyone in fact, because that tends to make you passionate enough as is) so when Selphie grumps to herself and asks "What do I do? I add nothing" she's always the first to get angry and proclaim that Selphie, in fact, does a lot.

She's always the first to say "Don't you dare even think that, let alone say it or I will be forced to tear you limb-from-limb and make you pay for your stupidity" because she needs them more than anything and it just plain annoys her when they don't measure their own worth.

So when she reflects on the hard times, the sad times, the happy times in which there is shouting and laughter and an actual good time, she perhaps realises that her role is something of a mishmash, something entailing her being a family member. A part of the whole, but her own all the same.

This reflection causes the lack of breathing, the temporary asthma, to fade away and then she frowns. She's sure she'll get lines from this when she's older, but this is today and she's only a teenager, so who cares? (You're forgetting she's naïve, here.)

So maybe she's not so weak after all.

Maybe it's just life, like it always is, and maybe she's just living, along with everyone.

I don't own Final Fantasy, or Rinoa.
Rinny comes to a certain realisation, and in this she grows. Isn't that the point of these types of one-shots? I'll let her smile, for now.