In Malignant
PART I: obsidian

After Ultimecia, Garden declared the duty of mercenaries as protecting their respective countries instead of defeating big ol' sorceresses. I got elected to be part of the Peace Council. For Irvy, he got dropped from the Garden program in Galbadia by Martine and went off and left SeeD.

How come? I'd asked again and again, cuz Irvy wasn't a half-bad sharpshooter and Martine may be creepy and fanatical and evil-crazy, but there wasn't a reason for it.

Squall put it best to me. "He doesn't want anyone faithful to another Garden in his own."

But Squall never had any answers for why Irvy left and didn't come back. Rinoa said that I couldn't blame Irvine's decision because of everything he'd been through. But the problem was, I didn't remember it, and he was my only key to it all. He was my real friend, y'know, the one who made it all honest and bare between us.

"He would have been ridiculed," Quistis had commented coolly when I'd been having a tête-à-tête with her during the peace talks. "Galbadia is estranged from Balamb. Would you have wanted him under constant scrutiny from peers, Selphie?"

No, Quisty, I wouldn't have. But Rinny stays here and puts on a brave face when she stays with Squally. Okay, she's in Timber seventy percent of the time, but she's part of the Peace Council, too (suck it up, Martine; a sorceress owns your ass!) and Squall and her are going steady and happy and she doesn't care about the corridor-whispers.

So why does Irvy? He's supposed to be a lone marksman who has a barrier of ice between him and humanity––truth be told, that speech of his was a totally old-fashioned pick up line from a bad Western I once watched, but the philosophies are still there, right?

I'm sorry, Irvy. So, so sorry. I never wanted you to suffer for anything, and I'm selfish, but I wish you had been here right now. Instead of what had actually happened, I wish you'd stayed all along and had been my knight, like Squall was to Rinoa.

(I might not be a sorceress, but I can be a damsel if I want, damnit!)

…it was wishful thinking, I know, but couldn't the Orphanage Gang go one more round united? Instead of all broken-y, we've-outgrown-each-other?

My name's Selphie Tilmitt. And I am a hopeless dreamer.

(Breathe in, breathe out––you can do this, Selph. Sefie.

Gods above…)

So Ellone asked me what happened after it was all done and dusted, and I was surprised. I mean, Elle could just go back in time with a whoosh and see it all like some melodramatic soap opera. But she didn't.

I thank her for that, even now.

Rinny and Quisty crowded around when Elle asked, too, so I decided I'd write it all down instead. Paper soothes me a whole lot more than words––I get all muddled and tongue-tied and then languages are not my friend. But this, I hope, won't ever be publicised in my online journal. For the sake of someone dear to me.

(Irvy, Irvy––I wish you could have read this. My story. Mine with yours. Irvy, I'm sorry, sorry, sorry––)

This is the story of Irvine Kinneas, and me, and Rinoa, and Ellone, and the Orphanage Gang a little. Our remembrance was our forgetting, and our legacy was ours to deteriorate.

And it started when I'd turned twenty; in fact, it started on my twentieth, which was brouhaha, noise, fireworks and pretty things, because I was depressed about not being a teenager anymore and Rinny promised me copious amounts of yellow, and Mrs. Moogle's cakes. Zell had even rigged up the sound system to play CDs I'd brought from Trabia (because, really, when stuck in the middle of a blizzard when electricity's down, walkmans are a lifesaver; so are board games, but still).

Everyone was invited––even Sir Laguna! I couldn't look him in the eye, but then I opened his present. It was a gold-plated Moomba figurine that was about as big as my head and was sparkly and I forgot all about pretence and shyness and his being Squall's dad and glomped him, fangirl style.

Rinny and Squall bought me the entire collection of Laguna's personal writing magazine, which he made in Esthar after becoming President. Zelly got me the bestest box of chocolates ever, and Quisty bought me a suit to wear to Peace Council conferences. It was matte black, but still awesome, so I wore it anyway.

There comes a time when yellow just does not go well with all those dreary non-colours.

And Nida, sweet little Nida with his bowl-cut and thick eyebrows and uneasy smile, gave me a kiss and stuttered and said I looked pretty and got me this fairytale book I'd had as a child, but lost, then cried about at Garden Festival meetings (he was the co-director of said committee, along with me) and he remembered about it!

Oh, and he kissed me!

I mean, it's cruel to see it as puppy-dog sweet, but I did. He wasn't my first kiss, and I didn't like him, but all the depression went poof. Hey, I'm still hot and smokin' at twenty, obviously.

Off-topic, off-topic. Damn you, brain!

(My first kiss? Was Irvy. After Ultimecia got defeated, and we got out of Time Compression, he just whisked me around and planted a big one right on the lips! My heart melted into a puddle on the floor. Although he assures me that my first-first kiss was when we were five and I'd skinned my knees. Either way.)

Anyway, everything really started unfurling and getting weird right after that, so let's begin, shall we? (Hem, hem. Reading glasses, out. I have twenty-twenty vision, but I always wanted those glasses Quisty has. They are so awesome.)

Elle comes over to me when I got back from dancing the tango with Zell––who is surprisingly graceful on the dance floor; I'll have to remember that for his library pig-tailed non-named whatever girl––and just smiles. Now, just so you know, Elle's smiles are totally infectious and even Squally can't help but get all happy-like when she's around.

"You finally left the world of teens, Selph," she said warmly, before patting me on the arm absently. Oh, her mind was so someplace else. "…you happy?"

I paused as I slopped some lemonade (alcohol is icky) down my front and hastily searched for a napkin to wipe it with. "Getting there! But it's not till next year that I can go gambling and night-clubbing. Which is unfair. Balamb is so backwater."

"You really want to go night-clubbing?"

"Not particularly, because I've taken a vow of not looking like a beached whale and also a vow of not becoming completely inebriated, which pretty much rules out everything there is to do at nightclubs, like dancing and drinking."

She just smiled again and looked back at the dance floor, where Rinny and Squally attempted to be casual but were doing the whole we're-gaga-about-each-other, gazing into their lover's souls, re-enacting their first meeting––you know the drill.

It's like they cannot dance or say the words "shooting" and "star" and "waltz" without exchanging covert glances of passion. (This is a bond I wanted to share with someone. But I s'pose I'll have to settle for Selphie-love, which can never equal Rinoa-love, or Squall-love).

"…you going to the Peace Council meeting?"

"Ugh," I found a napkin and scrubbed furiously. It seemed to be staining my skirt more. Damnit. "Don't remind me. Glutton's gonna be there." Which is my pet name for the new President of Galbadia, who looks strangely like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

"They're deciding about what to do with Centra, last I heard."

I looked up. "You know about that?" and then I realised that was kind of sort of maybe perhaps stupid, as Elle lives with Laguna, who is President of Esthar, and of course he'd be privy to matters such as these. World leaders are so involved.

(Sir Laguna is dreamy…)

"Matron petitioned for a settlement to be established near the Orphanage, so that there'd be an influx of children, and money to hire employees."

"Oh," I said. "Really?" (In absolute honesty, I couldn't have cared less about the Orphanage at the time, which was bad of me. Bad, bad Selphie. Sefie.


Elle looked knowing. I hate it when people look knowing. "The Peace Council was gonna decide whether to send a building team out there. Deling's overpopulated, and they'd give those that moved there government-funded housing until theirs were sold and they could pay for it."

"Isn't that a more World Affairs Council type thing to discuss?" I murmured, as I checked out the disco lights. Oooh, groovy. And they go yellow. Not gold, but yellow. I love you, Rinny and Zelly. You rock my world.

"People have been disagreeing about it, saying Centra's cursed because of the Lunar Cry wiping out all civilisation there," responded Elle smoothly.

"Wouldn't that mean people thought Esthar was cursed, too?"


There was a long pause. "Oh," I felt like a bag of bricks that was actually proverbial because it was revelation had hit me in the head.

(Belatedly, I knew that I should've paid so much more attention when Elle was discussing this. It pertains to everything; to Irvy, to me, to––oh my gods, I'm such a child.)

"People are protesting," she continued. "Religious fanatics who believe the Lunar Cry is a warning. They think Esthar is becoming too advanced for its own good. Laguna is trying to handle it, but if the Peace Council give the go-ahead to such an opportunity, then they'll quieten down."

I ran a mental list of who exactly was on the Peace Council. Rinny and me were the only ones I knew that would definitely say yes. Glutton would never ("Deling City is the pride and joy of Galbadia! Overpopulated? Preposterous, I say!"––I can hear him now). The others were stuffy representatives from Trabia and Galbadia Garden, Dollet and Timber. Oooh, they do not like change.


(How very articulate me, yes? I'm sorry, Elle. Sorry. I couldn't do it. I failed you. And now I'm paying for it.)

"If you could somehow––"

She was cut off by a loud and somewhat screechy noise that I'd come to recognise. I was suddenly horrified.

I looked up and my brain was abruptly vacationing in the land of not coping.

The sky was multi-coloured!

An exaggeration, I'm sure, but something overhead had spun out of control and erupted into millions of tendrils of sparks and flurrying debris. At first, I thought that maybe, maybe it was fireworks. But the dawning looks of oh-my-fuck on everyone else's faces told me otherwise.

Another dropped, closer to Garden this time.

"They're missiles!" Rinoa screamed, stating the obvious but alerting all us SeeDs into standard protocol action.

"Zell!" Squall suddenly yelled. "Go and start up the control panel in the Headmaster's office! Quistis, go with him and wake Cid! And Selphie," I jumped to my feet. "Go get Xu and together alert the SeeDs to arm themselves."

Kiros and Ward, out of the corner of my eye, dragged Elle and Laguna into the building for safety. Zell and Quistis had disappeared at the word go. I turned and padded down the hallway that adjoined the Quad and the main corridors. The water fountain trickled with alarming tranquillity, and I could hear Rinoa––

"Squall, what do I do?"

"Just get inside!"

Anger blossomed inside me as their words were drowned out and I skidded to a halt in front of the dormitories. I didn't have my GF's junctioned (when do I ever anymore?) and my Strange Vision was in the opposite direction to Xu's dorm and if they attacked I just––

(I lost my cool. I don't deserve to be a SeeD. Elle, I don't care what you say, I don't.)

Nobody just waltzes in and blows up Selphie Tilmitt's Garden. She's let it happen before, and she'll be damned if she lets it happen again.

Okay, I told myself, breathe and stop talking in third person.

Then the lights went off.

Now, I don't generally fear the dark and it doesn't stem from some psychological childhood nightmare, but I feared this dark. I couldn't see my hands. I couldn't see the dorms, and I most definitely couldn't see the numbers on them. I hadn't grown up in Balamb, and so therefore I was freakin' lost.

(Squall, why me why me why me?)

It was the missile base all over again, except Irvy wasn't there to comfort me, and point to the robot and hurry us in, and there was no Zell swearing and making me laugh my ass off as I ran, tears and booms behind me and all.

Then the first missile collided with Garden.

It wasn't anywhere near as smart as the missiles that destroyed Trabia were, but it sent a healthy chunk of concrete hurtling towards the ground with a crash, and a seismic earthquake that rocked the foundations. Oh, Zelly, Quisty, why didn't you have Garden moving yet?

(Irvy, I'm glad you never saw this. I never wanted to see it, not from the inside, not even from the outside.)

"Who the hell is firing?" I screamed to the sky, wishing I had some creepy psychic bond to GF's that'd let me call them. I could do with Quezacotl's wheezy old-man voice, and Carbuncle's soothing clock chimes and even Doomtrain's chugging I-am-poison-poison-is-me rant.

I remembered Irvy detailing our escape from the missile base, after I'd collapsed in bed and refused to greet the morning. (I heard they fought Raijin and Fujin while I'd been busily lounging in my comforter. Not fair. Raijin's "ya know" would've kept me in good spirits the entire fight, I'll bet).

I knew that Galbadian mechanics were pretty sturdy, and, well––I couldn't just give up and die, not with Sefie there, right? Don't roll your eyes at me, Commander. I got 'em all out alive, so you'd better be thanking me, huh?

I remembered wanting Irvy there more than anything. My heart just screamed it.

"Selphie?" I heard Rinoa's voice in the dark. "Is that you?"

"Rinny, Rinny!" I sobbed back.

She had a Fire balled in her hands, lighting the way and I kept crying until she threatened to burn me because I was a SeeD and SeeDs just do not cry under missile attacks, or under any circumstance, really, and as a sorceress she had ways of ensuring I kept to my word of strength.

I totally love Rinoa Heartilly, people. If I were a man, I would've punched Squall out and dated her already. Except that I'm not and––yeah, let's derail that train of thought, shall we?

"Rinny," my bearings had been regained, and I was now composed. "I have to find Xu's dorm. It's down here somewhere, but I don't know the number, and oh, how come you're not with Squall? If the whole world gets blown up, then Squall would still find a way to protect you, and did someone spike my lemonade or am I just experiencing a soon-to-be aneurysm?"

Composed? Scratch that.

"Selph," Rinoa gave me a Look. It just screamed 'you're an idiot'. "Xu's dorm."

Those two deadpanned words righted reality, and the number seventy-three of the SeeD sector clicked into place.

"Onward ho!" I said, revitalised, and I spun on my heel and let her dog my footsteps until I realised I'd reached number ninety by accident (I wasn't the one with the Fire) and had to back-track rather shamefully.

Knock, knock, knock.

We waited.

(It was the longest wait in my entire life, Elle––it didn't end. I don't think it's ended now. Waiting for someone to answer who never would. Oh, Elle––)

"Xu!" Rinoa called out, equal parts hesitant and firm. "Xu! Sorry to wake you, but it's an emergency. Missiles are being fired at––"

Another missile caused the whole Garden to shake ominously, and a light fitting crashed to the ground somewhere in a nearby corridor. Sleepy SeeDs poked their heads out of their doors, wondering, and Rinoa quickly sent them to arm themselves, but Xu just didn't answer.

"Maybe she's already woken up, and went to find the others?" although Rinoa's voice wasn't so convicted, and I was more-than-certain that it wasn't the case. Xu was lovely, but she followed orders and would follow her Commander to the brink of destruction, and she just wouldn't go find them when she could wait to be found.

(We always found her. Except I didn't.)

"Xu!" I practically banged on the door, knuckles bleeding. Well, not really, but they would've if I didn't have military training backing me. "XU! Open up! Pleeeeease? I'll buy you a lifetime supply of mochas and lattes! I will! Coffee on the house, everyday! And also, also, I'll do the new cadet tour! I'll do all your paperwork, and if Garden's still in one piece by tomorrow, I'll do everyth––"

"Selphie." Rinoa's voice cut through my rant like steel, like Squall's gunblade, and I faltered. She wasn't answering. She wasn't there. What if she'd––?

(I was scared, Elle.)

There was a loud crashing noise, and it didn't sound anything like a missile, and moments later there were voices. I was unarmed. I wasn't junctioned.

My thoughts ran along the lines of shit, even if I had a sorceress with me. If anything happened to Rinoa then Squall would kill me, get Phoenix to revive my dead body, and then impale me and string my entrails from a tree and drop me over Lollapalooza Canyon.

Eww. Vivid mental picture. Bad image-land.

I was about to suggest running so I could get my precious Strange Vision, and Quezacotl and Carbuncle and Doomtrain, but a large piece of shrapnel went whoosh through the corridor, lighted by Rinoa's fire, and before she even screamed I felt it collide with my right temple.

Stars darted across my vision and I slumped.

And then it was black.

(I remember I dreamt about the Orphanage.

It was all pretty and like it used to be, before it took on the appearance of a largely eroding chicken-shed. Matron stood out the front, arms outstretched, but then she turned into Rinoa and before I could get there––

Black wings, black feathers, and Ultimecia's laughter.

Time, it will not wait.

And then there was blood, all over me. And Irvy––

"––I couldn't just give up and die, not with Sefie there––Sefie? Selphie!"

I was falling.

I'm sorry, Rinny. I'm sorry, Matron. I'm sorry, Irvy.

And, Elle, I just––


My first actual story. I kind of cringe when I look at my one-shots now, and it wasn't that long ago that I thought they were brilliant. Ah well. This'll probably suffer the same fate. I am hyper-critical. Anyway, this is "technically" a Selvine. And when I say technically I mean it shall be cut up, psycho-analysed, and stuck back together rather messily so that it might resemble Selvine but at the same time might not. Rinoa is also an integral part of the story---because I don't believe ignoring a sorceress is ever a wise decision.

I also respect Selphie and her philosophies, which is why this is from her point of view. She's lovely.

Oh, and for all those "look, here comes the disclaimer! there it is!" no-hopers out there, I don't own Final Fantasy.

How's that for brilliant?