It had started out normal enough. The garden was all repaired, they'd had a nice goodbye party, and Squall had issued orders. Logically enough, the commander had chosen to go to Trabia. What didn't seem logical, at least from his point of view, was the list of stops along the way. He could kind of understand Balamb, since the garden almost crushed it and all, even Timber made since being Rinoa's hometown and all, but Winhill? Not to be a pain or anything, but no one even knows if Winhill still exists, though he has seen it on a map. He thought about questioning Squall on it, but it wasn't worth the effort. Maybe it was related to all of this Laguna stuff everyone keeps chattering about. All he knows is the main thing running through his mind is Selphie.
He didn't know when it started, but something changed. He can't get the look she gave him back at D-District prison out of his head. It was as if he'd deeply wounded her or something, but even she was confused about how. She'd avoided him since then, driving away in a separate vehicle and going off to lead the big mission to stop the missiles. He hadn't really even believed about the missiles until he saw them flying overhead during party decisions. Squall had for some reason chosen the other two SeeDs to go with her. He felt a little hurt at not being included, but shrugged it off.
Now here he was, sitting in this gargantuan monstrous flying thing, losing all of his precious battle cards to an increasingly smug looking Quistis as visions of Selphie floated in front of his eyes. He didn't know why he had been so glad to see her when she popped out of that machine they fought in FH, only that he was glad Squall let him do the comforting in the quad. Weird that he'd think this way. He almost wished he had more responsibilities like Zell, but then shrugged that thought away, too.
A long ride later, they reached Winhill. He was a little shocked when Squall called for him and Rinoa, but he guessed he shouldn't be. Selphie was at the front gate when he got there, pouting about wanting to see Sir Laguna's town. Squall was trying to appease her while at the same time surreptitiously checking all of Rinoa's gear as she tried to brush him off. He laughed and stretched, earning him a grateful look from Squall as his entrance broke the show-down.
"Now Selphie, darlin' just head on back inside and rest. We're goin' to go take a look around and as soon as it's determined safe everyone'll get a chance to look around."
She pouted, turned on her heel, and stomped away. As her backside faded from view he turned around to the scowls of Rinoa and Squall.
"Why did you promise her that?" He shrugged in reply; Rinoa turned to Squall and mimicked the gesture. Swinging his gunblade over his shoulder Squall began to stride out of the garden. "Whatever." Rinoa gave him a dubious grin and ran to catch up. Irvine chuckled as she grasped Squall's hand, following behind the two. Looks like his plan had worked as he noticed Squall didn't pull away. Irvine frowned as he caught sight of the town in the distance. It was at least a couple of kilometers and there looked to be a lot of creatures in between. There goes his promise.
The three fought their way across the field and had almost made it to the town entrance when he stopped. The other two quickly sat down and began working on the small wounds they got in battle. Well, kind of. Rinoa seemed to be in more of a tickling and teasing mood than helping, but Squall remained ever stoic getting the job done. Irvine ignored them and turned to look back the way they had come. Raising a hand to block out the sun he squinted at the strange thing he was seeing. Surely that couldn't be…..a cow? Without thinking he ignored Squall and Rinoa's increasing volume as they bickered and started to stride across the field. As the first shot left his gun he didn't notice them falling silent then running towards him.
"Irvine, what is it?" Rinoa's voice cried out, laying a hand on his elbow.
"….." Squall shot him a questioning glance.
"No way, you guys didn't see it?"
"See what?" Squall shook his head once for reply.
"The flying cow."
Incredulous stares met this answer.
"I'm serious, it was being carried by something, but way up in the air."
Rinoa and Squall exchanged a look before Squall stepped closer to him. Rinoa's hand came up and felt at his forehead. He snatched himself back, running into Squall who just looked at him, concerned.
"Let's get you some water, Irvine." Rinoa started to walk away.
Incredibly, he felt Squall lightly take his arm and steer him back towards where they had dropped their belongings at the town entrance. He shook his head hard twice as Squall led him. Removing his cowboy hat he dumped half the canteen Rinoa handed him on the back of his neck before downing the rest in one long gulp. He didn't notice as Rinoa and Squall exchanged looks again and Squall gently grasped her hand for a second.
"Feeling better?" Rinoa still looked concerned as she squinted up at him.
"Yeah, a little."
"Come on, then. And don't worry; it happens to the best of us."
"Yeah, thanks commander."
He stepped in behind the two and followed them into the town, mumbling a little incoherently to himself….. "It was just the heat. There was no cow.", repeatedly under his breath.