Ok. After many trials and tribulations, I finally decided to call it.

"Isolation desecration" (Lame, but catchy, right? ^^'')

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Selphie leant her head against her bare shoulder and watched the brightly colored plastic duck bob up and down on the water with the force of her arm rhythmically slapping the side of the bathtub. Her pale skin wavered and distorted beneath the warm soapy bathwater and her breath came out in white spiraling vapor from the conflict of frigidity and warmth.

Cleanliness was just a pretense to indulge in a blissful two-hour soak for Selphie. Her mind was completely at rest and the comfort of being so entirely unfocused and relaxed was the closest thing to heaven Selphie had ever felt. Everything so warm, so tranquil, like the world around her could be breaking in two and it wouldn't be significant, because she was here, alone, basking in the enveloping confinement of hot water and foam.

In Trabia, bathing in a mass of water was unheard of in the below freezing temperatures because the pipes constantly froze up and the water heating system was almost never in operation. A corner of Selphie's lip turned down in the silent recollection of her ruined home. The world there really had split in two for everyone she had known.

Snorting at how quickly her short introspective had turned into a depressing whine in the back of her head, Selphie quickly got up out of the bath and wrapped a fuzzy towel around her dripping body. It was hard to keep on smiling sometimes, when she remembered Trabia and everything she had lost with it. But as the morale group leader in Trabia always said, frowning never got you anywhere. No more thinking tonight. She shook her dripping hair out and stifled a yawn before shuffling towards the direction of the door. Sleep was what she really needed. Sleep.

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Quistis sat in the far corner of Balamb Garden cafeteria trying not to express amusement at Zell's uproarious hotdog antics from across the room. For the most part, the cafeteria was empty of students, as most cadets were on four-week leave, but the remaining few had formed a cheerful close population, even without relatives during times of celebration and partying. The air felt static and full of good spirits and amity, making it almost impossible for any lone stragglers to feel gloomy.

Selphie walked towards her at the table they nearly always sat at, giggling at the commotion Zell was making behind her. Quistis eyed her all but empty tray and raised a questioning eyebrow as the brunette put down her bag and sat down, scowling playfully at the look on her friends face. "What!?" Quistis raised her eyebrow even further at Selphie's exclamation then shrugged her shoulders and looked back at her meal. "Nothing." Selphie stared at Quistis for a moment then pouted. "Ok, ok, I know what you're thinking you nosy neighbor!" Quistis smiled and allowed Selphie to continue. "You think I'm trying to loose weight or something! But that is soo not it. I totally pigged out on those free jam doughnuts and croissants they were serving at open day!"

The usually precocious and cool blonde burst into delicate pearls of laughter, covering her mouth with her hand. "Ahh, you suck!" Selphie giggled. "Even when you laugh, you're still all stately and sophisticated" As if drawn to the sounds of friendly chatter, Zell bounced over, donated hotdogs and juice balanced precariously in his field of vision. "Hey guys!" Zell shouted in his customary loud animated voice, just before shoving half a hotdog in his mouth. "Whuf evreong?

Quistis sighed and pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. "Squall seems to have retreated into office recluse once again, Rinoa appears to have left to Dollet for a few days, and I have no idea where our resident Romeo is." Selphie laughed at the last comment, Quistis' description Irvine, comically accurate then felt a tinge of sadness for Squall because he really didn't seem inclined to working in an office when he wasn't on the field.

Selphie pushed her bag over with her foot to leave room for Zell's built form, his shoulder lightly brushing the length of her arm as he nodded and got back to shoveling food into his mouth. It was the beginning of winter for Balamb, where the Garden was remaining stationary for the duration of the Winter holidays, and even for Selphie who was used to excessive cold temperatures at Trabia, it was getting a little chilly. She felt Zell peering at sideways at her, trying to make it unobvious. It was innerving, and perhaps a little flattering how Zell had been doing this more frequently in recent times.

"Selphie," Quistis started, bringing a fork up to her mouth. "What are the plans for the Winter Festival this year?" Selphie's ever present smile widened at the very mention of her most loved of all pastimes, organizing things to bring pleasure and happiness for other people. Spirits would be low after coming back to the school and policy from four weeks of being uninhibited and free, so the Winter festival could give her the chance to bring about much needed morale.

"Still a few places left open in the committee, if you know what I mean." Selphie winked, awaiting Quistis' usual speech on having obligatory responsibilities as a member of Garden staff, but surprisingly this time, it didn't come. "Actually, I've been considering a minor role in your committee. I think we all know how much it means to you, and certainly the outcome all participators" Selphie blinked in surprise at Quistis' sudden change off heart. "BOOYAKA!!" Selphie cheered, jumping up and clapping her hands. "I thought the Festival committee was going to be in trouble this year, but with the support of Quisty, I'll have the entire population of Trepies behind me!" Quistis and Zell blinked at Selphie, who was half standing on her chair with a determined look on her face. "Ok Selphie, you can sit down now." Quistis peered over Zell's shoulder and raised an eyebrow. "The cowboy enters." From the corner of her eye, Selphie saw Irvine saunter in from the balcony, Exeter leaning lightly on his shoulder, drawing glances from girls and boys alike. She sat down and coughed, self-conscious at the display she was making.

He tipped his hat in greeting to them and took a seat next to Quistis, peering into her tray, looking at what she was eating. "Anything good today Instructor?" Quistis looked back at the cafeteria and went through a uniform list of what was being served at this particular lunchtime. Irvine groaned and thumped his head on his crossed arms. "I miss home. Galabadia never served crappy food." Zell rolled his eyes and swallowed. "Then why are you still here?" A flash of annoyance passed through Irvine's eyes but it was quickly smoothed over with his trademark smile, and a wink in the direction of Quistis and Selphie. "Everyone knows Balamb Garden has the prettiest girls around!" Zell scoffed and muttered something under his breath, then concentrated on his food again.

"Hey guys," Selphie suddenly said, attempting to diffuse the tension that had strangely developed between Irvine and Zell, "Did you hear about how the communal bathroom in the training center got trashed?" Zell stifled a laugh behind his next mouthful of food, earning himself a death glare from Quistis. "Yes actually." She started, "I was meaning to bring that up with you all later. I got a memo this morning pertaining to an investigation on that particular incident. I don't think it's the first time either." Irvine looked up from the table, suddenly eager to contribute to their gossip session. "I think Hannah and Renee from 4C were talking about that the other day. something like a schizophrenic student roaming the hallways at night, looking for unsuspecting curfew breakers to drag into a dark corner and do dark deeds upon. Just the usual." Quistis nodded and picked up her tray. "Quite expected. It's only natural that students would make up stories to shield themselves from the seemingly arcane. Chances are, it's just a indiscriminate vandalism."

"Hey! You never know. It could happen!" Selphie said, laughing at the idea while Quistis got up from her seat. "Where you going Quistis?" Asked Zell, leaning back in his chair, covering his half-full mouth with a fist. She laughed and pushed her chair in. "I have to go back to pretending to do some work. Or something in the semblance of that." "Catch you later then." "Later." A low murmur from Irvine.

Selphie smiled and reached down for her bag by Zell's legs while peering out at Irvine from the corner of her eye. He had gone back to staring at the table. "Wait up a second Quisty! I'll come along with you" He looked so golden and beautiful, even resting on his forearms with his hat tipped at a crazy angle, lazily drawing patterns on the oily marble. "Mmm. Bye Sephy, butterfly." Quistis eyed Zell. "Bye Selph. Bye Quistis." Zell watched Quistis and Selphie exit the cafeteria together, chatting and laughing then turned to Irvine.

"Do you think they know?"

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Wow! XD After reading so much FF8 fanfiction, I finally decided to write one. How did I go? O.o'' And hey hey. I put in a special cameo for my two favorite authors. LAME cameo things, but still, the effort, right? ^^;;; I tried to insert a little vein of angst under there. somewhere.. I want a big river! XD

OK! This was partly inspired by something I read here ages ago.. it was like Red, Yellow, Green or something.. IT WAS REALLY GOOD! XD Does anyone know what it was? @_@

Before I go on forever and ever, I'd really like to know where everyone thinks I should take this. Not that I'm recognizing it as anything but a mangled car-wreck. I just really want to know what I should do with it.. Because I don't know. n_n Or just. -Squall voice- Whatever. ^^;;;

Oh yes. HUGE thanks to my one and only mentor, and black-mailed beta-reader Masquerade. -cheers- You rock! ^^ (-waves to Fallen Angel-)

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Selphie name mentioned - 26 times

Quistis' name mentioned - 22 times (24 including Quisty ^^)

Zell's name mentioned - 18 times

Irvine's name mentioned - 9 times

Squall's name mentioned - 2 times

Rinoa's name mentioned - 1 time (Muah haa haa!! XD)