by Cloud

What was it she saw in me? What was it about her that made me feel the way I did? I've been with a lot of girls; none that meant much to me though. They were more of a conquest thing. It wasn't them I loved. It was the chase. So, what makes Selphie so different?

I'm scared because I love her. Heh...Selphie Kinneas. That doesn't sound like such a bad thing.

His chest heaved more from the adrenaline rush then the physical exertion. They couldn't catch him, not now, not while Selphie was in danger. His face fell to the figure lying prone in his arms. Selphie Tilmitt. He cared about her so much. He couldn't let them harm her.

Those damn Galbadians! Why did they attack them? He and Selphie were just trying to help them per Cid Kramer's orders. He never even saw the half broken bottle before it shattered across Selphie's brow. She went down immediately and the crowd went into a frenzy like sharks that'd gotten a taste of blood. He was weaponless. It was a simple humanitarian mission to Deling City so they hadn't even bothered to junction Guardian Forces. Now they were on the run with no way to contact SeeD until the 1900 pick up time.

Irvine glanced at his watch. 1800. Only one more hour to go. They would have to make it. Squall and Zell would be at Caraway's house with their ticket out of there.

He ducked into a narrow alleyway being sure to keep Selphie's body close to him. He wanted her near him more for motivation to keep going then to keep her safe. She hadn't responded since the bottle hit her head. Her breathing was steady but shallow. He'd get them out of there no matter what the cost.

Irvine could still hear the crowd. They were being hunted and the predator would not give up until they were within its collective grasp. He prayed they wouldn't think to look in the narrow passages of the Deling City alleys. Eventually it would take them to Caraway's mansion and to SeeD. Then they could get the hell out of this godforsaken city.

A footfall from behind.

Irvine turned cautiously in the direction of the noise. He stared directly at a burly man carrying a baseball bat. He had a heavy beard complete with food particles embedded into it. He stared into the alley but not directly at Irvine. It was dark. Hyne willing, he'd not seen them yet. Irvine held Selphie closer and slowly jammed his back as far as he could against the brick wall. The man still peered into the darkness of the alley looking intensively for something he thought was there.

Irvine closed his eyes and prayed.

Selphie coughed suddenly.


The man bellowed, "They over here! Come quick!" He began to try and cram himself into the narrow opening. Luckily, he was a bit too obese to fit. He struggled. Irvine took the chance to bolt out the other side of the alleyway, hoping none of the crowd had gotten there yet. He ran out carrying Selphie who was still unconscious despite her coughing fit moments before.

He glanced behind them to see the burly man yelling and pointing at the fleeing couple with his bat. Irvine followed the man's gaze to see a group of around thirty or so people running towards them carrying bats, chains, knives, and whatever they could get their hands on.

No. He could out run them. He had to.

Up ahead was a glimmer of hope. Caraway's mansion was quickly coming into view. Irvine glanced at his watch.


They were going to make it!

He saw Squall and Zell.

He called out to them.

They turned quickly to see him running from the fast approaching mob. They started to sprint towards them.

A fault in the cement pavement and Irvine tumbled, tossing Selphie ten feet in front of him. His chin impacted on the hard ground. He was dazed but still struggled to get up. He saw Selphie in front of him unmoving. "Get her!" he yelled to his friends.

A glass bottle broke across the back of his head.

Irvine's head swam. Moments later a baseball crashed against his skull. The crowd was on him like vultures on carrion. He tried to peer through. He saw Squall and Zell run with Selphie towards the waiting vehicle.

She reached out to him.

She called out his name. He could hear it. She was alive!

A shot rang out.

Irvine's world went black.



Her green eyes sprung open. Her body jumped up, spilling the sweat stained blankets away from her. It took her a moment to realize where she was. Her chest heaved as she glanced around the room, her room. A quick look at her clock showed 6 pm. She pulled her hair back in a ponytail and released it.

Another nightmare about that day.

How long had it been?

Not long enough, she thought trying to fight the urge to well up. Five years. Five long years without Irvine.

She brought her knees up to her face and rested her chin on them. Five years of nightmares about that horrible day. She constantly thought about how different her life might have been if he was here with her now. She'd most certainly still be a SeeD for one. After that day, she couldn't go back to the life of a mercenary. The grief was too much. It didn't matter that being a SeeD is what she'd trained most of her life to be. What mattered was that Irvine wasn't there to be with her while she did it. Most things lost their vibrancy and meaning after his death.

Food didn't taste same. Flowers didn't smell the same. Life was bland.

Selphie sighed and rose from her bed. She stumbled over to the bathroom of her Esthar apartment to brush her teeth and to take a shower. While she did, she reminisced about how she'd ended up here.

After leaving Garden, her options were limited about a place to stay. Balamb was too small a town for her to feel comfortable. She felt that she needed to be lost in a crowd. Dollet was the only place she could think of that would allow her to achieve that feeling of loneliness. The problem was Dollet was far too close to Deling City. Anywhere on that continent was. Just thinking about that foul city was enough to make her skin crawl. She felt lost then. She was leaving Garden but she had nowhere to go.

It was that then Sir Laguna suggested she live in Esthar. It was a safe city with millions of people inhabiting it. He'd even helped her get an apartment in less than a day. It was good to be friends with the President, she thought.

She stepped out of the shower, grabbing a towel from out of the tiny linen closet inside the bathroom. Selphie grabbed another one and wrapped it around her long chestnut colored hair. She'd grown it out since leaving SeeD, even considering dying it black at one time or another over the years.

A knock came from her front door echoing throughout the apartment.

Selphie jumped at the noise. There was only one person that could be. She threw on a robe and ran carefully to the door. She peered through the peephole to see a dark jade pupil staring back at her. She opened the door.

"H-hi Selphie. Um...I came to check on y-you," said Zell Dincht. He rubbed the back of his head and shot her a quick smile.

Selphie sighed. "I just got out of the shower, Zell. Gimme a minute, ok?" With that, she ran off to her bedroom to change.

Zell let out a long breath. He'd been holding his breath the whole time he was standing there. He bit his bottom lip, a habit he'd picked up in the last few years. He always held his breath when he came to Selphie's. He knew why too.


For almost five years he'd been anticipating Selphie breaking down in front of him, blaming him for Irvine's death. Why wouldn't she? He sure as hell did. If only he'd gotten there a little sooner. If only he'd brought some weapons, a guardian force, something, then maybe he could have saved Irvine. If only he'd gone on the mission instead of Irvine.

His life was one of "ifs" and "could haves."

It was also filled with a paralyzing guilt. He'd never forget the look on Selphie's face when Irvine was shot. She was unconscious most of the time but was cruelly awake just to see the man she loved brutally murdered.

That guilt motivated Zell to request a transfer to Esthar from Headmaster Cid. It was granted without question. His life now consisted of rare SeeD duty and coming to this small apartment everyday. Why was he here? Because his guilt wouldn't allow him to sit idly by while Selphie was here. He was here so he could do anything in his power to make her life easier and to make sure she would never have to go through anything like what happened five years ago again.

He walked over to her living room, more specifically to the picture she kept there. It was a picture of the whole gang taken at the Balamb party after Ultimecia's defeat. His eyes wandered over to Irvine, hand draped across Selphie's shoulder, grinning from ear to ear. Zell then took a glancing look at his younger self. So different than the face he now wore. Through the reflection of the picture, he could see his once spiky locks draped down, slightly covering his eyes. His face, once youthful and vibrant, now appeared weary and sullen. His eyes were lightly sunken in, his mouth contorted in a half frown. He was only twenty-three years old but he looked closer to thirty.

"I look at that picture a lot," came a soft female voice from his left.

Zell turned to see Selphie dressed in an oversized black T-shirt and faded blue jeans. She had a reminiscing look in her eyes and a sad smile on her face. Zell glanced down a moment and back up at her. He carefully placed the framed photograph back in its original position.

They both stood staring at each other, knowing exactly what the other was thinking.


Zell spoke up first, "I-I'm sorry, Selphie. I didn't mean to..." He paused not knowing what to say. Did he even have the right to say Irvine's name in front of her? "...I'd...I'd better go..."

He walked past her quickly, not willing to her look her in the eye, and was at the door.

"Wait Zell..." she said, sounding tired. Zell stopped and faced her, despite his urge to just run away as fast as possible. Selphie walked over to her enveloping, feathery, couch and plopped down. "I...really don't want to be alone right now."

Zell walked over to her. He took a brave glance at her bright jade eyes and saw they were on the verge of tears. He sat down close to her.

For a long time they sat, silently, close to each other, simply staring off towards a certain picture.

I'm scared because I love her.

She reached over for his hand. He gave it.

Notes: The reason I wrote this fic stems mainly from the lack of respect for the canon by fics that center on the "odd pairings." Irvine is not a maniac nor would he beat Selphie. Zell is the furthest thing from suave. I understand perfectly well that authors who do these fics are "just having fun" but there is a limit. I guess my whole point is I'd like more originality and believability injected into these fics. Treat them like people and not just characters. I hope you enjoyed the story.