Fire Petals Chapter 6


By Edenne

When Irvine finally managed to make it to the cafeteria, he found Selphie sitting at a table in the far back corner, playing a game of cards with Zell. Zell, who looked particularly depressed slouching in his seat across from her, was the one who recognized him with a haphazard wave of his hand.

*What's he doing here?* Irvine sauntered over, tipping his hat and winking at Selphie, and grabbed the corner seat, leaned back, and stretched out his legs under the table. Selphie glanced and him and then looked back at her cards to avoid his gaze, unable to hide an embarassed little smile. "Good morning Irvine. You're late."

"Yeah, well, you know, I got caught up shooing all my other lady-friends from my room." He replied casually.

"Oh, of course. You are so obnoxious." Selphie replied, smiling again. He was obviously joking, but sometimes she wasn't so sure. She placed a geezard card on the table and flipped over two others. "Booyaka!"

"Don't even bother sayin' 'hi' to *me*, you slut." Zell interrupted jokingly, adding a bomb card to the square and flipping over a red bat.

"So what's wrong with you today?" Irvine asked sacastically, "Miss out on the hotdogs again?"

Zell sighed, "Yeah." His head rested on his hands and he looked exhausted.

Irvine tried to disguise a grin. Could someone get that worked up over a dumb hotdog? Yeah, Zell could. The guy was a wierdo. "I may be a slut, guy, but at least I'm gettin' some."

"You are not." Selphie giggled. "What a liar."

"Whatever." Zell replied, not budging his head from where it rested in his hands.

"Holy shit, man! You sounded just like Squall for a minute!" Irvine leaned forward a bit, "You're the last person I thought would ever --"

"I'm just tired." Another Squall-ism.

Selphie, wide-eyed, reached over their game on her tiptoes and rapped him lightly on the head with her nuckles a couple times, "Hello?. . . .Squall, you in there?" She giggled. "I think you've been hanging around him too much."

Zell looked up at her, "Fuck off."

Selphie fell back into her chair. " . . . What did you just say?" The rims of her bottom eyelids became shimmery.

Zell didn't move, just stared at the table, where he put down a card and flipped over three. "I win."

"I'm outta here." Selphie said shakily. She stood up, nearly knocking her chair over, and hurried from the cafeteria.

"What the hell is wrong with you, man?" Irvine leaned on the table and eyed him angrily.

"Not my fault she's a sore loser." Zell refused to look up at him, busying himself with picking up the cards one by one and placing them in their box.

"I'm not talking about that, you idiot!" Irvine exclaimed, "Do you realize what you just said? To sensitive little Selphie? You *know* you shouldn't say shit like that!"

Zell remained silent. Truthfully, he felt quite guilty, but he refused to admit it.

"She didn't even do anything to you, you asshole. I'll bet you made her cry."

More silence.

"If I find out you did, I'm gonna come back here and make *you* cry."

Zell looked at him, *stared* at him, and held up an iron-nuckled fist. "Try it."

Irvine shook his head tensely in anger, stood up, slamming his chair into the table loudly, and went to look for Selphie. If he'd stayed a second longer, he'd have popped Zell one right in the face. That or shot him.


Squall lay silently on the grass ouside the dorm hallway, in the shade of a small crabapple tree. He'd gone to his room after leaving the Infirmary, became bored out of his mind within fifteen minutes, and left to hop the railing into one of the small grassy gardens. A garden in the Garden. Now he remembered where the place got it's name.

He used to come here often a few years ago, when he was younger and had so few responsibilities. A glance at the blue sky above him and a whiff of the warm sea breeze were all he needed to start relaxing. He pretended he was twelve again, his only worry an upcoming test that he knew he would ace. He aced 'em all when he was a kid and knew he was good, though he kept this small amount of arrogance to himself.

When he was a kid. A kid? He could hear Rinoa's voice in his head now: *"How old are you, Squall? Seventeen? You're still a teenager! Have some fun!"*

*Yeah, right.* He had been forced to become an adult now, just like Rinoa, and Zell, and Quistis, and Selphie, and Seifer . . . . Seifer. Squall didn't even want to *think* about him.

As if it came directly from that thought, Squall found that he was getting another headache. *Great.* He put a hand behind his head and pulled out a couple hard crabapples from beneath it, but that wasn't it. The headache grew from the back of his head to behind his eyes and he sat up, thinking maybe it had something to do with how he was lying. That wasn't it either. It began to burn. His eyes were burning and he closed them, then his lungs, his whole head. *I can't breathe.* he realized, beginning to panic. It spread to the tips of his fingers and all the way to his feet. *My whole body's on fire . . .* He collapsed backwards onto the grass, heaving short, panicy breaths and hitting his head off the tree trunk.

~Well, you're gonna have to.~

"What??" he whispered.

~You're gonna have to think about me, Squall. You're gonna have to because I'm right here. ~

Squall placed a hand on his forehead and opened his eyes to inspect his surroundings. Seifer? He was here? How did he . . .

~I'm not in the Garden, you retard. I'm in your head.~


A girl walking by looked strangely at him. "I didn't say anything . . ." It sounded like Selphie, but he wasn't sure. He couldn't see.

Squall opened and closed his burning eyes, struggling to see. He heard tiny steps made with clunky boots go down that hall. Then longer strides, boots with clicking heels. "Selphie, wait up . . ." He heard. He wanted to call out for help, but he coundn't find a breath to do so.

~Aww, does that hurt, Squall? You're breaking my heart.~


~That's me. That's me making it burn. Like how it feels? I feel that every day. Every time I think about YOU.~


~Soon I'll be controlling you, too.~

*Hyne damn it, I'm having a nervous fucking breakdown. . . .*

~And if you tell anyone, I'll kill you. And your little girly-firend, too."

Without thinking first, or understanding a thing, Squall whispered, "Where's Ellone?" ~Somewhere in the Central Sea. In a tiny boat. No food, no water, unless you count salt water, which'll kill her even faster . . .~

"Wait . . . why the hell are you telling me? What are you *doing*?? I don't understand . . . I don't even believe you . . ."

~She is of no use to us anymore. Believe me if you want. I don't care. Your choice.~

"And . . .what's wrong with . . . Rinoa?" It was becoming harder and harder to breathe.

~All I know is that she'll never wake up.~

"Liar!" Squall was spinning now. Or everything was spinning around him. He couldn't tell.

~As I said, I don't care if you believe me. ~

Before he could utter another question, he blacked out.


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