Squall learns that Selphie and Irvine are about to have a baby. With two weeks before the wedding, how will the 'children of fate' cope with their personal convictions that threaten to break their ...
"Here we go, it's easy." Xu said as she sat Rinoa down at her desk. "You got two boxes - in and out. That's all you need to know. Oh, that, and when Cid calls you in, but he'll just tell you what he needs done."
"You call him Cid? Not Mr. Kramer, or Headmaster Kramer?"
"No. Why, is that what you call him?"
"No, but I'm not a SeeD, I'm not working under him."
"No, Cid likes being called Cid. He doesn't like to seem too authoritarian."
Rinoa nodded. So far, this job seemed easy enough. Xu had heard Rinoa was looking for a position in Garden to feel like she belonged, and substitute secretary seemed like a good option. Xu had been looking to get out of clerical duty and do some missions like she was graduated to do. Right now, she had been stuck behind a desk for so long she could barely take on a T-Rexaur anymore. It would be nice to get out into the world again. She missed the days of battles she had before she took this position.
"All right," Xu continued her tutorial. "Let's try one." She took a sheet from the 'in' basket and brought it in front of the desk. "Okay, here is a requisition form. The only parts of the form you need to know are the sales rep name, phone number, address, title, gross amount, net amount, allocation, deadline date, absolute deadline date, scope, and any collateral files that might be attached or in the comments field."
"This is for a food order for the cafeteria, so we've got to compare the cost of what they requested to the budget allotment they are allowed for this month. Or sometimes it's by quarter, depends on the department."
"So we enter it into the computer."
Xu crouched over Rinoa's armrest and typed her login then accessed some programs too fast for Rinoa to see to get to the financial manager program with white-on-black. "So we take the number from this box B here and enter it in, then we hit the availability forecast button, and..." she waited until a window with a bunch of numbers in a table popped on the screen, "We see that they're okay for that request. So we'll fill in the rest of the form in the blank boxes and send it on its way. Oh, sometimes you have to convert the number from Balamb measurement because this system takes Galbadian measurement. Okay?"
"Okay." Rinoa did understand. It was done a little fast, but she understood enough of it to get by. She was a smart girl, she could fill in the gaps by herself.
"Okay, so now we look at what they're ordering and compare it to the inventory manager." She brought up another program with black-on-white text and typed some numbers in the form field while clicking around. Rinoa was making careful notes in her head as where she was going. "So we're in the cafeteria inventory here, and we do a search, and we see that they're not approved for this order, but since they're requesting hot dogs, it's okay, cause they always run out of those anyway. This system really isn't meant for large orders like this. So we just enter in 1,200,000 gross."
"We're gonna have a lot of fat SeeDs," Rinoa joked.
"Ha-ha, yeah." Xu finished filling in the blanks on the form. "And now we hit submit and it gets sent on its way."
"The food distribution center in Balamb."
"Also, we print out a hard copy for our records just so if there's any disputes we've got something hard to look at." Xu went over to the already printing machine and tore off the invoice. "And that's what the 'out' basket is for," she said as she slipped it in. "Later we'll put it in an envelope and send it off. Okay, take this one." She took another sheet off the 'in' box and put it in front of Rinoa. "See, if you can do this one."
"Okay." Rinoa looked up and down the invoice, carefully reading the information, taking into account all the fields and numbers she had to tabulate. "So, first I check to see if the money is available."
"And to do that I go to-"
Xu's intercom buzzed, Cid came on the speaker. "Xu, could you come in here for a second?"
She pushed in the 'talk' button. "Sure," then turned back to Rinoa. "I'll be right back." Xu opened the double doors to Cid's office across the way.
After a few minutes, Rinoa started to think that Xu wouldn't be back for a while. Getting bored, and slightly worried that all the things she had learned were about to fall out of her head, she decided to try and enter this one on her own. This one was for the Garden garage. They were ordering a shipment of rotary gears for 5,000 GP. She started typing numbers into their appropriate fields. Unbeknownst to her, she entered 5,000 in the quantity area, rather than the price area. While trying to submit, an error message kept popping up, saying they did not have the available budget. Then she remembered she had to check that other thing first. She clicked over to the white availability forecast and entered in the department requesting this order. The result, as far as Rinoa could tell from her limited exposure to this program, was that they only had 50 GP left in the budget after this order. She looked back to the form, seeing if there was anything she missed. In the comments box, the person who made this request wrote and underlined 'desperately need'.
Well, if they desperately needed it, but couldn't afford it, she wasn't sure what she could do. Though there was a section on the budget to add in residual amount. So she allocated them 1,000 GP more, just to try and get the form to submit. Otherwise, she'd be stuck waiting for Xu again. The program still didn't let her submit the invoice, so she tried entering 10,000 GP. That let her submit. Next, she had to check their inventory to see if they needed it. There was no entry for rotary gears, but there was one for rotors. Maybe they were the same thing, like rotary gears was a subgroup of rotors or something, so you could have rotary axles, and rotary pinions. She really didn't have time to pick up any of the jargon during her brief stint as a mechanic.
This was really boring, she thought. Was this what Xu did all day? And she enjoyed it?
Now she needed to fill in the address and a bunch of other fields. She did all she could, then hit the submit button again, just in case it didn't go through the first time. The printer fired up and began printing a copy of the invoice, just like it was supposed to. She scooted over in her swivel chair and took it out. Since she was waiting, rather than stick it in the outbox, and since she was doing so well to begin with, she'd just mail it herself. She already had the address from the invoice. This would need one of those big yellow envelopes, and Xu had already shown her where the supply cabinet was. Amongst the staples and paperclips there was a pile of yellow envelopes. She picked the top one up out of the drawer and several cards fluttered to the floor.
"Whoops, that one wasn't empty," she said to herself as she saw one of the cards float under the cabinet.
Uh-oh, she thought. She got down on her hands and knees and futilely tried fingering the card out. But the supply cabinet was too close to the ground. Okay, no problem, she'd just have to move the cabinet itself. It wasn't that big. She gripped both sides with her hands and started shuffling it back and forth like a herringbone further away from the wall, only going about an inch at a time. No card yet, but there was a lot of dust back there.
"What are you doing?" Xu exclaimed, just outside the door across the room. A surprised Rinoa turned to her.
"I was getting an envelope, but something fell under."
"There's a bunch of them in the bottom drawer." She bent down to the desk and pulled out a duplicate envelope.
"Oh, I didn't know they were there too." Rinoa said as she picked up the card. Xu sat down on the computer, clicking to a different window and looking to a piece of paper she had written a note from Cid on, while Rinoa shuffled the supply cabinet back against the wall.
"Uh, this is strange," Xu muttered.
"There's 4,500 GP missing from the petty cash fund."
"Uh-oh," Rinoa uttered.
"Well, I was practicing on one while you were gone. And it wouldn't let me submit because they didn't have enough money in the budget, so I just gave them 1,000, but then that wasn't enough so I gave them 10,000."
"For this one? For the garage?"
"Yeah, they said 'desperately need' on it, and it wasn't letting me get it through."
"This one is only for 50 GP, that's completely under budget for automotive."
"No, it was for 5,000."
"No, 5,000 is the quantity, that's how many are in a box. The box is 50."
"Oh... I guess that's what I did wrong."
"Well, that's okay, just as long as you didn't hit 'submit'."
"You hit submit?"
"Well, no, I hit it twice. I wasn't sure if it had gone through."
Xu paused, "Now I've got to call them and tell them to cancel the order. Both orders. And I've got to call the computer department and tell them to do a database purge for the last hour of all changes. If you allocate revenue from the residuals it skims off all available budgets and then goes into the emergency fund. You just gave the garage about 1,000% more money than they were allocated. And everything I did in the last hour I'm gonna have to do all over again." She grasped her forehead exasperatedly. "This completely screws up next month's funds."
"Oh, I'm sorry." Rinoa looked down at the floor. Again, she cursed herself. No matter what job she tried she ended it by klutzing it up. "So I hear there's an opening for janitor."
Squall turned the key in his mailbox and opened it. All mail was delivered to the front desk and set up for students as if in an apartment. It certainly wouldn't do for every room to have a mail slot. Chocobo messengers only delivered mail once a week. It was especially difficult to get to Balamb with the bright yellow birds unable to cross large bodies of water and being skittish around trains, the only other mode of transportation.
The commander shuffled through the collection of mostly junk mail and threw everything but two letters in the trash. Both were business-related and probably not worth opening and reading. On the bottom of the envelope was a yellow slip indicating he had a package at the front desk. Squall walked up to the receptionist in the Balamb Garden lobby and put his slip on the counter. The student worker looked up from his book.
"I have a package," Squall said, raising his voice a little as if it were a question.
The student put her book down and picked up the slip. She went into the back room while Squall leaned on the counter. Getting a package was always kind of exciting. He rarely ever got real mail due to his family circumstances. He preferred communication over the computer networks anyway. You got a response more quickly and it was neatly formatted. Other students had families in far-off places that they wrote to and received care packages from. Some even went so far as to make Garden a nearly permanent residence.
The woman came back with a medium-sized rectangular box. "Here you go. I just need you to sign for it." She pulled out a clipboard and made an 'X' near the bottom of the list. Squall signed his name and took the package away. Squall looked at his prize as he walked back to his room. The return address said it was from The Blue Lake Corporation. The only packages Squall ever received were ones he sent to himself, through mail or online ordering since he had an aversion to shopping, so it was never very much of a surprise when he got one. This one, he wasn't quite sure what it was. He vaguely remembered ordering something from that site, but didn't think it could be what he thought it was. The package was way too big. He couldn't tell by weight either, but it was pretty light.
When he got it back to his empty bedroom he grabbed a pen, the nearest sharp object, and punctured the cellophane tape, slicing downward. There was a host of styrofoam peanuts inside. Squall dug around in the fluffy contents, not finding anything of note at first, wondering if he was sent an empty package. Then he hit a small box. He pulled it out and looked at it.
"Guess it was what I thought," he said to himself. He didn't think he would have gotten it so soon. He opened up the box and took a look at it. It seemed too small, not like the picture he saw on the site. The jewels were so tiny. He momentarily had second thoughts about it, wondering whether he should give it to her at all. Well, he'd already spent money on it and the date was coming up and he had to give her something. It just seemed so pitiful. Or he could give it to her as a regular ring, and not mention what it was, just drop that thing totally. Except that sounded stupid.
Oh, this was so juvenile. It didn't even mean anything. It was just a stupid ring, there was no reason to be stressing over it this much. It was a gift high-schoolers gave each other. Why was he bothering with it? It was so hard to give a girl any kind of ring because there was so much stigma attached to it. And Irvine and Selphie's wedding was just going to overshadow the importance of it. Why was their relationship inexplicably symbolized by rings?
He ran his hands through his thick hair and held up the ring to his eyeline. "What am I gonna do with you?" He tilted it back and forth to catch the reflection of the ceiling light. It was a tiny little band with diamonds embedded in a groove on the top. He hadn't wanted to get something too big or it would have looked gaudy. Rinoa was not a fan of big jewelry.
This thing was messing with his mind. He was not cut out for this romantic stuff, these little milestones and rituals. He put the ring inside the box and shoved it into the bottom drawer of his nightstand where he knew Rinoa would not look before he gave it to her.
He left his room and headed up to his office to try and get some work done. He passed Xu and entered his personal space. Like he had left it, the center of his desk was cluttered, but organized and his computer monitor glowed white. He sat down to write and read some documents, giving himself some nice and much needed mental distraction from all the current events. At least there was one thing he could always count on in life - work was always there, and there was always plenty to be done. He sorted. He organized. He completed some signatures. And he came to some follow-up documents regarding his mission in Esthar. For some reason, upon seeing the name of the continent he thought of Laguna, whose life was inexplicably meshed with his during the time compression event.
Hmm, he hadn't had any contact with him for a while. With him being in that isolationist country, the exchanges were few and far between. Not that Squall minded it that much. Probably no one had thought to inform him about what was going on. He didn't know how much he kept in touch with the others, but he was probably out of the loop. Rinoa had even said so, didn't she? Squall wasn't quite sure whether he deserved to be in it, but maybe this was a good opportunity. His friends kept saying he should try to take a step, to let him know what was going on in his personal life. This was probably something pretty important. The combination of wanting to prove he could take a step forward and wanting to let him know what was going on provoked him to pull out his keyboard drawer and activate the electronic letter program.
As the program started up, he wondered what Laguna's reaction would be when he heard the news. Squall was more curious about how he would react than scared to reach out to him. It might prompt a catch-up phone call. He might try and fly across the world on the Ragnarok to get to the wedding. He might be angry he wasn't invited. This was definitely a surprise if ever there was one. Not only was he interested in how he would respond to the news, but also to the fact that he was sending him a letter that was not a reply to something. They'd had limited contact these past twelve months for obvious reasons, not only because of the reconstruction and xenophobia of Esthar, but their own relationship. Squall wasn't one to forgive and forget being left an orphan for seventeen years.
Of course, now came the problem of how to describe these events. Rinoa always said he had horrible tact and never knew how to break delicate situations so he would have to watch that. Fortunately, Laguna was so lackadaisical he probably wouldn't care about the letter's business sense. No matter what, this would be out of the blue. There weren't going to be any ways to break it gently. He wasn't quite sure what to say. He never really knew how to talk to him, under any circumstances.
Well, all letters started with a greeting, then it was best to just give him as many facts as possible, try and answer all the questions he was going to have, since he wasn't going to be able to come, being too far out and too short of notice. He really hoped he didn't drop everything and try to run out there, that would be overly awkward. The first part was proving somewhat difficult though, he wasn't really sure what to call him. There were so many titles he had, not all of them really nice. Of course, when he talked to him about it, he had said 'Do whatever you're comfortable with. I'll be waiting.' Squall started writing.
How are you. I have some
Squall stopped himself before he put down an adjective, caught between whether to write 'good news' or 'bad news'.
news that I thought you might want to know. Selphie is pregnant and Irvine and her are getting married on the 28th at 4pm in Galbadia. The baby is expected to be born in August. They are getting married before Irvine ships off on a year-and-a-half long mission to the Island Closest to Hell. Apparently, the baby was conceived some time during Irvine's off-mission to Galbadia. Both of them seem quite ecstatic about getting married. Their primary motivation is financial - the SeeD insurance she gets if Irvine dies while on the island. Selphie plans to keep the baby and still act as a SeeD while she's pregnant. She's talked about getting a place on Obel Lake, since Garden is not really capable of taking care of babies.
Squall stopped writing and leaned back in his chair as he had a break in his train of thought, reading over what he wrote. It sure was dry. But that was all that needed to be known. He couldn't inject his own opinion into it. Whenever anyone talked to Squall about Laguna they all kept saying 'reach out to him', 'take a step'. He wanted to try and be more human, to tell him what was really going on, now that he had gotten the statistics out of the way.
I think a lot of people are put off by this. Selphie and Irvine's relationship has been on-again, off-again. Several times in the past months, Irvine has said how he didn't want a relationship with Selph, hence why he broke it off two months ago. At first all the girls were quite excited about the marriage, but now they are starting to realize lots of changes are going to happen. Neither of them are ever going to be the same. A lot of people are confused on how to react.
Squall sat back again. That was true, there were a lot of people confused about how to react. It has been confusing times. Some people were putting up fronts, some were genuinely happy, some were very honest with their opinions, some were avoiding the issue entirely. Even Selphie and Irvine were confused.
Let me know if you have any questions. We don't expect to see you there, so don't worry about that.
Squall read the letter again carefully the whole way through, looking for mistakes or untruths, or things he just didn't want to say. Just for the hell of it, on his closure he backspaced his last name out and wrote Laguna's appellation. He examined the result - Squall Loire. It looked very weird, it was too short. Ah well, it was just a whim anyway. He erased the misnomer and left it as 'Squall'.
"All right. One, two, three, four."
Irvine tapped his heel on the back of the stage to count off the meter. Zell burst into his bold saxophone introduction. The cowboy strummed along in the rhythm section with his acoustic guitar - a convention almost clichÃ©. Despite that they were tucked into the farthest corner of the quad, the loud music still penetrated into the central fountain. They sounded good though, despite it being just a fun jam session. SeeD required learning at least one instrument during the academic program at an expert level. Not everyone kept their's up after the class was over, but Irvine and Zell had.
The acoustics of the quad emboldened Zell's brass section, while still keeping Irvine's guitar from being dwarfed into obscurity. The two dissimilar instruments mish-mashed eclectically. Passing students took a stop or slowed down in the hall to hear the strange jazzy warbling coming from the quad. Irvine bobbed his head along to the beat, keeping time with his foot, and occasionally glancing at the sheet music at his side. Zell, having memorized the music already, barreled his body up and down as if he were in a fight with his saxophone.
As they wound down to the end of the piece, Zell jumped into an improvisational solo, spinning around and winding like he was ballroom dancing. His fingers flew over the keys without discernable direction or pattern.
"Whoa, whoa," Irvine said, "Whoa, there, Zell." He fluttered his hand to get Zell's attention, trying to awaken him out of his trance. Zell opened his eyes and looked around. "Take it down a notch there. I thought you were gonna body slam the sax."
"Oh, yeah," he said as he pulled the horn away from his mouth. "I can get pretty into it."
"Good solo though."
"Heh, think we can play at your wedding?" Zell asked with bright eyes.
"I don't think the chapel is going have the equipment or speakers."
"Oh," Zell said.
"Besides, we sound kind of weird when we play. Remember last time? At FH?"
"Oh, yeah," Zell said, reminiscing about a year ago when they played for Squall and Rinoa, trying to get them to realize their feelings for each other. They used quite a strange arrangement of instruments and the two just ended up feeling more confused.
"Speaking of which," Irvine said, "I hear you've been scrambling for a date these days. You've had some interesting experiences."
Zell held his hand to the back of his head. "Ah, yeah, except no takers. People say I'm trying too hard."
"Exactly, man. Half the battle is knowing what not to do."
"How do you do it? ... I mean, how did you do it?"
Irvine pulled the strap over his head and put his bulky guitar behind him. "Y'see, it's all about flow, like the line of a bullet as it leaves the gun." He held up his hands as if he was firing his sniper rifle. "Go straight for the heart."
"Okay." Zell thought about writing this all down, but he didn't want to seem too nerdy.
"It's all about the flirting. And the key to flirting is making a girl feel special. Personally, I don't know how they can't see through it, but don't knock what works, eh?"
"Uh, I'm sorta lost," Zell said. "With the bullets and the heart?"
"Okay, say there's a cutie you like. Bam, zing, you look at her and she looks at you." Irvine waved his hands as if he was directing a scene. "Your eyes meet and then she turns away, shyly. Now she knows you exist, for the moment. Wait for a bit. If she's with her friends, they're going to talk about you and judge you for a second. She may or may not make a move, depending on how aggressive she is. It's your job to prevent that."
"Oh, okay," Zell said, surprised at that comment, but still with ears and mind open.
"Here's what you do. You take your drink-"
"What if I don't have a drink?" Zell didn't like to drink alcohol, anything to keep his body in tip-top condition.
"Okay, forget the drink."
"Do I have to have a drink? I guess I can take one and not drink it."
"Forget the drink! It's not important. You approach her and you say 'hey, how you doin' baby'? My name's Irvine', or in your case 'Zell'."
Zell rolled his eyes at the dry humor.
Irvine continued, "And then you say 'some friends of mine over there told me there was a cute woman with...' and then you describe some feature that they have, the hair or eyes, or something distinguishable, something unique and detailed about her, something that she picked out herself, like her earrings so that she feels complimented on her taste."
"I never notice girls' earrings."
"No one does! That's the beauty of it. No guy pays attention to that sort of thing, so when someone does, they feel special."
"I've heard they have these things on their bodies called cuticles that they care about keeping them clean or something, even though I've never heard about that in any of my biology books."
Irvine thought. "I wouldn't use that until you learn what it means. Women have all sorts of body parts that have weird names. The approach is the key though."
Zell shook his head. "It can't be that simple. You can't just go up to a random girl and say 'hey, you don't know me, but you're cute'."
"Of course, you don't say that. That's ridiculous. That's why you just slip in a little at a time. When I was with Selphie, I 'conveniently' found places where she was. If she went some place, I went with her, like the train window. Y'see, no one dates anymore, you just find yourself hanging out with the same person more than others. Once you're there, you start making rhetorical comments as if you were on a TV show, talking to the imaginary audience. If she responds to them, good. And you respond to the ones she makes."
Zell registered the comments and lessons Irvine was giving him in his mind. Then compared it with his timetable. All these tips had to do with the long-term. If it took this long to get a date, he was plumb out of luck. "Oh, it's hopeless. I don't have time to hang out with a girl for a long time. It's only five days away."
"You don't need to tell me how many days there are left." Irvine picked up his hat and rubbed his forehead. "You know, not many girls want a wedding as their first date. Maybe it's best if you go stag."
"But I won't know anyone else there. It'll be awkward."
"But all your friends from here will be there. Quistis isn't taking anyone. Squall and Rinoa are already attached. None of my Galbadia friends are attached. Cid and Matron are just... old. You'll be fine. It's not like you're gonna have any less of a good time without a date. I don't think ten percent of the people bringing a date aren't already attached to someone. In fact, if you did bring a date, I think you would be the odd man out."
"Yeah, I suppose." Zell shrugged. Irvine did make a lot of sense.
"Oh, and one more thing," Irvine said as he picked up his guitar. "Girls love a musician. Especially a guitar player."
Zell grinned widely. "Nah-uh, I think girls love sax better than guitar."
Irvine blinked and smiled wryly. "What?"
"Girls love sax better."
Zell yelled. "Sax! Girls love sax bet-"
Irvine burst out laughing and rolled over onto the stage.
Zell shook his fist and trembled with phony rage. "Oooooh," he grumbled.
Selphie pushed all her emotions down inside her, as if she were preparing for battle. In a little way, she was. More accurately, it would be a confrontation - one with herself. She took a deep breath, grimaced, and clenched her fist as she stepped onto the Balamb pier. She wasn't going to be intimidated by him. She wasn't going to back down or be manipulated.
She could see Raijin and Fujin near the middle of the pier, hovering over a dirty white bait cooler. From her angle of approach, at the end of the harbor she could see the back of a familiar figure in a long gray coat idly sitting off the edge with a fishing pole in hand. As she got closer she could hear the two partners arguing in their unusual speech patterns with the bait as the victim in a tug of war.
"I'm tellin' ya, leeches are what's bitin' today, ya know," Raijin said as he pulled the box towards him.
"MINNOWS," Fujin replied.
"No way, JosÃ©. They all say leeches are what's hot, ya know."
"I know how many you caught-"
Fujin stopped tugging on the box and froze in place, looking at the pier. Raijin became confused and looked where she was looking. Selphie stood at the end of the dock. The thunder-like man immediately dropped his hand and stood straight as a soldier. Fujin did the same too, guarding the dock from intruders. Selphie walked up to them.
"Hi, guys," she said. She didn't know Fujin and Raijin too well, at least not on a familiar level. She transferred from Trabia only shortly before the time compression incident. They were apparently notorious in Balamb Garden as enforcers of the discipline committee, along with their leader. Selphie had been stopped by their doctrine more than once during her time there. Through all the battles and animosity they'd had, she was hoping they were a little more forgiving than she thought they'd be. "Is it all right if I see Seifer?"
Raijin and Fujin looked at each other. "REASON?" Fujin stated.
"Ahem," Raijin coughed. "Hey, he's a busy man. He can't be bothered with petty things, ya know."
"I just want to talk to him... in private."
"About beating the snot out of him? I don't think so. We don't need your SeeD around our-"
"Let the girl by, you morons."
Raijin and Fujin snapped their heads behind them to Seifer. His head was turned to the side, looking at the scuffle out of the corner of his eye. "It's a free dock."
The two partners in crime shrugged and stepped to the side to let her pass. Selphie walked by them as they took their tackle box back into the wharf.
Selphie treaded carefully down the dock, unsteady with the motion of the ocean waves sloshing against the poles below her. The soft waterlogged wood felt like it was going to cave in under her. Seifer reeled in his line as she came down the dock. He stood up and turned to her as he started disassembling his pole for storage. Although he had recognized her, he still hadn't really acknowledged her presence yet. He hadn't even made eye contact. This was so weird. One of her deadliest enemies lived right next door.
"So what brings you down here, messenger girl?" the tall man said, focused on his reel.
"Look, I know we don't know each other real well, but you were still a big part of our lives." He stood a full foot taller than her, adding to his intimidation. "Have you heard about what happened?"
"Heard you were in town shopping for wedding stuff. Are congratulations in order?" He finally gave her a passing glance, as if he was just checking she was still there.
Selphie remained silent and shifted her eyes into the dark blue ocean. She clasped her hands in front of her. Seifer looked up at her when she didn't speak.
"...Or not," Seifer finished.
"Irvine and I- I'm- He's getting shipped off in a few weeks for a mission. And..." She unclasped her hands and held one to her stomach as if she were nursing an ache.
"I see," he said with very little surprise. "I know it's a moot point, but they have a day-after pill you can get these days."
"Irvine... doesn't believe in birth control, just the withdrawal method. He wouldn't let me get it, even if I wanted to. I guess it's just part of his philosophy."
"And you went along with it? Surprising." He broke apart his disassembled reel. "I guess he learned a good lesson about his beliefs."
"I guess," she mumbled.
"Well, I hate to see you come all the way down to the wharf and leave empty-handed, but I'm afraid my gynecology certification hasn't been approved yet," he said humorlessly.
"No, that's not why I'm here," she said, just as humorlessly. "I need to know what I'm doing is right." Selphie emboldened herself and made eye contact with Seifer. "Irvine's leaving on a mission in a few weeks. A long-term mission. For a year and a half."
"And you're getting married quickly because you got a bun in the oven. Is that the bits and pieces?"
"And now you come to me? Well, well, when did I become commander? You're asking advice from a man who tried to obliterate your soul."
"I can't ask anything from Squall. Everyone in Garden seems to be acting weird around me. I know they're thinking things but they won't tell me, and I'm too afraid to ask them. Squall kept saying he had no opinion until he told me off in the middle of the quad. Rinoa and Quistis were happy for me until a week later. Then they cornered me and grilled me about what I was going to do with my life, like I was a criminal. Zell's the only one who doesn't seem to mind, but he's too concerned about getting a date for the wedding. Xu's just been quiet about the whole thing. Cid and Matron... well, they're them. They're like a second mom and dad. I'm afraid of what they'd say if I asked them about anything. And Irvine, I can't really talk about this to him, he's too close to it all. There's no one else I know that I can talk to about this... except you."
"Well, that puts things in a bit more perspective." Seifer scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Squall really lost his cool in front of everyone, huh? Would've liked to see that." He returned to his fishing equipment. "But I can't be that high on your long list of counselors after your battle mates. A girl like you has lots of friends."
"You were also head of the disciplinary committee though, so you've seen a lot of the bad things people did in Garden."
Seifer smirked. "Yeah, I saw my share. The thing about being a policeman, everyday you're looking at the armpit of society. It takes a special kind of person not to go crazy from that." He laughed.
"So, I wanna know, what are they really thinking? Why are people reacting this way? Is it because I'm making," her voice petered down to a weak whisper. "The wrong decisions? Are all of them wrong?"
Seifer paused, thinking. "Lemme tell you a little story. Back when I was a student, about a month after I became head of the disciplinary committee, we got a call from Cid. He said a cadet had gotten pregnant by another, and we were to escort her quietly off campus. Who knows where she is today. The father had been expelled as well, since he'd violated the Garden rule about promiscuity. We were to make sure the incident stayed quiet. To squelch any retaliation from his friends, and to make sure the secret didn't get out. It was all kind of an 'under-the-table' arrangement. Didn't want the word to get out. Not sure whether he was protecting the student or himself and Garden. But that was the line we were given.
"But I wanted action, I wanted retaliation. I felt like they were my students and I was their sole guardian, but Cid wouldn't tell us where the father was or who he was. So me and the posse did a little investigation of our own."
Seifer paused awkwardly in the middle of his story. "And then what?" Selphie asked.
"Let's just say he got a taste of what the girl would be going through in nine months."
Selphie decided not to ask what that meant.
"Of course, he said nothing to anyone about that. That would've unraveled the whole dark secret."
"I guess what I'm trying to say, through my Raijin-esque talk, is that people react differently because they are different. I figure that these sorts of decisions are things that nobody really wants to make, but everyone thinks they can do better." He smirked in self-satisfaction.
Selphie smiled. "I understand. Thanks, Seifer."
"Anytime, messenger girl."
"Lap dog," Selphie commented as she turned towards the pier.
Seifer laughed heartily as she left.