Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 8 > Baby Blocks

Day 13 - Saturday: The Wedding

by theWallflower 0 Reviews

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 ...

Category: Final Fantasy 8 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Drama, Humor, Romance - Characters: Irvine, Rinoa, Selphie, Squall - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2006/06/23 - Updated: 2006/06/23 - 9958 words

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DAY 13 - SATURDAY
THE WEDDING

"I'm ready."
"Wait, what?"
"I said I'm ready."
"You said you're ready," Squall said.
"Right," Rinoa responded. She came out of the bathroom wearing a dark blue evening gown.
"And we have an hour before we need to get down there."
"Right."
"And you're totally ready. You don't need to find your earrings, or match your shoes, or put on more make-up or anything like that."
"Right," Rinoa was grinning from ear-to-ear at this play.
"There's nothing you need to do. You're totally ready?"
"Right."
"...I love you." Squall took her in arms. Rinoa playfully tapped him on the shoulder.
"Oh, stop."
Squall gently let her go. "Do we need to get the others?"
"Maybe. We should go down and see if they need anything." Squall and Rinoa left their hotel suite, as formal as they could be. They passed by some kids in the hall running from the pool, paying no heed to the ceremonially dressed couple walking arm-in-arm. When they got to the others' room one floor below, Squall saw a note on the door. He took it off and read it.
"Rin and Squall. Went ahead to chapel. See you there."
"Hmph, and I thought I was gonna be the impressive one by being ready early."
Squall smiled. "Okay, well, let's head out there."
The two took an elevator down to the lobby and headed out of the hotel. It was only a few blocks from the hotel to the chapel so they just walked. On the way, Rinoa commented on a few things she saw in the window, reminders to come back here and pick some things up on her next shopping spree. Squall thought about how Galbadia sure had changed since the military disbanded. The fact that they weren't getting dirty looks was proof enough. He didn't feel any animosity from the townspeople, remnant of the conflicts between them and Galbadia. Now that freedom from tyranny was starting to settle in, they looked a bit more relaxed and relieved.
As they crossed the street at the green light, he saw the sloping roof of the chapel halfway down the block. "Guess this is it," he said to Rinoa. "This is the culmination of the past two weeks of work."
"Yep, guess so."
"This is where it's all led to."
"Are you nervous?" Rinoa looked up at him.
"Well, this is my first wedding. The first one I've been to, I mean."
"Really? I've been to some. My dad being a dignitary, weddings were always a great place to hobnob, but they were always so extravagant and elaborate. This should be nice and simple. Much less ceremony."
"Yeah, nice and basic." It's hard not to be when you have no money or time.
They entered the chapel through a side door, not the grand double-door entrance. There were a few people milling about in the hallway that Squall didn't recognize, shuffling around the burgundy carpet. Faux wooden paneling veneer covered the walls, which were dotted with bulletin boards, flyers, and an occasional piece of art or two. At the far end was an empty, darkened cafeteria-like room. He looked into the sanctuary and saw Irvine and Selphie talking to the pastor. There were about thirty minutes to go, and apparently they were just finishing up the rehearsal. Irvine was fully dressed in his SeeD uniform, complete with medals and honors. Without his hat, he seemed smaller, with less hair, even though it was tied up in a ponytail behind him. Selphie however was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans still. They came back down the aisle and Rinoa and Squall went in to meet them.
"Hi guys," Selphie said. "You look good."
"Thanks," Rinoa said.
"Where's your dress?" Squall asked.
"Have to get into it. Come on, we gotta go," she said to Rinoa and yanked her hand. Selphie waved to Quistis on the other side of the room. "Quistis! Dress time!"
Quistis, who was fiddling with a camera, put it on a bench and skipped out into the hall as the two other girls did. Squall followed them out, watching them gather and enter a large closet turned into a makeshift dressing room.
Wait, wait, don't leave me alone with these people, Squall panicked his mind. He was in a foreign city surrounded by very few of his friends, most of whom had just left. The commander exited the sanctuary and looked into the foyer.
Everyone who was a SeeD was in his or her uniforms. It reminded him of the graduation ball. Inside the sanctuary, a bunch of people were getting things ready, setting up equipment. Irvine and Zell were adjusting a set of personal cameras scattered around. A tall man in SeeD uniform came up to Irvine to ask him a question about the stereo equipment. Assumably, he was Irvine's best man. Two girls were practicing singing with the piano player.
He returned to walk around the foyer, not feeling like interrupting their setup, since he knew very little about cameras or electronic equipment. Now he was just bored. A few older people started filtering in, none of them he knew. Mostly old people, probably relatives. A few SeeD-aged people bounced in, maybe teachers. Sets of elders, including Edea and Cid, met each other for the first time. The caretakers of their broods, about to be inexplicably locked together, talking about sports to try and scrounge for ice-breakers. Squall averted his peeping eyes to look at the flyers posted on the bulletin board. Kids' programs, after-school track, an art contest.
Zell came over to Squall from behind, slightly startling the commander. "Hey, spiffy uniform," he said.
"It's the same as yours."
"Yeah, but you get a cool commander insignia," the blonde said as he brushed off the Balamb symbol over his heart. The fighter was dressed formally, a rarity for him, and his hair was neatly combed, losing his tell-tale front spike, but still somehow, it retained its playful nature. "Come on, Squall. What would Rinoa say if she caught you out here being anti-social?"
"Who do I have to be social with? I don't know any of these people." This was true. At social functions hosted by Garden he had to serve as the Garden Commander - make small talk, socialize, mingle, all for the purpose of advancing Garden. But they usually did the yapping for him and he just listened. And it was all business matters. Here, he was just Squall, Selphie's friend. These were not people he was going to see ever again. They weren't people he cared about. These weren't his people, they were Irvine and Selphie's people. Mostly Irvine's people since most of Selphie's were in Trabia.
"Yeah, I guess," Zell said. He put his head down, crossed his arms, and tapped his foot on the carpet.
Squall noticed that no girl was around him either. "You never got your date?"
"Nah, kinda gave up on that. I guess everyone was right, I didn't really need one for this."
"Yeah, that's what everyone else said. Quistis thought about asking you out of pity but I talked her out of it."
"Quistis!? I never said anything about Quistis. I like her just fine. Why would you ask?"
"I didn't say... anything... what are you talking about?"
"Um, never mind, I was thinking of a dream I had."
A girl in a very pretty violet dress holding a bouquet approached the two of them. For some reason she was dressed like a bridesmaid.
"Excuse me, can you tell me where Selphie is?"
"I think she's in that closet... room... thing," Squall said as he pointed behind her.
She turned to look and said "Thanks."
"Who was that?" Zell asked as soon as she was out of earshot.
"Don't know."
She entered the door and closed it carefully behind her. Suddenly, delightful muffled screams erupted abruptly from the room. It startled Squall visibly, as it sounded like someone was being horribly murdered in there.
"What th'?" Zell stammered. Then he looked at Squall and shrugged. "Girls."
"Hey, Zell, we need you for a sec," someone from the sanctuary called in. Zell immediately rushed off into the temple, leaving Squall by himself once again.
This was getting really dull. Did all weddings take this long to set up? If they did, he was glad he'd never been to one. He didn't have the patience for it. He bided his time for fifteen or so minutes, looking at nearly every piece of written work in the chapel, observing the people walking in and out, pretending to be interested in the flyers posted on the wall. With each passing moment he was getting impatient about whether it would start. It was already ten minutes past its scheduled start, and looked like it might pass fifteen. Not that he blamed them for taking so long, he was just getting tired of waiting and waiting and waiting. He leaned against the wall, crossed his arms, and bowed his head, like he was trying to sleep.
An unctuously obese man shambled up to Squall, with his wife in tow at arm's side. Squall noticed him just as he reached speaking distance. "You, my good sir, look like you could use a little company."
Squall turned to him, and had planned to say nothing in response to this, but the man continued before his disassociative pause would commence. "Nice to meet you..." he held out his hand to shake.
"... Squall." Squall's hesitation came off as standoffishness, but his vegetative state of mind simply prevented him from realizing that the stranger was asking him his name.
Squall took his hand in his. His palm was pudgy, like biscuit dough, and a little sweaty. He was wearing an overly expensive suit & tie and too-large square spectacles. Rolls of fat encircled his neck. His wife had one hand crooked under her husband's elbow. In sharp contrast, she was a petite, waify thing with thin white-blond hair in artificial locks and wore a pink dress with pearls. Who were these people?
"My name's Oscar, this is my wife Constance."
She meekly bowed her head and said a quiet, polite "How d'you do?"
Squall nodded politely in acknowledgment and nothing else.
"Well, are you a friend of the bride or groom?" Oscar said.
Squall turned to him, wondering who in the world this was and why he was speaking to him so familiarly. "Both," he said.
Oscar took a handkerchief out of his front pocket and wiped his wide, glistening forehead. "Hotter'n blazes out there today, literally. Thank goodness it's nice and cool in here," he said as he dabbed his brow.
His wife spoke up, widening her eyes to Squall and poking her head forward like a hen. "It's these warm air currents that are coming in from the ocean. I read about them in the news."
"Yes, probably," the man said again. "Those jet streams coming in from the gulf, mixing with the continental air. It just raises the air moisture. It's not the heat though, it's the humidity. At least that's what they all keep saying. Fine day for a wedding though, inn't it?" He had a demeanor that made Squall think he was a local, probably someone who made a lot of money off the now defunct Deling regime.
The urge to let out nothing more than a guttural 'mmf' of acknowledgement was superceded by Squall's need to be polite and respectable. "Yes," he said.
"Bit of an inconvenient time though. This is the busiest time of the year for us. I'm in the transportation revenue business, taxing and tolls and that sort of thing. Always a big time of the year for us with people going on vacation. Doesn't bother me though, long as they keep punching those tickets, eh?" The portentious man faked nudging him in the ribs as he laughed raucously, as if he'd just heard the funniest joke in the world instead of telling it. He took off his glasses, examining them for specks, wiping them off with his same sweaty handkerchief and continued, "Yeah, I've literally got a ton of work at the office now, that I wish I could do."
Yeah, I wish you could too, Squall thought and looked around for other friends.
"At least I didn't have to travel far. That bus system is literally a lifesaver. Did you have to come a long way to get here?"
"Overnight."
The minister walked out of the sanctuary and announced, "I think we're gonna have people sit down now." He had a booming voice, probably needed since this was a small chapel. Yet the people in front of him still continued.
"Yeah, these trains are pretty nice, but nothing beats the versatility of a car though. You can travel to any part of the world you like. And rental places are everywhere you want to be. Can you tell I work in the business?" He laughed again, Squall made no response again. "Yeah, these trains. I remember when I was young and they just started building them. And this whole town was literally under construction. Hah, people were still wearing peacoats and such." He laughed boisterously at the thought, a big gut laugh. Squall didn't know what a peacoat was.
His wife finally got a word into the conversation, unfortunately it was as meaningless as the others. "I was still living in Dollet then," she gesticulated, flopping her hand down like a wing.
"That's right, you were," Oscar said.
"It was such a pretty country then, back before the occupation. Oh, but it's so much more cleaner now."
"Uh-huh," Squall acknowledged, trying to mentally force them to go sit down.
Oscar said, "Yeah, that was all the military occupation. Forget what some people say, it has its good points. It's not like that Dukedom that was just literally powerless. Businesses really picked up after Galbadia came in, as long as those pesky resistance factions weren't in the way. Personally, I think the whole thing could have been a lot less violent, but, some people, you know?"
Squall resisted the urge to crush his windpipe, figuring he could never get his hands around his neck.
Oscar itched his temple with one pudgy finger. "Well, guess we better get seated. We'll see you inside." He raised his hand in farewell and he and his wife entered the sanctuary. Squall thanked his lucky stars.
Squall looked back to the closet, none of the girls were out yet. People were still milling about, but slowly shuffling in, and here he was without his partner. Where was Rinoa? He didn't want to sit down without her. He didn't know where she wanted to sit. He didn't know where was appropriate. Wasn't family only supposed to sit in front, or something like that? He stood near the closet door like he needed to go to the bathroom really badly. Why didn't she just come on out here? He didn't want to sit next to someone he didn't know. She knew these people better than him.
He decided he couldn't wait any longer and entered the sanctuary, grabbing a pink program from the doorway basket on the way. It turned out many benches were available. He traipsed down the aisle, and took an empty seat about five rows back from the stage. He looked up at the massive ceiling, remembering he read once that these buildings were designed to be large so that the patrons would be humbled. Irvine was already up there at the altar, grinning from ear to ear. Three personal cameras were stationed at their tripods or being held by their users, Zell being one of them. It was a little sad that since he was alone, he had to watch the wedding through a viewfinder, but he probably didn't mind.
Apparently, nothing was happening yet. Not even the girls had come back out to indicate Selphie was ready. He was picturing her throwing up in a bucket, trying not to mess her dress. He took the time to inspect his program. It was a simple list of events and names in tissue paper, stapled to pink construction paper and topped with a small pink bow.

Selphie Hilary Tilmitt & Irvine Miles Kinneas
Seating of Mothers
Processional
Attendants - Xu Anshin and Kule Dixon
Giving of the Bride - Cid Kramer
Welcome - Joseph Kinneas
Message
Lighting of Unity Candle
Song: Fragments of Memories
Exchange of Vows and Rings
Marriage Benediction
Pronouncement of Marriage
Recessional
Song: My Oath

Squall had never heard of any of these songs, but at least they didn't pick Eyes on Me. That song was so over-played, though he figured Rinoa would probably want it at her wedding. It was justified in that case though.
Rinoa came down the aisle then and sat beside Squall. He breathed a sigh of relief.
"Hey," he said. "Is Selphie okay?"
"Yeah, we were trying to get her into her dress," she said. "Her friend from Trabia came down to be her maid of honor!"
"What?"
"Her friend. You remember her? We met her when we went to Trabia a year ago to look at the damage? She was the first one to greet us."
Squall had no idea, but gave her the benefit of the doubt.
"Anyway, she came down as a surprise. I guess someone wrote her about the maid of honor situation or something and she came down somehow in the nick of time."
"Oh, that's what all the screaming was about."
"I know. Isn't that so nice? So she's replacing Xu."
"Ah," Squall said as he looked down at his program, mentally crossing out Xu's name.
"Which is good, cause I think she felt she was kind of the last person left and was just being a maid of honor out of sympathy. Selphie was so much happier when she came in."
Squall nodded. In truth, he was a little relieved as well, for both of them. In garden, he learned that no matter what situation you were in, you always needed someone by your side to back you up. If he was in Selphie's situation and had to pick Xu because she was the only woman who didn't seem to care too much about her predicament, that would have nothing but bruised feelings on all parties. But this happy surprise seemed to have taken care of that.
The organ started playing a classic song. Everyone craned their necks backward and looked at the open doorway. Xu hurriedly snuck in and took a seat near the middle, still holding her bouquet and wearing her silver dress. Selphie's friend and Kule emerged in the white light and slowly walked down the aisle, arm in arm. Now that Squall had a chance to look at her friend, he saw she had her brown hair into ribbon-like curls with a tiara. Irvine's best man stood nearly a foot taller than Squall. Irvine must have belonged to a tall person's club in Galbadia. They eventually reached the stage and separated to their respective positions.
The organist transitioned to the bridal march and everyone stood up. Selphie appeared in the middle of the doorway, wearing a very traditional bridal gown with veil in back, very fitting to her form while still being conservative. Her hair, usually unnaturally buoyant and lively at the tips, had managed to be compressed down and tied up in the back, making it seem flat and dull. She took one step at a time down the aisle, with a big grin plastered on her face that Squall thought could almost be considered sincere, not that she should be unhappy, or sad, or hiding back tears. Squall could not even fathom what Selphie had to be feeling at this moment, so he decided not to dwell on it and pushed the thought out of his mind.
When she had arrived at the front of the sanctuary the minister announced. "Who gives this woman away to be wed?"
Cid spoke up. "I and my wife, Edea."
"Please be seated," the minister said. Everyone sat down. Squall thought this dialogue seemed very artificial and choreographed. A man who must have been Irvine's adopted father, according to the schedule on the program, stood up. He had a bald head and wore small glasses. This must have been his welcome.
"I'd like you welcome you all to the wedding of my son and his bride. When we received Irvine when he was just six years old, we had no idea what he'd become. We had no idea he'd be part of the most planet-shattering events in our lives. And now we're glad you're here for the most planet-shattering event in his life." He took his seat.
The minister stepped forward holding a notebook, presumably containing his speech. Irvine and Selphie remained on separate sides of the stage, rather far apart.
"We're here today to join in wedlock Irvine Kinneas and Selphie Tilmitt. Now due to the expediency of this wedding, due to Irvine's important mission, I've been thinking about the most important relationship model we have to base ourselves on, that of a Sorceress and her Knight. The Sorceress' job has a role of magic power, independent of a Guardian Force. But such power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So the Knight is there to stabilize his Sorceress, to fight for her when she can't, when magic will not do, for the physical fight. So these two complement each other. That's how the two become successful, by two people recognizing that each other has something the other is lacking, and to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. This is how all relationships are and should be as modeled by Hyne. Now, Selphie, with Irvine shipping out soon, you're going to find a lack of something in your life. That's because by joining together, you're no longer Selphie and Irvine, but one unit, combined into one flesh."
Heh, I think the one flesh has been taken care of, Squall thought.
The minister continued droning on and on about roles and responsibilities, making gestures with his hands and pretending to talk to Selphie and Irvine personally. He sure did like to mention that Irvine was shipping out a lot, he would have thought that would be a more sensitive subject, as if he was dancing around why they were really all here. Maybe.

________________________________________

Squall stood behind a pillar, sipping on his low-ball with golden liquor inside. He still felt fairly uncomfortable, finally being able to drink at these things. He still felt too young. He turned to see the guests gathered at the punch bowl, those too young to drink. This was a less formal party for new students and those entering the SeeD program. Selphie called it a mixer. It made the atmosphere much more relaxed, unlike the SeeD graduation balls. This was the first party after time compression he'd attended and the first one since being commander, if one excepted the party afterwards to celebrate their victory.
Rinoa spun around from behind the pillar and began waving her fingers in front of his face.
"You're going to like me, you're going to like me," she chanted. She waved her hand before his eyes like she was doing a curse while he remained stone-faced. She paused to smile glibly at him.
"Did anyone ever tell you you're annoying?" Squall said.
"Did anyone ever tell you you're an idiot?"
Squall smiled. Rinoa smiled back.
"Guess who's hooking up tonight?" she said.
"What?"
Rinoa turned her head around to look near the far side of the ballroom. Selphie and Irvine were goofing around on the dance floor, jumping and hopping like idiots. Irvine looked ridiculous with his tall coat swinging back and forth.
"Aren't they so cute?" Rinoa said.
Squall furrowed his brows. SeeD frowned on personal relationships. It was bad enough he was in the situation he was in with Rinoa. But he'd defend it to the death. It was kind of an exception though. "It's all Quistis and I have been talking about," Rinoa continued. "It's about time, they've been flirting for three months."
Squall sipped his drink. "Yeah." He watched Irvine swirl around Selphie like he was ballroom dancing. He swished his head backward to see a busty underclasswoman pass by him on the floor while Selphie did some sort of weird jig. When she looked up at Irvine she grabbed him by the chin and refocused his attention back to her.
Squall remarked, "They've definitely been flirting for three months. Sometimes with each other."
Rinoa looked behind Squall's shoulder. "Oh, I've got to go help Quistis with some Trepies. Be right back." She patted him on the shoulder, winked, and passed behind him. Squall had an inexplicable sense of déjà vu.
He shrugged it off and turned back to Selphie and Irvine, still skipping up and down and swinging back and forth. They seemed like an unlikely couple, but there have been unlikelier ones. They sure had a nice height difference - 6'0" and 5'1". It was kinda funny to watch them. Irvine kind of looked like he was helping a kid dance.
As the song changed to something slower, he turned behind him to check on where Rinoa had gone to. They were next to an unlit part of the wall, close to the starry night windows, talking to three, shorter fourteen-year-olds clamoring around the blonde teacher. Whatever they were doing to shoo them away wasn't working. Squall left his station under the pillar to go see what he could do. He never liked the idea of the Trepies. Ogling a teacher, it was unhealthy. If he had his way, he would have the Trepies forcibly disbanded.
As he approached, Rinoa sharply pointed his finger at him and declared, "That's the guy who should be your role model - Squall Leonhart."
Squall stopped in his tracks, startled. He had sudden visions of his worst fear.
Rinoa went on. "He almost single-handedly thwarted Sorceress Ultimecia. He was the first commander of Garden. He's more than just a simple teacher. He's the only gunblade expert on campus."
"Really?" one of the students said.
"That I know of," Rinoa added under her breath.
Quistis said, "Why don't you start a new trend - the Squallies."
The three students cautiously approached Squall. They tilted their heads left and right, trying to get a good look at him in the dim light. Squall stood like a statue, withstanding the analysis.
"He's kind of scruffy, though," one of them said.
Scruffy?
A student turned back to the girls. "We'll think about it." They walked off into the dance floor, giggling to themselves.
Squall looked at them go, then came up to Rinoa and Quistis. They had their hands in front of their mouths, stifling their snickers.
"Scruffy?" he said.
They belted out in laughter, nearly doubling over. Squall rolled his eyes and waited for their guffaws to subside.
"Thanks, Squall," Quistis said between breaths, "I owe you one."
"We all owe each other a lot. Let's just let it slide," he smirked. He went to Rinoa's side and positioned himself to look out into the dance floor, ready to talk about the goings-on.
"Hey, where did Selph and Irvine go?" Rinoa said.
Squall scanned the dance floor up and down, searching for them, and not having success.
"Ohmigod, look!" Quistis said as she hunched forward and pointed. Rinoa and Squall peered past the lit floor.
In a dark corner of the dance hall, Irvine and Selphie were standing and kissing.
Quistis and Rinoa gasped. Rinoa said, "Is that... Are we seeing their first kiss?"
"I think so," Quistis said delightedly.
"Cuuuute!"
Am I really seeing this, Squall thought. He felt himself start to blush. He wanted to turn away, but couldn't seem to. Their eyes were closed. They looked so into each other. Was that what Rinoa and him looked like?

________________________________________

Squall drifted away from his reverie. That was the start of it all, he realized. Whenever something like this happens, you have to think back to what started it all, how it began, to see how it will end.
The most important thing in a relationship is love. It's not the only thing that should be in a relationship, and it's not the only thing that will sustain it, but it's the most important thing. Irvine loves the baby. Selphie loves Irvine. The baby will love them both. Maybe it'll work out. I wish I knew.
"Now," the minister said, "We will light the Unity Candle." Irvine and Selphie were both together now, standing one side of the stage, each had a candle lit in their hands. "The candle represents two flames of life, burning with spirit, becoming one whole, greater than the sum of its parts." The minister turned to them and they both dipped their wicks into a very large, thick candle on a stand. While this went on, the organist played a romantic song, to which two of the girls sang along. Irvine and Selphie stood there while it went on.
When they were done they blew their respective candles out, set them down, and went before the minister again, standing close enough to hold hands. Kule gave Irvine the ring and Irvine placed it at the edge of Selphie's finger.
The minister said, "Irvine, repeat after me. I, Irvine."
"I, Irvine."
"Take you, Selphie."
"Take you, Selphie."
"To be my wife."
"To be my wife."
"To have and to hold."
"To have and to hold."
"From this day forward."
"From this day forward."
"For better or worse."
"For better or worse."
"In sickness and in health."
"In sickness and in health."
"To love and to cherish."
"To love and to cherish."
"Until we are parted by death."
"Until we are parted by death."
"This is my solemn vow."
"This is my solemn vow."
Irvine pushed his ring onto Selphie's finger. Selphie took her's from her friend and held it at the ready.
The minister said, "Selphie, repeat after me. I, Selphie."
"I, Selphie."
"Take you, Irvine."
"Take you, Irvine."
"To be my husband."
"To be my husband."
"To have and to hold."
"To have and to hold."
"From this day forward."
"From this day forward."
"For better or worse."
"For better or worse."
"In sickness and in health."
"In sickness and in health."
"To love and to cherish."
"To love and to cherish."
"Until we are parted by death."
"Until we are parted by death."
"This is my solemn vow."
"This is my solemn vow."
Selphie pushed the ring onto Irvine's finger. It seemed it wasn't quite fitting so she tried applying more force. It looked to Squall like she was going to break his finger.
"Easy, easy," Irvine said and laughed. Selphie laughed too. She finally got the ring fully on, much to her relief, Squall was sure.
The minister took both their hands and looked up to the ceiling. "May Hyne bless and keep these rings safe, for they symbolize the unbreakable bond and the unbreakable circle of life. Let us give thanks to the creator of us all. We ask that you bless this union with growth, nourishment, love, hope, and change, that it may sustain through all hardships and live forever and ever. Amen." The minister let go of their hands and turned to the audience. "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to present to you, Mr. Irvine Kinneas and Mrs. Selphie Kinneas."
There was much clapping in the audience as they kissed, the first time as husband and wife. The pianist played an instrumental tune as they walked out of the church slowly, arm in arm. Then the front row of parents stood up and followed them out. Squall thought they were going to be dismissing by row so he waited until everyone before him got their chance. When he turned to leave he was surprised to find a line gathering up at the walkway. He looked over their heads and saw they were shaking Irvine's hand and hugging Selphie, congratulating them. Squall didn't think he'd ever hugged Selphie before. This would be a first. In fact, he didn't think he had really ever touched either of them. He wasn't quite sure what to do. Wait, why was he so nervous about this? Because he felt differently about this than everyone.
When he finally got up there, he shook Irvine's hand and bowed his head slightly, saying 'congratulations'. He shifted over and hugged Selphie lightly about the shoulders. "Congratulations," he said to her as well.
"Thank you," she said.
He went over to where Rinoa was standing, expecting her to let him know what the next move was. She was talking to Quistis about the wedding or something. The wedding party was joking about how Selphie couldn't get the ring on.
Rinoa tapped him on the shoulder. "Come on," she whispered. Quistis was right ahead of her. They slipped behind the new bride and groom with their families and into the parking lot.
"What?" he said as he saw Quistis digging in her bag.
"We're gonna decorate the car."
"We are?"
"Unless you wanna stay here."
"Ok, let's go."
The teacher pulled out a few rolls of streamers from her bag and handed one to Rinoa. They found the open-top car waiting in the chapel parking lot and started taping bits of paper and balloons to their mirrors, bumper, and elsewhere. Squall pretty much supervised and held the tape. It was tradition for the newly married couple to drive through the town on their way to the reception area while the other guests paraded after them. Smaller villes like Winhill used a horse-drawn carriage, which was how the tradition was originally done.
Quistis took out a can of shaving cream and tossed it to Rinoa who tossed her streamer roll back. "We can put some streamers here and here, and on the rear-view mirrors." Quistis handed Squall the streamer roll, expecting him to lend a hand. He looked at it, a bit dumbfounded, while Rinoa sprayed 'Just Married' on the round trunk in shaving cream. The commander felt silly taping crepe paper to someone's car, but tried to look comfortable nonetheless.
"Okay," Rinoa said as she finished up, "Let's get to the reception."
"Right now?" Squall asked as he gave back the tape.
"Yeah, we need to make sure everything's set up first, and we need to get there before they do."
Squall thought they were going to be walking behind the car, but this definitely sounded like the better option. The three started on a hurried walk towards the chapel. The fact that Irvine and Selphie's mini-parade took an indirect route and went at walking pace would help them some. Plus, being on foot, they could take a number of shortcuts down some alleys.
"Well, that was a pretty nice ceremony," Quistis said.
"Yeah, I don't know if I'd want that message for my wedding, though," Squall said. He didn't like the idea of having assigned duties thrust upon them by their minister, or anyone else. It restricted their freedom to be who they wanted to be.
"Yeah, I mean it kinda feels like they have to play that role now, doesn't it?" Rinoa said. "Like that's the theme of their relationship."
"I can tell you they're nothing like a Sorceress and Knight from firsthand experience," Squall said.
"And second-hand," Quistis chimed in.
They passed by a collection of garbage cans and exited onto an open street, brightly lit by the street-lights. Quistis took the lead a few feet ahead of them. Squall and Rinoa walked together.
"They're just gonna have to find their own way. That's what me and Squall did," Rinoa said.
"But we had the advantage of not needing to rush things... or rather, lack of disadvantage."
"Yeah, we needed that."
Squall darted his head toward Rinoa. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, you're getting better, but it's still hard to get along with you... sometimes. Being in a relationship was a first time for you too. You did a lot of things I thought were rude, but then I realized you were just being yourself, because you didn't know how to act with another person so connected with you, at the time. It's just because you'd never been with another human being before and didn't know how to react."
"Maybe," Squall conceded. "We made it, didn't we?" They stopped at a stoplight, waiting to cross.
"Yes, but, sometimes, it felt like you weren't trying. Especially this week. This week just let you see what I meant. You're just so afraid of what's going to happen in the future. How we're all going to go to different places eventually."
"I'm not afraid of it."
"No, but you're scared because you can't know. You feel like you can't do anything about it. That's what I've realized these past two weeks about you, about your resistance to change."
"My resistance to change..." Squall repeated seriously. "...Myself?"
"No, in general. In the world. That you're afraid of it."
"I'm not afraid of it. I just don't want things to change. Is that so wrong?"
"But Squall, everyday life is change. Life can't help but change as you get older. Zell's not going to be an instructor. So how long do you think he's going to be at Garden? Quistis? Any of us? Eventually we're all gonna move on."
"I know," Squall said, cutting off Rinoa's harangue before it got too big, with a rather unsettling admittance. "I've been thinking about that lately, about how we're all growing up and eventually we're all gonna move away from each other, whether I like it or not. We're all lucky we've lived this long, being mercenaries. But I've seen a lot of people lose their loved ones through the years. Being a merc, you have to get detached to it. But this one hit home, cause it was one of our own. Two, actually. I know the trick's not recognizing that you have a problem, but acting on what you recognize. It's hard to explain. You can't do anything about what's happened but you're the way you are because of it. Ellone said to me, on the space station, when she realized that sending us into the past wouldn't have worked, 'You're the one that changes, not the past'. The trick is not to lose touch with them, to hold onto them, hold on to the things important to you, remember all the good times. That's how you keep things from changing, in your heart. You hold onto part of them with you wherever you go in life."
Rinoa stopped moving forward and clasped onto Squall's torso in a sort of half-hug, half-grasp. It took Squall by surprise.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
She looked up at him with her walnut eyes. "Holding on."

________________________________________

Squall was seated among his friends, laughing and talking. Irvine was goofing around, just like his usual self. It looked like the fight hadn't damaged his spirits at all. Selphie was being a bit more reserved than normal, but still looked happy to be done with all the dull ceremony and moved onto the party. Selphie's friend had apparently received her infamous video camera and was wandering around the tables, poking it in other people's faces.
"Uragh," the man across from him uttered gutturally, "Looks like those Mach Chocobos are doing pretty good this year," he said to Squall.
Squall lightly nodded and looked away. Oscar, fat off the suffering of people and his own appetite, and his wife had seated themselves kitty corner from him. Squall tried to pretend he didn't exist, but every ten minutes he would come up with some trite phrase, usually about sports, that needed to be acknowledged. Squall knew this guy had to be a portentous jerk when it came time to order drinks and he asked for a scotch and rye on the rocks with three olives. And he made these horribly throaty sounds like his voicebox was clogged with lard.
"Sounds like Ceni Tidane is going to get traded," he added for the second time.
The small reception had been stuck in a loft above a bar and grill and it was growing hotter by the minute. Especially in the damn SeeD uniform. And that other table was finishing up their meal, and they hadn't even gotten their's yet. Wasn't the wedding party supposed to served first or something? Did they have only one person working here or what?
He felt a wet pop on his cheek and turned back to Rinoa. She was holding a bubble wand up, looking guiltless and delighted. Squall smiled too. He was surprised Selphie and Irvine had the presence of mind to think of these little party favors for the wedding. Zell and Selphie began getting into a bubble war with Squall in the middle. He leaned his head back to stay out of the soapy crossfire. They began laughing so hard that they could no longer blow their bubbles without bursting into laughter. Rinoa was trying to get a piece of the action too, trying to blow and giggle at the same time. Squall rolled his eyes.
Spontaneously, the sound of glasses clinking together began. Selphie and Irvine leaned to each other and kissed passionately. It was a little gross to watch, as far as Squall's opinion went. The glasses started so synchronously he was wondering if there was some conspiracy afoot. It was the second time they had done it tonight. Squall picked another candy mint out of the bag behind his empty plate.
"Hungry?" Rinoa asked.
"Aren't you?"
"Yeah, but your mints are for after dinner."
"Then I'll just leave one left."
Finally, the waitress set his plate before him and Squall dug in like Zell at the cafeteria. One of the rules of being a mercenary was that you never knew when or where your next meal was going to come from, so you never let it go to waste. Plus he always was a fast eater.
Meanwhile, Quistis leaned over to Zell. "How do you like your filet mignon?" Zell had never heard of filet mignon before and had to ask Quistis what it was. His curiosity got the better of him and he had ordered it to see how it tasted.
"Eh, it's pretty good. It's not a hot dog, but it'll do."
"Wait, did you say you like hot dogs?" the waitress behind him said. She was collecting dishes and passing behind him, suddenly stopping her duties. Zell and Quistis looked up at her with strange eyes.
"Yeah," Zell said bemusedly, happy to talk about one of his favorite subjects. "I eat 'em every chance I get."
"Stay right there," she smiled. She practically ran off with her dirty plates into the kitchen. "Where's she going?" Rinoa asked.
"Dunno. I said 'hot dogs' and she bolted."
Everyone was finished eating up and the workers were taking the plates away. Now they were ready to cut the cake, which had been waiting for them at the end of the loft. Selphie and Irvine stood up and shifted out from the end of the table, the bride trying to handle her massive dress. Before they could cut the cake though, they had to stand by it, while the amateur photographers took pictures as Irvine held up the knife at the ready. They were both staring into the camera and smiling, like they'd bought a new car. When they got done, Irvine sliced two small pieces of cake from the massive two-story pastry. Selphie took her piece and gently pushed it into Irvine's mouth. He ate quickly, then got a big evil grin on his face
"Don't," Selphie warned, stifling giggles, "Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't," she repeated quickly as Irvine attacked her with the cake, smearing it all over her closed mouth. "No, eeek!" she shrieked with glee. Selphie grabbed a handful and tried to do the same, but her tiny arms only managed a fraction of what Irvine was able to get in as he fended her off. When the wrestling match was over, the photographers took more pictures of the two, while someone waited in the wings with a towel to give as soon as their embarrassment was documented. Meanwhile, the waiter took the knife and sliced the cake into pieces for everyone. When Squall got his, he ate it hungrily, not satisfied by dinner at all.
"They sure didn't skimp on the sugar on this, did they?" Rinoa, who had gotten her piece just previous, said weakly.
It was very heavy on the frosting. Very heavy. He could feel blood rushing to his head, like a hot flash, from all the sugar. His eye twitched sporadically.
"Pretty nice cake, isn't it?" the fat man across from him said.
"Mm-hm," Squall said, not wanting to disagree with him and get into a conversation.
While Zell was eating his cake, the waitress came back, holding some yellow-brown thing on a stick. She went up behind Zell and handed it to him. "Here."
Zell took it by the stick and tilted it up and down, gauging this gift that smelled like food. "What is it?"
"It's a corn dog. It's a hot dog wrapped in corn batter and then deep fried and put on a stick," she defined as he took a bite.
His eyes suddenly glowed like magic as his tongue wrapped around the hot dog concoction. "I love you."
She giggled from the praise. "It's a little invention me and my father came up with during down time."
"Can you show me how?"
"Sure, come on." Zell eagerly stood up from his seat and followed the girl into the kitchen. Quistis rolled her eyes and smirked.
"Ah, here we go," the fat obnoxious man said, looking over Squall's head. He turned around to see that Irvine's best man, Kule, was standing up, holding his drink.
"Well, I guess it's my place to say a few words." Squall thought this was another tradition he'd never heard about, the best man speech. "I've known Irvine ever since he came to Galbadia Garden, when he was just a little boy with a thing for guns. We spent a lot of time fighting and training, getting in trouble with Headmaster Martine. And through it all, Irvine was always the ladies man and I was the dedicated student. Now here it is, years later, and the impossible's happened - Irvine's settled down. And I couldn't be happier for him. Irvine and Selphie are truly soul mates. When I first met Selphie, it became apparent that she was the only one who could put up with Irvine." The audience laughed. "Marriage in this day and age is far from easy, with all the pressures of ordinary life, you'll need to grow an understanding while not forgetting what first brought you together. So what I'm saying is, may your love last through the modern times, yet be old enough to last forever." He raised his glass and everyone drank whatever they had to the married couple. He sat down when everyone was finished.
Then Selphie's friend, who had put down her video camera and returned to her side, got up and went to the corner where the presents were. She produced a boom box from under the table and plugged it in next to the sink. Rinoa nudged Squall as if he wasn't paying attention already, apparently very pleased with herself.
"Okay, Selphie, Irvine, could you come up here?" They did as she continued. "The girls and I were talking about how you were sorely lacking one thing from your wedding and we came up with this." She pushed play on the box and stood back. A very slow, romantic song started playing. Selphie and Irvine looked into each other's eyes and danced to the music. Squall realized what she meant - their first dance as a married couple. Of course. The loft didn't have any dance floor, so there was no DJ, so there was no traditional first dance. It was a very heartfelt gesture.
Irvine had his hands around the small of her back and Selphie rested her head on Irvine's chest, tucked under his head. It was a very sweet song, and Squall thought they looked so peaceful together. He imagined Rinoa and himself dancing like that in front of everybody, wondering if he would be embarrassed. The song finished and the audience clapped as they kissed.
"Very nice, very nice," Oscar boomed, across from him. Did this guy have to comment on everything?
A little later, it became time to throw the bouquet, the event the girls had been squealing about and the boys had been dreading. They'd called all the single girls in the room up there, half of them were ones Squall knew personally, squealing at the edge of the room. Selphie stood at the other side of the room, which was only about ten feet away. The loft didn't allow for a great deal of throwing distance between them.
Squall felt a tap on his shoulder. He cranked his head up and behind. Edea was standing beside him.
"Squall, can I see you for a second? In the kitchen?"
"Sure," he said, curious why she needed to see him right now, slightly worried. He crossed between the 'line of fire' before Selphie threw the bouquet and into the swinging door to the kitchen.
Matron was standing there, looking at the wall to the side, waiting for him. She looked like she was reading the health safety rules. She turned back and looked at him.
"Yes?" Squall said, after a moment of Edea not saying anything.
"Your, um, your suit just needed adjustment," she said as he heard a great cheer in the other room. Squall was about to turn and look outside when she turned him around by his lapels and pulled down his topcoat, straightening out the wrinkles, then brushed off the patch over his heart. Squall furrowed his brows, wondering what in the world she was doing, why that was so important he had to get called out.
"Are you having fun?" she asked as she adjusted.
"Yeah, I guess," he said with a hint of questioning.
"Good, after the events that I'd heard I was worried. I thought you've been handling things pretty well."
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said as she continued brushing. "... Are you done?"
"Yep, thanks," she said and stepped aside to let him through.
Squall eyed her warily before he turned and walked out. That was some really weird behavior.
He saw about ten guys standing in front of the railing where the girls had been. And they were all looking at him and smiling.
"What are you all doing over here?" he asked.
He heard a flick like a rubber band and felt something land on his head. He pulled it off and found it was some sort of frilly scrunchie. The people were cheering for him though and Irvine was stranding on the other side with his fingers left in the air, pointing at his target. The garter. He caught the garter. It had completely slipped his mind and he felt suddenly disappointed in himself for not seeing it ahead of time. He looked back to the kitchen at Matron who was looking at him with a sheepish smile on her face like 'they talked me into it'. Squall smirked and nodded lightly in understanding as the crowd whooped and hollered.
Squall retook his seat next to Rinoa, putting his prize on the table, feeling chagrined. Rinoa was laughing up a storm.
"I'm sorry, Squall," she said behind guffaws, "I had to do it. I wasn't even sure you'd go up there if we didn't do this."
"Uh-huh. Great joke."
Zell retook his seat across from Squall. "Way to go, man, you took one for the team!" he said as he gave his thumbs up.
Squall asked Rinoa, "So who caught the bouquet?"
Rinoa brought up the bunch of flowers she was keeping under the table, holding it under her face and batting her eyes coyly.
Squall sighed and smiled at her. She tickled him under the chin with the petals as he uttered, "Oh... goody."
With these final traditions completed, the wedding ceremony soon formally ended. Irvine thanked everybody for coming, announcing that essentially everything they had planned for was over. People slowly milled out, just as they had slowly milled in. Rinoa and Squall also said their goodbyes to the lingering couple and headed down to the coat room. They had to leave a little early as well, as they had to catch some sleep before getting on an early train back to Balamb. Rinoa requested a bathroom run before they headed out and stepped into the nearby restroom.
As Squall grabbed her coat off the hook, Zell came up behind Squall, and put his arm around his head in a pseudo-headlock. "Kick-ass party, man," he said into Squall's ear.
"Yeah," Squall answered politely back.
"I'll see you back at Garden. Later!" he called out as he dashed through the restaurant's doors and into the cold night, probably heading back to the hotel.
Just then Oscar and his wife Constance came down as well to get their coats. Rinoa came back and Squall put her coat on from behind, both of them amused at his acting like a proper gentleman. He tried to keep his back to the couple, but that didn't stop them.
"Nice wedding," the fat man said in a tone demanding to be answered by Squall. He mentally rolled his eyes and uttered a polite 'mm-hm'. What, were they stalking him now?
He led Rinoa out the door into the crisp night air, and the couple followed them out into the street. Unknowing passersbys might have thought the four of them were together by their proximity. They halted in front of the unmarked bus stop and looked down the street to see if one was on its way. "I hope you're not hailing a cab," Oscar said as they stopped behind them, pausing to adjust his wallet. "The bus is the only way to travel in Galbadia."
"I know," Squall finally said. "I've been here before."
"Oh, where are you from?"
"Balamb."
"Oh, do you do any fishing there?"
Balamb was an island with mountains on one side and shoreline on the other. The only town was half made of docks. Anyone who lived in Balamb had fished at some point in their lives, and everyone knew that. Asking someone from Balamb if they had ever fished was like asking a bird if it ever flew. But Squall had to correct him just the same.
"Actually, we're from Garden. We don't really have time to fish."
"Oh, are you both SeeDs?"
Hello? Dramatic jump off your clock tower? Tried to kill your sorceress? War with your Garden? Is any of this ringing a bell?
"Yes," Squall simply said.
"Well, he is," Rinoa corrected. "I'm his girlfriend, I live with him."
"You live with him?" he said in surprise. "I was told SeeDs weren't supposed to have relationships."
Squall frowned. "It's not a formal rule, but it's generally discouraged."
"It's kind of a special exception," Rinoa said.
"Mm, see, I thought that was a rule," he repeated. "Seems to me Garden shouldn't be making special exceptions for anyone. That's just not sound during wartime. How else is there going to be any respect for regulations?"
So you criticize my Garden and my relationship in the same sentence. What else you got?
Rinoa said, "We've been living together just fine for a year now. No one's had a problem with it."
"But there is a problem with it," his petite wife finally spoke up, the tone indicating she was shocked. Her lotioned eyes were popping out of her head like a frog's. "Did you know my sister co-habitated before she got married and now they're divorced? There's a reason it's against Galbadian law."
Oscar said, "What kind of SeeDs are you? Is this what Balamb is seriously producing?"
Constance said, "I'll pray for you."
It would be wrong to say Squall was just a bit stunned by this non sequitir. "... I'm sorry?"
"Living together before marriage is a sin and against the law. You're destroying your own relationship."
Squall finally realized what these two were saying enough for him to start getting angry about it. "What are you talking about... and what business is it of yours?"
"Marriage needs a lot of sacrifices and you're partaking of all the benefits without the responsibility. You're just playing marriage."
Squall furrowed his brows. "I can assure you that if you knew anything about us, you'd know that we have both made a lot of sacrifices to get where we are."
Rinoa added, "If we do get married we'll be even better equipped to handle the tough stuff cause we've already gone through it all."
"But you're not training for marriage, you're training how to get out of the relationship if it goes sour. You need to live separately beforehand so you can sanctify each other. Right now, you're just sizing him up as a trial offer. I thought SeeDs knew better than that."
Apparently no one had taught this girl about the legend of the sorceress and a knight and their bond. And even if they did, there would be no way she would be able to understand it, unless she were in such a relationship. The Galbadian bus rounded the corner and slowed to a crawl in front of their street as Squall simply scowled back, unable to get a response out before she continued her tirade.
The wife continued, "Your marriage is not going to be determined by whether you've tried each other out at all. It'll work out if you're made of the right stuff, the values and traits you have."
"The stuff SeeDs are made out of would scare you to your bones," Rinoa shot back. "And I am not 'trying' him out and he is not 'trying' me out. We love each other."
"Why not just get married if you do love each other?"
"Because we're not ready yet. We haven't even considered that yet. And it's certainly none of your business how we do things our way!"
Squall, unwilling or unable to argue with these despots any further, climbed up the tall metal stairs of the bus as the door opened.
The wife continued, "Living together is only asking for trouble. If you're willing to separate, your relationship will be further blessed."
Rinoa spun on her heel, midway up the stairs, and leaned out staring her straight in the eye, and with a tone halfway between angry and apathetic she delivered a resounding comeback.
"Whatever."
Rinoa climbed back on, and the stunned woman stared stupidly ahead, apparently having never been talked to in such a tone. The bus driver apparently had no patience for stragglers and swung the door lever closed. Quickly, the bus accelerated as Rinoa rejoined Squall.
"Nice," he said, commending her on a 'whatever' worthy of himself.
"Thank you," she gleefully responded.
They both sighed and looked out the windows, hanging onto the pole straps. Rinoa nudged into Squall's coat, half-draggled from the excitement, and Squall tranquilly watched the city's buildings pass by as he thought about that parochial argument. And he realized something. Something rather poignant, now that this whole mess was done with. No matter who you are, someone, somewhere, doesn't like what you're doing.
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