Brother and Sister
[04.19.00] » by Bryan A. English
"Selphie… are you in here?"
"Yes. Go away! I told Irvine I didn’t want to talk to anyone! Now go away!"
Zell stood at the doorway, searching the room for his friend. The dark made it nearly impossible to find someone who didn’t want to be found. He was tempted to do as Selphie asked, to turn his back and walk away, but that would solve nothing. His friend was hurting and needed someone, or something. And was too afraid to ask for the help she needed.
"Selphie, I’m not going away! You can threaten me all you want, smack upside the head as much as you want, but I’m not going anywhere. I stood by you in the Missile Base, and I’ll stand by you now. This battle won’t be any easier than the one with that damn spider back in Dollet…" He hoped she would hear the iron in his voice, not the tremble of fear.
"We lost that battle, remember? Quistis had to rescue us. Even Squall failed that battle. Picture perfect prissy Squall. Stuck up, sanctimonious Squall. Maybe Squall could have saved Trabia, but he was too busy trying to save Balamb, his home. He could have come with us… he could have helped…" The words were bitter, but the tears were not.
"Selph… can I come in?"
"No! Go away! If you stay here for much longer, I won’t need to beat you up to get rid of you, you’ll hurt yourself. Everything I touch falls apart. Trabia, my memories, the Festival, and I don’t want that to happen to my friends!" By now Zell was in the room, looking for his friend. His heart broke at her words. They weren’t true, he knew that. But what mattered right now was what she believed.
"You aren’t a failure! Squall did what he believed was right. We all did. Galbadia had launched against both Gardens, and we had to try to save both. We did what we could. We did our best…"
Selphie’s cry was that of a wounded animal, primal and torn. "Our ‘best?’ Our best wasn’t good enough. Squall’s, and Quistis’s, and Rinoa’s best was good enough, they saved Balamb. I should have never tried to save Trabia. You and Irvine and one of the others could have done it. And Squall could have saved Balamb by himself, I couldn’t have screwed that up. Not even if I tried."
"You didn’t screw up Selph. There was nothing anyone could have done differently. The missiles launched before we could stop them. Trabia couldn’t become mobile in time, they couldn’t avoid the blast. Trabia was bombed, we need to move on."
"I can’t! My friends are dead! My professors, my classmates, my old room mates. The little kids wanting to be SeeDs, the old ladies in the cafeteria. The annoying girl down the hall from my old room, the cute guy in my GF class. Even the damn monsters in the Training Center are dead! Everyone’s dead!" By now Zell had found Selphie, hiding between the bed and the wall. Her body rocked with her tears, a violent downpour that threatened to drown Selphie.
"Selphie… we…" That was as far as Zell got. He placed his hand on Selphie’s shoulder. She shook his hand off and tried to crawl further away, into the wall.
"Go away! Zell, I failed! I’m not good enough to be a SeeD! I don’t deserve friends like you and the others, not even Squall. I don’t deserve anything! I… I don’t even deserve to live…" The words were soft and meek, but hit Zell with the force of a thunderbolt.
"Selphie… what are you thinking about doing? Please, tell me!" Zell fought against the tears, pushed them back into his eyes, forbidding them to be spilled.
"Why, so you can run off and tell Quistis, your wonderful RA? Or maybe Rinoa and let her comfort me and baby me. Or maybe Irvine… he could get me drunk like all of his dates and show me how big of a man he is. Or… Squall! He could come in here and ignore me and I won’t do anything to myself I’ll be too busy trying to get to know his dumb ass!"
"I don’t want to lose you… I haven’t had many friends Selph, and you are one of the best I’ve ever had. Kind of like a sister…"
"Shut up! I don’t deserve to hear these things! Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to yourself! They aren’t true. I’m a horrible friend. And a bad student, an even worse SeeD. I’m fat and terrible in a fight. My clothes are ugly and too small. Leave me alone!" The sobs coursed through her small frame like a train, slamming into her again and again.
"I’m not lying! I would never lie to you! Tell me what you are going to do… please?"
She turned her tear streaked face towards him. The dark hid her tears, and his. "I… know this place where… where Malboros live. I’ll fight them off until… And at least it’ll be proved once and for all that I don’t deserve to be a SeeD." The image of the monster loomed in her eyes, its attacks ravaging her body.
"You deserve to be a SeeD! More than I or anyone else I know! Selphie, I can’t bear the thought of losing my best friend!"
"I thought that stone wall Squall was your best friend." The scorn in her voice lashed like a whip.
"He… he is. And so are you. All of us… you are all my best friends. Rinoa, Irvine, even Quistis. I love you all. We have all been through so much together, and I know we have much more in front of us." Zell wanted to let her know how he felt. That he truly loved her, loved them all. They were the siblings that he looked for his whole life. The reason he fought.
"Why… why me? I am such a failure. A total waste of money and training and space. They could put a good SeeD in this room. Maybe even Fujin…" Zell’s words were hitting her. She couldn’t escape the fact that she truly cared for the others. She loved them in a way she didn’t know possible. She wanted to believe Zell, but didn’t know how.
"You are no failure! You have helped us out so many times! And just think of how much you’ve helped Laguna!" Zell hoped it was the right thing to say. Laguna was a touchy topic for Selphie.
"Sir Laguna? I’ve… I’ve helped him?" Zell wasn’t sure, but it seemed as if her eyes glowed with hope.
"Beyond measure. It was your strength that saved him when we visited him. Selphie, can I ask you something?"
"Go ahead… ask."
"If I leave you tonight, do you promise not to hurt yourself? Not tonight, not tomorrow, not the next day, not ever?"
"Promise me. Because if you don’t, I’m not leaving. And I’ll call in the others if I have to to watch over you tonight."
"I… promise. But only if you agree to one thing too."
"Anything, as long as it keeps you safe!"
Selphie launched herself at him. She needed to feel warm, strong, loving arms around her, needed it more than she could express. Zell’s weren’t the arms she would have chosen, but they were warm and strong, and obviously loving.
"Stay here tonight. Hold me like a brother would. I… never had a brother, so I don’t know what that would feel like, but I’ve always imagined. Keep me safe tonight. Please?"
Zell didn’t answer, but rather wrapped his arms around his sister and cried into her hair.