Regardless of what they would tell the others later, it all started as a normal "girls night out". Really.

As a long time citizen of Timber, Rinoa had generously offered Selphie a tour of the old-fashioned, picturesque - and thus quite boring - town. Naturally, this excursion included the bars. There weren't many of them, but though they were few, they sported a great selection of alcoholic beverages amongst them.

Two pretty young women out alone are unfortunately bound to attract attention of the unwanted kind. As much as they might have wanted to, Rinoa and Selphie were not excepted. It hadn't been very long after their arrival until the men had started flocking around their table. As soon as Rinoa had emptied a glass of the sweet-tasting, umbrella-topped drink she preferred, one guy or another quickly ordered a new one. Rinoa certainly did not mind having the drinks paid for. Neither did Selphie, who appreciated that even in the presence of the pretty Rinoa she was getting some attention.

After an hour of these activities, the pair had become quite intoxicated. Not that they noticed.

That's when the self-proclaimed Casanovas moved in for the kill.

Rinoa, with her privileged upbringing, didn't understand what was going on as quickly as her more experienced friend did. When a quite attractive dark-haired man put his strong arm around her, she just laughed in his face. For some reason, she found him hilarious. She didn't know if it was his sour, wine-stinking breath or the cute dimples showing in his cheeks when he smiled, Rinoa just laughed. She finally realised what was his true intention when he tried to drag her along to Hyne alone knew where for some - as he put it - 'fun'.

Rinoa didn't find the prospect very appealing, which she tried to tell her suitor. She wasn't able to decipher the meaning of the phrase that actually left her mouth, though. Apparently, somebody had implanted a speech-scrambler somewhere between her brain and her vocal cords. Though why anyone would want to do something like that... No, wait, that wasn't important right now.

Selphie seemed to understand the meaning of what Rinoa mumbled, though - or perhaps she was thinking something very much like it. She tried removing the man's offensive hands from Rinoa's back, but was rudely grabbed from behind by one of his accomplices. The rotten breath of the newly arrived man would have made a Malboro back away, covering its nostrils.

"Don't be like that, sweetie, " the Malboro-man mumbled into her hair. "Just relax, and have some fun with us. You know you want to, they all..."

He was cut off mid-sentence by a small but unbelievably powerful fist smashing right into his chin, hitting its target with a satisfactory sound of bones being crushed. Before anyone in the drunken crowd watching the spectacle had had time to react, the man that had until just a second ago been groping Rinoa joined his companion in unconsciousness. As he fell to the floor, the unexpected liberator followed up with a quick kick in his groin.

Selphie and Rinoa looked at each other, and then, as if on cue, they turned their surprised gazes to the oblivious men on the floor. What had just happened?

"STUPID", their rescuer hissed angrily from behind their backs.

There was no mistaking that voice.

*

Rinoa failed to understand why everybody was smiling so knowingly and annoyingly sympathetic at her. Sure, she had the mother of all hangovers. Sure, she had probably acted pretty stupid yesterday night. Nevertheless, that was no reason for them all to look so smug, now was it? She couldn't have been that bad. She was still in one piece, right?

Dr Kadowaki, whom she visited for a quick treatment, seemed to have joined the rest of the Garden crew in the "hilarious" tease-Rinoa-'til-she-begs-for-mercy-gag. The female physician didn't seem to know how she should act around the young brunette, though. One minute, she was hiding a smile behind her callous hands, and the other she sent Rinoa a murderous gaze as if the girl had done something worthy of a death sentence.

Finally Rinoa couldn't take it any longer, and she rushed out from the infirmary before the doctor was finished. She hurried through the corridors, hoping that the library would be as quiet and, more important, empty as it always used to be.

After a few minutes spent hidden behind a shelf of boring autobiographies, Rinoa noticed a weird sound. Apparently the shy library girl that never seemed to be able to open her mouth when not around her friends had decided it was time for her to join the rest of the populace. She was glancing at Rinoa, laughing like the other girl was the joke of the day.

Rinoa couldn't take it any more. She didn't have to take it, for Hyne's sake. She was the commander's girlfriend, damn it. She was a sorceress. Surely people ought to show her a little respect, now and then?

"What?" she shouted, immediately regretting the excessive noise, as it made her head feel like it was about to explode.

A bit milder she continued "What is so darn funny?"

The librarian at once snapped back into her normal, timid self. "I... uh... I think everybody has heard about yesterday, and... uh, your, uh, fight, " she said quietly, avoiding eye contact.

"What fight?" All right, so Rinoa didn't remember anything about last night, but she was sure that she would remember if she'd been in a brawl.

The librarian seemed to have exhausted her social capabilities, though. She had collapsed into laughter once more. Rinoa suppressed an angry roar, and ran away to find Selphie. Perhaps she could explain what was going on. She would have to.

*

Selphie remembered her drunken night out. Oh yes, she remembered it. She wished that she didn't, but wasn't that lucky. She wished even more that Fujin wouldn't remember, but the one-eyed girl hadn't even been drunk, so that was probably an impossible wish. Even so, she hoped that Fujin had suddenly found another GF to junction. One that ate memories really fast. Pretty please?

The door slammed open, letting in a very upset Rinoa while a painting fell down from the opposite wall at the sudden impact. Selphie, who had feared that her visitor would be Fujin, relaxed despite the enraged look on her friend's face.

"Selphie!" the young girl exclaimed. "I can't stand all those... those... people!" Breathing shallowly, she put her hands to her sides and fixed her angry stare at Selphie. "What happened yesterday? And how come all of Balamb knows of it? They aren't being NICE."

Selphie's mouth fell open. "You mean... you don't remember?"

"Exactly!"

"Not a thing?"

"I already TOLD you so, didn't I?" Rinoa flopped down on the floor and squinted at Selphie. "No... wait... It's something about... Fujin, right?" Her head ached as she tried concentrating a little more. Maybe she shouldn't have left the infirmary before Dr Kadowaki was done treating her.

Selphie winced. "You could say that." She sat down beside her friend on the floor. How to break the news? Better make it quick. It'd be painful either way.

"You challenged her to a fist fight."

Rinoa shuddered at the unpleasant thought, but wasn't convinced."Ha ha. Very funny, Sefie."

No answer from Selphie.

"I may seem naive at times, but I'm not that gullible. Try again."

Selphie got up on her feet, abruptly. "You can ask anyone if you don't believe me, " she said grumpily. "I don't like it either. She wants to fight me too."

As the impact of the truth sunk in, Rinoa's face paled. She closed her eyes and tried making sense of it all. 'Was I suicidal or something?'

"But... I don't understand... " she stuttered. "Why did I do something that stupid?"

"Eh, I... kinda... encouraged you..." Selphie quickly realised the stupidity of telling the truth as Rinoa started boxing her with her small fists. "Ouch! Ow! Cut it out!"

"WHAT?"

Though most of the punches were too powerless to actually hurt, a few of them did cause Selphie some pain.

"Ouch! Stop it! Let me tell you the rest of the story!"

Funnily enough, Rinoa seemed to hurt herself more than Selphie, so she eventually stopped. Selphie gradually relaxed again, rubbing a sore spot on her cheek where Rinoa had actually managed to hit her.

"Do you remember those stinking guys from yesterday?" she started. "They were hanging around our table and kept refilling our glasses."

Rinoa nodded hesitantly. "Yeah, there was that gorgeous brown-eyed guy... " A dreamy smile touched her lips.

Selphie raised an eyebrow. No time for that now.

"Yeah, well, apparently he and his friend wanted something in return from us."

"Oh! Oh! I remember! Then Fujin arrived and knocked them down."

"You remember the rest, too?" Selphie looked very unhappy.

Scratching her head in consternation, Rinoa concentrated. To no avail. Yesterday night was just an unconnected series of images, swirling through her head at the speed of light.

"...not really," she finally concurred, hanging her head in shame.

"Well, she kept taunting us for being 'STUPID. WEAK. PATHETIC.' She said something about Balamb Garden being full of losers, and that she was happy she never became a SeeD if that meant being weak like us."

"Oh...That girl! She's so mean!" Rinoa's anger that had subsided for a while returned in full scale. Then she realised that if she'd become that annoyed while drunk, it explained...

"And that's when I challenged her?" 'Please tell me we both shared the same nightmare' she silently begged to whomever wanted to listen.

Apparently nobody did.

"Something like that, yes." Selphie's shoulders drooped. "She said she could easily take us both on, at the same time. Then I said..."

Rinoa raised her hand to cut Selphie off, a look of utter defeat on her face.

"Enough. I remember. You said that it wouldn't be necessary since you could, and I quote, 'Beat you any time'. Not using junctions nor weapons." Rinoa threw herself on Selphie's bed and buried her head in a pillow. "How awfully embarrassing!" she cried. "I'm so not good at fist fighting."

"I noticed," Selphie answered, dryly, before she had to dodge an incoming pillow missile.

*

Zell was hoping for a calm, relaxed day. Maybe, if he were lucky, he would be able to take some time off today, to visit his mum. After all, he didn't play an important role in the managing of the Garden, so he wouldn't be that missed around here. Not like Squall, who had ended up being responsible for most everything that happened around here nowadays.

No, Zell had made a habit of staying away from the most cumbersome duties.

One responsibility that he actually had volunteered for was to help the cafeteria ladies. Like, he could make the weekly menus, he had proffered. And he could make sure there was enough food and stuff.

Strangely enough, the other guys wouldn't let him do that. Something about not wanting to eat hot-dogs every day. Weirdness.

Well, it was their loss, and since he had tried volunteering for something he didn't feel too guilty now that he wouldn't have to do anything at all.

Another thing he'd made a habit of as of lately - and it wasn't a nice one - was staying away from Selphie.

It wasn't that he didn't like her. He did. Selphie was great. Selphie was always so nice and friendly all the time. She was the compassionate kind of person, the one of his friends that would do her best to cheer people up when something happened.

For example, she always made sure that there would be hot dogs left for Zell even though people would kill - at least a grat or two - for them. She let him lend her new music records, sometimes even before listening to them herself. She had even let him chose which movie they would see when they had that evening off in Deling, even though she must have realised that Zell would never want to see that romantic block-buster she had hoped for.

Altogether Zell was quite satisfied to have a friend like her.

The downside to the friendship - and the reason he tried staying away from her - was that when she asked you for a favour you would feel rotten saying no. When Selphie was around, Zell always ended up helping her with something he wasn't at all interested in. Once he'd ended up inventorying the library books. It took a week, full time. Sure, Selphie had been nice, bringing him food and stuff, but anyway.

And then, of course, there was the time she'd made him play the piano in front of a selection of undeserving victims in FH. Zell shuddered at the memory of his off-key "playing". Horrible as it had been, though, it had made Selphie happy. Thus it had served some purpose.

Anyway, since Selphie was a sure sign of menial-tasks-to-come, Zell tried to dash unseen into the dormitories when he first noticed that the familiar yellow-dress clad girl was skipping gaily towards him.

It was no good. Today, Selphie was determined.

Though the work the girl had in mind for him this time was surprising, to say the least. After hearing about it - and agreeing, gladly - Zell laughed all the way to the training centre, despite the fact that he wouldn't have time to visit Mrs. Dincht today.

*

'DRUNK,' she explained, shrugging as if the details weren't really that important. She bit off a large chunk from the shiny, red apple she was holding in her right hand and chewed it rather noisily.

The dark-skinned man sitting next to her on the bed nodded. He was used to her particular way of speaking since a very long time ago. Nowadays he almost always understood what she was saying. And when he didn't, she'd find a way to make sure he would. Her methods ranged from simply repeating herself to some kind of violence, often expressed in the form of skin kicks. Usually it worked like a charm.

'HELPLESS,' she continued, giving the apple to her friend. He handled the fruit as if it were a priceless jewel, holding it gently so to not bruise it. That careful trait of his was very surprising to people that didn't know him as well as his best friend did.

Naturally, that friend also exploited his inborn kindness as much as she could. That's what friends are for, right?

'FUN,' she finished with a small smile that looked very grim on her lips.

Raijin nodded again, but he looked a little worried.

*

She was dodging the incoming blows and kicks as fast and effectively as she could. At least that was something she'd done before, something she knew how to enact. Panting heavily, she managed to avoid a powerful blow by sheer will force alone.

Nobody could, even with most liberal use of the word, call Rinoa a fighter. There was nothing wrong with that, point being she didn't have to be one. There had always been somebody around to support her (or if you preferred it, protect her, even though that sounded so brutishly old-fashioned), would she need it. Now, with Squall around, she had the added bonus of his reputation scaring away most potential aggressors.

Of course, you could argue that she'd got at least some practice running around the planet. After all, she'd been part of a gang who spent their spare time beating up monsters for no better reason than that they might drop a screw or something.

You'd still miss the point. There was a reason she'd focused her combat training on distance weapons. The least thing a person in their right mind would want would be to actually get close to something with sharp fangs, powerful paws or a poisoned breath.

Sadly, this kind of reasoning amounted to nothing in this particular situation.

Even more sadly, all the combat strategies she'd managed to pick up during her quests amounted to even less now that her own role had changed so drastically. That's why she had spent an hour running away from Zell.

Rinoa was not happy.

Neither was Zell. He hoped that it wouldn't get out that he was the one trying to teach Rinoa how to fight, or he wouldn't be allowed holding his martial arts courses anymore.

She was the absolutely lousiest student he had ever had. Including fat old headmaster Cid who insisted on coffee breaks every fifteen minutes during his training.

*

Fat old headmaster Cid lifted a cup of coffee to his lips while trying to concentrate on the rambling young man on the other side of the desk.

Only a minute ago everything had been nice and peaceful, the world finally just the way he liked it. His dear wife was busy helping the doc doing something or the other. He himself had planned to finally get to read his brand new magazine, "Knitting Mon Mar". It'd been waiting in the top drawer of his desk almost two days now, enticing him with its colourful cover. Cid had just flipped past the front page, a big smile starting to spread over his face at the new exciting pin-striped sweater that he'd be able to make, when suddenly Raijin stumbled in.

It was obvious that the young male had something important on his mind, unfortunately. If he hadn't seemed so distressed, Cid would've done something very out-of-character and thrown him out.

As it were, Cid decided to put away the magazine for now. This whole thing about... a fistfight was it? This matter needed some attention.

Spare time? Not on your life. Not with a Garden to run, right?

*

The "word of mouth"-method worked, as always, like a charm. News about the fight had spread quickly and not to mention far. The Balamb fields were overcrowded; people from all around the world wanted to catch a glimpse of the fight. Now that all the known evil dictators had been overthrown, the universe had been saved from unknown horrors and Laguna had finally got his hair cut, the world was a boring place to live in. Who in their right mind would miss the chance to see "Pretty Sorceress Rinoa" meeting "Demon Albino Fujin"? Events like these really helped getting peoples moods back up again.

What the outcome of the fight would be was a matter of much dispute. The combatants hadn't even entered their arena - they wouldn't do so for another hour or so - and already people were placing bets on how long their favourite fighter would last.

*

The three-legged stool stood in the centre of a jagged circle with a diameter of approximately five meters. The people surrounding it did not dare to move any closer despite the constant pressure from the crowds behind them urging them ahead. Sometimes simply looking at Fujin - when she was in that particular mood - did wonders for inducing respect in people.

The Balamb girls hadn't arrived yet, a fact that amused Fujin greatly. Sitting perched atop the aforementioned stool, with one leg elegantly crossed over the other, her piercing gaze swept over her surroundings searching for the familiar face of Seifer.

A scowl marred her face, showing with all needed clarity that this was a predator, someone to be careful around. The nearby observers paled and quieted down, afraid that the girl had heard their conversations (they hadn't exactly been flattering), but what was on Fujin's mind was something completely different.

An upsetting thought had just hit her, with all the force that only unpleasant realisations could muster. She had tried to push it away but wasn't in the least successful. It was something that she would have to deal with within the nearest hour or so, namely:

What the hell would Seifer think about this duel?

Of course, striking down the stupid brats would be a means for her to prove herself for the knight - not that his opinion mattered in any way, she quickly assured herself - but then again he had a past with that twat Rinoa. Given Seifers melodramatic tendencies and his constant babbling about his stupid "romantic dreams", it wouldn't be very pleasant being near him if she won and he disapproved.

Oh well.

Even if he wouldn't be around for the fight, there was no way he'd be ignorant of its outcome. Fujin couldn't bloody well blackmail all these people into silence, nor beat the crap out of them (though she wouldn't mind), so there wasn't anything she could do about it anyway.

She might as well just go out, do her best, and enjoy herself. Worry about the future when it got to her.

The grin slowly forming on her lips caused the circle around her to widen considerably, but she didn't notice.

Enjoy herself, yeah. No worries.

*

It was an absolutely wonderful day, actually. Apparently the weather gods or whomever was in charge had finally grown tired of the rain which was all that they'd offered the last week or so, and allowed the clouds to get some well-earned rest.

The sky was clear and blue, and with the sun shining bright down upon the green fields Rinoa would normally done everything in her power to make this a day off, a day set aside for something like... a picnic together with your sweet and caring boyfriend, perhaps.

The weather gods would have been surprised to hear that Rinoa wasn't enjoying the nice and pleasant sunshine at all. They would have been stunned to hear that she'd much rather have it raining. No, she'd preferred a tornado, a hailstorm or, damn it, anything that would've postponed this fight.

Going into the ring to fight Fujin would bloody well mean suicide for Rinoa. As a matter of fact, she would much prefer committing it herself. It'd probably be less messy, and she wouldn't have to face utter humiliation before her untimely end either.

*

Selphie was thinking something along the same lines as her friend.

She also wanted to kill Rinoa. For the moment ignoring the fact that she herself was as guilty as her friend, she preferred pretending that she wouldn't be in this situation if Rinoa hadn't got as drunk as she had.

Of course, Selphie wasn't too keen on facing Fujin, either. Maybe she could run away? During her travels round the world and back she'd found a lot of small towns and settlements that would be better of having a local fighter taking care of monsters and stuff. Take Winhill, for example. It was a very picturesque, nice, small and - most importantly - far away village, and would probably be a very nice place to live.

Or she could just kill herself and get it over with as fast as possible.

She'd rather kill Rinoa though, but that would accomplish nothing else than that she wouldn't even get help fighting Fujin.

Ah well. It was far too late for those considerations now.

She took a final great gulp of air before stepping outside, out to the cheering crowds.

*

'FINALLY', Fujin stated, the unexpected sound surprising the blabbering flock into silence.

She would never have dreamt of acknowledging it openly, but she was kind of impressed that the girls had the guts to show up. Not 'cause she was convinced that she herself was the best fighter in the known universe. She might've been secure in her own skills, but she knew it was stupid to underestimate her opponents.

True, she had "accidentally" caught a glimpse of Rinoa's training with Zell. Knowing your adversaries' weaknesses was important, and thus she had sneaked after them into the training centre too see exactly what kind of opposition she would face. What she had seen hadn't exactly frightened her, more like made her stomach hurt from repressed laughter, but you never knew. Experience had taught her that the hard way. You never knew.

Perhaps the girls had noticed Fujin following them, and therefore put up a ruse to make her undervalue them.

Perhaps they had planned to make Fujin laugh herself into doing some stupid mistake. They were on the right track, no doubt about it.

Perhaps Fujin herself wasn't as good as she believed herself to be. She hadn't fought very much, lately. Her reputation - and her crooked smile - did wonders for scaring away potential opponents.

So maybe - though the prospect seemed very unlikely - just maybe Fujin would lose this one.

*

No, no. That's not the right way to tackle this. Not even close. Those thoughts were dangerous. She did not need a whining voice in the back of her head telling her she would die if she went through with this.

At least somebody believed in her abilities, right? There were crowds out here cheering her on, hundreds of people actually betting money that Rinoa Heartilly would win this fight.

'Come on, Rin. Make Squall proud.'

As always, the thought of her boyfriend encouraged her - and the notion that he might even be impressed by her actions gave her the strength she needed to form a cheerful smile.

'Yeah, that's the way to do it.'

*

The opponents readied themselves for the match. In one corner: Fujin, calmness incarnate. Looking utterly bored and completely secure in herself, she was mumbling something apparently lewd to a blushing bystander.

On the opposite side of the ring, Rinoa, fully concentrated on her task, was busy arranging her hair into a tight ponytail. Her face looked very different without her hair hanging down its sides.

Next to her stood Selphie. She had traded her usual yellow dress for a bleached borrowed T-shirt tucked into a pair of Zell-stylishly too large shorts. She was watching Fujin's actions with half-closed eyes, her lips pressed tightly together in a grim smile.

Zell had appointed himself referee. To the others great surprise Fujin had agreed, shrugging, as if it didn't matter that he would probably be a bit biased. Now he stepped into the ring, hesitantly, checking the faces of each of the girls to see if they were sure that they really wanted to do this.

Backing out was not an option anymore, though. Not that it had ever really been; the Balamb Garden girls were as determined to defend the honour of being SeeD as Fujin was to smudge that same honour.

Zell realised that when he noticed that all three contestants ignored his querying gaze. And so, with a heavy sigh as if the fate of the world depended on his behaviour the coming hours or so, he signalled for the fight to commence.

*

Circling around each other, glares crossing the space between them, the teenagers wagered their battle. Rinoa might not be a born champion, but at least Selphie had practised unarmed combat before, as a part of her SeeD training. Fujin was as good at this as she had promised. She was moving with a grace that would have made Edea jealous.

All in all, the audience was getting one hell of a show.

*

Rinoa lunged towards Fujin, her small fists aiming for the face. The pale girl easily blocked Rinoa's flurry of light punches, but for a moment she lost track of Selphie's location.

The other girl used the distraction to rush in from Fujin's blind left side and jammed an elbow into her opponent's solar plexus. She followed up with a blow to the back of the head. Fujin doubled over in pain, gasping for air. She was too stubborn to fall, though, and eventually recovered.

"RAGE" she stated in an unexpectedly mild voice, glaring at Selphie.

Selphie raised an eyebrow, but didn't answer. Instead she feigned a kick and then proceeded with a punch aimed for Fujin's nose.

Fujin wouldn't be fooled that easily. She swiftly sidestepped the attack. Selphie's fist only caressed Fujin's jawbones before landing square on Rinoa's cheek.

The young sorceress stepped back, surprised. She absent-mindedly touched her chin with her right hand, for a moment forgetting the fight. She quickly snapped to attention again - but not quickly enough. Fujin had already disappeared around and behind Rinoa.

Selphie tried again. Advancing towards the now grinning Fujin, she signalled to Rinoa to attack from the back. She distracted her opponent with a light jab, which gave Rinoa her opening.

Rinoa immediately threw herself at Fujin's legs, causing the latter to lose her balance. Her arms flailing wildly, Fujin toppled, crashing down towards the ground. Finally she landed. On top of Rinoa.

One down.

*

The audience enjoyed the show thoroughly. Every blow, every block managed to pull the watchers deeper and deeper into a state of trance. Rinoa's unexpected unconsciousness brought a stream of curses from the unlucky ones that had betted on her to last the longest, but that was about all. It seemed nothing could break the spell save the end of this match.

...Or the middle-aged man pushing through the crowds, dragging a very nervous, dark-skinned teen along.

*

Selphie was furious.

How dare Rinoa take the easy way out like this? It was her fault in the first place, so Rinoa should be the one to take care of Fujin.

'But Selphie, you know that Rinoa can't handle alcohol, " an annoying voice in the back of Selphie's head argued.

True, that. She remembered all too clearly what had happened at the latest SeeD inauguration ball. Rinoa, in her absolute joy to finally, truly be "one of the gang" had followed the example set by Xu, and "partied like there was no tomorrow".

It must've been the first time the poor girl had become drunk. After an endless hour of singing bawdy songs, she had collapsed under a table. And the next day she naturally remembered nothing. Nobody had dared filling her in on the blanks either, afraid of facing the sorceress' wrath. Oh, and that of her boyfriend.

*

Fujin didn't know why Selphie suddenly stopped paying attention to her attacks, but she sure didn't mind.

She pulled her elbow back and down, preparing an uppercut.

In the exact moment she let it go, she saw a familiar face in the crowd. And Seifer did not look pleased.

'Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.'

Her concentration was broken, and the blow missed Selphie.

*

An uppercut missing Selphie with just a few millimetres snapped her out of her musings.

'Good job Selphie. Do go ahead and get beaten, see if I care,' nagged her favourite voice.

"Oh, shut up, " she mumbled. Not that it ever would, mind you.

'Are you gonna finish this or not? Knock her out, will ya!'

That voice might've been a little more bearable if it dropped that uncanny resemblance to Zell.

*

'Did he have come here now?'

It would have been quite enough to deal with Seifer later, but having him around, scowling, while she was supposed to be fighting?

Quickly she reminded herself again that she didn't care what he though about her. Oh no, not at all.

And besides, she had already knocked out Rinoa, so she might well go through with it.

"STOP THE FIGHT IMMEDIATELY!" someone suddenly bellowed over the murmurs of the crowd. That voice seemed to have been magically enhanced to ensure the fighters' attention.

Fujin froze. What kind of trick was that brat trying to pull on her now? She stole a glance at Selphie.

Interesting. Selphie had stopped, too, and... she seemed almost embarrassed?

Fujin turned around to find the source of the voice, and stared right into the face of a stern headmaster.

*

'But isn't this just great. Boo-freaking-yaka.'

Selphie agreed with the voice. She hadn't stopped to consider the possibility that Cid Kramer would find out. Probably because she knew that he wouldn't like it one bit.

It appeared that she and Fujin weren't the only ones feeling uncomfortable about the sudden turn of events. Raijin, who had been dragged along by Cid, was squirming nervously to avoid meeting Fujin's eye.

Selphie was quite impressed. It must've taken some courage to dare telling on his friends like that.

Cid was watching the unconscious Rinoa, shaking his head sadly. He urged Raijin ahead, and watched as the young man cast Curaga on her.

The girl opened her eyes to the sight of a frowning Cid. She paled considerably and tried backing away.

Cid would have none of it, though. "Girls, I want to talk with you. My office."

Shoulders sagging, the Balamb girls started towards the Garden.

"That includes you too, Fujin," he added as an afterthought.

Fujin sneered, but complied. This way she at least wouldn't have to face Seifer.