#169 – How Irvine Got His Groove Back

Irvine: “I’d rather finish the maze myself and fail, than follow your stupid, lazy ass through the bushes!”

Originally Published: 4/5/06 . 35 pages

Synopsis
Irvine’s not a SeeD, and he refuses to take the test – again. Can his friends convince him he can do it?

Ramble Milestones
-Irvine becomes a SeeD.

Other title ideas for this ramble? “Irvine Plants His SeeD.” I vetoed it for being too sexual, but still enjoy it. Anyway, it always bothered me that Irvine wasn’t a SeeD, so I decided to do something about it. The back story of him failing all comes from a fanfic I wrote many years ago.

(in the ramble room we have squall, zell, rinoa, selphie, quistis, seifer and Ashley. They’re all sitting around the table playing cards when irvine and reno walk in)

Irvine: “Hey, everybody! Whatcha doin’?”

Ashley: “Just playing rummy. Crackwhore’s cheating.”

Rinoa: “I am not! Quistis is stealing the cards!”

Quistis: *mid shoving a card down the front of her shirt* “No I’m not.”

Squall: “Whatever.”

Zell: “Hey, Irvine, glad you’re here! A letter came for you!”

(he holds out a letter that has the garden logo and return address on it. Irvine glances at the letter, takes and it shoves it in his back pocket)

Irvine: “Oh. …Thanks.”

Selphie: “Silly! You didn’t even open it!”

Irvine: “I don’t need to.”

Seifer: “Why? Do you have x-ray vision or something?” *laughs*

Reno: “Dude, open it! What if it’s something important! Like a flyer for a wet t-shirt contest?”

Irvine: *snaps* “Look, I know what’s in it, okay?”

Everyone: “………”

Reno: “Whoa, dude. Chill out!”

Rinoa: “What is it then?”

Irvine: *sighs in annoyance* “Geez. It’s just the stupid letter telling me about this year’s SeeD exam. I get the same thing every year and every year I throw it out.”

Everyone: *looks confused*

Zell: “Why the hell do you do that for? You’re not a SeeD yet! You should take the test!”

Seifer: “Yeah! It’s really easy!”

Rinoa: “You’re not a SeeD, Seifer.”

Seifer: “Neither are you!”

Rinoa: “I didn’t even go to Garden!”

Seifer: “You sure acted like it!”

Squall: “Shut up, Seifer.”

Reno: “Dude! Don’t SeeDs make major money?”

Irvine: *shrugs* “I guess so.”

Reno: “Then why don’t you take the test?!”

Irvine: “I don’t need that money! I got the bar! I make plenty of money from that!”

Reno: “Yeah, but they get paid for doing nothing!”

Zell: “Hey! We do stuff!”

Squall: “Not really.”

Zell: “Squall! Stick up for Garden!”

Irvine: “Look, I already took the stupid test, okay? And I failed. I’m not taking it again!”

Quistis: “Lots of people fail, Irvine. Like Seifer.”

Seifer: “I only failed because I was sexually discriminated against!”

Ashley: “By who?”

Seifer: “By…people.”

Ashley: “Didn’t you fail the test like 4 times?”

Seifer: *pouts* “…Maybe.”

Quistis: “They don’t even let him take the test anymore.”

Seifer: “Shut up! Headmaster Cid said when I get older I can be the head of the whole janitorial staff!”

Everyone: “…………………………………”

Ashley: “That’s pathetic, Seifer.”

Seifer: “Shut up!”

Quistis: “Anyway, Irvine, you’re not Seifer. You actually have talent.”

Seifer: “Hey!”

Selphie: “Yeah! Give it another chance, Irvine!”

Zell: “Yeah, dude! I’ll even help ya train if you want! And so will Squall!”

Squall: “Whatever…why not?”

(everyone looks at irvine who is so red in the face he looks like he’s about to explode)

Irvine: “Shut up! All of you shut up! I’m never taking that test again, okay? I don’t need to be a stupid SeeD! So #$%^ off!”

(he stomps out of the room, leaving everyone in shock)

Rinoa: “…Was it something we said?”

Ashley: “Probably something *you* said, crackwhore.”

Seifer: *frowns* “If anyone should have gotten mad it’s me! You guys are all being mean to me!”

Squall: “Whatever…it’s the truth.”

Seifer: “Shove it, Squall!”

Reno: “What the hell made him go off like that? What happened to him when he took the test?”

Everyone: *shrugs*

Quistis: “He took it at Galbadia Garden. None of us were there.”

Reno: *frowns* “I guess I’ll have to find out then.”

Ashley: “It doesn’t seem like that’s something he really wants to talk about.”

Reno: “I know…” *grins* “But I’m a Turk! I’ve got ways of finding out info.”

Ashley: “…You gonna booze him up?”

Reno: “And how!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(later, at uncle shenanigans, the bar is closed. Irvine and reno sit behind the bar, multiple empty shot glasses lined up in front of them. Irvine looks kind of drunk. Reno, surprisingly, looks quiet sober)

Reno: “So how you feelin’, Irvine?”

Irvine: *shrugs looking downcast*

Reno: “Something on your mind?”

Irvine: *shrugs*

Reno: “…Is it that letter you got from your school?”

Irvine: “I hate that school!”

Reno: *blink blink* “Okay… Why’s that?”

Irvine: “‘Cause.” *pouts* “I was too cool for those nerds. Plus the Headmaster hates me. He’s an ass.”

Reno: “Yeah, so what? Who cares what they think? So why don’t you take the test again?”

Irvine: “I told you I already took it!”

Reno: “I know, but not everybody makes it the first time! Like me with my driving test! Or Cloud with SOLDIER! …In fact he never made it. …And he developed that whole scary complex about it.” *pause* “Not a good example. Anyway, your friends think you really stand a chance!”

Irvine: “The #$%^ do they know? They didn’t see me in that test!”

Reno: “Dude, you’re awesome with your shotgun! Everyone makes mistakes! The school would be stupid not to let you pass this time!”

Irvine: “…That’s what I thought the first time.” *pours himself another shot and drinks it down* “Reno…you could never understand the humiliation.”

Reno: “Try me, man. I’ve been drunk so many times humiliation is practically my middle name.”

Irvine: “Fine. You wanna know what happened? …I’ll tell ya.” *pause* “At Galbadia Garden the guys didn’t want to be friends with me. But at the same time they respected me. Because I got all the chicks. So the girls fawned all over me and the guys hated my guts but wanted to be me at the same time. So in a way I really was the most popular guy in school. Plus I was legendary with my gun, man. Everybody in that school knew that I was the best marksman in Garden – and probably in any Garden. And I knew it too. Everybody thought I would fly through the SeeD exam – no problem. And I thought that too. I was totally confident, bragging to everybody ’bout how I was gonna ace it.” *pause* “You know there are three parts to the exam, Reno?”

Reno: *shrug*

Irvine: “Yeah. Three parts. A prerequisite – which you gotta pass to even take the exam, a written test, and a field test.” *pause* “You know which one I failed?”

Reno: *shakes head no*

Irvine: “The f$%^ing prerequisite.” *shakes head* “F#$%ing EVERYBODY passes that one. Everybody except me. They had it in the training center. I was squad leader. This powerful monster – a grendel – jumped out of nowhere. My squad started yelling and telling me to do something – I was the great shot. But I couldn’t. All I could do was stand there…terrified. There was so much pressure on me to ace the exam that I just couldn’t move. The monster attacked one of my team members. Luckily the girl on the team hit it with a spell and by then I was able to help out and defeat it. …But that guy got hurt because of me. And they failed me.” *pause* “I blamed the Headmaster at first. I knew he hated me. But it was my fault I failed. I failed because I’m a coward. I can’t act under pressure.” *punches wall* “I’m just a damn screw up! That’s what I am!”

Reno: “Dude, calm down!”

Irvine: *getting up* “F#$% you, Reno! Now you know the story of what a loser I am! Does that make you happy?!”

(and with that irvine storms out before reno can even say anything. Reno gets up and watches him go with a sad sigh)

Reno: “Irvine… You got a lot to learn, kid.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(the next day in the tv room, lark, squall, zell, rinoa, and selphie are just all hanging out watching tv when reno enters)

Reno: “Hey.”

Lark: “Hey, Reno! What’s up?” *pause* “Where’s Irvine?”

Reno: *sigh* “I think he’s still pissed at me about last night.”

Lark: “Uh oh. Did you get drunk and mistake his hat for the toilet again?”

Reno: “No. I got him to tell his story of why he failed the SeeD exam. Now he’s all pissed about it.”

Zell: “Pissed about what? Lots of people fail the field exam!”

Reno: “He didn’t fail that part.”

Selphie: “Well, the written exam is a toughie too!”

Reno: “…Not that part either.”

Everyone: “……………”

Zell: “The *prerequisite?!”

Squall: “…Even Seifer passed that.”

Reno: “Yeah.”

Everyone: “…………”

Rinoa: “Well, uh, um, maybe it was a really *hard* prerequisite.”

Lark: “What did he say happened?”

Reno: “He said this really powerful monster came out of nowhere, and he freaked out and totally froze. It wound up attacking someone on his team before he got his act together.”

Squall: “…That doesn’t surprise me.”

Reno: *glares* “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Squall: *sigh* “It means I had to practically give him therapy before I could get him to shoot the sorceress. He freaked out on me last minute!”

Rinoa: “Yeah. That *was* pretty bad.”

Selphie: “Irvine just cannot work under pressure! He almost ruined that whole thing!”

Zell: “…So did Instructor Quistis.”

Rinoa: “Yeah, but that’s just because she’s a dumb bitch.”

Everyone: *looks at rinoa in shock*

Rinoa: “What? She is!”

Selphie: “She was going to apologize to you!”

Rinoa: “So what? That doesn’t stop it from being stupid!”

Selphie: “Yeah, and it was real smart to go up to Edea with that piece of costume jewelry you found!”

Rinoa: “That could have really worked!”

Reno: *hoots* “Whoo! Cat fight!”

Lark: “Reno… Can we get back on track here?”

Reno: *frowns* “Oh yeah. Sorry.”

Lark: “Selphie, Rinoa, can we leave those issues behind us, please? That was a long time ago.”

Zell: “Seems like Irvine’s still dwelling on the past.”

Squall: “Whatever… He could totally pass if he had confidence in himself.”

Reno: “You’re right, Squall! We just have to help Irvine and convince him he can do it!”

Zell: “Man, he’s gonna need a lot of training! The prerequisite part is in a week!”

Selphie: “Yeah! And the written exam is two days later! I stayed up all night studying for that when I took it!”

Squall: “And Irvine stopped going to class. So I think he’s pretty rusty.”

Zell: “Yo, and the field exam is only two days after that! You need to be in top physical condition to pass it!”

Squall: “Yeah. And Irvine’s been spending most of his time drinking.”

Reno: *frowns* “Well… I guess we’re all going to have to work together to whip him into shape! You guys will be a great help – you’re already SeeDs–“

Selphie: “Rinoa’s not.”

Rinoa: *annoyed* “You know, Selphie–“

Lark: “Knock it off!”

Reno: “–And I can get Tseng to help! He did a great job of whipping my ass into shape when I joined the Turks!”

Lark: “And I bet Sephiroth would want to help!”

Reno: “…But he hates Irvine.”

Lark: “And he’ll get to yell at him! It’s his dream come true!”

Reno: “All right, let’s go get everybody and we’ll confront Irvine. This time he really will pass without a problem!”

Everyone: “Yeah!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(and so lark, reno, squall, rinoa, selphie, quistis, zell, tseng and sephiroth all get together and head for irvine’s room. Sephiroth is grinning from ear to ear)

Sephiroth: “This is gonna be great! When I’m through with him he’ll never be able to hear the word push-up again without crying!”

Lark: “Uh, the underlying goal here is to get Irvine to pass this test, Sephiroth. Not scar him for life.”

Sephiroth: “Why do one when you can do both?”

(reno knocks on the door)

Irvine’s voice: “Who is it?”

Reno: “Open up, man!”

Irvine’s voice: “Why should I?”

Reno: “‘Cause I’m your best friend!”

(there’s a long pause. Finally irvine comes to the door. He looks shocked to see everyone standing there)

Irvine: “What the hell is this?”

Reno: “It’s the group that’s gonna help you ace that exam!”

Irvine: *blink blink* “What?!”

Reno: “Everyone’s ready to whip your ass into shape!”

Irvine: *glares* “You told them?!”

Reno: “Well, yeah. But it’s cool, man! Everyone understands! No one was laughing or anything!”

Irvine: *looks at sephiroth* “*Sephiroth* didn’t laugh…?”

Sephiroth: “Some laughing may or may not have been involved. But then again every thing you do is pretty much stupid and laugh worthy to me.”

Irvine: *glares at reno* “I can’t believe you’d do this to me, Reno.” *goes to close door*

Reno: *stops him* “Irvine, I wanna help you! You can do this! Everyone believes in you!”

Irvine: “Nobody knows what they’re talking about! Especially you! Now get lost! I said I’m not takin’ the test, and I’m not changin’ my mind!”

(he slams the door shut. Everyone stands there in shock)

Reno: “Okay… That’s not the reaction I was expecting.”

Sephiroth: “I can break down the door if you want.”

Lark: “No, Sephiroth. This is something Irvine has to agree to himself. We can’t force him to do it.”

(everyone wanders away looking downcast expect for lark and reno. Reno looks especially depressed)

Reno: *sigh* “Why doesn’t he ever wanna let me help?”

Lark: “Irvine’s used to being surrounded by people who are older than him.” *shrug* “I guess us taking too much of an interest in him like this makes him feel like a baby.”

Reno: “Yeah, I guess you’re right. All his brothers are older than him.” *pause* “Hey… You think he’d listen to them?”

Lark: “It’s worth a shot.” *pause* “You know, I always wondered why Irvine was the only one who went to Garden.”

Reno: “Yeah… That is kinda funny, isn’t it.” *pause* “You really *always* wondered about that?”

Lark: “I get bored a lot.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 

(the next day irvine arrives at the family ranch. All his brothers, except billy bob, greet him at the door)

Irvine: “Hey, everybody!”

Brothers: “Hey, Irvine! Welcome home!”

Irvine: “Great to be *home*.” *sigh* “I had to get away from the ramble room for awhile.”

Dallas: “Come on in and have a seat.”

(irvine comes in and plops down on the couch. The other brothers find seats around the room all looking at him)

Irvine: “So. What was it ya’ll wanted to talk to me about?”

(all the brothers look at each other then back at irvine)

Cal: “Well, actually, Reno called us–“

Irvine: *gets up looking angry* “What?! That son of a bitch! That’s it! I’m outta here!”

(he tries to leave but his brothers quickly get up and block him)

Houston: “Sit down, Irvine! Hear us out!”

Irvine: “No! I am sick ‘n tired of people tryin’ to tell me what to do! It’s my life and I don’t wanna take the damn test!”

San Diego: “Irvine, don’t you have any understanding of the word ‘destiny’?”

Irvine: “What?!”

Austin: “Just sit down.”

(and before irvine can protest any further his brothers shove him back on the couch and retake their seats)

Houston: “Irvine, you ever wonder why you’re the only one of us who went to Garden?”

Irvine: “I’m the only one Ma and Pa dumped in that orphanage too, but no hard feelings.”

Cal: “Irvine, Ma n’ Pa sent you away ’cause they knew you were special!”

Irvine: “To the orphanage?”

Cal: “No, to Garden!”

Austin: “They dumped ya in the orphanage ’cause Ma was havin’ a real bad cryin’ week.”

Dallas: “We wasn’t sure if you’d ever come back. But Pa went and fetched you.”

Houston: “What Cal’s tryin’ to say, Irvine, is that you’re one slick son of a bitch with that gun! You grabbed your first gun at the age of two and shot the target clean through the center! Pa n’ Gramps nearly fell over from shock!”

Cal: “Yeah! I mean we’re all good with guns, but not nearly as good as you!”

San Diego: “And I’m good with a Beadazzler, but unfortunately that’s way outta style.”

Austin: “Didn’t ya ever wonder why you were the only one sent to Garden?”

Irvine: *shrugs* “I always figured it was the same reason they sent me to that orphanage.”

Dallas: “Well you got it all wrong, brother. It wasn’t ’cause they didn’t want ya–“

San Diego: “Well, Ma don’t wanna any of us, but that’s besides the point.”

Dallas: “–It’s ’cause you got amazing talent!”

Houston: “I wish I was half as good with a gun as you are!”

Irvine: “Really?”

Cal: “‘Course! We’re your brothers! We wouldn’t lie to you to make you feel good about yourself!”

Austin: “You can pass this test, Irvine! You gotta stop being down on yourself!”

Dallas: “Hells yeah! You’re a Kinneas for gods sake!”

San Diego: “And don’t let the pressure get to ya. You’ll always be fabulous no matter what happens.”

Irvine: “…Did Reno tell you all to say this stuff?”

Houston: “He called and told us ’bout the test, that’s all.”

Cal: “He didn’t have to tell us what to say to our own brother.”

Irvine: “…I think I owe him an apology.”

Austin: “Probably. But you owe yourself one too.”

Irvine: “Yeah. I’m sorry for being such a sissy. Failin’ is just part of life I guess.”

Dallas: “Sure is. Look at Cal. He failed his tractor drivin’ test three times before he passed!”

Cal: “Hey! I kept gettin’ the mean guy!”

Houston: “Or look at Billy Bob! He still ain’t passed the second grade!”

(billy bob then runs in with his shirt stuck over his head)

Billy Bob: “Der…uh… Help! It’s dark n’ I forgot my flashlight!”

Houston: “…Bad example.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(and so irvine returns to the ramble room where the same gang that tried to drag him out of his room earlier is waiting for him in the ramble room. They all look on expectantly as he enters the room. Irvine stands there a moment before taking a deep breath and speaking)

Irvine: “Reno, I know you called my brothers and told them to talk to me…but I’m glad you did.” *grins* “This time I’m not gonna get cocky! I’m gonna train hard and I’m gonna pass this test! Let’s do it!”

Everyone: *running over to him* “Yeah!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(and so the best way to show someone preparing hard for something is via the infamous montage! And the best song for this is ‘eye of the tiger’ by survivor.)

Risin’ up, back on the street

Did my time, took my chances

(irvine is doing push-ups while sephiroth has one foot on his back and is yelling things at him. Irvine is struggling. Finally he just collapses looking exhausted. Sephiroth just shakes his head sadly…)

Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet

Just a man and his will to survive

(irvine is at one of those shooting ranges where the different good and bad guys pop out at you. Lark stands off to the side keeping score. He looks nervous and is sweating a lot. He shoots a couple of bad guys in a row perfectly, but then a good guy comes up and he shoots that too, taking the head right off. Irvine slams his gun down looking angry while lark just slowly shakes her head…)

So many times, it happens too fast

You change your passion for glory

(tseng has set up an course for irvine that involves running and jumping over hurdles. They’re racing side by side and tseng is way ahead. He finishes easily and when he turns around he finds irvine has fallen on one of the hurdles and is sitting in the grass looking defeated. Tseng goes over to him and pulls him back on his feet…)

Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past

You must fight just to keep them alive

(irvine and reno are standing in front of the fridge. Irvine goes to reach for a beer but reno shakes his head no and offers a bottle of water instead. Irvine looks annoyed but he snatches it anyway, giving reno a nasty look…)

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight

Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival

(zell is coaching irvine through an obstacle course that involves a lot of fancy footwork, including walking on a beam and running through tires. Zell demonstrates first, easily finishing it. Irvine starts but he quickly falls off the beam when he tries to run across it. He looks angry and kicks the beam. But zell comes over with a grin and encourages him to get back on. Irvine takes a deep breath but does get back on and keep going…)

And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night

And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the tiger

(irvine is sitting down with selphie, restlessly tapping a pencil, as she corrects his practice test. Finally she slides it over to him with a big fat 60 written on top of it. Irvine hangs his head, but selphie slides the review book back over to him with a smile…)

Face to face, out in the heat

Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry

(and then there’s irvine with squall. He is aiming with a sniper rifle at a very tiny target in the distance. Squall stands behind him, arms crossed, watching carefully. Irvine looks very nervous. He starts to turn around and say he can’t do it, but squall just points back out towards the target without a word. Irvine looks uncertain but he turns back around, takes a deep breath and aims again. He takes the shot and he makes it. Irvine looks shocked with himself as he rises to him feet. Squall comes over and gives him a congratulatory pat on the shoulder…)

They stack the odds ’til we take to the street

For we kill with the skill to survive

(irvine is doing push-ups again while sephiroth has his foot on his back and is yelling stuff at him. This time though he is easily completing the push-ups. And when he’s finished he gets up looking all pumped up and he and sephiroth give one another a high five.)

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight

Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival

(back at the shooting range with lark, irvine is looking much more relaxed. He’s making controlled shots and does not hit any of the good targets. When he’s done he puts the gun down and turns to lark with a smile. She jumps at him and gives him a huge hug)

And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night

And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the tiger

(back at tseng’s course, they’re running again and jumping the hurdles. Tseng finishes and looks behind him. He smiles when he sees irvine finishing up the last hurdle easily and making a sprint for the finish. Tseng gives him a big thumbs up and irvine smiles as he catches his breath)

Risin’ up, straight to the top

Have the guts, got the glory

(in front of the fridge again irvine grabs a water bottle and when reno goes to grab a beer irvine hands him a water bottle instead. Reno gives him a look but takes the bottle with a grin and they both laugh)

Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop

Just a man and his will to survive

(zell is watching irvine run the obstacle course again, cheering him on excitedly as irvine hurries along, concentrating hard. Finally he finishes without making a single mistake and he jumps up and down happily. Zell comes over and puts his hand up for a high five, irvine just stops jumping and shakes his head no.)

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight

Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival

(back with selphie, irvine is watching her grade his test happily. With a big smile she slides his paper over to him with a big 90 written on top. She gives him a kiss on the cheek)

And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night

And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the tiger

(and finally irvine is aiming the sniper rifle while squall watches again. He still looks a bit nervous but he takes a deep breath, concentrates and makes the shot. Looking very happy with himself he stands up and turns to squall looking relieved. Then to squall’s surprise he gives him a hug)

The eye of the tiger…

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(the day before the prerequisite…zell, selphie, squall and reno are with irvine in the ramble room)

Zell: “You’ve really come a long way, Irvine!”

Reno: “Yeah, dude! I gotta admit, you impressed me!”

Selphie: “Your test scores have really improved!”

Squall: “And you seem a lot more confident.”

Irvine: “Thanks, guys. I do feel pretty good about the prerequisite tomorrow.”

Zell: “You’ll get through it no sweat! All you gotta do is go through the fire cavern and obtain Ifrit. Just use a lot of ice magic and you’re good to go!”

Squall: *checks watch* “Speaking of going, I think it’s time for bed.”

Selphie: “Yeah! It’s always important to get a lot of rest so you can do your best!” *pause* “Tee hee! I just rhymed!”

Reno: *gives her a weird look* “…Uh huh.” *pats irvine on the back* “Good luck tomorrow, Irvine. Knock ’em dead!”

Irvine: “Thanks, Reno. For everything.”

Reno: “No problem.”

(and so squall, selphie and reno leave. Zell lags behind for a second)

Zell: “Oh, Irvine! I forgot to tell ya! Tomorrow for the exam you get to pick someone to support you! You can pick anyone you want, as long as they’re a SeeD of course! I know Instructor Quistis has run it a bunch of times, so you might wanna pick her.”

Irvine: “Nah… I’ve got someone else in mind.” *pats zell on the shoulder*

Zell: *shocked* “M-m-me?”

Irvine: “Sure! When I kept messing up that obstacle course you were still like a one man cheering section! And that’s the kinda support I’m gonna need!”

Zell: “No problem, Irvine! I won’t let ya down!”

Irvine: *smiles* “I know.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(the next day irvine and zell are outside the fire cavern waiting to begin. Zell is bouncing around and full of energy. Irvine is standing there looking pale and nervous.)

Zell: “All right! We are gonna rock this thing!”

Irvine: “I don’t know about this…”

Zell: *looks at him* “Irvine…are you nervous?”

Irvine: *uncertainly* “No…I’m fine…”

Zell: “Dude, you have nothing to worry about! We’ve fought together loads of times and nothing has ever gone wrong! So why would now be different?”

(irvine ponders that for a moment and then the two creepy garden staff members come out of the entrance)

Garden Guy #1: “Objective: To obtain a low-level GF. A SeeD member must support. Are you ready?”

Irvine: “Uh, yeah. Yeah I am.”

Zell: “And I’m his support! SeeD 2386 – Zell Dincht!”

Garden Guy #2: “Select a time limit. Choose one suited for your abilities. Challenging yet reasonable.”

(irvine looks at zell a bit uncertainly, but zell just nods with a smile.)

Irvine: “Okay…15 minutes.”

Garden Guy #1: “Very well. Good luck.”

(they stand aside. Irvine takes a deep breath. Then he goes in and zell follows him in)

Zell: “Well, here we go. Remember, I’m just here to support you in battle! I can’t give you advice or anything.”

Irvine: “I know.” *determined* “I can do it this time.”

(so they proceed through the cavern, fighting the stupid crap in there and doing a great job. Finally they reach the end of the area)

Zell: “Here we go.”

Irvine: *checks time* “I should have went with more time!”

Zell: “Don’t worry about it. Concentrate on the fight.”

(and with that ifrit roars and jumps out at them. Irvine jumps back in a bit of shock but he quickly gets his act together and he and zell begin fighting. They’re doing a great job but irvine keeps checking his watch between his turns. He’s looking more and more nervous…)

Irvine: “We’ve only got two minutes left!”

Zell: “No problem! We’re almost done here!”

Irvine: “Are you crazy? It’s only two minutes!”

Zell: “Irvine! Concentrate on the fight! Stop worrying about everything else! You can do this!”

(irvine takes a deep breath and nods. He then turns his attention back to the fight and casts a blizzard spell. Ifrit roars angrily but then sags, looking tired.)

Ifrit: “For me to lose to a human… Very well, I will join you.”

(and with that he disappears. Irvine just stands there in complete and total shock. Zell comes bouncing over to him excitedly)

Zell: “You did it! You did it, Irvine! You passed! And you did a great job! That’s major points right there! *Major* points!”

Irvine: *looks at zell in shock* “I did it..?”

Zell: “Yeah!”

Irvine: *brightening* “I did it!”

Zell: “You sure did! Only two more sections to go! Now let’s get back to the ramble room!”

(he turns around to leave, but irvine grabs him by the back of the shirt. Zell turns around looking confused)

Irvine: “Hey, Zell…” *holds hand up* “High five?”

Zell: *high fives with a huge grin* “You bet!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(and so they return to the ramble room victorious.)

Irvine: “I did it! Only two more parts to go!”

Reno: “Yeah, dude!” *they high five* “I told you you could do it!”

Lark: “Great job, Irvine!” *hugs him*

Irvine: “Now I just have to concentrate on the written part.”

Selphie: “Leave that to me!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(flash to two days later. Irvine is standing outside the classroom at garden pacing nervously. Selphie is nearby looking like her bouncy self)

Selphie: “You know this stuff, Irvine! Now stop hesitating and get in there!”

Irvine: “I’m going to sit down and forget everything we went over!”

Selphie: “No you’re not! Now get in there before I push you in there! Instructor Quistis is waiting to start the test!”

(suddenly quistis comes down the hall pushing a chair)

Selphie: “Hey, Quistis!” *confused* “Did someone take your chair out of your classroom or something?”

Quistis: “Uh…yeah. That sounds good. So what are you guys doing here?”

Selphie: “I’m trying to convince Irvine he’ll do fine on the test!”

Quistis: “You can pass this, Irvine. Even Seifer can.”

Seifer’s voice: *from the classroom* “I can hear you!”

Irvine: “…I thought he wasn’t allowed to take the test anymore.”

Quistis: *shrugs* “I’m not even gonna grade it.”

Selphie: “Now come on, Irvine! Go!” *gives him a little shove*

Irvine: “All right! I’m goin’, I’m goin’.” *goes into the room*

Selphie: “He’s going to do great! I coached him!”

Quistis: “Wait, didn’t you take the written exam at Trabia?”

Selphie: “Yup!”

Quistis: “You know it’s totally different here, right?”

Selphie: *eyes wide* “WHAT?!”

Quistis: *laughs* “Just kidding! Boy, did I have you going!” *she goes into the classroom with the chair*

Selphie: *frowns* “You know…maybe I shouldn’t have scolded Rinoa after all!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(the next day…)

Irvine: *enters* “I passed!”

Selphie: *hugs him* “I knew you would!”

Zell: “Awesome, dude! No sweat, right?”

Irvine: “As soon as I sat down and started to concentrate I realized that it wasn’t so hard. Not with all the studying I did.”

Squall: “Good job.”

Reno: “Dude…” *high five* “You’re just one step away now!”

Lark: “Any clue what the field exam is gonna be like?”

Irvine: *shrugs* “The hell if I know. They always keep that thing a secret.”

Zell: “Well some things never change. Like you always work in squads.”

Squall: “And there are always SeeDs around to watch.”

Selphie: “Yup! We’ll all be there!”

Zell: “And aren’t you in charge, Squall?”

Squall: *mutters unhappily* “I’m always in charge.”

Lark: “Well I guess there’s nothing left for you to do but relax and get a good night’s sleep!”

Reno: “Yeah, dude! Better turn in early! Don’t worry about the bar tonight. Me ‘n your brothers got it covered!”

Irvine: “Thanks, Reno!” *smiles* “I gotta admit, I’ve never felt so confident in my life!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(much later that night, pretty much everyone is asleep. Irvine comes out of his room in his pajama bottoms. He sneaks out towards the front porch and goes outside. There he takes a deep nervous breath and notices that sephiroth is out there also, peering intently into the tv room window)

Irvine: “…Sephiroth?”

Sephiroth: *jumps a mile whipping out the masamune in the process* “Wha–?! Oh. Cowboy geek. Way to sneak up on me. Nice.” *puts the masamune away*

Irvine: “What were you doing?”

Sephiroth: “Me? …Oh. Nothing. Just…you know. I thought…I saw something in the TV room. What are you doing up? Don’t you have the last part of that test tomorrow?”

Irvine: *big sigh* “Yeah. I couldn’t sleep. I’m really nervous about it.”

Sephiroth: “You’ve come this far.”

Irvine: “Exactly! What if I screw up now?” *quietly* “Everyone will laugh at me again…”

Sephiroth: *annoyed sigh* “Would you stop? You know for a guy who gets a lot of women you sure are a big wimp.”

Irvine: “Hey!”

Sephiroth: “Well you are! You can walk up to any woman and say a whole slew of sexually suggestive things to her without fear of getting slapped, but you freak out over a simple test.”

Irvine: “This test is a big deal!”

Sephiroth: “That’s not why you’re afraid. You’re afraid because you’re too scared of what people will think of you if you fail. So you put all this pressure on yourself and you freeze up and freak out, and then you don’t even try. But no one thinks any better of you for running away. Do they.” *starts to walk by irvine and stops* “You can’t fail, as long as you give it all you got.”

(sephiroth moves towards the door to go back inside. Irvine thinks for a moment but then he turns around to face sephiroth again)

Irvine: “Where’d you get all that from?”

Sephiroth: *small smile* “Don’t you know? I used to be a general once.”

(and with that he goes inside. Irvine stands there for a moment, thinking. Just then a car pulls up and reno bounds out of it)

Reno: “Hey.. Is that you, Irvine?” *runs over to him* “What are you doing up? You’ve gotta get sleep for the test tomorrow?”

Irvine: “I know.”

Reno: “Then what the hell are you doing?”

Irvine: “I came out here to freak out.”

Reno: “Uh-oh.”

Irvine: “No, it’s okay. I’m good now. I got some advice from an unexpected source.”

Reno: *suspiciously* “Now by unexpected do you mean a person or that secret stash I keep in my sock drawer?”

Irvine: *blink blink* “What secret stash?”

Reno: *shifty eyes* “Uh, nothing. Let’s go inside. You’ve gotta get back to bed!”

(they head back inside and just as they do the door to the tv room opens and auron and vincent come out. Irvine stares at them in shock)

Vincent: “Oh. Sorry.”

Auron: “Have a pleasant evening.”

(they go off. Reno turns to irvine who still looks shocked)

Reno: “What’s with you, dude? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost!”

Irvine: “Yeah…sorry.” *shakes head to clear it* “I’m going to bed.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(the next day irvine, in his garden uniform, (which means no hat!) is standing at the entrance to garden waiting for his team assignment. He’s pacing back and forth looking nervous. Finally quistis comes over with seifer)

Quistis: “Hey, Irvine. Sorry to keep you waiting. I had some…uh…business with the unlocked lockers at the training center.”

Irvine: “You had to lock them?”

Quistis: “Yeah, that sounds good. Anyway, for this year’s SeeD exam we’re doing things in two person teams. You’ll be squad C.”

Irvine: “Great. Who’s my partner?”

Seifer: *grins* “You’re lookin’ at him.”

Irvine: *jaw drops* “What?! But I thought he wasn’t allowed to take the test anymore!”

Quistis: “We like to give him the delusion.”

Seifer: *frowns* “I’m right here!”

Irvine: “I don’t believe this. Can it get any worse?”

Quistis: “Oh, and Nida has been assigned to watch your team.”

Irvine: “WHAT?!”

Nida: *strolling over* “Well! If it isn’t Irvine Kinneas! Look who’s better than who now, biotch!”

Irvine: “Did you just called me ‘biotch’?!”

Nida: “I sure did, biotch!”

Irvine: “Instructor! This is stupid! My team sucks and Nida hates me!”

Nida: “I sure do! Look, I even make this banner.” *holds up sign that says ‘you suck, irvine’*

Quistis: “Sorry, Irvine. Those are the assignments. I can’t change them. Now go to the forest west of Garden. The SeeD exam will be held there.”

Seifer: “Last one out’s a rotten egg!”

(seifer and nida take off for the exit leaving irvine and quistis behind.)

Quistis: “Good luck!” *she goes off*

Irvine: *shakes head* “I can’t do this! With Seifer as my partner and Nida watching I’m sure to fail!” *he goes to turn around and walk the other way but stops* “…No. Sephiroth was right. Who cares about those idiots? I can do this. Or I at least have to try.”

(and with that he takes a deep breath and walks out of garden.)

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(and so we go over to the SeeD exam. They’re in the woods standing in front of this big harry potter style hedge maze. All the seeds are standing on top of the maze looking down so they can observe the candidates. Xu stands in front of everyone)

Xu: “Hello, everyone, and welcome to the final portion of the SeeD exam – the field exam. For the exam you will be working in pairs. You are expected to work together and share the leadership role. Your goal is to find your way to the end of the maze. Various monsters and puzzles will block your path. The paths do not intersect so you will not be running into the other teams. Every team will be observed by a SeeD who will be following you from the top of the maze. You will begin when Squall fires off his gunblade. Squall?”

Squall: *points gunblade to the sky* “On my mark. Three. Two. One.” *shoots off gunblade*

(following that all the students rush into the maze. Irvine goes in first, followed by seifer.)

Irvine: “All right, Seifer, we’ll just–“

Seifer: “This is so stupid! Of all the field exams I’ve taken this one is by far the stupidest one! A maze? Please! A baby could handle this!”

Irvine: *rolls eyes* “All right, Seifer, then let’s get through this.”

Nida: *yells down* “You suck, Kinneas!” *holds up sign*

Irvine: *ignores him* “Come on, Seifer. Follow me.”

Seifer: *frowns* “Follow you? Why should I follow you? You should follow me!”

Irvine: *steps aside* “Fine. You wanna go first? Go ahead.”

Seifer: *hesitates* “I didn’t say I wanted to! Go!”

(irvine looks annoyed but he sets his jaw and keeps going into the maze. Seifer follows him.)

Seifer: “This is stupid! Let’s just cut through the hedges and run through to the center.”

Irvine: *ignores him*

Seifer: “Hey! Did you hear me? I said forget this and let’s make a short cut!”

(he stops in front of one of the hedges and goes to cut it)

Irvine: “What the hell are you doing? Knock it off! That defeats the whole point of the test!”

Seifer: “So what? They’re not gonna pass me anyway! I don’t think I even technically go to the school anymore!”

Irvine: “Well I do and I want to pass this test! So let’s go!”

Seifer: “I don’t care. I’m bored.”

(he again goes to cut through the bushes but irvine jumps in front of him)

Irvine: “Knock it off and get moving! We’re wasting time! Now let’s go or I’ll leave you here!”

Seifer: “You can’t leave me here! We’re supposed to work together!”

Irvine: “And you’re not working with me! You’re sabotaging the whole mission!”

Seifer: “If you leave me behind you’ll fail for sure!”

Irvine: “I’d rather finish the maze myself and fail, than follow your stupid, lazy ass through the bushes!”

(and with that he stalks off. Seifer looks up at nida)

Seifer: “Are you taking all this down? He left me!”

Nida: “You’re both idiots.” *runs off to follow irvine*

(and so irvine continues through the maze. He defeats all the monsters no problem. He quickly solves all the puzzles. Aside from dumping seifer, he’s doing a great job and he can feel he’s near the end. Any nervousness he had has faded away and he’s smiling a bit. Then all of the sudden a monster jumps out right in front of him. Irvine gasps and falls backwards. And as he stares up at the monster from the ground he can see it’s a grendel. His eyes get really wide. And all he can do for a long moment is stare up at it. The monster moves towards him and irvine quickly springs into action, reaching around for his gun. The monster gives a mighty roar and goes to pounce on him just as he gets his gun and turns around to face it. His eyes go wide again…)

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(back in the ramble room, lark, sephiroth, rinoa, reno, and tseng are sitting around looking restless and bored. Suddenly the door opens and squall, quistis, zell and selphie enter. Everyone perks up.)

Reno: “Where’s Irvine?”

Zell: “We left him in the hallway while he was waiting for the results of his test.”

Lark: “Why did you leave him??”

Selphie: “He wanted to be left alone! He said to come back here and wait for him.”

Rinoa: “Well do you think he passed?”

Squall: *shrugs* “I don’t know. I wasn’t watching him. Nida was.”

Everyone: “Nida?!”

Sephiroth: “That little creep?”

Tseng: “Irvine’s doomed!”

Quistis: “Would you relax! Nida’s not so bad!”

Everybody: *glares at her*

Quistis: “Uh, well anyway it’s not his decision whether he passes or fails. The whole thing is monitored via video cameras.”

Reno: “Well how does he think he did?”

Selphie: “He didn’t really say.”

Zell: “All he said was that he was paired with Seifer and he was being an ass.”

Everyone: “Seifer?!”

Lark: “Geez, were they out to sabotage him or something?”

Quistis: “Hey, everything is done randomly!”

Zell: *puts arm around squall* “Hear that, Squall? We were randomly destined to be pals!”

Squall: “Whatever…don’t touch me.”

(and so everyone takes a seat and they wait. And they wait. And they wait. And everyone looks nervous but no one says anything. Finally, after what seems like forever, the door opens and irvine stands there still dressed in his garden uniform. His face is expressionless. He just stands there and says nothing.)

Reno: “Dude…”

Lark: “Irvine…did you…?”

Irvine: *sigh* “I tried, okay? I gave it all I had. Seifer was my partner and he was being an ass. He wanted to cut through the bushes and cheat. I ended up going on without him. Then Nida was monitoring us and he kept yelling stuff down at me and holding up this stupid sign he made. And the course was challenging. Just when I thought I was near the end a grendel jumped out right in front of me. It was so close it knocked me down and I dropped my gun. For a minute there I was so scared I couldn’t move. It kept coming for me and I couldn’t move. Finally something inside me snapped into place. I found my gun and shot it, and I finished the course. But after that whole thing with Seifer and the grendel, I knew I had made a lot of mistakes. But at the same time, I really felt like I had done my best. And I was happy with that.”

(there’s silence for a moment. Everyone looks sympathetic and a few people mumble their condolences but no one really says anything. Then suddenly irvine breaks out into a huge grin)

Irvine: *holds out his SeeD diploma* “And I guess the judges agreed with me because I’m in baby! Oh yeah!”

(everyone lets out exclaims of happiness and they all rush over to hug and congratulate him.)

Lark: “That’s great, Irvine! I’m so proud of you!”

Tseng: “Way to go, Irvine!”

Zell: “I told you you could do it, man! I told you!”

Squall: “Good job, Irvine.”

Selphie: “Tee hee! I never had a doubt!”

Quistis: “Nice going…hey…did Xu mention anything about her chair missing?”

Rinoa: “Congratulations, Irvine!”

Sephiroth: “Well, congratulations, cowboy geek. I’m slightly impressed.”

Reno: “You did it, dude! I knew you’d make it!”

Irvine: “I did thanks to all of you! Thanks for everything, you guys. I never would have made it without your help.”

Lark: “We’re always here to help one another out, Irvine! Even jerks like Sephiroth!”

Sephiroth: “When I feel like it.”

Irvine: “Well thanks. And I want you to all come to the SeeD inauguration party tonight!”

Rinoa: “Really?? I have to find a dress!”

(and so everyone leaves the room to go get ready except for reno and irvine.)

Irvine: “I wouldn’t be standing here if you hadn’t pushed me.”

Reno: “Everyone needs a good kick in the ass once in awhile. Especially you.”

Irvine: “Well, I’m glad you’re around to do the kickin’!”

(they high five. Then irvine turns around to leave the room and reno gives him a gentle kick in the behind. Irvine turns back around.)

Irvine: “Hey! What’s that for?”

Reno: *grins* “Just testin’ for next time.”

(they both have a good laugh and leave the room together.)

THE END

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