Warning! This story contains language and GRAPHIC descriptions of yaoi (sexual acts between two men), as well as some mild nonconsensual stuff. If you are not 18 or if you are offended easily, please do not read this! If you chose to ignore this warning, I will not be held responsible for any psychiatric care you require. ^_^ I will also ignore any flames that you send because you feel that Squall and Zell do not make a cute couple or because you hate yaoi. (Face it: there's a LOT of us yaoi fic-writers out there who do what we like, and this IS on a yaoi site, after all! At least, it SHOULD be, unless someone else put it where it doesn't belong.) Thanks to Miracle Shining for her inspiration on this one... I just hope she doesn't think I stole her idea for the nonconsensual scene! ^_^;;;;

Downtime in the Garden

Chapter 1: Night life

By Dark Ki

"I am not going."

Zell rolled his eyes. "C'mon, Squall! You're the class valedictorian, you haven't been off-campus in over a month, and it's gettin' to you. Even brains need a break!"

Squall glared at his blond classmate; he knew a lot of the other students resented him for his position, but he hated being called a brain. The only thing that kept him from strangling Zell on the spot was the fact that he knew the older boy was only joking. "What? You want me to go out and get my face tattooed? Is that your idea of fun?"

Zell flashed him his trademark toothy grin. "Couldn't hurt."

"One permanent mark on my face is enough, thank you.."

"Then how's about goin' to a bar and gettin' plastered?" The grin widened.

"My, my... we certainly have a self-destructive streak, don't we? Besides, the students aren't allowed to be intoxicated, and we're underage. I said it once and I'll say it again... no."

Zell shrugged. "Your loss."

He started past Squall, who breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly, Squall yelped in surprise as powerful arms wrapped around his waist, picking him up. Zell slung him over his shoulder in a rather humiliating carry and cheerfully began whistling as he strode down the hall. Squall would've marveled over how strong the shorter boy was if he wasn't totally pissed.

"Put me down!"

"Uh-uh," Zell replied cheerfully, causing Squall to struggle and begin cursing him out rather vocally. "I forgot to mention that I promised some people who'll remain nameless that I'd take you out for some fun. And I keep my promises. So shut up and enjoy the ride."

"Put me down or I swear I'll kill you!"

"Only if you promise to go with me. Either you walk or I carry you. Your choice."

"All right, damn it! I'll go, just put me down!"

Zell stopped and dumped Squall onto his ass rather unceremoniously. Squall glared daggers up at him, but Zell's expression remained cheery.

"I'm going to murder you," Squall growled.

"You can kill me later. Now let's get going. A classmate told me about this great place in town...."

Squall huddled deeper into his bomber jacket, wondering for the thousandth time why he hadn't just grabbed his gunblade when he went back to his room for the jacket. He was seriously considering making a run for the transport back to GARDEN; this place was making him uneasy. He and Zell stood in the middle of a long line of rowdy young men, all waiting to get into the club. If the warehouse-turned-nightclub had a name, it wasn't shown anywhere, and the few people Squall asked just grinned drunkenly back at him as if he should already know.

"Zell, can we please get out of here? These people scare me."

"You? Scared? Squall Stoneheart?"

Squall frowned. "What?"

Zell's grin faded a little, but just for a moment. "Oops... well, that's what they call you back on campus. But you didn't hear it from me!"

"Never mind that! Can we just go?"

"Hey! Pay attention!" a loud voice bellowed, practically in Squall's ear.

Squall started and turned to see the brawny bouncer glaring at him. "Uhhh...."

The bouncer eyed the two boys critically, and the corner of his mouth turned up in a smirk. "Kinda young, aren't ya?"

Squall was about to agree when Zell clapped a hand over his mouth, flashing an ID with his free hand. Squall mumbled vehemently and tried to pry Zell's fingers away.

Zell chuckled. "Well, you see, we're with SeeD and...."

The bouncer waved them inside with a look of respect. "Hey, enjoy!"

The moment the dim, laser-lit expanse of the club swallowed them, Zell let go of Squall. "Isn't this place great? Kick ass!"

The music was almost loud enough to drown out any conversation, vibrating against their skin enough to give Squall goose bumps. He resisted the urge to plug his ears... not that it would do much good.

Squall turned on Zell with a look of annoyed shock, pulling the ID card from his fingers. "This is a fake ID! And you.... you told him we were with SeeD! We're just candidates!"

"So?" Zell shrugged and took his ID back, tucking it into the pocket of his shorts. "No one's ever gonna know. Besides, it'll be true in a few more weeks, right?"


Zell grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him. "Will you relax?! Geez... I'm glad I got you out now!"

Squall started to reply when someone bumped into him from behind. He glanced over his shoulder to see an older man wink at him with a little smile. Something about that look made Squall swallow, and it only got worse when he noticed something about all the people packed into the multilevel dance floor and sitting at the long bar.

They were all men.

"Uh, Zell?"

"Yeah?" Zell looked like he was about to bolt out onto the dance floor for some fun. "Damn, they've got great sounds here! This is the latest techno!"

"Zell!" Squall hissed. "Don't you realize where we are?!"

"It's some place called the Red String. C'mon, let's go get a drink!"

Squall felt his stomach drop into his feet. The Red String?! Oh god, please tell me he's joking! Squall had never been here, but he'd heard of the place's wild and dangerous reputation. "Zell, who told you about this place?"

"Dalen. Why?"

Now it was Squall's turn to grab Zell, who looked startled. "You idiot! Don't you know that Dalen hangs out with Seifer?!"

Zell's eyes practically bugged out of his head. "What?! But... but he...!"

"We've been set up! They'll be laughing at us for the rest of our lives!"


"I've heard of this place, Zell! Take a look around! This is a gay bar!"

Zell's face went white. "That bastard Dalen...."

To Squall's surprise, Zell suddenly couldn't meet his gaze. The older boy struggled free and stalked towards the doors. Squall darted after him, certainly not wanting to be left alone in this place. "Zell, wait up!" He caught up and grabbed Zell firmly. The blond refused to look at him. "You mean you really didn't know about this?"

Zell finally turned his eyes back to Squall's face, and Squall blinked in surprise. Zell looked like he was near tears. "I'm sorry, Squall...," he mumbled through a lull in the music. "I never should've brought you here."

Squall was about to wonder why something like this would bring Zell to tears-- besides the fact that Seifer would never leave them alone now-- when someone rushed out into the dance floor with a microphone.

"Everyone! It's nine o'clock, and you know what that means!"

"Lockdown!" the crowd bellowed in unison.

"That's right, people! It's lockdown time! So close up the doors, 'cause no one's leaving until they've had their fill!"

Squall and Zell stared at each other in horror, then turned to see the massive warehouse doors sliding shut. The lock made a loud, ominous snap, and the crowd burst into a fresh wave of drunken revelry.

The same thought struck them both at once..

"Oh, shit...!"

By eleven, Squall and Zell were both sitting against the back wall; they hadn't moved from their spots since the lockdown. Sitting by Squall's feet were three empty shot glasses; he'd needed it just to keep from screaming in fear at the press of people around them. Zell tossed back his tenth shot, his eyes glazed with misery and alcohol, staring into the crowd but not seeing it as he slammed the empty glass down beside him with the others.

"If one more guy compliments me on my cute ass, I'll just kick down the door."

"Fine. You have a cute ass," Zell mumbled, his voice a little slurred from the liquor.

"Crap. It didn't work."

Zell drew his legs to his chest, resting his forearms and forehead on his knees, hiding his face. "I feel so stupid. I shouldn't have listened to somebody I hardly knew." He heaved a drunken sigh. "It's not bad enough that Seifer calls me a punk chicken, but now he's gonna go around tellin' everybody I'm gay."

"Well," Squall began uneasily, "I know you're not. You were going out with Virri a month ago, and before that you were flirting with that transfer student. The redhead, remember?"

"Yeah, I guess." Zell sounded really uncertain.

"Come on, Dincht. Just because we're stuck here, it doesn't mean we're gay. Relax. I'll make sure your reputation is safe."

Zell curled up tighter into himself, mumbling something. Squall frowned and was about to ask him to repeat himself when a hand grabbed his arm, hauling him to his feet. Squall stared up into the face of a much larger man who leered at him. Squall could tell by the man's eyes that something was seriously wrong. He squirmed, but his assailant's grip was like steel.

"Let me go!"

Chuckling to himself, the junkie dragged the struggling, protesting Squall towards a dark corner that smelled strongly of alcohol and things more sinister. He flung Squall down into a pile of old blankets; Squall tried to get up, but the man immediately pinned the teenager under his bulk. Squall shrieked in protest and fought to get free, but the nausea that fought its way up his throat when the man began sloppily kissing his neck made it hard to move. Out of the corner of his eye, Squall noticed that Zell was gone from his spot near the wall, and for a moment he feared that his drunken companion had met a similar fate. But that thought was rudely shoved from his mind when he felt the junkie's meaty hand worming its way into his pants, his fingertips brushing the place just above Squall's most sensitive parts. Squall screamed, the sound lost in the hypnotic swell of the techno-trance music blasting from every speaker. Annoyed at his struggles, the man pulled his hand free and drew a knife, trying to slice open Squall's cheek but managing only to nick the corner of his mouth. Squall sobbed in fear, trying to knee the man in the groin to get away.

Suddenly, the junkie grunted as he was roughly pulled off Squall before he could do any major damage. Squall stared up in disbelief as he saw it was Zell holding his attacker, his eyes nearly glowing with rage.

"He's with me, asshole," Zell growled, and straight-kicked the junkie square in the gut. The man folded with a choking sound, collapsing onto his knees before falling flat on his face. He didn't get up. Zell knelt next to him, nodding when he saw that the man was still breathing.. With a terse nod, Zell moved over to Squall and helped him to his feet. "Are you okay, man?"

Squall nodded, trying to control his trembling. "I just wanna get out of here."

"I was tryin' to convince them to let us out, that we were here by mistake, but they said forget it. Lockdown lasts until midnight, so it looks like we're gonna be late for lights out, too. It's the rules, unless somebody's dyin'. Then I saw you."

"Please... there's got to be a place around here where we're safe."

Zell glanced around, spotting a nondescript door that looked like it led to a storeroom. "C'mon. This looks like a possibility."

Zell helped Squall over to the rusted door, tugging it open and leading Squall in. It was just a large closet, not more than ten feet square. Zell closed the door and braced it shut with a metal shelf, not trusting the old lock. Squall sank to the floor, fighting back tears as he pressed a hand to the cut on his cheek.

"Lemme see that." Zell sat next to him and touched the wound, feeling something sticky around its edges. He rubbed his fingers together, frowning deeply at the green syrup on his fingertips. "I recognize this crap. It's a mild poison we learned about in class. Some people coat blades with it. Causes hallucinations and stuff like that if you get it right into a cut, but it's not lethal." His frown deepened, his eyes troubled. "Squall, on your back, now."

Squall stared at him; his eyes were suddenly having trouble focusing. "Why?"

Zell pushed him onto his back, and Squall didn't protest... at least not until Zell took a deep breath and abruptly put his lips to the wound. Squall's eyes went wide as he felt Zell sucking gently. "Wha-- what're you doing...?!"

Zell took his mouth away long enough to spit distastefully to one side; the stuff was unbearably bitter. "Sucking the poison out. Though I don't think it'll do a lotta good at this point. But I'll try.." He bent his head to suck at the cut again, holding the edges apart with his teeth.

Squall closed his eyes and tried to relax, but he felt dizzy and feverish. "I don't feel so good...,"he whispered. "Dizzy...."

Zell spit away more of the poison. "Just relax, okay? I'm almost done." For the third time, he drew at Squall's wound, more urgently now. Squall's skin felt damp and warm to the touch; the toxin was starting to affect him. Guilt stung at Zell. He'd just wanted Squall to have a good time, and now his friend was hurt. Zell remembered what his professor had taught him about this particular poison. At its strongest, the victim was highly susceptible to suggestion, but with just a little scratch like Squall had received, it would probably serve to lower his inhibitions a bit. Zell had wanted that for his friend, but not like this.

Squall whimpered softly as Zell spit one more time, pressing his hand to the wound. "That's the best I can do. It's a small cut, so it shouldn't bleed a whole lot." Squall's head sagged to the side, and Zell saw his chest rise and fall in slow, deep breaths. Zell's eyes widened. "Squall? Hey, Squall... wake up, man!" He shook Squall gently, but the younger boy didn't move.

He's unconscious, but I think he's okay.

Zell brushed Squall's long bangs away from his eyes, his fingertips lingering on Squall's fair face. The dark-haired boy looked so innocent and peaceful in his sleep, except for the traces of pained tension at the corners of his eyes. Zell smiled faintly; Squall looked adorable when he slept. In fact, he was almost....

Stop torturing yourself, Dincht! Damn it, he's not....

Zell abruptly pulled his hand away from Squall's face, skittering back a few feet from his friend. His face felt hot, and he was almost glad that Squall couldn't see him blushing.

Okay... so Seifer'll be half-right... Squall, I'm so sorry....

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