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 4: Running Twilight

By Dark Ki

The rain dripped down through the dark camouflage paint into his eyes, making him blink as his tears tried to soothe the burning. The heavy rifle felt unfamiliar in his trembling hands, and he could barely sight his target.

This is wrong... this is wrong....

His target started to walk out of range, completely oblivious to the danger above him, arm in arm with a laughing young woman.

I... I can't do this... I can't....

His finger tightened on the trigger as he tried to hold his weapon steady, imagining a single point at the man's temple.

I'm sorry....

He closed his eyes and pulled the trigger.

Squall sighed and tightened his arms to pull Zell against his chest, frowning when he embraced empty air. His blue eyes registered confusion at they opened. In the dim twilight leaking through the shaded windows, he could see that Zell was gone. He sat up in alarm.


He slowly climbed out of bed, shivering in the cool air of Zell's room as he flicked on the light. He noticed that Zell's clothes were missing from the pile by the bed. For a moment, Squall was hurt that Zell would just walk out while he slept. But then he began to wonder if there was a greater reason. After all, it would have to be to drag Zell from his arms.

Squall gathered up his clothes and dressed quickly, slinging his bomber jacket over one shoulder. Moments later he was heading for the cafeteria; he figured that Zell might have gone there to get them both something to eat.

He did find Zell sitting at one of the tables, picking listlessly at some kind of sandwich. He slid into the seat across from him, ignoring the stares of the few students present. "Hey."

"Hey." Zell's voice was as flat and dead as he looked.

"Zell, what's wrong?" He reached across the table and laid a hand on Zell's. He could feel the older boy trembling..

To his surprise, Zell roughly pulled his hand away, folding his arms not as if he was trying to avoid Squall, but as if he was cold. Squall blinked, alarmed at Zell's distant, disturbed expression.

"Zell, what happened? Please, tell me."

"Nothin'. Just... I don't wanna talk right now."

"You know you can always talk to...."

"I said I don't wanna talk about it, okay?!" Zell snapped, glaring at his lover. His eyes were swollen and red from crying.

Squall was totally taken aback. "God, what's gotten into you?"

Zell stared down at his plate again and chewed his lower lip until it was raw and almost bleeding, but he said nothing.

"Will you please talk to me?!" Squall's heart thundered; something about this scared him badly.

When Zell looked up at him again, his eyes were empty, emotionless. Squall's heart almost stopped.

"What happened earlier... the whole thing was a mistake."

Squall reeled back in shock, not sure if he'd heard correctly. "Zell, I know you're still upset at everyone for teasing you, but I won't let them do this to us. I promise."

"I don't need your promises!" Zell hissed, his eyes narrowing. "And I'm not upset just at them. I don't wanna see you anymore."

"What...?!" Squall whispered hoarsely. After the way we...!

"You heard me. It's over. Just leave me alone!"

"Zell... please... after the way we both agonized over this for so long... if I mean anything to you...."

Zell's eyes went cold. "You were a convenient lay when I needed it."

Squall made a soft choking sound, all the color draining from his face. Slowly he got up from his seat, turning without another word and walking to the cafeteria doors. Once through them, though, he bolted in the direction of the dorms. Zell sat there for a moment longer, then got up and walked out, heading in the opposite direction. He walked out into the arboretum, calmly following the paths to the farthest reaches of the park. Only when he reached the grassy clearing at the end of the path did the frigid expression melt from his features, a look of utter anguish replacing it. He threw back his head and screamed long and loud, trailing off into a miserable sob as he sank to his knees, bawling into his hands.

Zell wasn't the only one crying. Squall was curled up on his side in his own bed, sobbing his heart out. He felt used and dirty, unable to understand why the boy who'd been so passionate and loving with him would turn so cold and hateful. He ignored the first knock at his door, certain that it wasn't Zell. The second knock made him sit bolt upright, screaming at the person on the other side.

"Go away!"

"Squall? It's Quistis."

Quistis?! Shit... I forgot about the evening training exercise! Squall scrubbed roughly at his eyes and got to his feet, crossing to open the door for his professor. "Hi... I'm sorry about that."

Quistis frowned. "Are you okay, Squall?"

Squall sighed. "Not really. I'm sorry... I really can't talk about it right now."

"Will you be okay for the exercise?"

Squall nodded. "Yeah, I guess. Lead the way."

Quistis gave him a warm smile and a friendly squeeze on the shoulder before leading him away.

Zell had just opened the door to his room, planning to do nothing but lay there and mope. The comm.. unit chimed for his attention, and he went over and picked up the receiver with an irritated growl.


He listened for a few moments, and his eyes narrowed, his body tensing.

"What do you want?"

His fists clenched.

"Forget it! I did what you wanted me to! It's done with, ok?!"

He listened for a few moments longer, his eyes widening. He almost dropped the phone.

"No! I said forget it! There's no way!"

Another few moments, and Zell was shaking so badly he had to lean against the wall for support.

"Please don't hurt her. I... I'll do anything you want. Just leave her alone...." His voice quavered, making him sound like a lost child. He slumped to the floor, sitting there hugging his legs with his free arm, the receiver still pressed to his ear.

"I'll be there...." he whispered hoarsely.

He set the receiver back in its cradle and stared blankly at it.

Squall darted through the woods, sweeping the area with his rifle. He thought he heard something off to his left and abruptly turned that way, firing off a blind shot. Just as he did, something struck him high in the back, followed by a second stinging impact near his tailbone and a third at the back of his neck. He cried out and fell to his knees, rubbing at the bright red splatters on his neck and rear end.

"Damn it!" he snarled. "Those things hurt!"

"Sorry, Squall!" a boy exclaimed, coming out of hiding. "I didn't mean to shoot you in the neck. I think my aim needs work."

"It's okay, Lir. I just won't be able to sit down for a few days, either." Squall managed to smile weakly at his own joke, but his heart wasn't in it.


"Remember, class!" he heard Quistis call. "The real test is tomorrow night! Your skill at this is essential if you want to survive missions in enemy territory, so make sure you keep alert for snipers at all times! You'll be competing against the red team tomorrow; they'll be acting as the snipers. So you'd better practice moving silently through less than ideal terrain!

Great, Squall thought. When do we get to the stuff I'm good at?

Zell sniffled, scrubbing at his eyes so he could see. This job was hard enough as it was without being blinded by his grief.. The weapon was so unfamiliar in his hands, even though he'd used it once before. He hated what it was... what it made him.

But they'll kill her if I don't do what they want....

Reluctantly, with hands that shook so badly he almost dropped what he was holding, he began loading the weapon the way he'd been instructed to.


He could imagine the horror on Squall's face when he realized who he'd slept with, the kind of monster Zell had been shaped into by the voice on the other end of the comm.. line. How could he ever face the man he cared about after what he'd done? The thought made Zell drop the hollow-point shell he was loading into the rifle, barely managing to strangle back a fresh burst of weeping. He quickly scooped up the bullet and shoved it into place, hiding the weapon under his bed. That done, he flung himself down and pulled the covers over himself, letting the tears free to trickle down into his pillow.

Squall... forgive me....

He knew he'd never be able to sleep with the rifle under his bed, but it didn't matter. He was terrified of what he'd see if he closed his eyes.

Squall... I love you... I'm so sorry.....

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