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 6: A Shot in the Dark

By Dark Ki

Squall spent the better part of the day in his room, absorbed in an intense series of kata-like motions. It was something he'd taught himself to do years ago, when he'd first entered GARDEN. It was as if he knew each sweep of an arm, each balanced pivot on a foot, that would soothe away a piece of his tension. But he flung himself into them with fury, every inch of his skin slick with sweat when he shouldn't have even been breathing hard. His graceful movements became erratic, angry, turning into punches and kicks punctuated with sharp kiais.

Damn it, Zell! Don't do this to me!

With a snarl of frustration, Squall turned and lashed out, ramming his fist through the wall.

I swear, tonight's gonna suck. I'll probably be eliminated in the first ten minutes with the way I'm thinking.

With a sigh, he pulled his fist from the hole in the wall and turned away, tightening his fists until his knuckles showed white. He stormed from his room, his blue eyes dark with emotion.

Squall wasn't the only one trying to vent his frustrations. Zell was in his room, practicing some rather vicious bare-fisted attacks on a punching bag. A loud, insistent knock thundered on his door, but Zell didn't care who it was.

"Get lost!" he barked.

He went back to the punching bag, so intent on what he was doing that he didn't hear his visitor enter. Suddenly, strong arms held him tight against a lithe body as bare-chested as his own, and a rain of soft but fierce kisses trailed over his neck and shoulders.

"I missed you so much...," Squall breathed as his lips suckled at the nape of Zell's neck.

"Squall...!" Zell gasped, halfway between denial and longing. "We can't... we shouldn't...."

Squall spun him around, pinning his sweat-streaked back to the wall, holding Zell's hands above his head with one of his own. His eyes seemed to burn holes through Zell's. "We are. I know you want this as much as I do. Why else would you be so angry? You're just as frustrated as I am."

Zell forced out a nervous little laugh that abruptly spiked up in pitch as he felt Squall's other hand roaming up his inner thigh. "Frustrated?" he rasped. "What the hell are you talkin' about?"

"I'm talking about this." Squall's hand reached the juncture of Zell's legs, his fingers curling around the swell of Zell's trapped length.

Zell squealed, his eyes wide and his heart practically beating in his throat. "Squall, stop it...."

"Not until you see what this is doing to both of us."

Squall's mouth found Zell's throat again, drawing a soft, desperate moan from the older boy. Zell tried to strangle the sound as best he could, but the effort was half-hearted and they both knew it. Zell closed his eyes and allowed Squall to taste every curve of his neck, down to the solid frame of his chest. When Squall let go of his hands, Zell wrapped his arms around the younger boy's shoulders, guiding him in his explorations. Squall knelt before him, his long-fingered hands following the curves of Zell's hips, sliding the blonde's cutoff sweats down to the floor. Zell fell back against the wall with a gasp as Squall teased his shaft just with his tongue. He whimpered, trying to urge Squall to swallow him, but the dark-haired boy continued to tease him softly. Zell went down onto his knees, feeling Squall guide his collapse to a slow one, his tongue leaving a shining trail up the center of Zell's body. Squall enfolded his lover in his arms, their mouths meeting in a savage kiss. Squall laid him back on the floor without breaking their lock; the carpet was soft and cool against Zell's back. Zell thought he'd die with the intensity of that kiss, but Squall broke it with a whisper-soft scrape of his teeth over Zell's lower lip.

"Now tell me you don't want this. Tell me now, while you're naked and pinned under me, gasping like a dying man."

Zell shivered; he'd never heard such words from Squall before, much less in the husky, seductive tones he spoke them in now. A strangled sob rose up his throat, forcing tears from his eyes along with it. "Squall...."

Squall didn't wait to hear if there was anything after that. Zell had only a moment to feel his tears slip down the sides of his face, into his hair and to the floor, before he cried out with the feeling of hot wetness enveloping his length. When Squall began to make a sound like a purr deep in his throat as he rocked, the vibrations nearly drove Zell over the edge. He arched up off the floor, practically insane with the need for release, wailing without regard for anyone who might hear them. His hands seized Squall's hair in a death-grip, but neither boy seemed to care. Zell swore vocally, unable to take deep enough breaths with how fast he was breathing.

"Damn it, Squall! Please let me...!"

Squall drew hard on his older friend, the rumble in his throat going almost subsonically deep. Zell's mouth opened wide as his closed eyes tensed, but nothing came out at first. Squall gave one final flick with his tongue and suddenly Zell seized, driving himself upward with a hoarse scream. Squall tasted thickness and bitter salt, and he knew the cause of the sudden weakness that made Zell go limp in his arms with a soft, childlike moan of weariness. He sat up, pulling Zell up with him so he could hug the blond to his chest like a child, stroking his hair.

"Now do you understand, Zell?" he whispered as he reached down to start tugging off his own pants.

Zell trembled, gathering enough strength to push Squall away from him. "Get out."

Squall's eyes widened in genuine shock. "What?"

"You heard me."

"I don't understand...."

"You don't have to," Zell replied coldly, trying to make his gray-blue eyes like ice. "Just go."


"Go or you'll be late for the exercise. Don't make me carry you again!"


"Go, damn you! Now!"

Squall got to his feet and backed away, staring at Zell with no small measure of pain in his eyes. Zell watched him leave, and only when the door closed between them did Zell beat his fists into the floor until they were bruised and raw with carpet burns.

Squall tied the blue band around his left arm, making sure that the tracking sensor was in place. The sensor would allow Quistis and the other teachers to monitor his position to make sure he stayed inside the game perimeters, and also to identify him by a number that even he didn't know. The early evening was rather hot, so Squall wore a lightweight pair of pants and a tank top, his exposed skin darkened slightly with ash-colored camouflage paint. A sleek, dark helmet protected his head and face. He and the other students looked like walking shadows, only these shadows carried special rifles loaded with glow-in-the-dark paintballs.

Damn it, I want my gunblade. I'm a lousy shot with these things.

"Okay, blue team! Listen up!" Quistis called. "You have one hour to work your way through the woods to the target, tag it, and get back here. If you're shot anywhere, you're out. And trust me, if the sting of those paintballs hitting you doesn't tip you off, then the neon will. It's every man and woman for themselves, so don't expect help. Everybody line up, and good luck!"

Squall took his place amongst his classmates; he could almost feel the tension radiating from the closest people. Strangely, his thoughts drifted to Zell, and he fought back a surge of pain in his heart. It was bad enough that he missed the sound of the start signal, only startling himself out of his reverie at the sight of the others taking off. Most of them had already vanished into the brush, and he could already hear the sounds of sniper rifles firing.


Squall darted after them, diving headlong into the underbrush and working his way through the thick tangles. He ignored the slight pain of the map of scratches being etched into his exposed skin by the sharp brambles. He could hear several more shots, followed by curses and shouts of pain. Suddenly he was free of the brush, and he erupted to his feet, running for dear life towards the rising moon.

Zell checked the sensor he'd been sent. The person on the other end of the line had assured him that no one else but the teachers had these, and that it would let him find his target by their encoded number. Sure enough, he saw several glowing dots on the display, and one of them was his target... heading right for him.

Whoever you are, number 784, I'm sorry about this. I just don't have a choice.

He settled into his perch in the tree, aimed his weapon so that the path of the shot crossed where his target was headed, and waited.

Squall aimed his rifle as he darted towards the dim lighting around the target area, strafing the area for snipers. His keen eye caught motion in the trees and he instinctively fired. A sharp male yelp rang out and someone tumbled out of the tree, a bright moonglow mark splattered across his chest. Squall didn't even slow down as he ran; he'd apologize later.

Damn, I can't believe I hit him!

He poured on the speed, his thick-soled boots thudding dully on the forest floor. He was only about fifty yards from the edge of the lit area, and about seventy from the target.

Zell saw his target as no more than a streak of near-darkness against the night. He tracked him with a skill born of practice, sighting him as he darted through the last area before the target zone.

Mom, forgive me....

Zell closed his eyes and pulled the trigger.

He didn't see the bloom of crimson that erupted from the impact-- he wouldn't have even if his eyes had been open-- but he heard a very male scream of startled agony. That scream was all too familiar.

Oh god... I shot somebody I knew!

With the grace of an acrobat, Zell dropped down out of the tree, sprinting over to the fallen student. He clicked on his flashlight, recoiling at the sight of the bloody hole high in the left side of the victim's chest. The boy's breathing was raspy and shallow; he was going into shock from the pain, and the protective helmet wasn't helping. Zell popped the catch on the chin strap and pulled the helmet off, tossing it aside to shine the light indirectly on the face of the boy he'd shot.

His heart skipped several beats.

"Zell...?" Squall whispered, his eyes glazed with pain and confusion. "Why...?"

Oh my god... what have I done...?!

All Zell could do was press his shaking hands to the terrible wound, pressing down as hard as he could. "Squall... I'm sorry... I didn't know, I swear...!" Tears spilled down his face as he felt his lover's lifeblood running free between his fingers. "I didn't know... oh god, don't die... please don't die...."

"Zell...." Squall's sigh drifted off and his eyes slid closed.

Zell's eyes widened. "No... no... no! Squall, wake up! Wake up, damn it! Please wake up!" He didn't want to take his hands off the wound to shake Squall; he might bleed to death even faster. Zell threw back his head and screamed in anguish, and somehow the sound resolved itself into words.

"Somebody please help us! He's dying!"

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