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 7: Wounded Dawn

By Dark Ki

Zell couldn't even bring himself to look up at the others. His arms hurt from being handcuffed behind him to the chair he was sitting on. He could feel the eyes of everyone in the room burning into him, and he shifted uneasily.

"Please, you have to believe me. I didn't know it was him!"

Principal Cid Kramer frowned. "Mr. Dincht, that doesn't matter! You were still on that field with a deadly weapon, and you still fired with the intent to kill! Who you were shooting at doesn't matter!"

"It matters to me!" Zell exploded, finally fixing Cid with a fierce glare, tears in his eyes. "I don't wanna kill anyone, especially not Squall! You really don't think I'm a murderer, do you?"

"Zell." Quistis sat in a chair next to him, laying a hand on his shoulder. "Please tell me... why did you do it? I know you, and I know this isn't like you at all. Did something happen?"

Zell looked away. "I can't tell you that."

The security officer grabbed Zell by his short hair and pulled his head back. Zell grimaced in pain but still tried to look defiant.

"Stop that!" Quistis ordered sharply. "This isn't necessary!"

The man ignored her, sneering coldly at the blond boy. "Who're you working for? You're not smart enough to do something like this by yourself, even if you were a SeeD candidate! So spill it!"

Quistis saw the desperation in Zell's eyes. "Officer," she said calmly, but there was ice in her tone. "Let the boy go. Now. He'll talk to me and me alone."

"I'm not leaving you in the room with an assassin...."

"Let him go and leave right now." She turned to Cid. "Please, sir... may I have a moment alone with Mr. Dincht?"

Cid hesitated for a moment, then nodded. "You've got ten minutes. Make them count." He ushered the officer out, ignoring the man's protests.

Zell hung his head, closing his eyes. Quistis watched him quietly for a few moments, taking in the sight of his trembling shoulders and the tears that dripped down onto his bloodstained black shirt.

"Zell, who made you do this?"

Zell shook his head fiercely. "It doesn't matter what happens to me. Just let them arrest me and get it over with."

"No. I will not let them put an innocent young man in prison. Please, Zell... who ordered you to do this?"

"I... I can't... they'll hurt her if I tell... I don't even know the name...."

Quistis reached over and ran her hand over the boy's soft golden locks, remembering how he often spoke without thinking when he was upset. "Zell, you just basically told me everything I need to know. They threatened your mother, didn't they? I know how close you two are."

Zell sobbed miserably. "N-- now they'll kill her...."

"Don't worry. Now that we know, we can put her in protective custody. She'll be safe here in GARDEN, I promise. But there's one more thing I need to know."

Zell looked up at her, his eyes swollen and red.

"What we talked about last semester... something finally happened between you and Squall, didn't it?"

Zell blinked, his eyes widening. "Wha... whaddya mean?"

"Someone reported that they saw Squall go into your room a few hours before the exercise, and that he was half-undressed." She blushed very faintly. "Then they said that it was muffled through the doors and walls, but they could hear you two."

Zell felt the color drain out of his face. "Then you know? You all know?"

"Cid and I do. We asked the student to keep it quiet. Admitting your feelings is one thing, but... Zell, you know the rules about fraternization between the students or the faculty in any combination. I hate to say this, but I was hoping that you and Squall would wait until after graduation...."

"Please, don't be mad at Squall. If you have to punish someone, then kick me out. I'll go quietly."

"But you've been here for four years, and I know how much this means to you. Would you really give up your dream just to protect Squall?"

"Professor Trepe, I... it wouldn't be easy, but I would. Just don't punish him." He blinked slowly, his lower lip trembling. "What I did to him is more than he deserves."

"That's a very noble thought, Zell, but...."

"Please!" Zell's voice held a note of desperate grief that nearly tied Quistis' stomach into a knot. "Please, I'm beggin' you...." He burst into a fresh bout of crying, forcing the words out as best he could. "I... I love him, Professor Trepe... I really do...."

"You really mean that, don't you? You said it before, but I wasn't certain until now."

The boy nodded miserably. "I have to see him, please! I... I have to tell him...."

"If I take you to see him, will you agree to help us find the person responsible?"

Zell nodded. Quistis got up, walked to the door, and peeked out into the hall. Cid and the officer stared at her.

"Get him out of those cuffs and arrange for a secure transport to the hospital."

"What?" the officer barked. "I'm not letting him go anywhere except straight to a cell!"

"Oh, don't be so obtuse!" Quistis growled. "The boy's innocent, and I can prove it! Now do as I say!"

The officer scowled horribly but went to do as he was ordered.

Cid folded his arms. "I hope I get an explanation, too."

"You will, sir. But first there's something we have to do."

Squall felt gentle fingers brush his bangs away from his face; a strong hand ran down his cheek. With a soft groan, Squall opened his eyes a little.

"Hey, Squall?" Zell whispered, smiling weakly at his friend. "Can you hear me?"

Squall's eyes widened and he tried to sit up, but a shooting fire rushed through him from the wound in his chest. He settled back with a moan of fear and pain, watching Zell with terrified eyes. "Is... is this what you do to spurned lovers?" he croaked.

Zell's smile melted away instantly. "I swear, I didn't know it was you! You've gotta believe me! Squall, I...."

"Get away from me... I know you'll just try to... to...." Squall broke off into a fit of coughing, clutching at his wound.

Zell pinned his shoulders to the bed. "Lie still! You'll just hurt yourself more!"

"Why do you care?" Squall coughed. "You shot me anyway!"

"Damn it, Squall!" Zell howled, not caring who heard him anymore. "Don't you understand? I love you!"

Squall froze, staring up at Zell with wide blue eyes. "What did you say...?" he whispered.

Zell bit back this wave of tears; he was sick of crying. "You heard me, damn it. I love you, and I won't let you do this to us!"

There was a long pause. Finally, Squall sighed wearily. "Then why did you shoot me?" Much of the fear and suspicion was gone from Squall's face, leaving only a deep worry that Zell realized was for him.

"Because they said they'd kill my mom if I didn't." Zell swallowed hard. "But I swear I didn't know it was you. They gave me a sensor that let me hone in on the transmitters you guys were wearin', and they told me which number to shoot at. Please, you've gotta believe me!"

He saw the doubt in Squall's eyes, and his heart sank. Without a moment of hesitation, he leaned forward and captured Squall's mouth with his own. Squall resisted the push of Zell's tongue for a moment, but then melted into the kiss, wrapping his right arm around Zell's shoulders to hold him close. Zell had to break the kiss when he started to laugh; he could hear Squall's heart monitor speed up. Squall looked at him curiously, and Zell waved a dismissive hand, sinking into a chair as he tried to stop laughing.

"I'm sorry...," Zell gasped. "We really needed somethin' to break the tension."

"I'm sorry I doubted you, Zell." Squall still looked serious. "I guess this is why you kept pushing me away, isn't it?"

"I didn't want you to get hurt." He shook his head. "Did a pretty lousy job of that, didn't I?"

"It's not your fault," Squall insisted. "But I just wanna know who wanted me dead and why."

Zell glowered. "I'd like to say it was Seifer, but it couldn't have been. He was in a class when I got the calls givin' me my orders. And the guy sounded a lot older than eighteen."

"Then they'd better find him soon. Once whoever it is finds out I'm still alive, they'll probably come after me again... and your mom." Squall gritted his teeth and struggled to hit up, hissing at the pain in his shoulder.

"I told you not to move! You'll just make it worse!"

Squall grabbed Zell's arms and hauled himself into a sitting position. "I'm fine. The bullet missed my heart and major arteries. I'll have a nasty scar, but I'll live." There was a knock on the door, and both boys looked toward the source of the sound. "Come in."

Quistis stepped into the room, folding her hands primly in front of her. "It's good to see you awake, Squall." she turned her gaze to Zell. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but Principal Kramer and the officer asked if you were ready to make a statement."

"Actually, I'd like to do that," Squall replied.

Quistis blinked. "Are you sure you're up to it?"

Squall nodded. "Just get me the hell out of this hospital. I hate hospitals."

By the time Zell helped Squall into his room, the other students were just sitting down to their 8 am classes. Squall groaned as Zell lowered him onto the bed, grazing his brow with a soft kiss.

"I just wish I didn't have to go to that assembly in an hour. The last thing I wanna hear right now is Seifer's dad going on about honor and duty when all he wants is credit for the big donation he's making to GARDEN."

Zell rolled his eyes. "I know how you feel. If he's anything like his asshole son, I'd kick them both out the back door. Anyway, at least you can sit next to me."

"Zell... I'm sorry for bursting in on you yesterday."

"Hey, man... it's cool." He cracked a faint grin. "I can't say I didn't enjoy it."

Squall grinned back. "If I was in better health, I'd get you for that."

"Can I take a raincheck?"

"You...!" Squall laughed and gave Zell a gentle nudge in the chin with his good fist. "Okay, but only because I love you."

The hour passed too quickly, and soon Zell and Squall were settling into their seats in the auditorium. Squall winced as his wounded shoulder touched the padded back of the seat. "Damn, this hurts."

"Well, you were the one who wanted to leave the hospital," Zell chided gently. "I'm surprised they even let you out."

Squall opened his mouth, but he was interrupted by Cid's voice, coming in over the loudspeakers.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please settle down. I know you all have classes immediately after this, so let me just introduce Mr. Almasy, one of our benefactors."

The students applauded politely as the tall blond man stepped up to the microphone and cleared his throat. Zell nudged Squall in the ribs. "Geez," he whispered. "He even looks exactly like Seifer, right down to the pissy expres...."

"Good morning, students and faculty of Balamb GARDEN," Mr. Almasy began. "It's my pleasure...."

Squall tuned out the man's voice, not caring what he was saying. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Zell sitting frozen, eyes wide with horrified shock, staring at Mr. Almasy as if he was the devil himself.

"Zell, what is it?" Squall whispered. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

"That's him...," Zell choked. "That's the voice on the phone...."

Return to Archive | next | previous