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 9: Premature Sunset

By Dark Ki

Squall felt his blood run cold. "What happened? Where is he?"

"Mr. Almasy's taking Zell out of GARDEN. If they make it off the grounds, we'll never find them." Cid's voice was strained with worry. "This isn't a drill anymore, Squall. I'm authorizing you to use whatever force is necessary to stop him."

God, he's just given me permission to.... "I'll do what I can, sir." Squall hung up the phone and grabbed his gunblade from the hook on his wall. Luckily, his dominant arm wasn't the wounded one, but holding something as heavy as the gunblade still pulled at the tender skin. Squall winced; it wasn't going to be easy fighting in this condition, but he had no choice.


He charged out of his room, heading for the nearest exit.

"Lemme go!" Zell tried to bite the man's fingers, but Mr. Almasy quickly pressed the edge of the knife harder against Zell's throat, making the boy squeal briefly in fear.

"Try anything else like that and I'll slit your throat right here!" He pulled the stumbling Zell through the doors and into the open air of the grounds. "Move it, boy! If I get caught because of you, I'll make sure you're dead before they can cuff me!"

Zell let himself be dragged along, slipping only once when his foot caught the edge of one of the steps leading down to the transport lot. The knife danced across his skin, opening a thin, shallow slice that trickled a few drops of scarlet onto his shirt. He whimpered, cold sweat beading his brow; if he'd fallen forward, he would be dead now.

"Clumsy oaf!" Mr. Almasy roared. He practically carried the smaller boy down the rest of the stairs and started across the lot to where an expensive-looking black car waited. Zell began to fight in earnest; he knew that if Mr. Almasy got him into that car, he was as good as dead. The older man tightened his arm around Zell, almost crushing the breath from the boy's body.


Mr. Almasy turned toward the familiar voice, instinctively shielding himself with Zell. His eyes narrowed when he saw Squall coming out of another exit; the Leonhart boy was closer to the car than they were. Squall trotted up the walk, pausing only to jam the point of his gunblade into each of the car's front tires. Mr. Almasy stared; he couldn't believe the boy had the audacity to destroy his means of escape!

"Big mistake, Leonhart! Now I'll just have to kill him right here!"

"Hurt him and I'll run you through before you can take two steps," Squall snarled. His blue eyes were unwavering and cold. Zell had never seen his lover look more dangerous as he raised his gunblade to a ready stance, but he could see how Squall trembled with pain.

"You can barely lift your arms, boy! You'd never be able to fight a former member of SeeD, especially not with your injuries!"

Squall slashed once at the air, biting back a groan of agony as his shoulder screamed protests. "I think I can fight just fine. Now let him go!"

Mr. Almasy plucked Zell off his feet and slung him over one broad shoulder, turning and racing across the quad. Squall was stunned for a moment, but he quickly shook out of it and gave chase. With the knife away from his throat, Zell kicked and fought like a wildcat, but the blows were like gentle rain against the man's powerful body. As strong as Zell was, he was outclassed. He felt just as helpless as he had when he'd first arrived at GARDEN four years ago, suffering through the taunts of his captor's son. He could hear Squall calling after them, and he lifted his head to catch a glimpse of Squall as they ducked around a corner of the main building.


As if responding to Zell's frantic cry, Squall skidded around the corner, almost falling on the just-watered grass. He recovered and raced after them, yelling for Mr. Almasy to stop. Zell kicked the man again in the stomach, and this time he felt the knife slice deeply across his calf. Zell howled in pain and stopped kicking; the burning in his leg was too intense and he feared crippling himself permanently. As it was, the wound felt deep enough to make running difficult if not impossible for at least a little while.

"Be grateful that was just a warning! Next time I'll cut your knees open!"

Zell hung there limply, sick to his stomach from being jolted against Mr. Almasy's shoulder. He heard Squall still calling for him, but he knew that yelling back would only enrage his kidnapper further.

"Stop right there!" A security guard pulled his pistol and aimed it at Mr. Almasy, who froze.

"Out of my way, fool!"

The guard never wavered. "Mr. Almasy, I don't know what's going on here, but I want you to put the boy down and surrender yourself."

Mr. Almasy slowly crouched, as if he was going to set his knife on the ground. But suddenly, his hand whipped forward, and the guard cried out as the blade sank into the muscle of his upper arm. His gun clattered to the ground; Seifer's father leaped to attack and caught the man in the face with a swift punch. The guard sprawled, unconscious, and Mr. Almasy scooped up the fallen pistol as he ran past.

Squall was falling behind; the pain in his chest and arms was so bad it was hard to breathe. He turned another corner and saw the unconscious guard, his observant eye taking in the fact that the man's gun was missing as he raced in the direction he thought Mr. Almasy might have gone.

Oh dear god... he's got a gun....

"Zell!" he cried. Ignoring the fire in his chest, he ran faster, fearing that he might already be too late.


Mr. Almasy skidded to a halt, then turned back the way they'd come. Zell saw that they were trapped by the high fence around the rear perimeter of the grounds. Cursing bitterly, Mr. Almasy began to follow the curve of the fence, searching for a breach in the steel mesh. There was none. Instead, the fence met the wall of another building, trapping them in a corner.

"Damn this! None of this was here a year ago!"

"Guess you're finally gettin' to see everythin' your money paid for, huh?" Zell asked bitterly.

"Shut up!" He slid Zell off his shoulder, holding him still with a firm grip on one arm. He pointed the gun right between Zell's eyes. "This is all your fault! If you'd just taken the blame like you were supposed to...!"

"Let him go!"

With the skill of a trained soldier, Mr. Almasy whirled, instinctively clutching Zell to his chest as before. Zell felt the cold muzzle of the pistol jab roughly into his temple, enough to force his head to tilt a little. He looked up to see that Squall was standing several yards away slowly advancing on them. The younger boy's eyes were filled with focused anger, though he was out of breath.

"There's nowhere left to run, Mr. Almasy. Just give up now and they might go easy on you. At least you'll know that your son won't be blamed."

"If they come near me, no one'll be able to piece this kid's head back together! You ruined my way out, Leonhart. Now you'll find another transport for me and my hostage, or you lose your best friend!"

Squall took a small step forward, raising his gunblade a fraction of an inch. Mr. Almasy panicked and turned the gun on Squall. At that moment, Zell grabbed the arm that was wrapped around him and tossed the man over his shoulder. Seifer's father grunted as he landed, almost losing his grip on his stolen weapon. Zell took off running towards Squall, who didn't relax one bit. To his horror, he saw Mr. Almasy quickly scoop up the pistol and aim it at Zell as he got to his feet.

"Zell, down!"

Zell saw Squall raise his gunblade and dropped to the ground without hesitation. With a scream of rage, Squall threw the gunblade with all the strength he had left, feeling something tear in his chest as he watched the weapon go spinning end over end through the air. Mr. Almasy's eyes widened a second before the massive blade buried itself in his chest with such force that several inches of its point emerged through his back. The pistol fell from his nerveless fingers and struck the grass with a soft thud. He dropped to his knees, staring down in numb shock at the weapon impaling him for several seconds. Zell rolled onto his back, sitting up just in time to see his kidnapper fall, his light-colored clothes stained crimson.

"Holy shit...," Zell whispered.

Squall closed the distance between them and sank to the ground beside his stunned lover. Zell closed his eyes and leaned against Squall as the younger boy folded his good arm around him. "Are you okay?"

Zell nodded. "Yeah, just kinda shaken up. Man, they're gonna freak when they see this."

"They told me to do what was necessary. Though I wish it hadn't come to this." Squall kissed the top of Zell's head gently. "I'm just glad you're fine."

Zell shifted, and Squall gave a low hiss of pain that made Zell sit up immediately. "Shit, I'm sorry! How bad is it?"

Squall gritted his teeth, but he never let go of Zell. "Hurts like the devil, but I'll heal. I just won't be doing any training for a while."

Zell tried to crack a grin, but only half-succeeded. "After this, they'll probably give you a commendation and vacation time."

Squall chuckled and rested his forehead against Zell's, closing his eyes. "Screw the commendation. But I'll definitely take the vacation."

With that, he leaned forward and touched his lips gently to Zell's.

Seifer didn't react to the news of his father's death the way everyone thought he would. Rather than flying into a rage and blaming Squall and Zell, he just hung his head and quietly asked Cid for time off, which Cid granted him on the spot.

Squall and Zell were returning from giving a report on the incident to Cid and the internal affairs board when they nearly bumped into Seifer, who was leaving with a small travel bag. The three of them stood in the doorway, caught in an awkward silence for several moments.

"I'm really sorry...," Squall began.

Seifer raised a hand, a shadow of something flickering through his eyes. "Save it, Leonhart. I don't want your pity. I'm a soldier, and I know what happens in those situations. It was his choice, and he took it." He brushed past them quickly.

"Seifer...," Zell said softly.

The tall blond paused but didn't turn. "I'm sorry for everything. Both of you," he whispered. Before Squall and Zell could reply, Seifer hurried away.

"Damn... that was freaky."

"Yeah," Squall replied. "He actually sounded sincere."

Nothing else was said until the two entered Squall's room. Zell flung himself down on the bed with a sigh as Squall hung his jacket on its hook next to his gunblade. "Man, I'm glad they gave us time off. I'm totally beat."

Squall nodded, sitting on the bed next to his friend. "Though we'll have a little bit of catching up to do. In the meantime, what do we do with a whole week to ourselves?"

Zell grinned and grabbed Squall's good arm, pulling him carefully down onto his side. "Maybe I finally get to pay you back for everythin' you did to me?"

Squall chuckled. "Only if you promise to take it easy on me. I'm a wounded man, after all."

Zell's grin widened and rolled them both over until Squall found himself pinned. "Oh, don't worry. Your arm's got nothin' to do with this." His hands roamed down Squall's sides, making Squall gasp with laughter.

"Hey, that tickles!"

"Yeah, but I bet this doesn't." Zell pushed Squall's shirt up to his collarbone, bending his head to explore the curves of Squall's chest with his lips and tongue as his hands swiftly undid Squall's three belts.

"You're good at that," Squall gasped, starting to wriggle under Zell as the blond's tongue traced little circles over one of his nipples.

"Anticipation makes skilled hands, I always say," Zell muttered against Squall's skin before he began suckling at his other nipple. He worked Squall's pants open, letting his fingers run down Squall's belly and lower, into the confines of the leather.

"Oh god...," Squall moaned.

Zell laughed and settled over Squall, their noses almost touching. Squall's breath was hot on his face. "Nah, just me." He captured Squall's mouth with his own, letting their tongues twine together as he continued stroking the younger boy.

Get ready, Squall. 'Cause now it's downtime in GARDEN.

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