For His Love

Chapter 2

By Pixie158

Zell seemed edgy…more so than usual. He appeared to Squall to be very intense, which was more than a little strange considering the grueling battle they’d fought earlier that evening. Sure, it had been nothing more than the three of them letting off a little steam, but that was usually enough to wind Zell down. Squall shot a covert glance in Zell’s direction in an attempt to gauge his mood by his expression. Zell was chewing absentmindedly on his lower lip as they made their way to the training center. He wasn’t bouncing, wasn’t chattering a hundred words a minute. Squall frowned slightly~maybe something was bothering his friend. Which would account for the late night visit and the flimsy excuse he used to explain it. Zell didn’t usually open up to Squall, but that probably had something to do with the fact that Zell never really had any problems. Well, none that I’ve ever noticed, anyway, Squall thought.

They paused at the door to the training center and Zell pulled open the door in an unusual show of aggression. Everyone was used to Zell’s exuberance, but he very rarely displayed this kind of aggression.

Zell looked over his shoulder at Squall, his sharp, perfect features profiled in the half light for just an instant before he turned his eyes to the path ahead once again. Squall felt something give inside of him when he’d caught a glimpse of Zell’s full lips and hard jaw turned so slightly toward him. He told himself it must simply be concern for his friend’s mood.

Pushing aside a low hanging tree branch, Zell moved into the center of a clearing and turned slowly to face Squall. His eyes were the darkest blue, narrowed in the way they usually were when Zell prepared for battle. This was the side of Zell that never failed to intrigue Squall. A far cry from the fun loving, hyper boy he was from minute to minute, Zell underwent a fascinating transformation when he prepared himself for a fight. His body leaned forward a degree or so, he brought his fists up close to his chest~tightly clenched within his gloves and his ready smile turned into a confident, provoking sneer. But what fascinated Squall more than anything else was the almost undetectable shift from the easy going guy to the calculated warrior. The energy radiated from within him and many, many enemies had failed to notice the danger in his eyes, resulting in their inevitable downfall. Squall had recognized the change in Zell the very first time they’d fought together in Dollet.

This was how he appeared to Squall at that very moment~and Squall knew in that instant that something was weighing heavily on his friend’s mind. Squall began to look around for the monster that had to be hiding nearby. Why else would Zell have went into attack mode already?

Seeing nothing in the vicinity, Squall gazed questioningly at Zell. "I don’t see anything here. Let’s go further in."

The corner of Zell’s mouth twitched and his chest heaved as he inhaled. "I don’t need to look anywhere else~take off those belts baby, it’s just you and me." Squall’s eyebrows raised in question as he stared slack jawed at Zell, who had become quite still. It was very unsettling to Squall. Who is this guy? Squall asked himself. If I didn’t know better I’d swear he was possessed!

"Zell…" Squall began in an amused tone. Zell flexed his arms bringing his fists closer to his face. "Come on Squall, lemme see what you got…you don’t mind giving some to Seifer~now give me some, too."

Squall’s eyes narrowed. That one got to him, Zell thought. He grinned as Squall began to unbuckle the studded belts that held his gunblade to his hip. Direct Hit. Tossing aside the belts and the weapon, Squall pulled off his jacket, leaving him in his pants and his white t-shirt. Zell grinned mockingly at him as Squall moved into the clearing, fists raised in much the same way Zell’s were.

Circling each other warily, Squall felt a little apprehensive. What the hell is going on? He wanted to ask Zell, but somehow knew that the words would only serve to further spur him into action.

"Zell, what do you expect from me here? Do you really want to take me on this way?" Squall lifted his chin in acknowledgment of the gauntlet that had been thrown. Zell lowered his fists for a second as the fury blazed in his blue blue eyes. Suddenly he was charging at Squall, catching him squarely in the shoulder with his upper arm, knocking him off balance before his own natural grace saved him from taking a tumble.

"You think I can’t handle you, don’t you Commissioner? You think I’m not capable of inflicting a little damage myself?" Zell’s voice raised in anger as he prepared to charge Squall again. Squall put a hand out to Zell in supplication. "Zell, buddy, I don’t know what’s eating at you tonight, but this isn’t going to help, I promise you that." Mistaking Squall’s entreaty for condescension, Zell moved in close enough to touch his nose to Squall’s if wished, he raised a hand between them and shoved Squall with everything he had in him. This time Squall did lose his balance, causing him to sprawl ungainly in the dirt. Concern for Zell vanishing now that his pride had been damaged, Squall leapt to his feet and lunged at Zell, his fist clipping Zell’s jaw. Zell’s head snapped back and he moved to the left, catching Squall in the ribs. Squall grunted as the air left his body. Putting one hand on the ground to steady himself, Squall peered up at Zell through the hair that had fallen into his eyes. The hurt and confusion in his friend’s eyes hit Zell like a punch to the midsection. Lowering his fists, he sat down hard on the ground and bowed his head.

"Damn, Squall, I’m sorry." He bowed his head, frowning in consternation. Squall lowered himself into the dirt as well and leaned toward Zell. "Hey, it’s okay man, just tell me what’s on your mind."

Zell glanced up, a rueful smile playing upon his lips. "Am I so transparent?"

Squall’s eyes widened, his mouth open in disbelief. "Well, usually when a friend bum rushes you for no good reason, something’s bothering them."

Zell grinned wickedly at Squall. "Bum rushes? You been listening to Run DMC again?"

Squall glared at him and kicked dirt in his direction. He stood gracefully, with no unnecessary movements, and bent to retrieve his belts. After he’d fastened his gunblade to his belt and pulled on his jacket once again, Squall held out a hand to Zell and waited. Zell raised his head and looked at Squall’s outstretched hand and then up into his face. Seeing nothing but relief in Squall’s eyes, he clasped his hand and let his friend pull him to his feet.

Dusting off his pants, Squall motioned toward the exit between a group of bushes. "Let’s get some air." Zell nodded in agreement and headed for the door that led to a private balcony. Sometimes he came here himself to clear his head. It was almost…peaceful.

Squall leaned against the railing and crossed his arms over his chest. "Okay, let’s have it."

Zell looked out into the night, a faraway look coming into his eyes. Squall had never seen Zell so reflective…it made him wonder what was in his mind.

"Zell?" Squall prompted. Zell turned to face Squall, clearly apprehensive. He sighed, and lowered his head , shielding his eyes from view. A shudder seemed to pass through him and he breathed in deeply. "I don’t really know," he began. Squall shifted his position, leaning closer to hear Zell’s words.

Suddenly he looked up, his eyes looking deep into Squall’s and for a moment, Squall didn’t breathe. "You can tell me Zell, I’m your friend, you know that."

Zell gestured half heartedly with his hand, "I know that Squall." He paused before continuing. "It’s just that it’s not any one thing, but so many things that have begun to weigh on my mind. I don’t even know if I am able to articulate it. To you or to anyone else."

Squall put his hand on Zell’s shoulder. "Try." He murmured. Zell looked into Squall’s eyes, licked his lips and swallowed hard. "Okay", he breathed. "It’s like this…I saw Rinoa leave your room tonight."

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