Author's Notes: I OWN NOTHING…It’s all about the Almighty Squaresoft….

For His Love

Chapter 7

By Pixie158

Zell stepped out of his sanctuary and made his way carefully through the trees and fragrant plants that had hidden him so well. He tread lightly, not wanting to risk calling attention to himself, as he was unprepared for battle. Being set upon by monsters and having to yell for Squall to come to his rescue was a humiliation he couldn’t even contemplate.

Reaching the entrance to the balcony, Zell took a last look over his shoulder before crossing the threshold. He wanted the advantage this time so he made his footsteps light, not wanting to alert Squall to his presence just yet.

"Zell." It was a statement, not a question. Too late.

Squall’s back was facing Zell; he didn’t turn to look at him.

"Yeah, it’s me…hey, I know you told me not to follow you…" he offered in the way of an explanation. Squall shook his head wearily.

"No, it’s all right Zell." His voice was devoid of warmth; flat and desolate. Zell stood in silence, unsure of how to proceed. He knew that Squall was receptive to his advances, but he’d made it known earlier that he wasn’t ready to deal with that fact. So he waited.

"I don’t know what to say to you, Zell. Whatever is between us cannot be." His voice was determined, his stance rigid. Zell knew that he believed what he was saying.

"It already is, Squall. You can’t ignore what happened."

Squall turned suddenly. "I can’t? The hell I can’t! I didn’t ask for this, never wanted this. I have responsibilities, obligations…I…." He couldn’t continue. He lowered his head, and with his back still to the wall, he slowly slid down until he sat on the floor. His long legs stretched out before him, his head remained bowed.

Zell stood where he was for a few seconds, biting his lower lip as he was wont to do when deep in thought. After observing Squall for what seemed like hours, he moved towards the wall to sit next to him. He expected Squall to get up, or to at least move out of arm’s reach, but he sat, unmoving.

"This isn’t easy for me either, you know." Zell tried to keep the accusatory note out of his voice. Squall didn’t respond, so he continued.

"I’ve had to watch Rinoa crawl all over you for the past eleven months and it’s been slowly driving me crazy. With all that we’ve been through, the Sorceress, Time Compression, all of it-she was the one who gave you strength, gave you comfort."

Squall looked at him sideways. "What’s wrong with that?" He asked, confused.

"Because it should’ve been me!" His voice was loud, accusing.

Squall looked away, taken aback by Zell’s determined tone.

"She’s an interloper, Squall, she’s not one of us! You and me…we’ve been together forever; Quistis, Selph, Irvine, hell, even Seifer. It’s always been us!" Squall shook his head.

"Those memories are only beginning to resurface, Zell, I don’t have the ties you want me have. Sure, I care about all of you, but none of us really have full recall of our childhood."

Zell looked at him in disgust.

"It means nothing to you does it? How much everyone looks up to you, respects you? You don’t even care!"

Squall rose in anger, kicking aside his gunblade and his shirt and jacket as he stood.

"It means everything, Zell! How can you not see that? No matter what I do, what I say, everyone’s eyes are on me ALL THE TIME. If I fuck up, I’ve got a thousand people looking over my shoulder; you don’t know how that feels! So don’t talk to me about people respecting me and how I don’t care. I care too much-don’t you get it?"

Zell slowly got to his feet and moved in closer to Squall.

"It’s her. Don’t deny it. It all comes back to her." Squall flinched at his venomous words, but Zell couldn’t stop.

"You’re giving me all these noble excuses as to why you can’t love me, but the real reason is her…you don’t wanna lose all that hero worship."

Squall turned his head aside, but still Zell went on.

"That’s it, isn’t it? You wanna play the white knight, don’t you? Well let me tell you something Squall, one day you’re gonna wish you’d never become her knight in shining armor and I’ll tell you why. Trouble follows Rinoa, it always has and it always will. She can’t help it; it’s in her blood. And you’re going to get tired of bailing her ass out time after time."

Anger flashed in Squall’s stormy eyes. "So what?!" He yelled. "She needs me, Zell, why can’t you understand that?"

"She needed Seifer, too, once upon a time. Or have you forgotten that? I’m willing to bet you haven’t."

The rage in Squall was becoming almost tangible but he kept silent. Zell wasn’t finished. He advanced on Squall, backing him up with every step he took.

"There will always be some poor sucker waiting to take care of her, Squall. She doesn’t need you. She needs somebody. How can you be so blind?"

Squall shook his head, backing up until he felt the stone at his back. Zell was right on him with every step he took. His voice dropped, low and husky.

"With Rinoa, you’ll always be taking care of her. You’ll never know what it feels like to be protected, to be sheltered. You don’t have to be everyone’s savior, Squall. I can show you what’s it like to be saved for once." His voice lowered more, until it was nothing but a whisper against Squall’s cheek.

"Let me save you, Squall…just this once, you can fall. I promise I’ll catch you." Squall’s eyes fluttered shut and he sighed Zell’s name. It was all the invitation Zell needed. He reached up to tangle his hands in Squall’s hair. It was damp and tangled and fell into his eyes, only serving to accentuate the long spiky lashes that rested against his pale cheek.

Zell studied his delicate features for just a moment, absorbing the contrast his beautiful face made with his hard nature. Squall opened his eyes to look at Zell and he closed them again, signaling his surrender.

Zell pulled him down and captured Squall’s mouth in a kiss that served no purpose other than to proclaim his triumph. His kiss was all consuming, ravishing Squall’s mouth with each sweep of his tongue. Zell ran his hands slowly down Squall’s bare chest, sliding effortlessly down his flat, muscled stomach.

Squall broke free of Zell’s embrace, turning his head aside.

"Zell, no…wait."

Zell growled his displeasure and with a firm grip on Squall’s chin, he claimed his lips once more. Squall protested, mumbling against Zell’s mouth as he tried to move away. Zell grasped Squall’s wrists, pinning him tightly against him, Squall’s hair brushing Zell’s face.

Zell’s kisses grew bolder, more demanding. Squall’s breathing was uneven and he began to whimper when Zell broke the kiss to bite his lower lip. Nipping it, pulling it into his mouth. Zell moved his hands to the buttons on Squall’s pants. One by one he unfastened them, the material falling open with each button that was freed.

Squall pushed weakly against Zell’s shoulders in a half-hearted attempt to free himself. Zell pushed back, determined that Squall would not be running away this time.

Zell began to drop kisses along Squall’s shoulder and up his neck as he slid his hand over Squall’s erection. Squall stilled, his arms falling loosely at his sides. Zell released his wrists and looked up at Squall questioningly. The look in his eyes made Zell step back, afraid he’d pushed too hard this time. Squall stared pleadingly at him.

"Please, Zell, not now, not…here."

Zell closed his eyes and sighed in resignation.

"All right. I’m sorry if I pushed." He slowly began to fasten Squall’s pants again, surprised that Squall allowed even that small intimacy. He bent down to retrieve Squall’s shirt and jacket and handed them to him in silence.

Squall gazed at him distractedly, his eyes still hazy with passion.

Once he was dressed and had strapped his gunblade to his hip, Zell grabbed his hand and pulled him close. He rubbed Squall’s bottom lip with his thumb and gave him an indulgent smile.

"No more running, Squall. I can’t allow it."

Squall reached out slowly and traced his finger along the lines of Zell’s tattoo, offering a tentative smile in return.

"Neither can I."

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