STANDARD DISCLAIMER: All the characters used in this fanfic belongs solely to Squaresoft and are used without permission. This story is made only for personal entertainment purposes and does not make any profit whatsoever. The plot is copyrighted to the author. Do not duplicate this fanfic without the author's permission.

WARNING: Yaoi content.

Any comments can be sent to mouse-chan at cheese_factory @

Kiss The Pain Away

By Mouse-chan

A teddy-bear that have seen better days hugged protectively near his chest. A hint of stuffing peeked out from one corner of the dark brown wool. Untidy blonde hair falling haphazardly onto his forehead. Big blue eyes, wide against the setting of his face looked enquiringly at his companion.

"Does it hurt?"

"No," the answer of the dark haired boy was sullen. His lips twisted into a pout while he rubbed the bruise that was forming on his cheek. His two feet sat quietly on the floor. The other blonde boy that hit him had left the room a long time ago.

"You can cry if it hurts you know," the smaller boy told him, offering his well beloved stuff toy. "You can lend this if you want."

"Boys don't cry," one gray blue eye peered up at him.

"I cry a lot," a hesitant shuffle from a small foot. A sudden fierce look of pride entered the innocent face, a flash of what would the features become in another 12 years. "But not as much now. Ma said so." Another pause then. "Ma also kissed the hurt away a lot too."

"Kiss it away? Does it work" a little doubtful but sprinkled with hope

"Yea, maybe matron could do it for you. Ma will be coming to take me back soon," a smile.

"Matron's out," the dark haired boy slumped back.

"I could do it for you," another faint smile then blue eyes frowned childishly. "But don't know if it would work that way."

A shrug, an offer. Blonde hair tickling the darker strands. Gentle pressure of pink tinted lips against pale skin. Quick as it was slow. Sweet yet meaning nothing in the face of childhood. Only the point of helping each other. Five years were enough to only know kisses healed the hurt. Nothing else.

"Did it work?" worry.

"....yes, it did." A smile.

The soothing sounds of waves hitting the sandy beach made its way into the room. Sunlight came cheerfully through the open windows casting away the shadows that hid in dark corners. It was a beginning of a lovely day. The sky was as blue as one could ever imagine with not a cloud in sight. There was no threat of bad weather lingering amidst the horizon.

A seagull swept through the air with its haunting call. Its white feathers gleamed in the light.

Unfortunately all these wonderful details was lost on a certain youth that was still lying on his bed while trying to will away the mother of all nasty hangovers.

[I am gonna break Irvine's neck for spiking the drinks last night....]

The youth growled something under his breath concerning the sun, Irvine, alcohol and what he could do with all of them. He remembered the longhaired SeeD discreetly pouring something from the innocent looking flask he held during the party into his drink.

For a moment he would have successfully expended his vocabulary but jackhammers had decided to move into his head.

[and for spiking mine....wonderful]

Zell could bet there were about ten jackhammers pounding merrily inside his brain. He groaned, placing one hand on his throbbing forehead. Immediately he regretted doing so when the action somehow managed to cause the jackhammers in his head to pound harder. If it weren't actually making him feel like he was on an insane merry-go-round, Zell was fairly sure he would be in the middle of cursing every one of Irvine's ancestors.

[Kill him....slowly....breaking his neck is too good a death for him]

His thoughts lingered on the best methods of slow death for his friend. It mostly involved dangling one Irvine Kinneas from the tallest perch in Balamb Garden and leaving him there to rot. It was not the most creative idea but considering the circumstances, it was passable.

[Yes, hang him there with only his underpants....or better yet, naked]

Pushing himself up, the blonde SeeD made an impressive attempt to ignore the torture his brain was currently subjected to. He sat on the edge of his bed, staring uncomprehendingly at the ten digits that made out his toes. Blue eyes wavered undecidedly before dropping close. Zell's shoulders slumped forward as he hovered on the edges of falling back to sleep again.

[Uh....there was something I needed to do today...]

Bemusedly, Zell unraveled his mental schedule and checked for the most important thing that he was supposed to attend to that day. He frowned, wondering what he was so intent on doing. There was no world to save today since Squall and gang had already saved it the day before. Ultimecia was somewhere in some unreachable depths roasting into crisps.

[Then what......]

Lips quirked into a grin. If anything, one could say that it was a rather evil grin.

[Kill Irvine, revenge....must not forget revenge....but first I need to get to Balamb Garden...-then- kill him]

Motivation did wonders.

The blonde SeeD managed to force his eyes open and made it to his feet. Proud that he was actually standing although not too steadily, Zell made a not so straight line towards the bathroom. He leaned heavily on the basin. Glancing at his own reflection in the mirror, Zell made a non-committal grunt.

[shit....I look like I've been dragged through hell...]

One hand still holding his forehead, he used his free hand to splash some water on his face. An undignified yelp sprang out when his senses informed him of the clear liquid's freezing temperature. Blearily he made out the dull red light that told him that the heater was not on.

"Okay," Zell muttered, massaging his suffering head.

Morbidly he began to entertain the idea of throwing the heater somewhere into the next week when a sound caught his attention.

A seagull stared at him with its dark gaze from its perch on the windowsill. It seemed to be rather interested in what the blonde SeeD was doing.

"Whatcha want?"

[Great, now you are talking to birds..]

The bird ruffled its feathers looking most insulted before taking flight. Zell squinted at the open window that led out to the clear blue sky. Blue eyes that rivaled that marvelously vivid color narrowed ever so slightly. His stare followed the winged creature until it disappeared into the skies.

The blue outside made him recall another different tone of blue. A steel grayish blue that held the fury of barely suppressed storms. The color that could turn icy dark blue with the undertones of violence if ever provoked. That could look so warm at times that a million hearts would turn and melt like snow facing the sun.

His stomach did a flip-flop remembering the way Squall smiled.

Then reality decided to whack him soundly on the head, uncaring whether or not there were jackhammers intent on breaking his poor excuse for a brain apart.

[Oh yeah, he didn't smile for me. He smiled for Rinoa....kissed her too]

The flip-flopping turned into a nauseated churning. Suddenly there was a hollow feeling gnawing where his heart was supposed to be. Zell blinked; pondering why the hell did he feel that way. Squall kissed his girlfriend last night. Couples were supposed to do that.

At the word 'girlfriend', his stomach twisted threatening to spill out whatever it contained. Two pale eyebrows rose up towards his hairline.

[Hey, I should be happy! The silent brooding one managed to snag a pretty gal...after all the trouble the gang went through to glue em together....think happy Dincht!!]

Good cheer for his friend was apparently absent. Zell glared at himself through the mirror.

[What's wrong with me?!....]

Sighing, he dropped onto the toilet seat. Folding leg up in the customary way he normally sat, Zell balanced his chin on one propped up hand. His other hand rubbed the dark tattoo on his face absently as he reviewed his thoughts.

He knew that Squall would end up marrying Rinoa and most likely have five kids....

[Ugh, no don't think about that...]

With a start, the blonde SeeD realized that he didn't like the idea of Squall tied with Rinoa. If anything, his stomach was a good evidence of that. Zell nibbled on his lower lip, evaluating all the possibilities of why he suddenly did not agree on setting up Squall with Rinoa. He was sure there were plenty of good reasons why he was against it. But the 'good reasons' weren't surfacing. The 'why' question was answered with a blank line.

He irritatedly scrubbed the droplets of cold water away from his face.

[Come on, Dincht! You made that extra copy of Squall's ring for Rinoa. Hell, you even played in that darn concert!]

Unfortunately his traitorous mind offered him only a blank face.

[Great! -NOW- you decide that they aren't a match made in heaven. And you don't even know WHY]

"Dammit," Zell informed the tiled walls. Frustration boiled up as he searched for the unknown answer. "Make up your mind! Because?? Because....."

The way he smiled, it made the blonde SeeD's heart swell up in longing. The gentleness Zell knew the dark haired youth was capable of. The concern he let slip when he thought no one was looking. The warmth beneath all that icy exterior crap he exhibited to the public. Everything rapidly added to the list.

Or even how good his ass looked in leather.

"Cause I love him!"

Blue eyes widened in shock at his own words. The ankle that was comfortably hooked over the other knee fell from its position. Zell unconsciously straightened his back.

He backpedaled his thoughts, cautiously breaking all the words into tiny pieces and putting them back together again. Zell pushed the four words that just burst out of his mouth around his head, carefully weighing their meaning. Then with the precision of a surgeon, he pulled open his emotions and proceeded to go through them one by one.

His stomach dropped into a freefall when he realized that somewhere along the line, his friendship with Squall had turned into a one sided... something else.

[When did THAT happen?]

Since he was a kid, Zell knew that he was a controversial when sexuality was concerned. His tendency to look at guys more than girls never did disturbed him before. Now it seemed that all the previously carefree way he took for granted about his sexuality dispelled leaving him doubtful.

It was one thing to know that you were different. But it was another matter if you found out that you had a crush on your best friend. Zell winced.

[Slash that...serious crush that hits you stupid sounds more like it...]

Agitated, the blonde SeeD bounced up from his seat now unable to sit still. Clear about his new emotions towards his friend, Zell began pacing up and down the privy. Unfortunately for the youth, the area for him to stride was limited so within a few minutes he gave up and decided staring at his own reflection would be a more productive method for thinking.

"Right, now we got that straightened out," he told himself. "What are we gonna do?"

[That and the little problem we are gonna have when we get to Balamb Garden....Squall is gonna know...]

Not he -wanted- Squall to know but that brooding fellow could be pretty observant. Sometimes Squall would just blank out but those times were far a part. Nine on the scale of ten he would know that one blonde SeeD member was a step away from being hopelessly in love with him as soon as Zell said 'hi'.

There were a million of options. One was telling Squall straight out that he liked, no, loved him. But that would most probably end with a flourish bruise on Zell's face. There were times where honesty was not the best policy. The next one was just leaving things the way they were and pretend that he never thought of even....whatever he had thought or what he was now thinking of.

Zell's face turned a shade of pink.

[No, I never considered kissing Squall before or...not when....right....]

Hormones were something that came with adolescence. Considering the fact that he was a healthy 17-year-old, Zell was not incredibly surprised with his body's reaction to his particular line of thought. But it didn't mean that he was happy with it.

[This is what I call a mess....a major -you are *SO* dead- mess]

Sighing, he pressed his head against the mirror.

"Zell Dincht, you are a first class idiot"

There was little doubt that his reflection nodded cheerfully in agreement with his statement.

"ZELL~! There you are!"

Selphie waved as her compact figure bounced the last few meters to fall alongside of him. She smoothed the short hem of her yellow dress down primly but the sparkle in her vivid green eyes betrayed the bundle of quicksilver that she was. She smiled, her happy mood infectious. "Where have you been? You disappeared right after the party last night. I was worried"

[Was Squall worried too?...wait! That didn't just cross my mine!!.But....Stop it, Dincht!]

"Was at home," Zell managed a small grin. "Had to visit Ma."

"Oh, did you know that Cid gave us all a free day off? So we can hang around but its rather boring since I can't find the rest of the gang"

[Free day off....darn that leaves more time to brood. Just like Squall...Get OFF him!]

"Irvine has just decided to stay in Balamb Garden for a while," Selphie told him, her voice brilliant.

"He has," Zell's mind snapped back to his grand murder plan. He tilted his head slightly to one side, blue eyes thoughtful. He glanced around the empty hallways of the Garden; hopefully luck was on his side today and would spare him the potentially embarrassing conversation if he met Squall. He murmured darkly at his inability to keep a certain dark haired SeeD off his mind for a whole minute. "So where is the guy anyway?"

Revenge was a nice way to occupy his wandering thoughts.

[Yep, can't murder him when I don't know where he is....Rule 579c: always be clear of the location of your target before carrying out the mission..]

"I am not sure. I am sort of looking for him myself," a slip of shyness entered into the enthusiastic girl's tone. Zell could tell there was another blossoming of new love between Selphie and Irvine. One just had to give them a little time together and let Mr. Cupid do the rest.

[Damn, now I can't kill him...oh well just hang him from the rooftops and enjoy watching him scream is good enough....]

Almost as though the gods deemed that Zell was a lesser threat to Irvine now, the tall lanky figure of the longhaired SeeD appeared from the entrance of the library. He caught sight of the talking duo and made his way towards them.

"Good morning. Selphie..Zell," Irvine smiled his charming smile and tipped his ever present hat.

[Nope, can't drag him off in front of Selphie. Isn't the day getting better and better..]

"Irvine!" Selphie sounded absolutely delighted. Zell's murderous intent softened a little. "What are you doing here? I heard that you had class."

"Class?" Zell questioned with a lift of a pale eyebrow.

"Didn't I tell you? Cid managed to get Irvine to teach some of the Balamb students the proper way of using guns," the hyper SeeD's green eyes held a touch of pride. "Since he is so good at shooting and all."

"Selphie, don't have to tell it to the whole world," Irvine said while making a rather failed attempt on modesty.

Yea, then he will get so big-headed that he won't be able to get through the Garden's gates," Zell retorted immediately after hearing the faint smug tone in the taller SeeD's voice. Irvine tried to playfully shove him but years of martial arts training were still fresh in his mind. Zell easily stepped away, laughing.

"So why aren't you in class?" Selphie pressed.

At the same time, a pair of footsteps echoed through the hall. It seemed to be heading at their direction. Zell's accurate hearing noted that they were rather hurried and had an underlying click at the end that only came from heels. Each step was small but evenly paced meaning that the owner was of medium size.

[Probably a female..]

"Irvine?" Selphie asked , this time her hands were on her hips.

Zell glanced up to see a look of distraction on the taller SeeD's features. In fact, Irvine almost looked like he was in a mild state of panic.

[What the....]

"Unfortunately I will have to take my leave," the longhaired SeeD murmured with another tip of his hat. He turned and walked away.

Zell couldn't help but notice the rather fast pace his friend was keeping as he made his way out of the Garden or the direction he was taking was directly opposite the source of the footsteps. His lips twitched into a mischievous grin.

[Like he is running away from...someone....that's interesting]

"Irvine wait! I need to talk with you!!" Selphie cried out before swiftly racing after the disappearing SeeD.

It was not long before Selphie too vanished from his sight.

"Zell!" a new but familiar voice gasped out.

The blond SeeD member turned, inwardly wincing. There were several people he was hoping not to meet today and this person was one of them. Probably one of God's punishments for putting salt into the cake his foster mother was making instead of sugar. Or the countless arguments and the endless trading of insults with Seifer. Or maybe accidentally pushing Squall into ocean water when he was five....

[But he pulled me in as well!...oh, Bad Zell, bad...quit thinking of HIM]

Cursing his luck, he managed to concoct up something that had a vague resemblance to a smile. The act was almost painful. But that was nothing compared to forcing a cheer into his voice. "Yo, Rinoa. How are ya?"

"Have you seen Irvine?" the girl bent down to catch her breath.

Zell was thankful that she couldn't see the weak parody of a grin he had on his face. At once he chucked away the expression opting for a more confused one. Genuine curiosity colored his question. "Irvine? What do you want with him?"

"He promised he would help set up a date with Squall and I"

"He what?" the blonde Seed spluttered.

One part of his brain disagreed entirely that Rinoa should ever go out on a date with Squall and suggesting throwing the longhaired girl out of the window. Another part of him rationally informed him that couples -do- go out on outings that were called dates. Considering the small fact that the pair had every right to do whatever they wanted and that it was none of his business, Zell managed to stifle a sardonic remark.

[Bleh, perish the kissing part....I am definitely gonna be sick]

He tossed the subject around before he noticed Rinoa was looking rather expectantly at him.

[Oh right...Irvine]

According to the payback section, Irvine was due for a nasty treat somewhere in the near future. Unfortunately sending Rinoa on his trail whether he deserved it or not seemed too extreme for his tastes. It was also was not under the hundred ways of prolonging torture. Anyway if he did, that would minus Zell the pleasure of actually seeing him suffer. A suffering Irvine was a topic he didn't want to miss up during his revenge.

"Uh sorry," he answered sheepishly, "Nope, didn't see Irvine. Perhaps he is in class?"


"Maybe it's a better idea to just ask Squall if ya wanna go out on a date with him," Zell advised feeling rather bad about lying.

"You know Squall," Rinoa blushed. "You need to get around him before he agrees."

[I entirely disagree..being straightforward works....oh looks who's talking...]

Zell found it increasingly hard to keep his face pleasant. All he wanted to do was to find somewhere quiet and sulk. But the odds were not on his side since one dark haired girl persisted in bugging him while a brooding young man decided to make a home in his thoughts.

[She makes him happy, right?]

[Come on Zell, you are not making this easy...]



"He can be sweet when he wants to. But most of the time he is just a big meanie," Rinoa giggled. "I am going to drag him out whether he wants to or not."

The blonde SeeD stared at her. For the life of him, he could -not- see what was so special about the girl standing in front of him. Yes, she was pretty. Yes, she was a sorceress. Yes, she could fight pretty well even though she was a girl. And yes, she was also a complete pain in the butt.

[Always wanting her way..]

[But she makes him happy..and all he ever said to you was shut up..]

[spoilt brat....]

[He smiled at her, remember? Something you -never- seen him do before..]

[But she...]

[He is happy...doesn't that mean anything to you?]

[Yes, it does...but...b-but DAMMIT!]

Rinoa went on another giggling spree and Zell had to fight the urge to go -hurt- something.

[Be nice....okay TRY to be nice..]

He was getting a headache.

"Right, listen I gotta go run off now. Hope you find Irvine," he quickly snapped out as cheerfully as possible. Swiftly, he walked down the hall towards the training center leaving the dark haired girl staring at him in confusion.


[Wonderful day I know, now can I just go and throw myself out of some high bridge to end my suffering?]

[Maybe that's why Ultimecia didn't kill me. It would be more satisfying to see me going mad while battling with my own hormones.. entirely amusing as well...]

"Hi Quistis," Zell offered.

He did not even attempt another smile since it was too painful to even try. All he wanted to do was get into the training center bent on destruction. That or sitting down and start sulking. The latter was not very productive, so he decided to choose the first option. An unhealthy psychology according to the health books but he could live with that.

"You don't look too good," the older SeeD glanced at him with concern in her blue eyes.

"I'm fine, Quisty," he answered falling back to the nickname he had christened her since he was a child. It almost soothed his jumbled emotions. Almost.

"Well, you don't look fine," her gaze became more critical. "Perhaps you should go to the infirmary?"

[Perfect, I am sure they have painkillers somewhere...]

"Nah, nothing the doc can do for me," immediately he regretted saying that. That one sentence told too much. Contained the hint of something else. He quickly added, "Sorta like a leftover from the alcohol last night."

Zell fidgeted knowing that it was useless to try and lie. The elder SeeD knew him better than most people he usually hung out with.

"Something on your mind?" Quitis questioned, kinder now.

[now THAT is an understatement]

"Sort of," he slowly confessed but could not bring himself to blurt out the whole story. It was a little too private even to share with someone as close as Quistis. "I just need to go work off the extra tension then I will be fine."

"Perhaps," her tone doubtful. "Just be careful in there. They just left loose a young T-rex with a taste for blood. Keep alert. I don't want anything to happen to you."

"Yes, instructor," this time a grin wasn't too forced. Snapping his heels in a parody of a salute, Zell made his way into the inner chamber of the training center.

The foliage was thick around the borders of the large metal room. Insects chirped from hidden leaves while the gentle flow of water quietly filled the air. Somehow he never failed to think that he was in some sort of jungle. The place felt isolated, far away from the rest of society. For that reason alone, Zell appreciated the place.

The metal gates clanged shut behind him.

The sound of the metal lock snapping close seemed to only further enforced the feeling of isolation.

After walking a few paces, a few monsters decided to pay him a visit. Easily, the blonde SeeD sent them up to meet their maker. He searched around and killed off another handful of spesky monsters. It helped released a bit of the frustration he was feeling but not much. Zell turned and leaned against the bark of a tree.

[I love Squall.....]

The words rolled around his tongue for a moment, refusing to come out into the air.

[Rinoa loves Squall, Squall loves Rinoa....where does that leave me?]

[Absolutely nowhere..]

Covering his face, Zell groaned and sank down. He felt entirely depressed like a water balloon that just been pricked. He was sure Squall loved Rinoa. The girl was pretty and had all the girlie ways that made the opposite sex stare at her legs.

[And a complete bubble head....]

[Now what? If I tell him...]

Zell paused, considering the option.

[No, if I tell him then...I am ruining everything. He loves Rinoa. And he never shown any interest towards guys...not that I know of]

A dry smile crept onto the blond SeeD's face. "A wonderful time to acknowledge that you are in love," Zell berated himself. "And a fine choice too. A brooding, silent, sullen person who is, by the way, involved with another person. Seriously Zel if you...."

He never managed to finish his sentence because a thundering roar exploded not to far away, threatening to shatter his eardrums. Instincts took over, and Zell leaped away from his current spot. He swiftly switched from relaxed to fully alert in an instant. Fortunately he did what he did for a large figure burst out of the green camouflage. The tree that he was leaning on a few seconds ago broke into splinters.

A loud growl rumbled in the T-rex's chest, an obvious challenge.

[No sorry, it's not feeding time]

Zell raised both fists out, bouncing on the balls of his feet. Slipping easily into battle mode, he mentally checked all the spells that he had with him. Unfortunately he had discarded the 'sleep' spell a few days ago.

Muttering, he dodged the tail that came hurtling his way.

Blue eyes widen at the rapid way the T-rex swung over for another attack.

[Are they making these things faster? Or is it just my imagination?]

He ducked again but this time the pebbly skin caught onto his left shoulder. The slight contact jerked him backwards causing him to loose his balance. The creature took the advantage to try and rip him apart with its massive jaws.

The blonde SeeD immediately cast fire right at the T-rex's face. The creature roared, furious but stumbled back a few paces. Thanking the stars, Zell scrambled back onto his feet. He zoomed in for a few hits, making sure that each attack hit its intended target. Tightly clenched fists hammered on the hard surface. Zell gritted his teeth; skidding back after his attack was done.

Droplets of crimson ran from the dark brown sin but the creature did not even seem to notice.

[Still not enough...]

The T-rex swung at him again. This time it hit Zell squarely on the chest. The impact made his fly several distance away. His lower lip found itself between his teeth. Blood trickled out from the wound. He bounced back onto his feet, stubbornly refusing to escape. His limbs ached but he pushed at them to work as he dodged another attack.

No time to cast a healing spell.

No time at all.

Adrenaline pumped in his veins.

He reached into himself, calling for the Guardian Force that allied him ever since his SeeD examination in Dollet. Quezacotl wasted no time in coming; she knew his call as though it was her second nature. Her presence swept through him, friendly and comforting as any other friend would have been.

Bolts of pure electricity sparkled through the air like waves welcoming her presence. The great bird's cry was shrill; a cry of a mystical beast. She shone gold like the sun among the sudden darkness that invaded their surroundings. Thunder roared at her command, shaking the earth under his feet. Lightening flashed into a terrible yet fascinating flash of raw energy. Its force crashed against anything that stood in its away. She raised her magnificent head to utter another cry.

For an instant, the world was awash with the brilliant white light.

Zell reappeared, slightly out of breath.

The T-rex let loose one last mighty roar before it tumbled onto the ground and was still. Zell wiped the sweat from his brow feeling the last traces of tension seep away into the boneless Jell-O feeling that came with victory. Carefully he cleaned the traces of blood that found its way onto his beloved gloves. His mind for once was delightfully empty.

[What a nice blank emotion....]

"Didn't think you would need help"

Zell spun around, shocked that he did failed notice someone standing just a few feet away.

[that's it Dincht. You need more training, you are getting sloppy...someone could---]

"Squall!" he couldn't hide the surprise in his voice. But he could refrain from blushing or die trying. There was an odd dryness in his throat while his brain was literally packed with a dozen things to say. Yet he could not seem to find any one of them appropriate. So he went for the most natural thing to say.

"What are you doing here?"

[Smooth...real smooth...]

"Quistis asked me to check up on you,"

Short answer but full of meaning. Zell pondered if Quistis had actually managed to see past his façade. If she did then he was in deep shit. The blond SeeD surveyed the sentence again. If he thought about it, Squall could just be acting out of comrade concern. That was normal enough.


"I am fine," Zell let out a little laugh as though wanting to prove his sentence. He tried not to stare into the gray blue eyes that could pull him in like whirlpools. Then he fell into an awkward pause, not knowing what else to say since the only thought that ran in his mind were:

[...I love you but I am not gonna tell you since it's gonna wreak our friendship and I don't want you to hit me cause I am already hurting in several places'...]

"You are bleeding,"


"Huh?" the blond SeeD blinked and lifted his finger to his lips. The spot where it was cut was sore. His fingers came away with a faint tinge of red. He found it odd he did not notice it before.

"Does it hurt?" he walked and stopped when he was right in front of Zell.

[Right, Squall is making a conversation with me. Did Quistis bonk him on the head? Wakey wakey Zell..]

"A little," he answered warily.

Something about the conversation was familiar. The only thing was that the roles were reversed. Zell prodded the back of his mind to search.....

"Let me see," a warm hand gently touched his chin. For a heartbeat moist lips brushed against his own. Barely but his senses beeped red telling him that he had indeed been kissed.

..and immediately forgot what he was supposed to be looking for.

[Squall just kissed me....]

[and tiny green aliens are going to pop out from nowhere now....I think the -t-rex- bonked -me- too hard n the head....wonderful hallucination...]

Dark hair tickled his the tips of his nose. Squall redrew a little but was still quite close if you considered an inch away from your own face close. Zell could smell the musky scent of pine coming from the taller SeeD's skin. Warm fingers were still there, tilting his face up to meet the dark gray blue eyes.

[Godzilla is real....there are chocobos sleeping under my bed....]

"Did it work?" a faint smile. There was -something- hiding in those eyes. Unfortunately Zell was too out of it to think straight.

[...Squall is marrying Rinoa...RINOA!!]

"Oi man," Zell stepped back away from the warm embrace, hating himself for it. "Yeah, I am fine."

His mind clicked remembering that one time where two five-year-olds conversed and shared something in the old lighthouse. But was too long ago, that was before Rinoa came into the picture. Before Rinoa kissed one dark haired young SeeD and kept him in her arms.

[Is this a favor for what I did 12 years ago?]

As insulting as it was, it hurt. And hurt bad since he was already hurting.

"Look man," Zell's blue eyes flashed, deciding to quit waltzing around his emotions. If it backfired and Squall never wanted to see his sorry face again so be it. At least he would go home depressed but not haunted by the 'could have happen if he said it'. "I.....I.."

[come on three words....easy.. I-Love-You...but why isn't it coming out?]

"I...what about Rinoa?" the blond SeeD blurted out at last.

[Chicken.....Seifer was right after all..]

"What about Rinoa?" Squall stared at him. Dark eyes confused for a moment before they were shielded away by the dark bangs.

"Ya know, you n' her"

[And that's why you don't go kissing other people. Yeah that includes me matter how much I enjoyed it....]

"Come on Squall," annoyance colored his voice. "You kissed her on the balcony just last night? Remember?"

[Ah and where did the jealousy come from?]

"What I remembered was Irvine pouring something into my drink," there was an odd quiver in his voice. Zell could have sworn Squall was trying not to laugh. Laugh at him perhaps.

"She has your ring," the blond SeeD snapped his fingers impatiently.

[ I am explaining to him that they are a couple....oh joy]

No enlightenment presented themselves in the gray blueness. Zell stifled the abnormal urge to go find another bloodthirsty T-rex.

"Ya 're a couple right?"

[There said we wait for the fireworks when he starts to remember....]

"Rinoa and I, a couple," Squall murmured slowly allowing the words to fall flat. A lift of an eyebrow managed to imply the complete opposite to the sentence he just said.

"Kay but she thinks...."

[Now why the hell am I arguing for HER sake?]

"She thinks wrong."

"Then you should tell's not very nice..."

[Zell....keep your mouth are rambling nonsense]

"Later, there is something more important."

"And that is..?"

Squall glanced at the blonde SeeD who was just standing an arm's length away. He looked as though he was trying to say something that was incredibly hard. Zell shifted his weight knowing how easy it would be to just reach over and touch….

[Focus Dincht! Focus!]

"Rinoa is not what I want." The dark haired SeeD finally stated.

[Ah the number one question, take the bait and risk it Zell? Under the laws of Science, there is no way anyone could stand so still....]

"What do you want?" an inquiry that could have meant anything at all. Zell found himself unable to breathe as he waited for what seemed an eternity for an answer.


Such a simple word.

Blue eyes met dark gray blue ones. No need for an answer. The meaning was there. It had been always there since their innocent exchange of words 12 years ago. There, just waiting for them to catch up with what they unconsciously said in the past.

And caught up with those words, they did.

"Did it work?"

"Yes it did. It doesn't hurt anymore"


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