Notes: Ahh! I've been away. What have I missed? Hm.. well, this is the prologue to my new FF8 fic. It's really more a teaser than a prologue, it's so damned short. No magic. No weird stuff. Just the team dealing with everything after Ultimecia's been gone for awhile. Don't let the pairing throw you off. It's a challenge, but I'll try my best to make it believable.

Dedicated to: Mike. With his beautiful shining soul, and his sad eyes. Never stop believing in the good, Mike. It's somewhere, even if we can't see it sometimes.

Warnings: Nothing special. No gore. No pointless angst. I only do mild angst. No males being pregnant. None of that. Just a real look, at characters who should have been real. Oh wait, there is a warning for yaoi fans. There are het pairings in this fic. If that grosses you out, deal with it. No smut. Unless Mike asks for it.


Chapter Two - bombshell

By Sniffles

ZELL leaned against the bathroom stall, letting out a sigh and slumping. He was drained, already, and this stupid reunion had just started. He reached up, running his hands into his hair and tugging. "Why the fuck did I agree to come?" He muttered, dropping his hand. He pulled a small white packet out of his pocket. Inside were a pile of pills, two of which he popped into his mouth and chewed. He fumbled with the rest of the pills, looking for one in particular. When he found it, he popped it into his mouth and chewed on it.

He tucked the packet back into his pocket. After a few moments he could feel the pills working. They were a mixture of relaxants, and vitamins. All perfectly legal, and none even remotely dangerous. He was freaked out about the reunion, but not freaked out enough to turn into an idiot. He knew, as well as anyone else, how dangerous the drugs of the day were, so he avoided them, even at his shittiest moments.


He gasped, pulling away from the door and dropping onto the toilet. "Uh.. y-yeah?"

"Hey, bud." Irvine's voice. Zell watched as the cowboy's boots passed his stall. He heard something that sounded like Irvine leaning against the stall beside him.

He was glad he was in a uni-sex bathroom, they provided a person with more privacy. "Whatcha' doin?"

"Having a baby, what do you -think- I'm doing?" Zell snapped.

"Meowr." Irvine purred, "Pull in those claws, save them for the lion." They were both quiet. Irvine knew full well Zell wasn't using the toilet and Zell knew Irvine knew, but he refused to admit it. "You haven't told him, huh?"

"Yeah sure." Zell snorted, "I'm not an idiot, I know what will happen."

"Oh yeah, and what's that?"

"He'll laugh at me... or punch me. Pow." He brushed his clenched fist against his cheek in a parody of the punch that he'd probably get if he told the lion, as Irvine just suggested.

"Nah. He wouldn't. You're a friend, Zell..." Irvine said softly, his soothing voice charming Zell as it always did. "A good friend."

"Not good enough."

"You're really worried about him."

Squall looked at Quistis. He nodded shortly, "He's been acting oddly all evening. Jumpy, a little too happy. Almost as if..."

"As if he was high on something?"

"Yeah." Squall nodded, frowning deeply.

"I don't think he is. Zell's not the type."

"There is no such thing as a 'type'." Squall said sourly.

Quistis smiled, accurately judging his behavior by what it was. Worry. He was so worried for Zell he couldn't see straight. She found this mildly amusing, and very cute. "Did you ever tell him, Squall?"

"No. It's not worth losing a friend over."

"A friend, huh..." Quistis shook her head, placing her hand on his shoulder, "A friend wouldn't keep a secret like that for five years."


"Ah... eight years?" She sighed, "Squall. You're insane. Just tell him! This might be your last chance."

"I can't."

"Hey, hey, hey! We're back." Irvine slipped back into his seat, wrapping his arm easily around Selphie's shoulders.

Selphie giggled, leaning into him. Zell sat down, even more subdued then he'd been when he left the table. Quistis knew she had lost Squall's attention completely as she saw the look Squall gave Zell. She smiled, //I hope those two figure things out, because I'm getting tired of watching the mope.//

"Now that everyone's back, Seifer and I have an announcement." Rinoa said, she grabbed her cup and stood. Seifer immediately moved to stand beside her, wrapping an arm around her waist.

Irvine couldn't look. He knew what was coming. He'd known it for years. He was going to be sick, he could feel it bubbling inside him. He looked at everyone else, watching the mild surprise on their faces as they saw the protective and familiar way Seifer had taken Rinoa into his arms. No one knew. Perhaps some of them hadn't even had a clue. It was obvious really, it always had been. Rinoa hadn't been secretive about her feelings. She wasn't the type.

"Seifer and I"

//Please... I can't hear this...//

"have decided"

//Please... no... gods no...//

"to get mar-"

Irvine closed his eyes tightly. "NO!" Just when he screamed the walls shook as an explosion rocked the building. The resulting tremors were so strong everyone was thrown to the ground. The lights snapped, the hall fading into complete darkness.

His body ached. Especially his knees. He rolled to his side, coughing out dust. The smell that pervaded his nostrils made him feel sick so the coughing almost turned into retching. Somehow he kept his dinner down. He pushed himself up to a kneeling position, looking around the dimly light room. At some point the emergency lights had turned on. Everyone was on the floor, like him. The force of the explosion, and the after tremors had left the hall in complete disarray. As he looked around he could see that tables, chairs, everything had collapsed. Only a few tables still stood, though they looked ready to fall at any moment.

He noticed the bodies lying around him. They weren't spread too far apart. He wondered at the dust, but when he glanced up he knew it was because parts of the roof had collapsed under stress and fallen to the floor. "Quistis?" He crawled to the body nearest his own, he touched her shoulder, "Quistis?"

She groaned, then coughed. He helped her sit up, looking around as voices started to fill the room. Others were getting up, and helping each other. "Squall?"

"Yeah." Squall said softly, brushing the dust out of her hair and off her shoulders.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Zell?"

"Here..." Squall looked in the direction of the soft voice. Zell was sitting up, blond head bent as the small fighter examined himself.

"Rinoa? Seifer?"

"We're here."

"Matron? Headmaster?"

"We're all right, Squall." Edea's soft voice called in response to his query.

His eyes darted to each of his companions, calling out there names until only two were left. "Selphie? Irvine?"

No response. The others grew quiet, all eyes turning to the two bodies still lying unmoving. "Selphie?"

"Irvine!?" Quistis called.

"Yea-yeah..." Irvine slowly pushed himself up. He shook his head, wincing at the pain. "Yeah... I'm here... Selph?"

The girl lay, staring at him, tears in her eyes. "You okay?" He asked, worried that she didn't respond.

"What... the hell... was that?" She gasped.

He smiled, though it was a really weak smile, reaching out to help her sit up.

"I think I can answer that."

All eyes flew to the entrance. There stood three men in Esthar army uniforms, "Although, I'm not sure you'll like the answer."

The doors burst open, Esthar soldiers running into the hall in single file. They surrounded the hall, twenty-five of them in all. "Loire?" Squall had his hand on Quistis' arm still. He stood, holding his hand out to help Quistis up.

The man who had spoken to him reached up, tugging off his helmet. He shook out his long black hair then grinned and nodded, "Hello again Squall."

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