One Moment, And A Year

Chapter 25 - Marmalade

By Akare

Thursday, 10th September.

Seifer narrowed his eyes at Quistis as she gave him another lecture about being tougher than everyone else. He'd *always* been tougher than everyone else, what was her problem? And besides it was fucking lunchtime! He was here to have his lunch not get hassled by his *ex* Instructor about how he should be conducting himself. Finally, to Seifer's immense surprise, Nida saved him.

"Give it a rest, darling," Nida smiled at the blonde. "I'm sure Seifer knows what he's doing... and besides, if he gets out of control we'll just ask Zell to beat him up."

Seifer narrowed his eyes. "Shut up, Nida."

Zell laughed and threw a few punches in the air. "Yeah! I could take him."

'I'll take *you* in a second,' Seifer thought. 'Right on this fucking table.' He was sorry for a moment that he couldn't talk to Zell telepathically. It might have been quite useful.

"So what are you going to do with these new found powers of yours, Seifer?" Rinoa asked.

New found? The gunblader declined from reminding her that she'd known about them for at least three months longer than everyone else. Irvine, Selphie and Nida had only been told on Monday. "Actually," Seifer reclined in his cafeteria chair. "I'm thinking about using it to market a brand of sneakers... or maybe a refreshing sports drink."

Whilst most of them chuckled softly at Seifer's inability to be serious about anything Quistis shook her head. She hated having to play mother all the time but really Seifer should be more concerned. They didn't know what the repercussions of this might be. "Seifer," she began.

But the blond pre-empted her. "Yeah, I know Quisty. Rin and I are looking into past cases of Knighthood." He said the name like it was some sort of hideous disease. "I hear the last guys who came down with it, during Adel's reign, died of the fucking thing. I hope it's not fatal." He acted a little concerned for a moment. "Maybe Kadowaki can work out some sort of antidote."

"Seifer-" Quistis reprimanded.

"Matron says Squall and Cid'll be fine and awesome since neither she nor Rin have died *or* possessed them. So we can safely assume I'm a rare case." He scowled at the re-instated Instructor. "Are you sure you don't want to start taking notes? You might be asked about me by Occult Fan Magazine."

Quistis took the point. "OK fine, you'll deal with whatever crosses your path- you always have. That doesn't mean I shouldn't worry about you though, does it?"

Seifer smiled slightly. "It's nice someone does, Quisty. But I'm fine, really," his smile turned to a smirk. "And if anything does happen, Squall can just save the world again. Can't you, Sulky?"

Squall sighed and ignored him.

Laughing Seifer rose. "I'm gunna go blow shit up. I'll see you drips later."

Zell laughed despite himself. "Try and blow up yourself, arsehole."

Raising an eyebrow Seifer smirked lecherously. "I'm hot enough as it is."

Zell narrowed his eyes. "Piss off, jackass."


By 3 Seifer had used up all the magic he had in stock. He still wasn't quite sure he had the hang of it. Or even if he understood how he could have stocked magic but not be junctioned. It didn't really feel the same, the magic that lingered there was subtler, less invasive. He scowled down at his trustworthy gloves as though they could explain to him why he was all magical and shit. Then he heard the distinctive leafy flapping of a Grat behind him. He turned lethargically. Great, just what he needed to really make his day. More Grat entrails all over his coat. He'd had to get it dry-cleaned three times in the past week alone.

"Piss off," he told the creature.

It ignored him and took a swipe. The gunblader stepped backwards quickly and moved to draw Hyperion... Which he had left in his room because he was practising magic today. "Hmm." Seifer scowled as the Grat made another move to attack, he stepped aside and pondered the situation. He could attack with fists, he wasn't as talented as Zell in the martial arts arena but he could still kill a Grat... though maybe not six, he considered as another five appeared. Sighing he ducked another leafy attack. "Fine," he growled. "Either I run or I attack, which would you prefer you daft creatures?"

The Grats shimmied a bit as though considering the question then one made another move to attack. Seifer dodged and with a quick flick of his wrist found himself drawing from the nearby draw point and casting Blizzaga... on all of them. They fell into a quivering mass of goo on the Training Centre floor. "Heh," the gunblader smiled smugly and decided to ignore the fact that he had cast multiple high-level spells at once after only drawing low-level magic. And that Blizzaga usually only made Grats half dead not... well, mushy. He shrugged and got out of the Training Centre quickly, he did not want to have a run in with a T-Rex.

Back at his dorm room the gunblader found he had mail. That worried him for a moment, the only mail he ever got was SeeD papers or parking fines. Had he done something stupid again? He opened the crisp white envelope but found it only contained a promotional 'chance to win' a house in Galbadia. He threw it away and turned his attention to the second item. It was a postcard from Raijin and Fuu.

He read through it quickly. In Galbadia... Peace talks went badly... Threaten Chicken for us... Hope you're well... Come visit soon. He tossed it onto the table. So what was he going to tell them about the Sorceress power? They sounded worried about him already, in fact he *knew* they were worried about him this would only make matters worse. The Orphanage lot were already starting to act a little weird around him, as though Her powers were part of Her that would take over his brain and kill them all. Not that he hadn't suspected that would happen when he first found out, but the magic, now it was closer to the surface, felt so different to the way She had, it felt more like something of *himself*. He frowned and slouched back on the couch, now he had to worry about what the posse would think of his new abilities and it would be like just after Her all over again. Even though Raijin and Fujin had accepted him back into the fold and even when Squall accepted him into Garden he never felt comfortable around other people, and they didn't feel comfortable around him. Raijin and Fujin had got over it pretty quickly but could they again? Now, well, Zell was a prime example of how well adapted *he* was...

He was still brooding when Zell arrived on his doorstep. The younger boy let himself in, frowning lightly when he recognised the frame of mind Seifer was in. "What's up?" he asked, dropping his bag on the floor and perching next to him on the couch.

"Nothing," Seifer smiled softly. "C'mere." He lay back pulling the smaller boy over him and lying Zell on his chest as he petted his hair.

But Zell was not fooled for a second. He rested his head on Seifer's shoulder and asked, "Who's the postcard from?"

"No one. Shut up."

Zell scowled and looked up at the older boy. "I'm only askin' 'cause I don't wancha to be unhappy."

"I know," Seifer sighed and kissed his forehead. "But I don't want to think about it."

"It's from Raijin and Fujin."

For a moment Seifer suspected Zell of reading his mail then realised he was being stupid. Zell had merely made a deduction. Who else would send Seifer something? "Yeah."

"And you're worried what they'll think about your Sorceress Powers," Zell said the name like it was something special. "Hmm?"

"Yes," Seifer said, annoyed that the other boy could read him so easily.

Zell sat up, straddling his lover's waist. He smiled. "Well," he began, raking his fingers through Seifer's hair. "If they thought any less of you then..." He changed his mind suddenly. "Well, they won't. I mean, if they'll stand by you through the war and all, why would they go now?"

"Cactaur needle that brought down the Iron Giant?" When Zell looked confused Seifer went with tried and true. "Straw that broke the chocobo's back."

"Oh..." Zell frowned at him worriedly. "On second thoughts, maybe you are mad."

Seifer laughed and sat up, pressing his forehead against Zell's collarbone. "Fuck."

"Exclamation or invitation?"

"A little of both," Seifer looked up and kissed Zell's chin. "Fuck, I'm glad I have you. Fuck, I'm pissed off that I've still got to worry about Her four fucking years after the fact. And fuck, I want to throw you down and pound you into the carpet."

Zell grinned. "Can't we do it on the bed instead? I still got carpet burns from last time."

Laughing Seifer stood up, Zell's ankles locked swiftly behind his back and he carried the smaller boy to his bed like that, fingertips teasing stroking the martial artist's arse. The gunblader lay them both down and rested atop the smaller boy for a moment.

"Mmm," Zell murmured, soft puffs of his breath brushing through Seifer's hair. "Lazy afternoon sex."

Seifer smiled as he propped himself up on his elbows. "Mmm," he agreed, pressing a few quick kisses to the side of Zell's neck. "Zell."


The gunblader smiled softly as he tugged Zell's shirt off and quickly followed it with his own. "I was just commenting on how good you taste."

"Oh..." the martial artist smirked sleepily as his clothes were removed. "Baby?"

Seifer looked up, his nose knocking against the arch in the middle of Zell's ribs. The martial artist brushed a hand through Seifer's hair.

"I know..." he stopped and slid down the bed a little so they were more or less face to face, and he was pressed closer into Seifer's lap. "Bad timing and all but... Do you wanna come with me tomorrow?"

The older boy rearranged himself slightly to be more comfortable, settling over Zell and curling his hands under the other boy's shoulders, his forearms beside the martial artist's chest. "Tomorrow?"

"Yeah," Zell bit his bottom lip and Seifer couldn't help his thoughts returning to where they'd been a moment ago. He wanted to run his mouth over those sharp, white teeth and demand permission to roll his tongue down Zell's throat.

"Where are you going?" he asked, surprised at his own ability to sound lucid and totally under control, despite the rage of lust inside him that quickened his breathing.

"To Ma's. I'm gunna tell her..." Zell cocked his head to one side, trying to see into Seifer's eyes to gauge his reaction.

To Seifer's immense surprise and pleasure he realised he didn't care who knew about him fucking Zell so long as the smaller boy shut up and let him bloody well do it. "Sure, whatever. Can we...?"

Zell smiled, aware that Seifer was just trying to shut him up so they could shag. But he let it slide, if Seifer didn't want to visit Ma he'd say so in the morning. He brushed aside the mental picture of Seifer holding onto the doorframe of his room and screaming like a three-year-old, despite how amusing it was, and kissed him quickly. "You gunna fuck me now?"

"No." Seifer leant over him again, now naked, and set three soft kisses along Zell's neck. "I'm gunna kiss you until you beg."

"I'll beg now," Zell teased and pouted. "Please Seifer..." he gave the older boy his patented puppy dog look. "Baby, I need you. Ooh..." He began panting, tightening his legs around Seifer's waist, pushing his cock as close to the older boy's as he would let him get and thrusting gently. "Oh Seifer..."

The gunblader rolled his eyes, trying to pretend that Zell's antics weren't turning him on as much as they were. Suddenly though, while he was trying to avoid looking, hunting for the lube as distraction from the moaning bitch beneath him, Zell sat up, latched his arms around Seifer's neck and kissed him thoroughly, forcefully driving his tongue into Seifer's mouth.

The martial artist pulled away for a moment. "*Now* Seifer," he demanded.

Grinning Seifer saluted him. "Yes, sir."

"Damn straight," Zell smirked. "I *am* your superior after all."

Seifer stopped himself from laughing heartily at that one, Zell would probably hit him and then decide that Seifer didn't respect him and needed to be taught a lesson. One that involved Zell wandering around naked for the rest of the afternoon and teasing Seifer by bending over a lot and stroking himself until the gunblader finally gave in and apologised just so Zell would spread his legs or call out Seifer's name in that breathy, husky, sex-filled voice... At least that was how it played out in Seifer's head. With that in mind the gunblader decided it might be best for him to do what Zell wanted now and save himself a lot of hassle later on.

Smiling he pushed the other blond back onto the mattress and lay over him, kneeling slightly by Zell's hips. "Alright, babe. Now."

"Good boy," Zell's smirk grew, and he wondered absently how far he could push Seifer's obedience.

But the gunblader just shook his head slightly, and ignored him, choosing instead to suck and lick at Zell's neck, planting a few soft kisses here and there and letting his hands wander where they pleased. Zell, now he'd made his demands known, lay back, content to just let Seifer do his thing for now. The gunblader was good with his tongue as well as his hands, Zell considered absently. He had the ability to soothe and excite at the same time. Zell smirked and tugged Seifer up to kiss him gently. But it deepened as soon as Zell's elbows locked at Seifer's neck. Their tongues engaged for the moment in an epic battle of... well, flexibility Zell felt the moment was ripe for him to let his hands wander. He trailed one up Seifer's thigh and cupped it over the gunblader's arse and even though his tongue never stopped exploring Zell felt Seifer pause.

Finally the gunblader pulled away. "What are you doing?"

"I like your arse," Zell replied with an innocent smile.

"And here I was going to be nice to you," Seifer shook his head sadly. "Really, Chickie, I'm disappointed in you."

"Nice?" Zell narrowed his eyes. "How nice?"

"Oh," Seifer shrugged and moved down the bed a little until his lips brushed against Zell's hip, breath ghosting over the smaller boy's arousal. "Fairly nice."

Zell put his hands up as though in surrender. "I'll be good. Promise." He arched his back against Seifer. "You can do whatever the fuck you want."

"Really?" With perfect timing an evil smirk arrived on Seifer's face. "Whatever the fuck I want..." He breathed heavily over Zell's belly, grinning when the boy responded with an aching moan. He loved Zell like this, loved knowing that he could coax these perfectly uninhibited and almost selfish responses from the little blond. All he wanted was Seifer to help him come and that was what aroused the gunblader even more. All he wanted was *Seifer*. No one else, nothing else. Something he could do that no one else could... especially not Squall. "What if..." Seifer continued to tease. "I wanted... to tie your hands to that bed frame?"

Zell looked down at him. They'd never actually done anything like that before, sure Seifer had held his wrists but never actually tied them up... "I trust you." That was a nice safe response.

Seifer grinned and grabbed a hold of Zell's hands. With slow, deliberate motions he brought them from their position on the pillow by Zell's head down the bed until one was buried in Seifer's hair and the other curled over the gunblader shoulder. "I like you better with your hands on me, Chicken."

The martial artist smiled softly, lovingly. "Me too."

Seifer responded to that little agreement by trailing his lips from Zell's belly button to his hip. When he reached the arch he began marking that little piece of his property. Though the more he thought about it the more Zell seemed like his territory. Not something his owned but somewhere he belonged. When he felt Zell's knees tighten against his ribs in a silent indication of impatience Seifer pulled away from the patch of skin, pleased it was now marked softly with his little kiss, and moved to set his sucking skills to a different part of Zell's anatomy.

"Here?" Seifer asked, kissing the top of Zell's thigh.

"Over," Zell replied. "Go right, you bastard."

Seifer went left, kissing the side of Zell's leg, then up over his hip and onto his belly again.

"Don't *tease*," Zell whimpered. "Just..."

"Here?" Seifer flicked his tongue into Zell's belly button again.

"Nooo." The little martial artist dug his fingers into Seifer's skin. "Do it properly, arsehole."

Seifer grinned around the finger he'd just put in his mouth. "Oh? Arsehole?" A slick digit penetrated Zell's arse. "Here?"

"Mmm," Zell's neck arched against the pillow. Maybe Seifer *was* an arsehole for teasing but it felt so fucking good when he finally got around to doing something. "Baby..."

"That's where you want my tongue?"

The martial artist's eyes flashed open at the question. "You'd--" Seifer's tongue licking the base of his cock cut him off. "Oh fuck!"

"I might," Seifer moved his arms, pulling his finger out and rearranging himself so Zell's legs lay over his shoulders before returning to the tasks at hand. "I've got my mind set on sucking you off now though."

Whatever Zell would have said in response was cut off as the gunblader slid his lips down over the smaller boy. He moaned loudly in pleasure and Seifer tried not to smirk. He used one arm to hold down those strong, slightly bucking hips as the other hand's fingers pressed teasingly against the martial artist's prostate.

"Mmm," Zell murmured.

Seifer 'mmm'-ed in response around the cock in his mouth, causing the other boy to groan again. The gunblader pulled away for a moment, leaning up on one elbow and trailing a hand over Zell's arousal, though not pausing the hand inside him for a second. He smiled smugly, watching the colours of Zell's skin, watching little goose bumps prickle up when Seifer almost tickled him, watching the muscles underneath his skin shift and tense.

"Sei-FER." Zell startled him from his admiration of the younger boy's body. "Dammit... Stop that and... Hyne, just *fuck* me," he pleaded. "Now!"

The gunblader slid his sinuous body over the martial artist before settling between those lightly tanned spread thighs. He pulled his finger from where it lay still inside his lover and bent down to kiss him. But Zell was impatient, the smaller boy grabbed a hold of his face, thumbs on his cheeks, fingertips around Seifer's neck, brushing against the nape of it. He tightened his grip so Seifer couldn't push forward to silence him with a kiss.

"Arsehole," Zell hissed, a playful look in his eyes. "Do as I tell you or I get to be on top."

Seifer grinned and turned his head to the side to kiss Zell's wrist. "Whatever you say, love." But when Zell's hands fell back onto the pillow the gunblader grabbed them and held him down. He slid his tongue across Zell's collarbone, grinning when the martial artist unwittingly bore his throat to Seifer's ministrations.

"Seif..." Zell tried to remind his lover of his earlier threat but when Seifer let one wrist go to pump the martial artist's cock leisurely Zell forgot all about that. What did he care if Seifer did what he pleased? So long as they both got pleasured where was the problem? "Baby..."

Seifer grinned and kissed him, lips lingering over Zell's, nose bumping against his cheek softly.

Zell wanted to buck into the other boy's hand but feeling the soft brush of Seifer's breath over his ear and cheek he felt a different desire crawl into his heart. Curling his free arm around the gunblader's neck he tugged him closer. "I love you."

"Damn good thing too," Seifer smirked in reply. "I don't suck anyone's cock you know."

Laughing, the martial artist gave into his more primitive urges and kissed him again, pushing his hips against Seifer's. As the gunblader kissed his neck gently Zell nuzzled his nose against Seifer's ear. "You did back on the Ragnorak."

"Mmm," Seifer nodded slightly, pretending to be distracted by the lithe body beneath him. "I did, didn't I?"

Smiling, Zell arched his back, pressing closer to the body on top of him and plunging his tongue into Seifer's mouth. The gunblader pulled away slightly and pushed inside of him.

Even though by now their fucking had become familiar, even though they'd been doing it for eleven months Seifer still hadn't managed to complete his exploration of the subtleties of Zell's body. He'd thought he had a few weeks back but had then discovered Zell would alternately squeal or shiver when Seifer nipped a little spot on his right side, just under his ribs. Now, half buried in his tight arse, Seifer grinned at the panting boy beneath him. Oh this was almost fucking perfect.

The gunblader pushed one of Zell's knees further away, gripping it tightly as he slammed roughly inside his partner. A little thrill ran down his spine and he threw his head back as Zell moaned loudly, lips parted in an almost vulnerable fashion, eyes closed and bare throat arched against the pillow.

"Seifer..." The little martial artist reached for the taller boy, clutching him tightly as though he might escape. "Sei-FER."

The gunblader in question smirked softly. *Now* it was perfect. He kissed Zell softly, just under his jaw, and rested his head against the pillow there as they moved together. The smaller boy puffed in his ear, taking short sharp breaths as he moved his hips against his lover.

The rhythm was easy and well known. They both knew their parts and both knew how that little flex of the hips at the right moment would make it even better.

Zell's arms clutched at him with a familiarity he now sought at every opportunity, surprised that he hadn't realised earlier on (back on the Ragnorak, perhaps) just how different this thing he had with Zell was to every other guy he'd fucked. He should have realised it wasn't their acquaintance that made it different, it was the space in each other's life that they filled.

He was the one who liked Zell above perfect Squall, the over achieving Quistis and all the rest. And, when the strongest of the lot of them needed to feel safe, he was one who'd cradle Zell in his arms and love him, just because.

And Zell was the one who noticed his needs not the wants he shouted at the top of his lungs. He was the one who didn't look at Seifer like a failure or like a freak, but like a cute little curiosity he wanted all for himself. Someone to have and to hold.

Even though everyone said they were yin and yang, fire and water, opposites- they both knew they weren't. They each wanted someone to protect and someone to notice them over Squall. Someone who didn't see a bully, but saw a young man with an almighty chip on his shoulder. Someone who didn't see a hyper-active little punk, but a sensitive and remarkably thoughtful youth whose mouth was sometimes somehow disconnected to his brain. In short they wanted each other... and that was just the emotional side of things.

So when Seifer lapped his tongue along the lobe of Zell's ear and whispered, "Mine." The little martial artist knew it wasn't Seifer's possessiveness that drove him to that statement, it was the gunblader's way of telling him he wasn't letting go.

Bearing that in mind Zell clutched at him harder, feeling that length hot and hard inside of him, and murmured back softly, "Mine."

Hearing that Seifer smirked and buried his nose just behind Zell's ear. Holding him tighter he forced more power into his thrusts, almost ready to let go.

Zell moaned loudly in his ear, slamming his hips up against Seifer's. He arched his back as he came and felt Seifer release inside him.

Here, together, they were perfectly at ease. After a few moments of catching their breath they peeled apart. They seemed to move as one, untangling themselves and cuddling, knowing where the other would put their limbs as they rearranged themselves to sleep.

Resting his chin in Zell's soft hair Seifer closed his eyes. He could feel the pound of Zell's heart through his skin, beating against his own, and as he fell asleep he felt Zell's gentle kisses along his arm. Yeah, he liked it here.


Friday, 11th September

Zell stumbled out of bed at 7.08. Even if he had planned his morning so he knew he needed an hour and a half to get ready comfortably, it was still hard for him to get up when he didn't have to leave until so much later. It was only when he dragged himself out of the shower fifteen minutes later that he realised Seifer hadn't been asleep beside him when he woke. Had Seifer actually gotten up *early*?

He staggered into the kitchen in just his towel to find the scent of cooking and a terribly attractive blond in nothing but a pair of pyjama trousers at the stove.

"Babe?" Zell scratched his head. "What are you doing?"

Seifer grinned at him. "Well, I figured since I was awake before you and that's *never* happened before I might as well take advantage of the situation and make you breakfast."

Zell smiled, confused. "You made me breakfast?"

The gunblader stepped aside showing two plates full of slightly burnt but nonetheless appetising breakfast food. "I cheated and got most of it from a packet," Seifer admitted. "But still, it's the work of a genius."

Laughing Zell dived on one plate. "It sure is, babe," he planted a soft kiss on the other boy's lips and marvelled at how trained Seifer appeared to be.

"Don't get used to it," Seifer replied. "You know I only hang 'round you to fuck you."

"Yeah, yeah," Zell rolled his eyes. "You'd say anything to protect your reputation, wouldn't you?"

"Well it is the most important thing in my life."

Zell acted insulted. "More important than me?"

"Yeah, you're a fuck toy, you know that."

"A fuck toy who cooks for you and mends you when you get hurt and looks after you and..."

Seifer kissed him silent. "Shut up. You know I appreciate everything you do for me. This is just a little show of gratitude," the gunblader waggled one finger at him. "One off. It won't happen again so don't expect it."

Zell grinned and had to cling onto the bottom of his chair to stop himself bouncing in happiness. Seifer was so whipped.

The gunblader had really risen early solely because he hadn't realised what time it was and had been mildly annoyed when he realised it was only 6.37 am. It was far too early to go training or do much else so he settled for the next best thing in his life... well, second best after sex... and made Zell breakfast to make him happier (he had always been way to cheerful), just like Seifer had promised so many times. He was thankful the Garden Shop opened at 6 so it was easy to buy all the things he needed. He was no good when food didn't have cooking instructions on the packet.

He smiled, making breakfast for him was a sweet but stupid move, it leant their relationship to further scrutiny that he simply did not want to deal with. He didn't care what kind of label other people would put on the relationship he had with Zell, all he knew was that the little fighter made him feel better and so far as he was concerned that was a good thing. Making him breakfast had ensured that whatever they were doing would continue for a while... that was all. Well, putting aside all that 'I love you' crap for the moment. Maybe he did love the smaller boy... well, he did, he wouldn't have bloody well said it out aloud if he hadn't but that didn't mean he should go all *soppy*. Although comparatively speaking he really had... Damn.

He flopped back on his bed and dozed into a fitful sleep, waking at 1pm and realising Zell had wanted them to visit Ma that afternoon. Oh shit. Even if Ma could be nice to him when everyone else was downright odd, there was no fucking way that she would approve of his shagging her beloved Zell. He made a coffee... and then another. He was going to need to be awake in order to keep up with them both.

When Zell appeared on his doorstep, bouncing with all the unrestrained energy of a husky puppy, Seifer felt buzzed but mildly irritated. He couldn't place why.

"Ready?" the little martial artist smiled hopefully, praying that Seifer hadn't changed his mind.

"No," Seifer snapped. "I don't take you to see my parents."

Zell rolled his eyes and quit bouncing. "You don't have parents."

"So?" Seifer scowled, knowing full well he was being childish and secretly enjoying every minute of it. Now Zell knew how he felt everyday.

But the smaller blond didn't bite. "Well?"

"Yeah, all right," Seifer turned away and grabbed his jacket. "At this time of day someone's bound to see us though."

Zell shrugged, watching as the gunblader slung his black trench coat over his shoulders and trying to suppress the little spike of lust that grew deep in his belly. "I don't care."

That surprised Seifer for a moment before he realised that he didn't really either. It wasn't really like people would interpret their walking together as their fucking each other... would they? Not one to look scared in front of someone else Seifer just shrugged back. "Fine." He locked his dorm door behind him and felt, suddenly, as though that was the moment when his life behind closed doors became significantly more open.

The drive to Balamb was tense. Zell seemed pumped but that may have just been because he hadn't seen his Ma since they returned from FH a few days earlier. He was eager to be home, Seifer realised, jealous for a second that Zell had a home that wasn't the cold, sterile environment of a military academy.

"Are you sure--"

"Yep," Zell grinned at him. "Ma will love you..." he looked out the window again suddenly. "Like I do."

"I should bloody well hope not," Seifer replied weakly. Even his poor attempt at humour seemed to lighten their spirits though, they were both rather nervous, despite how Seifer interpreted Zell's energy to excitement as opposed to nerves.

They left the SeeD vehicle just outside of town, it was hard enough parking on the main road of Balamb on a normal weekday let alone with a hefty military vehicle. Zell felt momentarily cross that people should block his Ma's house with plants and the like *and* make it impossible to enter through the lane at the back as well. What did they need to park *their* cars there for anyway? Stupid people. But every drop of negative energy was brushed away when he felt Seifer's fingertips trail down the inside of his forearm and flicker across his palm briefly before returning to their owner's side.

"You OK?" Seifer looked concerned about him for a second then cast a few wary glances around to check again if anyone had seen him touch Zell so intimately. "You look like you're thinking Chicken."

Zell scowled playfully at him. "Shuddup."

They didn't exchange anything else but a reassuring smile before they snuck quietly into Zell's house. The martial artist had mentioned that his Ma occasionally napped in the afternoon so they were careful not to wake her. But Ma was curled up on the sofa, a magazine in hand.

"Afternoon, darling," she called as they entered. "I made some scones when you said you were coming."

"Thanks," Zell approached the living room with Seifer trailing quietly behind.

The taller boy hadn't been this nervous when he faced his first solo battle, what the hell was wrong with him?

"I made some--" Ma paused when Seifer appeared behind her son and for a second the gunblader expected the usual frown- even though she'd been perfectly civil last time they had spoken. "Oh hello Seifer." A huge smile spread across her face. "I'm glad you're here, I'm in need of a guinea pig."

The gunblader faltered, unsure of how to take that. "Ahh..."

"I changed the recipe for my marmalade and I need someone to taste it who doesn't hate the stuff. You don't hate it do you?"

"Marmalade?" Seifer blinked. "No... Umm..."

"Ma?" Zell intervened. "I actually came to talk to you about--"

"Found a boyfriend yet?" Ma grinned. "Maybe next time you should bring *him* 'round to taste my cooking."

Zell sighed. He should have known not to try hiding *anything* from his Ma. "I did."

"Really?" Ma made a show of looking for someone else behind them and then around the corner. She raised her eyebrows expectantly.

"Ma," Zell said very officially. "This is Seifer, my..." Ahh, there was a doozy. Boyfriend? Yerk, what a horrid word. Partner? That made it *really* obvious they were gay. Lover? Not in front of his Ma...

"Better half," Seifer smirked and held out his hand. "Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Dincht."

Ma grasped his hand. "Likewise, Mr. Almasy."

Just as the moment arrived where in all proper social situations they would let go each other's hand Ma grasped Seifer's harder. Very hard if you asked the gunblader. Not that he'd tell you she was crushing his hand almost as bad as Zell could but...

"I don't need to threaten you, do I Seifer? You *know* what will happen if you hurt my Zell."

Seifer nodded as Zell gaped like a landed fish at his mother. "I won't harm him. I promise."

"You promise?"

"Yes," Seifer nodded and considered trying to retract his hand but Ma wasn't finished.

"You *promise* not to hurt him?"

"Yes," the gunblader repeated, slightly confused for a moment.

Ma let his hand go with a grin. "That's three times you promised, Seifer. You'd better make sure you keep it." Her smile broadened and she patted Zell heartily on the back to help the little blond regain the air that seemed to have fled his lungs. "Now, let's go, guinea pig."

Seifer grinned and followed the woman into her kitchen. It appeared little Zelly's Ma was as awesome as she appeared. Who knew Zell could be right about something?





Author's Note

Almost done... Oh no!! Three chapters to go. Thank you all for your reviews. Oh yeah, and I invented a shop. Yay!

This chapter is a little odd in that it is a tad bitsy but I wanted to cover all these separate areas before moving onto the final stuff. So that's why they're all thrown in together. The next three chapters are far more plot filled and in sync.

Also my apologies for the state of this chapter it's not as refined as I would have liked it to be but things will get better when I feel remarkably more inspired i.e. next chapter :D


Oh yeah and I don't own this, thanks for the reviews and thanks to crazy fans like Lady Fiend who's created a fan listing O.O!!! Check out my live journal at for details. I'm still a little weirded out by it...

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