Author's note: Use sunscreen.
For "Irvine," because "Zell" owed him one. Or ten.

Random Rules

By Tenshi no Korin


"Gyah!" Irvine cleared air space, twisting mid-jump and landing with the small of his back pressed to the dusty display case. The shopkeeper lifted his head out of his Battle Series #347 long enough to give them a dirty look, but found fictional warfare more interesting than the two lone customers in his shop. "Holy Hyne, Quistis, don't sneak up on me like that!" Irvine put a hand to his chest, waiting for his heart to slow down.

"Sorry," Quistis said, not sounding it. "I just didn't recognize you without your hat." She gestured to his tank top and low-slung shorts. "Although I can see how it didn't match the rest of the ensemble."

"It's a little hot for that here, don't you think?" Irvine's tone was downright testy as he edged over slightly so she couldn't see what he'd been looking at. "You don't look much like a schoolmarm yourself."

Quistis tugged self-consciously at the hem of her sundress, as if trying to make it longer. "Yes, well, I'm on vacation."

"Well so'm I." Irvine's damp hands squeaked on the display case. "and I see you people all the time, so--"

What's that you're hiding?" Quistis raised her eyebrows. "Purchasing some more of your-- er-- *literature*?"

"In a dive like this?" Irvine snorted. "I don't buy just any item shop off-the-rack porn, I'll have you know."

"Oh." Quistis rolled her eyes. "Of course you have Standards." She shunted him aside with her hands, and Irvine could try and block her view all he wanted, but it was a glass case, and they didn't call him Skinnyass for nothing. "What's this?" a slow smile spread across her face. "Trying to replace some of your lost cards?" She peered at the display of triad cards in their hard plastic cases. "You won't do much with these, I'm afraid. Goodness, 500 gil for a funguar card? He can't be serious."

"I was just looking," Irvine countered, trying not to appear guilty. "He's not got much good anyway."

"You could try to win back some of yours if you want." There was a glint of challenge in her eye.

"Ah, thanks but no thanks, Quisty. I'm uh, I'm not planning on playing anytime soon." Irvine felt it better not to say that he as saving all his good card luck for tonight, and that looming duel with Squall.

Quistis grinned. "Squall clean you out last night?"

"No!" Irvine retorted, and then hesitated. "Erm, that is--"

"Don't tell me you beat him." Quistis made it sound like the most farfetched of possibilities.

"As a matter of fact, I did." Irvine folded his arms. "Speaking of which, have you seen him?"

"Don't change the subject, Kinneas. I want to know how you managed to beat the best card player on the planet, after I took your precious Alexander and Siren."

Irvine chewed his lip. It went against his grain to call his win blind luck, truth be told Squall had just screwed up. But saying that might lead to questions he didn't want to answer, and Quistis could be eerily astute. "Lady luck," he lied, and hoped his ears weren't turning red. "and Zell's Quez card."

"Hmm." Quistis didn't quite look convinced. "Well, Squall's down at the beach with everybody else, maybe I should ask him."

"What makes you think I'm not telling the--" He stopped, as Quistis's blue eyes had just made a double-take at his chest. "What?" he folded his arms up slightly higher on his chest, over the indentations his rings made through the fabric of his shirt.

"Nothing." Quistis said, with the very smallest of smiles.

"It's not illegal, you know." Losing two of his best cards was more than enough for Quistis to pick on him; he didn't need her hounding him about the latest in Galbadian street wear.

Quistis's smile blossomed. "I know." She shrugged. "I was just going to say I think they're kind of sexy. But I'm sure you know that already, Mr. Kinneas." She brushed past him to a rack of beach equipment, and investigated the assortment of sunscreen. "I forgot mine," she explained, "and I burn in a flash."

"Need some help putting it on?" Irvine cooed, complimenting himself on the swift recovery. "Wouldn't want you to burn anywhere <I>sensitive</I>." Sexy, huh? Maybe there was hope for snow-princess Trepe after all.

Quistis shot him a frosty glare.

...or maybe not.

"Honestly Irvine, can't you take one compliment without it going straight into your pants?" She picked up a bottle and stalked over to the counter to pay for it. "I don't know why I bother."

"Just can't help yourself," Irvine said, and beat a tactical retreat out of the shop before she could complete her transaction and get him back. Once on the sidewalk, however, he was at a bit of a loss as for where to go. The town was just a little resort place, south of Deling City and popular with Galbadia G students. It mostly consisted of beach and a main drag of shops, ocean on one side and the red Galbadian plains on the other, dotted with a few palm trees here and there. Balamb's beaches were prettier in Irvine's opinion, but this early in April they were still prone to occasional snow. Most of the Balamb students had taken off for Timber's Lanker Plains Beach, but Galbadia wasn't on break for another week, and so they'd dodged most of the Garden crowd.

Which was just as well, Irvine thought, taking off down the street to keep the asphalt from burning though his sandals, since he wasn't sure of the protocol if he accidentally hit on one of his own students. Irvine shielded his eyes with his hand, trying to see through the midday glare. Belatedly he remembered the shades in his pocket, and was fumbling with them when he nearly ran over Zell.

"Told you that'd make you go blind someday," Zell teased, as he dodged Irvine's swing with a lack of effort bordering on laziness, not even spilling his shaved ice.

"If that was true, I would have lost my eyesight at about age thirteen." Irvine succeeded in getting his shades on, and the brightness dimmed pleasantly. "Ah, much better."

"Where you been, anyway? The waves're fantastic." Zell slurped some of his alarmingly red concoction, and gestured to the beach with his spoon, mouth moving gingerly around frozen syrup. "Squall's been wanting to hook up a volleyball game or something."

"As long as there are no bets involved," Irvine said darkly, and didn't miss the flicker of emotion on Zell's face.

"You're not pissed or anything, are you?" Zell asked, and there was a level of danger in his tone that Irvine knew better than to provoke. "It's not like you to have morning-after regrets."

"Nah, it's not that. I just can't lose." Irvine shook his head. Zell's hair had gone bright platinum after two days in the sun, his skin almost instantly to perfect cinnamon gold that Irvine envied greatly, since his best attempts at tan resulted only in wild freckling. Zell's summer coloring made his eyes unnaturally blue, his lips stained red from the shaved ice. "Believe me, gorgeous, I've got no complaints about last night's winnings."

"Oh." Zell relaxed, potential offense rolling off him like water. "Right. So either you don't want Squall, or you're just playing hard to get."

"Do I have a pulse? Of course I want Squall," Irvine said. "I just don't want to make it as easy as a lost game, you know, a matter of pride."

"Yeah, I hear ya." Zell sucked his spoon thoughtfully. "He's not gonna make the same mistake twice. But just so you know," Zell grinned, "It's a win-win situation."

Irvine kicked the sand-dusted sidewalk. "I won't argue that. I just don't want him to have the upper hand without a fight."

"Too late for that," Zell said. "He's the hero of the planet, and he outranks us both. Anyway, I wouldn't worry about him respecting you. A card game is a card game, but you've been all that was between Squall and death more than once, and a losing hand of triad won't change his opinion of you." Zell proffered Irvine the styrofoam cup. "Don't take it seriously."

"Guess you're right." Irvine poked at the rapidly melting shaved ice. "What is this anyway?"

"Torama's Blood. Well, not really," Zell added hastily, as Irvine peered suspiciously at the cup. "Cherry and coconut syrup. Good stuff. Have some, before it all melts."

Irvine obligingly slurped a spoonful, and the two of them traded the cup back and forth until they got to the beach, their fingers sticky and lips a rather violent shade of food-coloring red. Selphie was digging in the sand a few yards away, and Rinoa, Irvine noted, was sitting on her beach towel and frowning thoughtfully at one of Zell's tattoo magazines. Squall's towel was next to hers, but his rented board was gone and the glare was too bright for Irvine to pick him out among the other wave riders.

"Trash can?" Zell wondered aloud, rattling the spoon in the empty cup.

"Hey, watch it!" Selphie stomped over to them, hair bouncing. "You're stepping on my work of art, here!" She gestured angrily at their sandals, waving her toxic pink plastic spade.

"Sorry," Zell muttered, edging aside. "Didn't mean to step in your sand castle, Selphie."

Selphie put her hands on her hips. "It is <I>not</I> a sand castle. Honestly, d'you call yourself a mercenary? It happens to be a plan for a high-tech massively fortified top-secret missile base!"

Irvine and Zell frowned at the irregular lumps of sand at their feet.

"F'you say so," Zell said, and went to toss the cup in the trash.

"Well I'm not *done* with it!" Selphie yelled after him.

"You're a twisto, Selphie," Irvine said, with admiration.

"I am not." Selphie bent to dig at something, flicking sand at Irvine's knees. "And get your big feet out of my munitions storage."

"Hey, Rin!" Zell kicked his sandals in the general direction of his towel. "You wanna go in on a volleyball game?"

"Can't," Rinoa said, importantly, standing up and shaking sand off her cut-offs before wiggling into them. If she wanted to get Squall's attention her efforts were in vain, as the commander of Balamb Garden had just wiped out rather spectacularly and was standing in the shallows, trying to shake water out of his ear. "C'mon Selphie!"

"Right." Selphie stuck her spade in the largest of the sand-lumps, ordered Irvine to keep people from walking in her work, and she and Rinoa took off together towards the boardwalk, heads together and giggling.

"If that isn't trouble, I don't know what is," Irvine said, watching them go.

"I'll say," Zell said, surveying Selphie's work. "She's got her barracks right next to the test launching site. Gonna be some sleepless nights there."

"Haven't you lost enough bets this weekend, Kinneas?"

Irvine fumbled the volleyball he'd been twirling on one fingertip, and turned even pinker than the light sunburn across the bridge of his nose. Squall was disgustingly deadpan on the other side of the net, arms folded across his bare chest and just the slightest bit smug.

"5000 gil, then," Quistis said, scooping up the ball from the sand and tossing her ponytail at Zell and Squall, "and dinner, unless you two haven't got the cash to cough up."

"Count your own first!" Zell called over the net, and Quistis bounced the ball a few times on her knees. "Is it a bet, Irvine?"

"No thanks, I'll eat it here." Irvine said vaguely, eyes on Quistis's bikini top. The ball wasn't the only thing that was bouncing.

"Pay attention to the game, soldier," Quistis said sternly, drumming the ball on Irvine's head. "Your serve."

"Yer funeral, you mean!" Zell heckled, as he and Squall scooted to opposite ends of the net, on guard.

"We'll just see about that," Irvine said, holding the ball out at arm's length. Quistis tugged at the strap of his tank top, pulling him down to murmur in his ear. "Time out already, Quisty?" he grinned. "Or maybe sweet nothi-OW! Damn your nails are sharp!"

"You lose this game, Kinneas," Quistis said under her breath, deadly even in a bikini and low slung shorts, "and Save The Queen'll do some serious graffiti to your backside."

"Geez." He gave her an offended look as she released him and strode to her end of the net. "No worries, my taloned lovely," he rubbed an arm ruefully. "I forgot to tell you what my extra-curricular activities were back in G.G."

"You really shouldn't talk about that in mixed company, Irvine," Zell leered. Irvine arched an eyebrow, bringing his hand hard against the ball and shooting it to the other side without warning. Squall managed to return the serve without too much trouble, but Irvine's height was suddenly an advantage as he lunged up over the net, punching down with his fist. The volleyball rocketed into the sand and put Squall and Zell face first after it in a rather undignified sprawl.

"Captain," Irvine said, dusting off his hands as Zell and Squall got to their feet, wincing, "Galbadia Garden Volleyball team. National Champions, three years running. Care to revise that bet, boys?"

From then on it was all out war. They took only one real time-out, when Selphie and Rinoa returned from their separate expedition so Rinoa could show off the small owl on her shoulderblade, the skin flushed red with new tattoo and oil-slick. Zell gave the Sorceress a hug of congratulation when Selphie reported proudly that Rinoa hadn't wimped out one bit, and the two went back to work on Selphie's extravagant sand confection, still under construction. They offered various yells of support as Irvine and Quistis proceeded to shellac Squall and Zell into next week. When Squall seemed a bit offended that Rinoa was cheering the wrong side, she explained, as if it was painfully obvious, that it was more fun to watch Squall tumble through the sand with his ass in the air than to watch Irvine do the same. Irvine, cheerfully irked, threw his discarded tank top at the two girls. Quistis complained how obviously sexist it was for the men to be able to run around topless when women couldn't, Irvine graciously said he wouldn't mind one bit if Quistis took off her top as well, Quistis slapped him, and game play continued.

"So what's on the agenda for tonight?" Selphie said, sipping a blue concoction out of a multi-umbrellaed glass that was the size of most exotic fish aquariums. It was her third one of the evening. She was unfazed.

"I'm gonna coat myself in cocoa butter and sit in a tub full of cold water," Irvine said, poking his arm tentatively. He hadn't burned as badly as he might have, but a number of freckles were scattered across the curve of his shoulders, dotted so close together that they might as well have been a tan.

"None of us want to hear bout your weird kinks, Irvine," Quistis replied, but with nothing near her usual heat. He had, after all, just won her 2500 gil and dinner at the best restaurant on the boardwalk. They were just finishing up a platter of enough hot wings to feed a baby hexdragon, and multicolored party lanterns swung in the night breeze off the ocean.

"I dunno," Zell said, thoughtfully sucking hot sauce of his finger, "I'm pretty wiped. Might turn in early." He pointedly avoided looking at either Irvine or Squall, the latter not so much as batting an eyelash and the former taking a sudden interest in his bottle of Honey Sylkis Draft.

"Awww," Rinoa frowned. "That's no fun! C'mon, this place only really gets interesting at night. The guy we met at the tattoo place said that there's a great dance floor at Darklighter's, don't you want to go?"

"I don't do dance floors," Squall said, without room for argument.

"What he means is," Quistis said, to console Rinoa, "is Garden only teaches formal ballroom dancing and if you put him in a club he would stand and hold up the wall all evening, and none of us would have any fun. Girls night out, then? I'm sure the boys need their sleep, you know. I certainly don't want to have to drag them along if they're too tired." Irvine thought, but he couldn't be sure, that Quistis fluttered a wink in his direction.

Rinoa brightened. "Is that okay with you, Selphie?"

Selphie finished her drink with relish, and let out an impressive burp. "Heh, 'scuse. Sounds great to me. Sure you guys don't mind?"

Irvine and Zell proceeded to comment loudly on oh heck no, how tired they were from the game and the sun and swimming and dinner and really yes they would just like to go crash, and would likely have blown the whole thing had not Squall kicked them under the table, which promptly shut them up. It also helped that the check came around about then and in the confusion of figuring out who owed what when two dinners were bets, when Selphie and Rinoa were paying separately, and when Quistis owed them drinks for ice cream previously that day, any slip-up was forgotten.

On the boardwalk outside, the girls decided to go for a walk in the surf before heading to the bar and Quistis caught Irvine before he headed back to the hotel with Zell and Squall.

"Here," she said, pulling a crisp roll of bills out of her shorts. "I still have your half of our winnings." She thumbed off bills, counting silently.

"Keep it," Irvine said, more for the sake of needing good karma than out of a sense of gallantry, but Quistis shook her head firmly, and pressed the allotted 2500gil into his hand. Irvine tried to surreptitiously peer over her head, where Squall and Zell stood a few yards away, Squall murmuring something in Zell's ear. Zell nodded, his eyes on Irvine.

"No, you won it, fair and square. I certainly was never that good at volleyball. Take it." Quistis rested a hand on his forearm and leaned up, her lips brushing one sun-pink cheekbone. "For luck," she said, to stall any comment from the sharpshooter, and hurried off after Selphie and Rinoa, who were already splashing happily, the hems of their shorts damp.

Irvine looked down at the precisely folded currency in his hand, and with his thumb edged up a different kind of paper from the creases of brightly printed 100gil bills. His Siren foil triad card flashed up at him, the one he'd lost to Quistis the night before. A strip of napkin from the restaurant was wound around it, inscribed with Quistis's neat, compact handwriting.

*You're going to need it, Kinneas.*

*Easy come easy go*, Irvine thought, two hours, twelve draws, and most of a bottle of Highwind's single-malt whiskey later, with Bahamut sitting smugly next to his Siren card on the cover of Zell's bed, where he and Squall had decided to duke it out.

"Just bad luck, Irvine," Zell whistled, shaking his head. "Random Rules and everything... not your fault Squall drew his best card."

"Yeah, well, winning streak can't last forever, can it?" Irvine grinned rather weakly at Squall, who was giving him an appraising look. "Bet still on, I suppose?"

"If you don't have any objections," Squall said, and Irvine inclined his head, grateful for the opportunity to bow out gracefully if he so desired.

"No no, I'm a man of my word, Squall Leonhart. I suppose you'll want my Siren-girl, then? She's a beaut, be good to her." He held out the foil card, but Squall brushed it aside, picking up instead a Torama that had been the lamest thing Irvine had put down all night.

"I'll take this one. Okay with you?"

"Yeah." Irvine gratefully shuffled Siren back into his seriously depleted triad deck. "Thanks."

Squall shrugged. "I'm not in this for the cards." It was true enough, Squall's stack of cards was twice that of the average players', and that Torama was probably the weakest thing in it. "Right," Squall said, with the air of one who has just finished a task he'd long been planning to do, "Get him ready, would you, Zell?" And he picked up the whiskey bottle and three glasses off the bedside table and took them in the bathroom, to set them with the rest of their food and drink on the air-conditioning duct.

"Ready?" Irvine asked, as a host of bite bugs began darting about in his insides. "What does he mean?"

"No biggie," Zell said soothingly, gripping the hem of Irvine's top and pulling it over his head. "Just wants you out of your clothes, I'd say."

"Oh." Irvine adjusted his hair elastic as Zell bent over and fussed with the fly of Irvine's shorts. "I can do that myself, you know."

"Aw, c'mon." Zell grinned, as Irvine let the blonde marital artist tip him back on the bed to slide his shorts off, "I always thought it was fun, having someone undress me."

"You would," Irvine said, trying to get his bangs out of his eyes and rescue his now hopelessly sloppy ponytail.

Zell just chuckled, sinking to the mattress behind Irvine and putting his arms around him, his square powerful fingers wrapping around Irvine's wrists. "You still want to play, right?" Zell asked, blue eyes serious.

"Yeah," Irvine said, smiling up at him. "I still wanna play."

"Good." And Zell smirked in a way that Irvine wasn't sure he trusted, and two seconds later he realized why he really didn't trust it, since both of Zell's hands were on the bed and Irvine's wrists were bound quite effectively with the nylon cord from Zell's shorts.


"Relax, Irvine." Zell brushed his mouth against Irvine's ear, his breath warm on the silver earring. "He won't do anything you don't want, you know that, right?"

"You're pretty damn fast at that," Irvine said, looking down at his tied wrists. They were, he realized, trussed in such a way that if he really wanted to, he could wriggle out of them.

"He's learned to be," Squall's voice came from the doorway, and Irvine wasn't quite sure what to expect, leather and whips and chains, for all he knew; considering what Squall wore out in public there was no telling what he'd wear to bed. But Squall had simply relieved himself of his t-shirt, stripped down to his necklace and black denim shorts like he'd been for the volleyball match.

"I'm almost afraid to ask how," Irvine countered. He was feeling a bit too conscious of his state of undress considering that Squall had already seen everything he had anyway, setting bones or casting cure or stripping out of hot clothes after battle. It was his bound state, he decided, that made for a bit of difference. He wasn't quite sure, but he thought he liked it. Squall did a quick inspection of the knots as if making sure Zell had tied them to satisfaction, and with practiced ease undid Irvine's ponytail and re-looped it more securely. Irvine didn't ask where he learned the trick.

"Comfortable?" he asked, in the same offhand tone with which he would ask if Irvine was bleeding from any major arteries.

"Not bad," Irvine replied, lifting one shoulder in his best nonchalance. Squall was alarmingly close, one hand still on the back of Irvine's neck, his bangs tickling Irvine's cheek.

"Not bad at all," Squall said, and Irvine had to resist the urge to squirm as one fingertip found its way down his side, coming to a rest on his hipbone before moving up again, lingering on one ringed nipple. "These are nice," Squall said, running his finger around the warm gold hoop, brushing Irvine's skin with every circuit. "You get them done in Deling?"

"Yeah," Irvine said, his breath catching as Squall leaned forward and caught the bit of gold between his teeth, drawing ring and nipple into his mouth. "I did."

"They look really cool," Zell said, fingers finding the neglected other ring and toying with it as Squall's mouth made its way to the hollow of Irvine's neck. "Maybe I should get mine done."

Squall made a growl of approval, and Irvine distinctly felt teeth in the sensitive skin below his jaw. "Ah! I um, I think Squall likes the idea, Zell."

"Do you?" Irvine couldn't see him, but Zell sounded definitely amused. "Funny, I thought so too."

"I think you both talk too much," Squall said, arching up, his body warm against Irvine's. Squall's first kiss was not unlike his attack; the way he leaned in with a sudden intake of air was the same as how he charged in battle, Lionheart raised to strike. His mouth was warm and open against Irvine's, but not sloppy, clean like his finishing move. Squall put his thigh between Irvine's legs without breaking the kiss, both hands coming up to Irvine's face.

Irvine considered himself an expert at many things, but he was, above else, a connoisseur of the art of kissing. He had learned quickly the kind he liked best, wet without being soggy, relaxed enough for freedom of motion without feeling like he was waving his tongue in the Lollapalooza canyon, with more focus on style than on action. For Irvine, one kiss usually made the difference between "see you at breakfast" and "what do you want for breakfast?".

Squall was, quite simply, a work of art. Either the man was a natural or someone had taken him aside to train at an early age, because Irvine could find nothing at fault with his mouth or the way he used it. There was something surprisingly shy about his kiss, or perhaps it was just the unexpected gentleness to it, as if he had been kissed very violently too often and was trying to make up for it. Irvine wished his hands weren't bound, because he would have liked very much to put them in Squall's hair and hold him longer, as Squall pulled back much too soon for Irvine's liking.

"Relax," Squall said, and his eyes were smiling even if he was not, bedsprings creaking as he sat up. "I'm not done yet."

"Here," Zell said quietly, brushing his hand along Irvine's cheekbone. "Lean back, baby." Zell had swiped the pillows from all three beds and piled them up behind them, and Irvine was cradled comfortably against them, Zell's arm hooked neatly behind his neck.

"You okay?" Zell asked, smoothing back Irvine's bangs.

"Mmm." Irvine sighed, thinking that there were much worse places to be than Zell's armpit, on top of clean hotel sheets in a warm room with a summer breeze blowing through the open windows. "Yeah. It's really ni-ICE!"

"Exactly," Squall said, grinning openly across Irvine's belly, ice cube dripping between his fingers. "Good jump there, Irvine. Musta been two feet."

"Fuck, Squall, that's cold! Ah--!" Irvine hissed, his entire body tensing as Squall traced the ice cube in widening circles over his belly, leaving a cold spiral around his navel.

"That's right." Squall murmured, placing his startlingly hot mouth against Irvine's water-cool skin. "Too hot in here, anyway."

"Uhhhuuh," Irvine agreed, muscles tightening across his abdomen as Squall dragged the ice cube down past his navel, along the darkening red-gold hairs. Irvine knew what was coming but couldn't brace for it, ice cold trickling down his sex, Zell's arm suddenly a restraint to keep him from lunging up, explicative on his lips.

"It's all right," Zell said, soothing. "Trust him."

Irvine shuddered, shaking his head. It was too much, frigid Shiva-cold winding slowly down him, almost torture. He was just going to say so when warmth blossomed all around him, wet and engulfing and quite effectively taking Irvine's breath away. Only Squall, drawing the whole aching ice-kissed length of Irvine's sex into his mouth. It was like coming in out of the rain, it was the enveloping warmth of Trabia Garden's rebuilt main hall, it was summer in Balamb when the sky went on forever.

"See?" Zell brushed his lips across Irvine's forehead. "That's better, right?"

Somewhere Irvine meant to answer Zell, to tell him, yeah, you're right, you lucky bastard, he knows what he's doing, but the actual capacity for conversation was beyond him at the moment.

He closed his eyes, realizing how quiet the room was. Squall's mouth barely made a sound, moving with a slow thorough determination, only wet on the inside. The bed would creak now and then as Squall shifted his weight on Irvine's thighs, keeping him from twisting up when all Irvine wanted to was lift his hips in time, and give in. The only constants were the swish and click of the ceiling fan, ball-chain pull clinking gently against the light fixture, and the noises Irvine was making, unconscious, low in his throat. There were wind chimes, somewhere outside, and music from one of the bars, but they came only thinly, when the wind rustled the curtains.

"Damn you're pretty," Zell murmured, as if to himself, and Irvine felt fingers in his hair. It occurred to him, suddenly, that Zell was sitting right there and watching, hearing every half-formed profanity, seeing every aborted motion of Irvine's hips. Squall must have been good, for Irvine to forget he had an audience, one who was getting more of an unrehearsed performance than Irvine ever gave. He felt the rise of warmth across his cheeks before hearing Zell's soft laughter, but then Squall pressed his face in harder, fingers gripping Irvine's thighs enough to make the skin go white. He didn't want Irvine shifting his attention.

"You're killing me," Irvine breathed, not knowing how much later. It wasn't lack of talent, he was sure, Squall knew damn well how to get him off in the least amount of time. He just wasn't doing it.

The air was cool on his wet skin as Squall took his mouth away. "You've lived through worse." Irvine opened his eyes to see Squall sit up between his legs, flushed and sweaty, his hair in his eyes. It was no way that Irvine hadn't seen him before, but Irvine supposed that he was bound to be sexier than usual, owing to the fact that Squall had been sucking him about half a minute previous. His mouth was still wet.

"Untie him," Squall said, and it was clear he was out of breath, raking both hands through his hair. Zell busied himself with Irvine's wrist cords. "Can you take it?" Squall asked Irvine. Irvine knew without question what he was being asked, and that Squall wouldn't think any less of him if he said no. It was just Squall's way, the same way he'd ask Selphie if she could keep walking on a sprained ankle, or if Quistis could get those reports in by Tuesday.

Or maybe not, Irvine reconsidered, watching the way Squall hooked his thumb into the waistband of his jeans, the way his chest shuddered slightly when he exhaled. If Irvine said no there was always Zell, but it wasn't Zell that Squall was looking at, with his grey eyes dark and his lips parted, every part of him shivering to hold back against the strain. Maybe Squall wasn't the kind of guy who asked, after all. Maybe he was just trying to be.

Irvine's wrists fell free.

It was not every day that Squall Leonhart, baddest ass of the planet, asked nicely if he could fuck you within an inch of your life. And it would be that, Irvine knew, proof enough in the tight muscles across Squall's chest and the aching shape of his sex against his jeans. You didn't get fucked by someone like that with something like that and walk away whistling.

Well, maybe Zell did.

"Yeah," Irvine said, fairly certain he was grinning stupidly, his breath coming just as hard. "Yeah, I can take it."

Squall flat out grinned back, any combination of gratitude and relief and anticipation, and it had nothing to do with a card game. Irvine was, without warning, pleased as punch that he'd lost. Squall's jeans were quickly dismissed to the floor.

All it took was a flick of Squall's eyes to Zell, and a bottle flew through the air to Squall, who caught it neatly. "Face down, face up?" Squall asked, flicking the lid with his thumb. "What's easier on you?"

Irvine shook his head, gaze switching from Squall's face to his fingers to what he was doing with them, quick and practiced over his sex. His hand dipped between Irvine's legs and Irvine felt a flutter and a push, slick and careful. "I like face up," he said, and Irvine nodded. Squall could at that point said he liked it in boiling oil, and Irvine would have nodded.

"Do it however you want, Squall, just do it before I lose any dignity I've got left."

"Right," Squall said, and pulled Irvine down along the bed, until he could look up and see Zell's blue eyes over him. The bottle was tossed in a kind of juggling trade for pillows, one for head and one for hips, efficient and practiced. Irvine was glad to be with two guys who knew exactly what they were doing. It was a far cry from his two room-mates, a shared bottle of vodka, and most of his gun-lube. He barely had time to be grateful before his legs were hitched over Squall's shoulders. Zell stood up, presumably to give them room.

"Wait, Squall, wait a sec."

Squall made an inarticulate noise, arms trembling with more than the weight of Irvine's legs. "You're kidding."

"No. Zell, c'mere." Irvine hissed through his teeth. "The fuck you still wearing pants for, Dincht? Off. Off. Yes, now. No, Over here. Right. Swing your leg across."

"You're fucking kidding me." Zell had quite obviously expected to finish off the same as Squall had the night before, observing. "I'll break your ribs."

"Like hell you will," Irvine said. He could see Squall's smirk over Zell's shoulder, all the affirmation needed. "That's right. Lean up, I can't reach."

"Shit," Zell said, but did as he was told, grasping the headboard, Irvine underneath him.

"Yeah, pretty," Irvine said, hands going up Zell's sides. "You started this whole mess, anyway. C'mere and let me thank you. Give Squall a nice view."

"It wasn't my--" Zell's protest broke off into a heartfelt groan; Irvine and Squall's activity had been more than inspiring, and Irvine was making up for lost time. Zell, this close, smelled like sex and oranges, and his skin was pale where the sun hadn't seen it. There was something sweet and tropical about the taste of his skin, and Irvine remembered the flavored ice. Squall leaned forward and Irvine moaned around Zell as he was filled up, pinned to the mattress by the weight of the two men on top of him.

It was dirty. It was nasty. It was like a porn shoot, but better. It was a complete surrender of pride.

It was fucking *fantastic*.

Squall didn't make much noise but Irvine could still hear him, a breath or muttered word over Zell's harsh breathing. Zell was being good enough, moving so Irvine wouldn't have to strain his neck, shuddering as Irvine took compensation for Squall's action out on him. The bedsprings squeaked protest and the noise of the fan was lost, they were probably being way too loud but Irvine, with Squall and Zell both inside him, couldn't manage to care.

It was a hard call but he thought Zell might have lost it first. Squall was close after, as if hearing Zell was all he needed, or maybe in the shadows under Zell he could see the motion of Irvine's throat as he swallowed. It was close enough to be simultaneous, at least in Irvine's book, but Squall's hands were on him, his body thrusting Irvine's hips high, and Irvine didn't feel like keeping track.

"Are you sure you guys didn't sneak out after we were gone?" The snack bar a block from the hotel had grilled spiced shrimp right out of the bay, even for breakfast, and Selphie was eyeing them suspiciously over her skewer. "You look all hung over."

"You did, didn't you?" Rinoa scolded. "You just didn't want to go out with us."

"C'mon," Irvine protested. "We just had a couple of shots and went to bed, that's all. Look, if we were hung over, the last thing we'd want is breakfast, right? Right. Now pass me the hot sauce."

Selphie still looked suspicious, but had to admit that they were packing down the food like they hadn't eaten for a week.

Zell slurped his soda noisily. "Right, Selphster. C'mon, it's our last day, you want to hit the boardwalk? I've been saving all my change."

Rinoa grinned. "Hey, yeah, we could! Maybe we should get airbrushed shirts or something. I've never been on a group trip to get them! Wouldn't that be fun?"

She and Selphie immediately began twittering with ideas for what the shirts should say, arguing about order of names and color choices, and if the Garden emblem should be on the front or back. Squall had his own idea for a slogan, which he muttered under his breath to Irvine and Zell. Zell choked on a shrimp, and Irvine looked suddenly sunburnt, even though they were sitting in the shade.

Quistis delicately picked a shrimp off her skewer, and kept her own counsel.



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