Note: This fic was a gift to Ren for being the 10,000th Visitor to the Fountain of Decay.

Silence Is Golden

By Scarlet Fever

I sighed, staring up at my ceiling. I was just counting the minutes, waiting for my father and Seifer to come in from Esthar. I was glad that they were coming. Mostly, it was because I was glad to see Seifer, and Laguna. I mean, he was my father, and I loved him. It was nice to finally have a parent, even if he was sort of scatterbrained and foolish, and happened to be fucking someone that was my age. No, not just my age, but someone that I'd grown up with, went to school with, and was now best friends with. My father agreed greatly with Seifer.

I knew that Zell was glad to see Seifer, too. There had once been a lot of bad blood between them, but the whole Ultimecia thing had caused Seifer Almasy to learn some humility. And, I knew that Zell loved teasing him about his May December relationship with my father. Even though I knew Zell was sort of jealous. Not because he wanted to fuck either Laguna or Seifer, but because he just wanted someone to fuck. Period. Seifer had Laguna. Selphie had Irvine. Lilly, the girl from the Library, had Nida. Quistis had Xu. Edea had Cid. Fujin had Raijin. And, I had Rinoa. Yah.

Rinoa. There was another reason that I was glad my dad was coming. When he came, I could have a good excuse to avoid her. Who knew that Rinoa was so clingy? Sure, it was nice at times to have such a doting girlfriend, but I needed my space. I hated having to call her six or seven times a day when I was on a mission. I hated having to spend all my free time with her. What if I wanted to read a book, or hang out with my friends?

Friends. That was another problem. Zell and Seifer were my best friends. I mean, Seifer had Laguna, and he lived all the way in Esthar, which was half a world away from Balamb, so he didn't hang out with us as much as he would have maybe liked. So, it was always me and Zell. Zell and me. Joined at the hip. It was actually starting to get to me. Not because I wanted to be away from Zell, but because I really, really, really liked being with him. He had the same sort of hyperactivity that Rinoa had, but it was different. He knew a lot of things, and he was always surprising me. Rinoa rarely surprised me anymore, unless it was because she sneaked up on me in the shower or something. Personality wise, Rinoa had ceased to surprise me even during the mission to defeat Ultimecia, and that had been a year and a half ago.

Do I still love Rinoa Heartilly? Sure. But, Jesus, even Seifer and Laguna have to spend some time apart! Right now, I use my father's relationship with my former rival as a basis for comparison with all the relationships around me. They seem to have the perfect relationship. They spend a lot of time in each other's company, which usually means that Laguna is hanging out with me, Seifer and Zell, like he's one of the boys or whatever. I don't really mind. For an old guy, and for being my father, he's pretty cool, I suppose. Him and Zell get along great. I guess I'd have to describe Laguna as an older Zell. Sure, Laguna is a bit more sophisticated, but he has to be. He's President of the most powerful country in the world. Maybe that's why I like hanging out with Zell. He reminds me of my dad. That's kind of sick.

I know that Laguna thought I would reject him after finding out that he was my father. Sure, it was hard to get used to, but now, I don't think I could live without having a father. I remembered when Rinoa said on the Ragnarok in space, that I had missed out on so much in life because I'd been without parents. Now, I know what she was talking about.

I still think it's sort of strange that Seifer and Laguna are a couple. Part of me will never get past the age thing. Or the fact that my father has a boyfriend. Or, the fact that my father has a boyfriend who's like a brother to me. Disturbing thoughts.

I slightly sit up as there's a knock on my door.

"Hey!" Zell poked his head in, giving me a small smile. "Did I wake you up?"

I shook my head. "No, just waiting for Laguna and Seifer to come in."

Zell nodded distantly, coming into my room. He never asked if he could come in anymore, and I never told him to get lost. "I'm glad they're coming."

"Me, too." I sat up. "What's up?"

"Just wanted to hang out, I guess... I got bored of killing monsters."

I nodded distantly. I didn't even bother getting worried about Zell fighting in the Training Center by himself. He was a big boy. He could handle himself. Even if he came across a T-Rexaur or something. Everyone used to be afraid of them, but they were getting too easy for top ranked SeeD to fight. The Junior Classmen still found them a difficult task, but they weren't supposed to fight alone, anyway. That's one of the reasons that Laguna was coming to Balamb Garden. Headmaster Cid knew that we weren't getting a challenge from fighting those monsters, so he was looking into Laguna getting some harder Esthar monsters shipped in. I knew that if we had to fight a Behemoth or Elynole, that it would dust away the cobwebs. There had been concern about lesser fighters having problems against them, but there were rules against them not fighting without a member of SeeD or an Instructor. Cid was also looking into having Edea conjure up some Sorcery trials for the SeeD. I was really looking forward to that. Seifer had already suggested that we be the first to try it out. I was really looking forward to fighting again with Seifer and Zell. We hadn't done that since our Dollet Field exam. I think Laguna was going to fight with us. He kept complaining that he didn't get to battle anything anymore. And, then, Seifer had called him lazy. They're such an old married couple.

"Where's Rinoa?" Zell asked, sitting on the edge of my bed. He knew that Rinoa was practically joined at my hip.

I shrugged. "For once, I have no idea."

Zell nodded. I noticed that something became distant in his icy eyes.

I whistled to get his attention. "Zell?"

He blinked a couple of times, looking at me. "Huh? Oh, sorry."

"What's wrong?" I asked, sitting up fully. "I mean, if you don't want to tell me...."

Zell shrugged. "Same old shit, I guess. I'm kind of lonely...." He trailed off, looking at me. I sort of got the feeling that he wanted to tell me something.

I cocked my head at him. "Zell...?"

He laughed, getting off the bed. "You look so serious!"

I frowned. I figured something was bothering Zell, but he was pushing it away. "Oh! I have some interesting news!!"

"Oh?" My interest was piqued. "What is it?"

Zell waved his hands, which were still gloved by the Ehrgeiz weapon. "No, no... I think I want to wait until Seifer's here. He'll get a big kick out of it."

I frowned. "What are you talking about?"

Zell laughed again. "You'll see!" He looked at me with his laughing icy irises, but I could see a hint of nervousness in them. What was he going to tell us? I pursed my lips.

"Stop frowning. You'll find out soon enough." Zell sighed, punching the air, stretching his arms out. "I'm looking forward to trying out those new monsters and Sorcery trials."

I stood, running my hands through my unruly hair. "Well, we don't know if the monsters will take to the environment...."

Zell nodded. "It will be cool to fight with Seifer and Laguna. I mean, the last time we fought with Seifer was in Dollet, and I've only seen Laguna fight through Ellone."

I nodded. "I know. It's been a while since we've had some challenging battles."

There was a knock on the door. Zell answered it. People who came to my room weren't surprised when the tattooed blonde answered. It was like he lived there.

"Hey, Rinoa!" He greeted, ushering my girlfriend in. He frowned. "What's wrong?"

She looked at him, smiling distantly. She waved a hand. "It's nothing." She squeezed his arm. "Squall!" She cheered, getting me in a tight bear hug. For her size, Rinoa was pretty strong. I mean, I could take her, but I wouldn't fight my own girlfriend.

"Hey..." I trailed off as she kissed me quickly.

Zell nodded. "I'll leave you two to chat. I'll see what time Seifer and Laguna are getting in."

I watched him leave. I almost called for him to stop. Was it wrong for me to want to spend more time with Zell than with my own girlfriend?

"Are you excited that your dad's coming?" Rinoa asked, sitting on my bed. She smoothed her hands over the comforter.

"Yeah..." I mused, looking at my desk. I still hadn't gone through my mail yet.

"It's nice to see that you and Laguna are getting along so well..." Rinoa sighed deeply. "You're spending a lot more time with him." She brought her knees up under her chin. "Makes me miss the way things used to be with my dad..." She cocked her head. "Squall?"

"What?" I asked, shaking my head at the junk mail. There was a letter from my Book Club. I probably owed them money. I smiled when I saw the newest catalogue from Aufgerbrochen. It was a clothing store in Deling City, and my favourite. People called it bondage clothing, but I didn't think of it as that. It's not like they sold gimp masks and pronged dildos or anything. I guess it was passive bondage. They sold mostly leather clothes, and stuff with zippers and buckles. My kind of clothing.

"I have an idea."

"What sort of idea?" I asked, chucking the other mail to the side.

"I think that you and me should double date with Seifer and Laguna."

I furrowed my brow. "I don't know..." I mused, beginning to look in the catalogue. "Double dating with my dad and your ex-boyfriend?"

She sighed. "We don't spend enough time together, Squall."

I looked over at her for a moment as I leaned my hip against my desk. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, that you've been spending a lot of time in Esthar lately, and when you're here, you're always with Zell."

"What, so I'm not allowed to have a relationship with my father, or have friends?" I shook my head, looking down at the catalogue again.

"No, that's not what I meant..." She trailed off.

I wasn't paying attention to her. My eyes were as wide a saucers as I looked at a picture of a pair of really, really nice black leather bondage pants. The pants were totally great, and I wanted them immediately, but that wasn't what I was staring at. I was staring at the model's face. Aufgerbrochen always seemed to have some sort of homoerotic theme in its catalogues, and the models always looked really, really desirable. It wasn't like it was a porno magazine, but they always played up the sensuality of the models, and, with this one, it was out in spades. But, it wasn't even really that that was making me stare. Sure, I had to admit that I thought the guy was really hot, but it was who he was. It was Seifer. The photograph was in black and white. Seifer was wearing those great pants, leaning against the railing of a balcony, Deling City behind him. He was also wearing a short sleeve shirt that buttoned up the front, and was entirely see through. I could see Seifer's chest, the lines of his muscles, his nipples under the translucent fabric. I also wanted to buy the shirt. The bottom few buttons were open, exposing his navel, which the shirt would have already done. He was staring out at something in the city, biting a few of his nails, which were painted darkly. He also had on a large spiked collar, and matched bracelets. I wanted the entire outfit, and had to admit, that a part of me wanted Seifer in that outfit. He looked tousled and sexy, like the picture was taken after he'd just got laid.

"Holy fuck..." I shook my head. I was thinking sexual thoughts about my dad's boyfriend.

"What?" Rinoa asked. "I think a dinner would be a really nice idea..." She stood, her hands on her hips. "You're not even paying attention to me!"

I showed her what I was looking at. "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

She took the catalogue from me, gasping. "That's Seifer!" She peered closer. "Wow, he looks really... Pretty."

I narrowed my eyes. "Since when did Seifer model?"

Rinoa shrugged. Then, her eyes darkened a little. "You're the one that hangs out with him so much.. Maybe you should ask him."

I sighed, wrapping one arm around Rinoa's shoulder. I knew the drill. When we fought, I apologized. It worked so much better that way. "I'm sorry. Of course having dinner is a nice idea. I'll talk to Dad and Seifer about it." I kissed her temple.

She smiled. "Thanks..." She patted my stomach. "Do you think that Seifer will be okay?"

I furrowed by brow. "What do you mean?"

She sighed sadly. "I mean, this is his first time back at the Garden since the whole Ultimecia thing." Her coffee eyes were washed with concern.

I nodded distantly, flipping the page. There was a nice pair of plaid bondage pants that I thought Zell would like. I was a little disappointed that the guy wearing them wasn't Seifer. I wonder if Laguna knew about that. A gross thought of my dad getting all aroused over Seifer's sexy little pictures entered my mind. I immediately shook it away. "I'm sure he'll be fine." I smiled down at her, a little condescendingly. "He's a big boy."

She smiled. "Okay..."

I flipped the page again. The next page was Seifer, standing on the stairs leading into the Deling City train station. He was wearing a long black coat, which was flapping in the wind. It was blowing away from his chest, and I could see a black tank top, and a gun holster. He was also wearing tall boots that went up to his knees. Tight black leather pants disappeared under them. The boots were absolutely fantastic. I knew that my wallet would be depleted. As I looked at the pictures, I pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

"Squall!" Rinoa exclaimed. "I thought you said that you were going to quit!"

I shrugged, lighting up. I had told myself that I was going to quit. The stress of the whole Ultimecia thing was long gone. But, I still felt stressed. And, I didn't want to say anything, but most of my stress was centered around my girlfriend, who was looking at me, disappointment in her eyes and her fists on her hips.

She shook her head. "I'm going into Balamb for a while..." She waved a hand in front of her face, as if showing me that she was bothered by the smoke. I just rolled my eyes, looking at the catalogue some more. When I was done, I had a long mental list of clothes and accessories to buy, and a new appreciation for Seifer's looks. No wonder my dad thought he was so hot. It also made me wonder something about myself. How attracted was I to men? Really?

Zell poked his head in my door. "Seifer and Laguna will be here in fifteen minutes." He came into my room. "Where'd Rinoa go?"

"Shopping in Balamb..." I muttered, my voice slightly garbled around my cigarette. I shook my head, tossing the catalogue to Zell. "Page three, there are some bondage pants that you would like..."

He flipped to it. "Hey! Those are great!" He inspected them more closely, and I found myself imagining what he would look like in them. A warm, sinful wave passed through my body. I halted it before it could show itself as something embarrassing.

"Turn the page..." I muttered.

"Forward or backward?" Zell asked.

"Doesn't matter." A small smile played on my lips as I ground out my cigarette.

Zell furrowed his brow at me, but turned it backward. He gasped. "Hey! That's Seifer!"

I nodded. "He's through the whole thing."

Zell cocked his head, studying the picture. "It looks recent."

"It's the newest one. It came in the mail today."

Zell peered at the picture. "Wow... He looks hot...."

I raised my eyebrows at the conviction in Zell's voice, but didn't say anything. "Why didn't he say anything?"

Zell shrugged. "I don't know. Why don't you ask him yourself."

I nodded, following Zell out of my room. With the catalogue safely tucked under my arm, I locked the door to my room, and walked alongside my friend. Laguna was taking one of Ragnarok's sister ships, the Valhalla. Me and Zell walked out to the front gates of the Garden, waiting patiently.

"Come on," I mused. "Tell me what you were going to tell me before..."

Zell sort of blushed, the pink looking darker under his tattooed cheek. "No... You'll find out..." He looked distantly out to the horizon. I had a feeling it was something big.

I looked up as I saw the twin of the Ragnarok lower itself from the sky. I was so glad that Dad let me keep the Ragnarok. I loved it. Zell and me waited patiently for the ship to land, and for people to come out. As usual, Esthar guards came out first. They weren't in the typical Esthar army uniform, but in suits that stretched across their muscled chests. I would hate to see the result of the person that tried to accost Laguna Loire.

My father and Seifer came out after them. I could see Laguna giving dirty looks to the guards. I knew Laguna hated having security around him. And, I also knew that my father could take care of himself.

"Squall!" Laguna greeted. When he reached me, he gave me a big bear hug. I had to gasp as he almost choked me. I gave him a look as he released me. He then did the same to Zell, who smiled weakly.

"Thanks for knocking the wind out of me, President Loire..." Zell muttered, knowing that Laguna hated it when people were formal with him.

My father shook his head. "Oh, Headmaster Cid... Hello!" He smiled at me before going to greet Cid and the Faculty. The security followed.

"Hey..." Seifer greeted, giving me a quick kiss on the cheek. I didn't really mind when he kissed me. It was very platonic, and didn't mean anything more than friendship.

I gave him a hidden smile. "If it isn't the supermodel."

He narrowed his sky blue eyes. "Huh?" He reached out, ruffling Zell's standing locks.

"Hey!" Zell growled, straightening his bangs out again.

I held out the catalogue. "Why didn't you say anything?!"

Seifer shrugged as we walked into the Garden. He gave a look to Laguna, which was a cross between something sympathetic and teasing. We decided to go hang out in my room until Laguna was done.

"Oh..." I grumbled, flopping down on my bed. "Rinoa wants us to double date for dinner while you're here."

Seifer laughed, sitting on the floor across from my bed. "Does she?"

"So, why didn't you say anything about modelling for Aufgerbrochen?" Zell asked, sitting on the bed beside me.

"Because it's not a big deal. I was going to mention it as a point in conversation while I was here. I mean, it was easy, and they paid me an obscene amount of money. Plus, I got to keep the clothes."

I frowned, groaning in agony. "What???"

"Yeah..." He furrowed his brow at me.

"You got to keep them?! Not fair."

Zell laughed. "You looked pretty hot. I'm sure Laguna appreciated the pictures."

"You'd think so..." Seifer rolled his eyes, pulling a square shaped bag out of his coat pocket. He passed it to Zell. "Here's that CD you wanted."

"Fuck! Thanks, man!" He pulled it out of the bag. It was some sort of underground industrial band from Esthar that Zell liked. "How much was it?"

Seifer waved his hand. "Don't worry about it. It wasn't my money."

"Oh, I'm glad to see you're mooching off my father." I frowned. "So, Dad didn't like the pictures."

"Oh, he thought I looked good, but he was all jealous. He doesn't like the idea of people looking at me like that..." He snickered.

"Oh, so I guess we shouldn't mention it when he's around," Zell muttered, playing with my comforter.

"No, feel free to. He's so cute when he's jealous."

I snorted.

Seifer cocked his head, looking at Zell. "What's up? You seem like you're a million miles away..."

Zell sighed deeply. "I guess it's time to share my interesting news..."

"What news?" Seifer asked, all his attention on Zell.

"Yeah, what news?" I echoed. I was dying of curiosity. "Does it have something to do with your mom?"

He shook his head, raising his eyes to Seifer, then to me. "I have something to tell you guys... About me."

"You're not dying, are you?" Seifer asked, his face totally blank. I could tell he was joking. Seifer always had a great poker face.

"No..." Zell muttered, sticking his tongue out at the scarred blonde. "Well, you all know how I've been really, really... Really alone...."

Seifer laughed. "I'm sure your winning personality has nothing to do with that..."

"Shut it, Almasy!" Zell commanded. "At least I'm not fucking a guy old enough to be my dad."

I cleared my throat. "He is my dad."

Seifer rolled his eyes. "You wouldn't be saying that if he sucked your cock, Zell."

I made a disgusted noise in the back of my throat. "Yuck, Seifer... Yuck."

He laughed at me. "I'm sure he gives better head than Rinoa..."

I sneered in disgust, opening my mouth to protest. I stopped myself. "I'm sure he does."

Seifer and I laughed together. Rinoa was sort of our personal joke. Only guys who'd had sex with her could participate. I don't think Zell really minded that he wasn't included.

"Guys..." Zell began.

"No, no, no..." Seifer said breathlessly. "It's not giving head. It's giving pleasure..." He dissolved into giggles.

I snorted. "She said that to you, too?" We both laughed. As I did, I reached into my pocket for my cigarettes. I pulled one out of the package.

"Guys..." Zell repeated.

"Why are you still with her?" Seifer asked, his voice breathless from laughing.

"Guys!" Zell exclaimed. "I'm a faggot!!"

The laughter died instantly on our lips. Seifer's large sky eyes just blinked slowly. An unlit cigarette hung on my lips.

"Huh?" Seifer asked.

I just stared at Zell, in total silence.

"I'm gay..." Zell said, his voice much lower than it had been. "I'm a fag."

"This was your news?" I asked.

Zell looked over at me, a blush creeping over his cheeks. "Yeah..."

Seifer shrugged. "Well, welcome to the club. I always had a suspicion about you, Chicken Wuss."

"Don't call me that..." He whispered.

Seifer just looked at him. "So, you suck cock. Big deal. Now, all we need is for Squall to turn from the dark side, and we'll be all set."

I just looked at Zell. His little admission didn't make me think less of him, but the feeling I had deep in my chest was different than it had been only thirty seconds ago. I patted him on the shoulder. "Well, congratulations..."

He sighed with relief. "I'm glad I finally told someone..."

"How long have you realized it?" Seifer asked.

"I think all my life... But, I mean, I just considered myself Bisexual."

Seifer nodded. "Same here. That's where Rinoa came in." He smiled like a cat. "Well, sucked any good cock?"

Zell blushed. "Seifer!"

I laughed, lighting my cigarette. "Are we the only people you've said anything to?"

Zell shook his head. "My mom..."

"Do you want us to keep it hush hush?" Seifer asked.

He shrugged. "No, I don't care. I mean, I don't care if you say anything. I'm sure you'll end up telling Laguna..."

"I won't if you don't want me to."

Zell waved his hand. "It's fine."

Seifer nodded. "Well... Isn't this nice?" He laughed. "I can't wait to fight those monsters..."

I nodded. I guess we all thought that changing the subject was best. We didn't want to have to embarrass poor Zell. "What kinds did you bring?"

"What you asked for. We got a couple of Behemoths, an Elynole, some Tomaras." He thought for a moment. "An Imp or two. We got an Iron Giant, and a couple of Malboros."

Zell sucked in his breath. "Malboros?"

Seifer nodded. "Don't worry. They're all low level animals. They're fairly young, so they aren't that strong. We decided to bring the weaker ones so the trial process could be easier." He winked. "Don't worry, Princess. I've been working on something to counter the Bad Breath attack."

"What do you mean?" I asked, my interest piqued.

"Well, I used to be working in surveillance for Laguna's office, but I ended up working more on tracking the monsters, kind of like research. Laguna said it was okay if that's what I concentrated on. So, I've been looking into how to stop all the status attacks." He steepled his fingers. "Esuna and Reflect combinations can only go so far, and it depends on what your GF can give you as far as Junction slots. So, I started working with secretions when you grind down the Malboro tentacles."

I whistled lowly. "Impressive."

"Who would have thought that Seifer Almasy could do something intelligent..." Zell mused teasingly.

"Hey, can it, fag boy." He made a face. "I also discovered that the same Malboro secretion is a potent aphrodisiac." He smirked. "That's another interesting story."

I frowned. "One that I don't want to hear."

There was a knock on my door. I wondered if it was going to be Rinoa. I hoped not. Wow, when had I hoped that my girlfriend wouldn't come to my door? Well, for a while now. Relief washed over me when Laguna's head poked in.

"I'm not interrupting anything, am I?"

"Just about to suck Zell's dick..." Seifer muttered, drumming his fingers on his thighs. "Too bad you came in to stop me."

"You're not funny." Laguna frowned, coming into the room. He crossed his arms over his chest in his typical fashion. "How do you feel about dinner?" He looked at me in particular.

I sighed. "Rinoa wants us to have a 'double date'." I said the last two words with scorn.

Laguna noticed. "Oh? What's wrong?"

I waved my hand. "Nothing."

He smiled. "Well, how about tonight? Or, do we need to give Rinoa more notice?"

Seifer snorted. "When it's something like this, I'm sure Rinoa will shed skin into a dressy gown."

Laguna laughed quietly. "You're so cruel."

"Not to mention a sexy model..." Zell quipped.

The three younger men watched Laguna's beautiful face darken significantly. "Yeah..." His voice was hollow.

"You're so jealous..." Seifer smirked, a self-satisfied look on his regal features.

"Damn straight I am."

"Okay, okay!" I stood, cutting the air with my hands. "You can bitch at each other later..." I reached for my cordless phone. I knew Rinoa had her stupid cell phone. I hated cell phones, and refused to buy one, even when she bugged and bugged me to get one. I dialled the number that I had memorized because I had to call Rinoa about a million times a day.

"Hello?" She answered cheerfully.

"Do you want to have dinner with Seifer and Laguna tonight?" I asked, not even bothering to say it was me. I'm sure she knew my voice by now. If not, she was pretty dumb.

There was a miniscule pause. "Yes! I'm on my way back to the Garden now!" She lowered her voice. "See you later, sweetie."

"Whatever." I hung up. "Okay, all set."

Laguna smiled. "Great!" He frowned as Seifer laughed at him. "You're not funny, no matter how cute you are."

"I think Seifer looked great!" Zell exclaimed.

Seifer stood, wrapping an arm teasingly around Zell's shoulder. "Yeah, you better watch it, Laguna. Zell just came out of the closet, and I'm feeling tempted..."

Zell stammered, his face turning beet red. "Uh... Well..."

Laguna's eyes widened. "Huh?" He looked at Zell. "Well... Good for you!"

"Thanks..." Zell muttered weakly.

I watched as Seifer pinched Zell's cheek, and followed Laguna out of the room, teasing my father endlessly. I knew that if Seifer and Laguna got in any sort of argument, my dad would cave faster than Zell at a Hot Dog convention. But, at least they loved each other, which was more than I could say for Rinoa and myself. I looked at Zell, who was still sort of blushing. He looked so cute and young. I furrowed my brow. Cute?

"I should go... I mean, you have to get ready for dinner..." He patted my shoulder, giving me a sympathetic look. His hand hovered on my shoulder, and I had to admit, that it felt really nice. I hadn't told Zell that I'd had discussions about him with Seifer, about dreams and such I'd had about us fucking, about how I liked spending more time with him than I did with Rinoa, that I thought he was cute. Seifer had told me to do something about it, but I couldn't be that spontaneous, and I was still with Rinoa. Do I stay with my girlfriend, and live comfortably, but in annoyance, or do I take on a difficult lifestyle for a quick roll in the hay because I have a schoolboy crush on my best friend? Decisions, decisions.

I took a long drink of my White Russian, and stared dully at the bar. Rinoa had kept bugging me to dance, and after the twentieth time of me refusing her, Laguna had whisked her to the dance floor. Seifer was as much of a non-dancer as I was, and they didn't want to start a big scene. He was sitting beside me at the bar, gently nursing a Martini. He wasn't much of a drinker. "So, how does Zell's announcement change things?" He asked quietly.

I frowned. "I don't know...." I rested my chin on my hand. I felt really out of place at this restaurant. I was wearing a suit, and felt really constricted. I also felt a little self conscious, because both Laguna and Seifer looked really nice. I just looked like I had to dress up. "I just don't know."

Seifer nodded distantly. "You can't just sweep your feelings under the rug, Squall. Are they getting stronger?"

I nodded. "I mean, when I thought that he was straight, there wasn't this sense of hope that I have now. Now that I know he likes guys, it sort of puts things in perspective...."

"The perspective that he wants you as much as you want him?"

I nodded dully. "What am I going to do?"

"I can't answer that..." Seifer looked at me blankly. "Well, I know that spontaneity works." He grinned, distantly, personally.

"You mean with you and Laguna?"

Seifer nodded. "I know you don't like hearing about our relationship..."

I shrugged. "Nah... It's okay. I was just thinking about that today."

"Thinking how?" Seifer asked, taking another small sip.

"That your relationship with my father is the basis for my comparison for all relationships... You know, meant to be and all that shit..." I laughed quietly. "I actually envy you two. You're so happy."

Seifer shrugged. "I'm lucky. Your dad's wonderful."

I nodded. "Uh huh... Just... Don't give me too intimate of details."

Seifer laughed darkly. "Deal." He looked over to the dance floor. "Isn't it telling that Laguna's paid more attention to Rinoa all evening than you have?"

I shrugged. "I'm not the dancing type."

Seifer snorted. "Oh, bullshit! Remember that rave that you me and Zell went to that was in that old building in FH?" He smirked. "As I recall, you had your octopus grip all over me and Zell."

"That was different..." I muttered.

"Think about this song. Then, think about yourself dancing with Zell to it..."

I shook my head.

"Do it, for fuck's sake!" He commanded lowly.

I sighed angrily, but did as he commanded. I thought of dancing with the tattooed blonde, thought of his body pressed to mine. When I imagined us dancing, his chest was pressed to my back, and I was spooning him to my body, my cheek rested on his neck. His flesh was warm against my cheek, and I felt something curl in my chest. I could feel each of his breaths, steady in his chest, moving against my body. He lolled his head back, and it came to rest on my shoulder, and I felt his breath against my cheek. It was warm, balmy, and I couldn't help it when my mouth moved closer to his.

I blinked, looking over at Seifer. He was smirking at me as he drank more of his Martini. "You're blushing like crazy..."

I turned away. "Whatever..."

He snorted, but left it at that. We both looked up as Laguna and Rinoa came towards us.

"Hey. Headmaster Cid just called me. They want to test the animals, and the new Sorcery trials tonight. They figure that it's easier to close the Training Center overnight when less people want to train. It would interfere less with routines." I saw Laguna's hand briefly run over Seifer's arm. "He already asked Zell, and he's okay with it. Are you two?"

Seifer nodded. "Fine. I want to see how my Malboro serum's coming along."

Laguna frowned. "I wish you would drop that. I get worried when you go out fighting those things."

Seifer smiled. "I know." He gave Laguna a look. "Thank you."

I smiled distantly, looking over at Rinoa. I think she must have thought that I was looking at her with love, because she was smiling at me, her eyes large and shimmering. I looked away, not able to get the image of holding Zell close to my body out of my mind. And, I didn't want to get it out of my mind.

"That wasn't too difficult!" Zell cheered, patting himself on the chest. We'd just defeated a few low level Tomaras. There were a few Esthar officials in the control room of the Training Center, monitoring how the monsters were adapting to the surroundings. They'd moved all the Grats and other monsters out so we could try the new ones without interference. Later, they would probably be used for food. Even the Junior students didn't think that Grats were a difficult task. We needed some shaking up, and the Garden War during Ultimecia's mission had left us realizing that we needed better training.

"Yeah, but we're used to fighting Toramas..." I muttered. I looked over at Seifer and Laguna, who were conversing among themselves. Laguna was loading bullets into his gun, and Seifer was wiping black monster blood off the blade of Hyperion. I had to admit that it was thrilling to fight with Zell, Seifer and my father. Despite Laguna being a bit older than he was, he was still a great fighter, and he and Seifer worked well together. And, I always liked fighting with Zell. I also couldn't stop thinking about what Seifer said, and while I fought beside the small martial artist, I could almost feel his breath on my cheek, even if I had made it up in my mind.


I looked over as Zell uttered my name. "Yeah?"

"Is something wrong?" He asked, his eyes cast downward. "I mean, you've been looking at me weird all night..." His voice dropped to a dull whisper. "Do you feel strange around me?"

"No... It's not that..." I whispered. I was about to say something else to him, but heard a rustling from the bushes. A very large Malboro slinked out, hissing at us with its fanged maw.

"Uh... Seifer?!" Zell called. "I think you'll be able to test your theory..."

Seifer turned. "Whoa, that's a big one!"

Laguna looked at Seifer out of the corner of his eye. "Are you serious?"

"You guys hang back. I'll fight it alone. If I get bogged down with status ailments, you can haul me away from it, okay?"

"Be careful..." Laguna cautioned, running a hand over Seifer's golden hair. He finished loading his gun. Before Seifer dashed towards the monster, Laguna gave him a quick kiss. I actually wasn't disgusted, and thought it was very sweet. Good for me.

We all watched as Seifer began to attack the monster. It just sat there, taking it, its tentacles slightly swaying. Then, it cast Bad Breath. We all held our breath. Seifer didn't get all of the ailments, but some, like blindness, berserk and sleep overtook him.

"Shit..." Laguna mused. He summoned Eden, the GF that I had given him to use during our testing period. He dragged Seifer away, and immediately cast Esuna on him.

Seifer blinked a few times. "Well, I guess it didn't work."

"It sort of worked..." Zell mused. "What stuff did you have Junctioned to Status defence?"

"None..." Seifer muttered, slowly getting to his feet. "What happened?"

"Eden killed it..." Laguna mused, letting Seifer lean on his shoulder. "I think the Malboro should go. Too difficult for students to deal with."

"I think the Sorcery Malboro is a much better idea..." I mused.

"Agreed," Zell muttered. He was still looking at me, almost sadly.

"Good enough for now?" Laguna asked. He cocked his head. "Yeah, I think the holograms of harder monsters from Edea's powers is a great idea. That way, the students will get a better look at how to fight something really difficult."

"I think she's even going to do an Ultima Weapon."

I nodded. "Okay. We'll talk to Headmaster Cid in the morning. What are you going to do with the Malboros?"

Laguna laughed at me. "Kill them, stupid."

I shook my head. There was something highly disturbing about my father calling me stupid. We walked away from the Training Center. Seifer and Laguna stopped.

"We're going to head to the Hotel," my father informed. They were staying at the Balamb Hotel for the week they would be here. "They'll keep the Training Center closed until the Esthar Monsters are moved." Laguna rolled his eyes. "I have to meet with the Mayor of Balamb tomorrow..." He made a face. "Fun."

Seifer sighed. "It's your job, Laguna."

"I know that!" He smiled at me, and gave me a hug. "See you tomorrow?"

I nodded. "Maybe we'll have dinner again." I smirked. "At a pub or something."

"Great!" Laguna cheered. "At least I won't have to dress up like a fool..." He waved to us as he and Seifer walked down the hallway.

"You don't need to dress up to look like a fool..." Seifer muttered.

"Shut up, you!"

Seifer turned back, giving me a meaningful look, then they disappeared around the corner.

"I should go back to my room... I smell like a monster..." Zell rubbed his hands over the front of his tank top. I couldn't help but look.

"Wait, Zell!" I called as he walked towards the dorms. "I...." I sighed. "Can we talk?"

"Sure....?" Zell cocked his head. A look of almost fright passed over his eyes. "Something's wrong..." His voice dropped to a whispering level. "Isn't it?"

I cocked my head. "What do you mean?" I unlocked the door to my room.

"You've been acting... Strange since this afternoon..." Zell sighed deeply. I ushered him into my room. "I mean, if you don't want to be friends anymore... I'll... I'll understand...." He fidgeted with his gloves. "I won't like it, but I'll understand."

I stared at him for a long moment, closing and locking the door behind me. "You think I don't want to be your friend anymore?" I asked. My voice sounded hollow, even in my ears.

"Well... I mean, I'll understand... Most guys would get weirded out..."

"What, because you're gay?" I whispered. "I'm practically best friends with Seifer, and he's gay. My fucking father's gay, Zell."

He looked up in my eyes. "Then, why are you acting so strange?"

I just stared at him for a long time. The strains of the waltz that Rinoa and Laguna had been dancing to played in my ear. Before I knew what I was doing, I was slowly walking towards Zell, bridging the gap between our bodies. I tilted my head, and kissed him. It wasn't a gentle kiss of exploration, but a kiss of need, lust and passion. I mashed my mouth against his, my tongue pushing into his mouth, which was slack with shock. After my tongue whipped around in his mouth, stroking his own tongue, Zell pulled away from me, gently pushing my shoulders with his hands.

"What are you doing?!" He exclaimed breathlessly, staring at me with wide eyes that were bluer than the sky.

I didn't respond, and kissed him again, wrapping my arms around his compact body. He struggled slightly in my embrace, but I didn't let him go, and only held him tighter. It was like choking someone. His struggles slowly got weaker and weaker, and his mouth began to respond to mine, his tongue shyly poking into my mouth, tasting my tongue, my teeth, all the surfaces of it. He suddenly pushed away from me again, which caused him to stumble and fall onto my bed. If he wanted to push me away, he wasn't doing a very good job. He looked so cute and rumpled as he lay sprawled on my bed. I walked over to him, crawling over his body, my knees sinking into the mattress on either side of his hips.

"What are you doing, Squall?!" He exclaimed, looking at me with surprise. I lowered my body down so that I was straddling him. I knew he could feel my hard erection through my pants, just as I could feel his.

"Something I should have done a long time ago..." I panted, kissing him again. I jammed my tongue deep in his mouth, and I wondered how he was still breathing. His hands moved up my back, as if trying to push me off again. He succeeded in struggling away from my hungry lips.

"What about Rinoa??!!" He asked, his eyes slightly rolling into the back of his head as I rocked my crotch into his. He groaned, his body arching up to mine, despite his protests of me having a girlfriend.

"What about her?" I asked blankly. "My relationship with Rinoa hasn't been a relationship in a long time. I just need a little push to get me out..." I trailed off as I kissed his throat and chest. "Of... My... Rut...."

"Oh, god..." He moaned. "Squall...." He panted, cupping the sides of my face. He made me look into his eyes. "You don't know how long I've wanted you...."

I smiled, my brain idled in lust. I couldn't really think of anything else. Deep in the back of my mind, I knew that this might be the wrong thing to do, that I was still technically going out with Rinoa, but feeling Zell's body under mine, tasting him on my lips, brushed all that away. I groaned as he rolled us over, his body on top of mine. He assaulted my face and mouth with his lips, kissing my cheeks, my chin, my forehead, my eyelids, my nose, everything. I whimpered under him as his hands moved over my chest and arms, and not too gently. Rinoa was always really, really gentle. This was far from that.

Zell yanked my shirt off and tossed it across the room. He briefly held my gaze, and I saw the naked lust in his eyes. He wanted me. He wanted to fuck me so badly that he would forget that I was still with Rinoa, he would risk her friendship just to fuck me, even if it was just once. His hands moved into my hair, and I moaned. He smiled, flashing those canines that I thought were adorable, and lowered his face to my chest. I could feel his breath wash over one of my nipples, and I whimpered, arching my body, offering myself to him.

When his mouth closed over one of my nipples, I moaned, my hips arching up to Zell's. He suckled at my nipple, which instantly became hard under his tongue. He lavished it with slow strokes, and I moaned, writhing under him. He moved his mouth to the other nipple, and I ran my hands through his standing locks, thrusting against his hips in earnest, humping him like some fucking dog in heat.

He pulled off my chest, moving his body so that he was between my legs instead of straddling them. He tugged at my belts, holding eye contact with me then entire time. He slid my pants down my legs, pulling my socks off as he did. He ran his hand over the tented lump in my boxers, touching me ever so gently. I bit my lip, trying to hold back a loud wail. I threw my head back, the wail coming out anyway when he flexed his fingers around my trapped erection and throbbing testicles.

I suddenly sat up, grabbing the front of his shirt, and yanked it over his head. My impatience caused me to do the same thing with his pants, yanking them down, along with his underwear. I couldn't help but moan as I freed his erection. I'd never seen another man's hard cock in real life. Sure, I'd seen my own, and guys in porno movies and magazines, but that wasn't real. He moved out of his pants and underwear and kicked them off the bed, toeing his socks off. He kneeled between my legs, looking at me. I briefly held his gaze, but couldn't help but stare at his cock. For a moment, I just looked at it, how it slightly swayed as he adjusted his weight between my legs. I gingerly reached my hands out, my fingertips gently brushing the head.

He sucked his breath in, his hips rocking to my touch. Any nervousness I felt washed away, and my fingers enclosed around his shaft, and my fist slowly moved up and down the length, which was so hot that it seemed to burn my palm. Zell moaned incoherently, and I continued to jerk him off, moving my body closer, until I was so close that I could barely move my hand on his dick.

He pulled my hand away from his crotch, panting heavily. I looked at him, slightly confused and hurt. He wanted me to stop? I blushed in utter embarrassment, looking away. What was I thinking? This was insane. I began to make a move to get off the bed and pick up my clothes, and run away from my own room, from this humiliation, from what I thought was right, but what must have been so, so wrong. But, I froze when his hands came to rest on my hips, and pushed me down on the bed. I gasped, my body bouncing off the mattress. I stared at him through a curtain of my bangs, which were falling in my eyes.

He smirked at me, showing his canine teeth again, and settled his body between my legs. He kissed the side of my face, his mouth trailing down my throat, down the center of my chest, keeping eye contact with me. I moaned when he went further down my body, his tattooed cheek rubbing against the side of my erection, which was almost painful at this point. I closed my eyes, pressing my cheek into the pillow when I felt his breath on my cock, then his tongue. Oh, God, his tongue was so hot and wet against my dick, and I moaned again, like a helpless whore. He continued to kiss and lick my cock, but he didn't suck it, which made me a little more than disappointed. I arched my hips up when his breath washed over the straining head of my cock.

I heard Zell laugh a little, and then felt his tongue running down the underside of my shaft. I panted roughly when his tongue traced the veins of my penis, and then down to my scrotum. He continued to just lick and kiss me, and I was getting pretty fucking frustrated. When he slowly sucked on one of my balls, my body became like a taut string, and every time his mouth moved on me, I jerked further off the bed. I was whimpering, a cross between a pant and a sob, and I made a pathetic, disappointed noise when I felt his mouth move away from my genitals. His hands moved over my thighs, and up on the underside of them, cupping my ass. I felt him lift my hips further off the bed, and I hoped to Hyne that he would just stop teasing me and either suck my dick or fuck my brains out. My patience only went so far. I felt Zell's breath on my inner thigh, and sighed with relief. At least he was going to suck my dick. I murmured in pleasure, low in my throat, but it stopped, and I opened my mouth in a silent gasp as I felt his tongue touch the opening to my body. Okay, so he wasn't going to suck my dick.

When his tongue gently pushed into my rectum, I gasped loudly, my body jerking under his hands. He stilled my movements with his strong hands, which were gripping my hips in tight hold. I knew that he would easily be able to hold me down while he pushed his tongue further into my body. I was a panting, whimpering mess, and he was stronger than I was. As his tongue stroked the inner walls of my body, his hands massaged my ass and thighs. My fingers wound into his hair, and there were little white spots moving under my eyelids.

He pulled his mouth away from my body, and without a word, he dug a finger into my rectum. It slid in easily because of the lubrication of his saliva, and I moaned. Rinoa had never eaten me out, and I doubt she would have if I asked her to. I hadn't felt anything that had felt so good. Well, I changed my idea pretty fucking fast when his finger touched a spot deep within me. When his finger moved over my prostate, I yelped, zinging waves of pleasure shooting through my body. They made my legs useless, and I collapsed under my own weight. But, Zell was holding me up, and he inserted a second finger, and soon, both fingers were moving over my prostate, and causing me to moan rather vocally.

He must have been getting pretty impatient with his own teasing, because Zell pulled his fingers out of me rather quickly, and I suddenly felt his cock pressing against my ass. "Ready?" He asked hoarsely.

I didn't really know if I was, but I murmured in response. He could have taken it any way he wanted to, and he did, pushing himself into me. The shivers of pain worked their way up my spine, one vertebrae at a time. I writhed, the hot discomfort reached my brain. It wasn't true pain. I'd been attacked by monsters, and scarred in the face, and been injured countless times, and this didn't hurt half as much as some of that stuff did, but it wasn't really pleasant. Well, it turned into something pleasant really fucking fast. The pain part was instantaneous, and it moved its way to euphoric pleasure. The pain turned into a desperate itch that mostly seemed to be concentrated around the part of my body that was stretched around Zell's cock. And, the only thing that relieved this tingling sensation was when he started thrusting into me.

I moaned, throwing my head back. All the muscles of my neck and back felt like they were going to tear off my bones, and my hands moved over the surface of the bed, almost flailing, looking for anything to grip onto. They found the headboard, and I moaned lowly when his thrusts into me became urgent. His cock kept hitting my A-spot, and it was causing me to shriek in pleasure. Me, Squall Leonhart, shriek? Well, I was, and I loved it. Zell was doing amazing things to me that I had only vaguely fantasized about. He pulled out of my body, and pushed himself completely back in, until his balls were flush against my ass. He kept doing this, and I kept whimpering, my sweaty grip on my headboard slipping.

I slowly opened my eyes, and made eye contact with him. His hands moved off my hips and up my chest, and stopped on the sides of my face as he mercilessly banged into me. I brought a couple of his fingers into my mouth, nibbling and biting them. He moaned, his fingers curling in my mouth and against my cheeks, and I felt hot liquid fill my body. It caused me to make a noise I'd never made in my entire life. I wasn't sure what to call it, but the feeling off that hot wetness splattering the inner walls of my body was indescribable as well. I panted, and felt that itch centered around my stretched rectum vanish in a hot wave that started somewhere behind my eyes, and worked its way down my body, causing me to shiver under Zell like it was cold, but I was burning up. I came against his stomach and slid my eyes shut, my orgasm blinding me into blackness.

We both panted, coming down from the high. I felt his hands slowly and absently moving over my chest, lazily playing with my nipples. He could even play with my nipples better that Rinoa could. Rinoa. I sat up, and it caused his now slack cock to fall out of my body.

"What?" Zell asked, noticing the distant concern in my eyes.

I remained silent, not saying anything. What had I done? I fucked Zell. I mean, it was nice. It was more than nice. It was fucking fantastic, perfect, everything I ever wanted in a fuck. But.... Rinoa. I cheated on Rinoa. Oh, fuck.

Zell cocked his head when I met his gaze. I saw his brow furrow, and his beautifully flushed face was washed with concern, as well as the afterglow. It just made me feel even more guilty. I quickly got off the bed, pulling away from him. I just stood there, naked and confused in front of me.

"What....?" Zell asked tiredly, reaching out to touch my stomach. I felt him run his fingers through the small splatter of semen on my stomach. I just looked at him as he sucked my come of his fingers. I must have looked confused as Hell, because Zell now looked the same way I felt.

"What have I done...?" I whispered.

"What do you mean?" Zell asked. He tried to reach for me, but I pulled away. I hastily grabbed some clothes from my floor, and put them on.

"What do I mean?" I asked quietly. "I'm still going out with Rinoa!!" I groaned, pressing a hand to my forehead. My legs weren't working that well.

"Well, it can't be that good if you wanted to fuck me so bad..." Zell muttered. I could hear a dark defensiveness coming into his voice.

"That may be so, but I'm still her boyfriend," I muttered breathlessly. Oh, fuck, what had I done?

"You're regretting it, aren't you?" Zell asked, getting off the bed. I had to avert my eyes. I didn't want to look at his naked body. That's what had gotten me into this mess. His cute, perfect naked body. His nice hard dick pushing in my ass.... I shook my head.

"What have I done?" I panted to myself.

Zell looked at me, and I finally met his gaze. He was angry.

"So, you just fucking used me to get off?" He asked, accusation lacing his voice.

I sighed deeply. "I... I don't know..... I mean, what about Rinoa....?" I looked around the room, the memory of our fucking crawling over me. I had to get out of there. I hastily pulled on some shoes, and bolted from the room.

"Squall....?" Zell called. But, he didn't try to follow me. Was I glad, or utterly disappointed?

It had been four hours since I had left my room at the Garden. It was now mid-morning, and I was wandering around Balamb. I felt a bit chilly because I'd left my coat in my room, along with a naked, angry, confused, beautiful Zell. I sighed, moaning into my palms. How could I be so stupid?! I found myself walking towards the Hotel. I needed someone to talk to. Someone that I hadn't fucked. That left Zell and Rinoa out of the question. I knew that Laguna had a meeting with the Mayor of Balamb, so I just hoped that Seifer was still around.

"Hi..." I wearily greeted the desk clerk. "Seifer Almasy's room, please...."

"Do you want me to call to see if he's in?" She asked politely.

I nodded. As she did that, I saw some of my father's security officers. They nodded briefly at me. I just sort of saluted them.

"Okay, he said you could go up. It's room 1258."

I nodded and quickly ran up the stairs. I knocked on the door, and I heard Seifer's voice. "Come in, Squall."

I came into the room. Seifer was laying on a large bed on his stomach, watching television, or rather, a movie. The Crow.

"What's with you?" He asked after taking in my appearance. I must have looked pretty dishevelled.

"I'm such a fucking moron!" I wailed, burying my face in my palms. I flopped on the bed beside him, face down in the mattress. "Where's my dad?"

"Meeting with the Mayor..." Seifer said quietly. I felt his hand on my back. "He won't be back until supper. What the fuck happened?!"

I sat up and found myself curling up next to him, like a child. I pressed my back to his chest. "I'm so stupid!"

His arms wound around my body, and he stroked my hair. "What did you do?"

"Fucked Zell..." I muttered.

"Oh..." Seifer trailed off. "Well, why does that make you an idiot..." He trailed off. "Rinoa?"

I nodded, sighing deeply. "What am I going to do?! I cheated on my girlfriend!"

Seifer sighed, thinking. "Well, you're going to have to talk to Rinoa and Zell. What happened?"

"Well, after you guys left, Zell wondered if I still wanted to be his friend. I guess he mistook my lustful gazes for ones of uncertainty. We went back to my room, and I started kissing him, and the next thing that I knew, his tongue was in my ass, and he was fucking my brains out, and I'd never felt anything so wonderful."

Seifer nodded against the back of my neck, then sat us up. He turned me around so I was looking at him. His eyes were concerned, but objective. "Then what?"

"I mean... After we were coming down...." I blushed slightly. "I realized that I'd cheated on Rinoa...." I paused, shakily breathing. "I flipped out, and got dressed, and all I could think about was that I cheated on Rinoa." I slapped my own scarred forehead.

Seifer's equally scarred forehead was wrinkled with concern. "What did Zell say?"

"He got angry, of course!" I snapped. "How would you feel?"

He nodded in mild agreement. "Okay, so, what happened after that?"

"I've just been wandering around Balamb. He thinks that I think it was a mistake!"

"You do think it was a mistake...." Seifer pointed out.

"Well, I think it was a mistake to cheat on Rinoa, not fuck him!" I grumbled. "What am I going to do."

"Who would you rather have?" Seifer asked.

I sighed, not answering.

"I don't think this is a hard question, Squall."

I muttered under my breath. "Zell."

"Well, then you have to tell Rinoa that."

"Will you come with me?" I asked quietly.

He narrowed his eyes. "You want me to come with you when you dump your girlfriend?"

"No.... I just want you to come to the Garden with me. I'll need moral support after I do it..."

He nodded. "Just let me get some shoes..." He got off the bed, collecting his coat as he stuffed his feet into a pair of boots. Damn bastard. They were boots from that catalogue. So was the coat.

"Okay..." He placed some keys in his pocket. "Do you want to walk?"

I nodded.

"Can you walk?" He smirked.

I just gave him a look and got off the bed. He was sort of right. While I had been wandering around Balamb, I'd been walking a little stiffly.

As we went down the hall, I saw Laguna coming towards us. He smiled brightly, but frowned when he saw me. "What's wrong?" He asked, concerned.

I waved my hand. "Long story... I'll tell you when more stuff is resolved."

He nodded, but I could tell he was still concerned.

"I thought you were meeting with the Mayor?" Seifer asked. He looked up the hall. "Where's the entourage?"

"Downstairs." Laguna frowned deeply. "I practically have to shoot them to get some peace..." He smiled at Seifer. "Where are you going?"


"The Mayor and I are continuing our meeting over brunch. I just came to get changed while he had a brief meeting."

Seifer nodded. "See ya." He gave my father a quick kiss, which just made me think about Zell. I leaned against the wall sullenly, averting my eyes. I didn't really want to watch Seifer and Laguna go at it.

"I hope... Whatever you're dealing with gets resolved, Squall..." Laguna ruffled my hair, and I lightly slapped his hand away.

Seifer and I walked to the Garden in silence. I think he knew that I didn't really want to talk. I was going to have to do plenty of that with Rinoa, and it wasn't going to be pretty. Oh, crap. We didn't even get to the Garden when I saw her ahead of us. She was strolling down the road. When she saw us, she waved.

"Hi, guys!!" When she came up to me, she kissed me on the cheek, but I pushed her away. "Squall?" She asked, concerned and confused. "What's going on? You look terrible."

"Thank you," I muttered. "We have to talk..."

"But, I was just going to go shoppin...."

"Now." My voice was stern and commanding.

"I'll wait at the gates..." Seifer muttered. He gave a sad smile to Rinoa before walking up the road. Damn, that coat looked good on him. And, the fucker got it for free. Why couldn't I be a model?

"What's wrong?" She asked.


"Us?" She echoed, making my word a question. "Squall, what do you mean?"

"Oh, come on, Rinoa!" I exclaimed. I was glad that there were no people around. "Haven't you noticed."

I could tell by the look on her heart-shaped face that she agreed. "But, all couples go through a rough patch, Squall..." She tried to smile, but the look on my face caused it to falter.

"This isn't a rough patch."

"What are you saying?" She sounded like she was going to cry. Great. It was just compounding my guilt.

"Last night..." I trailed off. "I guess I realized something...." I sighed deeply.

"Why...?" I could hear the suspicion in Rinoa's voice. "What happened last night?"

I took a deep breath. I wished that Seifer was there to hold my hand. I knew that telling Rinoa I had cheated on her was going to be hard, but now that I was actually doing it, it was the most difficult thing I'd ever had to do. "Something... Happened."

"What?" She crossed her arms over her breasts.


"Are you dumping me, Squall?" She asked, her voice blank and hollow.

I sighed. "I'm sorry, Rinoa." I took a breath, holding up my hands to silence her. I needed her silence. What was that saying? Silence is Golden? "I cheated on you."

She blinked, her coffee eyes wide. I don't think she thought she heard me. "Huh?"

"I cheated on you," I repeated, my voice as clear as day.

"You what?!" I could hear the anger in her voice. I couldn't argue with her getting angry. She had every right to get angry. "Who?"

I sighed. "Does it matter?"

"Was it Selphie? Or Quistis?" She demanded, her hands on her hips.

"No..." I trailed off.

"Tell me!" I could see angry tears in her eyes, threatening to fall down her cheeks.

"Zell..." I trailed off.

That caused her to stop all movement. Her face turned into a slack mask of surprise. "What?"

"Zell. It was Zell. Last night, after testing the Esthar monsters that Laguna and Seifer brought, we fucked!"

She blinked at me. "Squall...."

"We fucked, and I'm so sorry...."

"Well...." She breathed. Her voice sounded shaky. She looked away from me, trying to collect herself before she broke down. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I always thought that you spent more time with him than me...." She laughed hollowly. "Well, I hope you're happy with yourself."

"You know I'm not."

"Do I?" I could see the tears falling down her cheeks now. "Maybe I don't know everything about you, Squall... Maybe I never did." She brushed past me, and began to walk towards Balamb again.

"Rinoa..." I called.

"Please...." She stopped, looking over her shoulder at me. "Just... Go be with Zell.... Just... leave me alone...." She sobbed, and dashed down the road. She wanted to get as far away from me as possible. No wonder. I was a bad, bad boyfriend. I felt like punching myself. I turned, and went the opposite way.

"She didn't take it well, did she?" Seifer asked when I stopped beside him.

"Actually, better than I thought she would. I feel like a fucking cad."

"Well, you did cheat on her. You sort of are."

"Please don't rub it in..." I muttered. "I have to find Zell." I stopped a student who was passing us. "Have you seen Zell Dincht?"

"Yeah..." She trailed off, looking at me and Seifer. "He's in the Training Center."

I nodded at her, and Seifer and I slowly went there. I relayed my conversation with Rinoa to him.

"Do you think she'll hate you?"

I sighed. "I hope not. I mean, she's still my friend. She's Zell's friend, too...."

Seifer sighed, patting my shoulder as we entered the steel doors. "I think she'll get over it. Oh..." He trailed off. "I started working on my Malboro serum again this morning..." He trailed off when he heard a low moan and a loud hissing.

I narrowed my eyes. "That sounds like a Malboro...."

"But, they said that they got rid of all of them..." Seifer trailed off. He stopped all movement when we heard a low moan again. "Oh, shit...." He pulled out the Hyperion from the sheath down his back. I wasn't armed, and so wished that I was.

"Zell....?" I whispered to myself.

Seifer jogged up ahead of me. "Zell!" He cried. "Oh, shit! Squall!!"

I ran after him. I saw Zell, laying unconscious in front of the very angry, very large Malboro. It was the same one that Seifer had fought last night.

"Zell...." I trailed off. He'd been hit with status attacks. He must have had some magic Junctioned, but he was poisoned, silences, blinded and confused.

"Get him out of there and cast Esuna on him. Do you have any Aura?"

I nodded, and cast Aura on Seifer. I then dragged Zell away, and cast Esuna on him. Worry crept into me. How long had he been poisoned. I hoped there wasn't any permanent damage. I cradled Zell's head in my lap, and looked at him. Even with the curing spell, his face was still slightly blue, and he wasn't waking up.

"Zell..." I whispered. "I'm so sorry...." I sighed deeply. Rinoa's silence had been great, but Zell's was horrible. I looked up as the Malboro cast Bad Breath on Seifer. It silenced him and put a countdown to death on him, but that was all. He was using his Chi magic to fight off the Malboro. Finally, his Hyperion sliced the Malboro in half. It screamed before dying. I cast Esuna on Seifer.

"Fuck..." He cursed. "Still can't solve that silencing problem!" He looked down at Zell. "He could have had prolonged exposure to the poison. We should get him to the infirmary."

I nodded, picking Zell up. We dashed down the halls to Dr. Kadawaki's office.

"What happened?!" She looked at Zell.

"Prolonged exposure to Malboro poison."

"I don't know if I have an anti-venom for that...." the portly doctor trailed off.

"I do..." Seifer muttered. "Just lay him down."

"Are you sure?" I hissed to Seifer as he pulled a vial out of his coat.

"Yes!" He exclaimed, looking at me like I was a complete moron. "I get poisoned by those bastards all the time. It works...."

I sighed, crossing my arms over my chest, praying he was right.


I looked up to see Rinoa standing in the doorway. I was sitting beside Zell's bed in the infirmary. Seifer was sitting on the other side of the bed. We'd both been there, not moving for the past couple of hours. I wouldn't move because I was worried to death, and I wanted to tell Zell that I was sorry, and that Rinoa and I were broken up. Seifer was also concerned about the tattooed blonde, but he also wanted to see how the anti-venom was holding up.

"Rinoa..." I trailed off.

"I heard what happened. Is Zell going to be okay?"

"We think so," Seifer answered. He began to stand. "I'll leave you two..."

Rinoa held up her hands. "No... That's okay." She sighed. "Squall, I think you're a big fucking jerk right now, but I mean, I do love you... Did love you...." She trailed off. It looked like she was going to cry again.

"I'm not leaving Garden," she continued. "I have friends here. I have a life here. So, I'm ready to forgive you..." She looked at the sleeping Zell. "I hope you really care for him to have thrown away a fabulous girl like me." She nodded at us, and left. Before she could get out the door, she shouted. "OH!" She looked at Seifer. "Laguna's outside."

I saw Seifer's face brighten. "Thanks, Rinoa."

"Seifer!" He came into the room. Laguna's face was a total mask of concern. That's my undignified father. "Is he okay?"

"Yeah... Just Malboro poisoning... I gave him the anti-venom that I use."

"Will it work?" Laguna asked. He wrapped an arm around Seifer's shoulder.

"Remember that time I was poisoned for like two hours before anyone found me? It cured me then..."

Laguna's face darkened. "Yes, I remember. I wish you wouldn't mess with those things..."

"He saved Zell's life..." I defended.

Laguna nodded. He ran his hands through Seifer's hair. "I'm sure Zell will be very grateful."

"I almost have the serum perfect..." Seifer mused. "I still can't fix the silence and doom problem, though..." He stood. "We'll give you some peace, Squall...."

Laguna looked at me. "Rinoa looked upset. You two broke up, didn't you?"

I nodded dully. "She's really pissed at me, and has every right to be...." I looked over at Zell.

Laguna noticed. I think he could figure it out. He may have been silly, but he wasn't stupid. "I hope he's okay..." Laguna kissed the top of my head and he and Seifer left.

I sat in silence for a few moments. I knew it was the right thing to break it off with Rinoa. Even one night with Zell had left me more complete than an entire year with her, and I like spending time with Zell apart from anything sexual. What was I going to do if he didn't get better? He thought that I didn't want him, that I used him to ease a hard on. I snapped back when I heard a soft moan rip itself from Zell's chest. He slowly opened his eyes, staring blankly at the ceiling.

"You're in the infirmary..." I trailed off.

He slowly tilted his head, looking at me. "Squall....?"

"How are you?" I found myself taking one of his hands in mine. I looked at him, concern causing tears to form at the corners of my eyes.

He looked at me for a few moments. "My body hurts..."

"You were poisoned by a Malboro. Seifer gave you the anti-venom. You should be okay...." I squeezed his hand. "Zell...." I pressed his palm to my cheek, nuzzling it. "I told Rinoa.... We aren't a couple anymore...." I felt a couple of tears fall down my cheek. "I was so worried...."

He smiled sadly at me, squeezing my hand back. I leaned in, kissing him gently. He kissed me back, his lips gentle and weak against mine. And, I knew it wasn't a mistake to break up with Rinoa. This felt so right, and I was so happy and relieved.

"Zell, I....." I trailed off.

He pressed his palm further against my cheek. "It's okay, Squall. You don't have to say anything."

:The End:

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