Disclaimer: If only they were mine...but I'm more than a little certain that I'm somewhere near the back of the line as far as who has dibs...Oh well. I make due with borrowing.

Time after Time

Chapter 4 - Hoshi (star)

By WanderingTonberry

The screeching of brakes brought Seifer back to the land of consciousness. Actually, it would be more accurate to say it was the action of his head smashing against the dashboard that roused him that morning. This could all be attributed to Selphie's special way of stopping the car...Slamming the brakes at the last minute before she hit a tree.

Seifer rubbed his forehead, cursing softly. He turned his head as he heard a soft thud from behind him. Seemed like Selphie's infamous driving had awakened their other passenger. He watched a small blonde head rise slowly, looking as if he didn't know where he was. Go figure. The kid had morning amnesia to the utmost extremity. Seifer sighed. This was truly hell in the form of a twisted version of summer camp.

The door on the driver's side was kicked open and their instructor bounced out. Seifer joined her at the back of the vehicle, unloading various duffel bags and boxes of all colors and sizes. One could only wonder what was in store for them...He looked at the scenery around him. Centra...Haven't been here in a long while...He closed his clear eyes slowly, trying to catch a fleeting memory that darted from his grasp. Seifer's oceanic eyes opened again slowly. They had parked near a forest...No doubt one full of chocobos...

The air was rather dry...He sniffed. Hyne, what had he done to ever deserve this? Here he was, out in the middle of this...this, nowhere! This fucking brown place, as far as your fucking eyes could see! Stuck out here with some twit who thought everything could be solved with hugs and candy! Not to mention his other 'recovery' partner. The freaking hell of it all.

"Alright! Now that we're here...I'm going to pass out to both you your official Camp Selphie retreat pack!"

The taller blonde groaned, rubbing his temples slowly. Ah yes...He felt a headache coming on. A migraine even... He extended a hand, steadying Zell, who had finally managed to stumble out of the car. Within a few minutes, he was fully recovered and swatting at Seifer's helping hand, swearing and looking tough. Seifer shook his head. Maybe he should just slit his wrists in the night and be over with it all.

"What do you mean, 'retreat pack'?" Zell questioned, soft blonde eyebrows furrowed in question. "Do you mean like rations and stuff?" He hoped silently to himself that his generalized answer held some truth to it. He was afraid. They both were.

"Think about it...It's Selphie. What do you THINK is in there?" Seifer crossed his arms, resting his weight on the side of the Garden vehicle. He looked smug, daring Zell to give him the stupidest answer he could think of. But considering that Selphie was involved, even the stupidest answer might just hold some validation to it. What a positively horrifying thought. He glared, looking down where he had leaned. Dammit. Dirt. Everywhere on the vehicle. He stood up to his full height, dusting himself off nonchalantly.

"Umm...Prozac and caffeine pills?" Zell asked hopefully. He really had no clue. He was baffled. No matter how they might guess, Selphie was always one to surprise. The last time they had thought they had gotten away without going to the Christmas party, she had thrown one for them right outside the bathroom as they had exited. Nothing quite like singing old songs like "The Jingle Bell Rock" around several rolls of toilet paper and a couple of urinal cakes.

"Hey! That's not very nice! I go through all this trouble to make you guys these nice little...Anyway! Here you go! Everything that you will need on your happy retreat toward cooperation!"

Selphie extended her hands, handing each of the two young men a blue polyester bag of their very own, the words "Camp Selphie: Your Road To Happiness And Cooperation!" embroidered on the front. Seifer coughed softly, eyeing the stitching. Had she actually done this last night? Ooooh boy...The though of Selphie embroidering while driving them in a car alone...He didn't want to think about it. It was just safer if he left it alone.

Zell stuck his hand into the bag and pulled a white shirt. "What's this? A camp shirt? Woah, haven't had one of these since that time I went to summer camp back when I was a kid!" He grinned, his small fangs peeking out cutely.

Seifer coughed and made a rude noise or two. "You still are a kid, I don't know what you're talking about!" He grinned, swatting Zell on the head, enjoying the chance to egg him on. Perhaps this wouldn't be all that bad.

Selphie smiled proudly, "You have one too, Seifer! You're a large, right?" Selphie figured she had the sizes down about right. After all, Seifer had these broad shoulders, muscular build...There was no way he could fit in a medium without it riding up on him...Why with those amazing pectorals and large arms... Then it hit her. She should have given him a medium! How was she supposed to get Zell to...No, mustn't reveal plans, mustn't reveal plans...

"Umm...Yeah. Large."

"Come on! Come on! Take out the rest of your supplies!!!!" Selphie bounced like a little kangaroo, tossing her arms up into the air, waving them like a Jelleye on a caffeine binge. The two blondes looked at each other, then to their sacks with a sigh. They both reached in with hesitation, almost as if the contents of the bag were toxic.

Zell closed his hand around the first thing his fingers touched and removed it from the bag. He blinked, taking a double take on the item. "Umm...Selphie? What's this?" He turned it over, trying to figure out what it was. His eyes hurt. Did they actually manufacture items this bright?? Surely his retina were burning...Hyne knows it felt like it...

Selphie beamed. "THAT is your official camp diary! I want both you of to record your thoughts and feelings! I was told that it's a great way to get to know yourself better! Wouldn't that be wonderful! You guys can get in touch with your inner woman! Isn't that just groovy?!"

"Do you mean I have do this too?! Bloody hell... I don't have a feminine side to begin with! Chicken Wuss on the other hand... " Seifer grunted, looking through his own bag. He pulled out a journal that could have been the twin to Zell's own. "Well at least you chose green...Sensible color...Even if it is a rather horrifying shade of neon." He grumbled, rolling his eyes.

"Umm...Can I at least call it a journal...? I feel kinda insecure callin' it a 'diary'..." Zell tossed the good-sized book up into the air, catching it with his deft reflexes. "What would you call something this color??"

"Isn't it magically delicious? Heehee! Oh! You guys need pens to write with!" Selphie stuck her head into the vehicle, digging through the hoard of boxes sitting in back. "I know I bought a whole pack of them! Did the Tonberries get to them already...?"

"Tonberries...? We're in Centra?" Zell looked across the desolate landscape, memories coming back to him slowly, bleeding into his mind. Why did he feel so warm all of a sudden? It was almost as if he felt like he had lived this moment before, in a time long forgotten... Arctic baby blues traveled over Seifer's face, tracing each curve unconsciously. What were these emotions? Why did everything about Seifer feel so...so right? He shook his head slowly. That couldn't be what he was feeling. Nothing about the other man was anything close to right...He was a pompous ass who lived to make Zell's life hell...Fuck what his heart told him. How often was it ever right?

"Found them!" Selphie carefully climbed out of their only means of transportation, teetering a bit as she hopped onto the parched grass. She dusted herself off, then held out a bag of pens. "Take your pick!"

Zell chewed on his lower lip, thoughtful. Was there any color he could stand looking at for the next week or two? Gods, would it really be that long...? "I'll take blue..." As he reached for his chosen color, the hyper girl yanked the bag away.

"Wait! I need to take out the ones I want!" With a blur of yellow, she started to sort the pens. Within moments, only five pens were left in the bag. She smiled, straightened herself, and then held out the bag again. "Okay! NOW you can pick!"

Seifer arched an elegant golden eyebrow. To hell with this...He stuck his hand into the plastic bag, long fingers closing around a metallic lime green pen. Shit, it may be ugly, but it was sure as hell better than pink. His oceanic eyes widened as she slapped his hand roughly, the pen dropping from his grasp. "I like that one! Hold on a sec..."

Zell worried his full lower lip with his sharp teeth, watching her remove three more pens from the bag...Only two left? Weren't there almost a hundred pens in that bag to begin with? Hyne, if Selphie liked metallic lime green, what didn't she like? Oh the possibilities...

"Yah! All done! You guys get to pick between..." She squinted, reading the label on each pen. "Barnyard Brown....And Salmon Surprise!" She held out the pens for the two young men. They looked at each other again. These were their choices?

"GIVE ME THE SHIT BROWN!!!" They yelled in unison, grappling for the pen. Two strong hands closed over Selphie's small hand as she tried to pull away from the crazed boys. Gee, were they always like this? Oh, that's right...Mission, mission...Cooperation!

"Give me the damn pen, Dincht! I called that shit-colored pen first! Now give me the fucking pen!" Seifer growled, eyes flashing dangerously. Like hell he was gonna write with something as prissy as 'Salmon Surprise'. It sounded worse than anything that had ever graced the Balamb Garden lunch menu.

"No fucking way! In your dreams, rich boy! Mr. Manure is coming with me! If I have to write in a journal, I want this pen! Now hands off!" Zell tugged harder. "Don't make me kick you in the naughty bits again, Seifer!"

Selphie pouted, letting the pen go. She coughed as the boys went flying in opposite directions. "Congratulations, Seifer! You get the pretty pink! Hey, don't give me that face! Pink is a nice color! Sorta...But look at it this way! It's MUCH more interesting than brown!"

Seifer groaned, sweat pouring down his body in rivulets. He hefted another bag from the Garden vehicle, the tent long been set up. He cast a scathing glare in Zell's direction. "Explain to me again...Why am I carrying all these bags by myself?" Seifer shifted his grip on his current load, bare chest heaving.

The petite blonde looked up from his journal, already busy at work writing his first entry. He set his hard-earned shit brown pen on the spine of his new book, making sure that he didn't lose his spot. "I'm resting! I set up Selphie's tent all by myself, remember? Che, you're just bitching cause it's hot!"

"Fucking straight it's hot! I'm the one carrying all these damn boxes and bags while you're sitting in the shade of that damn tree! And don't give me any of that shit about resting! I assembled our tent by myself and I'm still lugging all this shit like a pack mule!"

"It's not my fault we have a separate shelter from her! I mean, I wouldn't want to invade her privacy or anything, but it's better this way! Besides...I think 'they' have something to do with it..."

"What do you mean, 'they'?! Who the fuck are 'they'???" Seifer ground out; gaze shifting in the direction Zell was facing. Was that...Why were there a mob of Tonberries lined up outside Selphie's newly erected tent?

"Look...They're lined up and around the platform...Some are even trying to climb over the ones already on the steps."

Seifer placed the bag down on the ground, sitting down on his long discarded trench coat and waistcoat. His tense muscles shivered as he sat down, wincing. He rubbed his right shoulder with a large hand, rotating it slowly. "Fuck...I bet it has something to do with all those Hostess Snacks boxes I saw in the vehicle...Nnn! I think I pulled something..."

Zell lay on his back, snuggly tucked into the clean sheets of his cot. His soft gaze stared at the ceiling. Wow...As durable as the tent material was, you could still see the stars through the top...He lifted a hand that had been lying still at his side, almost as if he could reach out and touch them. Gods above, they were beautiful...

No longer able to tolerate his insomnia, he rolled over and reached under his cot. He pulled out his journal and pen. He began slowly, his handwriting scratching softly onto the thick stationary. He paused for a moment, looking over to his slumbering roommate.

You know...It's actually not that hard to understand why I'm here with him. We fight all the time...Insult each other...It's all for the good of the team if we could settle our differences. At least on the battlefield. I really doubt we'd be able to do that outside of a combat zone.
All of this is understandable...But what were those feelings I felt this afternoon? It was almost like I have some feelings...or did...for Seifer. No, not those kind of feelings! I have to smile a bit. Could you imagine Seifer and me like that? All snuggly? Sharing...soft kisses in the moonlight? Cuddling close on cold nights like this...? I almost wish...No, you're right. I couldn't ever see that myself either. What was I thinking, eh? Gods, this little trip of Selphie's must be getting to me! I can't believe I even just considered that! And with Seifer no less! I must really be out of it...

Seifer shifted in his sleep, eyes not even opening. "Either put that the hell away or write fucking softer! Fuck! Godsdamned tired...Just keep it down..."

Zell's arctic eyes blinked a bit. He shifted onto his toned tummy, going back to writing in the pale moonlight that seeped in through the tent walls.

He confuses me, Journal...Sometimes he's so angry at the world, ready to take it out on all of us...Then all of a sudden, he's cultured. Acting like a little rich boy. We all know that he's more cultured than the rest of us, into the fine arts and all that junk...But then he goes back to being a freaking asshole. Hmm...Maybe I just have to sleep on it. You know, I just thought of something. Seifer's name sounds a lot like cipher. You know, like a puzzle or a mystery? Yah, he's just one big freaking mystery to all of us...Well, later. I have a feeling Selphie isn't gonna let us sleep in tomorrow...




Sorry that took so long everyone! I've just had so much on my plate! I'll try and be more diligent! I promise! You know...If you really wanted me to update, review and tell me so! This piece was for all you people who told me to get my butt into gear and write!

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