by Black Gem

'He'd kissed him, HE'd kissed him' the thought kept on going around and around in his head. The he in question was Irvine, the arrogant, slutty, melodramatic, funny, kind-hearted and handsome sharpshooter from Galbadia, who Zell himself had been lusting over virtualy since they had met.

And what had been his reaction to this joyeus occasion? Did he kiss him back? Tell him he loved him? Nope, he slugged him. Years of having the notion that homosexuality was a sign of weakness drilled into him from both his parents and the Garden invocing an instinctive reaction.

The scene keept on playing itself over again and again in his head...

Zell breathed a sigh of relief as he finally found Irvine after what seemed like hours of searching all over the Garden. He was sitting on the wall of one of the observation decks, watching out over the sea as the flying school speed over it. He could still hear the sound of the party he'd just left, even from here. He wondered, not for the first time, why he was here at all, why he'd felt so concernd when he'd seen the cowboy slipping away from the SeeD ball when he'd thought no one was looking.

"Hey Irvine," he called a greeting startling the marksman, who almost toppled from his perch.

"Zell, man, didn't hear you there. Why aren't you back at the party," with your girlfriend he almost added, but stopped himself in time. The last thing the blond needed were his perverted affections.

"You know how it is, there are only so many hot dogs you can eat before you start to feel sick," he joked, trying to lighten the mood. Irvine backed aways from him in mock horror, "As long as you don't get any on me, I just got this coat cleaned and the smell of vomit. So does not help attract the ladies"

"Why? You've tried it already, Kinneas" Zell shot back, joking. He regretted it as he saw the look of hurt flicker briefly accross the other boys face.

"You know, despite popular belief, I'm not that desperate and I'm sorry that you have such a high opinion of me to think that I am" he turned around and started walking away.

"Irvine, wait! I'm sorry, I was only kidding. Man, what's got into you tonight, you're not normally this sensitive."

He didn't answer right away, bending down instead, picking something up before making his way back to where the blond martial artist stood.

"I'm just fed up with the way people see me. Slut Irvine, Irvine the whore, Irvine who'll fuck, or be fucked as the case may be, by anyone for the right price. Even my friends seem to forget I'm a real person, that I have feelings, that I can, well, love... Geez, I sound pathetic, I need a drink." He lifted the object he'd picked up, which Zell now saw was a bottle of Jack Daniels, to his lips and took a swig.

Zell watched him drink in silence for a minute before asking suddenly, "Who?"


"You said you were in love, with who? Selphie?" Zell insisted. He wasn't sure why, but the answer was important to him, 'maybe cos you love him' his brain suggested, 'shut up!'

"Sorta, I love Slephie, but not like that. She's more like a sister to me, ya know?" he took another swige, "God, I'm beginning to sound like Rajin"

"Well as long as it's not Fujin, or I'll never understand what you're saying. So go on, who?"

"Thanks I think, want some?" he offered him the bottle. He wasn't quite sure what happened next, but he looked up into the cowboys eyes and it was like a spark of electricity passed between them rooting him to the spot, the sort of clichéd and cheesy moment that should only exist in old sitcoms.

"You," he whispered. Slowly, the sharpshooter leaned forward to capture his lips, bringing him in for a searing kiss, and boy could he kiss. He deepened the kiss for an instant before his brain took over and reminded exactly who he was kissing. Suddenly, the moment broke and Zell reacted the only way he could think of: he punched him in the jax, hard enough to send him to the floor. He instantly regretted his actions but it was too late, Irvine lifted himself off the floor with a shaky, if slightly apologetic smirk.

"Hey you can't blame a guy for trying," he said as he turned to leave before he broke down completly.

"Irvine wait, I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."

"Hey forget it" As he was leaving he added sotfly, "Forget me, it'll be easier that way"

That was 3 hours ago and Zell was still stitting in the same place with a now empty bottle of Jack Daniels next to him. It didn't help, still the scene replayed itself, especialy those cryptic parting words. He was suddenly gripped by a terrible feeling that Irvine was gonna do something stupid. 'He wouldn't would he? I mean he may do some stupid things but he's not that depressed,' he tried to convince himself but deep inside, he knew he wasn't kidding anybody.

Getting up quickly, he started to make his way to Irvine's room, praying the whole time that his gut feeling was wrong, that he'd find Irvine asleep in his bed perfectly well. Most importantly, he hoped it wasn't too late, that he could make it up to the cowboy, that they still had a chance.

Arriving at his door, he knocked softely, then hearing no reply, louder. Still nothing. With a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach, he pushed open the door. Looking around the room, everything appeared normal, till his eyes came to rest on a piece of paper resting on his desk. On it wsa written a single word... Sorry.

He cursed under his breath as he ran to the bedroom, he took the scene he found there in an instant, Irvine's prone form on the bed, the empty bottle of pills in his hand. "Shit man, you'd better not have taken oll of those or I'll... I'll..." 'Kill him again? Way to go Dincht'. He felt like his whole world had falled apart. Irvine was dead, had killed himself and it was all his fault.

It still hadn't quite sunk in. It had been a week, a whole 7 days since he'd been standing at this very viewpoint drinking with Irvine, now said sharpshooter was dead and Zell was sitting in the same place on his own contemplating his miserable existance. He felt so lonely, so empty, like something was missing from his soul. Dammit, he couldn't go on like this, the only person he'd ever loved was dead and it was all his fault. He looked over the edge, it was a long way down, far enough to kill anyone stupid enough to fall off, or jump. Well, no on had ever praised him for his intelligence...

"Don't you dare" he heard Selphie cry as a surprisingly strong arm grabbed him and dragged him back from the balcony, "Don't be so selfish, I've already lost one friend this week, I don't want to lose another" she was on the verge of tears.

"You don't understand, it was my fault, it was my fault he killed himself, why should I have the right to live and not him"

"No one forced him to take the pills, you shouldn't blame yourself," she sighed, "You may not believe this but he loved you more than anything else, even me. He wouldn't want you to ruin your life too, I know he wouldn't"

"You don't know the whole story, you wouldn't say that if you did" he tried again.

"So tell me" she challenged him.

Zell sighed, he was always amazed by the strength of personality there was behind that happy-go-lucky facade. Steeling himself he told her everything, not daring to look her in the eye as he did.

She was silent for a while, so long that he almost thought she'd left. "Hey, you made a mistake, everyone does but you can't waste your life because of it. I shouldn't be telling you this but Irvine had a lot of problems, this wasn't the first time he'd tried, he wouldn't want you to blame yourself. He'd want you to live." Getting up, she suddenly turned around, "oh.. I almost forgot, he told me that should anything happen to you, to give you this." She dropped the object into his lap.

For a while afterwards, he sat there looking at it. It was Irvine's cowboy hat. A resolution set through him. He'd take her advice, he'd live, he'd move on, but he'd never ever forget the sharpshotter that stole his heart for the very first time.

The End

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