Chapter Seven

By Scarlet Fever

"Why the fuck didn't you check the tire before we left?" Seifer asked testily as Raijin rummaged in the trunk of their Jeep for the spare tire. They were parked on the side of the road outside Timber, close to the Horizon Bridge, joining the continents of Galbadia and Esthar. They'd missed the only train to the technological city, so they all rented a car.

Raijin furrowed his pierced brow over the open trunk. "Well, why don't you use your Sorcerer powers to get us over the bridge?"

Seifer sighed angrily. "You're a millimetre away from getting your nose smashed in, ya know?!"

"Shut up, Seifer...."

"Why don't you both shut up!" Zell exclaimed loudly, stamping his foot in annoyance. "None of us thought to check the tire, and it's not like we've been stranded for three days or anything. It's been twenty minutes."

Squall snorted slightly. "The world must be coming to an end... Zell's making sense..." He gave the small blonde a lopsided grin.

Zell just shook his head, and began punching the air in his typical restless fashion. Squall leaned against the car beside Seifer. "You're sure on edge."

Seifer cocked his head, looking at Squall's profile. "Meaning?"

"Are you really that nervous about finding out about your family, what you are, where you came from?"

The scarred man sighed, his broad shoulders slumping. "From what I've heard, my mother was a horrible person." He chewed on his lower lip. "I mean, I want to find out about my heritage or whatnot, but I know I'm not going to like the answers..."

"Yeah," Squall mused. "I guess finding out your mother is a horrible Sorceress is a little better than my dad just being a moron."

"I actually like your dad," Seifer pointed out.

"That's because he was in that stupid movie that you watched when you were kids." Squall blew up into his bangs.

"He loves you. You don't know how lucky you are. He may be a little... goofy, but he's a good man." Seifer looked at Zell wistfully. "You and Zell are both lucky."

Squall smiled despite himself. He complained about Laguna a lot, but he did love his father, and he knew that Laguna loved him, and regretted all the time they lost during Squall's childhood. "Maybe you're right." He sighed. "Rinoa used to say the same thing..." He cocked his head, resting a hand on Seifer's forearm. "She's dead... You don't have to worry about facing her."

Zell looked up from his shadowboxing, seeing Seifer and Squall talking, their faces stony and morose, Squall's hand on Seifer's arm. A flare of jealousy spun through Zell's body, and his eyes narrowed. He shook his head, laughing at himself. Why should he be jealous of Squall of all people? Squall was their friend. He was supporting Seifer, and they had a big history together. He continued to watch them, his eyes narrowing again. He could make out a little of what Squall said before he rested his head wearily against Seifer's shoulder.

"Xerampelinae may have given birth to you, but she's not your mother."

"Thanks, Squall."

Zell clenched his fists tightly, his short fingernails digging into his palms. Despite himself, his anger rose again. He bit the inside of his lip, just watching. Squall made no further move to touch Seifer, and looked like he was about to fall asleep.

What are you thinking, Zell?! He shook his head, slowly making his way to Seifer and Squall. He was being foolish.

Seifer looked up as he heard Zell come towards them. His lover's face was dark with some sort of buried emotion. He also noticed that Zell's fists were clenched at his sides, a nervous gesture. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing..." Zell muttered, leaning his shoulder against the car on Seifer's other side. It made a loud thump that caused Squall to move his head. "What's with you?" Zell asked of Squall.

"Tired..." He sighed. "What am I going to do?"

"What do you mean?" Seifer asked, finding Zell's fingers, curling them with his own.

"I mean, my entire life has changed, it seems. I was so introverted before, and only became more extraverted with Rinoa's company, and now that she's out of the picture, I'm sort of feeling at a loss..." Squall trailed off, sighing.

"But, it's for the best, right?" Zell asked, internally feeling stupid. Squall was depressed because he was going through personal changes, and Zell had gotten angry and jealous over nothing at all. He knew he trusted Seifer, and loved Seifer desperately. And, Squall was his best friend. The closest thing to a brother that he had.

"Yeah... But, it's still a change that I have to get used to..." Squall trailed off as he heard a yelp of pain.

"STUPID!" Fujin exclaimed, kicking Raijin in the shins.

"Ow!! Don't do that!" He glowered at his girlfriend. "I'm changing the fucking tire as fast as I can, ya know?! A little help would be nice...."

Fujin shook her head. "It should have taken five minutes."

"Oh, well, ya know, I guess I'm not as smart as you are, ya know?!"

"FUCKER!" She crossed her arms over her chest.

Raijin stood to full height, staring his girlfriend down. "Sometimes, I don't know why I married you!"

Seifer, Squall and Zell all turned. Squall's stormy eyes were wide, Seifer's scarred brow was furrowed, and Zell's mouth hung open in shock. None of them was sure they heard Raijin correctly.

That's when Raijin and Fujin noticed that they had an audience.

"You're... Married?!" Zell screeched.

"What's going on?" Seifer asked, his eyes dark with confusion.

"Oh... Uh..." Raijin blushed sheepishly. "Well...."

"Why didn't you say anything?!" Zell asked.

"So, you're married?" Squall asked lowly.

Fujin looked down, her unpatched eye hidden by her long lashes. "Well... We sort of forgot..."

"Forgot?!" The three men asked in unison.

"We can't tell people in Esthar because we're both in the army, and we can't show favouritism. It would be unprofessional. And, I guess we're so in the habit of not telling people, ya know?!"

Seifer just blinked a few times, his surprise fading. "Well, congratulations, I guess...."

"I still can't believe that you didn't say anything!" Zell exclaimed, slight hurt in his voice.

"We're sorry." Raijin muttered sheepishly, turning back to the tire.

"It's not like it's a big deal..." Fujin muttered. "We still have the same relationship as we did before. Just like if you two got married," She gestured to Seifer and Zell.

Zell raised his eyebrows, looking at his lover. He smiled happily. "Would you ever marry me, Almasy?"

Seifer narrowed his eyes. "Not in this lifetime."

Zell made a hurt face. "You're an asshole."

Seifer smiled playfully, capturing Zell's pouting lips with his own. When Seifer's tongue ran over his lips, Zell forgot about his jealousy, forgot that they were waiting for Raijin to change a tire, forgot about Fujin and Raijin's bombshell. All he could feel and taste was Seifer's lips, moving against his own, tasting like cinnamon and electricity. It was like he could taste Seifer's newfound powers under the surface of his skin. Zell's hands slowly moved from their stationary position at his side, and wound around Seifer's trim waist.

Zell's attention was snapped from Seifer's mouth as he heard an impatient whistling.

"Hey, the tire's fixed, ya know?!" Raijin was looking at them, his hands on his hips. "You can make out in the car, ya know?!"

Zell blushed slightly, and pulled away. He gave Seifer a playful grin. He patted his taller lover's chest with affection, nipping at his lips once more. "Maybe I should withhold sex until you make me a proper wife..." Zell trailed off, getting in the Jeep.

"Oh, okay, Rinoa..." Seifer teased. He smiled, then pursed his lips, quashing the grin when he looked at Squall's face. The stoic SeeD looked distant and faraway. "Sorry..." He patted Squall's shoulder before getting in the car behind Zell.

"Huh?" Squall asked. He hadn't even really heard what Seifer had said. Something about Rinoa. He'd been preoccupied with his own personal thoughts, ones that were sort of new to him. While watching Seifer and Zell share their kiss, something in Squall had curled. Watching their lips move together had made Squall miss something. Was it missing his connection with Rinoa, or was it missing something he'd never had? A hot wave washed over his body, and he grimaced to himself, pushing it deep down until he couldn't really feel it anymore. He crawled into the car beside Zell, knowing that it would be harder to hide it on the ride to Esthar.

"Squall!" Laguna exclaimed, sauntering down the Palace steps to greet his son.

"Hello..." Squall began to greet, but stopped when Laguna trapped him in a big bear hug. He smiled, patting his father's back. It actually felt really nice to be held by his father. When he pulled away, he couldn't help but smile at Laguna, whose eyes, so like his own, were filled with happy tears.

"Why are you crying?" Squall demanded lowly.

"I'm not!" Laguna exclaimed. He lightly shoved Squall away. "Fujin, Raijin, welcome back."

"Thank you, sir.." Fujin said humbly.

Laguna snorted. "Don't call me that! I've told you a million times that it's just Laguna to you guys."

"Sorry, sir... I mean, Laguna..." Fujin sounded like she was uncomfortable with talking to Laguna like a familiar.

"And, hello, Zell, Seifer... You still make such a cute couple..."

Seifer blushed deeply, looking at his shoes, while Zell laughed nervously, running his hand through his hair.

"Dad..." Squall hissed quietly. "You're so embarrassing."

"Oh, sorry, Squall... Come on, you guys must be hungry..." He ushered the group behind him. Fujin and Raijin nodded, but remained where they were.

"We'll get back in contact with the officers, President Loire."

"Fine, fine.." He waved his hand. "And, call me Laguna!" He called.

"Yes, sir..."

"Laguna! La-gun-A!!!!" He exclaimed, walking into the Palace. "God, being President sucks sometimes."

Squall pursed his lips, but remained silent.

"So..." Laguna turned to Zell and Seifer. "What do I owe this lovely visit to?"

Zell opened his mouth to respond, but closed it again when Laguna started talking once more.

"It's not like you'd just come to hang out with an old fart like me..." He laughed, flipping his still luxurious hair over one of his broad shoulders.

"I'm here to find out about my mother," Seifer blurted out before Laguna could say anything else.

"Really?" Laguna raised his eyebrows in interest as they rode the lift to his office. "What, does she live in Esthar or something."

Squall snorted, but still remained silent.

"If you have something to say, Mr. Snide, please do," Laguna muttered to his son.

"It's nothing..." Squall muttered.

"She's dead," Seifer mused. "I don't really know anything about her other than what Matron told me."

"Edea?" Laguna's eyes clouded. "What did she tell you?"

"That my mother was..." Seifer trailed off as they entered Laguna's office, waiting until the door was safely closed behind them. "She was a Sorceress named Xerampelinae."

Laguna took in his breath like Seifer had slapped him. "Xerampelinae? Xerampelinae... Now, that's a name I haven't heard in a long time..."

"You know of her?" Zell asked, lowering his compact body into a chair beside his lover. Squall took the one on the other side of Seifer.

"Yes, I know of her. I never met her, never saw her in person. Her name was thrown around along with Adel during the Sorceress War. She was conveniently taken out of history books. I don't really know much more than that. From my impression, she was a lackey to Adel, and then killed because Adel didn't want to share the power..." His eyes narrowed. "You guys came to talk to Odine, didn't you?"

Seifer nodded. "I want to find out as much as I can...." He sighed. "She was more than a lackey for Adel. She was the one who turned Adel into what she was, or, according to Edea she was. Xerampelinae, my mother, tried to bring Ultimecia into our time during the Sorceress War."

Laguna almost fell out of his chair. "What?!"

"That's what Edea said. We want to talk to Odine so we can find out as much information about her as we can," Seifer muttered, looking at his hands, which were clasped very tightly in his lap.

"Seifer's a Sorcerer now..." Squall interjected. "His powers were passed down in his family. They've been dormant, released when Zell almost died."

"A Sorcerer..." Laguna suddenly looked at Seifer in a new light, almost like he was a threat. In the city of the Sorceress, magical people were watched very carefully. "A healer?"

"I apparently have a sister. The Sorceress Lillith."

Laguna sucked in his breath again. "Now, her I have heard of."

"You have?" Squall asked.

"Well, if you can call myth and legend hearing about her. The Dead Queen."

"What does that mean?" Zell asked.

"Local legend. The Sorceress of the afterlife, the Zombie Witch. Supposedly, she's undead, like a vampire, and uses the energy of souls, and controls a kingdom in the afterlife. Most of it is stories to scare kids before bedtime." Laguna narrowed his eyes. "What did Edea say about her?"

"Apparently, she was at Cid's retirement party, and she talked to Edea."

"I saw her..." Zell muttered.

"You saw her?!" Laguna exclaimed. He was almost sitting on thin air, perched on the edge of his chair.

"I was attacked by a T-Rexaur in the woods, and I almost died. While I was dying, I saw the Grim Reaper. It was Lillith, or I think it was..." He looked over at his lover. "She looked a lot like Seifer, and that picture in Ultimecia's Castle of Xerampelinae." Zell paused again. "Seifer saved my life."

"Edea said that siblings of Sorcery are sometimes two halves of the same coin. Lillith is Death, and Seifer is Life."

Laguna nodded, trying to be calm, but his eyes were as wide as saucers. He looked at Squall, who was as cool as ever, his face impassive. However, Laguna caught some sort of inner conflict in his son's eyes, about something that didn't concern the Sorcerer talk. Seifer was looking at his hands, outwardly as composed as Squall, but there was a hint of shame and fear tinting his fair features. Zell was staring at Laguna, his eyes slightly narrowed in thought. His head was turned slightly to Seifer, and his face looked very pale, almost white in the light. His tattoo looked so black, like Zebra marks on his face. Laguna's wide eyes narrowed quickly as a residual image flashed through his mind. It was gone far too quickly for the President of Esthar to comprehend it. The only thing he could remember of it was black, white and red, all swirled together, like paint smeared into a messy pool.

"I'll call Odine as soon as possible..." Laguna murmured, his voice low, his brain moving a mile a second.

"Don't inconvenience him. We can wait until he has some free time..." Seifer muttered, looking at Laguna, then Zell. A small smile graced his marble features.

Laguna smiled. He was happy for his son's friends. He'd gotten to know them quite well, and thought they were great. They were lucky to have each other, especially in such a confusing time. He looked at his son, furrowing his brow. Squall was watching the two blondes out of the corner of his eye, a mixture of unreadable emotions passing over his pretty face.

"Well, I'll talk to him. Until then, you're more than welcome to stay here. I've already got rooms prepared for you." Laguna stood. "I'm so glad that you came. Having Kiros and Ward as the only people to talk to can get very boring. They're boring."

"That's a nice thing to say about your friends," Squall muttered. "You sound like me..." He stood as well, tearing his eyes away from Zell and Seifer. "I really appreciate this, Dad."

"Oh, don't make it sound like I'm doing you guys a favour. I'm glad that you're here, and I want to help any way I can..." He gave Seifer a meaningful look.

"Oh, I guess I should drop another bombshell..." Squall muttered.

"What now? Are you a Sorcerer, too?" Laguna asked, teasingly.

"I broke up with Rinoa... And, it wasn't pretty, in case you hear anything..."

"You broke up?!" Laguna exclaimed. His whole face fell. "Why?"

"It didn't work out..." Squall said. "Let's just leave it at that, please..."

Laguna nodded. That must have been what Squall was so conflicted about. He reached out, ruffling his son's hair. "Nobody's good enough for my little boy."

Squall groaned. "Stop it!"

Laguna laughed at Squall's discomfort. He turned to Seifer. "I'm sure it will be fine. Odine can maybe teach you how to control and hone your powers, as well..." He patted Seifer's back. He then smiled at Zell. "I'm glad at least one couple is still doing good."

"Well, he doesn't want to marry me..." Zell muttered, playfully sneering.

Laguna's eyes narrowed once more. The bared teeth showing through Zell's lips weren't threatening, but they looked like fangs. His sharp canines shone in the same light that made his skin look like bleached paper, and his tattoo look like animal striping. The flash of red, black and white was stronger this time, but didn't clear itself into an actual image.

Laguna cleared his throat. "Well... I'll show you guys to your rooms..." He made a motion for Seifer, Zell and Squall to follow him. They walked down the hall, Laguna chatting to his son about various things that were going on in Esthar.

Zell curled his fingers with Seifer's. They walked in silence behind Squall and Laguna, enjoying just walking hand in hand. Zell furrowed his brow. He'd noticed the way Laguna had looked at him, like he was seeing some sort of horrible ghost. He looked over as Seifer squeezed his hand. Seifer was as lost in thought as he was. Lillith was dead? What was going on? Zell wondered why their lives had to be like a big production.

"Okay..." Laguna said cheerfully. He opened a double door. "Seifer and Zell... This is your room. Squall..." He trailed off, walking to the next double door. "This is your room. I hope you guys are staying more than just a day or two..."

"Yes, Smother..." Squall muttered. "We're staying for more than a day or two."

Laguna shook his head at his son. "I'll get someone to bring your stuff up." He smiled at them, and walked back in the direction they'd come from.

Zell smiled with confusion as all three of them went into the room that Seifer and Zell would be sharing. "I'm a bit surprised that they gave us one room," he commented to Seifer.

The tall blonde shrugged. "At least he's willing to help us."

Zell furrowed his brow. "Laguna kept looking at me funny..."

"Maybe he wants to bang you," Seifer noted, sitting on the large bed. He made a surprised noise in the back of his throat as he sunk into the soft mattress. It turned into a sigh as he reclined on the bed.

"That's gross." Squall perched himself at the foot of the bed, his feet beside Seifer's shoulder. Zell sat on the other side of Squall's legs. "How was he staring at you?"

Zell shrugged. "I can't really put my finger on it. Like I scared him, or reminded him of someone..."

Squall shook his head. "My dad's an idiot..." He sighed deeply. "At supper, I bet anything he'll start asking me about Rinoa."

"Wait until you tell him you slapped her." Seifer's lips turned up into a grin.

"Oh, I can't wait..." Squall looked around the room, eyeing the phone. "Pass that to me..." He pointed to the cordless telephone.

"Why?" Zell asked, obliging.

"Just want to tell Quistis that we're here, and tell her we'll be here for a while. I don't want her flipping out because she can't find us..." He dialled the number for Quistis's room.

"Hello....?" A groggy voice answered.

"Oh, sorry..." Squall began to apologize for calling so late. He looked at his watch, realizing it was only one in the afternoon in Balamb. "Wait, I shouldn't be apologizing for waking you... It's lunchtime. You should be at your desk. Bad Headmaster."

"Who's this?" The voice asked, sounding a bit more clear.

Squall's eyes widened. "Who's this?"

Seifer and Zell looked at each other, seeing the confusion written all over Squall's face. He had obviously called Quistis's private line. Who was answering her phone.

"You sound like you just woke up....Or..." Squall trailed off, his eyebrows rising. "Xu?!"


"Why are you answering Quistis's phone?" Squall asked. He then heard a muffled voice in the background, equally as groggy. It was Quistis.


"What are you doing?!"

Quistis didn't answer the question. "What's up?"

"I was just calling to tell you we were in Esthar, and to give you the number where you could reach me and Zell in case there was some sort of Garden emergency...." Squall's eyes were now slits. "You've got after sex voice... You and Xu have after sex voice..." He snorted into the phone. "You Lezzie slut..."

"Squall!!" Quistis chided, sounding outraged.

Squall laughed, nodding at Seifer and Zell. "Okay, get a pen or something..." His voice was laced with amusement. "Ready...?"

"Yes..." Quistis sounded slightly annoyed. "You know, we always wanted you to laugh more, just not at us."

"I'm not laughing at you. Okay, the number for Zell's room is 236-4496. Got that, or do you want to rewrite it?"

"I've got it!" Quistis snapped. "Is that all?"

Squall laughed, hearing Xu's voice slightly in the background. "Well, this is what you should expect when you let your girlfriend answer your private phone, Quisty." He chuckled. "At least I'm not the only one going gay..." He hung up the phone, his eyes widening when he realized what he'd said.

Seifer and Zell were just staring blankly at him.

"You're going gay?" Seifer asked, his voice bland and utterly calm.

Zell's eyes flashed with jealousy. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised...."

Squall shook his head at the tattooed blonde. "Don't worry, short stuff... I'm not making the moves on Seifer." He sighed deeply. "I don't know.. I guess it's something that's been in the back of my mind, and maybe I'm in a transitional period. I just left a long relationship with Rinoa. Maybe I want to try different avenues... I don't know... Maybe I was just saying it to tease Quistis and Xu."

"Quistis and Xu..." Seifer mused. "I always figured Xu was a dyke."

"Seifer!" Zell exclaimed.

"What? Fags and dykes always seem to smell each other..." He sighed. "I'm not surprised, though."

"Neither am I..." Zell muttered. "But, I am surprised that Squall's becoming a Queen."

"What can I say... What's one more bombshell in an already bombed out existence?" Squall narrowed his eyes, studying Zell's face. "I wonder who you remind Laguna of..."

"Adel..." Seifer muttered, snorting.

"Excuse me!" Zell stuck out his tongue. "I don't look anything like her!"

"Yeah, you're like, a hundred times shorter than she was," Squall piped up.

"Laugh it up, assholes..." Zell muttered, flopping back against the pillows. His temple was resting against Squall's ankle. "Do you think Odine will be able to help you?"

Seifer sighed. "Yeah... and, I don't know if that's really a good thing. What's going to happen when I find out all this terrible stuff about my family?"

"You'll get through it..." Zell whispered, reaching his hand up, running it down the side of Seifer's face.

Squall watched the small gesture of affection, something curling in him again. That's when he realized that it wasn't desire. It was loneliness. He'd gotten used to being totally alone, but then, friends like Zell, Quistis, Irvine, Selphie, Rinoa, and even Seifer, helped get him out of his shell. Rinoa had also given him total companionship, something he'd never had before. And, now that that sort of romantic attachment was gone, he missed it. He still had his friends, but it wasn't really the same thing.

He smiled distantly. "I think I'll go visit with my dad some more..." He gave Seifer and Zell a look before clambering off the bed. He silently left the room, closing the door behind him.

Zell closed his eyes as he felt Seifer's breath on his cheek, felt Seifer's weight pressing down on his body. When Seifer's mouth grazed his tattooed cheekbone, he purred, shifting his body closer to Seifer. Any jealousy about Squall disappeared whenever Seifer touched him. He made Zell feel like he was the only person in existence. When his eyes slowly slid open, they met the endless horizon of Seifer's eyes, like and endless ocean, like a sky that never stopped.

"I love you..." Zell whispered.

"I love you, Zell..." Seifer kissed the tip of his nose. "And, I think it's cute that you're threatened by Squall."

"I'm not threatened!" Zell exclaimed. He then furrowed his brow. "That obvious?"

Seifer chuckled low in his throat. "You're so cute, Zell."

Zell sighed, moaning quietly as Seifer's hand moved into his baggy brown pants. "Man, Squall's not even.... out of the room for thirty seconds, and you're already.... molesting..... me....."

Seifer smiled wickedly, his hand encircling Zell's cock, which was rapidly becoming hard. He smiled wider at the little whimper that Zell elicited. Zell's hands were already moving over his shirt, pulling at the buttons, wrestling with them. He grunted in frustration, finally getting all the buttons, and tossed the shirt away. He then used his hands to pull Seifer completely on top of him, his body being crushed under his much taller lover. Their lips harshly met, mashing together maniacally, their tongues winding together, pushing into the other's mouth, almost choking.

It had been just over a week since Zell had been injured by the T-Rexaur, and this would be the first time since then that Seifer and Zell would have sex. The doctor had advised against any 'strenuous activity' and given them a pointed look. Both men were exceedingly horny.

Zell yanked off Seifer's shirt, running his hands all over Seifer's bare chest, playing with his nipples as he wound his legs around Seifer's waist. Zell toed off his own socks, his fingers moving in small circles over the hard peaks of Seifer's nipples, his tongue greedily lapping at Seifer's mouth, tasting his saliva, running his tongue over his lover's gums and teeth. Seifer didn't waste any time in taking off Zell's pants, which came off in one violent yank. His boxers came off with them, making Zell completely nude under Seifer's body. Seifer groaned as Zell broke the kiss, giving Seifer a heated stare as he pulled off the rest of Seifer's clothes, surprised that they weren't ripping under the force of his hands. Zell couldn't help but sob quietly in thankfulness when they were both naked, bare flesh sheened with sweat pressed against more bare, sweat glistened skin.

Their tongues tangled together once more, everything else around them falling away. It didn't matter that Seifer was a Sorcerer, it didn't matter that his mother had worked with Ultimecia. Zell's jealousy over Squall didn't matter. It didn't matter that they weren't in their bed. All that mattered was each other. Zell forgot the world existed around him when Seifer's hands touched his body, like they were doing at that moment, fingers running between his ass cheeks, mouth moving over his face and throat, cock pressed against his.

"Seifer..." Zell panted, laying back in the mattress, parting his legs around Seifer's hips, offering his body. He felt Seifer's fingers pulling at his hair, and the blonde's mouth on his chest as his body was rapidly prepared for penetration. Both men were highly impatient, and weren't really in the mood for foreplay.

Seifer propped himself over Zell on his hands, looking down at his small lover. When he caught eye contact, he pushed himself in to Zell's slightly stretched channel. The tattooed blonde under him writhed in pained pleasure. He wasn't worried about hurting Zell. They'd done it far rougher and drier than this on previous occasions.

Zell tried to hold back a loud moan, but couldn't really stop the whole thing, and it came out as guttural and raspy, bitten back behind his clenched teeth. He arched his body off the bed, holding his weight up on his shoulders and legs. Zell gripped Seifer's shoulders, throwing his head back in ecstasy as Seifer rode him, sending waves of pain up his spine. Those shots dissolved into the rising pleasure in Zell's body, until he couldn't feel the warm sting in his spinal cord, only the heady, foggy pleasure. He'd felt these sensations a million times with Seifer, as Seifer fucked him, as he fucked Seifer, as they sucked each other off, even as they kissed, held hands, or just looked at each other.

Seifer's thrusts caused Zell's body to slowly be pushed up the bed, bunching the sheets around them. Zell was moaning hoarsely with each push into his body, so Seifer covered his lover's mouth with his own, not wanting anyone to hear them. Their tongues tangled together as their bodies slammed together, moved as one. Zell's feet moved off the bed, and wound around Seifer's waist, tremors starting to move through his muscles. They started off as small shivers, and as Seifer brought him to the height of pleasure, it felt like he jumped off a cliff, falling forever into warm blackness, and into a warm, welcoming ocean below. Zell's pants came out heavily as he came, his muscles rapidly contracting around Seifer's cock, which caused the scarred blonde to release as well, filling his lover with his release.

Seifer relinquished his grip on Zell's mouth, and pulled his face away so he could look at Zell's face as he lowered their bodies to the bed.

Zell's panting slowly subsided, becoming small sighs of contentment. He muttered incoherently in disappointment as Seifer pulled out, reclining his long body beside Zell's much smaller one. He brought the martial artist into his arms, cradling his body against Zell's side. Zell turned his head slightly, so his cheek was pressed against Seifer's, both their faces warm with sweat, and the internal heat of the afterglow.

A small laugh escaped Seifer's throat. It sounded breathless and weary. "Even if I don't find out anything about Xerampelinae and Lillith, the trip was worth it just for that...."

Zell smiled dreamily, his body beginning to shut down, to conserve energy. He yawned in contentment, pulling himself further into Seifer's arms. "I'm glad I could be of service." He closed his eyes, welcoming the comforting, comforted feeling he always got after he had sex with Seifer, when Seifer held him.

Seifer kissed Zell's earlobe, his own eyes falling shut as well. Even if he'd gone through a multitude of personal changes in such a short amount of time, he always felt like the same Seifer when he was with Zell. He welcomed familiar sleep, feeling like nothing had changed at all.

Seifer watched Dr. Odine pace in his technological wonder of a laboratory. His clothes were hard not to look at, and he seemed to only be drawing attention to his strange dress as he walked back and forth.

"You must realize, Mr. Almazy, zat ve do not have all ze information on Xerampelinae and Lillith zat ve vould like. Sorceress Edea only found out about them through Ultimecia a relatively short time ago. And, after Adel took over Esthar, all ze information on past Sorceresses around zis area were deztroyed."

"What do you mean... This area...?" Zell asked, suspicion lacing his voice.

Odine balked.

"We caught you... You know something, Doctor..." Seifer trailed off, glaring at the diminutive man.

"No, no!!!" He waved his small hands. "I do not mean to give you falze hope. I may know of a place you can find your answers, though. I only know zat Adel and Xerampelinae knew each other before Adel's reign over our city began."

"How do you know this?" Squall asked. He was standing in the back of the room, leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest. Seifer and Zell had asked him to come along, and he was glad they did. He was just as curious about Seifer's new powers as Seifer himself and Zell were.

"From vhat Ellone haz told us."

"What did Ellone say?" Seifer asked. He was trying desperately to remain calm. He hadn't really learned anything new, only tidbits of information on the first attempt at Time Compression. Ultimecia had tried to use Adel, Xerampelinae and Lillith, as she had tried to use Edea, Adel, Rinoa and Ellone in the present time. He also learned that Ultimecia's strength and hidden power was in dividing such a massive amount of it. She was so strong that she could still be fearsome in her body, while having big chunks of her power lying dormant in other Sorceresses. Adel had had a piece of it frozen with her in space. Xerampelinae had taken it into her body during a pact with the future witch, but lost it when her own power was absorbed into Ultimecia's seemingly endless pool of power. Lillith had also been bestowed with Ultimecia's magic. Odine had looked up the stories of the Dead Queen, stories that had surfaced during the time of the Sorceress War.

Since Lillith had been taken to the future, she'd grown up under Ultimecia, a sick sort of mother daughter relationship. Lillith had also been granted ancient power and immortality, and mixed with her own Sorcery of the dead, her necromantic abilities, Lillith was the true Dead Queen, tied to the grave, even in life. When Lillith was strong, eternally trapped at the age of twenty five, Ultimecia had sent her back to the time of Adel's reign over Esthar and the Sorceress War. Her job was to fuse with Adel, and open the portal for Ultimecia's design of Time Compression, but the Almasy Sorceress had rebelled against her Mistress. Ultimecia had cursed Lillith for the betrayal, making her a Zombie like being, trapped inside a dead body for eternity.

"Ellone said zat she saw images from Adel's memory, of Adel's life before she became vhat ve knew her az."

"What," Zell piped up. "You mean, before she became a big, huge disgusting beast?"

"Yes..." Odine trailed off, giving Zell a confused, and almost frightened look. Something passed over his eyes, much like it had with Laguna the previous day. Zell caught it for an instant, but it passed before the tattooed blonde could make anything of it. "Ellone vas sharing minds with Rinoa, Adel and Ultimecia during Time Compression, and she saw vhat was in Adel's mind. She saw Xerampelinae, Adel's children, ze life zhat was stolen by Adel's greed."

"Did she see where Xerampelinae and Adel lived?" Seifer asked. If he could find where Xerampelinae lived, where the location of the burning house was, maybe he could get answers, clues on how to find Lillith.

"No, I am sorry."

"How can we find Lillith?" Squall asked.

"Zat, I do not know. Lillith vill probably find you." Odine pursed his lips. "I do know of a place zhat might show you zomething."

"Where would zis be?" Zell asked, slightly mocking the eccentric scientist.

"Zere is a graveyard in Trabia, behind ze Trabia Garden. Do you know of it?"

Squall and Zell nodded. They remembered it from the day the visited the bombed out school with Selphie after the Galbadian missile attack.

"Zere used to be a city in Trabia, before ze Gardens were built. Zere is nothing left of it now... It vas burned during ze Sorceress War. Along with its name in ze hiztory books." He sighed. "Nobody remembers ze city of Trabia, or vants to talk about it."

"This graveyard..." Seifer trailed off, looking and Squall and his lover. "It could have remnants of Trabia's city?"

Odine nodded. "And, a graveyard is a good start in zearching for Sorceress Lillith, no?" He smiled, which sent shivers down the spines of the three men. He was a creepy guy. "Any more questions?"

Seifer remained silent for a few moments, processing all the new information. "No.. Thank you."

"I vish I could have been of more help, Mr. Almazy. However, I would like to run zome tests on you, now that you are a Sorcerer. It's so rare to zee a male Sorcerer in this day und age."

Seifer grimaced slightly. He didn't know if he liked the idea of Odine poking and prodding him. "Maybe some other time, Doctor..."

"Of course..." He bowed at them, his eyes lingering on Zell, with what looked like suspicion rising in his irises. He also looked at Squall, as if he was looking at the President of Esthar himself. Squall noticed, and sighed to himself. A lot of people in Esthar did that. Squall was the next in line for the power over the technological city. If something happened to Laguna, Squall would be made the President of Esthar. He didn't know if he wanted the job. He shrugged. It was hopefully a moot point anyway. It's not like Laguna was going to drop dead anytime soon. And, Squall was glad of that. He may have complained about Laguna, but deep down, he really did love and care about his father.

"So..." Zell mused, looking at Seifer. "Do you want to go to Trabia? I'm sure we can easily get the Ragnarok, right, Squall?"

The auburn-haired SeeD nodded. "We can leave whenever you want..."

"Now," Seifer stated simply, but his voice was shaking with a multitude of emotions. "I want to go now."

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