Chapter Eighteen

By Scarlet Fever

Zell looked up into Seifer's eyes, not wanting to close them. Both men knew that if they fell asleep, they wouldn't be waking up as themselves. It would be Adel and Ultimecia once more. Zell smiled sadly at Seifer, his lips only turning up slightly, as Seifer's fingers moved over his nude flesh. Seifer was sitting between Zell's parted legs, and they were just staring at each other, Seifer's hands slowly moving over Zell's body, just touching him, touching the real Zell while he could. Zell almost flinched when Seifer's fingers pressed over the cuts in his cheek, deep and still sore. Zell had looked in the mirror, and the scars were dark against his flesh, matching the tattoo on the other side. Zell hadn't vocalized it to Seifer, but he knew that the marks on either side of his face made him look even more like Adel.

Zell's hand reached up to Seifer's face, and the taller blonde kissed Zell's palm, his lip shaking slightly.

"Seifer....?" Zell whispered.

"Yes?" Seifer tried to make his voice sound strong, and he was glad that a single torch on the wall near the door to the bedchamber that Adel and Ultimecia had set up was the only light, because he didn't want Zell to see him fall apart. They had to be strong.

"How long's it been since we were last... ourselves?"

Seifer cocked his head, nuzzling into Zell's palm. "I'm... I'm not sure. A couple days? I remember...." Seifer shook his head. "I think they're blocking our memory..."

Zell sighed. "Or, we're starting to become them. Seifer.... Each time they possess us, it takes longer for them to leave our bodies. Maybe we're dying.... And, they're taking over."

Seifer ran his hand over Zell's knee. "Do you think that's what's happening?"

Zell sat up, and moved his body into Seifer's lap. "What about your power?"

"What about it?"

"Does it feel... I don't know... Corrupted at all?"

Seifer contemplated his lover's words. He closed his eyes, searching for the power's origin within his body. It tingled over his flesh, and Zell felt it as well. "No.... Not really.....I don't know anymore."

"It feels the same to me. That means that Ultimecia hasn't contaminated your power yet...." Zell furrowed his brow in thought. "Seifer!"

Seifer's eyes widened. "What's wrong?" His arms tightened around Zell's waist. "Can you feel Adel coming back?"

Zell shook his head, smiling. It caused Seifer to smile, too. It had been a long time since Zell really smiled. It brightened his whole face, and made things seem a little less dire. Seifer knew that was silly, because Zell's beautiful smile couldn't get rid of Adel and Ultimecia. But, it was nice. "Why are you smiling?"

"Seifer.... Can you use telepathy?"


Zell nodded, placing his hands on Seifer's muscular shoulders. "Yeah.... Within your powers? Maybe......" Zell chewed on his lower lip. "We can't kill ourselves... But, Ultimecia doesn't have control of your powers... You could still use them.... To contact Squall and the others."

"But, what would we say?" Seifer asked, his eyes narrowed. "Besides, I don't know if I can do it...."

Zell's eyebrows raised. "I've got it!" He smiled again. "Nida's empathic, and he's in Esthar...." Zell kissed Seifer quickly, almost laughing. "We can tell them to move Edea. Adel and Ultimecia know where Matron is, so..."

"If we tell them to hide Edea, it will prevent Ultimecia from getting all her power..." Seifer finished. He suddenly frowned. "But, if Ultimecia's power exists within Edea, won't she be able to come back?"

Zell's smile turned dark and wicked. "Ultimecia was an idiot on one occasion...."


Zell's canines flashed, and it caused Seifer to kiss him deeply. When they broke apart, Zell spoke. "Well, wasn't Lillith like a zombie or something?"

Seifer nodded, the same dark wickedness coming over his sculpted features. "Lillith is the only Sorceress in the world to be able to take her powers to the grave..... So, once we die, Lillith's energy will be taking that power to the grave...." Seifer frowned. "But, Lillith doesn't have a body anymore."

"She has us.... She has you. You're her brother. You know her specific magical signature."

Seifer nodded, his hands running through Zell's damp hair. Zell had bathed and bathed, washing his hair repeatedly, but his corn-coloured hair was still tinted with Rinoa's blood. "We'll take Adel and Ultimecia to Hell with us."

Zell nodded. "Can you try to contact Nida? Matron is sealed up, so we can't talk to her. Since you aren't sure if you can do it, Nida will be the best choice."

"They're scared of him..." Seifer whispered, closing his eyes. "Why?"

Zell frowned. "I only remember one part in one class about empathy. It's a rare condition, so we didn't really cover it."

"I remember...." Seifer sighed. "Seems like a lifetime ago."

"It was a lifetime ago." Zell frowned. "But, I do remember something about empathic people being able to borrow.... Magic from others. Like, in battle... Well, that's how it affected SeeD. But, anyway, in battle, they could take magical abilities from enemies."

"Like, if they were fighting a Malboro, they could immune themselves to status ailments..." Seifer mused.

"Yeah.... Do you think that Adel and Ultimecia are afraid of Nida doing something like that?"

"I don't know..." Seifer sighed again. "I don't even know if Nida's aware that he can do that, if he even can do it."

"Okay.... Just try to contact him, please?" Zell asked, his eyes watery and begging. "You should know his signature from when he fought that... Monster that Adel sent."

Seifer nodded, concentrating everything he had into one point in his body. He could feel his power building within him, and he stretched it out, like gossamer thread. He could feel it stretching outside his body, visible only by the sensation of the hairs on his body rising. He felt Zell's fingers against his cheeks, trying to guide him, for Zell could feel Nida's being from his mother's monster's contact with the Asian pilot.


Quistis flopped down on a couch in between Selphie and Raijin. "Why is this happening?" She stared up at the ceiling.

"Poor Sir Laguna," Selphie mused, propping her chin up on her fists. "I'm worried about Irvine... Especially after General Caraway and poor Ward..." She sighed. "Poor Kiros."

Raijin nodded. "Yeah, this will be hard on him. Laguna and Ward were everything to him...." Raijin furrowed his brow, looking at Fujin. She was being quiet and distant, and Raijin knew it was far more than their current situation. But, he also knew that Fujin wanted to uphold their privacy, so he decided not to bring it up with everyone else around.

"Do you think Squall's going to be able to handle being President?" Quistis asked.

"He's got us, and Kiros to help him...." Fujin mused. "And, Laguna's not dead...."

"Right!" Selphie cheered. "We just have to stop Adel and Ultimecia, and Sir Laguna will wake up!"

"Which means destroying Seifer and Zell...." Quistis whispered, barely audible. But, they all heard her. Raijin stiffened beside her, and Selphie sighed sadly. "I'm sorry," Quistis apologized.

"Look, ya know?! Seifer's like my brother, and I like to think that I know him.... I think, in this current situation, ya know, that Seifer would want us to end it..."

Fujin nodded sadly. "Seifer will be noble. He and Zell will thank us for killing them if it means finally destroying Adel and Ultimecia." She sighed. "Too many people have gotten hurt, or killed already...."

"Poor Rinoa," Selphie whispered. "And, Ward and General Caraway. And, look at Sir Laguna! And, we don't know if Nida will be okay.... He was hurt pretty badly."

Quistis cocked her head. "He was?"

Selphie nodded, blowing up into her bangs. "Yeah... I guess we didn't mention that. He and Xu were attacked in Galbadia...."

"Is Xu okay?!" Quistis demanded, her eyes widening.

"Yes, she's fine... She's meeting with the Galbadian Army now...." Selphie waved her hands to calm her blonde friend.

Quistis ran her hands over her damp golden hair with relief. It had taken a while, and her and Raijin were both still damp, but they'd gotten all the rancid green blood off their bodies. "So, what happened to Nida?" Quistis asked, protectiveness rising in her voice. She's spent far more time with Nida than any of her friends, for he was Xu's best friend. She felt her big sister mode switching on.

"He's alive... As far as we know..." Selphie muttered, her green eyes shining. "He was really hurt, but wouldn't accept our help. He had a big wound in his side. Dr. Sunde had to do some work on him."

"That sounds like Nida..... I should go visit him."

"Squall said he would tell us when Nida woke up...." Selphie said, smiling as she did.

Quistis noticed. "What's that look for?"

Selphie blinked, not so innocently. "Why, Quistis Trepe, whatever do you mean?"

Quistis shook her head. "I think everyone in this room knows what I mean..."

"I think Squall feels really guilty about Nida getting hurt, ya know?! It's him that Zell and Seifer want to hurt. Him and Laguna, and everyone else around him just seems to get hurt...." Raijin frowned. He looked at Fujin again. "Fujin, you look sort of pale. Are you okay?"

"Yeah...." Selphie said. "What did the doctor say?"

Fujin shot Selphie a claret glare, and Raijin raised his eyebrows.

"Doctor!? What's going on, ya know?!" Raijin stood, his long body reaching Fujin in a couple of steps. "Did you find out why you're so sick?"

Fujin just looked at Raijin. "We'll talk later...." She crossed her arms over her chest. "I think there are more pressing matters."

Selphie nodded. "Like talking about the fact that Squall's getting the hots for Nida."

Quistis snorted. "Only you could gossip in time of tragedy."

Selphie pouted. "Gee, this is the thanks I get for trying to lighten things up?"

Quistis smirked. "It's so very you, Selphie. You think Squall's liking Nida?" Her cobalt eyes narrowed in interest. She had to admit, she was curious.

Selphie was about to respond, but the phone in her coat pocket rang, causing her to nearly jump out of her skin. "Bah!" She laughed nervously, and answered. "Selphie Tilmitt."

"Selphie? It's Xu. I'm on my way back to Esthar...."

"Good...." Selphie lowered her voice. "We've got bad news that you should spread...." She sighed. "General Caraway died."

"What?!" Xu exclaimed so loudly that Selphie had to move the phone away from her ear. "Yeah, him and Ward died when Zell and Seifer sent some monsters. Quistis and Raijin fought off the biggest one, but a bunch of creatures got into the Memorial...."

"Shit. Shit, shit, shit!!!" Xu muttered angrily. "Is Quistis okay?"


Selphie heard Xu sigh in relief. "How's Nida?"

"Alive.... A fucking miracle if you ask me."

Xu paused. "What do you mean? I saw the explosion... Was he really hurt?"

"He had a big wound on his side. Laguna's doctor is fixing him up...." Selphie winced. "Sorry to have more bad news. Sir Laguna was put into a coma when Seifer and Zell showed up here...."

"Fuck!" Xu swore again. "So, what does this mean for Esthar."

Selphie made an impressed noise in the back of her throat. Xu Yun Ling, professional until the last. "Squall's acting President. It's what Laguna wanted."

There was a pause. "Fine, when I get back to Esthar, I'll talk to Squall. I'll be back soon." Xu hung up.

"Well, goodbye to you, too...." Selphie muttered, hanging up. "Xu's on her way here."

"Good..." Quistis stood. "I'm going to go to the Airstation and wait for her."

"I'll come with you!" Selphie offered, feeling like she should leave Raijin and Fujin alone for a while.

The tall man watched the two women leave. "Okay, talk to me...."

Fujin tried to look up into Raijin's eyes. "Raijin..... It's... Nothing." Fujin frowned. Now wasn't the right time. Actually, when would the right time be?

"Yeah fucking right, ya know!? It's not nothing!" Raijin cupped her chin with one of his large hands. "I know you." He forced the pale Cyclops to look at him. "Please, Fujin."

She bit her lip. "We'll talk tonight... Okay?"

Raijin narrowed his eyes. "Fine...." He cocked his head, looking at Fujin. She seemed really nervous. He didn't want to force her.

"Thank you," she whispered.

Their hands seemed to be all over his body. Squall wanted to moan so loudly that the whole world would hear him, but his voice seemed to vanish. Their hands, their mouths. All over him. Squall lazily opened his eyes, and found himself looking into the familiar blue depths of Zell's eyes. Squall nibbled on his lower lip a little, his head tilting back, eyes shutting, lips parting as he felt warm lips press to the nape of his neck. Seifer's lips. Seifer's hands were strong on his hips, and Zell's fingers were nimble on his chest. They were both so warm, and he could feel both their erections against his body. Zell's was pressed against his own, which was cumbersome in his pants. Seifer's was pressed against his ass, and it made Squall just want to bend over for a nice, hard fucking.

Squall smiled distantly, dreamily, when hands, warm hands, moved under his shirt, caressing his flesh gently, like he was made of glass, like he was beautiful. They were also strong against him, treating him like a man. It was gentle, but with an edge of roughness. Squall furrowed his brow, his smile faltering only slightly on his elegant, lovely face, when the hands got stronger. Seifer's hands seemed to tighten around his hips, but his lips stayed gentle, so gentle.

Squall's eyes flew open when he heard the cracking of bones. Zell's fingers were still ever so gently touching Squall's chest under his shirt, and Seifer's mouth was still hot and wet, slow against the nape of the auburn haired man's neck. The pain didn't register to Squall instantly. All he could feel initially was Seifer's hands around his hips. Then, he started to feel it, like shards of glass. But, it was shards of his own bone. Seifer had broken his hips. Squall just breathed out, while Zell and Seifer continued their gentle ministrations. Squall could still feel their erections, and when Zell's bumped against his own hard cock, a tear rolled from Squall's stormy eyes. He then met Zell's gaze once more, but it wasn't the mirthful icy irises that he was used to. A crimson sea of hatred, claret fluid bubbling, seething. But, the hands stayed gentle on his body, and Squall still had an erection. He was still hard, even as Seifer's hands crunched the shattered bones of his hips.

Zell's hands then moved to Squall's arms, while his mouth moved to cover Squall's. The kiss was Heavenly in its gentle caress, but Zell's hands snapped Squall's arms at the wrists. And, yet, even with shattered hips and broken arms, Squall still had an erection. And, he still felt the arousal burning his body in a degrading fire as he looked into those bubbling pools of blood that were Adel's eyes.

Squall opened his mouth, his voice finding him again. Just before he screamed, all his pain vanished. A heartbeat seemed to thump within his ears. He knew it wasn't his, because Squall could feel his own heart hammering against his chest. This beat was calm, comforting. And, the comforting feeling amounted tenfold when he felt arms around him, warm, familiar, loving. It felt like home just before he screamed in agony.

Squall sat up, his lashes fluttering open. He blinked a few times, his body covered in sweat. He looked at his surroundings. He had been reclining in a chair beside his father's bed. Kiros wasn't around. Squall hoped that the older man had tried to get some rest.

"Jesus...." Squall trailed off, rubbing his face with his open palms. He sighed, and felt very dirty. What a horrible dream. He shivered when he could still feel the ghostly touch of Seifer's lips against his neck. Squall furrowed his brow in confusion. What had the heartbeat been? Whose arms had touched him? Seifer? Zell? His father? Squall looked over to the bed. Laguna was laying as still as a corpse, his chest gently rising and falling the only sign that he was actually alive. But, Laguna still had his colour. He looked healthy. Peaceful. Squall wondered if his father was actually peaceful. Would he be sleeping a dreamless slumber, or would Adel and Ultimecia plague him with nightmares like the one that Squall had just experienced? Squall still didn't really understand what the arms had meant. It was like it was saving him from his nightmare.

"Oh, Dad...." Squall stood, stretching his slender body. "Why did you have to make me President?" He yawned. Squall then frowned. He wondered if Nida was okay. After talking to Quistis and Raijin, Squall had retreated to his father's room. Sunde had still been working on the Asian man. Squall decided to find out.

"Centra....." Squall mused as he walked to the medical section of the Palace. "The Centra Ruins...." He folded his arms over his chest. He couldn't be a hundred percent sure that Seifer and Zell were there, but he was already planning on finding out. He would only take a couple of people, but make it known to some where he was going. Squall knew that the Galbadian Army had offered to help, but Squall wasn't going to put anyone else at risk. Look what happened to Nida.

Squall looked up the hallway, noticing that the door to the room that Sunde had taken Nida to was slightly ajar. "Nida?" Squall asked, rapping his knuckle gently on the door. It swung inward. The room was empty. Squall noticed Nida's bloody shirt on the bed. He picked it up, looking at it. It still felt sort of warm. Where had he gone? Had something else happened? He quickly left the room, determined to find Nida, determined not to let anyone else suffer because of him.

Quistis folded her arms across her chest, trying to keep a professional look on her face as she watched a Galbadian ship land in the Airstation. She knew it was Xu. In actuality, Quistis wanted to run towards Xu once the Asian woman got out of the ship, like in some bad chick movie. She was just so relieved that Xu wasn't hurt. That sort of made the former Instructor feel like a cad. Nida had gotten hurt pretty badly.

Selphie tapped her foot, looking around her. She narrowed her eyes when she saw someone approaching them. "Nida....? Nida, what the bloody fuck do you think you're doing?!" Selphie turned fully, hands on her hips. "You shouldn't be out of bed after surgery."

Quistis looked over her shoulder, her eyebrows raising. "Yeah... Nida, go to bed."

Nida frowned. "I'll live. It actually hurts more now than it did before..." He sighed. "It feels better to be moving. I just came to check to see how repairs on the Ragnarok are going...."

Selphie tapped her foot with impatience. "It's fine! Now, go rest young man...."

Nida glared at her, but it was a weak glare. "How can I rest? The world is falling apart...." He watched as Xu and a man got out of the ship. He cocked his head. "Kind of young for a Galbadian official, don't you think?"

Quistis smirked. "Well, isn't Squall a little young to be President of Esthar? Aren't we a little young to be leaded in a war against two evil Sorceresses?"

"Point taken," Nida muttered, raising his face to the sun. It felt good to be outside. Dr. Sunde had given him some painkillers, so he wasn't really feeling much pain. Just stiffness. "Nice hair," he commented, watching the Galbadian official and Xu come closer. He decided to let Quistis have her space for the meeting. He turned to go back towards the Palace. He could see the Ragnarok in a hangar, and it still looked like Hell. He wanted to kick himself. The Ragnarok was Esthar's top ship, and Nida had totally destroyed it.

"That's right..." Selphie muttered. "Go back to the Palace. Rest, dammit! Or, I'll send Squall after you to make sure you do...." Selphie winked, a twinkle in her glittering emerald eyes.

Nida blushed fiercely. "What are you talking about?"

Selphie simply placed a finger to her lips. "Oh, nothing...." She smiled sweetly, and turned to Xu and the other man.

Nida rolled his eyes, slowly walking back to the Palace, liking how the sun was warming his skin. But, he knew that the warmth in his face wasn't from the afternoon light. It was from the blush that Selphie had roused in him, the blush that wasn't really going away. Nida felt foolish for letting a long time crush affect him like this. But, was it really a crush? If it was, Nida figured he would have grown out of it. But, it seemed to only be growing stronger the more time he spent in Squall's company. Nida was snapped out of his reverie, and his daydream about Squall being so close to him in Laguna's room, that it startled him when he heard his name being called to him.


He furrowed his brow. Who was calling him? Nida shook his head. He must have taken too many pills. Nida totally jumped out of his skin, gasping when his name was called again, but this time, by a different voice.


The Asian man looked up, seeing Squall staring at him. He'd already walked to the Palace, and Squall was waiting at the doors, looking sort of pissed off.

"Squall....? What's wrong?" Nida cocked his head, stopping in front of the pretty SeeD.

Squall glared at the equally pretty man in front of him. "You're what's wrong, Nida! Why aren't you resting? You've just had surgery!"

Nida smiled wearily, beginning to walk into the Palace. Squall fell in stride beside him. "Don't worry..... I just needed to go for a walk. I'm fine."

"You keep saying that..." Squall trailed off. "But, are you really?" Squall cocked his head. "You know..... There's no shame in accepting help."

Nida snorted, looking at Squall. He tried to ignore how beautiful Squall's eyes were. "You're one to talk...."

Squall nodded. "Exactly. I know exactly what I'm talking about." He crossed his arms again. "Look, I'm not trying to treat you like Rinoa.... I just...." Squall trailed off, feeling a little embarrassed.

"You just what?" Nida asked quietly. He found that his shoulder kept brushing Squall's, and it was making him feel warm. He turned his face away so the other man wouldn't see him blush.

"...Nothing," Squall muttered. "Look, Nida...." Squall grabbed Nida's elbow and led them into an empty room. "Can I ask you something?"

Nida cocked his head. "Anything," he said, his voice a bit huskier than he would have liked. Inside, he was totally grimacing. He sounded like he was hitting on Squall. If the other man noticed, he didn't indicate it.

"Will you go with me to the Centra Ruins?"

"Why?" Nida asked, cocking an arched eyebrow. He noticed the look in Squall's face. "You think Zell and Seifer are there, don't you?"

Squall nodded slowly. "When you're better... Will you come with me? You're the best pilot we have.... And... I trust you."

Nida smiled distantly. "Thank you, Squall. That means a lot to me...." He trailed off, feeling a shiver run through his body.

Squall shook his head, giving Nida a hard look. "Dammit, Nida... You shouldn't be walking around..."

"No, no...." Nida trailed off, pressing his hand to his forehead. "It's not that...."


Nida's doe eyes snapped open. "Seifer...?"

Squall blinked, shocked. "What?"

Nida groaned, energy moving in his body, like it was taking him over. It shot through all his nerves, and to Nida, it felt like a giant worm was rousing within him. He slumped against the wall, his vision turning grey.

"Nida?!" Squall exclaimed, trying to catch Nida, but Squall slumped down along with him, their limbs tangled together. Nida's back was pressed to the wall, and he was staring off into space. "Why did you say Seifer's name?" Squall whispered, looking around. He craned his face towards Nida's ear so he could speak lowly, and have Nida hear him. He pressed his cheek to Nida's, which was slightly cold.


"Nida?!" Squall whispered, placing one hand on Nida's shoulder, which was hard under his tight green shirt, and he placed the other head on the side of Nida's neck. "What's going on? Are Seifer and Zell here?"


"Seifer?" Nida whispered.

Nida, you have to tell Squall to move Edea....

"Why?" Nida asked. Squall just looked at Nida, who seemed to be talking to himself.

Nida, tell Squall to move Edea.

"Move Edea...." Nida whispered. "Why?"

Squall felt some sort of current moving under Nida's skin. Like magic. Was Seifer in contact with him? Was Seifer possessing Nida?

Do it before Adel and Ultimecia wake up again.... Hide Edea. Please.

"Squall......" Nida whispered.

"Nida... I'm here. What's going on?"

Please... Hide Edea so that Ultimecia's power can't be taken out.... Please. I'm too weak to keep in contact.... Hide Edea.....

Nida jerked, like he'd just woken from a dream. His breathing came out shallow and quick, and his chest moved up and down rapidly. He blinked, feeling warmth pressed to him. He turned his head slightly, and found his face pressed to Squall's hair, which smelled so good and made his heart race for a different reason.

"Nida, what happened?" Squall pulled away slightly, looking into Nida's eyes, making sure he was all there. "Is Seifer here?"

Nida shook his head slowly. "Seifer... talked to me...."

"Huh?" Squall uncoiled from his crouch to sit on the ground across from Nida. "What do you mean?"

"The real Seifer.... He contacted me telepathically. I know it was the real him...."

Squall just blinked. "Seifer....?" Relief and dread washed over him. Relief in the fact that Seifer could still be around, that his consciousness hadn't quite yet been killed by Ultimecia. But, dread at the fact that Seifer had to realize what was going on. That he and Zell could be suffering far worse than Squall or anyone else could imagine. He remembered the feeling of Seifer's lips on the back of his neck, of Zell's fingers teasing his nipples. Imaginary caresses, but feeling so real, even after the dream was long over.

"Squall?" Nida snapped his fingers when he saw that the other man had zoned out. "Hello?"

Squall's gaze concentrated on Nida. When he spoke, his voice was quiet and subdued. "What did Seifer say?"

"That we have to move Edea.... We have to hide her."

Squall nodded slowly. "Because Ultimecia and Adel know she's there...."

Nida nodded. "But, where are we going to hide her?"

Squall quickly stood. He held out a hand for Nida. "Come on..."

"Where?" Nida asked, wincing as Squall pulled on his arm, helping Nida to a standing position.

"I... I don't know.... But, we have to contact Irvine."

"But...." Nida reached out, grabbing Squall's sleeve, preventing the auburn-haired man from going any farther. "Won't Adel and Ultimecia be able to feel Edea's magical signature?"

"We'll get Odine to block it..." Squall's shoulders slumped as he sighed. "Come on." They walked quickly up the hallway, seeing Quistis, Xu, Selphie and the Galbadian official coming towards them.

"Oh, President Leonhart!" Selphie called, waving. Her voice was melodious with mirth. "We have to have a meeting...."

Squall rolled his eyes. Nida gave him a lopsided grin, which made Squall frown further. "Now's a really bad time, Selphie." He looked up, halting in spot.

"President Squall Leonhart, this is Botany Gillespie, the Galbadian official that will be taking over after General Caraway's unfortunate death." Quistis waved her hand in introduction.

Squall took in the lavender coloured hair, the pale green eyes, and the body that didn't look so familiar with clothes on it. Squall felt his lips parting in surprise. He also saw the surprise in Botany's eyes, but the other man was far quicker to cover it up.

Nida cocked his head, looking at Squall. He looked like he'd seen a ghost. "Are you okay, Squall?"

"Fine...." Squall whispered.

"We've met before..." Botany smirked, holding out his hand. Squall took it limply, shaking it quickly. He felt a blush rising to his cheeks. "But, not formally."

Squall cleared his throat. "Look, I'm sorry, Mr.... Gillespie, but there's a really urgent matter." Squall turned to Quistis. "We've received an interesting message...." Squall looked at Nida. "Seifer mentally contacted Nida."

Selphie's eyebrows shot up. "Huh?"

"I could tell that it was really Seifer... Not him with Ultimecia's persona. He told me that we have to move Edea from the Memorial. Adel and Ultimecia must know that she's there."

"And, that proves a great risk..." Xu muttered. "What else did he say? Are he and Zell back to their normal selves?"

Nida shrugged, running his hands through his hair, giving a sidelong glance to Squall. "I doubt it.... I mean, I could feel Seifer's Sorcery, but there was a dark undertone... Like, he's slowly being contaminated. I have no doubt that it was the real Seifer that spoke to me, but I don't think it's a permanent thing."

"Odine must have weakened Ultimecia and Adel's powers...." Quistis trailed off. "They must have to give up their control over Seifer and Zell for periods of time to conserve energy."

Botany cocked his head, taking in all the strange information. He knew it was all highly confidential, and he wanted to help avenge General Caraway, who had been a good, decent man. He pursed his lips to hold back a smirk as he looked at Squall. Who knew that a pretty one night stand could turn out to be the President of the most powerful country in the world. Botany knew that the real President was Laguna Loire. Squall must have been his son.

"Where are we going to move Matron?" Selphie asked.

"Matron?" Botany asked, confused.

"Edea Kramer," Quistis answered.

Botany just nodded, his gaze fixing on Nida. Such cute boys here. He also noticed that Nida and Squall seemed to look at each other a lot.

"I have no idea...." Squall muttered. "I have to contact Irvine and Odine...."

"Hey!!" Selphie exclaimed, jumping up and down in place. "How about Trabia Garden? It's already being used as a shelter, and...." She lowered her voice. "Underneath of it, it has the same sort of thing that Balamb had. The workings to make it fly. I mean, that part doesn't work anymore because of the missile attack during the Neo-Sorceress War, but it's still there, and it can be reached through a hidden compartment."

Squall rolled his wrist. "Wrap this up soon, please."

Selphie gave Squall a look, putting her fists on her hips. "Well, I was getting to that. But, the control rooms are magic proof. I guess the designers... Being Edea and Cid..." Selphie trailed off with a giggle. She saw the annoyed look on Squall's face and swallowed her laughter. "Sorry. But, the rooms are magically sealed off. No magic can be used in them...."

Quistis smiled. "Perfect. That way, Edea won't have to be a total prisoner, and her signature still won't be picked up."

Nida nodded. "Squall, I'll go talk to Cid. This way, he can go with her."

Xu nodded. "I'll come with you. Do you think we should ask Ellone to go there, too?"

Squall cocked his head. "I don't think Ellone is in any more danger than the rest of us, but if she wishes to accompany Matron, she can."

Nida and Xu nodded, heading down the hallway. Faint strains of Xu asking Nida if he was alright could be heard before they rounded a corner.

Selphie looked at Quistis. "I think we should make our way to the Memorial...."

"You think that's wise?" Quistis asked.

Selphie glared. "I'm not going to leave Irvine alone to help transfer Matron. I'm sure Irvine can stay with her in Trabia, but we should at least convoy with them, then come back here. I'm sure if Adel and Ultimecia get wind of us moving Edea, there will be shit to pay...."

"You're right. Squall," Quistis turned to the acting President of Esthar. "You call ahead to Irvine. We'll take a car there." Quistis frowned. "We better move fast. Seifer himself contacted Nida, but God knows how long Seifer and Zell will be able to hold off Adel and Ultimecia."

Squall nodded, watching the two women leave. Great. He was alone with Botany. What an interesting day this was turning out to be.

"I honestly didn't think I'd see you again..." Botany trailed off. "You're not the real President, are you?"

Squall shook his head. "No. Laguna Loire is in a coma. He appointed me as President in case he couldn't fulfill his duties."

"Your father?"

Squall looked at the other man. "Look...."

Botany laughed. "Don't worry..... I won't tell anyone I fucked you in a threesome. I especially won't mention anything to your boyfriend."

Squall furrowed his scarred brow. "My boyfriend?"

"Yeah..... I won't tell him.... Your secret is safe. Besides, I don't want the entire Galbadian Army knowing my sexual business...."

"You won't tell him?" Squall echoed, thoroughly confused. "Tell who?"

Botany shook his head. Squall Leonhart didn't seem like the dense type. "Your boyfriend... The cute Asian guy...."

Squall cocked his head. "You mean Nida?"

"Yeah... I guess. I don't know his name."

Squall sort of laughed, a quiet chuckle of disbelief. "Nida's not my boyfriend."

Botany blinked. "Huh?"

Squall narrowed his eyes. "What would give you that idea...? It's not like you know us...."

"This greatly surprises me. I'm usually pretty good at reading things like this...."

"And, Nida's not even gay."

Botany snorted. "Yeah, he's just as straight as you are....." He laughed. "Straight guys don't eye other men the way that Nida was looking at you..."

Squall flushed. "I think there are more important matters to discuss..."

Botany smiled. "I agree. Lead the way, President Leonhart...."

Zell turned his head, moaning into his pillow. Seifer's tongue moved within his body, and it was causing small sobs to escape Zell's chest. Over the past days under Adel's control, Zell and Seifer had fucked many, many times, but it was always Adel and Ultimecia. Now, it was Seifer touching him again, Seifer's hands on his flesh, Seifer's tongue in his body. Tremors of pleasure were moving throughout his entire being, and Zell let them hit him full force. He wanted to experience what pleasure he could with Seifer in the probably short time they had together. Seifer's hand travelled up the side of his body, and Zell linked his fingers with his lover's, their palms lovingly pressed together. It almost felt wrong to be having sex at a time like this, but Zell didn't want to stop, and he didn't want Seifer to stop.

Seifer removed his tongue from Zell's intestines, his mouth trailing up the lines of Zell's groin muscles, over his lower abdominal muscles, until he reached the smaller blonde's navel. He gently probed it with his tongue, his fingers pressing into Zell's channel, lubricated with Seifer's saliva. Zell whimpered, writhing under Seifer's touch.

"Do you think this will be the last time we're together like this... I mean, actually you and me?" Zell whispered, his lips slowly parting as Seifer's fingers scissored within him.

"I want to say I hope not..." Seifer whispered back, kneeling between Zell's spread legs. "But, I don't know....."

Zell had to turn his gaze away. It hurt to see the same pain he was feeling mirrored in Seifer's eyes. They were both suffering, and it was hard to know that there probably wouldn't be a light at the end of the tunnel.

"But..." Seifer trailed off, his voice barely there. "We're together now...."

Zell sighed, feeling Seifer's erection push into his body. There was no discomfort in Seifer's entry. And, even if there had been, it would have been nothing compared to the emotional pain that both of them were going through. When the head of Seifer's shaft hit is prostate, Zell jerked, his back making a severe arch, pushing against Seifer with his hips. Zell sighed when he felt Seifer enter him completely. It felt like an eternity had passed since Zell had last had Seifer inside him. It had probably technically only been less than a day, but that had been Adel and Ultimecia, using their bodies. It wasn't the same. Their world had changed so much in the span of less than a week, changed into something so close to Hell that it was truly frightening.

Zell moaned throatily as Seifer fucked him. But, no matter how pleasurable it felt, no matter how glad he was to be himself at least for a little while longer, there was still a heaviness in his chest. The world seemed to spiral away from Zell, until the only thing he could feel was Seifer inside him. Seifer.... The real Seifer, his Seifer, inside of him. Zell. The true Zell. When Seifer came inside him, he felt blissfully alive again. It was like Seifer's warm semen within his body was filling him to the brim. He actually felt happy for a sliver of time.

Then, he felt the rug being pulled out from under him. It was like he was floating in air over a dark ocean, the waves high and angry. He couldn't even open his eyes to look at Seifer for a last time before being swallowed up by Adel's darkness. He could almost feel the icy water against him as he fell under his birth mother's power. Inside, Zell was screaming, struggling, reaching out for Seifer, for anything to keep himself from being submerged by Adel. But, he knew it was in vain. His outer body was still the same as it had been, moaning into the pillow, coming against Seifer's body, semen splattering on the taller blonde's rigid stomach.

Seifer sighed, his body slumping between Zell's thighs. He caught some of the sticky whiteness against his stomach with his fingers, then licked them clean. He smiled down at Zell, who still had his eyes closed, whose ever cute face was prettily flushed. "I love you, Zell..."

"Mmmm...." Zell murmured, reaching his hand out for Seifer's. Seifer greedily caught his lover's hand, kissing the palm. He gasped when Zell slapped him. Hard. The sting on his cheek was only matched by the sting in his heart.

"You betrayed us...." Zell opened his eyes, and Seifer knew that he was Adel once more. "You told that fucking Leonhart slut's little boytoy to hide Edea....." Adel slapped Seifer again, who was recoiling away. "I should rip you apart...." Zell spat, sitting up.

"But, you won't...." Seifer trailed off, his voice low and grating. His lashes fluttered, and he looked up to meet Zell's eyes, his own golden irises glinting. "But, I agree..." Seifer's eyes slowly began to turn back to aquatic blue. Zell's were also reverting to his normal icy blue, with that slight hint of red undertones. "Seifer has kreated quite the problem."

"That Presidential whore Squall will move Edea...."

"Yes, I know..." Seifer murmured. "But, where?"

"They've probably already done it!" Zell exclaimed angrily, getting up off the bed. He had to grip the bedpost because his legs were wobbly from anal intercourse. "How long has it been since Xerampelinae's brat contacted Nida?"

Seifer shook his head, running his fingers through his closely cropped hair. "I don't know... An hour? Two? Enough time for them to move Edea...."

"Fuck....." Zell's lips suddenly turned up in a sneer. "You know....." A diabolical glint came into the small blonde's eyes. "I just thought of a way to get back at Squall the slut."

"Oh?" Seifer raised an interested eyebrow, crawling across the mattress so that he was right beside Zell's nude body.

"Do you think Squall would be angry if we got there before him?"

"Got there?" Seifer asked, winding his arms around Zell's hips.

"I'm sure he wouldn't take it kindly if we had Nida before he did...." The smile grew into a teeth baring grin of evil satisfaction. "Poor little Squall wouldn't get to pop Nida's cherry..."

Seifer bit his lip, laughing. "I like the way your mind works, Adel."

Zell laughed. "I try...."

Seifer suddenly frowned. "But, as fun as it would be to break in Nida's cute little body, we have more pressing matters, like what to do about Edea.... We have to find her."

Zell closed his eyes. "I can't feel any sort of energy. I mean, it's your fucking power in Edea. Can't you sense it somewhere in the world?"

"No...." Seifer sighed angrily. "That damned fool Odine still has a barrier up, and quite frankly, I could see Edea so nobly taking her own life..." Seifer looked down at his wrists. "But, unlike our little children here, she could succeed."

"I don't think she's dead.... You would feel weaker, wouldn't you?"

Seifer nodded. "Fuck... So.....How...." Seifer stopped talking. "Well.... Maybe they just need some... cajoling to loosen their tongues." Seifer looked over to a room beside the bedroom. He could just see the corners and edges of horrible instruments of pain.

Zell followed Seifer's gaze with his eyes. "Hmmm... I like this idea. But, who?"

Seifer stood. "Get dressed. We're going on an outing..."

Quistis sighed, stretching her arms above her head, flexing her fingers. "I hope this works."

"Don't worry!" Selphie exclaimed cheerily. "It will. Odine's there, and the room is magic proof. Adel and Ultimecia won't win...." Selphie giggled. "So, what do you think of Botany Gillespie?"

Quistis gave Selphie a look. "What do you mean, what do I think?"

"Do you think he's cute?"

Quistis frowned. "I'm a Lesbian, Selphie. Of course I don't think he's cute."

"I meant for me!"

The Headmaster of Balamb Garden groaned. "You're unbelievable."

Selphie laughed, chewing on the ends of her fingers. "I was just kidding! Jesus. But, how do you think that Squall and him met already?"

Quistis shrugged. "Maybe they had a one night stand together in the back of some gay bar." Both women looked at each other and laughed.

"Yeah, right!" Selphie exclaimed breathlessly. "Squall's too uptight for that!"

Quistis's giggles died down, and she shivered. The temperature seemed to drop a little bit. She looked to the sky, seeing that the sun was setting. "Do you think Seifer and Zell will make a move tonight?"

"Let them....." Selphie muttered. "We'll be ready!" She then cocked her head. "Do you think that Squall and Nida like each other?"

"Sure.... I mean, they're friends, aren't they?"

Selphie scoffed, stopping mid stride. "Quiiissstttiiiisss! Don't be so naive!"

The blonde laughed, crossing her arms. She turned around to face the small brunette. "I was just yanking your chain. You make it so easy."

The small woman huffed. "I'm serious here! Squall's been so depressed lately. I mean, with Rinoa dying, and now, Seifer and Zell becoming our enemies. And... even before that. He wasn't happy when Rinoa was alive....."

"I agree...." Quistis trailed off. "So, what....? Please don't tell me you want to play matchmaker. Squall won't appreciate you meddling in his personal affairs."

Selphie waved her hand. "Bah. Squall will thank me when he's getting his dick sucked by Nida."

Quistis coughed, choking on her breath. "Oh, God...." She looked at Selphie. "You're really serious about this, aren't you?"

"Damn straight!" Selphie laughed. Her face fell a little. "I hope Irvine is okay...."

Quistis cocked her head. "I think he's the safest out of all of us."

Selphie nodded. "You're right." She then smiled brightly. "So, do you think I'm right about Squall and Nida?"

"Oh, please!" Quistis exclaimed. "Okay, maybe they would make a good couple, but I'm not going to interfere, and you shouldn't either."

"Pish posh... You know, Quistis, you're such an old maid...." Selphie rambled.

Quistis was half paying attention to Selphie's muttering, but she saw two figures walking towards them. Two familiar figures. Xu and Nida.

Selphie saw Quistis looking beyond her, and turned around. "Hey, guys!!" Selphie exclaimed, waving. When they got closer, Selphie frowned. "Ouch. Who died?"

"Quistis, good thing you're back......" Xu said, her voice quiet.

"Why, what happened?" Quistis asked.

Xu laughed, and something about it set the blonde off. "What, I can't be glad to see my girlfriend?"

"Selphie, can I talk to you for a second?" Nida asked shyly. He leaned in, his breath washing over Selphie's ear. "About Squall...."

Selphie's eyes lit up. She turned to Quistis. "Told ya....."

Nida smiled, and it made Quistis feel very dirty. She looked down as Xu's hand came to rest on her shoulder. She shrugged away, feeling disgusted by the touch. She looked towards Selphie and Nida, who were a little bit away from them, their backs turned. Quistis frowned when she felt Xu's hand on her elbow. "Not now, Xu...." Quistis stopped moving entirely when the hand tightened on her elbow. She looked over at Xu, who was staring at her with calm eyes, that flashed icy blue for a brief second. "No...." Quistis whispered. "SELPHIE!"

Both Selphie and Nida turned. Quistis's heart leapt in her throat. Nida's eyes were calm on Quistis, the arm around Selphie's shoulders tightening. Nida's face twisted into an evil smirk that didn't suit his face at all, for it was something that Nida would have never done. Nida's eyes were also golden.

The Xu beside Quistis flung the Headmaster down to the ground. From the force, Quistis skidded on the ground, her elbow throbbing. In a blink, Xu changed to the real person that had touched Quistis. Zell stared down at her, dark playfulness written all over his face. "So stupid...."

"What....?" Selphie looked over at Nida, and gasped. It wasn't Nida that had his arm around her shoulders. It was Seifer. "No!" She felt so stupid and so scared. She tried to shove against Seifer's chest, but he held her fast.

"We'll give you back Selphie when you tell us where Edea is," Zell muttered, and they vanished, along with the quaking brunette.

"No...." Quistis whispered, pounding her gloved fists into the ground. "No, no, no!!!" She got to her feet, brushing dirt off her red tank top. She checked the pockets of her army pants, but found no means of communication. She began running towards the Palace, her combat boots hitting the ground heavily. She pushed past confused pedestrians, her breath coming out shaky and shallow, and for more reasons that physical exertion. Terror clutched at her heart. Selphie was now at the mercy of Adel and Ultimecia. And, it was all Quistis's fault. She should have known that it wasn't really Xu. She felt like she had betrayed both Selphie and her lover. How could she have mistaken Zell for Xu, even if he was in disguise?

She raced into the palace, her loose hair flying behind her. "Squall?!" She screamed. "Help!!" She raced to the Presidential office. Without knocking, she barged in. Kiros, Squall and Botany were sitting around Laguna's large desk.

"Quistis....?" Kiros whispered. Quistis could see the dark circles under Kiros's eyes, could see the weariness. "Oh, God... What happened?"

Quistis sank to her knees, her voice coming out choppy. "I'm so sorry.... I should have known...."

"Known what?" Kiros asked. He looked at Squall, whose eyes were widening. Quistis never usually fell apart. "Did something happen while transferring Edea?"

Quistis shook her head, gulping for air. "No... Matron's fine. It's Selphie... Oh, God... I should have known it was them!"

Squall stood, his chair falling backwards after the quick motion. "Quistis, where's Selphie?"

"Seifer and Zell came.... They took her. They were disguised as Nida and Xu....." Quistis covered her face with her shaking hands. "I should have known that it wasn't Xu!!" Her words were muffled in her palms.

"Where did they take her?" Kiros demanded gently, helping Quistis to her feet.

"I don't know!" She wailed. "They just disappeared. I can't believe I let it happen...." She shook her head vigorously. "All they said was that we would get Selphie back when we told them where Edea was...."

"Shit!" Squall swore. "What do you think they're going to do to her?"

"Well, I doubt they're going to play fucking Monopoly!" Quistis grated out. "We have to find her before they tear her apart."

Squall nodded. This was bad. Squall didn't want to say anything out loud, but he knew that Seifer and Zell weren't really interested in negotiation. Selphie's life didn't matter to them. "Okay, get Nida and Xu... We're going to have to go on the offensive."

"But, where do we begin looking for them?" Botany asked quietly. He kind of felt like a third wheel.

"I have an idea...." Squall muttered darkly. He bit the inside of his cheek. He knew that he was the one that Seifer and Zell really wanted to punish. He was already making mental plans to exchange himself for Selphie. He wouldn't let Seifer and Zell hurt anyone else because of him. He killed Adel and Ultimecia once. He would do it again.....

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