Author's Notes: Slight AU, set before the seed exam but Selphie and Irvine are there and Quistis is still an instructor.

Chained to you

Chapter Eight

By Purple Penguin

We had been travelling on Chocobo back for over a day since our last stop. Chickie had fallen asleep at the beginning of the journey, I had let him sleep because he needed it but now it had been ages and I was getting bored. I ran a hand through his hair he was very hot from the fever, I shook him gently at first.

"Chickie wake up, Iím bored."

He didnít move.

"Chickie?!" I shook him harder. "chickie this is no time to be playing-around." I punctured the last two words between shoving him quite roughly by now. "Chickie? Zell?"

I lowered my head to his chest, he was still breathing steadily and my shaking fingers touched his pulse that seemed steady too. I sighed partly in relief through my panicking. I wondered how high his temperature was, wondered if heíd ever wake up. I shifted position to hold him tightly against myself, promising to look after him till we got to Timber. I stopped setting up camp at nightfall and continued all night and all day to get Zell some help sooner, chocobos can see in the dark right? I speeded the bird up to a jogging pace though the moon didnít provide a lot of light. I brushed his bangs from his face, wishing to see those beautiful blue eyes again as I pressed a kiss into his forehead, nuzzling into him.

The hours past, the days blended into one till one morning we past a clean stream and my chocobo ran out of gas. The bird calloused, exhausted from three days and nights straight of travelling. I unloaded the bird so it could sleep, resting Zell against a tree with his head and shoulders on the folded up tent. It was a beautiful morning so I didnít bother putting up the tent; there wasnít a cloud in sight. I shrugged off my trench coat, putting it over Zell. I knelt beside the stream and palmed water up to my lips drinking the cool liquid gratefully, my throat feel dry and sore as I swallowed. I splashed water up to my face to wake me up a bit, I felt like-well-like I hadnít slept for days, which I hadnít. The chocobo lay curled up on the floor, its beak buried in its feathers. The bird would probably be out all day; maybe I should get some sleep too. I glanced thoughtfully at the clear water and moved the Chickie closer to the water, may as well make good use of the water. I gently started to remove the now dirty and bloody make-shift bandages, I bathed the wound, washing all the dry blood away and replaced the bandaged by turning my trousers into shorts, using my blade to carefully cut through the material. I splash water up to the little blondeís face, hoping for some change in him but he didnít move. I placed him back on the ground, resting on the tent material. I lay beside him, not bothering to up the tent up it felt warm enough and I was sure it wouldnít rain. I lay down for a moment, a hand going to Zellís forehead maybe it was just the water but he felt cooler. I closed my eyes, a rest wouldnít hurt right?

I opened my eyes feeling confused. The last thing I remember was riding with Seifer on the chocobo. My head ached, it had ached for ages but now it hurt more than usual. The sun seemed to be setting. I looked over my shoulder at the sleeping chocobo. Where were we? The woods didnít look as thick as before, which meant we were getting closer to Timber. I raised a hand to touch the coat that covered me, Seiferís coat. The blonde lay beside me on his side, I ran a hand along his upper arm he felt cold, which wasnít surprising as I had his coat and I frowned in confusion as I noticed his bare legs for the first time, his trousers were a lot shorter than they were. I glanced down at my new bandages then back at Seifer and shook my head.

"Idiot." I muttered in an affectionate way before cuddling up to him and moving the coat to cover us both. I ran a hand up and down his arm to try and get some warmth back into him. He unconsciously pulled he closer not that I minded I rested my head on his chest. Another thing I had noticed about Seifer, he made a great pillow. I the bird chirped behind me so I turned to spoon my back to Seiferís chest to watch the bird. It wasnít tied up; Seifer must have forgotten not that I thought it would dessert us, no matter what Seifer said I knew the bird was pet to someone at sometime. I watched the bird eat leaves off the trees and wished for a second that I could do that, I was so hungry like I hadnít eaten for days, maybe I hadnít. I didnít know how long I had been asleep the woods looked different less heavy although I had the directional skills of a blind chocobo in a snow drift, not that Iíd ever tell Seifer, weíd had many arguments over who was the best cadet, who would be a Seed first.

The older man stirred against me, I rolled over again, as he moved to lie on his back I lay half on top of him and half beside him. Those green eyes widened as soon as they were open and saw me.

"Morning." I said. "Or not." Added after glancing around to see the darkening sky.

A hand rose to my hand, running down the tattooed side of my face. "Zell?"

"Miss me?" I whispered.

I didnít expect him to reply but he pulled me in for a hug so tightly I almost stopped breathing.

"S-Seifer-" I croaked. "Still need to breathe."

He let me go. "Sorry." A hand ran up to the back of my neck and he smiled at me, a real smile. "Iím just so glad youíre awake."

"Yeah I noticed the bandages, you know the way youíre going soon youíll be naked." I grinned mischievously, still lying on top of the older man.

He smiled back at me, expression was happy but he looked tired. I frowned in concern.

"You look terrible."

"Thanks chickie, you say the nicest things."

I leaned up on my arms on his chest. "How come you looked exhausted?"

He shrugged. "No point wasting time that will stop us getting to Timber quicker."

I looked confused.

"I stopped setting up camp at night." He told me. "I only stopped now because the chocobo ran out of steam."

"Are you insane?" I stared at him.

"You donít have to stay awake, Iíll stop you falling off the bird and you need it more than me."

"And what about you? Are you trying to make yourself sick on purpose? What happened if you get sick too? Then what do we do?"

He opened his mouth to respond then shut it again, muttering something out. "If itís gets you some medical help sooner then-" He trailed off.

I sighed and wrapped my arms around his neck, resting my head on his shoulder and I felt his arms move around my waist. One hand slipped under my shirt to trace the muscles on my back; strangely I didnít mind in fact it felt nice to have him touching me. I turned my head to press my face into his neck, breathing in the smell of him.

"Why didnít he bother with the tent?" I asked.

"Too much hassle." He answered. "Besides I like sleeping under the stars."

"Hmm." I frowned as something wet touched me, a drop on the shoulder.

"And it was too nice to rain." Seifer added as the drops got a little more frequent.

I pushed up off him a little way and he gave me a disappointed look. "What?"

"I think itís raining."

He scoffed. "Donít be silly Chickie, there arenít any clouds for it to-" He was cut off by the boom of thunder above us and then the heavens really opened.

The heavy rain soaked us in seconds. I leapt off Seifer on one leg and fell off him into a muddy puddle. My hair quickly became plastered to my head and it made my vision blurry as I watched Seifer arse around with the tent on the chocobo but the ground was too soggy to set it up. He grabbed my arms, pulling me up and we both pressed ourselves to the thick trunk of a large tree with thick leaves and branches to protect us from most of the rain.

"Where the fuck did that come from?!" The blonde yelled.

Drips from the tree fell down on us, Seiferís back pressed to the tree and me tight against his soaking naked torso, and I had one hand flat on his chest with the other around his waist to hold me up as I stood on one leg still.

I started to giggle uncontrollably.

"What are you laughing at chicken-wuss?!" He said in a loud voice but he grinned through it, letting me know he was just playing.

I hit him in the chest. "Why didnít you put up the tent? This is all your fault!"
"My fault?!" He pointed to himself. "Well if you feel that way-" He let go of me and gave me a little shove backwards. I squeaked as he started to fall back, not having enough legs to stand on. He made a grab for me to stop me falling as if that was what he had planned to do but he was off balance and I was falling fast, pulling Seifer down with me.

We landed on the muddy ground, the watery mud sloshed up over us coating us both. I made a face in disgust and waved my arms to shake the mud off. Seifer was lying on top of me, grinning.

I continued to chuckle away to myself as the blonde starred at me in confusion. "Iím glad you find this so amusing."

"Is that a gunblade in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?" I asked with a grin. I think I worried him there for a second because he rose up a little to see what I was talking about and removed the short tree branch that lay between us and tossed it away.

I giggled more at the look on his face. "That wasnít funny." He said.

I nodded. "It was."

He picked up some mud and dropped it into my hair, pasting it to my head.

"Yuck." I uttered, shaking the mud out of my hair. "You know youíve just ruined my new bandages."

"I ruined?" He said innocently.

"Yes you ruined them!" I gave him a shove, not that it helped as he was still lying on top of me.

He grinned. "You know-" He started to say.

"Yes Raijin?" I asked.

He frowned, poking me in the chest causing me in yelp. "Hey donít hurt the wounded guy here! Iím sick remember?"

"Well then you shouldnít be such a smart ass chickie." He grinned at me, touching my muddy hair that drooping in my eyes. "I was going to say youíre one cute chickie right now."

I smiled at him.

"But now-" He rubbed his muddy fingers over my face. "Iím not so sure."

I struggled beneath him. "Get off you ass hole!"

He started to tickle me, causing us both to squirm in the muddy water. "Stop it! Seifer!" I grabbed one arm and pinned it to the ground then grabbed the other one, holding it just above my stomach as he trying to push his hand down to tickle me I held him away from me. I felt the strength got out of his arm and I managed to pin that arm too.

"HA!" I grinned in victory. "What are you going to do now, huh?" I grinned smugly up at his smirking face that hovered above mine.

He hesitated, his eyes leaving mine for a moment before he leaned down and very, very softly kissed me. It was barely a brush of lips on my own and he pulled away a fraction to view my response.

My grip on his arms had got slack but it wasnít about that anymore. When I didnít protest he leant back down for another kiss, firmer this time but still just the press of lips on mine, nothing really sexually. I would have said it was more of a friendly kiss if it wasnít for the way he was looking at me. I snaked an arm around his neck and pulled him down for a real kiss, I opened my mouth to Seifer more that eager to taste him. I moaned against his mouth and he grinned against mine. He pulled back a little soon for my liking.

"Do I get you hot chickie?" He asked, like he had many times to tease me.

I frowned, pressing a finger to his lips to silence him. "Shut up you ass!"

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