Coming Out Party
Chapter One - The Appointment
Zell jerked awake for the fifth time, bleary-eyed, only to curse and look at his watch. In the back study room for…three hours (!), and with nothing to show for it but 7 hand-written pages and none of the drawings- unless he counted the swirls and spikes that he’d doodled in the margins, but somehow he didn’t think Quistis would quite approve. The small blond snarled, banging a fist on the table. Damn it all to hell, he hadn’t realized when he’d agreed to prepare a ‘little something’ on hand-to-hand combat technique for the kiddies that he’d have to write and type up a 50 page report complete with those dinky little diagrams.
"And you," Zell muttered to himself, "fell for it hook, line and sinker. You sucker."
He’d just been getting off duty when Quistis’d waylaid him, coming in with a large duffel bag and that harried expression that all teachers seemed to have. "Oh Zell," her bright blue eyes had zeroed in on him in under a second, lighting up like a 60 watt light bulb, "you are just the person I wanted to see." She’d smiled at him.
He should have known right then and there it was a set up.
"Nothing too complex," he mimicked, "just the basics. Something easy for new students to follow. You don’t mind do you, Zell? It’s just that I wouldn’t dream of coming to anyone else…and," he fluttered his lashes, "it would mean a lot to me." Then had come the coup de grace, one more flash of that sweet smile and he’d been a goner.
"Sure, Quisty, anything you want."
Sighing, Zell stretched and wriggled his feet. How could people get anything accomplished when it was so damned quiet? Many of the students preferred to work somewhere peaceful, he knew, often sitting beneath a tree in the Quad to study or lying on one of the many benches scattered out by the front gate; he’d see ‘em as he jogged by. Headphones on, bitchin’ sound of a guitar assaulting his ears, bunches of kids shutting out the world in an effort to concentrate. Freaky.
The sit still thing simply did not work for him, and neither, Zell blew his breath out noisily in acknowledgement, was the writing of the report. Doin’ all the moves in battle was one thing, but trying to explain it all on paper was something else entirely…something, he thought wryly, that he obviously wasn’t cut out for.
What he needed was some serious brain food. "I give up!" he grunted, "I’m too hungry to think."
And they’d actually had hot dogs today; Zell almost sobbed. It was such a rare occurrence when the Balamb Garden Cafeteria managed to get a hold of his favorite food, although exactly why it was so difficult, he snorted, was beyond him… If he’d had his way they’d have cows wandering around in the Training Center. Then again, it wasn’t like he could chow down even if he had a plate of hot dogs on the table in front of him courtesy of the library’s strict policies. WELCOME TO THE LIBRARY. PLEASE REFRAIN FROM EATING, DRINKING, AND SMOKING, the sign had greeted him as he’d pushed through the great, glass doors, PEOPLE ARE STUDYING. QUIET PLEASE.
"Stupid library," he muttered, spinning around in his chair, "takes all the fun outta everything."
"Sir, you can’t go back there," the librarian suddenly shrilled; the heavy sound of footsteps carried down the hall, approaching the study room with another pair in hot pursuit. A visitor? Curious, Zell stopped spinning, breathing deeply through his nose as the world became stationary again. Not that he was complaining… A visitor was definitely a good thing cause he was going absolutely bonkers cooped in here by himself-
"You gonna’ stop me?"
Ok, maybe not a good thing.
He was not yet quite crazy enough to wanna be held upside down and shaken until every gil fell out of his pockets and his face turned red. Or given noogies until his hair flattened. Or called a chickenw-
"Cause I have an appointment with the headmaster in there… You do know him, right? About 5’8", can’t use a comb, always wears that damn bolero jacket-"
Oh crap. Oh crap oh crap, Zell’s eyes widened and scanned the room desperately for a means of escape. A door, a window, a ventilation shaft, anything-
"-with a fur collar. I mean, I’m all for individuality and all, but-"
No such luck, the only thing in the room was a table, a chair and an aluminum supply closet… Zell’s eyes widened.
"-anyway, tell his highness I’m in here when he decides to show up."
Well, it was either climb in the closet to hide or get stuffed in there. Zell grabbed his papers off the table in an unkempt mass and made a mad dash for the small metal doors, hearing loud footsteps halt abruptly right outside.
"If anyone’s in there, you’re getting out. Now," demanded a gruff male voice as Zell quickly threw open the doors and took quick stock of the situation. The closet was almost empty: just several small half-filled shelves and one larger space big enough for a couple of cardboard boxes... Perfect.
Happily possessed of flexibility and definitely blessed, just this once he decided, because he was so damned short, Zell crammed himself in and plunged into blackness just as the door swung open.
Seifer snorted, pulling the door shut behind him. Well, the décor certainly left much to be desired, didn’t it? The walls were a crummy gray, and whether they had been white originally or ambiguously painted that color to begin with was debatable. He considered briefly. Probably the latter, that way if they got dirty, who would know? Garden had to be saving a fortune on maintenance costs.
And on furnishings. After a moment’s perusal, long, gray denim-clad legs strode decisively into the center of the room; Seifer settled onto the only chair and propped his legs up onto the long utilitarian wooden table, giving a soft grunt as the wheeled, beat-up desk chair rolled away. Come on Leonhart, he thought, tipping his blond head back upon the headrest.
Stop spacin’ out on me and hurry up. If I’d known you were gonna be late, I woulda brought a book in or something, and I am not going back out there. That librarian hates me. Shoulda seen the looks she was giving me…
Not that he wasn’t used to looks by now because he got ‘em everywhere he went; the stare that would begin with the eyes growing wide in recognition, progress to a kind of blankness while the person decided what their reaction should be, and then would invariably shoot daggers, righteous anger being judged the proper response. Closing his eyes, Seifer tugged off his leather gloves and brought one naked hand up to pinch the flesh at the bridge of his nose. No, most people were not happy to see him back at Garden. Not happy at all.
In fact, Squall had disappointed quite a few people who had decided to throw in their two cents concerning his untimely demise… Nothing like a good lynching to get the blood pumping! Yep, all sorts of suggestions about how to execute a Sorceress’ knight. Hanging, he recalled with a touch of disparity, had been quite popular if nowhere near original, while the suggestions of burning at the stake and firing squad had had considerably more pizzazz.
Squall had put an end to the riots. He’d taken Seifer back as a cadet…had practically demanded it. And although there had been a lot of grumbling, no one had questioned the Great Savior of the Second Sorceress War.
If anyone had the ability to demand such a thing, it was Squall.
Seifer didn’t bother to open his eyes as he heard footsteps approach. He recognized the sound, the familiar rhythm and quiet KA-THUMP of booted feet walking across the tiled Library floor. There was one sharp rap before he entered, and the rattling of a lock being turned before the door was shut.
"You’re late," Seifer scowled, lightly scuffing the table with a boot heel.
"You’re lucky I’m here at all," a dry tenor voice retorted, "you try getting away from him. He never shuts up."
"Nice way to talk about your father, Leonhart. Real sweet."
"Well," Squall replied quietly, booted feet coming closer, "it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. And if it weren’t for him," Seifer felt the table shift slightly under his feet as Squall settled his weight against it, "we could be doing this in my office complex right now."
"Headmaster for only a few months and already spoiled by the lap of luxury," Seifer chuckled. Waves of frustration radiated through the room, and even through closed lids, he could see the frown on Squall’s face. "Do I detect a tad of resentment, by any chance?" he asked as Squall’s fingers drummed lightly on the tabletop.
"Seifer. Laguna just got here and he’s already driving me crazy. I’m going to have to avoid my own apartments for a week."
Poor Squally…having to deal with his Dad for a-
Seifer’s eyes shot open. "A week? Hell, I thought he was gonna’ be here for two days!" He lifted his head to see Squall standing opposite him. "Doesn’t he have a country to run, or somethin’?"
"I actually asked him about that," Squall sighed. "He said that spending time with his son was far more important to him…right before he asked me where I hid the refrigerator."
"For crying out loud," Seifer muttered, "a week?" He raised an eyebrow, "If you tell me he’s got some father-son daytrips planned, I’m gonna’ puke."
"No, but he does want a fête."
"A fête. A party, with all the dignitaries invited," Squall rolled his eyes, "as a formal announcement that we’re related."
"Are you sure you wanna go broadcasting that, Leonhart?"
Squall snorted. "It’s not like I was given the choice. ‘Gonna be huge’, he said, ‘don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything. Just worry about finding a date’."
"Well," Seifer began, eyes glinting mischievously, "there’s always Rinoa… Doesn’t she love those kinds of things?" He swung his legs, booted feet hitting the ground, "I’m sure she’d be happy to accompany you."
"…" Squall shifted his weight away from the table. "…Whatever. I’m not bringing a date."
"Why not? Laguna loves her! You two make such a charming couple on the dance floor," Seifer protested as Squall closed the distance between them, the brunette’s warm weight settling onto his lap. Black leather-clad legs straddled him. Achingly slowly, Squall’s generous, full lips closed in, the hot current of air passing through them brushing against Seifer’s skin like a caress.
"Because of you."
"Ah," Seifer whispered into his mouth. "There is that, I guess."
Squall would bring Rinoa except for one slight little problem.
Of course that had been the first thing Laguna had suggested. ‘Why not Squall?’ Laguna’s aqua eyes had stared earnestly into his own. ‘I know you had some issues, but you two made such a good team. What do ya’ say?’
Don’t think it’s going to work out Dad, he thought, running his fingertips down Seifer’s chest, feeling open palms glide across his back through his clothes, yep, pretty safe to say that it is over between Rinoa and myself. Without breaking the kiss, he shrugged off his coat into a careless heap on the floor.
Seifer always tasted of chocolate and liquid heat, one of the things he loved most about him, that his mouth was always so warm. He was like fire… Seifer’s hands moved down the small of his back, ran over the curve of his buttocks. ‘C’mon Squall,’ his father had cajoled, ‘if it’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s never give up on love.’
Squall pulled back slightly. "You’ve been drinking the cafeteria cocoa again, haven’t you?"
"Mmmm," Seifer trailed kisses up and down his throat, nipping at his jugular, "And you had a glass of brandy with your dad. Lushes, the both of you." Fingers teased up the hem of his T-shirt.
"You should be grateful," Squall retorted, almost giddy as his skin tingled where Seifer’s cool fingertips touched him. The blond always had that effect on him; whenever Seifer came anywhere near Squall, it seemed that his perceptions were subtly altered so that everything moved a bit faster, seemed a bit brighter. He worked off Seifer’s trench coat, letting it drape over the back of the chair. "He saved you the trouble of liquoring me up…" Squall’s lips twitched. "He calls it his ‘DN’." The zipper of Seifer’s vest hissed open.
"His ‘DN’?" Seifer raised his head briefly, arcing a single, blond eyebrow. "And just what," he placed a quick kiss on Squall’s chin, "does that stand for?" Another kiss, and Squall could swear he was starting smile, with Seifer tugging insistently upward on Squall’s tee.
"It stands for…" Squall’s voice grew slightly muffled as his head disappeared into the white fabric of his shirt. Full out grinning, he emerged with his jaggedly cut hair tousled and hanging in his eyes, "his ‘Daily Need’."
Seifer threw back his head and laughed.
"What’d I tell ya’? A lush."
With crinkled blue-green eyes sparkling as the sound bubbled out of him, free and easy and his cheeks flushed lightly pink and dimpled, Seifer was damned fine when he laughed. Incredibly fine. Skin like cream, Squall thought through the buzz in his brain. Smooth and pale, white-golden.
Leaning forward, he swirled his tongue around the hollow of Seifer’s throat, the taste alone enough to set his blood racing: a potent mixture of salt, of gunpowder, and the sharp sting of metal. Seifer’s chuckles turned into a soft groan as Squall slicked a trail down his chest, and upon finding one perfect, peach-colored nipple, Squall met Seifer’s gaze and took it into his mouth.
And Seifer’s moan, like everything else about him, went straight to his head.
Why aren’t they arguing with each other? From within the safe confines of the closet, Zell scrunched his face in confusion. You’d think at least by now they’d have managed to break the table, send the chair flying or somethin’. It actually seemed like they were being…civil, talkin’ about Laguna and all…
He rolled his eyes. What a nightmare that was.
Not that he didn’t love to see Laguna…everybody loved him. The guy was remarkably down to earth for someone who ran a country, joked with you and made you feel comfortable within the space of seconds. Zell smiled. He could tell a great story. The guy had been all over the world while he’d been with the Galbadian Army, and there wasn’t a thing on the planet that the guy didn’t know something about.
Plus, Zell thought with a degree of relish, the president of Esthar could eat almost as many hot dogs as he could. On the last official visit to Esthar, Zell had accompanied Squall and Laguna to dinner and had gotten a firsthand look at just how many ‘dogs he could shovel away. Somewhere around his 12th and Laguna’s 9th, Squall had pushed away his own dinner half-eaten with a sick kind of horror; Zell smiled at the memory. The man was an undeniable talent. Still, security for him was a bitch, and all SeeDs had been put on double shifts for the extra guard duty.
"A week? Hell, I thought he was gonna’ be here for two days!"
The small blond grimaced. And would continue to be for a week, it seemed. So much for trying to talk Nida into lightening his load so he could get the damned report done…
The conversation went on.
"No, but he does want a fête."
"A fête. A party, with all the dignitaries invited."
Some meeting, Zell thought dejectedly. Much as he loved a good party, if he’d known Seifer wasn’t gonna get chewed out he woulda made a bid for escape when Squall had shown up… Anything else simply wasn’t worth listening in on.
"…that we’re related."
"Are you sure you wanna’ go broadcasting that, Leonhart?"
Zell shook his head slightly. Everyone knew about Squall’s ambivalence concerning his single remaining parent, but only Seifer would be so cocky as to actually call him on it. Poor Laguna, always getting picked on. Well, yeah, the guy wasn’t a brain, but he had a lotta heart and that counted for something. And yeah he’d missed out on 17 years of his son’s life…but he was here now, right?
Zell winced as a shooting pain lanced through his neck, at the moment cocked at an incredibly strange angle between the side of the closet and a shelf. Gee, Squall, for someone who doesn’t like to talk you sure do run on when you and Seifer get goin’…
Talking. To Seifer. They’d let him back in, of course; it hadn’t really been his fault that he’d been brainwashed by an evil crazy with horns and a wacky hairdo. And, Zell admitted privately, it was where he belonged. Where he was safe. He may have been an overbearing bastard, but he was still one of them, orphanage crowd, a good fighter and brilliant with a gunblade.
Looking at Seifer as he swaggered around the place with Fuujin and Raijin in tow, you’d never know that he’d ever been gone…
"Well, there’s always Rinoa… Doesn’t she love those kinds of things? I’m sure she’d be happy to accompany you."
Zell’s ears pricked up at Seifer’s question. Here was another source of mystery amongst the Garden crowd, the parting of the Lady and her Lion.
"…Whatever. I’m not bringing a date."
"Why not? Laguna loves her! You two make such a charming couple on the dance floor."
Now this was good gossip…not that he would actually tell anyone, he was Squall’s friend after all; he could keep his mouth shut when he actually tried. Zell held his breath.
"Because of you."
Huh? There came a faint whisper, and then a rustling. It had gotten awfully quiet suddenly, and the martial artist wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Was Seifer attacking Squall? Wouldn’t Squall call for help if he were? What the hell was going on?
"You’ve been drinking the cafeteria cocoa again, haven’t you?"
"Mmmm. And you had a glass of brandy..."
Um. Somehow he couldn’t quite see Squall and Seifer sitting around smelling each other’s breaths. Zell shifted, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"You should be grateful. He saved you the trouble of liquoring me up…"
Liquoring up for what? Did he really want to know? Did he have a choice? Zell closed his eyes, suddenly wishing he’d simply took his chances with Seifer one on one.
"He calls it his ‘DN’."
Something that Zell refused to believe sounded remarkably like a zipper hissed. Could one black out on purpose? He was gonna do his damndest to try, ‘cause it was a good time for it. A great time, a really, really super-
"His ‘DN’? And just what does that stand for?"
"It stands for…his ‘Daily Need’."
Zell winced at the sound of rich, throaty laughter floating to him from outside of the closet.
"What’d I tell ya’? A lush."
Zell’s eyes widened at the growing silence between the chuckles. Silence was bad. Very bad, ‘cause that would mean-
Then Seifer groaned, and Zell realized belatedly that no, no matter how much he tried he could not black out on purpose, no, he really didn’t want to know, and no, he did not have a choice.
He was gonna find out anyway.
Return to Archive | next