All right, this has been preying on my mind for quite a while...call it what you will; too much reading of pulp sci-fi stories, an obsession with hooking up Squall and Zell...whatever. Anyway, as with, oh, 99.9% of my fanfiction, this is shounen-ai. If reading such things causes you to break out in hives the size of grapefruit and makes your fingers ache to flame the author, then I suggest that you not put yourself through this tortuous ordeal and not read the story. You also might want to consider counseling...
Aa eien nan de hitsuyo na ikedo
Homoi da ni kimi wo tokikoneta ku nai
Maboroshi nan de ai se nai
Kimi wo dakishimetai no sa
-- Hideaki Matsuoka, Deja Vu
Squall Leonheart fell asleep at exactly 12:03 pm.
Squall Leonheart fell asleep at exactly 12:03 pm.
Squall bolted awake, clutching his sheets so tightly that his knuckles were a ghostly white. His undershirt was plastered to his skin with sweat, chest heaving as he struggled to get air into his resisting lungs. One hand now went to comb through his silky mussed chestnut locks halfheartedly, as if to convince himself that he was here in his room. Even the faintest hint of the coming dawn, shyly peeking through a crack in the window shade, seemed vaguely unreal.
He had dreamt of falling through an endless chasm, the darkness pressing around him like a musty blanket until he felt unable to breathe. The nightmare had seemed endless, years passing like seconds, seconds passing like years, until he felt he was traveling through the very core of time itself. He shook his head, the barest hint of a smile glimmering faintly on his lips at his own foolishness.
It was just a dream.
Or at least that's what Squall told himself as he curled back into bed, trying to soothe the fearful drumming of his heart. Unfortunately, Fate had another prank to play upon the unwitting SeeD.
His hand met warmth. The warmth of another body, its back turned almost poutingly away from Squall, as if subtly punishing him for some wrongdoing. He jerked his hand back as if burned, mind stuttering through half-hearted explanations as to WHY there would be someone sleeping in his bed along with him.
To be sure, Squall had a long-time girlfriend. Rinoa. But even though they had been going out for almost four years, their relationship still hadn't progressed to the point of...well...the point of sharing a bed! Squall now occupied the quarters of the old Headmaster, having, slightly unwillingly, taken his place as head of Balamb Garden two years ago. The bed that had been bequeathed to him was big, and, Squall inwardly had to admit, at times lonely; too often he would stir from his previous sleeping position only to be rudely awoken as his feet touched the cold surroundings of the empty area around him.
Apparently his slight touch had awoken the 'sleeping beauty', as the figure lethargically turned over to face Squall, out of the half-shadows of the moments before dawn. Squall promptly fell out of bed with an audible 'whump' as his rump met the floor; he had figured out not only was there a strange person in his bed, but this person was also undoubtedly male! He may not have been experienced when it came to girls, but somehow he didn't think they came THAT flat chested.
"I don't know how you do it!" A voice reached his ears, gentle with the dull edge of sleep and hidden laughter. It didn't sound like the voice of shock or regret from a one-time affair, but more like the voice where such mornings were a regular occurrence. "I don't think if you lit my ass on fire you could get me outta bed this early!"
Meanwhile Squall was blinking rapidly, confusedly, trying to figure out whom exactly he had gone to bed with last night. The voice sounded familiar -- very familiar; a voice he should know -- but he didn't recognize him.
The man's eyes were hypnotizing, an amazing aqua-green color that seemed to turn darker with amusement under his gaze. His hair was the color of sunlight in a garden; a warm, almost buttery color, the fringe of bangs slightly mussed from sleep...his coloring almost reminded Squall of...Zell?! As if affirming Squall's sudden suspicion, the man raised his head to regard Squall curiously, the telltale tattoo standing in stark relief against his rosy skin; its black flames reaching to lick the edge of his hairline.
"Oh yeah..." Zell trailed off, sitting up to stretch the sleep-induced kinks from his lithe, muscular frame. Something in a back corner of Squall's mind noted with some relief that Zell was wearing boxers underneath the expanse of sheet nearly covering his lower torso. "You have that meeting this morning...with High Commander What's-His-Ass. I said we were violating those stupid airspace laws!" The last part was said with a definite 'I told you so' lilt that, oddly enough, had Squall wanting to protest 'did not!’
"Um, Zell...” Squall was not exactly the most verbose person. In fact, he almost went out of his way to avoid what he deemed unnecessary conversation; even four years with Rinoa hadn't changed that aspect of him, much to his girlfriend's chagrin and pouting dismay. Still, even he thought it would be best to get what had happened last night out in the open, as much for Zell's benefit as his own sudden memory-loss. "About last night..."
"Hey, we can hammer out the details later." Zell dismissed with a wave of his hand, seemingly oblivious to Squall's sudden shocked expression. Abruptly his gaze met Squall's in a painfully earnest look, all bravado-ish pretenses falling away. "Squall...thank you. I-I know I can handle it! It's what I've wanted for so long..." Then the familiar Zell was back again, only a shadow of the serious stranger left behind on his youthful looking face. Squall suddenly registered the hand reaching towards his to hoist him off the hardwood floor. "Now c'mon, baby. I'll see you later. You have a meeting to get to!"
A sudden thought fell upon an utterly bewildered Squall like a ton of bricks as he finished getting dressed. What was he going to tell Rinoa? Somehow, he didn’t think “Gee, I’m sorry honey, but it looks like I went to bed with my best friend last night…I can’t remember exactly what happened, but when we woke up we weren’t exactly wearing a lot of clothing” was going to cut it as far as explanations went.
Do I really have to tell her at all? Squall banished that thought out of his mind right then and there. Better that she should hear it from him than through the grapevine…someone must have seen the two of them go back to Squall’s room last night. He certainly wasn’t naïve enough to expect whoever might have seen them to keep their mouth shut.
It’s not fair. My first time having sex, and I can’t even remember whether or not I enjoyed it! Okay, where had that come from?! Squall fumbled for the handle to his door after making sure he was ready to go down a floor to the administrative offices. Hell, he didn’t even know if he had sex last night! He was just assuming -- Get real. Zell was naked, you were naked…what did you THINK you did? You just happened to take off the vast majority of your clothes and settled in for a nice friendly slumber party?
Sometimes these inner monologues could be a real bitch.
Squall spun on his heels at the sound of his name, only to find himself face-to-face with the bubbly activities coordinator of the Garden. Her hair had grown out over the years, and she had finally stopped putting it in the slightly ridiculous fashion of having both ends sticking out wildly from the side of her head. Still, the vivacious glint in her green eyes remained, as did her penchant for short dresses…
“Selphie.” He acknowledged in his own typical abbreviated form of greeting. For some reason, Selphie frowned at his tone of voice.
“Wow…that was a really short meeting. Did they agree to pay for the damages to the Garden?”
Damages? What is going on here?! As far as Squall knew, his Garden was in fine shape…and he certainly hadn’t had any meetings scheduled for today, unless one counted that lecture he was going to have to give those students about not using dangerous magic in the hallways. That couldn’t be what she was talking about though, because that wasn’t even until later in the afternoon.
“Um, what are you talking about?” He finally asked, something inwardly loathing to admit he had no idea what he was doing, or for that matter, what was going on.
Selphie let out an odd choking gasp. “Did you forget?! Squall…that’s not like you. Is something wrong?”
Squall grimaced uncharacteristically at her words. Oh, no! No, nothing’s wrong. Either I’m going insane, or everyone around me is, that’s all… Before he could even open his mouth, she had taken his hand and was all but dragging him down the hall to the conference rooms. Her heels made a sharp clacking sound on the hardwood floors, a warning for anyone who was walking in the same direction to get out of her way; she was a woman on a mission.
“C’mon, he might still be there!” She exclaimed when Squall gave her an “are you out of your mind” look. Then, she utterly stunned him by mumbling vehemently, “Dammit, Zell, why the hell didn’t you remind him?!”
Squall rubbed his wrist and glanced at Selphie with an almost baleful glare before opening the door to the consultation room. A thoroughly unpleasant-looking man met his glare with one of his own, brows meeting thickly over his forehead in a palpable air of irritation. Squall inwardly sighed, judging by the lavish military uniform the man was wearing, Squall was up to his waist in…something.
Squall rubbed his temples as he slumped into his leather chair in his office. He felt one of those migraines coming on.
That had been an experience he hoped he would never ever have to go through again. The man had been, as Zell had so succinctly phrased it that morning, “High commander what’s-his-ass”. Namely, the dictator of a small country that the Garden had happened to fly over the other day without announcing their presence. As it had turned out, the commander had thought it was an attack – Squall did have to understand that, however, after all, the Garden was a mercenary training ground – and had opened fire.
Luckily, the Commander, in his own words “wasn’t a vindictive man” and had agreed to pay for half the damages. As it was, though, Squall was considering filleting whoever had thought it was okay to violate private airspace with the Garden, and then shoot himself if he couldn’t figure out a way to come up with the other half of the money for the repairs. With “Headmaster Norg” gone, their funding had suffered enormous cutbacks over the years, leading to increased tuition among other things.
He had gotten a good look at what the anti aircraft missiles had done to three of the lower level classrooms, as well as the cafeteria. The areas were sealed off with a general notice to all students that classes were canceled until further notice.
Add all this to the fact that Squall couldn’t seem to banish the thought of Zell in nothing more than a pair of boxers from the back of his mind, and a mountain of paperwork had suddenly beamed in from hell to cover his previously spotless desk from the night before, and Squall could almost feel the beginning of a nervous breakdown unfolding. How had Cid done it?!
There was a sharp rapping on the heavy oaken door. Squall raised his head and called for the person outside to come in. And she did, with quick business-like steps until she was in front of his desk, staring him straight in the face.
Squall quashed the urge to groan out loud. His day had just gotten worse.
“Good morning, Rinoa…”
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