For His Love
The sound of that door closing seemed to echo, holding a note of finality that no amount of regret could drown out. Eyes open and staring, but really seeing nothing, Squall walked slowly, dazedly back to his own room, his footsteps as heavy as his heart.
Quistis and Seifer stood at the edge of the dorm hallway, neither of them wanting to intrude or be forced to interact with Squall when he exited Rinoa’s room. Selphie, however, harbored no such reservations and when she bounded down the hall, her eyes sparkling with untold secrets, Quistis knew she’d certainly gotten an earful.
She frowned at Selphie disapprovingly. "Please tell me you didn’t stand at the door eavesdropping."
Selphie managed to look insulted. "Of course not!"
Quistis sighed in relief. "Well, at least you’ve got that much sense."
Selphie rushed on, as if Quistis hadn’t spoken. "There was really no need for that, you could hear them down the hall!"
Quistis dropped her face into her hand and groaned, clearly annoyed with her friend. However, Seifer’s admiration had just risen a notch.
"I didn’t know you had it in you, messenger girl." His tone was pleasant, which was new to Selphie altogether. She stared at him for a moment, at a loss for words for the first time in her life, and then turned her attention back to Quistis.
"You are never gonna believe this!" She looked as though she might explode if she had to keep her information to herself just one second longer.
Quistis leaned toward Selphie and grabbed her forearm, pulling it to make sure she had her attention.
"I can’t believe you would spy on them, Selphie! What’s going on between them is not our business and unless one of them is willing to share, then I suppose we won’t ever know what it is."
Selphie frowned at her and pulled her arm out of Quistis’ wrenching grasp.
"Like they’re gonna tell us! Squall always wants to know what we’re all up to, so you tell me how this is any different!" She crossed her arms over her chest and smiled at Quistis, so sure that she’d scored a point with that one.
Quistis glared at her as she spoke quietly. "Squall is concerned for our well-being and that of the Garden, and unless we’re out in the field, he’s never interested in what we’re doing. His interest in our lives is strictly business, he would never question us regarding our personal lives, and you know that Selphie."
Seifer watched the exchange with more than a passing interest. He admired Quistis’ values, her personal honor code that she always seemed to live by. But her overzealous attack on Selphie appeared to be motivated purely by her protective instincts toward Squall, and that really got under his skin.
"Why are you so worried about him anyway, Quistis?" Seifer asked, obviously annoyed. "He doesn’t need you to champion him, he never has, so get off your soapbox."
The hurt that flashed across her face made him want to call back his words and he cursed his jealous nature. Surprisingly enough, she didn’t run away, or turn her sad, limpid eyes on him. She looked at Selphie instead and with her spine straight and her voice steady, said regally, "This kind of behavior is below me Selphie, and I would think it was below you as well. You wouldn’t appreciate someone telling tales about your personal life, so my advice to you is to think before you speak."
Selphie looked down at her feet, unable to think of a significant response to Quistis’ words. Seifer maintained a passive expression, but inwardly he was smiling. Hyne, what a woman…
Quistis finally turned to Seifer. "You should focus your energies on passing your SeeD exam this time around instead of worrying what’s going on in Squall and Rinoa’s personal lives."
Seifer remained silent, although his first instinct was to tell the lovely instructor where to get off. But then, that brought to mind all kinds of ways to show her how to do just that and so he kept his thoughts to himself. All in due time….
Selphie looked up at Quistis and said solemnly. "She’s leaving, Quis. Rinoa’s catching to first train to Deling. I heard her. She’s leaving him."
Quistis’ eyes widened. She found out about Zell…oh no…
"We’ll try to talk to her when she tries to leave, perhaps we can persuade her to stay." Quistis sounded hopeful.
Selphie shook her head ruefully. "That’s not gonna happen Quisty, she caught Squall and Zell together, she saw them…together." Her voice was low, and Quistis knew she was concerned for them and not worried about the good gossip she’d just acquired.
Quistis’ expression didn’t change, her face was blank. Selphie narrowed her eyes at the instructor. "Ohmygod, you knew, Quistis you already knew, didn’t you?!"
She didn’t respond and Seifer stared at the two of them, slow recognition spreading across his face.
"Wait a minute…are you saying that…Squall and Zell…?" Selphie glanced at him, but didn’t respond while Quistis continued to stare unblinkingly at Selphie.
Selphie’s eyes flashed. "You knew about this all along and you didn’t tell her? How could you Quistis?"
Quistis glared at Selphie. "You don’t know what you’re talking about Selphie, and like I told you before, this is none of our business, so be careful what you say and who you say it to."
The two women stood staring at each other, the tension between them so thick it was tangible. Seifer could see that the fur was about to fly and he moved between them and touched Quistis’ shoulder, centering her attention solely on him. Selphie relaxed as Quistis gazed up at Seifer, the air clearing for a moment.
He touched her face, gently smoothing a flaxen tendril away from her cheek. "Calm down, instructor." His tone was gentle, but Quistis caught the teasing note and she smiled, unable to help herself.
Selphie almost smiled as she witnessed this side of Seifer. Looks like Quisty’s hooked him good…
Quistis turned to Selphie. "Come on Selphie, let’s leave Rinoa alone for awhile. We’ll catch her before she leaves."
Selphie nodded reluctantly and glanced at Seifer. "You coming?" She asked.
He made a sweeping gesture with his arm. "Ladies first."
Quistis giggled at that, and Selphie just continued to look confused.
She and Quistis moved ahead of him, walking into the open corridor, beyond the hallway.
Seifer walked slowly behind, his bewilderment returning. What the hell? Squall and Zell? A couple of…ass clowns? He shook his head, amazed once again by the things that were going on here since he’d returned. Never a dull moment…
Squall reached his own room and paused, not really wanting to enter. Rinoa’s words kept echoing in his mind, but as much as they stung, he knew them to be true…all of them. Zell had offered to go with him to talk to Rinoa, and he’d left him at the Garden’s gates, running off, leaving him with a weak excuse. The truth was, he didn’t want Zell there. He didn’t want Zell to witness what he considered his and Rinoa’s private business, and he didn’t want Rinoa to see him interact with Zell. He was afraid of how he would appear to her, as if it would unman him. Little too late for that now, isn’t it? She’d caught them in an extremely indelicate position, there was little he could do or say to take back the image she was sure to have etched permanently in her mind.
He leaned his head against his door, wanting more to bang it against the wood, when it opened without warning and he found himself stretched over the threshold staring at a pair of hightop sneakers.
He looked up, startled. "Zell?! How the hell did you get in here?"
Zell said nothing, his expression still and forbidding. For once, his habit of perpetual motion was stifled. He simply stared down at Squall. His silence was unnerving, to say the least.
Squall hauled himself to his feet and kicked the door shut behind him. His eyes were cold. "Well? Are you gonna tell me what you’re doing in here or do I have to guess?"
Zell flinched as if he’d been struck. When he opened his eyes, he glared at Squall, daring him to look away.
"Nice reception, Squall. I’m going to assume Rinoa didn’t want to listen to your explanation and so right about now you figure you’ve burned your bridges. Am I right?"
Squall’s shoulders slumped wearily. "No, she listened. But it doesn’t make any difference. She’s still leaving."
Zell’s eyebrows drew together in concern. "She’s leaving? Where’s she gonna go? She and her Dad don’t get along, I can’t believe she would go there."
Squall grunted. "Well, you’re wrong. One little hitch in the plan and she runs home to Daddy. I should’ve seen this coming."
Zell gazed at Squall in disbelief. "Squall? Um, hello…you guys didn’t have a lover’s quarrel here. She caught you in the woods with me…naked…with your…"
Squall waved a hand at him and scowled. "I know what she saw, Zell, I don’t need a running commentary okay, I was there, remember?"
Zell moved closer to him. "Yeah, I remember. You’re the one who seems to want to forget."
Squall remained silent and kept his eyes averted.
Zell’s voice was tentative. "Squall?"
Squall didn’t answer and moved past him into his bedroom.
Zell stood in the bedroom’s doorway. He was confused and more than a little hurt at Squall’s chilly reception.
"Squall?" He tried again. No response. He entered the bedroom and stood next to Squall. He’d turned toward the window to avoid Zell’s scrutiny, but Zell stayed beside him. He took in the long line of Squall’s body, his shoulders, and the silky hair that Zell wanted nothing more than to tangle his fists into. He closed his eyes and let the pain wash over him. He could sense the end, even before it had truly begun, Squall was looking for the nearest exit.
"I thought you were better than this, Squall. I thought I was more than a diversion to you."
Squall remained silent, the rigidity of his stance the only indication that he’d heard Zell.
Zell traced a finger down the side of Squall’s neck and felt the smallest satisfaction when Squall shuddered at his touch.
"I know how difficult this must be for you. Do you think I don’t care about your feelings? About Rinoa’s? Don’t you know me better than that? Did you think I was gonna climb up on the roof and shout to the world that the Commander was sharing my bed? Come on, Squall, our relationship means more to me than that. You mean more to me than that."
Squall turned to face him, his eyes dead. "All I know is I feel like the pressure is gonna tear me apart. Your expectations, her expectations. Everybody’s gonna be talking about this. Why she left, why we’re together all the time. Don’t you get it, Zell? I can’t have people speculating about me, about my life like that. I just can’t have it! I have responsibilities here, people expect certain things from me and I…"
Zell grabbed him by his collar and shoved him back onto the bed. He sat there, leaning back, stunned by Zell’s actions.
Zell leaned down to him, his fists bearing his weight on either side of Squall’s legs. "For once would you please not use your position here as an excuse to run away from me. When are you gonna get tired of running, Squall? Tired of making excuses to yourself and to everybody else for what you are and what you want?"
Squall turned his head aside, not wanting to hear Zell’s words. Zell gripped Squall’s chin in his hand and turned his head back, not willing to allow Squall to shut him out.
"No, you listen to me. I love you. I’m willing to withstand whatever it takes just to make you mine. But I won’t let you sell me out to satisfy your misplaced sense of pride. If you can’t look at me without feeling ashamed or talk to me in public without constantly glancing around to see who’s looking, well then fuck you Squall Leonhart, because I don’t need you."
Squall looked up, a little surprised at Zell’s venomous words. His eyes burned with an unholy light and Squall knew then that he’d completely lost control of the situation.
"Zell…" He began, his tone cautious.
Zell stood up and walked toward the door, pausing once to look over his shoulder.
"I never thought you could be this selfish. I was wrong about you. Apparently I was wrong about a lot of things. Don’t get up, I know where the door is."
Squall winced when the door slammed shut, rattling the glasses in the kitchen.
Why did it seem like every door he’d opened seemed to be closing on him? And more importantly, had he brought it on himself?
Author's Notes: *So…whaddya think? Should Squall go begging or what? Thanks for the input, it’s nice to get other people’s ideas sometimes. I appreciate it!!
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