~I want to die.~
How strange those words sounded, yet they seemed so logical.
There was no need for him to be anywhere. It seemed as if everyone knew who he was, but no one wanted him.
He barely knew who he was, himself. He knew the given basics - Seifer Almasy, SeeD flunky, ex-Sorceress' Knight, current full-time loser.
He didn't belong anywhere... except, perhaps, death. Death seemed so much more welcoming than anything he could possibly face here - wherever 'here' was. Even if he ended up in Hell, at least he'd know where he belonged.
He was so tired...
Yes, Death sounded mighty welcoming.
And he was still.
Dumb, stupid, weather... there was absolutely no need for it to rain this much.
He sprinted home, which was quite difficult after his visit to the bar he frequented. He hadn't had enough liquor to actually get him drunk, but he'd had enough to make him slightly tipsy.
And the rain wasn't helping.
~Maybe if they just moved the bar next to my home...~ he thought, wrapping his arms around himself.
~Home. There's a laugh.~
It didn't feel like home anymore. He stayed at the Garden most of the time, and he hadn't bothered to move out of his mother's house. He's thought about it, but his mother never made him feel obligated, so he stayed.
And now he felt like he was intruder in the house he had lived in most of his life.
His parents weren't home, so he didn't exactly have to be quiet while going in... but he still felt like he was breaking and entering every time he walked through the -
He cursed as he tripped over something on the side of the road. He went flying and he landed in a puddle, getting him even more wet than he already was. Great. Another thing to worry about.
He turned to glare at whatever he tripped over -
- and froze.
He put his hand over his mouth. He didn't move until he saw the body's chest rise and fall, indicating the shallow breathing and the fact of life.
He unclenched his fists and stepped towards the body. It was face down on the ground, and looked to have the stature of a male. Zell grasped a shoulder and flipped him over.
His eyes got wider than they were before.
Zell knew this man's face, but it looked unfamiliar to him. Instead of mocking humor, it was full of self-hatred. His hair was longer, his bangs falling down into his eyes and looking slick from the rain.
Almost shaking, Zell reached out and tendering traced the scar with his index finger.
Memories came back at him in floods. Seifer had teased him to no end, made his life miserable, and Zell had every reason to just leave him there.
But something in Seifer's face... Zell couldn't help but take pity on him.
Zell stood and lifted the taller man up. Grunting from the excess weight, he threw the unconscious Seifer over his shoulder and continued toward his house.
Awareness started slowly creeping back into his body. He was dry, warm, indoors...
Seifer held back a moan. It had happened again. A stranger had found him, taken him in, and tried to nurse him back to health. And then some other stranger would recognize him and tell the nice stranger who he was.
He was the traitor. And then he would be thrown out in disgust.
It had happened more than once. And now it was happening again. Seifer was sick of it.
Would he just have to attach a sign to his body, stating "let me die?"
He felt sorry for whatever ignorant stranger had taken him in this time.
He stilled his breath. The stranger knew his name. Not only that, but he knew the voice. It was familiar... not exactly welcome, but there were no voices that were really "welcome" anymore. But still...
"Don't call me that, you asshole. I just saved your life."
Seifer opened his eyes. Zell's face looked blurry. "Why did you?"
Zell cocked his head to the side. "You looked like you were about to die."
"Why didn't you let me?"
"Let you...?" Zel trailed off, his brow furrowing. "You want to die?"
"You wanna kill me, chicken-wuss?" Faint amusement trailed on Seifer's lips, and something resembling hope shone in his eyes.
"Seifer..." Zell started, biting his lip. "What happened to you?"
"What happened?" Seifer closed his eyes. "I happened. I've got no one to blame for this but myself."
"What do you mean?" Zell asked with uncertainty.
"No one needs me. No one wants me, even." Seifer opened his eyes, but didn't look at Zell. "I'm not welcome anywere, and I know exactly why."
Now Seifer glanced at Zell. "You know why."
"Because of what you did?" Zell bit his lip. "Seifer, I saw you when you were... weren't yourself. I fought you, too. I may not know you too well, but I know you well enough to realize that you were under Ultimecia's power."
"You don't know that! Everyone else doesn't know that!" Seifer winced. "I don't know that. How could I? I thought I was in control, but she was just using me."
"Exactly! You were her puppet. She used you to do things that you didn't want to do. She made you do them. You're not to blame!" Zell could scarcely believe the words coming out of his mouth. Normally he would give anything to make Seifer feel bad... but here he was trying to make Seifer feel better!
~He already feels bad enough,~ Zell thought to himself. ~He wants to die, and I'm not going to let him. He just needs someone to reach out to him.~
"I wasn't her puppet, chicken-wuss! I was her knight."
"Don't call me that. And no matter what you think, Seifer, you aren't to blame for what you did while you were under her power."
"I was under how power, that's right. I wasn't under her control."
Zell sighed. "Seifer, I don't know why I'm trying to convince you that it wasn't your damn fault. You've been an asshole to me for as long as I can remember, and longer, it seems. You're to blame for being a moron. But even morons are vulnerable. Haven't you ever heard of that saying... 'power'... um... 'power'... shit."
Seifer stared at Zell for a moment, and then he laughed. "Nice conclusion to your speech."
"Shut up!" Zell protested, scratching his head. "I'll figure it out.
"'Power... corrupts!' That's it!"
Seifer stopped laughing. "I don't get you, chicken-wuss. You're acting more civil to me than you ever have. Why?"
"Um... I've changed."
"No, you haven't. Tell me, honestly."
"Honestly?" Zell hesitated. "I think it's because you looked so pathetic that it made me remember that you are human, after all."
Seifer smiled, a mere ghost of his old smirk showing. "Pathetic. That's exactly what I am."
Zell bared his teeth at Seifer in frustration. "Will you just quit it with the self-pity? What the hell do you want me to say?" He paused, narrowing his eyes. "Do you want me to tell you that it WAS your fault? Do you want me to lie just so it sounds like I'm agreeing with you?"
Seifer didn't say anything, but he started studying Zell's expression with curiousity in his eyes.
"I can't say you're absolutely horrible. You might not be a saint, but you're not evil." Zell hesitated. "What reason do I have to lie to you about this? Why would I, of all people, try to convince you that you're not as bad as you think?"
Seifer took a moment to reply. "I know you're not lying."
"How do you know? And if you know I'm not lying, then why are treating yourself like this?"
"You believe that I'm not bad. And you always let everyone know how you're feeling. You're always done that."
Confusion washed over Zell's face. "What the hell d'ya mean?"
"When we were little, you'd let everyone know when you were upset. You'd cry all the time. I called you Crybaby Z-"
Seifer smiled, and it was close to a genuine smile. "You do the same thing now, but you express being upset by threatening to beat things into submission instead of crying."
"I do not!"
"Do fucking not!!"
Seifer laughed. "Oh, yeah. This is mature."
"Shut up, ass," Zell hissed, clenching his feet and baring his teeth again.
"You've got sharp canines, chicken-wuss."
"Now you're doing it on purpose!"
"Pissing me off!" Zell suddenly calmed himself down. "Just like you used to."
Seifer blinked. "I suppose you're right." Then he grinned. "Maybe you did help me, chicken. I suppose I just need something natural."
Zell looked bewildered. "Pissing me off is natural?"
"It's something that I used to do on a daily basis."
"Kind of like a sick kind of nostalgia?"
"I suppose." Seifer looked away. "But... this won't last."
"The natural. After a while... it'll all go away and I'll be back where I was."
"That's a hell of a moodswing." As soon as the words left Zell's mouth he regretted it.
Seifer's face cracked and he began to cry. "Don't... don't throw me out, Zell."
Zell's eyes widened and he took a step towards the tall blond. "Seifer..."
"So many people... I've hurt them and they won't forget. No one can forgive me." Seifer rolled over and brought his knees to his chin. "Zell, please just kill me instead of rejecting me. I can't deal with another person throwing me out."
Without realizing what he was doing, Zell sat on the couch next to Seifer and put a hand on Seifer's back. Seifer froze and let bloodshot eyes drift over towards Zell, not saying a word.
"I'm not going to throw you out, Seifer," Zell said, carefully pacing his voice. "But I'm not going to kill you, either." He helped Seifer into an upright position. "I don't care what you've done. No one deserves to die. You need help, Seifer, and I'm going to give you help."
Seifer started at Zell in amazement and disbelief. "But... why?"
"Because I know you're not that bad. Have I ever listened to what someone else told me?" He gave a wry smile. "You can stay here until you're ready to leave. And by 'leave,' I mean alive."
"But... where am I?"
"My house... my mom's house. My ma won't mind you staying here. She'll probably welcome the company."
"Zell, I can't do that. This is your home."
"Seifer, you're staying here."
The tall blond blinked a few times before finally laughing. "Do you realize how... unnatural you're acting?"
"You're offering me - me, of all people - a place to stay. I know that you hate me. So why are you being so nice to me?"
"I don't hate you. I used to have a strong dislike for you. But I really have changed."
"Don't CALL me that, you little fucker!" Zell fumed, his upper lip curling back. "Why do you do that? Why do you deliberately piss me off?"
"Because it makes you angry. And you're cute when you're angry."
"Wha... what?" Zell gaped.
"You are, Zell. Well, you're cute all the time... but when you're mad you get all flushed and you bare your teeth-"
"Just wait a minute!" Zell put up his hand, on the verge of sputtering.
"That's why, Zell," Seifer said. "I always made you mad because I liked it when you were mad. Yes, I always DID deliberately piss you off."
"Why... why are you telling me this?" Zell questioned, his eyes narrowing.
"I don't know." Seifer paused. "Maybe because I don't care anymore."
Zell crossed his arms, pushing his tongue against the back of his teeth. "You don't care about what?"
"I don't care if you reject me, so I may as well tell you the truth while I can."
"Do you really think I'm going to reject you?" Zell's voice was quiet. "I already told you that you're staying here." Zell replaced his hand on Seifer's shoulder.
Seifer stared at Zell's hand for a moment. "Zell..." He suddenly leapt at the shorter blond, burying his face into his chest, clutching onto Zell's jacket.
Zell stilled for a moment, and then put his arms around Seifer's shoulders. The scarred blond was shaking.
"Thank you," Seifer whispered. "Thank you, Zell."
A strange warmth started growing inside Zell. He couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was, but all he knew was that Seifer was the origin of it.
Seifer was welcoming him. Zell didn't feel like he was intruding on the taller blond's personal thoughts when Seifer was telling him how he had felt. He didn't feel like a psychiatrist, or a parent, or a brother lending a shoulder to cry on. He felt...
"What did you mean, 'you're cute when you're angry?'" Zell asked quietly.
Seifer smiled into Zell's shoulder. "I mean you're cute when you're angry. I meant it exactly how it sounded."
"Seifer, are you... are you... not...?"
"Not what?" Seifer pulled his head up and looked straight into Zell's eyes. "Not straight? Gay? You bet."
"Really. Another reason why people have thrown me out. They think that because I'm gay I'm going to try rape their sons or some shit like that." Seifer's voice was bitter.
"Well, they're just homophobic bastards who make really fucking stupid assumptions." Zell's voice was even more bitter.
Seifer blinked. "You're not freaked out?"
"Why would I be freaked out?" Zell said, smiling curtly. "Considering I'm-" He cut himself off.
"You're gay?" Seifer said, his eyes widening.
Zell shook his head.
"You're straight, then."
Zell shook his head a second time. "No."
"You're... bisexual?" Seifer blinked.
"Um... yeah." Zell put a hand behind his head, giving Seifer a faint smile. "Maybe we should hold a big old 'coming out' party."
Seifer laughed. "Most guys freak out when I tell them that. Raijin did."
"Raijin-!" Zell cut himself off. "Well, most people freak out when I tell them I'm bi." He sighed, casting his gaze down. "It's not like I can help the way I'm wired. I've gone out with girls AND guys, and they've all got this thought that I'm twice as likely to cheat on them."
"That's just because you're twice as likely to find someone you like," Seifer said, putting a hand under Zell's chin and drawing the tattooed blond's eyes back up to his own.
"I guess," Zell said, the warm feeling inside strengthening when Seifer touched him. "But I AM more into men." Zell started unconsciously leaning into Seifer's touch.
"I don't know," Zell murmured, his eyes closing halfway. "Like I said, I can't help the way I'm wired. I also don't know how or why I'm wired the way I am." His eyes slid shut.
Seifer raised his other hand to Zell's face. He cupped his cheek with one hand, and began tracing his tattoo with the other.
"What are you doing?" Zell asked, his eyes remaining shut.
"Looking at you."
"You're beautiful, Zell."
Zell didn't say anything. Seifer leaned forward and kissed Zell's forehead. As his lip's touched the smaller blond's skin, Zell opened his eyes. He latched his arms around Seifer's shoulders. "What's happening?" he murmured quietly.
"I'm not sure." Seifer smiled. "But I don't care."
Neither of them instigated the kiss, but it happened. Both of them leaned into the other, wanting to taste more of the other boy. They stayed connected at the lips for several minutes, neither one wanting to break it.
Seifer reached behind Zell and pulled the shorter boy closer to him, placing his fingers on the small of his back. At the ghostly touch, Zell released Seifer's lips and threw his head back, his back arching.
"Why are we doing this?" Zell said, sounding slightly out of breath.
"I know I'm doing it because... I like you," Seifer said, making circles with his fingertips on Zell's back.
Zell shivered. "But, Seifer... I've never.. I mean, before now, that is - I've never been extremely attracted to you."
"Are you now?"
"I think so." Zell's lips fell apart. "Very much so."
"Does it matter what you feel - or didn't feel - before?" Seifer stopped circling, drawing his hand away from Zell's back. "Unless you don't want-"
"Don't even say it." Zell reached down and caught Seifer's hand his own. "It doesn't matter what I felt before. I know what I feel now." He smiled, sighing. "I feel... I want you."
"Less then an hour ago, I wanted to kill myself."
Zell squeezed Seifer's hand. "Do you still want to kill yourself?"
"No. I had nothing to live for an hour ago." Seifer buried his face in Zell neck. "No one wanted me."
"I want you. I don't know why, but I do. I do not want you to die."
Seifer turned his head slightly. "Are you sure, Zell?" he whispered in the shorter blond's ear.
"I am quite sure. Seifer, less then an hour ago, I wanted to leave and never come back."
"Leave?" Seifer drew his head away from Zell. "Why?"
"I'm not welcome anywhere," Zell said, his face falling. "I mean, people are nice, but I feel more like a thorn in the side then an actual contributor to the great big scheme of things."
Seifer flashed a sudden grin, a genuine grin. "You know where you are welcome?" He leaned forward and captured Zell's mouth again.
"I can take a guess," Zell whispered after they seperated.
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