Stitch In Time

Chapter Seven

By Scarlet Fever

Black. Everything was black, murky. The darkness felt thick, hazy. The inky darkness began to become foggy as Seiferís eyes focused to his surroundings. He was lying in his surrogate bed, in Edeaís house, or wherever they were. Seifer still hadnít ventured outdoors. He sat up, feeling a chill pass across his body. The window was open, letting the evening air in, chilling his bare chest.

"Why do I feel like shit?" Seifer asked himself, running his long fingers through his messy honey hair. He began to rack his brain, trying to place images in the proper chronological order in his mind. It was evening again, but he could barely remembered what happened to the minutes and hours of daylight he had missed. He winced as he ran a palm over his neck. His initial warning from his new Mistress had left him with some bruises, shaped like a gallow cord across his lily-white throat. Seifer stretched his arms over his head, gritting his teeth in agony as the flesh of his back stretched. His entire back burned. What had happened? He was beginning to forget things, images dropping out of his memory, being replaced with Edea, and only Edea. Her endless burning eyes were sunspots in his eyes, blocking out visions of anything other than her, her velvety voice draping over anything other than being under her command. There were times when her hold over him would wean, and Seifer would be filled with confusion and longing. He wanted to know what had happened to Zell, if the impossibly cute blonde was alright, if Seiferís actions had somehow sealed Zellís fate, if his ill-fated lover had cursed his name for all eternity.

Seifer ran a gentle hand across the supple flesh of his back, wanting to know what had caused him such discomfort. He hadnít felt this much back pain since he had gotten his tattoo. Seifer bit his lower lip as his fingertips ran across a rather sore spot. Sick realization began to hit him. He had again tried to verbally defy Edea, and she had used her telekinesis to throw him against a wall. It had been made of rough stones, which had cut into his back.

Gods, there must be some way out of hereÖ. Seifer mused mentally.

I wouldnít think such things, if I were you.

Seifer sighed, hearing Edeaís rich voice invading his mind. "Leave me aloneÖ"

I cannotÖ. Edeaís voice sounded sad.

"Why?" Seifer asked, whispering as he got up, looking out the open window to the busy streets of Deling below. Everyone was preparing for the parade to honour Edea, which would be held the following night. His new Mistress had told him that he was to ride with her, which Seifer had initially scoffed at. In doing so, he had gotten a slap in the face, and a warning that he would gladly ride the float by the time the parade began.

I must answer to others as well, my dear. Edea sounded sad in his mind.

Seifer sighed, looking out onto the streets again. It seemed to be the only connection he had with life in general, watching the people pass below. It was like an ant farm, except that Seifer wished he was being watched under glass, just like the rest of them. "Fuck," Seifer cursed. "If only I hadnít gone to Timber."

"Your fate would have remained unchanged," Edea murmured.

The fact that she actually spoke to him startled Seifer. He practically jumped out of his skin, turning to face Edea. She was standing in the doorway. Something about her seemed different. Maybe it was the fact that her long chestnut hair hung loose around her shoulders falling around her waist like a silken curtain. But there was something more, in her eyes. The amber wasnít the hypnotic suns that dragged Seifer in time and time again. Now, they were flecked with shards of warm golden brown, making her look more human.

"What are you doing here?" Seifer asked, bowing at the waist. He had learned that lesson already.

Edea sighed. "You barely leave this room. Why?"

Seifer raised an eyebrow. Her voice made him feel warm. "Arenít you afraid Iíd try to leave?"

Edea laughed softly, the burning quality returning to her eyes for a moment. "You can take your body as far as you wish, but your mind will always be within my reach."

Seifer had no way to protest this, and dully nodded in response.

"You are allowed to take a walk if you wish," The Sorceressís eyes simmered down, her pupils becoming radial, human. "I can give you at least one night of freedomÖ"

Seifer furrowed his brow. She sounded very sad, the dark texture disappearing from her voice. Her words still made Seifer feel distant, but in a different way, like he was being transplanted to a happier, warmer place. It also sounded like she was mournful, especially when she said the word Ďfreedomí. "What do you mean?"

Edea sighed, her body barely moving. She felt more like herself than she had in a while, like she had control of herself, and she wanted to let Seifer feel that same control, that he wasnít a constant prisoner. Edea knew that her control wasnít ebbed permanently, and that they would both feel the effects of her return, but for now, Edea wanted to chase away the dead look in Seiferís eyes. It reminded her so much of a time long since passed, when she had tried to chase away the death from those sky blue eyes.

Seifer just looked at her. It would seem that the Sorceress was slightly schizophrenic. He didnít know what to make of this newest Edea.

"I can tell that youíre wary. Iíll leave you. But, I just want to tell you that IÖ." Edea trailed off, not able to find the words sufficient enough to apologize to Seifer. "Iíll leave you beÖ" Edea turned and left, feeling endlessly guilty for not being able to shelter one that she had sworn to protect so many years agoÖ A lifetime ago.

Seifer didnít know what to make of this. Edea had seemed so familiar to him, motherly and warm. What had changed? He didnít know what to think of this sudden change in her, but he didnít really trust it. He went back to his window, staring out at the streets, wondering if he should go out for a walk after all. It was a nice, crisp evening, and he needed the exercise. All thoughts in his mind stopped as one figure from the crowd stood out. He saw the pale flesh and moody stance of Squall, who stopped on the sidewalk below him, oblivious to Seifer watching him.

"Squall," Seifer whispered to himself. He wondered if that meant that Zell was nearby..? He continued to silently watch them. He saw a familiar figure stop beside Squall, her sleeveless, powder blue duster gently flapping with her movement. Rinoa looked like she was very cozy with Squall, although a bit one sided on her part. Seifer smirked, knowing that Rinoa could always be up for a challenge like Squall. Was that all he had been to her? The challenge of fucking someone who finds sex with you so utterly disgusting. Even now, Seifer almost shuddered, thinking about the sensations of intercourse with a woman. Itís not like Rinoa was ugly or anything, she was just a woman.

Seiferís heart leapt in his throat as he saw Zell, his angelic face looking pensive, distant. At that instant, he wanted to run out on the sidewalk, fall to his knees in front of the tattooed angel, and beg for forgiveness. He concentrated his hearing, listening to what they were saying. The dialog was getting cut out by the noise of the city, but Seifer could pick up bits and pieces.

"Ö.Tomb ofÖ. KingÖ." Squall said. "Too darkÖ.. MorningÖ."

He then saw Rinoa speak. "GalÖ.. otelÖ."

"TheÖ..ceressÖÖ.morrrow nightÖ." Zell said. Even though Seifer couldnít hear what Zell was saying, he felt his heartbeat rise. He looked so beautiful, and Seifer wanted to make that frown disappear, for it didnít belong on that heavenly face. He watched as the trio walked towards Delingís downtown core.

"Tomb of the Nameless King?" Seifer mused aloud. "Thatís what Squall must have meantÖ.." He also thought of what the others said. Were they there for the Sorceressís parade? "Galbadia Hotel?" He muttered, putting on his vest. Maybe that walk would be a good idea after allÖ.

A knock at the door caused Zell to gasp from his place at the window. He was in his room at the Galbadia Hotel, staring out onto the metal and concrete sea that was Deling City. He was wearing his black satin boxers and a black tank top, having only just come out of the shower. He sighed as the crisp air blew through the open pane, kissing his face, blowing through his still wet hair. He wanted to sleep, but found he couldnít. In the morning, Squall was going to the Tomb of the Unknown King on an errand for General Caraway, and if Zell was chosen to go, he wanted to be alert, but his mind wouldnít slow.

"Come in," Zell called, not really in the mood to talk to anyone. They had had enough gil that everyone got their own room.

"Hey, am I interrupting?" Irvine asked, sticking his head in the door. He was without his hat, and his butterscotch-coloured hair was loose around his shoulders.

Zell sighed, wanting to say Ďyesí, but Irvine came in anyway.

"Look, ZellÖ I think we got off on the wrong footÖ"

Zell swiveled his torso, looking at Irvine over his powerful shoulder. "Really?" He cracked a wry smile.

Irvine folded his arms across his chest, his arms bare as well. He had his duster slung over one arm, and he felt a bit inadequate as far as muscle mass went. Zell was pretty buff for a guy his size. His clothes hid the powerful muscles, and made him look almost scrawny. "Yeah. Look, weíre working together now, and I wanted to clear the air. What did I do to make you so pissed?"

Zell sighed, seeing the sincerity in Irvineís almost indigo eyes. "Iím sorry, man. I guess Iím letting things get to meÖ. Well, for starters, youíre so arrogantÖ"

Irvine smirked. "Am I?"

"Iím also not a big fan of womanizers," Zell answered honestly.

Irvine chuckled. "I prefer to call it flirting. Itís not like Iím a date rapist or anythingÖ Look, is there anything I can do. I noticed youíve kind of been in the shitter all dayÖ"

Zell waved his ungloved hand. "Naw, there isnít anything you can doÖ."

"Sure?" Irvine knew, even without knowing the other man, that something was really getting to him. It looked like he lost his true love.

Zell nodded.

"Okay, suit yourself. Listen, I actually came because weíre going to check out the cityÖ."

"We?" Zell asked.

"Oh, me, Rinoa, Selphie and Quistis."

Zell couldnít help but laugh. "And you actually want me to come along?!"

Irvine cocked his head. "Trust me, I thought about that alreadyÖ But those ladies are awfully stubborn. BesidesÖ I may be a flirt, but Iím not a slut. Thereís only one apple of my eye." Irvineís periwinkle eyes became wistful.

"Anyone in particular?"

Irvine placed a finger to his cheek. "Ah, Iíll keep that to myself for now. Are you sure youíll be okay by yourself? Squall may be here, but you knowÖ."

Zell nodded, knowing that the stoic man would give Zell his space, and then some. "Yeah, Iím fine. Go, have fun." Zell made a shooing motion. He wanted to be alone.

"Okay, okay!" Irvine made a mock salute. "Oh," he called from the doorway. "They must have been something specialÖ" He waved, closing the door behind him.

Zell sighed, going back to the window. So, his depression was evident to Irvine, was it? He closed his eyes, letting the now cool air move over his flesh, chilling him. He began to think about the assassination plan. Did the Sorceress have someone that was waiting for her? Would he or she stand beside an open window, wishing to be warmed by hands that no longer moved? Zell pressed his tattooed cheek to the window frame, sighing deeply. Why had Seifer done this to him? Out of all the things over the years, this had to be the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. All the name-calling and taunts were nothing compared to the dull ache that Seifer had left with Zell upon his death.

"How could you do this to me?" Zell whispered, feeling a lump form in his throat. Well, if Seiferís intent had been on hurting Zell, it was mission accomplished. He blew up into his bangs, which were hanging in his eyes, obscuring his vision on one side. He closed his eyes again, wanting the pain, everything to disappear.

Zell heard the door open behind him. He didnít even bother to open his eyes. "Forget something?" Zell asked, wondering if Irvine had left his wallet or jacket or something. He sighed as he heard the door close. Irvine must have really wanted to respect his wishes to be alone, and he admired the cowboy for it, feeling badly for thinking ill of him earlier. He slowly lifted his eyelids as he heard movement behind him. What was Irvine still doing there. Zell looked at the reflection of the room in the windowpane, blinking a few times as his mind played tricks on him. He saw the fluid movement of a long gray trenchcoat, and the familiar way the body was leaning against one of the bedposts. Zell blinked again, but the optical illusion didnít go away. Zell reached a shaky finger up, touching the reflection on the glass. He couldnít believe that he was so vividly imagining Seifer there in the room with him.

"This canít be happening," Zell murmured, pulling his fingers away from the reflection like he was burned.

"Why not?"

The whisper of Seiferís voice reverberated across Zellís body, chilling him more than the cold air ever could. He slowly turned, his bare feet silent on the carpet. He was expecting to be staring into a big, empty space, but the illusion was still there, it was still real. Seifer was leaning against the bedpost, watching Zell with fascination.

Seifer didnít know if he should say something, or explain what he was doing there, but he couldnít find any words. He smiled and bit his lower lip, the surprise on Zellís face making him look adorable, and the hair falling over his eyes made him look sensual. He didnít know what to expect from Zell, but he had known that he had to see him, no matter what the cost to himself at Edeaís hands. He felt lucky that Zell had a room of his own, for he didnít want to reveal himself to the others, just Zell.

Zell blinked his pale eyes, taking a few steps towards Seifer. He stopped directly in front of the other, his breath catching in his throat as he felt the fabric of Seiferís coat brush against his bare upper arm. He reached a pair of shaking fingers out, gently poking at Seiferís chest, testing his solidity. When his fingertips his warm, hard skin, Zell gasped. "FuckÖ."

Seifer smiled sadly, reaching a gloved hand out and brushing some of Zellís corn coloured hair out of his eyes. The locks fell back where they were. "Arenít you happy to see me, Chicken-Wuss?" Seifer asked, running his gloved palm over the bedpost.

Zell didnít even think to protest that dreaded nickname as he gaped at the man before him. He noticed the purpled flesh around Seiferís neck. So, he hadnít gotten away unscathed. "SeiferÖ.?"

"Yes?"

Zell let out a low moan, and punched the taller man square in the chest. "You stupid prick!! What were you thinking going to Timber?! You could have been killed!! We thought that you were executed!"

Seifer grimaced in pain, rubbing the spot, over his heart, where Zell had punched him. He remained silent as Zell ranted.

"You endangered a SeeD mission!! And you scared the shit out of meÖ." Zell felt his body beginning to crumple, and he threw himself against Seifer, holding the longer body tightly against his own. "You scared the shit out of meÖ" Zell repeated, burying his face against Seiferís neck, breathing in the smell of his skin. He moaned, all his hollow pain disappearing, as Seifer reciprocated the embrace, stroking his back in small circular patterns.

Seifer sighed, never feeling so whole in his entire life. Even just holding Zell made all the pain of the past two days disappear, made him feel complete. His utter bliss was only briefly marred as Zellís hands skirted over the pained flesh on his back. He winced, his body stiffening against Zellís.

Zell pulled away slightly. "Are you alright?"

Seifer smiled. "I am nowÖ. Ugh, that sounded so cliché."

Zell smiled. "I thought that you were dead, and IÖ" Zell was silenced as Seifer pressed his lips Zellís parted mouth. Zell gripped the front of Seiferís coat, his mind swimming. Seiferís lips felt cool against his own, and he tasted so good, absence making the embrace all the sweeter.

Seifer pulled back, surprised by Zellís eagerness.

"What?" Zell asked, looking up through his hair into Seiferís eyes.

"Youíre surprisingly eagerÖ."

"You started it!" Zell exclaimed teasingly, nipping at Seiferís chin.

"Well, after what happened yesterdayÖ."

Zell frowned, running his hands up Seiferís back. He frowned deeper when Seifer winced. "Are you sure youíre okay?"

Seifer nodded, breathing deeply. "Iíll live."

"Anyway," Zell murmured, pulling Seifer down on the bed so that the longer body covered his. "I was going to try to talk to you when I got back from my house," Zell interrupted himself by nuzzling against Seiferís throat. "But you were such an ass."

"I know, Iím sorry," Seifer whispered, kissing Zellís earlobe. "Where is everyone?"

"Gone. How did you find me?"

Seifer sighed, resting his cheek on Zellís chest, feeling the gentle heartbeat against his skin. "I was looking out the window, and I saw you with Squall and Rinoa. I sort of overheard you guys, a little."

Zell absently nodded, beginning to remove Seiferís jacket. He wanted to feel more flesh to flesh contact. Zell didnít feel overly sexually aroused, he just wanted to be close to Seifer, to hold him, to be held. Seifer, in response, took his gloves off with his teeth, touching the exposed places of flesh with his open palm. He didnít want this to end, but he knew it would, he knew he would have to go back to being Edeaís lackey again soon.

"What are you doing here?"

Seifer remained silent. He knew that if he told Zell, he would be punished by Edea. "I canít tell you."

"Why?"

"Please, ZellÖ." Seifer sighed, breathing in the smell of Zellís skin and hair. "I canít tell you. And you have to promise not to tell anyone I was hereÖ."

Zell partially sat up, looking down into Seiferís eyes. The endless sky was pleading with him to agree, begging him. The smaller man looked down to Seiferís bruised neck and shoulders. The backs of those powerful shoulders were bruised. Would Seifer be punished if he revealed himself, if Zell revealed him? Zell accidentally brushed his palm across Seiferís back, which caused his companion to groan into Zellís chest.

"SeiferÖ" Zell trailed off, sitting up completely. He knew Seifer wasnít okay. Zell unzipped Seiferís vest, pushing it off his body. He kneeled, peering over Seiferís shoulder at his injured back. The expanse of black ink was mixed with ugly looking bruises, crisscrossed with scars. It looked painful, and it made Zell gasp. "What happened?!"

Seifer sighed, knowing that he couldnít say anything. Instead, he trailed his mouth down the side of Zellís neck.

The smaller blonde craned away. "SeiferÖ?"

"I canít tell you."

Will he get worse than this if he tells me? Zell wondered. "Okay, I wonít ask, and I promise not to tell anyone I saw you."

Seifer smiled, and Zell could see the relief in his eyes. "Okay." Seifer leaned in, planting a gentle kiss on Zellís cheek. "Iím still surprised you havenít thrown me out the window."

Zell sighed, brushing the reddish spot on Seiferís chest where he had hit him. "Earlier, I would have probably done it."

"Earlier?"

"Yeah. I was really angry at you, especially when I found out about Rinoa, but now, thinking about itÖ I was more angry at myself than at you."

"Found out about Rinoa? You mean that we used to go out?"

Zell nodded, laying back on the bed again. Seifer curled up next to him, gently moving his long fingers under the hem of Zellís black tank. "Yeah. When I found out that you had dated a woman after telling me that you were only into guys, I kinda felt used."

"I may have slept with her, but that doesnít mean I liked it."

"Whatís wrong with her? She seems okay."

"Iím not saying sheís horrid or anything. Sheís actually attractive, but sheís just a woman."

Zell snorted. "That was cold."

Seifer shrugged. "Quite frankly, sex with her disgusted me. It wasnít her fault that she didnít have a cock. Besides, even if I was straight, I donít think Rinoa and I would have lasted, anyway."

"Why not?"

"Well, you met her. Sheís nice, but sheís so feminine."

"Yeah, I guess so. Sheís seemed to take a shine to Squall."

"He probably wonít notice, though. Anyway, I need someone who needs me, who needs my companionship, but not my protection. Sheís too much of a damsel in distress. Thatís what I like about you. You can take care of yourself."

Zell closed his eyes, just listening to Seiferís voice, memorizing the texture and tone. His voice was very soothing, yet arousing at the same time. "You know, she told me that you have had feelings for me for a while, or at least thatís what she thought."

Seifer kissed Zell gently. "She was right. I guess I did mention you on a few occasionsÖ."

"I canít believe that I didnít notice it. Well, I guess I was always trying to avoid you."

"Iím sorry Iím always such a prick to you," Seifer whispered, brushing Zellís hair out of his eyes. "You know, I like your hair like this."

Zell sighed. "Well, there are ways you can make it up to meÖ" He planted some butterfly kisses on Seiferís bruised shoulder. "You know, she didnít know that you were afraid of her dog."

"Oh, yeah, AngeloÖ Wait, how did you know I was afraid of dogs? I never told anyone."

"I donít know. I guess I noticed it, and I knew that you were attacked when you were a kid."

Seifer made an impressed noise in the back of his throat. "You amaze me."

Zell smiled, closing his eyes blissfully as Seiferís fingers reached his nipples. "I aim to pleaseÖ"

Seifer nuzzled Zellís throat. "I donít think I can stay longÖ"

Zell shrugged, pulling Seiferís face up to meet his own. "A little time is better than no time, right?" He captured Seiferís mouth with his, silencing any response from the other. Zell made a mewing noise in the back of his throat as Seiferís tongue wound around his own. The kisses were so sweet, and Seifer tasted like his own personal ambrosia. Both men treated it like it was their first kiss, since they had been so intoxicated for the other one. Each of their tongues thoroughly explored the open mouths before them, burning the taste of each other into their senses. As they kissed, Zell wound his arms around Seiferís neck, careful not to touch his tender back.

Zell felt Seifer begin to pull his mouth away, and he used his teeth to keep the scarred blondeís mouth within range of his own, biting down on Seiferís kiss-bruised lower lip. Seifer pulled away, smiling wickedly at the man beneath him. "Zell."

Zell sighed, liking the amorous way that Seifer said his name. Zell actually hadnít known how he would react to Seifer if he had gotten a chance to see him again, and his own reaction surprised him. He couldnít believe that he was so eager to kiss Seifer, to feel Seiferís hands on his body, to know that Seifer wanted him. And, despite all his previous mental protests, he knew that he wanted Seifer, too. He sighed as the man on top of him kissed a lazy trail down his throat, seemingly more content with just kissing and cuddling than with any sort of sexual advances. Zell cupped Seiferís face between his open palms, tilting his head up to meet Zellís eyes. He knew that Seifer was probably going to leave soon, to go off to wherever he had been and leave Zell again. Zell sighed sadly, pressing his forehead to Seiferís. "Will you at least stay the night?"

Seifer gently kissed Zell. "You want me to?"

"More than anything."

The scarred blonde sighed, curling his sore body up beside Zellís, content in just holding him, for he didnít know when the next time he would be able to would be. Edea was very unpredictable, and Seifer didnít know what she would do to him.. Or Zell for that matter, if he disobeyed her, or even looked at her the wrong way. He closed his eyes, Zellís heartbeat lulling him into a feeling of comfort that he hadnít felt for a long time.

After a few minutes of blissful silence, Seifer whispered, "Iím sorry."

"For what?" Zell asked, tucking his bangs behind his ears.

"That Iíll have to leave. All I ever seem to do is hurt you."

Zell raised his eyebrows, holding his body tighter to Seiferís. "Whereís this coming from? This doesnít sound like youÖ."

Seifer just sighed in response, making small circles with his open palm on Zellís taut stomach. He didnít feel like talking anymore, and pressed his lips firmly to Zellís, silencing any more conversation. As Seiferís eager lips teased and caressed Zellís, he felt a deep tension set somewhere within. He couldnít pinpoint where it was coming from, but it felt horrible. It also felt unnatural, and in an instant, Seifer knew it was Edea, or whatever force controlled his dark Mistress. He pushed the soulful pain away, wanting to bathe in the heavenly warmth that exuded from Zell. The strange feeling ebbed away, leaving Seifer with only the pleasure of having Zellís body stretched out next to him. Seifer cleared his mind of any negative thoughts as his companionís nimble fingers ran down his chest, wanting to enjoy what he felt would be his last moments of blissful freedom.

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