By Scarlet Fever
Seifer sighed, staring out into the night. Tonight had certainly been a night to remember. He had never had so many questions in his entire life. Who was Xerampelinae, and how did Edea know her? Where had that electrical, magical energy come from? Who had Edea been staring at? Why had he thought of Lillith? He sighed again, his whole body echoing. He suddenly felt very tired. Being totally in the dark was very taxing on one’s body.
When Seifer heard the gentle call of his name from a breathy female voice, he turned around quickly, finding it hard to keep the disappointment off his face when his eyes met the dark coffee gaze of Rinoa. He was hoping to be staring in the golden eyes of Edea, his former Mistress. "Oh, Rinoa…."
"Well, that was awfully rude…"
Seifer just waved his hand, turning around once more, resting his forearms on the railing as he looked into the dark night again. "I guess I was hoping it would be someone else…"
"Zell?" Rinoa asked, standing beside Seifer, looking into the dark, as if she was looking at the same thing as he was. She strained her eyes, trying to see what was out there, what was hiding in the dark that was so interesting. She couldn’t see anything.
Seifer just shook his head, not really wanting to discuss this with Rinoa. "Tell me more about the woman in Timber…."
Rinoa sighed tiredly. "What does it matter? She was probably just a figment of my imagination. Well, that’s what Squall thinks, anyway…."
"Do you always take into consideration what Squall thinks?"
Rinoa cocked her head, the jagged layers of her black hair falling over her pale cheek. "What exactly is that supposed to mean?" She frowned. "Don’t you always take into consideration what Zell thinks?"
"Yes, but I don’t let it consume me. I still have a working brain, and can make my own decisions. Maybe that’s why you and Squall are having problems. You aren’t Siamese Twins. You are two separate entities, and catching Squall in an octopus grip isn’t going to make him stay…."
Rinoa bit her bottom lip, frowning further. "Squall doesn’t give two shits about me…."
"That’s not true. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t be considering your feelings now… Sparing them…."
"You think he’s sparing my feelings?"
Seifer remained silent, his elegant jaw set. Where was Edea? It was funny. Only a day ago, he didn’t want to be anywhere near the woman who had brainwashed him, let half the Galbadian Army rape him, and utterly used him, but now, now that he had so many questions about the life he led before the Orphanage, before her, Edea was gone, and he wanted to see her.
He looked over as Rinoa snapped her fingers. "Oh, what?"
"You’re not even listening. You know, you and Squall are so much alike."
"And you haven’t changed."
"What’s that supposed to mean….?"
"Doesn’t this argument sound familiar?! I think we had the exact same one over and over again years ago."
"But you’re gay… That was different."
"Maybe Squall’s gay, too…."
Rinoa was not amused. "Shut up."
"I think you purposely pick men that you clash with. You know, you can’t change a person. Except yourself."
"You’re being very cold."
"I don’t mean to be. I have a lot on my mind."
"I guess….. I just don’t feel very talkative today."
"I wish that Squall and me were like you and Zell…."
Seifer smiled distantly, actual happiness passing his elegant face. His whole body ran warm at the thought of the blonde martial artist. He wondered if he would ever get over the initial lust he still felt for Zell. It had been four years, and it still felt it intensely. "It takes work…" Seifer mused.
"Do you think.. You know… we could have ever worked out?"
Seifer gave Rinoa a look like she had just had an oral bowel movement. "What the fuck are you saying?"
"Maybe you’re not really gay, and you just haven’t found the right woman….."
Seifer would have given her the dirtiest look he could pull out of his bag, but instead, his face was contorted in surprise when Rinoa’s body brushed against his own. She stood on her tiptoes and pressed her heart-shaped lips to Seifer’s slack mouth, pushing her tongue into his mouth.
What the fuck is she doing??!! Seifer mentally cried, feeling slightly ill. Not just because he was kissing a woman, but because he was kissing anyone other than Zell. He could almost feel the acidic bile rising to the tip of his tongue. He wondered if Rinoa could taste it just as strong as he could, the caustic taste burning her mouth as well as his.
The loathsome kiss was stopped by the low sound of laughter. Rinoa broke away, looking over in shock to the doorway to the balcony. Two figures stood on the edge of the dark night, silhouetted by the lights behind them. The laughter sounded angry and amused at the same time. It was Squall’s laughter. It was strange to hear Squall laugh anyway, but this laugh was shocking.
"Showing your true face, pig?" Squall asked.
Seifer opened his mouth to protest, to deny enjoying, starting the kiss. To him, it tasted fake, vile, contrived. And, it tasted wrong. Anyone but Zell tasted wrong. The scarred blonde then realized that Squall wasn’t talking to him, but rather, talking to his girlfriend.
"Squall…I…." Rinoa looked sheepish, looking from Squall, to Seifer, to the third person. Zell. "It’s not what you think…."
"Well, what I think is that you’re kissing a gay man. Fuck… I wonder who started it…" Squall placed a long, gloved finger to his chin, stepping out onto the balcony, the cool night breeze ruffling his shaggy hair. His voice seeped sarcasm, while his eyes were blazing with triumph. "You think you’re so fucking great, don’t you?"
Seifer just looked over to Zell, who had an angry look on his cute face. Was Zell angry with him? He hoped not. He needed Zell, needed his support, needed his companionship, needed his love. Zell’s icy gaze met Seifer’s, and it was hard to read.
"Squall, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. You’ve been ignoring me, and I was lonely…."
"Shut up. I’m through with your excuses…."
Rinoa clutched her fists at her sides. "Yeah, well, Seifer’s a better kisser than you are. And a better fuck, too!"
Zell took his breath in sharply, like he had been slapped. He quickly turned on his heel, going back into the building.
"Zell…." Seifer called, glaring at Rinoa before he followed his huffing lover. "What, you weren’t happy with just ruining yours and Squall’s relationship?" He hissed.
Squall crossed his arms over the navy velvet of his coat, the pleased, smug smirk plastered all over his face. "You know, I’ve been looking for a way to break it off with you… Thank you, my dear… You’ve done it for me…."
Rinoa looked down at her feet. She didn’t know why she had kissed Seifer. It was just something that sort of… happened. She had been a fool.. Again. It seemed that she was always playing the fool when it came to men. Why did she have to choose the ones that were so hard? The gay and frigid…. Maybe she had kissed Seifer because she also wanted a way to end it with Squall. And Seifer had been there. Would she have kissed Zell if it had been him? Or Irvine? Or Raijin? She wasn’t sure. Despite the embarrassment she felt for kissing Seifer, and the regret for causing Zell grief, she felt relief. It was actually liberating to fight with Squall, to hear what he really had to say, to say what she wanted to. "Yeah, well, you’re dead below the waist. You don’t seem to have any libido at all. You’re more suited for a corpse.. The walking dead….."
"I don’t have a libido?" Squall asked, surprisingly calm. He laughed loudly. "Maybe I just don’t get turned on by dead fish…."
Rinoa gasped, feeling totally dirty and insulted. "You’re such a prick…"
"Oh, shut your ugly face. Just shut the fuck up!" Squall smiled. "I’ve wanted to tell you to shut the fuck up for a long time, you scabby whore."
Rinoa felt tears come to her eyes, pricking at her lashes. Maybe it was better that her and Squall were breaking up, but did he have to be so cold? Well, cold is what Squall Leonhart knew, cold is what Squall Leonhart was. She was a fool to think that she could have changed him. A fool to think she could have changed Seifer. She felt like the biggest fool in the world.
Squall snorted. "Oh, please, don’t cry those crocodile tears. You think I’m being hurtful, don’t you? Well, I think you’ve been nothing but hurtful for our whole relationship. Do you know how stifling it is not to be able to be yourself, to have any of your originality stripped away to be molded into something that’s only an ideal? I’m not your puppet, not your clay to mold whichever way you desire…."
Rinoa couldn’t take anymore, and pushed past her now former boyfriend, her bony shoulder hitting him in the chest, hard. She just wanted to be away from him, from his hateful words, from her own foolishness, her own failure. She headed straight for her room in the Garden, knowing that it was time to change more than the people around her.
"Zell!" Seifer called, jogging to catch up with his boyfriend. His long legs made the task easier. "Zell…."
Zell turned to look at his lover. Seifer couldn’t read what the smaller man was thinking. "Seifer…." He frowned, looking around. They were now at a side door of the Garden, and since everyone was at the reception, it was deserted. Zell then crumpled against Seifer’s frame, sighing as the taller blonde’s arms encircled his body. "Tell me what you know I want to hear…."
"The kiss made me want to vomit."
Zell smiled against Seifer’s chest. "Good. What the fuck was she thinking?"
"She wasn’t…. Well, not really. She wanted a way out, and I was it. I think she would have kissed anyone out there. I just happened to be there."
Zell kissed Seifer’s cheek. "Let’s go for a walk." He took Seifer’s hand and led him out into the night.
After they had walked for a while along some walking trails, Zell sighed. "I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the painting sooner…."
"Oh, that’s okay. A painting wasn’t high on the priority list, considering all that was going on…. I mean, you had to fight Edea, Adel, Ultimecia, myself… And, I did almost destroy the world…"
Zell squeezed Seifer’s hand. "She looked a lot like you. She had a small pendant on a chain. It was the Cross Sword."
"Really?" Seifer cocked an eyebrow. "I don’t know why I just kind of blurted out Xerampelinae…"
"Did you ask Edea about it?"
"I was going to, after the reception," Seifer replied as they walked along the edge of the woods that bordered both the Fire Cavern and Balamb Garden. "But, I haven’t seen her. She’s probably busy, what with Cid and all…." Seifer looked around. "Hmm, we’re alone…."
Zell smiled, standing on his tiptoes. "We are…." He laughed, biting at Seifer’s lower lip. "Maybe we can... Be alone… for a while, then find Edea."
Seifer gently purred. "Yeah… I need something to counteract the kiss Rinoa gave me."
Zell kissed his lover gently, the tips of their tongues pressed together. After they pulled away, Zell frowned. "Next time I see her, I’m going to ram my foot up her ass…."
"Will you do that to me first?" Seifer asked, nuzzling against Zell.
"Why not?" Zell winked, pushing his fingertips under Seifer’s belt. "I love you."
"I know, and don’t worry about Rinoa stealing me away…."
"I wasn’t worried."
Seifer sighed. "But, you were upset."
Zell pulled away slightly so he could look Seifer in the eye. "Yeah, I was upset. It’s a little distressing to see your lover locking lips with a scumbag like Rinoa…."
"You didn’t think she was that bad before…."
Zell frowned, interrupting Seifer. "Yeah, well, that was before she kissed you…"
"We’ve more than kissed before…."
"Don’t remind me…."
Seifer frowned, his mind wandering off. He began to think of the electricity that had hung in the air, that had crawled over his skin.
"What are you thinking about now?" Zell asked, cocking his head. He knew when something was bothering Seifer, and something was definitely bothering him.
"I don’t know… It’s stupid…"
"Nothing you think is stupid…."
Seifer gave his boyfriend a look. "Oh, really? I can think of a few things…."
"Well, inebriated thoughts don’t count…." Zell crossed his arms. "Tell me."
"I felt something… At the reception. While we were all sitting down, I just felt a presence in the air, kind of like with Ultimecia. It wasn’t the same as her, but similar."
"Why?" Seifer gave Zell a perplexed look.
"I felt something like that, too. It was like someone was casting a Curative Spell on me."
Seifer was rendered speechless for a few moments. "What?"
Zell opened his mouth to answer, but stopped when he heard the sounds of twigs snapping under footsteps. He looked beyond Seifer at a figure who was approaching them. Squall. "Hey, Squall…."
"Hey, guys…." Squall stopped beside Seifer, slightly out of breath. He had a large smile on his face, like Atlas taking the world off his shoulders. "Look, Seifer, I just want to apologize to you for what my stupid ass girlfriend did to you… Well, my ex-girlfriend, now…"
"So, it’s really over," Zell mused, not sounding at all surprised.
"Yes, it’s really over," Squall laughed. "I guess I should thank you, Seifer."
"Well, I’m glad I could be of some help…" Seifer muttered, squeezing Zell’s hand.
After a pause, Squall cocked his head. "I’m interrupting something, aren’t I?" He snickered. "Were you planning on having outdoor sex?"
"Maybe…" Zell muttered, shooting Squall a look.
"Can I join in?"
"What, now that you’re single, you’re going to turn into a slut?" Seifer asked. "That’s not very healthy…"
"Oh, what, it’s not like you guys are a couple of bums I’ve dragged out of a ditch."
Zell laughed, thinking of something witty to reply with, but stopped when he heard a noise in the forest.
"Anyone you fucked at this moment in time would merely be filling the role of revenge against Rinoa…." Seifer muttered. "Well, since Rinoa is the extent of your sexual experience, I can see why you would want to fuck up a storm."
Zell smiled distantly, but his attention was distracted by the noises in the forest. It was getting louder. Like the footsteps of a herd of elephants. "Guys…" He squeezed Seifer’s hand tighter, nervousness coming over him.
"What?" Seifer casually looked over at his boyfriend, wondering why Zell was squeezing his hand so hard. It looked like a gentle grip, but Seifer’s hand felt like it was in an iron vice. The next movement was a blur, like time was stopped and streaked. One instant, Seifer was looking at Zell’s impossibly cute face, and the next, there was a mammoth orange streak. A T-Rexaur. The iron grip on Seifer’s hand was released as the fast moving beast slammed into Zell’s small body.
"Holy Shit!" Squall cried quietly, his body totally frozen. He looked over in Seifer’s direction, giving his old rival a look that was as clear as day. They were both unarmed, and realized it. They both looked over as they heard a crack. The force of the collision between Zell’s body and the hulking dinosaur caused Zell to hit a tree, his body bouncing off the hard bark like a rag doll. His icy blue eyes rolled into the back of his head as he slumped, unconscious. Blood gurgled from between his lips, from between the honey lips that Seifer had kissed a million times over. The crimson fluid, black in the night, splattered everywhere with small droplets.
"Zell!" Seifer tried to scream, but it came out as a hoarse whisper. He couldn’t move, his whole body felt like lead, like he was a marble statue, unmoving from his permanent pedestal. He felt a deep pain curl in his chest as the monster smashed its weight against Zell once more as it thundered through. It’s long, scaly tail whipped out, hitting Zell in the chest, slumping him against the tree again. The T-Rexaur then faced Seifer and Squall, baring its many rows of fangs, its shriek more horrid than any banshee.
"What are we going to do?" Squall hissed, panic lighting up his stormy eyes. "We aren’t armed, and I don’t have any really strong spells junctioned…."
Seifer knew they were fucked. He didn’t have anything junctioned, and he couldn’t fight a T-Rexaur bare-handed, especially in this condition. His heart was beating like mad, thumping against his breastbone, like he was going to have a coronary. He also began to shake. Zell wasn’t moving. "Zell!" His whole body suddenly filled with anger. Anger he hadn’t felt in a long time. He didn’t think that he had ever felt this much anger, concentrated at one thing. He hadn’t even been this angry after being raped so many times. But, he also felt so utterly hopeless. What was he going to do? He couldn’t protect Zell….What was he good for? He couldn’t protect the only thing that had any meaning in his life.
Squall looked over at Seifer, noticing that the blonde was losing control, like he was going to collapse on the ground at any second. Zell looked still, and Squall didn’t know if he was breathing. When he thought that it couldn’t get any worse, he saw a flicker of light. Fire? He wondered. That was all they needed. A fire in the forest. More than just a T-Rexaur would rampage if that happened. But, the light didn’t look like fire. It wasn’t the golden red colour of flame. It was cold, bluish. It flashed again. "What’s that…?"
Seifer growled low in his throat, and made a move to step forward to where Zell was slumped against the cracked trunk of the tree, to where the T-Rexaur was standing. The sad part was that the monster didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It was just the animal’s nature. Maybe it would have made more sense in Seifer’s pain-numbed brain if it had been intentional instead of a horrible accident. And, Seifer also felt partly responsible. Maybe if he had brought Zell back to the reception, this wouldn’t have happened. As he took another step forward, he felt hands on his chest. Squall’s hands. He looked down into Squall’s turbulent eyes, seeing the desperation and conflict.
"No…" Squall regretfully whispered. "If you get hurt, what will we do?! We won’t be able to help Zell if you’re squashed under its foot!"
Seifer let out a cracked moan as a tear slid down his cheek. Weak, helpless. Zell had saved his life so many times before, during Ultimecia’s time, and Seifer couldn’t return the favor to his true love, to the reason his life had any meaning. He gasped as the beast behind then let out a piercing scream of howled agony. The flash that Squall had seen was now engulfing the orange-scaled monster, the blue flame flicking around its limbs and swishing tail.
Squall turned around quickly, shock all over his face. It looked to him as if the dinosaur had spontaneously combusted, the almost magical flames licking his body from some invisible source. The massive weight of the monster thumped to the ground, creating a little earthquake around them. It’s screaming became hoarse, labored as it took its final breaths. Squall couldn’t believe his eyes. That fire was no magic that he had ever seen. Had it really been spontaneous combustion? Whatever he had witnessed, it seemed otherworldly, strange, powerful. He could almost feel the air popping with it. As quickly as it had come, the monster was dead, the only sound in the forest now being the gentle crackling of the dying flames, which gave off no heat, and Seifer’s panted, shaky breathing.
For a few moments, neither man moved. They were just in total shock. To Seifer, an event which probably only took less than a minute took an entire chunk out of his life. The strange flame didn’t register in his brain at all. All he could think about was Zell. Zell……. He immediately broke into a sprint, brushing past the bulk of the T-Rexaur. He briefly noted that the blue fire, which was almost extinguished, gave off no heat. What a strange flame. "Zell…."
He sank to his knees beside his lover, the dirt and leaves pressing moisture into his pants. He touched Zell’s tattoo with his fingertips. Zell’s skin was still warm, but his face had a gray tinge to it. Like a corpse. Seifer’s breath caught in his throat. Like a corpse. The blood that had welled past Zell’s lips was splattered in tiny droplets across his pale cheeks and the front of his coat, marking his chest in drying patches. His still chest…. Zell wasn’t breathing.
"Zell….?" Seifer asked meekly, like a small child, his voice sounding small, a million miles away. "Zell?"
Seifer opened his mouth, but nothing came out. No scream, no moan, no words, no breath. He was stuck. With limbs that felt like they weighed a ton, Seifer wrapped his arms around Zell’s unmoving body, pulling it against his chest. He felt so still, so… dead. Dead? No, it couldn’t be. But, the stillness was unmistakable. Zell wasn’t breathing, and his body was beginning to lose heat. "Zell?"
"Seifer?" Squall whispered. He could tell that Seifer didn’t hear him. He was standing behind his former rival, now a true friend, his heart breaking. This couldn’t be happening….. He reached his hand out, comforting Seifer, or, trying to comfort him by putting his hand on Seifer’s broad shoulder. When he touched the tall blonde’s warm flesh, Squall snatched his hand back as if he were burned. Seifer’s body felt strange, like Squall had slightly been electrocuted. He could still feel the current moving up his arm, tingling a path to his chest.
Seifer couldn’t breathe himself. He would readily give the breaths he was holding back if Zell would breathe. He would give every last drop of blood in his body if Zell only needed a pint. He would give his soul to be with Zell for eternity. Even in his worst nightmares, he had wondered what it would have been like to live without Zell, and now that he knew, he wanted it to go away. Why did this have to happen? He felt Squall’s hand on his shoulder, then felt it being pulled away as fast as it had been put there. He barely noticed. All he noticed was the dull ache in his chest that was taking over his entire body.
Zell, I would give everything to you, for you. You know I would. I would give my life for yours. You can’t die, you can’t leave me… I won’t let you……..Fuck, please… Zell, don’t leave me….. Please…. Seifer continued his mental plea, his useless internal plea. He buried his face in the crook of Zell’s neck, wishing that oblivion would swallow him. Life had no meaning if it felt like this. Zell was all that mattered… All that mattered. Seifer pressed his body as close to Zell’s as he could, a sob working its way out of his muscular chest. Seifer felt so hollow as he began to weep, his tears falling onto Zell’s face, into his hair. He felt hollow, dead, empty. It seemed that Zell had taken Seifer’s life with his own.
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