Hands on experience

BY : Naniris
Category: Final Fantasy VIII > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 708
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VIII, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Title: Hands on experience. Chapter 4: Outed
Pairing: SeiferxZell
Rating: NC-17
Warning: Things happen that qualify for that rating above…*wink* Exposition dump at the end.
Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters, but I do own the story.

As wet dreams go, this one was a realistically titillating and frustratingly goading. And different, especially that. It’s normally hard and fast, straight for the dick, the fuck and the suck; the sensations faint from lack of experience, the climax unsatisfactory and hollow. But this one caught him off guard, going for the unexpected, avoiding the obvious. So slow, it felt like floating in water. Zell could practically feel strong hands gently tease, comfort and stimulate him in ways he hadn’t even thought could feel so good. A wet tongue and soft breath, a rumbling moan, a roaming heat, a faint sweat. All of it felt alien to him, out of his control, yet deliberate in its casualness.

At its most intense, when gentleness rushed into ardent desire and those hands clutched at his hips and that tongue lavished his skin so close to his own need and those teeth nipped and that breath rushed through the slim gaps between him and lips; when he wanted so badly to grab his own rigid cock but knew that letting the thin sheet of sleep slip off would leave him gasping and alone; he seized his slumbering mind and begged it to hold on, to please finish him off itself and not break the spell.

A shaking gasp, distracted kneading, the strong smell of somewhat familiar cum. Zell shuddered in his sleep, moments stretching on too long, his own erection too far gone to ignore its want. His balls were painfully drawn in, more than ready to unleash the heavy load that had build up over what felt like hours. He had to wake up, it’s too much. He struggled to rouse himself, the sleep he held on to was now holding him back. He could faintly feel his arms rise, his eyelids flutter, his soul too detached to tell reality from dream. He could have sworn he felt a head resting on his side, fingers lightly tracing along his hip and thigh. Mixed signals jumbled his voice, the words meaningless, the tone confused. Close; he was close to jumpstarting the system, his nerves tingling in awareness, his senses sharpening, the fog lifting and….

A lick.

A brief flick of tongue across the head and it’s done. The pleasure overwhelming and drawn out, every sense engulfed in white noise and shut down to keep from breaking. Before being submerged once more into dark, noiseless dreams Zell’s eyes scarcely glimpsed a leering phantom, Zell’s ears barely registered a low echoing chuckle and Zell’s skin weakly protested at the quickly retreating mind that there is something really there. Nevertheless, Zell would remember none of that.

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Like with most things, the details eluded Zell and the feelings remained. So an emaciated doppelganger of the earlier erotic trance was inevitable. Also, like with most things, when Zell finds something he likes, he drowns himself in the experience repeatedly and often. So having this feeble sensual play a few hours after the real deal was to be expected. Unlike most cases, Zell doesn’t share anything with Seifer. So rubbing against Seifer with morning wood and moaning his unfettered delight was a first.

Shifting bodies, corporeal warmth one moment, cool air the next. Old sweat mixing with new. Muscles stretching into activity, bones shifting out the kinks. Breath stale, coming out harsh. Hands fumbling into life, hips instinctually rocking. A mind no longer exhausted, awakens to enjoy the full experience. And halts.

“Whoa, whoa, WHOA! STOP!” Zell pushes against at his unexpected bedmate’s chest with one hand and grabs at the intruder near his ass with the other. His crotch only has one mission in life, so it continues to gyrate in abandon before relenting to command late enough to be embarrassing. “Uh…yeah…so, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! I told you that I wasn’t ever going to…are you even listening?”

Seifer looked half-asleep, his disapproving glare undermined by a rim of tired dark. “Chickie, I didn’t start this, you did. And if you woke me just to be a little cocktease, then a mutual hand job is the least of your problems.” Zell only had one hand under control, the other one was being a naughty little devil tracing along his neck in faintly recognizable patterns. It somehow found the blueprint to a weakness Zell had no idea he had, because his lips parted, his eyelids trembled and his dick took advantage at the lapse in judgment to pursue its happiness.

His so-not-wanted, not-enjoyable, completely-unnecessary sexual tormentor replaced his hand with his mouth, placed said hand on a strafing run across his chest and lower back and the newly liberated one squeezed both erections against each other. As they laid side by side, Seifer’s lengthy limbs wrapped around Zell, one arm crushing their chests close, the hand still light, one leg twisted around his own leveraging his legs apart. Both dicks trapped in the middle as they were nearly brutalized by a quicksilver hand coated in precum and heat. A small voice at the back of Zell’s head warned that Seifer was uninhibited and feverish with lust as though a switch was flicked on. And that was off, because Seifer never showed a loss of control before. Wait, that’s not exactly right either, since Seifer is calling the shots by sliding one leg between Zell’s as he shifted himself on top and moving that impish hand to prod at his puckered entrance.

But Seifer’s breathing is ragged and shallow, interspaced by ‘fuck’s and ‘you want this’. When Zell grabbed at his ass to gain leverage against the sensual assault on his senses, and also because he hadn’t before, Seifer groaned approvingly and increased his frenetic pace losing any grace he retained so far. Zell can feel as Seifer’s ass jerks spasmodically whenever he manages to wring out a moan, the smaller the better. The bully’s self-control is weak. How in Ifrit’s lustful rage is that even possible? This isn’t the predator from before. He was fallible and, dare Zell think it, human. Zell couldn’t tell how he felt about that, but he was sure the tiredness in the bully’s eyes explained it all. And surely that was all it was, right?

The adventurous finger found its mark and tried squirming in, but in its dryness doused Zell’s flames. He just wasn’t in the mood to go through all the preparation again, and hey! Never again, hello?! Now’s not the time to be fickle, but if only Seifer would just spread that drop of his precum under the ridge of Zell’s dick-head. That’d be sexy hot. Wait, nonononoNO! Principles and he’s SEIFER, curse on all things Zell. “Stop…oh, fuck… geh… stop that. Not gonna happen.”

The hand between them squeezed menacingly as the swaying stilled “Stopping is what’s not going to happen. Your little flip-flopping is getting old fast, so finish what you started and shut up about it.” His lips immediately started contradicting his cruel words and hands by planting soft kisses along Zell’s neck, trailing upwards and settling by his ears, tickling away his apprehensions one moment and unsettling him the next. It felt too effective, well-planned and out-of-the-blue. If Zell could just corral his thoughts for more than three seconds, then he was sure he could figure this out and repel the onslaught. But his little head was having too much fun, so it drained what little blood was left from the big one and came unexpectedly. Zell’s body tensed in a wave that started at his groin and spread out. His back arched, his toes curled, his fingernails scratched, his teeth gritted, his nostrils flared, his eyes shut the world out and his hair would have stood straight out if possible.

Seifer’s breath shuddered as his hands and mouth switched roles. Teeth replaced lips, nearly breaking the skin at the nook between shoulder and neck, re-flaring the days-old mark now with added grooves. The fingers at Zell’s back relented and soothed the flesh as the hand in front relaxed, no longer constricting movement, and allowed both cocks to sensually comfort each other after the whole ordeal. Seifer had yet to cum, but it was obvious he was close.

Zell’s head finally cleared; sleep and sexual desire sated. He took notice of where he was and how he ended up here. Yesterday was a maze of half-remembered moments and constant mental exhaustion with flare-ups of annoyance and unease towards the end. With a panicky rush, he remembered the jacket, the threat, the trap which he knowingly let himself be lured in, the fact that he couldn’t remember undressing and agreeing to sleep here. Right then, the closest that Zell had ever come to feeling real hatred bubbled up and burst through his mouth. “Get the fuck off me!” His despicable harasser chuckled at that too lost in the pursuit of his own satisfaction to hear the bite in the words.

So Zell felt no regret when he rapidly curled his legs between them, uncaring for his treasonous member, and kicked out hard. Seifer was unprepared for this level of struggle and tumbled off the bed, rolled once and smacked against a tilted chair, one leg of it digging painfully into his lower back. Seifer clutched at his back as his muscles followed mindless intense training to pull him back up and ready a counterattack, but Zell was quicker and twisted Seifer’s right arm behind him. He leveraged Seifer back to the ground and placed a bare foot against the back of his neck. “Stay down or I’ll dislocate it!”

The prone blonde glanced sideways at Zell and smirked with an air of superiority, his eye alight with feral expectation. The bastard was enjoying this too and that was more maddening than anything else. He couldn’t even respect that Zell was ready, willing and more than capable to do heavy bodily harm. He wouldn’t have the decency to be intimidated or at the very least taken aback. Zell maneuvered the arm into a more painful position and pressed down harder with his foot. “You had no right to take me to your bed!”

Seifer sighed tiredly. “I didn’t fuck you, did I? If I had my way, your ass would be sore and stretched for days.” He fixed his visible eye on Zell’s face as well as he could and looked like he dared Zell to challenge him on that. “You fell asleep after I was kind enough to feed you and help you out, so I just made sure you were comfortable and had a good night’s sleep.” Seifer’s grin gave up on the pretense of looking innocent and went straight for a look that telegraphed that that’s not all, Zell knows and he knows that that’s not all. But Zell’ll never prove it and he’ll never admit it.

A flicker of murderous intent crossed Zell’s mind, but fizzled out just as quickly. It just wasn’t worth it. Instead, in quick succession he pulled the arm to leave it sore, released the trapped neck and switched feet to kick Seifer on the stomach to leave him breathless. “Don’t ever approach me again. I swear to you, next time there’ll be no mercy.” Zell scanned the room for his things, and saw the time.

Only half-an-hour before his first class and he’ll be damned if he was going to let anything Seifer did mess with the rest of his life from then on. He quickly slid his pants up unbuttoned, gave up his socks as MIA and grabbed his shirt and shoes. His bag and all its contents slung over haphazardly over one shoulder. He hadn’t found his jacket yet, but a flash of red steered him to look behind the door on which it had hung all this time and Zell had thought too obvious to be there. A muttered curse later and Zell glanced back at the bully, already getting on his knees, his prominent erection fiercely red and throbbing. Feeling the need to give one last declaration of sexual emancipation, Zell opened the door leading outside and stated firmly. “This is the last time that one vile Seifer Almasy is never going to fuck around with one Zell Dincht.” He shut the door feeling better already.

“Zell?”

And that came crashing down.

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Running away seemed like the only option, really. Obviously, a blatant monster of a hickie, disheveled clothes, drying cum on his chest and smelling like a dorm’s porn mag right outside the well-known living space of the leader of the Disciplinary Committee is bad. Shouting for anyone skipping breakfast, waking up late or just hanging around confirmation that, yes, that Seifer and that Zell was worse. Having the sole eyewitness present being a flamingly heterosexual and unabashed gossip of a close friend was a mix of good and really, really bad luck.

Lou wasn’t a bad guy. Just a little off and unpredictable. He was part of the Covert Intelligence Gathering and Armed Retribution training program of which he insisted on miming a lit cigar whenever talking about it. In a few words, a spy-slash-assassin. At the academy, he was always called Lucas; he always wore the uniform, pressed clean and straight; his built fit, but not overly athletic, his hair and eyes a common dark brown, his face smooth, featureless and easy to forget; his body language mundane, his speech commonplace and his thoughts contemporary and all status quo. All part of the cover he was trained and forced into as far back as he remembered.

Nonetheless, he fought tooth and nail for the lizard tattoo on his left pec making a case that being too inconspicuous is more suspicious than a tiny bit of ink. His ideas and opinions varying wildly dependant of his mood, he had chided Zell for getting the facial tattoo stating that all they had to do was draw a smiley face with squiggles on the left side to identify him. When they snuck off to party out, his instructors adamant that he shouldn’t be seen with other SeeD hopefuls for fear of compromising a mission later on, he persisted on being called Lou. Lucas was his Garden name, Lou was his party name, and no-one was completely sure which the alter ego was. Outside of his scripted role, he spiked his hair, added some temporary red highlights and flirted with anything female with a pulse. His type of girl was simply ‘puts-out’.

Speaking of girls, he even got his tongue pierced swearing that it drives them mad and managed to keep that bit of info hidden from his handlers so far. He’s bet that he’ll make it all the way till graduation during which he’ll stick out his tongue since technically they couldn’t wash him out of the program then. Still Zell and the others joshed that a piercing was a stupid idea when he got into a fight, that since he refuses to take it out given that it’s a bitch to reopen the hole, he’ll eventually end up splitting his tongue. Lucas always grins ear to ear at that, insisting it’s a win-win situation. Forked tongues also drove the girls crazy.

And he had dirt on everybody. Claimed it was just practice for the real deal later, but if truth be told he just liked to corner his friends and ask if they had heard the latest news. Lucas would tell his friends in whispers, Lou would make a show of it and reenact the whole thing. And Zell was sure that one of them rushed to their other buddies and let them know that Zell was a masochistic little bottom who liked showing off his Daddy’s handiwork in the communal hallway. And a coward that just ran to his room and locked himself in.

He felt gross and sticky. Deciding that instead of dwelling on his social suicide he’d rather handle what he could fix. What he really wanted was a hot shower, a ton of soap and a punching bag, but he settled for washing off in the kitchenette and slamming his fist against the countertop whenever his anxiety welled up too much. Angry hot tears brimmed in his eyes but he willed them still. Couldn’t let that dam break yet.

He wasn’t in a hurry. His first class could be swept away by Leviathan for all he cared. As he got dressed, he saw his crumpled jacket on the floor and wanted to rip it to shreds. But Ma Dincht had it specially ordered from Galbadia since she knew that Zell liked outrageous styles and Balamb was a little too sleepy-beach-town to find it there. It was his birthday present, a special gift for her only boy. And that shattered whatever reserve he had left as he felt his cheeks moisten. She was so good to him and expected nothing in return, but he saw at how she brightened right up whenever a neighbor had a kid or even more so, a grandkid. Even that spoiled little brat from around the corner would light up her day.

He was the stopgap of the Dincht bloodline and he didn’t want it to die out, but he was a little too obsessed with male bits and the fun to be had with them and couldn’t fathom having sex with a woman, much less have a family with her. He just planned on dealing with that later, either by getting over it and committing to a woman. Or telling his Ma, by the time he’s forty, the truth. Or both.

If word spread around the academy then she’d find out. Too many cadets came from Balamb families and he was well-known in their town. “Nothing more than a fuckin’ disappointment. It’s bad enough that she’ll find out, but by the time it gets too her, they’ll tell her I was in bondage gear.” He was about ready to get a full-on sulk going, and later make a phone call to break the news before anyone else did, when someone knocked at the door.

“I know you’re in there Zell. Open up. We have to talk.” Lou’s voiced was muffled, but the worry carried through. The troubled fighter wiped at his face and slapped at his cheeks to get a bit of control back. He had to own up to it. No matter how much of an arrogant asswipe Seifer was and continues to be, he didn’t force this on Zell, he hadn’t made Zell throw caution to the wind and go for the cheap hit at the end. So he took a deep breath, straightened out his back, swallowed the excess saliva brought on by panic and opened the door.

Lou rushed in and closed the door behind him, then placed his hands on both sides of the surprised blonde’s face. “Dude, are you okay? What happened back there? Did that prick hurt you? Shit, you’ve been crying. Listen man, we can get a group together and throttle his ass, don’t worry.”

Zell was flabbergasted by the questions since he expected accusations and ridicule. “Waitwaitwait, start over. What do you mean, man?”

Lou backed up a little and started on what happened from his point of view. “Man, I mean, one second I’m walking down the hallway and the next you’re standing there half-naked shouting at Seifer.” He moved his hand through his hair as he recalled the scene. “I was about to run after you when that dimwit opened the door and casually waved at me. Yes, fucking waved. With a fucking hard on and stinking of sex. And the room was a mess and I could see bruises showing up all over him.” He looked straight into Zell’s eyes, remorseful. “I thought he finally did it. Me and the guys always joked behind your back that what he really wanted was to fuck you. And even though we never backed you up when he got in your face, we always thought that you’d be fine, just have your feathers ruffled is all. Man, you’re the best martial artist this place has.”

He placed his hands on Zell’s shoulders and squeezed. “Last night, I told Seifer that you were in the library. We had a running bet as to how long it would take before you’d give that ass a real beat down and I wanted to pad the odds in my favor.” He hugged Zell close. “I can’t ever make up for this. I knew you were exhausted and I still led that monster right to you. I’m sorry, man, I’m so sorry.”

Flooded by all the new revelations of his friends’ hidden side, Zell felt angry, flattered and guilty all at once. But having Lou clutching him in regret and sorrow made him just want to come out with the truth. “He didn’t rape me.”

His friend wasn’t getting it. “No, man, I get it, you got him off before he could do the deed, but he still tried and that shit still gets to people. It shouldn’t have gotten that close in the first place.”

“No, it’s not that. He didn’t…technically try to rape me either.” Zell felt his friend’s arms loosen as dawning realization set in. “We…we sort of…kinda…mess around. I actually…hurt him a lot more…at least physically. Since he’s still an asshole and all. While we, you know, mess around. But that’s the last of it, I cut him off.” There, he admitted it. He won’t be able to hide his sexuality behind blurry consent guidelines.

Lou held him at arm’s length, his attitude doing a one-eighty. “Eww. Why Seifer? You can do so much better than that.”

“Huh?”

Placing a finger against his chin, Lou reflected on the answer himself. “Is it the looks? You have to learn that looks aren’t everything. He’s so not worth it, so why give him the satisfaction of getting you?”

“Wha?”

He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a little black book. “If all you want is sex, I got the numbers of at least a dozen men that I think are your type. All of them will treat you like a prince compared to that neanderthal.”

Zell cocked an eyebrow and gave Lou a once-over, re-thinking about a lot of his assumptions. “Wait, aren’t you straight?”

“Dude, free drinks for a little flirting? I’m there. Anyway, I know one guy that with dyed hair could be Seifer’s identical twin.” Lou started to go down his list of possible candidates, but Zell was hardly paying attention. All of the impeding drama that he expected from someone knowing his true allegiances in the sexual arena wasn’t going down. It wasn’t even addressed, a complete non-issue, and he needed better closure than that.

Zell held his hands up and waved them in front of the would-be spy. “Lou, hey Lou, shut up for one second. You don’t have a problem with finding out I’m gay?”

Lou’s eyebrows shot up incredulously. “Find out? I already knew. I thought you knew that I knew.”

Well this was news to Zell’s ears. “How would I know that you knew, if you never told me that you knew what you know? Who else knows what you know and thinks I know? And how do you know?”

After placing his right hand next to his face, the fingers like a pincer, except for the pinky which stood straight up, he slightly shook his hand. “To answer your last question first, CIGAR training plus duh! We’re your friends. Everyone in our little gang knows and thinks you know that they know.” He rolled his hand forth. “Some acquaintances have inklings but still think that you know that they might know. And then there’s a couple of girls crushing on you that know and thought you knew that they know, but they don’t care and rather act like they don’t know at all.”

Zell bit at his lip and worried it red. “How widespread is it?

A roll of the eyes and a puff of air towards a strayed lock of hair met Zell’s fret. “You’re talking like it’s a pandemic. Most people aren’t sure and don’t care. Listen, the reason none of us has ever talked about it is because you seem so uncomfortable around the topic. So why would we push you about it, eh?” He quirked his mouth, flattened his eyebrows and hunched his shoulders up. “Watcannachudo?”

The blonde sat down on his bed and raked his fingers through his ungelled hair. “I thought that people wouldn’t like me, that they’d stop being my friend or worse.”

Lou shrugged unworriedly. “Well, a generation or two ago it was a bigger deal with the Sorceress war decimating populations, but so what? Here in Garden we have to rely on each other to keep our lives and complete our missions. You’re competent, a team-player and resourceful. And friendly as fuck.” He sat down next to Zell and placed a hand to the back of his neck. “Why lose that over a silly little thing like what turns you on? I think you have some sort of persecution complex, maybe even a reverse phobia going on.”

Zell glanced up, all serious and accusing. Feeling a hundred times better. “Are you saying I’m crazy?

The hand playfully smacked him upside his head. “No, I’m saying that you’re a naturally extroverted person and that keeping a secret is unbalancing your chi or something.” Lou placed the hand on his own chest and shifted to face Zell. “Look, I know it’s not my place to tell other people’s private business.”

“Puh-lease, you expect me to believe that?.” Zell rested his head on his hand and cocked it sideways.

Crossing his arms and looking nonplussed, Lou decided that a little education needed to take place. “Okay, sure I gossip, but you know that my instructors must be aware of that. The reason why I haven’t been severely reprimanded is because I keep the really good stuff to myself and share so much inconsequential bullshit that it’s a good cover to keep the real secrets safe.” He uncrossed them since he made his point and instead extended his hands in Zell’s direction. “That’s beside the point. Speaking for everyone in our gang, you’re our friend and when you feel ready to tell anyone, we got your back. Till then we’ll have fun, hang out and rely on you to kill the big bad monsters too tough for the rest of us.”

“Ok, part of me still feels like I shouldn’t lower my guard down, but… it helps. What you’re saying helps a lot. Thanks, man.” Zell patted his friend’s knee. “So you haven’t told anyone about what happened today?”

“People think that it was the usual, so no biggie if you don’t want anyone to know you got involved with scum like him. I’m not going to tell anyone. That might lead to giving out details like the fact that he’s bigger than me. Dude, how the hell did you take that monster cock anyway?! Wait, don’t tell me! Ignorance is bliss.” He covered his ears and scrunched up his eyes. Zell had a suspicion that Lou ramped up humorous over-reacting to lighten up a topic and get through it quickly. However, he finally had someone to confide in and he desperately needed an outlet.

“It’s not that simple. You got time?” Zell looked at him sideways, trying to keep his tone casual enough that if Lou wanted to opt out, he wouldn’t feel obligated to hear the whole mess.

Leaning back and resting on his elbows, Lou gave a conspirational wink “I’m cutting the same class you are, so yeah.”

The tattooed confessor crossed his legs unto the bed and started his tale of new experiences and bad decisions. “This all started four days ago, gods it feels like years...”

Lou reacted to every scenario, sharing in the anger, the mortification, the laughter and self-deprecation, paving the way for more open admission. Asking questions when Zell’s embarrassment made him gloss over the important parts, letting it slide when his hurt was too fresh. Zell didn’t name names, but this CIGAR trainee could guess from the handful of candidates that Seifer has gotten his tentacles into most of the combat elite strata of the academy.

After nearly an hour later, Zell was admitting more to himself than he was to his friend. “… but it’s not just sex. It’s more like sparring and no matter what I do he acts as though he won. This is the second time I’ve left before he finished and he doesn’t care because he made me cum. As if he forced me to admit that I like it, that I like doing it with him. And it’s true, kinda. When I’m in the moment, even when I think, ‘hey this guy’s a bully’ I get turned on not just because he’s a guy, but also a…a challenge.”

A shrug and a thought from Lou. “Maybe it is sparring. There hasn’t been a sanctioned match between the two of you. Techniques are two different; it would be unbalanced, advanced combat training starts after completion of basic training, yadda yadda yadda. Both of you have been itching to prove something since the second you laid eyes on each other.”

Zell acknowledged it and grumped anyway. “Knowing that doesn’t change the fact that Seifer will try to corner me again and if I’m horny and stupid enough, I’ll willingly ‘fall’ into his trap. Ever since I got my cherry popped, it’s like my dick has a mind of its own and…

“Hold on, Seifer’s your first?!” Lou had somehow managed to miss that part from before.

“Eh, I messed around a little before.” Zell scratched at his temple. He’d heard his friends’ bullshit about their sexual prowess a bunch of times, and knew the game well enough to not come off as a virgin. He just never gave any details before. “Just a couple of blowjobs, but nothing close to the intensity I had with him. And, yes, he’s first for a lot of things, but if I try hard enough, he’ll just be a nameless body, right?”

“I don’t know, man. Firsts tend to stick with you. If what’s most appealing is getting a chance to kick his ass, then maybe you should take it to the next level and really brawl it out.” Lou sat up straight, his face adamant. His posture less laidback and more focused. “If you absolutely dominate him on the battlefield, then he’ll know you’re a force to be reckoned with and you’ll know, on every level, that you’re better than him. Hence, he’s not a challenge, hence he’s not that attractive anymore, hence you won’t go along with his games.”

“Heh heh, you saw him today.” He said it proudly.

“No, I mean a real clash. The kind where there’s one last man standing and heavy healing potions have to get involved.” Lucas was unyielding on this. “Today was more like a hit and run. You have to watch your back. You can beat him one-on-one, you’re faster, stronger and can dodge that gunblade of his easily.”

Zell snorted and waved his hand in front of his face. “It’s not that serious. I mean, doing that? Starting a fight that hard without official approval and supervision could get me kicked out if I’m caught. What if I kill him or he maims me? That’s what we’re training for, but until we prove we have sufficient self-control, we can’t practice our full potential on each other.”

Lucas looked at him grimly. “Maybe you didn’t read between the lines of what you just told me, but you must understand this. That bastard is a juvenile cocksure predator and he’s hungering for a real vigorous fight and no one else near his level is even close to indulging him except for you. Add to that mutually violent, full-body contact sex with no need to physically hold back and you’re just too good to be true.”

“Hey, hey! Hold up! Are you trying to scare me?!” He tried to say it mockingly, but the idea had actually aroused him. He had tried to cross his legs to hide it; nonetheless, Lucas had noticed and pointed at it.

“I’m not judging you. It’s not wrong or right, it just is.” Lucas placed a firm hand on top of Zell’s head. “And if Seifer wasn’t an asshat and all-around bag of hot air, I’d say go for it. But he’s a douche and you’re better than him. So whenever he comes up to you and proposes a fight, I’m 99% sure he will, kick his ass then leave him there. We’ll sneak out and I’ll show you some real men.”

“You’re being way more passionate about this than me.” Zell good-naturedly punched at the hand mussing his hair, knocking it off.

Lucas gazed at the corner of the room, then back at the blonde’s face. “Well, I had my heart ripped out for a while there when I inadvertently sold out a friend for the slight possibility of a little spending money.”

“I told you that…” Zell shrugged absently, harboring no hard feelings.

Not taking the easy way out, Lucas wanted to make up for it. “Shush, you. Now when you got a time and place to rearrange his face, you come get me and I’ll referee.”

“But if it’s an all out…?” Zell wasn’t really planning on having anyone else around, since it felt…well…too intimate of a match for spectators.

“Have you seen him fight? Man plays dirty.” Lucas lips curled sardonically. The posture more relaxed and fingers reanimating.

“Okay, okay, since you’re so sure of everything.” Zell felt emotional exhausted by this point and wanted to move on. He could think about it more later.

A loud clap echoed in the room to signal a done deal. Lou leaned in and stage-whispered excitedly. “Well, now that that’s settled, some news from me. I have a steady girlfriend. I know, shocking right? She even studies right in this Garden. Incredibly smart, currently mastering three guardian forces. AT ONCE. A petite little thing, with the most beautiful doe eyes. Her upper, and lower!, lips look like a heart when swollen, it’s adorable…”

“Eh, isn’t that a bit…private?” Zell felt stunned at the drastic change of topic and tone.

Lou waved a hand absentmindedly and dismissed the interruption. “Oh, she’s an exhibitionist vixen. And it’s comforting to think about her. I have the image of you and Seifer doing the nasty in my head. The least you can do is let me talk about my sweetheart. Speaking of sweet, she’s also a gusher and it takes nothing to get her going. Why when I…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lou accompanied Zell to get a real shower and some breakfast and yammered the entire way. It was the first time that they had ever really talked by themselves. In fact, the young balambian didn’t have any close friends, not even childhood ones. The group he hanged out with the most over the last couple of years just drifted together out of similarities. They liked to fight, liked to party, were extroverted, nice and loud. Zell simply stood out the most because he was allowed to dress outside of uniform, wear his hair however he wanted and get away with facial graffiti. A perk for being at the top of his combat specialty.

Now he realized that he assumed more often than not about his friends than what he actually knew about them. And that was going to change. “Hey man, at lunch, could you gather everyone up? I’m going to come clean.”

Lou, stopped in his tracks, raised his hands up chest level, palms out. “Whoa-ho, really? Even Scumbag McBully?”

“No, no, no, not that clean. Just gonna air out my being gay and they knowing it”. Zell twirled half-way and strutted backwards to see Lou and keep walking. “Also because there are a lot of things I think I know and it’s really just me making shit up.”

“Yeah, I get your meaning. But why don’t you come with me to do it now?” Lou quickly ran up and placed a hand on Zell’s shoulder as the latter hefted his bag up.

“I have my next class coming up, with Instructor Trepe, and she gave me a second chance with some homework. I’d be a jerk to blow off her class.” He checked for the fifth time that morning that he had all of the pages on him and presentable.

Moving in for a conspirational whisper, his friend playfully chided him “I heard that after a third strike she doles out corporeal punishment with that bit of leather whip she has. Rarrrrr, makes me wanna be a baaad boy.”

Zell placed his hand over Lou’s face and pushed a little too suddenly. “Ha, funny. See you at lunch.”

The spy-in-training caught his balance and managed not to collide with a wall. “If you see a pile of shit heading your way, remember that Garden is circular. You always have two options to get to where you wanna go.”

“Yeah, I know. No more bad decisions from now on.” A thumbs up, no backward glance, to intent on new beginnings to comprehend that all decisions have long term consequences lurking behind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A short walk later, the newly dedicated, dependable and punctual student entered a nearly empty classroom.

The instructor lifted her eyes momentarily and went back to organizing the lesson on her desk. “Cadet Dincht, you’re a little early.”

“Yep, didn’t wanna be late to hand this in.” Zell softly bounced forward twice, hand outstretched with the paper, which in hindsight taught him a lesson that paying attention in class is worth a thousand times doing the work on his own. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help a proud toothy smile from sneaking out.

Instr. Trepe gleaned at the pages and placed them on the desk, a strong hand holding it flat, the other needlessly adjusting her glasses. “I see. It’s that also why you cut your first class? Academic responsibility does not mean to forsake part of your education to complete a task you had ample time to do beforehand.”

His grin wandered off his face, deflated and spurned. “No, I finished it up last night.” His last, barely lucid, memory of the night was making sure it was done, safe and secured in his bag.

She raised her eyebrows at that, a slight lift at a corner of her lips more stinging than a scowl and a raised voice could ever hope to be. “So, you’re telling me you didn’t cut Vehicle Maintenance and Repair?” She crossed her arms and leaned against the desk, apparently ready for a long story.

Zell scanned the room swiftly, trying to not meet her eyes. He bit at his lips and fumbled at the strap on his shoulder. “No, I did. Just, you know, for…private reasons.” This was an unexpected complication and the young fighter’s instincts alerted him that fighting his way out of it was definitely not an option. Neither was begging or nagging. He could only hope that the kicked puppy look a.k.a. Plan D, perfected against scores of old ladies and his Ma, could save him from going into any details.

She softened imperceptibly at his obvious discomfort, keeping her tone cool, instead of outright cold. “Is that so? ...Well, I’m devaluing 10 percent off whatever score you would have had once I’m done correcting it.” She maneuvered around to her seat, signaling the matter settled.

“But…!” After all that trouble, sleep deprivation and ending in Seifer’s trap, Zell couldn’t help but to protest. Unknowingly, he made a fist against the desk and leaned forward into her face, not in anger, although anyone coming in would think so.

The whip enthusiast shushed him at once, with a calm hand that firmly pushed him as she stood to impose her greater height. “No buts. I’m handing you a reprieve here. I was originally going to give you a zero for this. However, I understand that life can come up and intervene with our responsibilities.”

The goal of being a responsible student was off to a bad start. He shoved his hands into his pockets and nodded his understanding, letting his surprise and frustration dwindle out into self-criticism and annoyance.

“This is not a civilian institution, cadet.” Trepe looked slightly down on him in that way she does to everyone she feels the need to educate, no matter their physical height. “Everything you are taught is valuable and may save your life when the time comes. If you were caught mid-desert, hundreds of miles from any allies, with a broken engine block, what would you do? How would you salvage the vehicle? Should you attempt to cannibalize it to make a temporary fix? Would you even know how to do it?”

Each question had a silent pause, just long enough to make it obvious that Zell didn’t know the answers, but not too much that it broke her pace.

She nodded, satisfied at having proved her point. “There’s going to be a remedial class this weekend. You weren’t the only one that didn’t go. Are you friends with Cadet Lucas Espia?”

“Yeah.” Having friendly company and a chance to learn from a living breathing human being rather than a book made lost free time sound doable. That bit of hope was a pathetically easy read on Zell’s face.

Other cadets had started trickling in by this point; the Treppies tried to call Quistis’ attention but she waved them off without glancing their way. “Well, inform him about it in case he decides to disappear from his other classes.” She tilted her head a single degree to her right as she took note of him, probably trying to piece together some connections.

Best to cut that short with enthusiasm. “Will do. Who else will be there?”

She sat back down, a memo in hand. “A mister Seifer Almasy also went missing this morning. And his colleagues from the Disciplinary Committee. They’re not in trouble, like the rest of you. Just came back from a mission and need to catch up.”

While hope was a neat little sign, dread was a giant billboard with highly contrasting colors. “Is there like a second class, or a project I can do instead?” Zell didn’t lean forward insistently this time; he took a step back and squared his shoulders, arms akimbo. Trying too hard to seem unfazed and coming off worse for it.

Trepe glanced at her watch and steeled her face into stern discipline personified. “This isn’t a request. It’s an order. You should know better than to get into the habit of making up for mistakes instead of preventing them.”

Zell bowed his head and held his arms out in surrender. “Okay, fine you’re right. Sorry. Won’t happen again.”

“Now get to your seat. Class is about to begin.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Arrrggg.” Zell sat at a round table in the cafeteria, elbows sharply jutted forward, fingers interlaced in his chronically mussed up hair.

On his right sat a robust girl with an appealing face and thick wavy hair; she curled a finger around the hair on his nape and playfully cooed in his ear. “There, there. One lost weekend is nothing to gripe about.” Mary was liberal in her sense of personal space, not that Zell minded. Friendly affection was very appreciated, even if it verged on the edge of seduction.

On her right sat a leaner girl with curly hair in a ponytail and a sharply inquisitive face. She tugged on Mary’s arm, softly pouting at being ignored. “It’s not so much the time. It’s spending it with Seifer and his goons.”

“Speaking of which…” Sharp-faced, lanky and deceptively calm, Stu sat directly across from Zell and jadedly gestured behind him towards Raijin and Fujin skulking amidst the tables.

Zell straightened up and almost got away with doing a pathetically obvious about-face, however Mary tightened her grip and kept him still. “It’s the lackeys, not the head monkey. Don’t be so jumpy. What’s gotten into you lately?”

A restrained chuckle from Louis and a badly concealed snarl later, Zell calmed down and thought about getting through this.

“Oh, maaan. They’re headed this way.” Young in composure and looks, Gary gesticulated wildly. He sat on Zell’s left and had done a hurried double-take at the pair.

Raijin made a bee-line towards their table, halted by Fujin’s firm hand on his bicep. A silent look crossed between them as they turned around and headed out of the cafeteria.

Half relieved, half disappointed; Zell let go of a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. Okay, no distractions then, on with the show.

He looked around the table, taking stock of those around him. Maybe the cafeteria wasn’t the best place for this. There was always a crowd, no way to whisper if he wanted to be heard. Yet it was more private than any other public place. He had never overheard anything over the general racket at its busiest hours. Everywhere else echoed in its massive halls, voices traveling far through empty space.

Mary and Sue, the first a P.A.G.E., the second a M.A.G.E. They were trained together for years to complement each other in different scenarios. Physically Augmented Grappling Expert and Magically Augmented Grappling Expert, both at the extremes of the junction spectrum. Zell was quicker and dealt out more damage, yet if either of them got hold of any part of him, he’d be on the floor, unable to budge an inch.

Stu was a S.A.B.E.R. A weapons specialist with blades. His acronym sounded better than his actual program, Specialized Attacker Before Encountering Resistance. Headmaster Cid was really pushing it with the acronyms sometimes. As though he thought of a cool sounding name and tried forcing it to work.

Then it seemed that Kramer stopped caring and called it in. Gary was the youngest, full of energy, one-track-mind for his mission and sidetracked for everything else. A runner and kickboxer, his program named him Distance Influenced Counter Kickboxing Specialist. He started a petition to change it to Resistance Under Non-Negiotable Enemy Reaction. Since his program was new and consisted of… well, him, the petition wasn’t getting too far.

Zell always wondered why some people had to deal with weird titles and he was lucky enough to just be martial arts specialist.

A wad of tissue collided right between his eyes. “Times a-ticking.” Lou leaned forward, fingers crossed in front of his face, eyes eager and attention rapt, enjoying this way too much. Everyone else looked his way, curious as to why he wanted a heart-to-heart.

“Okay…okay. Point of no return here. Ha.” Zell stretched his arms across the table and flowed them over his head. “So…I’m gay.”

A beat of silence. A flicker of eyes. Gary broke the silence, unable to withstand the stillness. “Uh-huh”

Zell took a deep breath, a knot in his stomach loosening. “And we’re all on the same page.”

“What’s wrong, hun? You’re sweating.” Mary rubbed the back of his neck. Zell reached back and brought her hand in front and tenderly stroked it with his thumb.

He smiled around the table. Face flushed with a flood of unexpected relief. “Nothing. I know…I’m sure of that now. There’s nothing wrong.”


A/N: Awww. Supah original names, I know. But it’s a tradition and Zell needs friends. This fic apparently makes me a fan and advocate of intimacy without sex and sex without intimacy.


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