Quota

BY : danihouse
Category: Final Fantasy VIII > Yaoi - Male/Male > Squall/Zell
Dragon prints: 463
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or any of the characters represented in the story, and I make no profit from it.

I suspect he’s just come from the Training Center, because he always has this certain look about him when he’s just finished slicing and dicing creatures; a slightly more relaxed look than normal. He likes to go hunting to vent; when he’s angry, or possibly depressed, or just when he needs to think; basically, whenever he’s in danger of displaying any emotion other than stoicism. Despite this, I can tell something’s on his mind. His face has this glazed-over sort of expression - something the general populace would not be able to distinguish from any of his other expressions, but I like to consider myself something of an expert on Squall Expressions. For example, when he’s pleased about something, the corners of his mouth turn up at an approximate angle of 4 degrees; when he’s surprised, his eyebrows raise anywhere from 2 to 8 millimeters, depending on the level of shock. At this particular moment, judging from the slightly furrowed state of his brow and the agitated way he is absently running his thumb over the hilt of the gunblade strapped to his hip, I am able to surmise that he is deep in thought about something or other. There’s also the fact that I’ve been following half a step behind him down the hallway for about five minutes now, and he hasn’t once turned to shoot me any death glares, attempt to swat me away, ask why I’m trailing him, or generally acknowledge that he’s aware of my presence in any way.

He reaches up to brush a lock of slightly sweat-damp hair out of his face, running his fingers distractedly over the livid scar that runs between his eyes. I figure he’s thinking about Seifer. Wondering how the hell he let that prick get the better of him in a physical fight, when he could kick Seifer’s ass any day of the week with little effort. Maybe thinking about whatever he was thinking about that distracted him long enough for Seifer to slice up his face.

I think it looks kind of cool. That scar. Rakish, maybe a little dangerous, like he’s a guy you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of. It certainly gives him an edge with the ladies, not that he needs one; sometimes it seemed like every girl in the Garden was hot for that sullen, standoffish vibe he gave (while a good, genuinely nice guy like me can’t even get a “good morning” from the ladies; how unfair is that?) Not that he gives a shit, either, for that matter. Squall’s not interested in chicks. I don’t mean to say that he swings the other way; he just doesn’t care for interaction with people in general, man, woman, or anything in between. He particularly dislikes interaction with me, which is why I’m a little surprised when he turns and looks right at me, his eyes narrowing a fraction, and then sets his gaze forward again without even a disdainful word to fend me off. I fall back a step, feeling startled by what seems to be a clear invitation for me to continue following him.

“Yo, what up, Squall?” I chirp, trotting up to catch him again. He gives me a tepid half-glance, and my suspicions that he actually doesn’t mean me to fuck off out of his business are confirmed as he tilts his head in a slight nod, making a “hmm”-ish sound that is not really a word, but is still somewhat more sociable than a grunt. I feel like grinning over this small triumph, and I do, although I imagine it annoys him more.

“Whatcha up to?” I try again, stuffing my hands into my pockets as we continue to wander - because I’m almost sure that Squall doesn’t actually have any destination in mind - down the hallway. I note that we’ve made almost a complete circuit around the first level as we come up on the corridor banking off toward the parking lots. Squall is not one to just take aimless strolls around the Garden; another sign that clearly says to me that he is too lost in his thoughts to realize that he’s not going anywhere. He pauses for a half-second, and then keeps walking, as though he isn’t doing something completely out of character for him, and as though he thinks I couldn’t possibly notice if he were.

“Nothing,” Is his curt, clipped reply. I mentally translate that to mean, “Bugger off and mind your own business,” but I shrug as if I can’t read extensively into his bisyllabic responses.

“Nothing? You can’t be doing nothing. You’re walking. You’re breathing. Obviously, you’re thinking about something.”

He stops walking again, and then veers off toward the partition running around the perimeter of the pool; he leans against it, staring down into the crystal-clear waters. I follow hesitantly, feeling a little put off by this strange, very un-Squall-like behavior. I mean, I could swear I just heard him sigh. I can’t imagine what would weigh so heavily on his mind as to cause him to appear visibly distressed. He turns around, supporting himself against the railing with his hands, and stares vacantly off toward the library. To be honest, I have no idea what to do with such a saturnine Squall. I’m perfectly used to dealing with him being cold, unfriendly, invasive, and just generally unreadable, but I’d never had experience with a Squall who was making no attempt to hide the fact that he was glum. I plop down on the bench next to where he stands, folding my arms over my chest and assuming a pensive expression.

“So what’s on your mind, fearless leader?” I probe, casting him a sideways glance to see if he’s planning on answering my question. He raises a hand to trace his thumb over the vivid red line of his scar, and I wonder if he’s even aware he’s doing that - I have to think not, because just the action gives everything away; I don’t even need to ask what’s on his mind. It obviously has to do with a certain blonde-haired, green-eyed jackass and said jackass’ underhanded methods of winning training bouts. Wait, am I really feeling resentful toward Seifer simply because he’s occupying Squall’s thoughts? That seems unnatural.

Squall shoots me a brief, indifferent glimpse, and the line of his mouth tightens. “It’s-”

“-None of my business, I know,” I finish, giving a wry half-smile and waving my hand at him nonchalantly. He continues to stare at me, his expression utterly stoic. I heave a sigh and shrug, “I get that you don’t tell people shit, that’s fine, I don’t care if you wanna screw yourself up keeping all that bottled up inside. It’s just… I dunno, never mind,” I finish lamely, scratching my head nervously. Way to sound totally slick, Zell. What did I mean to say? That I want him to talk to me if he’s feeling troubled by something? Now there’s a sure way to get “faggot” stamped on my forehead for all eternity. I can feel him still watching me, even though I’ve long since looked away in embarrassment.

He makes another “hmm”-ish sound, and this one roughly translates to, “Go on.” I scoff, shrugging again as if this whole thing isn’t a big deal. Because it’s not.

“It’s just,” I begin, feeling stupid as I try to find words to explain my thoughts without coming off as a complete queer. “I like to think we’re friends. I guess. So… I dunno…” I trail off frustratedly. Why does this have to be so awkward? “I’m just sayin’, you know, if you ever did want to talk about shit, like… I’m here. That’s all.”

He says nothing, and I’m scared to look up and see his reaction to my unwieldy confession of sorts. Ten points for sincerity, Zell, but we’re going to have to dock you for a complete lack of grace. D-. I cross and uncross my legs nervously, feeling like a bigger dipshit with each second of silence that passes between us. I look up, and he’s still staring contemplatively at the same spot of bare wall that he’s been watching for the past five minutes. A wave of restlessness crashes over me, and I jump up from the bench, hopping in place for a moment before I turn to finally face him again.

“Anyway, that’s all,” I say again, plastering a grin on my face. Squall looks pensive, and it’s obvious from his glassy stare that he’s a million miles away. I mentally breathe a sigh of relief; he probably wasn’t even listening to me. When does he ever, really?

“Zell…” I hope he didn’t notice that I jumped at the sound of his voice. His hand is resting on the hilt of his gunblade - holy shit, he’s going to whack me. He probably thinks I’m coming on to him or something. He’s going to slice up my face worse than he did Seifer’s. He turns toward me, giving a slight nod of his head.

“What?”

“I wasn’t going to say, ‘it’s none of your business’.”

“Oh?” For no explicable reason, I feel the faintest sense of elation bubbling up in my chest. “Uh… was it my business?”

“No,” He answers. Well, so much for that. I fidget, unable to do anything more because I’m not yet certain if he plans to continue talking. Although that would definitely be something new; I’m pretty sure he’s already reached his limit on number of syllables allowed to be spoken in a twenty-four hour period.

“What were you gonna say?” I venture, shuffling from one foot to the other like some kind of kid. Hell, who would believe I’m seventeen already? Squall, meanwhile, pushes himself away from the railing with an easy, fluid motion, his entire being radiating maturity, wisdom, and sensibility. I don’t think he intends to answer me, but I find myself surprised when he turns to me and speaks.

“I was going to say, ‘it’s annoying when you follow behind me like that.’”

Maybe not that surprised.

He strolls off, head still in the clouds, which is definitely one place Squall’s head does not belong. That’s entirely my domain. Still, I can’t help smiling a little as I amble blithely along beside him as he continues his aimless promenade around the Garden. “Annoying” is still several steps further up the ladder than I ever thought I was, after all.


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