Salvation's End

BY : Grieving Leon
Category: Final Fantasy VIII > Yaoi - Male/Male > Squall/Zell
Dragon prints: 1179
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VIII, nor the characters therein. I don't make money off this story.


Salvation’s End



Chapter 11: Disclosures

“He has Fridays off,” Jerome said to his boss, Don Fynt.  “We’ll grab him then.  That way we have two days before Denrick notices he’s missing.”



Don Fynt, a tall and fit man of 34 years old with brown hair and brown eyes, smiled from where he sat at his desk.  The warehouse was drafty, but his second floor office was closed off well enough.  The single window in that office overlooked the warehouse interior -- Fynt’s specific viewing interest being the nine 12x12 boxed rooms that had been built along the ground floor.  



Each of those rooms had a two-way mirrored ceiling so Fynt could peer down while the occupants writhing in agony were left with no hope for escape.  Fynt preferred to oversee the gorier jobs himself.



“Alright,” Fynt replied in boredom to Jerome.  Fynt hated that his plans had to wait even a minute.  He’d taken glee from having the note passed to Nymphic’s son, and he’d even stayed in that mall’s store to watch the fear engulf the young boy’s face.  



Maybe he could have -- should have -- grabbed the boy then, but he liked the tease the note had produced.  He liked knowing that Nymphic was hiring more bodyguards and squirming around like a rat trying to avoid pain.  But there was no avoiding the coming pain, and soon Fynt would have Nymphic sitting placidly, broken, and unwilling to even look for escape.



And then there was Dommy -- that gorgeous boy that Fynt had taken exhilarated joy in learning was truly as innocent as he was beautiful.  Leave it to the world’s (second) most twisted man to have the world’s most innocent son.



Fynt smiled to himself, his eyes watching the bloody scenes of rape and murder below, but his thoughts were focused on the tortures he wanted to inflict on Dommy and his father, Nymphic.



The Snuff Lord’s empire would be Fynt’s.  Fynt was sure of that.  He’d already come to terms with the fact that he’d have to replace Zenith and Lorelei at the top, but the other members of Nymphic’s council might be more open to new management.  



Clout, for one, was well known for his rebellious attitude towards Nymphic -- and Fynt already had plans in motion for contacting that General to make an offer.  



“Sir,” Jerome said to his boss.



Fynt looked away from box of the screaming woman who was being sliced apart slowly while photographs were being snapped quickly.  



“We still need to discuss when we’re going to pick up Cane,” Jerome said.



Fynt sighed, knowing what he wanted his answer to be: Now!  But he also knew he had to be patient if he wanted to do this right: One should never be in a hurry to finish when the act itself gives so much pleasure.



~*~



With the Galbadia Hotel robe, which was very soft and very fluffy, wrapped around himself, Squall stepped out of his suite.  He slid his suite keycard into a robe pocket then walked barefoot over to the room next door, Zell’s room.



Reluctantly, Squall knocked on the door.  He’d remembered to get his clothes from the bag, but he’d forgotten his toothbrush and other toiletries, so he was forced to bother Zell at this late hour.



The suite door opened with Zell standing in only his boxers, every muscle looking delicious, and Squall could barely prevent himself from letting his grey-blue eyes wander down to stare at the beautiful blonde’s visible pubic bone.



Zell smiled wide which made Squall blush and feel even more awkward.



“Um,” Squall mumbled, but before he could explain why he was there, Zell stepped back to let Squall into the room.  “I wanted to brush my teeth,” Squall said softly as he crossed the threshold into Zell’s private room.



The smile faltered momentarily but Zell nodded and after he’d shut the door behind Squall, Zell walked over to their shared bag and shuffled things around before he pulled out the plastic bag with Squall’s toothbrush in it.



Squall hovered in the entryway, half-listening to the TV that was on playing some random late night movie.  



Zell turned to walk to his bathroom.  “The toothpaste is in here. You can brush your teeth here unless you want to pass the toothpaste back and forth.”



Squall felt forced to walk forward and follow Zell, and his eyes kept glancing to Zell’s back muscles and calf muscles, then to the blonde man’s thick arms.  Once Zell was in the bathroom and had turned to face Squall, holding the toothbrush out for the brunette man to take, Squall’s eyes quickly ate up Zell’s perfect chest and abs.



Once Squall turned to go about brushing his teeth, Zell slipped by him and went back to his bed, sitting on the edge while picking up the TV remote and staring in boredom at the screen like he had been before Squall showed up.



“Sorry I interrupted your evening,” Squall said before shoving the toothbrush into his mouth.



Zell looked away from the TV and his blinked away the coming daze.  “I wasn’t doing anything.  Actually it’s kinda weird to be here.”



Zell watched Squall lean over and spit out the white watery foam, then the brunette man stood upright and glanced to Zell.  “Did you at least get to talk to your mom?”



“Yeah I did,” Zell said.  He flipped off the TV and tossed the remote carelessly over his shoulder and onto the bed before he bounced up.  “A couple hours ago, like right after we got back from dinner.”



“She doing okay?” Squall asked in between brushing and spits.



Surprised was a mild word for how Zell felt having Squall ask about his mom.  The High Commander had never so much as acknowledged Ma Dincht as far as Zell knew.  Zell stood in the bathroom doorway, leaning against it while crossing his arms.



“Yea,” Zell said.  “She said she missed me, and still had presents for me from Christmas and my birthday.”



Squall tried not to stare at the reflection of Zell as he kept brushing his teeth.  He leaned over and spit again.  “Sorry you missed those holidays with her.”  



“I spent them with you,” Zell said, smiling.  



Squall had done an amazing job decorating for last years Christmas, Zell had been surprised, especially since Squall was pretty much Scrooge during Christmas back at the Garden.  There had been a lot of decorations, a large tree covered in ornaments, and so much holiday foods (much of it baked treats) that Zell had fed his coworkers for days.  Squall had, of course and shamelessly at that, paid for the decorations and tree with his SeeD money.  But when people decorated for Christmas in Dollet’s sex trade sector, they often did it to the extreme (and extremely jacked up their credit cards).



Squall stopped brushing his teeth and spit again then grabbed a hand towel from the folded stack on the counter.  He wiped his mouth before turning to look directly at Zell.  “I hope-”



“It was awesome, Squall,” Zell interrupted.  He didn’t want to go into Squall’s bemoaned regrets about holidays they spent together instead of back at Balamb Garden.  “Or should I say ‘Scrooge’?”  Zell wrinkled his nose when Squall blushed then the blonde man stuck his tongue out.



Squall turned away and stared in melancholy down at his toothbrush.



Zell laughed as he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Squall’s over-sized, fluffy middle.  “I had a great Christmas, Scrooge.”



Squall pressed his lips tightly together as he tried not to smile.  He turned the sink water on and rinsed off his toothbrush before setting it on the counter beside Zell’s.



“And a great birthday,” Zell added as he loosened his grip on Squall, but still kept his arms around the man.  The fuzzy robe brushed against his chest and stomach as Squall turned around in his arms.  Zell stared at Squall, who looked uneasy, the sapphire eyes glittering as he memorized -- as he had done numerous times before -- every line and texture of Squall’s pristine face. “...I want to spend Christmas with you again this year.  Even if we’re back at Balamb Garden.”



Unable to break himself away, let alone break his eyes from Zell’s beautiful spheres, Squall finally allowed himself to rest his palms on Zell’s gorgeous chest.  “I’d like that,” he said softly.



Another handful of seconds passed as they stayed locked in that moment together.  Finally, Zell castoff his awkward Dincht worries and settled down into the knowledge that a part of him was now, and would forever be, K’Oz.  “Stay with me tonight,” Zell said, delicate but using a strong tone.



“Zell, I-”



“Please, Squall,” Zell said, reaching up to grab Squall’s chin harshly so the High Commander wouldn’t look away.  “Either you stay with me or I’m gonna end up watching infomercials all night.  Hyne, baby, I haven’t slept apart from you in eight months.”



Squall would have looked down if Zell wasn’t holding his face up.  “That’s-”



“Fuck the whole ‘that’s why we’re here’,” Zell snapped.



Squall silently stared at Zell.



Slowly, Zell lowered his sapphire gaze to where Squall’s Galbadia Hotel robe was tied together.  He released Squall’s face and grabbed Squall’s upper arm harshly then brought his free hand to the robe tie and, still moving slowly, he pulled the tie apart.



Erotic desires fluttered through Squall and he looked away, eyes seeing nothing as he tried desperately to control his body from shaking.  The robe was undone and Zell’s gentle fingers pushed the soft material back and apart, exposing the nude body beneath.  Zell smiled, content; he’d already figured Squall would be naked since Amyst didn’t own pajamas.



Zell pressed himself against Squall and brought his mouth to Squall’s neck.  With composed excitement, Zell brushed his lips against the soft milky flesh, closing his eyes while breathing in Squall’s delicious scent.



“Please,” Squall said softly, his eyes closed against the pleasure.  He had an erection and he could feel Zell’s dick growing excited while pressed to him.



Zell pulled back from Squall’s neck, and only far enough so that he could look at Squall’s face to read the brunette man’s expression.



Squall opened his eyes and turned his head to look back at Zell.



“Turn on your real level,” Zell said, a tiny smile encouraging Squall.  “I’ll turn mine on too.”



“I can’t,” Squall replied.



“Why not?” Zell asked with gentle amusement.  “No one will know, High Commander.  We’re the only ones here, there are no cameras in this room.”  He slid his free hand into Squall’s robe, pressing his palm down against Squall’s stomach then sliding it back and around, down, to where he grabbed Squall’s smooth ass.  “You can be SeeD again, here with me.”



“I literally can’t turn it on, Zell,” Squall said, pushing his hands a little harder against Zell’s chest.



Zell’s grip on Squall’s ass loosened.  “Why not?” asked Zell, and suddenly he was worried that Squall was stuck at Level 3, had gotten his LD-Chip damaged or something horrific.



Squall took a deep breath, then sighed.  “At my normal level, 187, my vitality is 476.  Since I’ve lost 20 pounds, I’m afraid to turn the LD-Chip on because it might reset my body back to my normal weight.”



Staring at Squall, Zell hand moved to Squall’s hip, the other hand dropping away from the tight-grip he’d had on Squall’s upper arm.  “...How?”



Knowing he now had the chance, Squall pushed Zell back and slid away from the blonde SeeD’s arms, walking out of the bathroom.  He turned back around once in the general bedroom area and pulled his rob back together.  “My body will level up, Zell.  It will become the default setting of that massively higher level. ...When I previously hit 187, my body was a specific way, and I’ll revert back to that way.”



Zell stepped to the bathroom doorway and stared at Squall.  “You know for sure?”



Squall shook his head as he crossed his arms, self-conscious.  “No, but I designed the LD-Chip and it’s an educated guess.”



Any educated guess from Squall was pretty much a fact, Zell knew.  He lowered his sapphire eyes to the floor, trying to adjust to the knowledge.



“So I can’t turn my real level on just so we can have sex,” Squall said.



Zell quickly looked back up and Squall realized that he may have sounded harsh, and that wasn’t what he wanted.



“It’s for emergencies, Zell,” Squall added, trying to use a gentler tone.  “Not for me to play with.”



“What do you define as an emergency?” Zell asked.



“My erection is not an emergency,” Squall said plainly.



Zell couldn’t help cracking a smile.  He looked down to the floor briefly and shook his head before turning to meet Squall’s grey-blue eyes again.  “I meant...”  The blonde SeeD then sighed and stepped forward, crossing the five steps to Squall.  He wanted to touch Squall, but he held back.  “...You won’t let yourself get raped, right?”



Immediately Squall’s brow pinched together.  “Of course not.”



“Really?” asked Zell, his sapphire eyes glittering in the hotel suite’s lights.



“Rape is an emergency,” Squall said, hugging himself tighter.



Zell wasn’t convinced Squall meant that.  “Promise me you’ll flip the LD-Chip before you let yourself get hurt.”



“I promise,” Squall said.  He couldn’t understand why Zell would think he’d just let himself get brutalized.  



With apparent hesitation, Zell lifted his hand and reached forward, then slowly set it on Squall’s shoulder.  “I’m afraid you might, for even just an instance, think that letting yourself get raped might save your cover -- and therefore save even just one woman or a child from being raped.”



When Squall broke Zell’s intense stare after that statement, Zell felt tears fill his eyes.



“Hyne, Squall,” Zell said and he stepped through the air barrier between them to pull Squall into his arms.  With his arms wrapped around Squall’s shoulders, Zell pressed his cheek against Squall’s and closed his eyes.



“It might be true,” Squall said softly after a minute has passed.



Zell sniffed and released his tight hold on Squall so that he could pull back to look into Squall’s beautiful grey-blue eyes.



“What I mean is,” Squall said, eyes locked with Zell’s, setting his hands on the blonde man’s hips.  “It might be true that if I let myself be raped, if needed for my cover, I could save someone else that pain.  And it might be true that I’d even accept the pain myself.  I mean, why not?  I could do that for someone.”



The cold hand of death reached into Zell and dug its claws into Zell’s intestines, ready to gut the blonde man.



“But I won’t,” said Squall, his head barely shaking as he spoke.



Zell’s lips parted, relieved but confused.  Was Squall just saying that to comfort Zell? Or did the High Commander mean it?



“I know you don’t believe me,” Squall said, breaking eye contact as his eyes darted away before finally he looked back up to Zell’s concerned and pining expression.  “I could take that doubt away.  But... what I say might upset you more than how you feel now.”



“Have you been raped?!” Zell blurted out without thinking it over and he didn’t know why that was the first thing that had formed in his mind.



Squall smiled and half frowned as he shook his head.  “Ah, Zell.  No.”



“Oh,” Zell said, immediately calming down.  “Please, tell me then.”



After reaching up to Zell’s face with both hands, Squall caressed his fingers over the blonde man’s cheeks and then into the blonde locks of hair.  He held Zell like that, holding the man’s sapphire eyes as well: Squall wanted Zell to see into his soul, if possible, while he spoke.  “You are, and I... like that you are... and it makes me feel good and I don’t regret it.”



Zell frowned in confusion.



“With you is special,” Squall said, pushing his forehead against Zell’s.  “And you feel so good that not even I can control my body, though I doubt I ever really did.”   He pulled back so that he could kiss Zell’s forehead, and after which he settled his grey-blue eyes back into the locked gaze with Zell again.  



“Baby,” Zell said softly, wrapping his arms around Squall’s waist.  “I feel the same way.  And I’d never regret being with you either.”



Squall knew he wasn’t saying what he needed to, what he was trying to.  So finally he just blurted it out: “I was a virgin before we had sex, Zell.”



After a moment of silence Zell asked “You mean... gay-sex-virgin?”



“Completely virgin,” Squall said.  He didn’t wait for Zell’s reply as he went back to his ultimate point for the confession.  “So, you see, Zell, I won’t let myself get raped because I won’t let anyone else touch my body.”



Zell had no reply.  He was still focused on trying to sort out if he understood Squall.



“You’re the only one to touch me,” Squall said softly.  “And I like that you’re the only one.  I covet that.  I want you to always be the only one.”  Then Squall’s eyes widened and he knew he meant those words, but he also knew that they meant something else entirely from what he’d planned to confess.  



Squall stepped back quickly, almost panicky, away from Zell’s shocked and loose grip and then stared at Zell with wide eyes.



“I didn’t mean that like it sounded,” Squall blurted out quickly.  “Well, it’s that I didn’t mean to say that.”  Squall stared at Zell’s blank expression, noting the growing surprise and confusion mixing over the tattooed man’s features.  “You are the only one, and I like... but....”   Finally Squall gave up.  He turned around with a defeated but strong sigh and began to walk to the door to leave.  He’d already made an ass of himself, might as well leave on that high note.



The white fluffy robe swayed as Squall walked, Zell still trying to comprehend Squall’s words.  Then Zell dashed, trying not to trip, to Squall and yanked the man from where he reached for the doorknob.



“Zell,” Squall said, finding himself pressed back to Zell’s chest, in the blonde man’s tight arms.  



Those beautiful sapphire eyes were watching Squall, studying Squall’s face.  



“I’m sorry,” said Squall, not knowing what else to do or say.



“Don’t be,” Zell said.  He understood as he held Squall there, the vacation was as much for Squall as it was for him, and the brunette man was far more worn and confused than he’d let on.  And Zell now knew the power he had over Squall.  “You’re going to stay here with me tonight.”



“Zell, I already-”



“I won’t fuck you,” Zell interrupted.  His heart pounded furiously in his chest.  “I can’t sleep without you.  I need you to stay with me.  I need you safe in my arms so I can protect you because I like that.”



As Zell felt Squall’s tension dying down, Zell knew he’d won.  The brunette man was beginning to melt into Zell’s strong embrace.



“Words like ‘confused’ and ‘gay’ don’t matter,” Zell said, watching Squall’s unsure eyes.  “You’re my best friend.  ...You’re going to stay here with me tonight.”  Then Zell reached down and repeated his motions earlier of undoing Squall’s Galbadia Hotel robe, this time slipping it over Squall’s shoulders and letting it drop to the floor.  Zell then picked Squall up, just as he’d done the night Squall was drunk, and carried Squall to the bed.



After setting Squall down in the half-pulled down blankets, Zell shoved his boxers off then flipped the lights off and climbed into bed after Squall.



With his body propped up on his side, barring down against Squall’s side while he caressed the back of his fingers over Squall’s soft cheek, Zell whispered “You’re perfect.”  He lightly kissed Squall’s cheekbone. “We’ll worry about our lives at Balamb Garden once we’re back there.”



“I meant for you to talk to your mom and girlfriend,” Squall mumbled, but his fingers were digging into Zell’s chest as he fought against his own desires.



“I called my mom,” Zell whispered while his lips caressed Squall’s cheek, “and I don’t have a girlfriend anymore.”



Squall pushed his mouth up against Zell’s neck.  “I want you to be happy.”



Zell slid his hand down Squall’s face and neck, over the brunette’s chest where he gently rubbed the ravenous milky flesh.  “I’ve always been the happiest at your side, in whatever way you let me be that close to you.”



With his eyes closed, Squall nuzzled his face against the side of Zell’s neck.  



“...Grumpy,” Zell whispered the nickname he hadn’t said to Squall in almost a year.



A smile won over on Squall’s lips, even though Squall felt shame and remorse for greedily accepting laying there with Zell.



“...You were really a virgin before we had sex?” asked Zell.  He believed what Squall said earlier without a doubt, but he needed to hear it again, wanted Squall to say it one more time.



“Yes,” Squall mumbled, the smile consumed.



“And I’m the only one you’ve ever been with?” asked Zell.  The one-word answer wasn’t enough, he wanted to relive the moment, the revelation, the surge of adrenaline as he realized that his K’Oz fantasies of Amyst’s virginity being all his were utterly and unreservedly real life.



“The only one.”  Squall’s fingertips caressed the smooth and perfect peck muscles of his blonde companion.



“That’s...hot,” Zell whispered, speaking more to himself but when he listened to Squall’s muffled half-laugh, Zell added “Is it okay I think that?”



Squall was fine with Zell’s statement, and actually it made him feel less self-conscious about it.  “Sure.”



The smooth texture of Squall’s creamy, delicious skin felt good against Zell’s palm as he rubbed one hand over Squall’s side and back.  



Silence had filled the air of the pitch-black room, eating away time until Zell asked “The first time, what...?”



But Zell didn’t have to worry about sorting out his question, because Squall knew what the blonde SeeD meant.  “You were gentle.  You made it feel good, like I knew you would.”  He slid his arm around Zell to hug his friend.  “It was perfect.  And I’d do it again without hesitation.”



Zell closed his eyes and let the memory of those seven months ago surface.  He would never have guessed Squall was a virgin then, the High Commander had appeared confident, no sigh of doubt, and the way he’d kissed Zell, touched Zell, the words of comforted that Squall had said to Zell -- Zell had felt like the awkward virgin then.



“You really okay with me sleeping here?” Squall asked softly.



Using his fingers, Zell searched for Squall’s lips and when he found them, he leaned over in the darkness and kissed Squall lightly. “I don’t want to sleep without you.”



~*~



Seifer still had about 15 minutes before he was supposed to be at work that Wednesday.  But he was at Kareshi, the strip club, already and sitting on the couch in the backstage dressing room.  He took another large bite out of the chocolate-frosted doughnut while he smirked at Taylor who glared at him with utter and unabated loathing.



“I’ma shove that doughnut in your face!” Taylor growled at him.



“I still got a whole fucking bag,” Seifer said with his trademark fang-showing smirk.  Then, slowly and with open pleasure, Seifer took another large bite, leaving only a small bit of the doughnut left between his finger and thumb.  He closed his eyes as he chewed then licked his lips, sitting with his free hand up on the top of couch’s backrest.



Taylor scoffed and then turned to grab the rest of his stage outfit.  He’d fucking dress in the staff bathroom, away from Mr. Jerk!



“Hyne, Seif,” Craig said, staring at Seifer with a frown.



Seifer opened his sea-blue eyes and shrugged at Craig.  “What?!” he said, unnecessarily loud.  “Is it really my fault I can eat a box of doughnuts and not gain weight, unlike fat-ass Taylor?”



“Fuck you!” Taylor shouted before he slammed the bathroom door to lock himself away.



Taylor was not fat.  But like pretty much all the strippers at Kareshi, he was hung up on if he were fat, and Seifer couldn’t help it if his metabolism was that of a Level 192 Gunbladist.  



Seifer shoved the last of that doughnut into his mouth and licked his fingers as he looked back over to Craig who shook his head.  As he chewed, Seifer reached into the bag and pulled out another doughnut, smiling at Craig while lifting the new doughnut up in a “cheers” motion.



Craig rolled his eyes and turned away, back to dressing and putting makeup on.



“Why are you eating those in here?!” Dennis asked, staring at Seifer with a sad pout.



“It’s my fucking breakfast!” Seifer snapped after swallowing, but he was smirking and thoroughly enjoying himself and the torture he was inflicting.  “What?  I can’t enjoy my breakfast the same as you guys enjoy eating those bowls of lettuce that you call ‘salads’?”



Muffled groans filled the room.  But Seifer knew they were jealous of him and he happily took the first bite of the maple doughnut.



Craig walked passed Seifer, glaring at him a final time to which Seifer just smirked and chewed happily, and then Craig went out to dance as his stage-name was announced.



The backdoor opened and in slid the boy Seifer had been waiting for -- and the reason he’d shown up to work early with doughnuts in the first place.  Genix’s black hair was spiked up and it looked sexy and the short boy had already applied his makeup at home, as thick black eyeliner surrounded his hazel eyes.  He was dressed in a green t-shirt and black jeans, no jacket and his arms were covered in goosebumps.



When Genix’s sexy hazel eyes set on Seifer, the short boy’s cheeks turned crimson and he smiled wide.



“Hey, Cupcake,” Seifer said, trying not to sound too excited in front of all the other strippers.  Most likely, though, the rest of the strippers knew Seifer had a crush on Genix -- Seifer couldn’t help that he naturally was extra nice to the teen.



“Hi, Seifer,” Genix said, all smiles. Then Genix’s eyes set on the doughnut as Seifer brought it up to his mouth.  The shy but happy smile turned excited and he quickly bounced over to where Seifer sat, flopping down heavily against Seifer on the side where Seifer had his arm up over the backrest of the couch.  “Doughnuts!”



While chewing, Seifer shifted the white bag in his lap so the open end was pointed to Genix.



“Really?!” Genix asked, his hand hovering over the bag.



Seifer nodded.



“Ha!” Genix said and he looked down into the bag, spotting a sprinkled chocolate doughnut that he snagged.  He then settled into the couch more comfortably next to Seifer, crossing his legs towards Seifer as he took a normal bite of the high-calorie breakfast.



“Gah,” Dennis said as he stood up, glaring at the two.  “You’re both jerks.”



Genix looked at Dennis with shock but Seifer glared and said “Shut up, Chubby.”  



Dennis’ glare deepened before he walked out of the backstage room.



“Seifer!” Genix said softly, staring at the tall blonde with surprise.  “Dennis isn’t chubby... that was mean.”  But Seifer could see the laughter in Genix’s hazel eyes.



“Eat your doughnut, pretty,” Seifer replied softly, smiling down at Genix.



Elation fluttered through Genix and he allowed himself to lean further against Seifer’s side, knowing that Seifer wouldn’t but desperate for Seifer to lower that free arm down over his shoulders.



Seifer licked his lips while looking down at Genix, then he asked “Did you have breakfast?”



Genix shook his head while chewing then he turned to look up at Seifer’s surprisingly gentle smile.



Seifer unabashedly shoved the rest of the maple doughnut into his mouth then he pulled his second arm away from where it lay on the backrest.  He shoved himself off the couch and, without looking at Genix, gently tossed the bag of doughnuts onto the boy’s lap before he crossed over to his personal dressing vanity.



Genix clutched the bag of doughnuts, which he figured must have three or four more doughnuts in it, while he slowly ate and watched Seifer shrug off the jean jacket the tall blonde wore.



The short boy continued to watch Seifer strip and change, forgetting that he shouldn’t let his hazel eyes linger too long because inner-office(strip club) dating was specifically frowned upon and Genix needed this job.



Oh, but how he crushed on Seifer.  Genix took another bite of the chocolate and sprinkles doughnut before finally forcing himself to look away.



“Jerk.”



Genix turned back up to see Taylor walking by Seifer while glaring angrily.  Shirtless Seifer paused unbuttoning his pants to he could smirk at Taylor as the man passed.  Then Taylor saw Genix with the doughnut and the white bag and the stripper scoffed at the boy.



“Oh, but,” Taylor then said, “I can’t be mad at you.”  Taylor looked at Genix while pouting.  Then Taylor, with a deep sigh, shook his head and turned to go stand off stage to wait his turn -- away from where Mr. Jerk Seifer was.



Genix turned from watching Taylor with amusement.  He took another bite of the first doughnut, licking his cherry lips before turning his hazel eyes to look down with pleasure at the delicious bag of doughnuts Seifer had obviously brought for him.



“Cupcake,” Seifer called, looking down at himself while pulling up his stage pants. “Come here.”



Without a second thought, Genix bounced up and crossed over to Seifer, holding the white bag at his chest.  Once Genix was standing beside the vanity, Seifer looked up, buttoning the pants closed.



“You want to hear about the fucked up Monday I had?” Seifer asked.



“Yeah,” Genix said, worry and wonder etching from his eyes.



“So I’m eating lunch with my ex,” Seifer said, reaching over for his stage shirt.  “Like I do every Monday.”



Inwardly Genix sneered and had second thoughts about wanting to hear this story.  He didn’t want to even pretend to be interested in knowing Seifer had any exes (and of course Seifer had to have exes, the man was 25).



“And he hits me up with how he just got engaged,” Seifer mumbled, shaking his head.



So, maybe the story wasn’t going to be bad after all.



Seifer glanced to Genix and added “He’s a whiny little bitch, by the way, my ex.  And I’m,” Seifer turned back to the vanity and pulled the chair out to sit down, “just wondering how the fuck this guy managed to get his boyfriend pregers because... engaged?!”



Genix softly laughed then bit his lower lip before remembering he had a doughnut to eat.



“So then after that, I somehow fucking let it slip that I don’t work Mondays anymore.”  Seifer reached over to his stage makeup and began applying it.  “So, whiny ass Chicken Wuss,” Seifer paused and eyed Genix while saying “That’s his name.”  Then Seifer looked back at his mirror and continued.  “So Chicken Wuss begs me to go spend the evening with his boyfriend... fiancé.  My immediate reply, as you’ve guessed, was ‘fuck off’.  Then Chicken Wuss starts spouting some shit about a neighbor throwing beer bottles at his boyfriend.”



“What?” Genix said.  “That’s awful! Why?!”



Seifer didn’t smile but he loved the soft and sweet tone Genix had just used.  The large undercover blonde SeeD shrugged.  “Homophobe.”



“That bastard!” Genix said in that same soft and sweet tone, swirling the butterflies in Seifer’s stomach around.



“Anyway, long story short, I cave and go see Squall, the fiancé,” Seifer said, continuing to apply the stage makeup.  “Now for the fucked up part that made me go home and cry myself to sleep.”



Genix paused in mid-doughnut-bite and looked at Seifer with true compassion.



Seifer set down the makeup and turned to look up at Genix, locking his sea-blue eyes with the boy’s soft hazel spheres.  In complete sincerity, Seifer said “Now, I introduced Squall and Chicken Wuss to each other.  Squall’s like my baby brother but I hadn’t seen him in months.  I mean months.  And this mother fucker answers the door and throws his arms around me, and he was wearing makeup, and he tells me he missed me and suddenly he’s got his legs around my waist and...”  Seifer turned away from Genix, cringing and shaking his head.  “I swear if I hadn’t been paralyzed by shock, I would have thrown him to the floor and humped him.”



Genix frowned as he chomped into a second doughnut.  He wasn’t interested in the story anymore.  Then Genix realized the doughnuts might be some sort of apology from Seifer, like “Sorry I’m not interested anymore, thanks anyways, here’s some food to eat while crying.”



Seifer turned up to Genix’s begrudging pout while the boy glared down, chewing the doughnut.  Satisfied he’d made Genix thoroughly jealous, Seifer grabbed Genix and yanked the boy down to sit in his lap.  The jealous glare and pout vanished as Genix looked at Seifer, the undercover SeeD’s arms around his waist.



“I’m so horny that,” Seifer said, staring into Genix’s beautiful hazel eyes, “I wanted to hump my baby brother.”



It infuriated Genix that he couldn’t stop himself from half smiling at Seifer.  Genix said “But you didn’t.”



“But I didn’t,” Seifer repeated Genix’s words.  “Instead...” he paused and shook his head before continuing “my dumb ass took him out shopping and bought him 1,000 Gil worth of clothes.”



“Whoa-” Genix said but Seifer continued.



“And took him out and paid for the movies and dinner and clubbing.”  Seifer sighed.  “...Spending that night with Squall, who’s engaged to Chicken Wuss, proved to me something.”



“What?” Genix asked, lifting the second doughnut to take another bite.  But he felt excited and he allowed himself to teeter along the fantasy that maybe Seifer was about to ask him out.



“I obviously need a boyfriend,” Seifer said plainly.



Genix licked frosting off his lips before smiling wide at Seifer.



Then Seifer sighed and gently pushed Genix to stand up from his lap, which Genix did.



“I need to go out there,” Seifer said as he stood up, purposefully close to Genix, “before Henten bursts a blood vessel because his top money-maker is five seconds late to the stage.”  Then Seifer leaned his lips to Genix’s ear and brushed them over the flesh as he whispered “You know, I can give you far more than doughnuts.”  



Genix’s hazel eyes glittered in lust and excitement as Seifer pulled back.  The large man lifted up the hand Genix held the doughnut in, and without breaking his eyes away from Genix’s, Seifer took a small bite of the boy’s doughnut.  With a small smile as he chewed, Seifer stepped away, heading out to the stage that was announcing his stage-name.



~*~



Squall sat downstairs in the Galbadia Hotel gambling hall.  It was a small gambling hall; if the High Commander had been serious about making money, he would have left the hotel and gone to one of the large casinos.  But instead, Squall was just killing some time before he and Zell had to leave on the train.



The Triple Triad computer screen popped up the next game options: [Another?] or [Cash Out]. Thinking to himself ‘Whatever,’ Squall pressed the first option and his massive deck of mostly mid- and some high-level cards appeared before him.



The gambling game was easy for Squall, even with all the annoying rules in place.  To the astonishment of the people sitting at their own gambling consoles on either side of Squall, the High Commander had managed to eliminate the “Random” rule within the first four games.  And now, as he continued to lazily build the deck, those neighboring gamblers would steal glances at his screen while they continued to hemorrhage their own Gil away.



Squall had barely paid attention to the rules for earning money at the machines.  All cards were worth a certain Gil allotment, the higher level the cards the more Gil, and each New Game cost Gil to play.  But in the end, Squall knew he’d earned so much money at the machine, he shouldn’t take it all with him back to Dollet.



“You are amazing,” the woman to Squall’s right said.



He glanced up to her as the gambling computer chimed another Winner! sound.  She was beautiful, probably in her early 20s, and had her short skirt pulled up on her thigh slightly as she sat with her legs crossed and pointed towards him.  Her breasts were average size but proportioned well in the low-cut shirt she wore, her long brown hair all pulled over her right shoulder.



“Uh, thanks,” Squall mumbled, turning back to the gambling computer screen to pick out the card he wanted.



Her hand was on the back of his chair as she leaned further towards him.  “I can never get higher than Level 2 cards on these machines.  This must be your favorite game.”



When he looked back to her again, she smiled and stuck her tongue out at him.



Maybe it was Squall’s favorite game.  Actually, it was probably the only game he’d ever played: Some years ago he’d built up a desk so massive that he -- without even meaning to -- toppled Balamb Garden’s Card Club Group.  He was most likely still considered Master King, because if Squall thought about it, he was occasionally challenged by some over-eager students and determined SeeD, though he never lost.  



“Yea, I do actually have a pretty big deck,” Squall said to her and as he looked back to the screen to click [Another?], he heard her reply:



“I bet.”  It was a subtle tone that a year ago Squall may have dismissed, but today he knew there was subtext interlaid in her words.



Maybe Squall shouldn’t have been so annoyed she was hitting on him, she was beautiful.  But he’d always been annoyed whenever anyone spoke to him, and especially annoyed when girls tried to hit on him.  So when the angry-annoyance flared through him, Squall turned to her once more and with cold eyes and his High Commander tone, he said “I’m engaged.”



She immediately withdrew her hand and looked mildly shocked -- perhaps at his anger or perhaps in some attempt to seem confused.



“To a man,” Squall added.  He left his eyes glaring at her a few seconds longer before turning back to the computer screen to choose which cards he would battle with.  A satisfaction filled Squall, almost a jubilation which was reinforced as the woman stood up and walked away.



As his five cards fluttered out along the right side of the screen, Squall allowed himself an uncharacteristic smirk.  It had felt good to tell that woman to fuck off.



Zell should be done getting their “delicate cactus” (West Cactus) take-out for the train ride soon, then Squall wouldn’t even have to tell people to fuck off, Zell would just do it for him.  And Squall didn’t mind that: Zell telling people to fuck off for him also satisfied Squall.



Interest in the gambling game skyrocketed as Squall saw the computer play a Gloves Specialist card.  The Gil worth of the card was beside the point: Squall wanted, needed the Zell-allusion card in his deck.



The brunette man sat up straighter and focused his attention on the screen.  The computer’s difficulty had obviously risen and it was attempting to flat-out overpower Squall’s weaker hand now.



Squall sat staring at his five cards then darting his eyes back to the main board, and it must have been five minutes of just waiting and thinking before he was snapped back into reality.



“Hey, baby,” Zell’s beautiful voice said as the blonde man came up behind Squall and rested his hand on Squall’s shoulder.  In the blonde man’s other hand he held a plastic bag with their train-meal.



“Uh, hold on,” Squall replied, keeping his eyes locked on the screen while he plotted.



It took a moment for Zell to realize Squall wasn’t ending the game:  The sapphire eyes settled on Squall’s face, surprised but calm and pleased.  



“I just want to get the... Gloves card,” Squall mumbled absently, pointing at the screen with his left hand’s index finger.



Zell turned his sapphire eyes to the gambling computer screen where he saw, shocked, how well Squall was doing.  After glancing to the Gil-card ratio instructions that was laid out on the machine, bordering the screen, Zell quickly calculated that Squall had made an astonishing 7,000 Gil (give or take) -- and if Squall won that Gloves Specialist Card, it would be 17,000 Gil.  And Zell had been gone for about 20 minutes.



Then Squall had begun his card-plays, and Zell watched with further astonishment as the High Commander stomped the obviously overpowered deck the computer was using.



The Winner! sound chimed and the Gloves Specialist card was in Squall’s deck.



“I had no idea you played Triple Triad,” Zell said softly.



Squall glanced up to the blonde and swiveled the barstool-like chair so his body faced Zell.  “Yea, I... think I’m in the Card Club.”



Zell lightly chuckled as he said “You ‘think’?”



The brunette man shrugged.  “I never really paid attention after I became...Master King.”



“You’re Master King?!” Zell said, his sapphire eyes widening.



“I never lose,” Squall replied softly.



Zell lightly chuckled again and shook his head.  Of course Squall Leonhart was Master King of the damn Balamb Garden Card Club Group.  Quistis and Xu were both in the club, it was one of those things that intellectuals at the Garden seemed to relish doing.



“C’mon, cash out, baby,” Zell said with amusement.  “Our train should be leaving soon.”



As Squall did, the receipt for 17,341 Gil printing from the machine, he stood up while Zell stepped back.  The blonde man picked up their shared duffle bag from where it had been laying under Squall’s chair.  He slung it over his left shoulder as Squall, receipt in hand, stepped away.



“My mom likes playing Triple Triad too,” Zell said, following Squall to the ticket exchange counter.  



“I know,” Squall said absently, walking through the rows of gambling machines.  “She had that Gloves Specialist card made with your picture.”



To have a card made, you had to get the Queen of Cards’ father to make it for you.  It was very rare for the man to make any specialty cards, and it cost a lot of Gil.



“She lost it,” Zell said with a sad sneer.  “A couple years back.”



“Oh, uh, yea, I know that too,” Squall said, the two men reaching the exchange counter.  He handed the receipt to the clerk, ignoring the wide-eyes from the man, and instead turning to look at Zell while blushing.  “I have it.”  The brunette man then turned back to accept the stacks of Gil.



“You have it?!” Zell asked.



“I’ll give it back to her,” Squall mumbled, turning away from the exchange counter while again ignoring the clerk’s pleasantries (“Have a good day!”) and stuffing the Gil stacks into the duffle bag that Zell wore.  Squall turned his cloudy eyes to look up at Zell.  “I collect rare cards, it’s pretty much why I started playing.  But I’ll give it back to her.”



“No, it’s okay,” Zell said softly, surprised.  “She’s not that big into it.  ...I think she more had it made for me, but I suck at Triple Triad.”



“I’m sorry,” Squall mumbled as he began to head out of the gambling hall and hotel.



“Don’t be,” Zell said, following after Squall again.  “It’s actually kinda funny.”



Squall didn’t reply while he shoved his hands into his jacket pockets.



“How long have you had it?” Zell asked, taking up step next to Squall.



They stepped out into the cold air of 1:00 AM Thursday morning.



“It was my second rare card,” Squall said while glancing both ways as he stepped up to the curb to cross the street.  “So, eight years, something like that.  Before the... Ultimecia thing.”



Ma Dincht had only about five years ago mentioned to Zell that she’d lost the card, when Zell had randomly brought Triple Triad up during a day when his second girlfriend, Jenny, was having dinner at their house.  Ma Dincht hadn’t mentioned she’d lost it to Squall Leonhart.



“What other rare cards do you have?” Zell asked.



The two men crossed the street and walked over to the bus stop.



“I have a lot of GF cards,” Squall said.  “Eden, Doomtrain, Phoenix.”



Those were one-of-a-kind cards that the Queen of Cards had designed to be authorized for play.



“And of course a full set of Level 10 weapon specialist cards,” Squall added while standing at the bus stop.  “My five main cards for games are both Gunblade Specialists, the Mercenary and the White Knight, and then I use Doomtrain, Dark Sorceress, and... my Zell card.”  Squall stole an awkward glance at Zell before turning back to staring at the spot where the bus would pull up.



“You still use my card?” asked Zell.  He was already surprised that Squall even had the card, and now he learned Squall still used it?



“It’s just a Glove Specialist card with you on it,” Squall said without looking at Zell.  “Some people have a problem since it’s not a sanctioned card, so I have to switch it out for the authorized-picture Glove Specialist card.  But mostly people don’t ... say anything.  Sorry.  You don’t even like Triple Triad.  I didn’t mean to talk a lot about it.”



“You’re so funny,” Zell said with a small smile.  



Squall felt awkward while he crossed his arms.



The bus pulled up and the two men climbed aboard, paying the two Gil fee, and chose any seat they liked because the bus was completely empty except the driver.



“Were we better friends than I realize?” Zell asked softly as they sat together.  He held the West Cactus take-out on his lap with both hands, the duffle bag sitting at his feet.

“What do you mean?” Squall asked.



Zell allowed a moment to pass as he and Squall exchanged glances.  As softly as he could, Zell whispered “Your virginity.  The card.  Am I reading too much into it?”



Squall didn’t have an answer, mostly because he didn’t really know himself.  



“I thought,” said Zell, still fairly soft, “that I annoyed you.”



“Everyone annoys me,” Squall replied.  



With his right hand, Zell reached over and laid his palm on Squall’s thigh.  They sat quietly as the bus jolted and bumped along.



“You’ve always liked me?” asked Zell.  “As a friend, I mean.”



“You like being SeeD like I do,” Squall whispered.  “You train as much as I do and work as hard as I do.”



Zell hated that he didn’t understand if there was something more to Squall’s words.  



“I’ll build that nursery at the Garden,” Squall whispered softly.  “So when you have kids with your wife... those Mini-Zells,” Squall smiled at the blonde man, “you can still be SeeD.  With me.”



Zell tried to smile back, and he knew his smile hadn’t formed right, but Squall didn’t seem to notice.  The brunette man turned to placidly stare out the bus’ window into the night and neon sigh-lit world.



As he stared at the back of Squall’s head, Zell thought ‘I want you to be that wife ...or husband or whatever.  Have children with you.’



~*~



Author’s Note Regarding Triple Triad:



I didn’t want to just use the canon version of Triple Triad where the main characters from Final Fantasy VIII all seem to oddly have their own unique cards.  So as you saw above, I replaced those Level 10 cards with weapon specialist cards to make the game more universal (Zell = Gloves Specialist; Squall = Gunblade Specialist, Mercenary; Seifer = Gunblade Specialist, White Knight; Edea = Dark Sorceress).  

And also as you saw above, the few Character Cards I mention (including later if I do) are all considered, in my story’s world, unauthorized cards that are mostly joke-items passed between friends or obsessive fans. (IE: Quistis’ Trepies)



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