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Title: Echoes
Part: 19
Fandom: Final Fantasy VIII
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Squall/Zell eventual, Full Cast
Rating: M overall
Summary: Squall draws a strange spell from a strange beast, but when he casts it, nothing seems to happen -- until the next day...
Notes: 2007's NaNoWriMo fic, edited. May contain gratuitous butchering of game mechanics and also, lots of Shiva. Some of this has been posted randomly in unfinished forms. ^^;;

Should I start counting down?" Squall asked himself as he crawled out of bed and headed for the bathroom. "Should I do something silly? Should I stay in again? I don't know."

He turned on the bathroom light and headed straight for the shower.

"I'm completely out of things to do, you know," he said to himself as he turned on the water. He didn't even think he was talking to Shiva as much as he was just talking to himself. He wondered if his mood was starting to reset - was he always so grumpy in the mornings? He didn't know how to wake up chipper.

"Could go after Zell again," he said. "Check the weather in Winhill, and see if by starting early I can perhaps get a little farther than awkward kissing. I thought adults just got it over with quickly."

He paused. He wasn't actually talking to anyone.

"Fucked, I mean," he said. Normally he didn't swear - there wasn't reason.

"Fucked." It felt kinda good. He felt like a thirteen year old. A crazy one.

He got into the shower and swore again, but mainly because he slid a bit and crashed his elbow into the wall.

Completely side-tracked, Squall found himself in a deep conversation with a couple of female students about the musical merit of the Aching Need. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as he'd grown more and more fond of their music and he certainly understood their choice in names, especially as Zell bounced by on his way to lunch.

"Gotta go," he said to the girls, both of whom nodded.

"Catch ya around, Commander," one of them said with a smile. "I'll give you a CD with those live songs on, okay?"

"Sure," Squall said, a little disappointed that he'd never actually get it. But he had better things to do, like follow Zell.

"Hey," he called as he caught up to the blond.

"Can't chat," Zell said. "I heard a rumor that there are hot dogs today."

"Fish sticks and mac-n-cheese," Squall corrected. "You heard wrong."

"How do you know?"

"I just do," Squall said. "Maybe I approved the menu or something. I don't know. But trust me on this. There's no need to rush."

Zell smiled. "Okay. Sure."

"So what are you doing after lunch?" Squall asked. Zell had probably just come from the training centre - he looked a little rumpled around the edges.

Zell shrugged as they entered the cafeteria. "I don't know. Haven't thought about it. Usually I help with some of the junior classes in the afternoons, but since we weren't sure how long we'd be in Trabia..."

"Cancelled all week," Squall finished. "I knew that - I'm the one who opened up our schedules, though mine is closing back in again."

"Speaking of which, how are you feeling?" Zell asked as he received a plate of mac-n-cheese. "No weird after-effects of that spell?"

Squall shook his head and pointed at the fish sticks.

"Nothing. Kind of disappointing, actually. I was rather hoping to wake up with horns or scales or something," he said as they headed off towards the staff area.

"I've had scales," Zell said coldly. "Wouldn't recommend them. Do you have any idea how much lotion they required? In places I never would have thought would ever need lotion."

Squall chuckled as they sat down.

"Rumor has it that Rinoa did that on purpose," he said without quite meaning to. He'd have to watch that once time straightened out - he'd gotten far too used to just saying things whenever it seemed like a good idea. Or a bad one.

"What?" Zell asked, leaning forward. "I mean, um, part of me has always thought so but I've never really done anything to her. Not on purpose at least. I like Rinoa."

"Don't hold it against her," Squall said quickly. "She's grown up a lot since then."

"I know."

"So, what were you up to?"

"Practice," Zell said. "No point in stopping. I don't want to get rusty in case weird things strike Trabia again. Actually, it'd be nice to go out to Esthar and just find some big bad awful thing that their army guys can't handle and show off..."

"Next time Laguna asks for support, you'll be first on my list," Squall said, mentally asking Shiva if she'd not touch that memory at all - it would come in handy because Esthar still intimidated a lot of working SeeDs.

"As long as I don't have to sit through any official dinners," Zell added. "Do you remember that last one?"

"It was long and boring," Squall recollected. And it had been in their honor, though he wasn't sure why. "But Laguna isn't behind any of that - apparently Esthar custom is to bore important guests half to death and then get them lost in the city."

"Sounds about right," Zell said before he shoveled about half of the contents of his plate into his mouth. "Hey..."


"They should cut up pieces of hot dog and put in here," Zell said as he pointed down at his mac-n-cheese with his fork. "Seriously, it'd be really good. I'm going to go suggest that right now before I forget."

And with that, Zell was off. Squall hated to see the wasted effort, but really it wasn't hurting anything either.

Zell had been exceptionally easy to get naked. The problem was that he was naked in the shower and Squall was sitting out in his sitting room, pondering the bare wall and wondering if anything would manage to happen or if the afternoon would be as disasterous as it usually was. Sure, adults got the sexual impulses out of the way quickly, but he hadn't even managed to tell Zell that the attraction was rather mutual. Still, if he had to deal with awkward sex, it might be better if it would be something that neither of them would end up remembering when it was all said and done.

He had half a bottle of mustard in the fridge, a bottle of soda, and some baking soda... He couldn't even really offer anything else, other than coffee. And Zell probably didn't need any more caffeine than his already mysterious intake.

The shower turned off and a minute later, Zell had emerged from the bedroom wearing only the towel. Squall blinked. Maybe he was going to get seduced. He could stand to get seduced, he guessed. Maybe. Well, it was worth a try, in the end.

"You've got a way better bathroom than I do," Zell said as he circled around. "Gotta cool down after that."

"I always just thought it was poor ventilation," Squall admitted. He looked over at Zell and patted the space beside him. "Have a seat, though. Un-melt, or whatever."

Zell shrugged and sat.

Squall sighed inwardly.

Might as well go for it.

"You still interested?" Squall asked as he continued to look at the wall.

"In what?" Zell asked.


"Huh, I-" Zell stopped and shifted. "Hey, I... Um... Well, that's to say..."

"Because if you are, go ahead and kiss me. You're already naked, so I assume that'll make things easier."

He was expecting anything but the reaction he got. Another false start wouldn't have surprised him. A smack, a punch, anything other than Zell's mouth on his, Zell's body half on top of him already. Squall kissed back quickly, letting his hands find smooth still-damp skin. Something had obviously been perfectly correct because this hadn't happened yet. Maybe it was the shower.

"You turn into Ell or something?" Zell asked as he shifted them so that he was mostly laying on top of Squall along the length of the sofa. "In the shower, I was thinking... Well, waste of time now but..."

Squall kissed him, pulling their mouths together and pushing his tongue into Zell's mouth. Zell didn't protest. Squall wished he knew what to do next. They could fumble through it. Maybe Zell knew. He hoped Zell didn't know. He wasn't sure why, but the thought of Zell with anyone else was a little alarming. Zell just seemed so...

Zell was reaching to slide a hand up under his shirt and Squall just stopped thinking about everything.

He froze when Zell's hand did slide upward, more out of surprise than anything else. He hadn't expected things to go so well.

"You okay?" Zell asked softly. He shifted, sitting up so that his legs straddled Squall's lap. Squall could see Zell's arousal beneath the towel and he was sure he was quite obviously erect himself.

"Yeah," Squall said. "I just wasn't expecting... But I'm not complaining, either..."

"Sorry," Zell said as he scrambled backwards. "We can, kinda, cool off..."

"I don't want to," Squall said. "Neither do you."

Zell nodded. Apparently speaking the truth worked.

All afternoon.



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