A/N: So, Squall/Zell is the only slash pairing for FF8 that I really like and I'm pretty disappointed that there are so few fics for it. I decided to write one myself to help make up for that. Also, in this fic, just assume Squall and Rinoa broke up somehow post-game. Use your imagination as to why lol.
"I wonder what it's like," Zell said as he watched the couple on the TV screen indulge in a passionate kiss. He sat at Squall's desk in his dorm room, while the stoic SeeD relaxed on his bed, back against the wall. Squall had begrudgingly let him in when the martial artist showed up at his door, bored out of his mind, and arms laden with snacks and a few cans of soda.
"Wonder what what's like?" Squall asked, turning to him.
Zell half-expected Squall to flee the premises in response to the unexpected disclosure. Instead, Squall seemed to ponder what he said.
"Huh," Squall said. "Is there a reason?"
Zell felt a bit sheepish now that he'd brought up the topic. Not that he felt shy about expressing his feelings. He just had the feeling that it was a bit odd to ask Squall the question. They'd grown close after the time they'd spent together, but somehow it felt like topics like this were almost off-limits. Squall wasn't the type to talk about sensuality. "Ah...I don't know. It just popped in my head that it'd probably be nice to kiss a girl, I guess. There's no power play goin' on there. Just two halves makin' a whole."
"Power play? What do you mean?"
"I mean, in life, there's always competition. You gotta be better than this guy or that guy. But when you're kissing, there's none of that. You just...relax and let it all go." Zell wasn't sure where he was going with this. He felt just as confused as Squall probably was. He dared to peek at Squall and found that Squall was already watching him. "Anyway, I just think it'd be nice to kiss someone. Maybe."
Squall looked at him oddly. "I suppose…"
"Just feel lonely sometimes, you know?" Zell felt like he'd dug himself into too deep of a hole to stop now as he kept going. "Gets old just hittin' the stuffing out of a punchin' bag. Would rather have someone to hold and say 'I love you' to instead."
"So why don't you find someone, then?"
"It ain't that easy, Squall," Zell said, rolling his eyes. "It's not like that person would just be...you know…" Zell gestured around himself awkwardly. Squall said nothing as he leaned forward to clasp his hands in his lap.
There was a quiet moment where it felt like it was still Zell's turn to speak. He fumbled for something to fill the silence for a few seconds.
"Anyway, I don't know why I brought up kissin' outta nowhere. Didn't mean to get all sappy and 'woe is me' either. Sorry." Zell wished Squall would sock him in the face for catapulting them into painful awkwardness. But instead of punching him, Squall seemed to be lost in thought, looking pensive.
"I never really wanted to be with someone before Rinoa and I got close," Squall said suddenly, startling Zell. "I barely talked to anyone before...before we went to Dollet. I never even had the opportunity anyway. All I ever did was train, study, and train even more. There wasn't time for anything else."
Zell could hardly suppress his smile. He'd actually managed to get Squall to open up a little! This was definite progress. "I think most girls just can't take me seriously," Zell said, with a shrug. "They look at me like I'm their annoyin' little brother who can't keep still. Not someone they'd whisper sweet nothings to."
"Maybe you're a bit too hyperactive," Squall said, almost apologetically. "Your energy is kind of overpowering sometimes. It used to make me anxious honestly." He paused, frowning. "Actually, it still kind of does."
"I didn't know you felt like that, Squall," Zell's heart fell at the thought of his personality being so intimidating to his friend. He suddenly felt overly aware of the blaring quality of his voice. To his dismay, he wasn't sure he was even capable of speaking at the same volume as Squall. His shoulders slumped as a wave of sadness overtook him.
With what seemed like great reluctance, Squall spoke. "Although I do like you better when you're yourself. Kind of."
Squall looked as though he regretted the admission as soon as he saw the stunned look on Zell's face. Once the initial shock wore off, Zell grinned vibrantly as he confronted Squall.
"Did I just hear what I thought I heard?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." Squall huffed, furrowing his brows.
"You just admitted you've got a soft spot for me! Okay, where's a calendar 'cause I just gotta mark this down!" Zell bounded over to the bed, plopping himself down beside his friend.
Squall squinted as Zell spoke, as though he was already talking much too loudly again.
"Don't get too excited," Squall said, shifting slightly away from him as though to drive the point home. It seemed like his guard was already coming back up. Zell couldn't help but grin anyway. It was too late—he already admitted it.
"Anyway, it's not like I bounce off walls twenty-four seven, Squall. And I am tryin' my best to meet you halfway. You've done a lot for me. Like savin' my ass at D-District, remember?" It was a memory he thought back to every now and then. It made his heart swell with gratitude just thinking about how Squall had swooped in like a hero he might have dreamed of as a child. He knew Squall was sick of hearing about it, but he never tired of recalling the moment he'd deemed him as his savior.
Squall sighed. "Zell, I keep telling you…"
"No, I will bring it up again. You looked so cool jumpin' down and killin' that bastard. You saved my life, man! I was this close to tattooin' your name on my right cheek after that," Zell said, tapping his face emphatically.
Squall averted his eyes, clearly embarrassed. "I would've done that for anyone. Even Irvine," he added dryly.
"Wow! So I'm a rung above Irvine on the 'Squall approval' ladder." Zell chuckled as Squall rolled his eyes.
"That's not saying much…" Squall muttered. "You're not a whackjob who keeps trying to drag me to the nearest strip club."
Zell couldn't help but smirk. He and Squall shared a similar disdain for their gun-toting friend. "That cowboy's a smitten mutt on a leash compared to how he used to be. Remember how he'd try to bribe you into lettin' him team up with Selphie and Rinoa? Quisty was lucky she wasn't his type. Although I would've thought he'd find her whip kinda kinky. Not that I ever thought that myself..."
Squall groaned. "And he's also constantly trying to push me into a relationship ever since my break-up. Just like how it was with Rinoa. I wish people would get off my back and just let me decide for myself if I even want someone in my life."
Zell scratched the back of his neck. "Yeah, well, you're only nineteen so you've got all the time in the world. Besides, fightin' monsters is way more fun than...than that," he gestured to the TV where the couple were now in the middle of a heated argument.
They sat in silence seemingly in mutual agreement with Zell's statement. The movie played in the background although they had stopped paying attention to it long ago.
"About what you asked me earlier...you know, kissing?" Squall's voice was uncharacteristically meek.
"My first time...wasn't that great."
Squall looked tense again, as though he were admitting something he really didn't want to tell Zell. And he probably had no idea why he was telling Zell. Zell, feeling his curiosity piqued, tried not to ward off Squall's confession by acting too eager to hear what he had to say.
Squall shook his head, chuckling a little. "It was...it was actually pretty bad. And not just my first time either. I'm not a good kisser."
Zell smiled. "Squall, that's nothin' to be ashamed of. At least you've got the balls to admit it. Most guys would just be in denial and act like they're bonafide studs."
"Well, I don't know any guys who've done that, but for the sake of cheerin' you up, I'm gonna say they've gotta be out there."
"That doesn't make me feel that much better." He paused, a grand sigh escaping his lips. "But thanks for trying."
"Anytime." Zell was at least grateful that Squall trusted him enough to disclose something so personal and allow himself to be vulnerable with him. Moments like this made him crave more, to know more about his friend's private self, the man he kept hidden from all other prying eyes.
Squall looked at Zell again, his eyes boring into his. Zell realized that Squall had a tendency to look at people just a bit longer than was necessary, although it never really made him uncomfortable. It was something that stood out in stark contrast, though.
"Zell...there's another reason you asked me about kissing, isn't there? Not just curiosity."
Not just curiosity?
"What do you mean?" Zell felt taken aback, not expecting this.
"I don't know." Squall shook his head and rubbed at his eye. "Maybe I'm losing my mind. I must be spending way too much time with you."
Zell forced a laugh, feeling like he needed to affirm his perspective on the matter. Because it seemed like Squall was implying that...
"It's not like that, Squall, I swear. It was just the movie. I was watchin' the movie and it just made me curious, you know? 'Cause I was watchin' them kiss and I just—I just…" Words tumbled from his mouth in a jumbled, nervous torrent. Only the fiercely analytical look on Squall's face stopped him. It made Zell realize that the more in-depth the explanation, the more bizarre he looked. As Squall watched him, it was like he could see right through him, all the way down to his cellular makeup. Realizing his palms were slick with sweat, Zell stealthily rubbed them on his jeans.
Squall's lips quirked upward, seemingly amused by his response. Zell sat spellbound as Squall actually laughed a little. "Sorry. You just look so...nervous."
Zell heaved a sigh of relief at the shift in mood. "Squall…" he admonished with a chuckle. He playfully punched Squall's bicep, although it was a little too hard, making him wince. "Sorry," he said sheepishly.
"Don't be sorry, Chicken-Wuss," Squall said as he rubbed his arm, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. This was only the second time he'd called Zell by that nickname, and he had to admit it did stir up that oh-so-familiar indignation and a need to retaliate just because it was connected to that bastard Seifer...but he decided he'd let it slide. This time.
"You're lucky I'm in a good mood. Otherwise I'd punch you for real."
Squall smiled at him. Actually smiled with his eyes crinkling tenderly around the edges as though he were looking at something endearing. It was as though all the stress in Squall's face had melted and something youthful and encouraging had taken its place. Zell had to swallow the lump that formed in his throat. Squall looked very...kind. And...and pure. It almost felt as though Hyne himself had leaned forward and wrapped his arms around him. For an insane moment, he thought he'd start crying.
Instead, he tore his eyes away from his friend. Picked up the remote control with a trembling hand. Tried to gather his thoughts.
"You know what? Let's stop watchin' this mush. Something with some good ol' fashioned ass-kickin' would be awesome right now." He clicked to exit the movie they were watching where the couple were currently dancing in the rain.
Feeling some of his characteristic vigor return, Zell began searching for an action movie, with Squall sitting quietly beside him. For the rest of the night, things felt so very comfortable. Right.