Hands at Halloween
FF8SxZ fic for M
By Garden’s Gnome

Zell burrowed further under the tangled covers of his bed, unwilling to face the day that had arrived with bright sunlight and chirping birds. The blonde knew he should have been up hours ago according to the time showing on his clock but he couldn’t bring himself to leave the bed. Two days a year he dreaded the coming dawn that preceded the new day, knowing that each year was going to be no different form the last. At least with April Fools Day, the jokes and pranks were over by lunchtime. But this month was not April.

It was October and today was Halloween.

Zell’s misery began the first year he had spent at Balamb Garden. Somehow Seifer had found out that the smaller blonde really didn’t like bugs…or spiders, or cockroaches or beetles. Creepy crawlies of any kind made Zell’s hair stand on end more easily than his gel and then he would run away or let out a small squeak and faint on the spot. Seifer found it all very funny and thus began the torment. For a whole year he preyed upon the other’s phobia, leaving a hairy spider impaled next to the keypad of Zell’s dorm or putting stink beetles down his shirt during class.

The final straw had been when Seifer had but a dead fly in the sauce on one of Zell’s hotdogs. It had been the last one available from the cafeteria for the day. When Cid arrived from his office to pull the boys apart, Seifer had a black eye and a split lip from Zell’s hard fists while the other blonde sported a slashed shirt showing a rather bloody shoulder.

Seifer never did forgive Zell for the weeks of detention and cleaning of the cafeteria he’d had to endure when witnesses came forward and blamed the arrogant blonde for the fight.

Zell sat up and tossed the covers aside. As he padded into the bathroom he recalled that the previous Halloween hadn’t even been celebrated due to the sorceress war. He knew hoping this year would be quiet also was a waste of time. Selphie and Rinoa had been planning a huge party for weeks, enlisting the help of as many students as they could.

There was no way Zell could avoid the darkly festive day. And now that Seifer was back at the Garden and as arrogant as ever, it could only get worse.

After a long shower and a late breakfast in the cafeteria, Zell wandered aimlessly around the Garden admiring the stalls and costumes that everyone wore. He was looking at the entries to the pumpkin carving competition when he felt a familiar presence behind him.

“Hey Chickenwuss, is this your costume?” asked a deep voice in a well-known taunting tone.

Zell turned and looked over the tall blonde before glaring up into green eyes.

“You’re one to talk, Seifer,” Zell replied as he held his temper.

“I am a Sorceress’ Knight,” the blonde said as he straightened his coat. “I need no other costume.”

“And that’s all it is now…just a costume.”

Green eyes glared down into light blue and Zell fought the urge to step backwards. None but Squall had spoken to Seifer about his being Ultimecia’s knight and Zell knew by the look in the blonde’s eyes that he was pushing the wrong buttons while trying to defend himself. If he wasn’t careful, he could really piss Seifer off and get hurt. Halloween had never been a good day when Seifer was near.

Laughter rumbled in Seifer’s chest and barked from his mouth leaving Zell stunned enough to let the taller blonde ruffle his hair unchallenged.

“Least I don’t have a bug in my hair,” Seifer whispered into Zell’s ear before he grinned evilly and walked away.

Zell watched the other man go, dumbfounded by Seifer’s laughter and trying to figure out why the sound of it made his knees feel weak and his heart beat a little faster. He’d heard the green eyed blonde laugh before, a chilling sound that usually preceded someone getting hurt, usually him. This laughter had been nothing like that.

Turning back to the displays, Zell thought forgetting about the other blonde for the moment would be easy seeing as Seifer had left the area…until he felt something shift in his hair.

Bugs!

So intent on getting whatever it was Seifer has put in his hair out of his blonde locks, Zell failed to notice another behind him until it was too late. Taking a step back he bumped into some hard and as he went down, Zell instinctively reached out and grabbed at the outstretched hand. However the grip did not halt his descent. Closing his eyes and bracing for the impact of a body against his, Zell jumped a little when he heard a warm drawl instead.

“Hey man, you okay?”

Zell looked up into Irvine’s lavender eyes, the sniper seemingly more concerned with the blonde’s welfare, rather than his missing hand.

Missing hand?

Biting his lip hard Zell looked down at the cold hand gripping his, taking in the battle scars, calluses and a bloody bandage. Before he could think properly, Zell threw the arm away from him and looked in the other direction, not wanting to see where it had landed. He had just removed Irvine’s arm from his body. A gloved hand flew over his mouth as wide blue eyes looked up at Irvine.

Irvine looked calmly down at Zell. Then he looked over to where his arm had landed. The sniper glanced down again into horrified and guilty looking blue eyes. Then he burst into laughter.

“Hyne, Zell, you should see the look on your face! You look so pale,” the cowboy said, slapping his own thigh as he continued to laugh. “So whatcha think?” he asked eagerly. “Think it’ll scare Sefie and Quisty?”

Zell watched wide-eyed as the cowboy retrieved the arm, his own normal, undamaged right hand coming out of the sleeve of his duster to pick it up. Irvine had found a Halloween gag item and Zell had been it‘s first victim.

Then he remembered Seifer and his hair. Where there really bugs in it? Before Irvine had a chance to return and ask again if Zell liked the gag, the tattooed blonde got up and left to return to his dorm. He decided he would remain in his room until the day was over.

Passing the library, Zell heard screams coming from behind closed doors that were spray painted ‘haunted house’. Shaking his head as he walked by, the blonde let out a scream of his own as multiple hands grabbed him and dragged him into the library.

From the sounds of the giggles around his, his kidnappers were his own friends. He could hear Rinoa and Selphie giggling somewhere ahead of him, Selphie occasionally telling Irvine to keep his three hands to himself. Behind him, Zell could hear Quistis and Squall commenting on how good the haunted house looked this year compared to previous years when they had been asked to help. Everyone seemed to be unconcerned about the skeletons and ghosts jumping out at them as the wandered through the near darkness. Zell decided to follow their lead and bear with it.

So it was that when Zell felt something cold slip into the back pocket of his shorts, he immediately stopped and reached back to pull it out. Sparing a glance for the thing in his hand, Zell calmly addressed the group.

“Is anyone missing a hand? Cos I just found this one on my ass!”

Everyone turned to look at Zell and the hand he held by the wrist. About to ask again in case they hadn’t heard him the first time, Zell frowned as the white-gloved fingers moved. Before he could scream and drop the hand his grip was reversed, the hand latching onto his wrist and pulling him into darkness.

When Zell awoke sometime later, he was surprised to be surrounded by warmth. His groggy mind suggested that he had dreamed the whole thing and was still in his own bed. But the scent of the bed was wrong and the surface he was sleeping on moved.

As the movement registered on his sleep mind, Zell sat up, or at least tried to. The hand in his back pocket and the arm attached to it prevented him from moving very far. But he was able to catch a glimpse of whom he was half sleeping on. Zell cringed as green eyes opened to watch him. How long he had slept in the other blonde’s arms he could not tell but concluded it had been at least a few hours as the sun outside the window was beginning to set.

“I’m sorry.”

“Huh?” Zell asked, surprised by the unexpected words.

“I said I’m sorry,” Seifer repeated.

“Ah…what for?”

Zell felt Seifer’s chest move as the green eyed blonde sighed. “Squall told me to stop being an ass and just tell you. Didn’t think you’d make it this hard.”

“Tell me what?”

“I…like you, Zell.”

Zell’s head snapped up and blue eyes stared in complete shock at Seifer’s face, searching for the cocky grin or the twinkle in green eyes that would tell Zell that it was just another joke. But there was none, only green eyes stripped bare and showing a truth Zell could not believe.

“I couldn’t tell you,” Seifer said quietly as he reached out and stroked Zell’s hair. “Every time I was going to you would look up at me with a challenge in your eyes and I always found myself wanting to see that fire in them.”

“So you teased me about everything instead,” Zell stated.

“Yeah.”

“What about my hair? You kept putting bugs and other things in it.”

“I needed some excuse to touch you,” the other blonde said with a grin. “Besides, for someone who doesn’t bat an eye during battles, I can’t believe you’re scared of bugs.”

“Everyone has their phobias,” Zell said defensively.

“Perhaps,” Seifer agreed quietly as he cupped the back of Zell’s head and pulled the martial artist in for a kiss.

Zell didn’t fight the light nibbles that Seifer subjected his mouth to. He could feel his heart pounding and his blood rushing through his ears. The warmth and scent of Seifer surrounding him was making it harder to think. Zell softened a little, sharing in the kiss for a moment before pulling back.

“What about tonight? That way your hand in my pocket in the haunted house.”

“Mmmm,” Seifer hummed as he gave up on reclaiming Zell’s lips and moved onto his neck. “I traded places with a some girl who had a huge spider. You know, my ears are still ringing form the scolding Quistis gave me for scaring you enough to make you faint.”

“I fainted? In front of everyone?” Zell asked, his mind horrified by the thought as he skin tingled pleasantly from Seifer’s attentions.

“Yes. And then Squall let me bring you here on the condition that I told you about my feelings.” Seifer stopped his nuzzling of Zell’s neck and looked up into blue eyes. “Which I have done. What will you do now?” he asked, green eyes looking determined and yet vulnerable.

“I…don’t know,” Zell said slowly, lowering his head back to Seifer’s chest. “I guess I’m fine where I am, as long as you don’t move.”

Seifer saw the small smile that graced the other blonde’s lips and relaxed into the mattress of his bed. “Okay, Zell. Oh, I told Squall to send some hotdogs sometime after sunset too.”

“Bribery?” Zell asked.

“Well, perhaps. I was planning on holding you prisoner until you agreed to see me…”

“But I can see you right now.”

“You know what I mean,” Seifer said, tightening his arms a little. “And seeing as you’re staying right where you are, I’m guessing you don’t mind me liking you.”

“Well, I don’t know what to think at the moment,” Zell said softly, reaching up to wrap a hand over Seifer’s shoulder. “I would like some more rest though,” he added drowsily as he settled more firmly against Seifer‘s solid warmth.

“Sure, Zell,” Seifer whispered as the tattooed blonde dropped off to sleep again. “Whatever you want.”