Chapter 6: Eyes of Children
Warning! This story contains language, violence and GRAPHIC descriptions of yaoi (sexual acts between two men), as well as some bondage and non-consensual stuff. If you are not 18 or if you are offended easily, please do not read this! If you chose to ignore this warning, I will not be held responsible for any psychiatric care you require. ^_^ I will also ignore any flames that you send because you feel that Squall and Zell do not make a cute couple or because you hate yaoi. (Face it: there's a LOT of us yaoi fic-writers out there who do what we like, and this IS on a yaoi site, after all! At least, it SHOULD be, unless someone else put it where it doesn't belong.) This fic is a MAJOR what-if; don't be surprised if almost nothing in here fits into the FFVIII storyline. Thanks to Miracle Shining for her inspiration on this one, too. You just rock, Miracle-san! Thanks also to Serdar for his inspiration; a little of the blackness of Dark Age got in here, I think! ^_^
Hours later, Zell carefully slipped out of Squall's embrace and set his feet on the floor. He wobbled a little as he stood, but he didn't even notice; he was too busy staring around the dark room, lit only by a pair of tall pillar candles in sconces near the door.
Color! It's dark and I can see color!
Everything was almost as clear as it was in normal light. Zell sniffed lightly, and a wash of perfumes struck his senses: the almost imperceptible scent of burning from the candles, the salty tang of sweat and their spilled essences, and a rich but light odor of musk and sandalwood. Moving on swift, silent feet, he made his way into the adjoining bathroom. The spacious whirlpool tub was tempting, but Zell ignored it for now. Instead he turned to the mirror and gasped in shock.
Oh man... I look different!
His skin was lighter than it had been, though not as pale as Squall's, a milk-smooth sheath over muscles made harder and stronger. Zell flexed his arm, running fingers over his biceps as he gaped in amazement. If he'd been powerfully built before, now he was inhuman. He turned his attention back to his face, where the differences were subtle, but he knew his face better than anyone else. His features were more refined, the curves and angles that were either too soft or too sharp before now settled into perfection, changing his boyish good looks into feral beauty. His eyes-- his eyes!-- widened, metallic silver over vibrant sky-blue, shining with amazement and a shock that slowly settled in.
"Yes, you are."
The soft voice breathed in his ear, making him shiver as a pair of alabaster arms wrapped around his waist from behind, another nude male body fitting to the curves of his own.
"It's from your blood," Squall murmured as he trailed gentle kisses down Zell's neck to his shoulders.
Zell sighed and let his head fall to one side, leaning back into his lover as Squall gave a playful nip at the juncture of his neck and shoulder. "Thirsty?"
"A little, but it can wait. I'm just glad you're okay."
"Did you see what happened to me? I look a little older."
Squall nodded. "Your body's matured beyond what it would normally be capable of, and that means it worked. You're an Absinthe Chalice now."
"Is that why I was havin' your dreams along with mine last night?"
"And I was seeing yours. It's the telepathic bond. How do you think I've been reading your thoughts? You can probably hear mine now, too."
"I think so. Last night, before I fell asleep... you said you loved me."
Zell turned in Squall's embrace, draping his arms around his lover's shoulders and looking up into his eyes.
"I love you...," Squall whispered, inclining his head to brush his lips over Zell's. A wave of happiness rushed over the blond, and he knew it wasn't just his anymore. But when Squall's mouth moved down to his throat again, Zell quickly forgot about everything else.
Zell couldn't sit still as he listened to Celeste, the dark-haired woman who'd given her blessing to him and Squall. She strapped a black leather band with a milky green jade bead around his wrist as she explained his duties. Zell nodded absently, squirming in his seat as Squall watched him from his seat across the room. Squall was wearing another of his black leather vests with no shirt, but the leather pants he wore today were cut much lower, showing Squall's pierced navel. The vampire toyed absently with the steel ring that matched the ones in his nipples, and Zell found himself longing for an identical set so Squall's tongue could play with them....
"Zell? Are you listening to me?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah."
"What did I just say?"
Celeste sighed. "Zell, if you can't learn to block out Squall's mind, you won't be able to function on your own."
"It's not fair! He's sittin' over there showin' me all kinds of kinky stuff in my head!" he whined.
"That's the idea. You need to be able to ignore random sexual thoughts. Otherwise you'll just end up as a horny mess every time you're near him."
"I've got news for ya! I'm already a horny mess! Can't we take a fifteen-minute break?" he begged.
"Not until you can handle this. I don't expect you to do this all at once, but you should make some headway today."
"Please don't say 'head,'" Zell whimpered. Squall bit his lip to keep from laughing, and Zell fired him a scathing glare. "It's not funny!"
Celeste rapped him sharply on the ear, and Zell yelped as his enhanced hearing protested. "Pay attention!"
"I may only be a forty year old human woman, but I still know how to get your attention better than the most seductive vampire. Now sit up and listen."
Zell grumbled and did as he was told, focusing only on Celeste's voice and face. The trickle of suggestive images from Squall's mind thinned somewhat.
"Now... what do you do if another vampire tries to feed from you?"
"I fight back. Simple enough."
"What if Squall is injured?"
"Then I cut my wrist and let him drink until he heals. This is all common sense stuff!"
"What about if you're both caught out in the sun?"
"Then I look for shelter, carry him there, and wait for sundown," Zell muttered. He was getting bored, and remembering last night and this morning didn't help his squirming one bit.
"What if there is no shelter?"
"I... I dunno."
Celeste sighed again. "That's why you wear a hooded cloak at all times when you go out."
"I wear one," Squall piped up. "They're actually quite nice."
"If you wear one, why do I hafta?! I'm not the cloak-wearin' type!"
"Because one layer sometimes isn't enough."
Zell snorted. "This trainin' is pretty brainless, if you ask me."
"Normally, it's a lot more complicated," Celeste said. "We use this time to teach the candidate what to expect, since telepathic bonding is very intense. But since you're already an Absinthe, you'll pick up most of what you need to know from Squall through your link... if you can tune out the rest of what he's projecting long enough to absorb the relevant info."
"We've been doin' this all damn day! How much longer can I listen to this boring shit while he sits there screwin' with my head?"
Celeste covered her eyes with a hand. "Fine. I'll come back in an hour and we'll pick up where we left off." She dropped her hand and turned to Squall. "Get it together, you two. Don't make me regret giving you my blessing."
Squall nodded soberly, and Celeste left. Zell immediately crossed the room and flung his arms around Squall, pressing his face into the man's neck. Squall fought back the urge to kiss him, gently holding him at arm's length instead. Zell looked at him with a mixture of confusion and hurt.
"Zell, this is serious. If they think you're not responsible, they'll kill you to protect the circles."
"Kill me?! But wouldn't that...."
"Yes, and they'd do it in a heartbeat if they feel threatened. All it takes is one loose cannon to start a disaster. They'd consider you untrustworthy in every respect, and if they thought you'd reveal our secrets to outsiders...."
"I'm sorry, Squall." Zell hung his head, and Squall felt the lash of his genuine shame. "I didn't think about that. I though this was just all fun for us...."
Squall sighed and pulled Zell back against him; the blond instinctively buried his face against Squall's neck again. The vampire chuckled softly. "Hey, which one of us is the bloodsucker here?"
Zell looked up at him with a hopeful smile.
Squall laughed. "Oh, come on now! You're gonna make me fat!"
"Not if we burn it all off later." Zell grinned broadly.
Squall ruffled his hair. "Now I find out what a sex fiend you are! You could've warned me!"
"What fun would that've been?"
"Okay, okay. I promise that when they're done with us for the night, we'll go have some fun. Maybe we'll go dancing again."
"Won't the regs at the Cursed Gaze be surprised! But first, I wouldn't mind changin' my look a little. Reflect my new status, you know?"
"Well, I was thinkin' of somethin' more like you. No shirt, tight pants, lotta leather... somethin' to show off this kick-ass new bod I've got."
Squall licked his lips, grinning evilly. "All that leather and bare skin... I might be the one having trouble keeping my hands to myself."
"And speakin' of which, what's this?" Zell held up his wrist.
"That jade bead proves that you're an Absinthe Chalice. If you look closely at it, you'll see really tiny script spiraled all the way around it that says you're tied to me, the date you became a Chalice, and a bunch of other things."
"Like an ID?"
"Exactly. So don't lose it." Squall shifted Zell so the boy was straddling his lap, and the blond's cheeks filled with aroused color as he felt a flash of Squall's thoughts. Squall swallowed. "Oh god, don't start blushing around me. All that blood in your face is making me thirsty."
"You look good when you do it." Zell ran a fingertip down the scar on Squall's face. "How did you get this?"
Squall's eyes clouded. "Silver's one of our few vulnerabilities besides the sun. Wounds from silver never totally heal, and they're very painful to get. If we get hit in a vital area and the silver goes deep enough, it can poison us. There are also humans-- self-proclaimed vampire hunters-- who love to shoot us with injector darts or hollowpoint bullets filled with silver nitrate. Enough of it and we melt like wax from the inside out."
Zell shuddered. "Oh man... you mean a vampire hunter did this with a silver knife or somethin'?"
"It was a claw ring." Squall's voice grew soft. "As for who did it, I wish it had been a hunter."
Zell knew not to press the issue; this was a demon he knew Squall would rather leave buried. He clung to Squall, letting his lover's lips brush his neck. Squall sucked in a sharp breath and ran his tongue over a patch of skin over the artery beating there.
"Go on...," Zell breathed.
"You little tease...."
Zell felt the points of his lover's fangs start to press into his neck and he closed his eyes in anticipation. Suddenly, Celeste burst into the room, and the boys sprang apart with guilty expressions. She didn't even notice.
"Squall, we've got a problem! There's been another Chalice murder!"
"What?" Squall leaped to his feet. "Who was it?"
"Linden." Celeste bit her lip as Squall's eyes darkened. "I know he was your friend, Squall, but... there's something about this you should see...."
Zell took one look at the body slumped in the alley behind the Cursed Gaze and turned away, hiding his face against Squall's chest. Squall held him close, staring at his dead friend over his lover's head.
Linden and Zell were both somewhat short and blond, with the muscular builds of martial artists. Even their faces had a similar structure. Whoever had drained the most of the blood from Linden's body had left two pronounced punctures in his neck, but that wasn't what bothered Squall the most. Some of the boy's blood had been used to spike his bangs up in a rather familiar set of points, and more blood had been smeared down the left side of his face in a crude imitation of Zell's tattoo. And then, on the wall behind the corpse, sprawling crimson letters spelled out a single sentence.
I will have what is mine.
"Like hell you will," Squall snarled softly. He crushed Zell against him until the newborn Chalice squeaked in pain.
Squall eased up just enough for Zell to breathe without pain. The blond looked up at him with fear in his strange eyes. "Somebody wants me...?"
"No," Squall replied flatly. "They want to kill you, because they want me."
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