Squall lay sprawled out on his bed, the covers having long been kicked off. One hand was beneath his head and the other was twirling his ring between his fingers. He had been staring at it for almost half an hour straight before turning his attention to the ceiling. But he had stared at that enough in his lifetime to have it memorized already, even with the GFs eating away at his memories.

He sighed for what must have been the tenth time in as many minutes if only to keep from crying. He had already shed his tears over what had happened, and he didn't want to waste his time on any more. But he still couldn't stop his mind from wandering to that event just the other day…

"Zell?" Squall asked softly, approaching the shorter man cautiously.

Said blonde looked up curiously, stopping in mid-punch. The weighted bag that was being bludgeoned to death swung momentarily before falling still. A few pieces of fluff fluttered out of a small rip before Zell absent-mindedly replaced the duct tape that was falling off.

"Yeah, baby?" Zell asked, wiping the sweat from his forehead. He looked over at the boy he had been dating for the past month, wondering why he looked so serious this time. Usually when they were alone together, Squall wasn't so afraid to smile or laugh with him.

"I was thinking," Squall began, nervousness creeping into his voice. He fidgeted with something in his hands before holding it out. "Would you wear my ring?"

Zell looked at the small ring in Squall's palm, the scuffed sliver brighter against the black of Squall's gloves. A smile spread across Zell's face as he looked into Squall's eyes. "Oh, baby, I would love to. Except…" His smile faded slightly and Squall felt his heart break. "I can't. You see…"

"Don't bother," Squall stated harshly. He clenched his hand into a fist, hiding the ring from view. "Sorry I bothered you, Zell." And with that he turned away, ignoring whatever else the blonde was trying to tell him.

Squall in the present sighed once more, the repetitive sound striking the well of anger within him. He thought Zell would understand. He thought that Zell would have known what the ring meant to Squall.

But if he refused to wear it…

Squall flipped over onto his side with a grunt and stared at the digital clock that stared right back at him mockingly, saying nothing more than the numbers 0752. He should have gotten out of bed almost two hours ago, he knew. He still had lots of work to do, and he had yet to actually fall asleep. Any minute now, he would hear Quistis knocking on his door, reminding him of his duties as Commander…


Squall didn't even blink at the rapid, almost desperate knocking. Instead he dragged himself out of his bed, dropping his ring on the nightstand, and sauntered over to the door. He pulled it open and looked at Quistis, who was glaring at him far more that she usually did when he slept in.

"Yes?" Squall asked in icy politeness.

"Don't you 'yes' me, Squall," Quistis hissed. Her arms were crossed over her chest, seemingly, so that they wouldn't reach out and strike Squall. "You know what's wrong."

"I'll try not to sleep in next time," Squall stated simply, trying to push past the blonde woman.

"Oh no you don't," Quistis began, stepping forward so that Squall had to retreat back into his room. "That's not what this is about at all, although I am going to lecture you on that soon enough. This is about Zell."

Squall glared at the mention of the name. "What about him?"

"Oh nothing much," Quistis replied flippantly, "except that he's been in my room all night, crying, over how much of an asshole you can be."

At the thought of Zell crying over anything, much less him, Squall felt his heart drop, but he refused to show it. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Quistis glared at Squall, and for a moment the boy was almost offended that she would dare steal his look. Then she did something he would have never expected out of anyone.

She grabbed him by the ear, pinching his flesh with perfectly manicures nails, and began to drag him down the hall. He flinched involuntarily and tried to fight as he was taken against his will to the girl's wing of the dormitories. He was glad that it was early in the morning because that meant that there weren't many people around to witness the debasing of their commander. Just as the pain in his ear was becoming unbearable, Quistis stopped and let him go.

Squall glared at her, before realizing that they were standing in front of Quistis' room. Before he could ask, she stated coldly, "He still in there. Go."

He paused momentarily, but thought that if he made to go somewhere other than her room, she would pounce and attack him. So he sighed internally and turned the knob, pushing the door open and stepping inside.

This first thing he was, was a giant lump of blankets on the couch. There was the sound of rustling as it turned to face him and he heard Zell's emotion-cracked voice say softly, "Quistis, hey I just…"

"Hello, Zell," Squall greeted evenly. The blonde shrunk deeper into the couch, a corner of the blanket falling in front of his face.

"Oh, hey."

There was a silence. Squall walked over and stood in front Zell. He placed his hands on his hips and glared down. "What do you want?"

"I'm… I'm sorry, Squall…"

Squall growled, unable to stand it anymore. He reached down and tore the blanket off Zell, revealing the small blonde to be wearing the same clothes he had been the day before. "What do you want?" He repeated venomously.

A sob escaped Zell as he threw his arms around Squall's waist. "I want to be with you still!"

Squall grabbed at Zell's arms. The blonde refused to look up, instead burying his face into Squall's stomach.

"You want to be with me?" Squall repeated. "Even after you refused my ring? Zell," his voice softened, "you know what I meant when I gave you that ring, didn't you?"

"Of course I knew – I still know." Zell sniffled and looked up at Squall with bloodshot eyes. "But you didn't let me explain."

"Explain what?" Squall looked away from the pathetic sight. "That you don't want to be with me anymore? That you don't want to… to marry me eventually."

"No! I couldn't wear you ring – and I still can't – but not for any of those reasons!"

"Then, dammit, why Zell?" Squall barked. Zell suddenly fell silent, looking away ashamedly. He mumbled something, but Squall couldn't make it out. "What did you say?"

"I said… I'm allergic to metal."

"You?" Suddenly, all the anger faded away. "You're what?"

"I'm allergic to metal." Zell blushed horribly, still refusing to look Squall in the eye. "There something about it – the nickel or something – that makes me break out into a rash when I'm in contact with it for a long time." He chanced a glance upwards. "I can't wear your ring because I'm allergic to it, not because I don't love you."

Squall suddenly felt so foolish, so stupid. He had almost lost the one thing in his life he loved more than anything because he had refused to listen to something so simple. "Oh, Zell," he began, collapsing suddenly onto the floor. "I'm sorry, I…"

Zell gave a tentative grin, reaching out to cup Squall's hands in his own. "Don't be sorry, baby. I love you, and I'll always love you. Even if you aren't patient enough sometimes."

"Zell," Squall whispered. "Zell, I love you. And… Thank you. Thank you for taking me back…"

Zell reached down and hugged him tightly. "I'll always take you back, baby."

Before you ask, it is possible to be allergic to metal – I have that same allergy. The idea for this fic actually arose from me wanting to wear the Griever ring my girlfriend gave me, and my inability to wear it. But I'm sure no one cares, so till next time!