Disclaimer: In no way at all do I own the ANY of the characters or places in this piece of writing. They are all from the game Final Fantasy VIII, which I do not own. This piece of writing was created ONLY for the reading pleasure of fans everywhere. I make no profit off of this writing whatsoever, and it is completely fictitious.

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Allergic Reaction

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"OW!" Zell yelped. "Do you know how much that hurts?"

"No," Dr. Kadowaki smirked, putting another needle onto a small table.

"Well it hurt a lot!" Zell complained. "And now it itches."

"Well don't scratch it. You'll contaminate the others."

Zell's hand twitched, but he held back the urge to scratch. "How many more of these are there?"

"Ten."

"TEN?! How many have we done?"

"One." The doctor was starting to lose her patience.

"Common! Is this allergy test really necessary?"

"Yes. Now if you'd stop asking questions, this would be a lot easier... on me." She pricked him again.

"OW!" Zell swung his legs up and down from the spot that they were dangling off of the examining table. "This is stupid. I don't have any allergies."

Dr. Kadowaki slapped Zell's legs to make him stop wiggling. "Tell it to the headmaster."

"Oh, Cid's gonna hear about it, don't you worry."

Several minutes later Zell sat in the waiting room while the next victim, Selphie, was being tested for allergies. His arm was so itchy that his eyes were watering as he tried not to scratch it. Then Selphie came out and sat down next to him, followed by the doctor.

Selphie looked at Zell's arm. One of the prick marks looked red and puffy. "Looks like you have an allergy, Zell."

Zell glared at her while the doctor checked his prick marks. "Indeed he does. You're allergic to wheat, Zell."

"Wheat, all right. Looks like I'll have to stop eating Shredded Wheat for breakfast. See ya, hopefully later than sooner." Zell left the room with a wave.

Selphie looked at the doctor. "Aren't hot dog buns made out of wheat?"

-----

Zell raced into the cafeteria at the beginning of lunch. There was already a long line of people waiting for their hot dogs. Zell sighed and took his place at the end of the line.

Selphie came up behind him. "Hey Zell, you left the doctor's office pretty quickly yesterday. You didn't even wait for her to tell you all the foods that you're allergic to."

"I did though. Wheat. I threw out my cereal this morning so I didn't have any breakfast, and now I'm starved. Can't wait for my hot dog."

"Zell, don't you know that hot dog buns are made out of wheat, too?"

"Say what?"

"There's wheat in hot dog buns."

Zell laughed. "Selphie... April Fool's isn't for a few more months, you should save the pranks 'til then."

"Zell, I'm being serious!" Selphie was becoming impatient. "There's more things made with wheat than just Shredded Wheat. There's also: cake, cookies, croutons, crackers, pie, pizza, bread, granola bars, and yes, HOTDOG BUNS!"

Zell's jaw hit the floor. "There's wheat in all those things?"

Selphie nodded all-knowingly.

"What am I going to eat?"

"Well, you can still have the hot dog, just not with the bun."

Just then Seifer joined the line behind them. "Who doesn't have any buns?" he asked.

Zell raised an eyebrow. "What?"

"What...?"

"Zell just found out he's allergic to wheat," Selphie informed.

"You got Celiac Disease?" asked Seifer.

"What? No, it's just an allergy," Zell assured him.

"To wheat..." Seifer was trying to make sure that he was getting the story right.

"Yes." Zell confirmed.

"So you can't have any hot dog buns? That sucks."

"Tell me about it."

Seifer started to chuckle.

Zell folded his arms. "You think it's funny? Laugh it up. Just wait 'til you get YOUR allergy test."

"No, it's just..." He tried to stop his laughter. "There's wheat in hot dogs, too. It's used as filler to hold them together."

Zell stared at Seifer. "You're lying."

Selphie hit Seifer in the arm. "That's not very nice!" It was only okay for her to play jokes on Zell.

Seifer stopped laughing. "No, I'm dead serious. Ask the cafeteria lady."

As they moved closer to the counter Zell dreaded what the cafeteria lady would say were in the hot dog ingredients.

When they made it to the front of the line the cafeteria lady asked, "What'll it be?"

"Uh, hi. What are the ingredients in these hot dogs."

"Oh, another one, eh?" The cafeteria lady prepared to press the emergency button under the table to call security. "We're not at liberty to discuss the means of production for this product. Look, we've been approved by the Food Board of Balamb. There's nothing wrong with these hot dogs, they're absolutely safe."

Zell looked confused. "I just want to know if there's wheat in them. I just found out I'm allergic to wheat."

The cafeteria lady looked at Zell suspiciously, but took her hand off the emergency button. "All right." She turned to the other cafeteria lady. "Do the hot dogs have wheat in them?"

"No," the other woman replied.

"No they don't," she told Zell.

"Phew. Okay, I'll have one hot dog without the bun, please."

"You can't order a hot dog without the bun! That's just a wiener! What if everyone started ordering their wieners without buns? We'd be up to out waist in buns! You'll have to take the whole package and take the bun off yourself."

"Fine, fine, just give me the food." Zell paid the cafeteria lady for the hot dog, waited for Selphie to order her food, and found a table to sit at together.

"Can you believe that Seifer?" Zell asked, removing the bun of his hot dog and tossing it into the nearby garbage can. "Wheat in hot dogs..."

Selphie laughed. "Yeah. He's terrible." Seifer sat down at the table next to them. "Shh," Selphie hushed. "There he is."

Seifer looked over. "I see you got your hot dog."

"That's right." Zell smiled. "Wheat-free."

"Ha! Not likely," said Seifer, turning away from them before Zell could get a comeback in.

"Zell, what if there is wheat in your hot dog?" asked Selphie.

Zell shrugged. "Well I haven't gotten any allergic reactions from eating them yet. I must not be very allergic."

"Oh... I guess so."

-----

When Zell had finished his classes for the day he went back to his room to get changed before heading to the Training Center where he was going to train with Squall. As soon as he enter his room he began to feel very sick. He clutched his stomach. "UGH! Cramps! Wait a sec... Guys don't get cramps..." It suddenly felt as if someone had punched him in the stomach. He bent over and stumbled to his mattress before collapsing on it. "What is this pain from?" he asked himself.

There was a knock on the door. Zell forced himself up again. The pain had subsided momentarily.

Squall was outside the room, all set in his soccer shorts and t-shirt. "Ready to train?"

"Yeah, just give me a sec." Zell moved back into the room to grab his duffel bag, but then the pain returned. He crouched down.

Squall shifted his weight at the door. "What's the matter?" He didn't really care, but thought it best to ask or else risk loosing points.

"I've been getting these cramps suddenly," Zell explained.

"What are you, a woman?"

Zell gave a puff of air. "Maybe this is what an allergic reaction feels like."

"You have allergies?"

"Yeah, wheat, but I've been avoiding it since I found out that I'm allergic to it yesterday. I've only had a hot dog minus the bun and spaghetti today."

"You idiot. There's wheat in spaghetti noodles." Squall moved into the dorm room and helped Zell to his feet. "I'll take you to Dr. Kadowaki." He hoped that this good deed would make up for his lost points and raise his rank again.

-----

"Zell, what's the matter? You haven't been eating wheat have you?" Dr. Kadowaki asked, as Squall practically carried him into her office.

Zell nodded his head, his hand still clutched his stomach as Squall sat him down on the waiting room chair. "Thanks," he whimpered to Squall.

"...Woman." Squall left.

"This pain is unbearable. Make it stop!" Zell pleaded to the doctor.

She rolled her eyes. "If you hadn't have left so quickly yesterday, I would have told you all of the foods that you need to avoid."

"I'm sorry. I'll never do it again!"

"I know you won't. If you are tempted to eat wheat again, just remember the pain you are in now." She paced back and forth in front of Zell. "Now, here's a list I've printed off of the most common foods that include wheat in the ingredients." She handed Zell the list consisting of over ten pages.

Feeling a little pain relief, Zell flipped through the pages. "This is practically a novel!" He stopped on the fifth page. "What's this doing here?"

"What?" Dr. Kadowaki leaned in to see what Zell was pointing at. "Hog togs? There's wheat filler in hot dogs, and hamburgers, and most sandwich meats."

"Uh..." The pain returned as if punishment for not listening to Seifer.

-----

(One week later.)

"Hiya Zell!" Selphie greeted Zell in he hall on her way to class. "Who punched you?"

Zell assumed she was referring to the dark circles under his eyes. "No one. It's apparently a sign of allergies."

"Oh, and how ARE the allergies coming?"

"I had my first allergic reaction last week," Zell informed her.

"Yeah? What did you eat?"

"Spaghetti..."

"Oh yeah, I forgot to mention noodles." She giggled nervously.

"Dr. Kadowaki gave me a list of what I have to avoid."

"That's good."

"It's twelve pages long."

"Oh."

"But that's not the worst thing. I had pizza for dinner last night! It's like the reaction didn't teach me anything! And then I had another reaction, only it was way worse than the first one. I kept having to run to the bathroom for an hour afterward."

"Ew! Zell!"

"You asked how they were coming."

"Well... You don't have to share everything. Why did you order pizza?"

"I didn't. Rinoa brought it over and we watched chick-fli... I mean, war movies."

"Why didn't you tell her that you're allergic to it?"

"I did, but she said a little wouldn't hurt, and I did avoid it for almost a week."

Selphie shook her head. "That's terrible. Anyway, you know your birthday's coming up soon, right?"

"Soon? It's still over a month away," Zell reminded.

"I know, but it's never too early to start planning. I was thinking that we should all do something fun. Maybe rollerskating. What do you think?"

"Sure, but shouldn't I be the one to choose where I want to go?"

"Of course you are! We're just brainstorming first."

"Why do you have to be involved in the process?" asked Zell, wanting to get away very quickly.

"Because I'm the only one around here, and I have to help you work around your allergy."

"Lucky me."

Selphie giggled. "I know, huh?"

-----

(March 17, 2007 - Zell's birthday)

"When did I agree to skydiving?" Zell shouted to Selphie in the airship hundreds of feet above the group.

"When you turned down every other idea."

"I said rollerskating was fine!"

"You did? Oops." Selphie grinned, then lept out of the airship with a "WHEE!"

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Zell said to himself.

"Well you'd better start believing it, you're next," said the skydiving instructor, who happened to be Quistis.

"Instructor Trepe, how did you get this job? Are you even qualified to be a skydive instructor?"

"That's a silly question. Of course I am not."

"What?"

"I said, 'Of course I am!' "

"On second thought, I'm feeling a little sick. I think I might be having an allergic reaction. I better not do this."

"You'd better have," said Quistis. "Selphie is paying for all of you to do this. You'd better not disappoint her. You'll be fine... Unless your parachute doesn't open," she mumbled.

"What was that?"

"I said, 'A lesser pair of- shoot, a dozen options.' Now jump!"

"Okay, just let me-" Zell couldn't finish his sentence, because Quistis pushed him out of the airship.

She looked behind her to Squall. "You're next."

Zell was almost certain that he would die before he reached the ground, or that he would reach the ground before the parachute could slow him down. When his feet finally touched the ground and his body awkwardly skidded to a stop he laid their for a moment, unsure if he had made it or not.

Selphie rushed over and pulled him up. "You did it, Zell! Wasn't that fun?"

"Am I still alive?"

"Of course!" Selphie skipped over to a picnic table in the park that they had landed in. "Let's have your birthday lunch now. I had it catered especially for you, Zell."

They and Rinoa, who had been the first to jump from the airship, sat down at the picnic table and began to open their individually packaged lunches.

"Wait a sec!" Rinoa stopped them. "Shouldn't we wait for Squall?"

"Oh yeah," Selphie remembered. "Where is he?"

The group looked up to the sky to see the tiny speck of Squall's parachute in the distance.

"He might be a while. I don't think he'll mind if we start without him," said Selphie, opening her lunch without worry.

"Hey Selphie... What is this?" Rinoa asked, peering into her package as if it had done something to offend her.

"It's pumpernickel bread with cheese, and egg cake for desert!"

"I don't know if I'm all that hungry anymore." Rinoa pushed the lunch away from her, repulsed.

"Common, it's not that bad," said Zell. "I've been living on this stuff."

"Ew. Who is that extra one for?" Rinoa asked Selphie, as Irvine came over and sat down with them.

"Hi everyone, sorry I missed the skydiving. I had to work. Ah, the life of an..." Irvine looked around and scanned the park with shifty eyes, "assassin. Happy birthday, Zell." He pulled the extra lunch over to him, opened it, and laughed. "You're kidding right?"

Rinoa smirked. "I know! Gross, right?"

"No, delicious! I haven't had pumpernickel sandwiches and egg cake in the longest time!"

-----

Rinoa sat with her head resting in her hands while the others ate their lunches. They were eventually joined by Squall, who was covered in scratches and leaves.

"So," Irvine began, finishing up his savory egg cake. "How old are you now, Zell? Eighteen, right?"

"No, I'm seventeen," Zell corrected.

"Did you turn seventeen last year?"

"No I... I don't remember."

"What year were you born?" asked Rinoa.

"1982."

"Shouldn't you be turning..." Selphie counted on her fingers. "Twenty-five, then?"

"He would have been seventeen in 1999," said Rinoa.

"I know how to solve this," said Irvine. "We were all born in 1982, right? So how old are you, Rinoa?"

"How dare you ask my age!" She turned her head away and stuck her nose in the air.

"Okay... Selphie! How old are you?"

"Seventeen, Squall?"

"Seventeen."

Selphie looked to Irvine with confusion. "And you?"

"I'm seventeen, too. Shouldn't we all be twenty-five by now? Have we been celebrating the same age every year?"

They were all silent in thought for several minutes trying to solve the complexity of the situation. Rinoa got up and walked away at one point, but no one noticed. When she returned they were still thinking.

"Maybe it's the GF's..." said Selphie. "Maybe they're, you know, eating our thoughts or whatever?"

"That's kinda lame, Selphie, even for you," said Rinoa.

"I know!" said Zell. "I must have been born in 1989! Yep! I'm turning eighteen. That must be it!"

The tension at the table melted away as they all settled with this solution.

Rinoa took a bite of what she had just bought from a food stand in the park.

"Whatcha got there?" asked Zell.

"Nothing," Rinoa tried to conceal the food. "I just knew you'd have some weird food for lunch, so I brought some money with me."

"Don't you think that's kind of rude?" asked Selphie.

Rinoa glared at her. "Don't you think it's rude not to feed your guests something they can stomach?"

While Selphie and Rinoa argued over which was more rude, Zell caught a familiar scent on the breeze. He knew it was what Rinoa was eating. He held out his hand to her. "Give it here," he said to her.

"What?" Rinoa stopped arguing with Selphie and looked at Zell's open hand. She hoped it wasn't a birthday present that he wanted from her, because she had forgotten that it was even his birthday until that morning.

"The hot dog, I want it. You can give it to me as my birthday present and take back whatever you bought for me."

"Deal." Rinoa handed the hot dog over.

Zell took a bite of the delicious hot dog. He had been eating pumpernickel and rye for the past two months straight, and was getting sick of it. The mixture of hot dog, bun, and ketchup was so beautiful that he almost shed a tear.

"No, Zell, you can't eat that! Think about your last reaction." Selphie tried to grab the allergen away from him.

"I need it! It's mine! A present form Rinoa. You're ruining my birthday! Let me eat it! Pleasure now, pain later!" Zell stuffed the entire hot dog into his mouth.

Selphie let go of Zell's arm and let him chew it. "Fine. I hope you have to go to the hospital!"

Zell smiled, content with his hot dog.

"If that's all you wanted, can I take my gift for you back and get you a hot dog instead?" asked Irvine.

"No, the craving's gone. I'm good now."

Not more than three minutes later, Zell was as far from good as he could get. "Does anyone know where a washroom is?" He wore an expression of horror on his face.

"I don't think there is a washroom in this park," said Irvine. "I was looking for one earlier too, but the park staff said they didn't have one."

"You gotta be kidding. I need a washroom. These cramps don't bring good news."

Squall looked over without emotion. "Woman."

Zell bit his lip. "I gotta find something." He stood up and raced across the park.

Selphie got up to follow him.

"Well this is a great party, don't you guys agree?" Rinoa asked.

-----

Selphie waited for Zell to come out of the gas station washroom. She was actually quite impressed that he had made it in time.

Zell was in there for quite sometime before coming out.

"You okay?" she asked him.

"Yeah."

"Bet you regret eating that hot dog now."

"Actually, that was the best hot dog I ever had!"

"Zell, you're a weird one, do you know that?"

Zell thought about it. "Aren't we all a little weird?"

"Yeah, I guess we are, but you're the weirdest."

"Thanks." They left the gas station and made their way back to the park.

"Hey Zell, you'll never guess what I've planned for your next birthday party! White-water rafting!"

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The End.

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A/N: Inspired by personal allergy experiences. Poor Zell. Thanks for reading.