Disclaimer: All characters belong to Square and Squaresoft. But, if I had the choice to own something, :3 I'd ask for Seifer, Zell, and Rinoa's outfits, Zell's tattoo, and one of Bahamut's scales. ^_^ Oh San~ta..! I've been a good girl!

Mild, mild, mild shounen-ai. Mentioned once and forever gone.

Dragon Touched

Guardian Forces were so mysterious in nature. And not many could figure out much about them, despite all the time scientists and shamen spent with them.

One circulating theory was that they were lost gods, condemned to a white dimension by the sorceresses and wizards of the far past. Another was that they were just shadow beasts, phantoms, spirited by a wizard's imagination long ago. But if anything, one thing was certain: they could not be summoned without a host.

So how would the theories change if that one piece unraveled right before their eyes?...

~*~

Selphie hummed a small tune as she walked down the hallway of the dormatory, Irvine a few steps behind her, still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. "Selph', hon, do you realize that even /Squall/ will be upset if you wake him up at this time of the night??"

"It's not night though! It's early morning."

He reached out a hand and grabbed her shoulder, haulting the petite brunette. The sharpshooter pointed to the skylight. "Do you see the sun? Or even a sky that's not pitch black? Sun means morning, not the time on a clock."

Selphie blinked, but then smiled sweetly. "If I didn't know any better, I would assume you were raised with Zell's mother and not in Galbadia's Garden, mister. Where's your soldier trainning?"

"Back in Galbadia. You'd think I'd take it with me?"

"Well, now that you mention it..."

The pair started walking again, making small talk about the upcoming SeeD Graduation of the next class until they reached the door to Squall's dorm. Selphie did the honors of ringing the buzzer. "Squall? You conscious?"

"Come in."

Irvine's expression was stupified. "I take back whatever I said about him being human."

Selphie giggled as the door slid open. Sure enough, sitting on one of the wooden chairs, Squall Leonhart, resident iceburg and master gunbladesman, was fully dressed and fiddling with the Junction jewelry he possessed. Quetzalcoatl's bracelet in particular. The thunder bird's accessory matched his pelt in color as well as design, with a hardened Thundaga spell acting as a bridge between the Gods' realm and theirs.

Absently, Squall mumbled, "Where're the others?"

"We're rounding then up.. sorta." Turning sheepish, Selphie smiled widely to redirect her discomfort. "We decided to start with you before we got the rest of the lazy bums out of bed."

Squall raised an eyebrow as he stood. "Well, let's go. Make sure you tell them that we're returning for classes."

Irvine gave a loose salute and a smug smile. "Yes sir, commander."


They all met in front of the building directory, some trying to dispell their sleep while others didn't bother to try and leaned on those next to them for support. Xu was draped over Quistis; Ifrit's firey red ring could be seen as clear as day against Ms. Trepe's mauve outfit. Quistis herself attempted to stiffle a yawn with the hand that had Doomtrain's half gauntlet on. Nida, on the other hand, was drinking a swiped pot of early morning coffee from the cafeteria. Caffeine... mmm, yum.

Rinoa said she would meet them in Balamb with Ellone.. which left Irvine to collect the last remaining slacker-- I mean, member of the team - slash - expedition - slash - whatever. Squall rolled his eyes. Dr. Odine, now without a Sorceress to study, had temporarily switched his interest to the 'mysterious vays of the guardian forces'. And guess who he got to help out? For a 'favor', Laguna Loire's son and company.

So, to make life more miserable, he made sure to include Xu, Rinoa, Nida, and Ellone. After Ultimecia's defeat, they divided the GF's among them, leaving one each for the four previous people mentioned and collecting the ones they worked with most for themselves. Some were regretting the choice.

With a sigh, the brunette paced. It shouldn't have taken /too/ long to get Zell out of bed. With the blonde's skill at dressing in two minutes flat after beging told, "You're late!", both should've been here.. five minutes ago?

One or two random people passed by, possibly stealing away to the Cafeteria for a few rounds of cards... or to the Library for last minute research for a test or paper. No activity was about at four in the morning, so the small group still received the awkward and curious stares of the few classmates and students.

"Yo guys!"

They, except Xu, looked over to the bend of the walkway, watching as Irvine made his way back... without the blonde martial artists. "He wasn't there."

"Wasn't there?" said Nida, around his precious coffee. "Did you look around?"

Irvine fidgetted with the brim of his hat. "That's the thing. I did. Not in the bathroom, Infirmary, Training Centre, Cafeteria. Hell, I even looked /under/ his bed just to make sure he wasn't hiding out and missing sleep."

"Fucking wonderful." Squall pinched the bridge of his noise. It was just like Zell to skip out of something he didn't actually volunteer to do when lives weren't at stake. "Forget him for now. We've got some research to accomplish. Quistis?"

"Mm?"

"...Wake her up."


"And... it's like the world is so alien, like I have a place to belong.. but I'm not in it. It's a strange feeling."

"Orphans often feel that way. If they are left at a young enough age, they'll begin to question who and what they really are."

"...You sure do know a lot."

"*chuckle* And why shouldn't I? I've been around longer than the Dincht family has."

Zell smiled and shook his head. "Okay, okay. I get it; no rubbing in allowed. And let me just say you don't look a day over 22."

Shiva gave a thin smile. "And if that ever changes, it's time to worry."

The blonde nodded. An aging god means the closer the world was to non-existing. At least that's what Shiva and Bahamut told him... and he certainly put his trust into their words, like they trusted him not to spill them. Or anything else of godly importance they confined in him..

Currently, Zell and his two GFs were not too far from Balamb city. The Dragon King was curled up, wings folded tightly, in front of the fire, drifting off into a drowsy rest, but alert enough to catch all of the conversation. Zell was laying against his foreleg comfortably, with the Hindu Goddess floating on the other side of the small fire.

Zell did this often, Odine's pressuring or not. Bahamut had once approached him, unexpectedly, and offered up a talk. The odd bit was that Bahamut was a cold-shoulder type summon. He was unmanagable and picky. Not even Squall was deemed worthy to call on the mighty dragon. Bahamut went from hand to hand, Junction to Junction, but no one could summon him like Squall could summon Quetzacoatl or Selphie to Carbuncle. Squall still got the 'best' reaction time, until he was handed over to Zell. Everyone was bewildered at the instant bond; the timing was faster than everyone elses best, the power boosted by double, the utter cooperation.

God, Guardian Forces were so damn complicated. "But... it really would be nice to know who my parents are, if not to just settle my curiosity. Are they dead, do they care, those kinds of things. ... I could never consider anyone else my mother except Ma, but if someone's willing to try to be a /second/ mother, why say no?"

"Zell, I'm sure, somewhere out there, that there is someone that can give you the answers. ...Right, Bahamut?"

The black dragon opened a lazy eye at his name and nodded. "Right. ..Everyone has parents, but no matter what they feel, you're their blood. That can never be changed, whether or not they love you. But, you have a family. You have Charlotte, Squall and the others, the people of Balamb and the Garden... and you have us. We're you're family too."

"Yes..." Shiva drifted around the fire and to Zell's side, carressing the tattooed cheek with a motherly touch. "Like it or not, we're going to be by your side until you wither away on your death bed."

"So you better get used to us peeking through your window when you finally confess your feelings for that blasted Seifer Almasy," Bahamut snorted, a growing look of distain emerging after every second those two words left his tongue. "And if he doesn't return them, he will by the time I'm through with him. No more Ultimecia to protect his sagging--"

"Bahamut!"

The summon rumpled a bit and exhaled through his nostrils. He didn't answer, but that served as enough of an answer for his companions.

Shiva put a hand on her hip and stood straight, sparing Bahamut an amused, but disbelieving smile. It lasts not a minute before she turned back to her summoner, who was holding his head in his hands. Most likely flushed in the face an imagining big dragon eyes appearing in the windows when-- 'If' might be the proper word..-- he and Seifer would be together. "Zell.."

"What?" came the muffle reply.

"You're friends are here."

"Wha'??!" Zell looked around in the semi-permeable darkness, seeing flashlights in the dark. "Oh Hyne.."

"It's only Ellone and Quistis, Zell."

Zell pouted. "But my reputation will be ruined... Dammit, I knew this was too good to be true."

Bahamut moved his leg slightly. "If you were so worried about them wandering this far out from the Garden, then you should've gone off-continent."

".... No one's perfect."

"Zell! Is that you?"

Well.. maybe Quistis is. "Yeah, it's me!"

The flashlights clicked off, most likely for power saving reasons, and Quistis and Ellone's forms were soon glowing in the low light of the flames, bowing to the Gods out of curtesy; they nodded their consent in return.

Quistis was the first to break the short silence. "I thought we were going as a group, Zell. Why're you out here by yourself?"

The shorter blonde smiled sheepish and motioned for the two women to take a seat by the fire and felt secure explaining to them what this was all about.

Shiva took a pseudo seat over Bahamut's head; the dragon barely felt the nip of cold in the air around her. ~You really should tell him, Draco. He has every right to know..~

~How can I? He's so happy with his friends.. I can't throw upon him responsibilities he's not ready for.~

~'Not ready for'?~ Shiva scoffed him mentally. ~He, Squall, and the others all played their parts to destroy the threat to their futures. To the /present's/ future. How can he not be ready?~

~Because,~ said Bahamut, shifting slightly; Zell moved unconsciously with him, ~what child ever did except the truth before? What mortal child could ever except that they are the offspring of a human and a god?~

~He's strong, love. Stronger than you think.~

~....No, it would ruin the balance of the nature between us. The three of us, not just between him and me.. And I could never forgive myself if I receive his scorn instead of the bonds we share now. I love him too much, S'iv. With all my heart. And what father could be more proud of how his son helped save our existance?~

Shiva smiled down at the grand dragon summon. ~If you see fit, Majesty. After all, the King of Dragons commands all, with his Holy Judgement by his side. But swear to me, by the spilled blood of Hyne, that you will one day tell Zell.. so that he may understand what he is.~

~I swear...~ Bahamut closed his eyes and listened as his marked son spoke of his relation with his GFs and how he's always spoken to them up front to strengthen their bonds and give them the respect they so fruitfully deserve.

"Keep me safe..."

"Trust my life..."

"Believe in love..."

"The friends that he could only wish for..."

"Parents that Ma and the Garden never could be."

Zell fingered the tattoo design on his face as he talked about sessions past and how Odine had no affect on his curiosity to start speaking to them, for he had been long before the doctor of Esthar ever asked. Bahamut smiled sadly at the jesture.

You're answers are to the left of your nose, Zell. In the most obvious place... I will tell you. Zell, son of the mighty Dragon King of the Sky.. /My/ son... I will protect you, love you, be there for you...

The hardened Flare spell set in the earring curving over the shell of Zell's ear illuminated with the powerful emotion of it's prisoner.

...for your destiny wills it to be so. And Destiny is holding the universe in the palm of your hand.

(FIN)