All in a Day's Experience

By Kristin Pitts

“What, are you a chicken?!”
“No way! I just don’t wanna get killed, stupid!”
“Psh, yea right. I bet your just to scared, ya baby!”
“I am not!”
“are to!”
“am not!”
“Are to!!”
“I am not! And I’ll prove it, so there!”

The two blonde boys yelling could be heard all over the garden. The younger of the boys quickly marched up to the large, metal gates of the training center, stopped, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. ‘I can do this, I can do this…’

“If your gonna go, then go already! Of course, there’s always still time to chicken out!” the taller boy yelled to his companion.

“Zell Dincht is not afraid of anything! I’m goin in, so shut up, will ya?!” Zell yelled back. He pushed open the heavy doors and listened as they made a piercing screeching noise. Zell winced at the bad omen and hoped dearly that no instructor or snotty SeeD would find him.

Zell had only just come to Garden a few weeks ago on his thirteenth birthday, and it was but yesterday that he had received his first weapon. The black gloves with gleaming metal knuckles that he was proudly wearing at that moment. Unfortunately though, while Zell had his gloves to protect himself with, he hadn’t exactly been trained to use them. Swallowing hard, he carefully shuffled into the foliage covered training center for his first time.

Seifer had been boasting all day yesterday that he had fought his first grat and the story he kept telling over and over seemed to get more gory and detailed every time. Naturally, Zell couldn’t let Seifer get all the fame and glory, so he snapped back at him, “A grat? Heh, that’s all you fought? If I were allowed into the training center, I would’ve left a trail of dead monsters behind far as you can see!”

“Oh really, care to put your money where your mouth is Dincht?”

Seifer had ended up making a bet with Zell. If he could do more damage than Seifer, then Seifer would be his slave for a week. If Zell lost, well, let’s just say that a lot more than Zell’s pride would be broken.

So here he was, making his way through the training center, nervous worries racking his brain. He pushed back his unruly bangs from his eyes, more out of nervous habit than annoyance. He had grown accustomed to the blonde mess that was his hair clouding his line of vision. ‘Two grats, that ’s all I have to kill, just two, then I can get the heck out of here and still be able to show up Seifer. The jerk, just cause he’s a year older and a heck of a lot taller than me doesn’t mea-” Zells thoughts were cut off by a rustle in the nearby bushes, all of a sudden he was being ambushed by three grats. “Aww, crap! Those things are huge!”

He desperately tried to scramble away, but a vine-like tentacle hit him hard. He finally managed to escape, and he ran as fast as he could for what he hoped was the exit. Of course, as luck would have it, he found himself to be completely lost.

Sitting down by a small stream, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Immediately, his eyes shot open as he heard an earsplitting roar pierce the silence that had formed. Zell got up as quickly as he could. It would be worth having lost the bet, as long as he could get out of this hell.

Zell could have sworn that grats were the only monsters inhabiting this place, but he was also pretty darn sure he hadn’t just heard a grat roaring. The creature Roared again, and this time Zell could tell it was a lot closer. The sound reverberated off the metal walls, giving the impression that the monster was every where, and not allowing Zell the slightest idea as to where it was coming from.

The thunderous blare was echoing in his ears as he looked around frantically trying to figure out where the monster was coming from. His bangs were completely blocking his peripheral vision, causing him to only have a limited view of his surroundings.

Zell suddenly let out a strangled cry as something sharp tore at the left side of his face. He turned around just in time to see a giant dinosaur like creature rear his head and prepare for it’s final blow. Zell closed his eyes tight and waited in fear for the creature to kill him with his powerful tail or deadly jaws, tears slowly trickling down his dirt covered face. But the blow never came. Zell looked up to find the monster sprawled out on the ground, covered in blood. A hand reached down to help Zell up. He accepted the gesture and was pulled to his feet.

Zell’s apparent savior was re-sheathing a giant sword behind his back and had two pistols hooked onto his belt. He had a muscular build and platinum hair. ‘Sorta like that girl that Seifer hangs out with, Fujin or something…

“Quite a scrape you got there, kid. Maybe you should’ve used those gloves of yours. Name’s Dante, by the way.”

Zell was still quite shaken up, but he managed to squeak out, “Z-Zell.”

“Nice to meet you Zell. I was informed by a certain teenager wearing a trench coat and carrying what appeared to be a gunblade of your position. Said something bout how it’s not his fault, and he tried to convince you not to go… Any ways, how about we get over to the infirmary, see what the doc can do about that face of yours.”

Dante lead Zell towards the infirmary and Dr. Kadowaki immediately rushed to his side. “Good lord! Mr. Dincht, what happened to your face! Never mind, you can tell me later, let’s get this cleaned up.”

After applying the fifth cura, Dr. Kadowaki let out a little sigh. “I’m sorry. I stopped the bleeding, closed the wound and cleaned it up best I could, but it seems your going to have quite a scar. Other than that, your fine. You can leave if you wish. I believe the young man that brought you here is still waiting outside.”

Zell nodded and thanked the doctor. He sullenly made his way towards the waiting room where he was greeted by Dante. “Hey there kid, everything goo- woah! That’s one mighty big scar you got there bud.”

Zell answered by looking up at him, tears obviously about to spill over. His bottom lip started to tremble slightly. But instead of crying, Zell shook his head and cleared his throat. “The doc said it’s permanent.” He managed to say in a raspy voice. Dante just stared for a minute at the thin white line that traced its way down the entire side of Zell’s face before shaking out of his momentary trance.

“Hmm, well. You know what? I think I know a way to cover that thing up, if you think you can handle the pain that is.” Zell looked up at his new friend in question.

“I’ve got till tomorrow before I have to head back to Galbadia Garden, my mission here finished early. If you want, I know of a little place in Balamb where they can cover that up with a pretty exotic tattoo. Of course, it would mean going through a lot of pain for a few hours, but I’ m sure a tough kid like you can handle anything after that. He’ll do it for you free of charge, since your with me. How bout it?”

Zell gazed up at him in awe. He slowly nodded as a big grin spread across his face. Dante smiled back at him and led him into the parking lot where they got into Dante’s rented black Ferrari and drove them into Balamb where he parked the car. They got out and Dante led Zell towards the train station. They turned into an alley way that Zell had never noticed through all the years that he had lived in Balamb. There was a shabby lone shop at the very end that had the words ‘Tattoos and Body Piercing’ graffitied above it.

Gulping, Zell turned towards Dante who patted his back reassuringly. They walked in and Dante went up to the man at the counter. “Yo, Brad. Got some time? Promised someone you’d do them up.” Dante pushed Zell forward and brushed his bangs out of the boy’s face to show the lovely scar he was sporting.

Brad didn’t even look up from what he was doing. “Listen man, I told you. I can’t do nothing for free no more. Business is slack these days.”

“Just look at the kid, do you really want him walking around like that? Think of him as a walking advertisement.”

At the thought of the business prospect Brad looked up to see Zell. “Holy shit, why didn’t you say it was that bad!” He exclaimed as soon as he saw Zell’s face.

Zell shied away from the tattoo artist, who just chuckled. “Alright kiddo. No problem. Let’s take ya back, eh?”

When they got to the room in the back, Brad told Zell to lie down in what looked like a horizontal dentist chair. “So, what do you want, kid?”

“Uh-uhh, I d-dunno,” Zell stammered.

Brad chuckled again. “Alright. I’ll see what I can do then. This is gonna hurt, so get ready.”

Three hours later, Zell walked out of the room quite shaken. It hadn’ t hurt as much as he thought it would, but it was still three hours of pain. The entire left side of his face was covered by gauze that was taped on, and Brad had gelled his bangs up so they wouldn’t irritate his tattoo. Dante looked up from the magazine he was reading with a grin. “How’d it go?”

Dante drove Zell back to Garden and helped the still slightly shaken up boy out of the car. “I’d better go now, since I’m staying at the hotel, but I suppose I’ll see you some other time. Like when you get to be a SeeD. Oh, and I dig the gravity-defying hair style, you should keep it like that.”

Zell watched as Dante drove away. He slowly made his way back to the dorm he shared with some guy he barely ever saw. Zell was worn out, so he pretty much just fell down on his bed and went to sleep.

The next morning, Zell was awakened to the sound of the intercom buzzing. “Good morning everyone. This is the headmaster speaking. Would Mr. Seifer Almasy and Mr. Zell Dincht please report to my office in half an hour. Thank you.”

Zell inwardly groaned. ‘Dang, I hope I don’t get expelled or something.’ He went along his daily routine, pulling on his shorts, t-shirt and sneakers, grabbed a comb and headed into the bathroom.

He switched on the light and groggily looked in the mirror. He did a double take and stared at his bandaged reflection for a minute before he remembered what had happened. He decided that before he took off the gauze and saw his tattoo for the first time, he would spike his hair up like last night. That way it wouldn’t bother him so much, and Dante did say that it looked cool.

After rummaging around in his medicine cabinet for a few seconds, he found what he was looking for. His Ma had given him a bottle of gel for his birthday and told him to do something with his hair. ‘Well, there ya go Ma’ he thought to himself.

“Shit!” he cursed out loud when he remembered a very tiny, very important detail he had forgotten about. “I didn’t ask Ma about my tattoo,” He sighed, ‘oh well, no use worrying about it now. What’s done is done.’ With that last thought he removed the gauze covering his face and stared in amazement at the exotic design depicted on his skin.

It was a pure black mark that started above his left eye and made its way down underneath it, branching out towards his ear and chin in an intricate pattern. Zell could only gape for what seemed like hours. Luckily, it was actually only a few minutes, so when Zell managed to glance at his watch, he still had time to literally run up to the headmasters office.

Giving one last tug at the bangs that would never again corrupt his vision, he made his way towards the elevator. And when he strode in the room with his new look, the expression on Seifer’s face was priceless.

Kristin Pitts' Fanfiction