Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Final Fantasy VIII, however I do intend on using them for my own selfish amusement!
Author’s Notes: Some people have said that they noticed a bit of OOCness in some of the characters… especially Squall… but I do have to point out that this IS an AU!!!
A World Apart
"Hey man, it's Zell. I waited outside the school for as long as I could, but I had Karate class today. What happened to ya? You okay?"
Squall couldn't speak, he had been so preoccupied with needing to help Seifer that he had forgotten someone equally as important. What would have happened if Shane had decided to look for him again and found him gone? Zell would have paid the price for his absence. Sadly he realized that if he was going to continue to keep Zell safe, he couldn't afford to skip any more school.
"Squall? Ya there dude?"
"Huh? Oh, sorry Zell, spaced out there for a second. I'm okay really. I'm sorry that I didn't meet you after school, I came home at lunch because something important came up."
"Oh..........Squall? Can I ask ya about this morning?"
Squall suddenly felt as if his skin were trying to crawl off of his bones. He closed his eyes and tried to will the shaking in his knees to stop. He didn't want this to be happening, he didn't want to have to talk about Shane or what had happened, especially with Zell. Why did he have to ask about this now?
Seifer watched Squall, not really understanding why he suddenly looked ill. It was Zell on the phone so shouldn't he be happy? He had said that Zell was his best friend, so what was he saying that could make him look like that? Something must be wrong with Zell.
"Zell, I... I know you don't understand, and I wish that I could explain..........but...... please just...... let it go, huh?"
Zell sighed on the other end of the line. He wanted more than anything to know what was going on, but he couldn't reason it out no matter how hard he tried. He knew that Squall hated Shane more than anyone, so why would he have gone off willingly with him and his buddies? It just didn't make any sense at all.
He sat down on his bed and looked at himself in the full-length mirror hanging on his closet door. Sadness etched his features as he held the phone to his ear. He didn't want to let this go, but experience had taught him that Squall wouldn't talk about something he didn't want to. Better to drop the subject and not bring it up again, than to have Squall clam up and never speak to him again.
"Alright, it's forgotten... hey did ya want to come over and watch some T.V. with me? There's a really cool show coming on that I think you would like."
Squall breathed a sigh of relief that Zell had let things be as they were, and allowed himself to smile a little. Zell's idea of cool shows generally meant it would be of the cartoon persuasion. Zell being the Anime freak he was, loved to drag Squall into all night marathons, but that was only because Squall punctuated the shows with comments like "You just know he's gay" and "How can anyone NOT know he's gay....you can't wear clothes like that or have hair like that and NOT BE GAY" to which Zell would laugh hysterically until tears would stream down his face and his sides would ache. Of course it was Squall's way of trying to let Zell know his own preference, but he never picked up on it. Sometimes Squall didn't know if he should be offended or grateful by that fact.
"I would love to Zell, but I can't. Quisty is home and Dad will want us all to be together for dinner."
"Oh, okay! Maybe later then, if Quisty is home and ya need a place to hide, come on over!"
Squall smiled again, "Okay, if things get a little hot around here I will be sure and come over."
"Great! The side door is open so just come on in if ya need to!"
Okay, I will talk to ya later."
Squall hung up the phone, and sighed heavily. He could feel Seifer's eyes on him and the unspoken questions hanging in the air. He turned and found Seifer's jade eyes staring unflinchingly at him, but instead of asking him about the phone call, he just smiled and walked toward the curtained window at the back of the room.
He had wanted to ask what it had been all about, but if Squall wanted him to know he would tell him. And since he wasn't saying anything, he could only assume that it fell in the "none of your business" category.
He moved the filmy curtain to the side and was surprised to discover that what he had thought was a large window was in fact a set of French Doors that led out to a terraced patio. In awe of his discovery, he opened the doors and sauntered out into the waning sunlight.
He stepped to the railing and leaned over slightly so that he could see what was underneath the terrace, and heard a slight intake of breath behind him. He turned to see Squall standing at the threshold of the balcony, fear was more than apparent in his eyes.
"I take it you don't come out here."
Squall laughed a little nervously, "What gave you that impression?"
"Oh well geesh, I dunno, the fact that you are standing there looking like a scared rabbit? That and the fact that there isn't any patio furniture out here like there would have been if it were frequently used."
Seifer smiled at his deductive logic. It wasn't often that he was able to use it, especially when he knew it wasn't going to get hurt because of it.
"I.......don't like heights........ kinda makes me feel a little woozy," he tried to smile a little at this but it came out looking more like he was trying to keep from being sick.
Seifer smiled at him and came away from the railing, holding out his hand to Squall. "Come on out, I won't let ya fall I promise."
"If it's all the same to you Seifer, I would rather not. Just being this close to the edge makes me wanna hurl."
He did look a little green around the gills, so Seifer dropped his hand and shrugged. "It's alright............hey, someone's coming up the drive."
Squall chanced a peek and sighed heavily as he realized whose car it was.
Both boys exited the room and headed for the stairs as the front door opened.
"I'm home," Laguna said as he set his briefcase beside the door.
Quistis appeared in the doorway of the dining room, "Hi Dad, dinner is almost ready. Go wash up and I will have Squall set the table."
Laguna grinned from ear to ear and hugged Quistis enthusiastically. "Great to have you home sweetheart. Try not to ruffle Squall's feathers okay?"
Seifer noticed a sneer cross Squall's lips before he headed down the stairs. He wondered silently why he didn't like Quistis. Although she had walked in on him in the bathroom, she didn't seem like she was all that bad. But then again, he didn't have any siblings so he really couldn't make that kind of judgment. Perhaps her being his sister just naturally instilled hostility.
As they came into the dining room, Quistis sighed. "Is he staying for dinner too?" looking pointedly at Seifer.
Squall looked annoyed but nodded as he got down the plates to set the table.
"Well, make sure you both wash up before dinner," she said as she turned back to the stove.
The annoyed look on Squall's face quickly turned into one of anger, but before he could blow up at Quistis, the force that was Laguna blew into the kitchen, spreading charm and good humor and effectively quelling the oncoming argument between Squall and Quistis.
Seifer was instantly charmed by this man, his sense of humor was infectious and soon they were all sitting around the table laughing.
Squall couldn't believe the transformation that Seifer seemed to undergo in Laguna's presence. He showed just how intelligent and funny he could be, and he couldn't help but laugh even if Quistis were here. It wasn't until Laguna retired to his study to do some more work that things started to go wrong.
"You and your friend clear the table and do the dishes, I have to go unpack my things."
"He has a name you know!" Squall could feel his anger rising, and he couldn't really help it.
"I know he has a name, Squall," she sighed exasperatedly. "Why do you always do this? As soon as I open my mouth you are jumping down my throat. You seem to have some serious anger issues and if you aren't going to talk to a professional about it then at least don't take it out on me!"
"That's your answer for everything isn't it Quisty. If you don't like something talk to a professional, well seeing as how I don't want to have anything to do with you or your chosen profession, let me make a suggestion of my own! DROP DEAD!"
"Oh yes Squall, that was without a doubt really immature and childish. Anything else you want to add? Like maybe throw a tantrum on the living room floor?
"Whatever, Quistis, at least I have feelings to express and aren't anal retentive in that area. It must have taken years to learn how to be that much of cold hearted Bitch!"
With that he stormed out of the dining room leaving a confused Seifer to follow in his wake. When they were once again in Squall's room, Seifer watched as he angrily opened the cedar chest and pulled out a few sketch books and closed the chest again with an angry thump. Not having anything better to do, Seifer laid on the bed to watch Squall's angry movements bring to life a drawing. Curiosity finally got the better of him, so he moved closer to Squall so that he could actually see what he was drawing instead of just watching the motions.
What he saw made him chuckle at first then laugh right out loud. It was a series of drawings made in comic book fashion of the scene that had played out in the kitchen, but instead of him drawing himself storming out, the last little box had him trying to stuff Quistis down the garbage disposal with a plunger.
Squall smiled sheepishly and turned the page over so that he could do another drawing. He was glad that Seifer had found his drawings funny, but he really did want to stuff her down the disposal.
"Why don't you like her? I mean, she seemed like she was an okay person. A little bossy but still okay."
Seifer's question made him stop drawing for a moment so that he could think of just how to answer his question. His eyes glazed over as if they were seeing another time and place.
"When we were little we used to get along great. She and I did everything together, but when Mom got sick, things began to change. She got distant and then applied to a college that was really far away. She hardly ever called and almost never wrote. When Mom finally died, she didn't even have the decency to come to the funeral, saying that she had finals that week, as if they wouldn't let her make them up. Then as if that hadn't been enough of a slap in the face, when she does decide to come home, she starts acting as if she has the right to take the place of my mother! She starts telling me what to do, where to go, what time to be home. She takes me shopping for clothes that she picks out and never asks for my opinion. And now she has the audacity to say and do what she did in the kitchen? Well excuse me for being a bit hostile. I think I have the right too."
Seifer didn't know what to say. He watched as Squall's face clouded over and the tears began to fall. One slipped off his chin to land on the sketch pad, and Seifer felt his heart break. He could handle Squall being angry but every time he broke down, it was more than he could take.
His arms found their way around his shoulders and pulled him close to his chest. He could feel the sobs wracking his body and soaking his shirt but he didn't care. All that mattered was that he could give him comfort, if just for a moment. He pulled him higher up into his lap and wrapped his arms tighter around him. He whispered things into his ear and gently rubbed his back.
It was some time before his sobs subsided, but even after they did he made no move to leave Seifer's arms. He felt safe and secure wrapped in that embrace and for once he felt as if nothing in this world could touch him. He raised his head to look at Seifer and when jade met gray, it was as if the world suddenly had stopped turning. Squall didn't know if he moved of it was Seifer, not that it really mattered. All that did matter was that his lips were planted firmly against Seifer's. His arms snaked around Seifer's neck, pulling him even closer.
Seifer couldn't believe that he was kissing him, but it felt so good and so right that he let himself become lost in the moment. Allowing the kiss to deepen until their tongues wrestled against each other. It was the most incredible feeling that Seifer had even experienced, and he wanted to feel more. His hands wandered under the back of Squall's shirt to caress the soft skin he found underneath, but apparently that had been the wrong thing to do because he felt Squall shudder and suddenly pull away, leaving his embrace and his lap. Seifer was both bewildered by what had just happened and disappointed that it had ended. He also wondered if he had done something wrong or offended Squall in some way.
"I.....I'm sorry." It was all he could think of to say.
(End Chapter Nine)
A/N: Well another chapter is done, I am sorry it has taken me so long to post this but my muses seem to have decided it would be funny to fly to Cancun without me! Hope you liked it, please leave me lots of reviews... maybe I can tempt my muses back if I can convince them that I am a bit more exciting that men in skimpy swim wear...awww who am I kidding...there's no competition... sigh
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