Author's Notes: This is my first FVIII fic. I beat this game long, long ago so cut me a bit of slack if the content isn't the most dead-on thing you've ever read. I hope you enjoy the fic and feel the need to review. Any flames will be used to line my snake's cage.
It was three years after the entire Ultimacia incident. Irvine had transferred completely to Balamb Garden and was currently pursuing a romantic interest with the "Pigtailed Girl", aptly named Petunia. Zel and Selphie had long been together now, the two fitting together quite nicely. Cid and Edea of course now ran the school together and Laguna dropped by now and again to say hello. Quistis seemed to have been the center of the stalking group of the Trepes for a while but their attention towards her died down when she became interested in another SeeD who had just transferred.
As for Squall, everyone was expecting a proposal any day. He and Rinoa were simply the perfect couple. They were almost never apart and always in each other's company. Everyone, it seemed, had found the-if not a possible "a", in Irvine's case,- love of their life. Seifer however was ultimately alone. And this wasn't only the way he felt, he truly was. After much deliberation the school had finally allowed him to enroll once more and because of his "shady" history, most students veered away from his company. Fujin and Rajin had even been transferred to seperate gardens when the schools agreed that it was best the three couldn't fraternize. Who knew if they would again go gallivanting off on another jeopardizing mission?
"Oh, I love you," Rinoa moaned, half asleep, as she pressed her open palm against Squall's bare chest. Her soft pink lips rested, partially open after the words and her dark hair was fanned out over the covers.
"I know," Squall answered in response to her words. Luckily Rinoa wasn't awake to hear what he said and the tone behind it. Squall's affections or lack-there-of were obvious in the manor he lie on the bed, wide awake. He was seemingly deep in thought, deep hues watching something that didn't exist in the distance. He was so tired, but not due to fatigue. Slowly the young man stirred, placing Rinoa's arm onto his own pillow as he moved and standing to pull the covers back up. Quietly he got dressed, pulling on his black pants, signature shirt, and jacket. His hair was disheveled but he cared little and stood exited the dorm anyway.
Squall didn't know where he was going until he came to the hall, leading to the training room. He knew where he was heading now, that gazebo where the students "hung out." Surely no students would be out this late and sure enough, by the time he " -quite easily- fought his way through, the small shelter was empty. Making his way to the far railing, he leaned against the wooden structure. Did he really love Rinoa? Of course he did! Or was that thought something he convinced himself he must believe.
It was true that when she would drag him from room to room and place to place he would often find himself wishing to be elsewhere. Rinoa was a good person. There was no doubting that she was a good person. He defiantly like here…but did he love her?…Squall shook this silly notion off and leaned further over the railing. What the-the color of flesh caught his eye and then a hand peaking from under the gazebo. An overzealous student out her alone? In a worried rush he leapt over the railing and dropped to the ground. Kneeling he saw-""Seifer!"
It was indeed the blonde rival he knew well who lie there. With a surge of worry he hurried further under the gazebo himself and placing two fingers at his throat searched for a pulse. Suddenly the same hand that had caught his attention in the first place was at his own throat. Unable to speak, he looked down in confusion.
"Squall?" Seifer propped himself up with his free elbow and released his grip from the gunblade master's neck "What the hell are you doing?" his voice went from confused to angry in an instant.
Squall coughed at the release. He narrowed his eyes as he looked Seifer over. "I thought you were dead." Came his words in a deadpan tone.
Suddenly Seifer looked about and for a moment there was a hint of embarrassment on his face "I was sleeping." He said, though his tone told Squall that Seifer was just as surprised as he was.
"What were you doing down here?" Squall looked about, taking notice that under the gazebo there were only planks, dirt, and insects.
Seifer frowned as if he didn't think too kindly of this question. "That's none of your business now is it?"
Squall shrugged "It might be the Garden's. I'm sure they wouldn't mind a student sleeping among the monsters."
Seifer looked a bit taken aback at first. Since when would Squall pry to get an answer from him? "Look-we both know the Garden wouldn't care if it lost me. And if you must know, I was out here because it's relaxing. It's the only place I can hear human voices without them being twisted in concern over weither or not I'm going to loose it on the spot."
Of course Seifer hadn't meant to draw any sympathy but just the same Squall felt a bit. No one had truly spoken to Seifer in three years. Of course he and Squall had exchanged a few harsh words every now and then but Seifer's hadn't been as sharp and the fights were becoming fewer.
"Now go, I'm sure Rinoa's waiting for you in the dorm." The fact that Seifer was desperate for company shone through his harsh demeanor.
Squall noticed this and shrugged once more "She's asleep and I don't feel like going back there" After the last comment came something Squall hadn't been expecting, Seifer laughed. "What?"
With a final genuinely amused smile Seifer nodded "Clingy, isn't she?"
Squall looked to Seifer, quirking an eyebrow before he remembered that he also dated her at one point "Now that's none of your business is it?" he mocked, choosing Seifer's first words.
Seifer smiled once more and looked ahead "You're right, it's just yours and you can keep it to yourself." There was a long pause between the two and finally- "You don't love her do you?"
Squall was taken aback by the question. Why did he want to know? Why that question? It might have been different if it had been said with his usual "I don't give a rats ass" tone but this was asked with a bit of sincerity. "What do you mean-of course I-Why am I talking with you about this anyway!" furious now he stood…only to strike his head on the bottom of the gazebo…
Seifer of course found this simply hilarious "Bravo" he laughed, watching Squall rub his head in annoyance and then move further out before standing.
At least the subject had changed. Squall sighed, still holding his head with one hand and using the other to motion Seifer out.
"Oh, so as much as you'd like a T-Rexaur to come down and pick a one-sided fight with me while I'm sleeping you're forced to order me back to my dorm." Seifer was of course referring to the fact that Squall was now a teacher at the Garden. He wasn't the conventional sort of teacher, off half the school year on SeeD missions. He didn't even often speak to students other than giving an example. Cid had assigned him the duty of teaching students how to use a gunblade and ironically enough Seifer was one of his students. Of course Seifer resented this but with no real place to go other than the Garden, he accepted this new status and because of this, came out at Squall's command.
Squall silently led the way out of the training room and across the Garden to the dorm hallway. Once there Seifer needn't go far to reach his dorm. Taking out a key he placed it in the lock and then slipped it back into his pocked. When he pushed however, the door didn't open. With several curses under his breath, Seifer stepped back and gave the door a powerful kick.
Squall quirked an eyebrow and approached Seifer curiously "It's stuck?" The blonde rolled his eyes a bit and Squall gathered that it was an obvious question. "Knock some more, maybe your roommate will give you a hand."
Again Seifer rolled his eyes and shook his head "I don't have a room mate."
Squall bit his lower lip. Of course Seifer didn't have a roommate. With a sigh at his own mistake he took a bracing stance at Seifer's side. Catching on, Seifer did the same and they both charged, forcing the reluctant door open. A loud crash insued as the doorknob on the opposite side struck the wall. Squall swallowed, he was luck they hadn't knocked the door off its hinges.
Entering the room with a roll of his shoulder he nodded to Squall, taking the door in his hand to close it. "Thanks." He muttered before shutting it completely.
Squall was surprised. He had never heard Seifer thank him and for some reason he doubted it was all for helping him open the door.
It was the next day now. Squall had returned to his bed with Rinoa and when she woke there was no trace that he had ever left. They had separated when Squall went to teach his first class and Squall had made a point to skip their usual lunchtime, taking something earlier from the cafeteria, to eat elsewhere. He chose a secluded place in the parking lot. It wasn't the best place to eat but it wasn't with Rinoa just the same. Making his way to that far corner, something caught his eye. "Seifer?" This guy was showing up everywhere now. At the moment he was leaning against the concrete wall, sitting and chewing a bite of sandwich in seemingly deep thought. However when he heard Squall he looked up.
Curiosity getting the best of him Squall approached Seifer and looked at the space beside him "Mind if I join you?"
Seifer still had a mouthful and for that reason simply shrugged, hurrying to swallow.
Squall sat, taking out his own lunch which had until now been in a white bag from the cafeteria. He wouldn't ask why Seifer was here, he knew.
Strangely enough the unsaid knowledge applied to them both. Seifer had a pretty good idea as to why Squall wasn't with Rinoa. He would spare him questions this once. Finishing his lunch, Seifer remained sitting.
Squall chanced a glance to him. Class would resume soon and this class was the one Seifer attended. He sighed once more. He was thinking random thoughts now, my this was acquired "Fine, you were right. I don't know if I love her," he blurted out angrily, leaning further back to push away his own finished lunch.
Seifer looked to the young man beside him and with a half-smile nodded. "I thought so." With that he stood, gathering his things and left.
That was it? Squall frowned. He had expected maybe a bit more in response.
Cid sat behind his desk, frowning deeply. This made two. How could he keep this from the students any longer?
The principal looked up to see Edea approaching hi, hands clasped "Why have you yet to inform the SeeDs?"
Cid sighed "I thought it was mearly an accident. In fact it could still be mearly a coincidence. We shouldn't alarm the Garden with something we don't even know as a fact. It would simply not be practical."
Edea eyed him sagely and exhaled softly "Two students." Shaking her head she circled the desk and leaned against the mahogany surface before him "I hope you're right."
A bell sounded and Squall nodded his last class away, the students loading their gunblades into the appropriate boxes. Squall taught his class outside, since he wasn't always around the Garden didn't think it fit that he be given his own classroom, besides, outside best suited his needs. He did have a small office though, not much larger than a janitorial closet but an office. In fact he was about to return there, he had no more classes and he didn't feel like returning to the dorm he shared with Rinoa.
Squall looked ahead after packing up his own gunblade. The class had already hurried out. They always did, more-so than other classes he taught. Having the "Sorceresses Knight" in their class sort of set them on edge. Squall didn't quite understand how people could be so nervous around Seifer and not Edea herself. Perhaps it was because Edea had been, well, possessed. Seifer had acted out of his own free well. Not one of his wiser desesions in life.
Seifer, at the moment was taking his time packing up the gunblade. He seemed in no hurry to get to his next class. In fact he was moving so slowly it looked as though he was in hopes of missing it completely.
Squall hoisted his gunblade box over his shoulder and started towards the Garden. Passing Seifer he caught several muttered curses and paused "You might want to hurry," he advised, judging that the bell would ring again soon.
Seifer stopped for a moment and then let out a low sigh "Doesn't seem as though it will matter for much longer," he spat, lifting his own gunblade and hurrying forward.
"Hey," Squall caught Seifer by the shoulder and pulled him back, confused by his last comment "What was that supposed to mean?"
Seifer offered a weak smile and nodded to the school "Apparently there's a petition for me to leave the Garden."
Squall started "Can they do that?"
"Ask your employer," he spat looking away and then walking on again. Halfway there he paused, remembering that he still had one class to go. "Damnit!" he shouted, jamming the end gunblade box to the ground. Gloved fingers tightened over the top of the box and his shoulders shook in silent anger.
Looking about to find several curious stares from passing students, Squall hurriedly rushed to Seifer, grabbing him by the arm and attempting to usher him inside. Seifer took a tighter grip upon the box but besides that didn't fight back when he pulled him onward.
Squall led Seifer to his office. He had planned on coming here anyway so it had kind of happened without his thinking of where he was heading. The two gathered into the cramped office. It truly was smaller than a janitorial office. Things were in order, however a small, worn, desk at the far-or-short end took up more than half of the room with the chair. Squall pressed himself against the desk and placed his own gunblade box upon the desk to make room for both of them. He was about to speak when Seifer went ahead.
"Maybe I should just go ahead and leave," his voice was actually serious and while Squall said nothing, he listened closely "I'm twenty! I was sure I'd be a SeeD by now or-" he left the last words of his spur-of-the-moment-ultimate-downfall plan out "But there in lies the problem," he smiled almost sadly "Where am I going to go? I'm not trained for anything else and out of my options for that one talent I have, this is the only one that will accept me. At least with my record." The sad smile faded now and Seifer looked away and added in an almost inaudible tone-"This place doesn't even really accept me."
"They won't kick you out," Squall said resolutely. Truth-be-known he wouldn't allow them to. Sure Seifer had once been a threat but no longer.
Seifer laughed weakly "Thanks for the empty sentiment but if enough students want me gone, I doubt there's anything you can do about it."
Squall opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted as the loud speakers sounded "All students please return to your dorms. There is now a curfew in effect after classes until further notice. All classes are canceled for the day-that is all." Several cheers from the hallway signified that the message had been heard. Squall nodded to Seifer and approached the door, swinging it open. Remembering his own gunblade, Squall traced back a few steps to retrieve the box as Seifer bent down to gather his own.
It was then that two students exited a classroom across the hallway, stopping to wait for straggling friends. "You know the rumor don't you?" the taller of the two asked the smaller dirty blonde.
"Huh?" the boy wasn't paying in excess attention.
"My sister works up there," he pointed upwards towards Cid's office "She says something's coming out at night. It's getting students."
The shorter one gave an over-dramatic shiver.
"I'm serious, at least two students have been attacked. I guess, since they're declaring curfew, there was a third."
The shorter chewed at his lip thoughtfully "A third, eh? Well, I hope it was Seifer-the guy creeps me out."
"You kidding?" the taller laughed but added in a serious tone "He's probably the attacker." The classroom door opened once more and out exited the assumed friends. Together the group continued down the hallway.
Squall had heard their words and froze. He held his breath as he looked to Seifer, hoping he hadn't overheard as well.
Seifer obviously had. The blonde had stopped in a crouch at the gunblade box. It was only a moment before he left the gunblade completely and tore from the room.
By the time Squall made it to the hallway, Seifer was gone. He did however, have a good idea where he could find him. Returning to his office to retrieve both gunblades, he hurried down the main spiraling corridor and down to the training room.
Sure enough, he found Seifer where he had found him the first night. The gazebo was empty during a curfew so it was probably the right choice. With a sigh Squall dropped to his knees and moved in beside him. Instantly he caught notice of a bit of blood. "What happened?" He demanded, leaning in closer.
Seifer didn't look as though he was particularly happy for the company but rolled his injured shoulder just the same. "Nothing, T-Rexaur before I could escape."
Squall nodded. Of course. Fighting anything out here without a weapon, GF's, or any drawn magic would be more than a bit difficult "Well, we need to go. If anyone searches this area-"
'I know," Seifer responded but didn't seem as if he was about to move anytime soon.
After a long pause Squall folded his legs under and leaned towards Seifer, removing the off-white trench coat. He didn't think Seifer would mind in his current trance-like state.
Without warning, Seifer gave out a loud growl and dropped to his back, both hands tensed at his head.
Squall jumped in surprise, narrowly missing a low beam. "Are you all right?" he asked, crawling forward a bit to better see Seifer where he lie.
"They think I'm attacking students Squall," he sighed exasperatedly
Squall shook his head and went back to trying to inspect the wound. "It's just the students, and those to students at that. I didn't even know something was in the school and I'm the one Cid comes running to with problems of this size." He tugged at the now blood dampened, black fabric of the shirt, trying to see through the tare.
Seifer caught this out of the corner of his eye and knowing Squall wouldn't leave until he made sure a student wasn't bleeding to death, sat up a bit "I'm sure Cid suspects me as well. Even if he doesn't think I'm the one attacking the students I'm sure he thinks I'm assisting it. Honestly, who would you suspect?" reaching down he removed the shirt completely and then lying back down to think.
Squall was again surprised, this time by Seifer just removing his shirt. Shaking it off he leaned forward to look at the wound. As Seifer had said it wasn't terribly deep at all. Taking the already torn shirt he tore it further to bandage the wound. He didn't think heading to the nurse's office would be so wise. That would require a bit of explaining. A good bit of explaining. With that he thought over Seifer's last words. Seifer was right. If he had to suspect someone he would suspect Seifer. Of course somehow he knew Seifer had nothing to do with these attacks. "You didn't do it Seifer and they don't have any proof that you did," he tied off the fabric as he spoke.
Seifer shook his head once more and rolled onto his uninjured side so that his was no longer facing Squall. "There proof is that I once did aid evil. That's all they need."
Squall nodded "You're right," he admitted and then, at a lack of words-"Suppose I'll miss you."
Seifer jerked his head up and looked over his shoulder in confusion "You're kidding right? You can't stand me."
"You're right again," Squall looked upwards with a rare smile "The Garden wouldn't be the same without you-look now you've got me pessimistic."
Seifer lie back down on his side "You are the pessimistic one."
Squall didn't respond and instead simply crossed his arms before unfolding them and forcing Seifer onto his back so that he could look him in the face "So if anyone's going to be pessimistic it's going to be me! Now stop pitying yourself."
Seifer….needless to say…was stunned. Did Squall just pin him on his back and yell at him? This…well…this had never happened before and it was Seifer's role now to be at a lack of words. Instead he simply grabbed his trench coat and followed Squall out and into the main training chamber without a word. Squall handed him the gunblade he had left behind and the two went on to the dorms.
The two approached the dorm hall, both heading to Seifer's door in an almost ritualistic motion. The blonde, whose bare torso was now exposed through the open coat, took the key out of his pocket, twisted and pushed. Of course nothing happened. With a sigh he backed up and looked to Squall who offered a shrug and again returned to his side. Seifer used his right, uninjured shoulder, ready to charge. In sync the two did. Unfortunately this time the door did come off its hinges. Squall reached out for anything to stop the fall. He circled his arms about something but the both hit the ground with a hard thud upon the fallen door. Opening his eyes, Squall realized that what he had fastened his arms about was Seifer's neck and now the taller blonde was on to of him.
Of course Seifer had caught himself over Squall so as not to fall fully on him. However it looked as though his arms might give out at any moment in sheer surprise. It only took a moment for another reason for a second fall to insue for it was then that he noticed the pain in his left shoulder from stopping so quickly.
Forgetting the compromising position, Squall moved one of his hands down to his shoulder, unsure of what he was doing but desperate to ease the pain.
At the touch of Squall's fingers upon his skin Seifer ceased his flinching and without thinking, moved his left arm to the elbow. Using the gloved hand to move a strand of brown hair from Squall's cheek before forgetting himself completely and cupping his face before bending in for a kiss.
Squall was unable to react for a moment, as their lips met. He might have even been returning the affection for a moment until realizing what he was doing and pulling his head to the side, throwing out a punch in shock. The hit caught Seifer in the eye and the young man rolled to the side as a speechless Squall hurried up and out of the room, retreating into his own.
Seifer lie there for several more moments, trying to gather his thoughts. At last the pain returned in his shoulder but stronger still in his eye and he lifted a hand to touch it. It was then that realization flooded into his mind and he sat up in shock. "What did I just do?" he demanded aloud standing and putting the hand to his head to shake it in confusion "What did I do?" He hadn't time to answer his own question when invisible hands dragged him backwards.
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