Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Final Fantasy series. They belong to Squaresoft.

~~ I'd like to dedicate this chapter to my wonderful, sweet, amazing, dedicated and talented beta reader Zencreation for reading through 120pages of madness and working her magic -_^ She also saved this chapter from the trashbin, because I came close to deleting it because I was so frustrated with it and she managed to talk me into posting it anyway ^^ There is definitely no better person to dedicate this to!!!~~

~Thank You Zen~

Let Me Make It Alright

Chapter 26: So Close, Yet So Far

By Angry Angel

Finally having returned to their room, he trudged to his bed and stowed LionHeart away in its respective container, all the while feeling Seifer's eyes burning into his back. Just why exactly that guy loved to stare at him so much was beyond him. It wasn't like he had grown a second nose or a pair of horns during the months of the blonde's absence.

"So, your old man is coming, huh?" the baritone voice sliced through the comfortable silence.

He sighed.

"As you heard."

"So, do you like get along, or what?"

Without fully turning around, he nailed Seifer to the spot with a grudging gaze from over his shoulder.

"None of your business."

"Whoo-hoo. Hey, are those icicles I see dangling from your ass there, ice prince?"

Seifer earnestly did try to restrain his sarcasm around his object of desire, but Squall's chill definitely wasn't making things any easier. No matter how damn nice he struggled to be, Squall always found a reason to flip him off. Thus, it was really no surprise that he couldn't control his loud mouth. He did regret many of his insults after they had rolled off his tongue, but it was usually too late by then.

"Whatever."

Squall progressed towards the bathroom again, a heap of clothes in his arms that he had retrieved from his closet. His blonde roommate rolled his eyes.

"Are you taking a shower again?"

"Unlike some of us, I don't want to smell," Squall bit without facing him, "and I have to go see Kadowaki."

Seifer was already elated over the fact that he had gotten an explanation at all, so he didn't mind Squall slamming the door shut behind him once more. He was quite impressed by the brunette's hidden temper; though dark and cold most of the time, Squall did have spirit.

Glancing at their clock, he realized that it was barely 15:00h. He wasn't feeling tired anymore after his long nap, so he decided to pay the cafeteria a visit. Dishes were still piling high in the sink, and he wasn't in the mood for housework. In fact, his nose curled in disgust at the mere thought of it.

"Hey, puberty boy, I'm going to the cafeteria," he yelled in the general direction of the bathroom door.

Not that he really needed to sign in and out with the brunette, but he figured it was better than leaving without a word of explanation. When he received something that sounded vaguely like a "whatever", he knew that he was good to go. Snatching his key card, he left the apartment slow-paced, determined to have an interesting afternoon even without Squall's cheerful company.

About six hot-dogs, three fights and over four hours later, he found himself wanting to be back in their apartment. He had gotten fed up with strolling around Garden for the mere purpose of killing time. His little fights against belligerent SeeD cadets that had mistaken themselves for combat prodigies had been nothing short of lame and boring, and a person could only eat so many hot-dogs before they felt like vomiting all over the cafeteria floor.

That settled, Seifer decided that it was time to go back.

Dusk was already glowing dimly through crystalline windows as he strode through the dormitory hallways. With a casual flick of his key card, he opened the door to their apartment and entered, immediately glancing around for a sign of his perma-grumpy roommate. Disappointment settled in his chest quickly, though, when he realized that Squall was nowhere to be seen.

Sighing, he toed off his boots and trudged into the kitchen for a glass of water. Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see the huge pile of plates, boards, cups and pots that was brooding with malice. He lowered his glass, and then shook his head gently from side to side.

'Fuck. Might as well.'

After the first basic struggles of finding a sponge, soap and towels and figuring out how to wrench his large hands into Squall's tiny glasses to clean them properly, Seifer was quickly getting the hang of it. He passed another thirty minutes cleaning, drying and putting dishes back into their spot before boredom caught up with him once more.

'Gees. What is it with me, can't I pass a few hours without little Squally-boy anymore or what?'

Fairly disgruntled he went back into the living room and lowered himself onto the couch, his gaze blankly splicing with Squall's TV and videodisc player. He perched down before the movie rack, then settled cross-legged into the granite colored carpet covering the small piece of floor between couch and entertainment center.

'Entertainment center...'

Seifer felt like neighing with laughter at the idea of Squall allowing himself to splurge in something as plain and fundamental as "entertainment."

'Not like he could with these masterpieces anyway.'

One of the various boxes did catch his interest, though. A rather cheap looking cover was graced with the image of a humongous Ruby Dragon, which was of course held at bay by a knight in shining silver armor.

In earlier days, a much younger Seifer had been addicted to any movie whatsoever that evolved around valiant knights saving beautiful maids-of-honor from any hazard imaginable. Some years and sexual experiences later, though, he had come to realize that saving a "maid" wasn't all it was cracked up to be. This applied in particular when bearing in mind that his vision of a helpless princess had turned into that of a battle-scarred prince; one who would rather whack his own head square into a brick wall before succumbing to anything like help and salvation.

Nonetheless, the movie seemed intriguing.

Flipping the container over, he glanced at the back of it. The title was along the lines of "Honor and Passion in the Eye of the Beast The Life of a Dragon Slayer", enough to make him gag by any means, but his focus was quickly caught by a close-up image of the protagonist. For a split second, he thought he was looking at the picture of a longhaired Squall Leonhart, before realizing that the man on the movie box was in fact Laguna Loire, Squall's father.

'This ought to be interesting.'

Pondering the question of why the president of Esthar would act in a sleazy movie, or any movie for that matter, he popped the disc into Squall's VD player, ready to hit the remote power button, when the electronic hiss of their apartment door stirred his attention.

Craning his head around, he saw a grouchy looking Squall trudge to the dining table where he placed his key and a black, fur lined vest. Why in Hyne's name the brunet was wearing any more than pants and a shirt was beyond Seifer's understanding. It was summer, after all.

"Yo, Leonhart," he drawled, carefully masking his excitement.

Squall didn't acknowledge him with as much as a glance or a grunt, though. Seifer knew the younger man well enough to pick up on his moods right away, and something had obviously upset the brunette. Not that it took much to upset him in the first place.

"The hell is wrong with you again, wife?"

"Why don't you just mind your own fucking business?"

"Tsk. Such a foul mouth. It doesn't suit a lady, ya know."

"Drop dead."

He relished in Squall's anger a little longer before calling himself to mind that he had originally planned on being more patient and less of an aggressor. Consequently, he settled for dropping the subject and dedicated his attention to the VD player once more.

Meanwhile, he could hear Squall pace around the room and disappear into the kitchen, where the boy's steps suddenly died to a halt. For about a minute or less, there was no sound except for Seifer's mumbled gush of curse words at the remote control's complexity.

"You did the dishes."

Impressively enough, Seifer heard Squall mutter quietly in the distance, and his head shot up immediately, darting towards the kitchen.

"Say what?"

Squall emerged from behind the counters looking as if he had just given birth to a three-legged chocobo. The tall blonde still sitting on the floor couldn't help but laugh at the priceless expression.

"You are too fucking cute. Look, I told you I'd do them."

The brunette remained rooted to the spot, white clad arms hanging loosely at his side. He didn't even quite know why, but somehow it amazed him that Seifer had kept his word. He had gotten so accustomed to people breaking their promises over the years that this came as much of a surprise. Being a guy that always expected the worst to happen and never dared to let his heart hope for anything less cruel than that, he had never seriously figured that Seifer would hold to his word.

"Stop gaping and help me with your damn VD player."

Much to Seifer's liking, Squall actually cracked out of his stupor and came to kneel by his side, taking the remote from his hands rather roughly. Casually, he thumbed a few buttons and the TV sprang to life, taking the VD right along with it.

"Sweet," Seifer smirked approvingly.

"What's in there?"

"This great piece of art."

Seifer waved the box in front of Squall's face, who snatched it out of his grasp with repetitive rudeness.

"Your father is in it."

"... I guess."

"You guess? Did you ever watch it?"

"No."

"Why?"

"He just sent it to me a few months ago."

"A few months ago?"

Seifer groaned loudly and hid his face behind his hand, then jabbed his finger at the couch commandingly.

"Sit down."

His opposite frowned at the order, eyes slitting and scar crumpling as his eyebrows converged. Seifer merely gave him a push towards the couch, almost sending him face forward onto the carpet.

"Sit down, we're watching this now."

"I don't want to watch it."

"Do I look like I give a fuck? Sit down already."

While Squall still remained firmly in place, Seifer stood up and proceeded to close their blinds, plunging their room in deepest black except for the colorful flickering of the TV.

"This is more like it," he nodded in satisfaction.

Though it had seemed highly impossible at first, Squall's frown looked even more menacing in the quickly shifting hues of light cast by the VD's menu screen.

Even so, Seifer could tell that he had won. Squall had neither stormed out of the room nor hurled furniture at him, so his anger was probably still wading in bearable levels. The older blonde knew that he had to seize his chance, so he slumped down on the couch again, one leg propped up and certain to take up an extra great amount of space.

"Come on," he waved invitingly, "you're sitting in the way."

Looking rather glum, Squall mumbled something under his breath and pressed another button to start the movie. Very reluctantly, he complied with Seifer's invitation and moved towards the couch. He removed his boots and placed them neatly off to the side, then lowered himself into the cushions, sitting as far away from his rival as he possibly could without looking overly ridiculous.

The scene made Seifer chuckle, but a look at Squall's murderous expression told him that it was better to remain quiet and focus on the movie. Nevertheless, he did toss the brunette the occasional side-glances, amused by the way Squall's jaw tensed, his eyes permanently stared straight ahead and his narrow nose was crinkling at the queer things his father was doing on TV.

Seifer had to admit that he could understand why Squall hadn't wanted to watch the movie. It was horrible. An utterly hyperactive Laguna Loire was jumping around in cheap armor, furiously flailing his sword at a dragon that was about ten times his size. When Seifer saw Squall burying his face in his hand, he couldn't restrain himself anymore and broke into snorting fits of laughter.

"Oh my fucking god," he roared, "that is priceless."

The younger brunette was nailing his gaze almost pleadingly to the screen, as if that would help to make his father's fighting performance any better. It didn't.

"Was that the first time he ever held a sword?"

Squall's features contorted painfully.

"Do I really need to answer that?"

Seifer snorted again and almost reeled over in his seat, laughing so loud that even Squall couldn't help but press his lips together to keep himself from smiling. Immediately, Seifer's arm jerked forward and pointed frantically at the screen.

"Oh fuck he didn't just do that," he burst out, then slumped backwards into his seat, crying tears of laughter, "fuck me, he did!!"

Wide-eyed, Squall watched his roommate roll around on the couch. The sight was so fascinating that he didn't even mind Seifer's body constantly pressing against his own. When he caught a glimpse of Laguna yelping and performing some pathetic "en gaurde" sword-stab against the Ruby Dragon, the brunette could not stifle his laughter anymore. He brought one hand rolled to a fist to his mouth in the attempt to smother any sound, but it didn't help.

Soon enough, he was chuckling so loud that even Seifer halted in his hysterics and looked up. The blonde was currently lying on his back, legs dangling off one end of the couch and his head resting dangerously close to Squall's thigh. Gazing upwards, he was totally awestruck by the warm and lax expression on the younger boy's face, only surpassed by the sight of his lips drawing back over perfect white teeth in the most beautiful laugh Seifer had ever seen. He stared wide-eyed in wonder, and when Squall turned his head to face him, the churning in his stomach was impossible to ignore. Sea blue eyes sparkling blissfully behind soft tresses of brown hair and the still smiling lips had him under their spell, and the last thing he wanted to do was to fight against it.

Squall stared down upon the older gunblader, his insides still tickling beatifically. He saw the awe and allure, the friendship and the...

His breath suddenly jarring in his throat, he froze. That emotion swaying in Seifer's eyes... he knew he had seen something similar before, a long time ago. His "sis" Ellone had always looked at him that way when he had still been a little boy and had showed her things he had found and gathered especially for her. It was...

'No... he doesn't. He can't. He never would. Not me.'

"You're beautiful."

His eyes snapped to wide orbs of ocean blue at the gentle voice and Seifer's hand slowly reaching for his face, running his knuckles all the way from his temple to his chin, a smile slowly stretching the blonde's intoxicatingly handsome features. Squall swallowed hard, feeling the warm skin softly caressing his. Seifer's words were still lingering in the air, spilled from his eyes and from the touch of his hands.

Squall felt like he was drowning. He was held captive by the other man's gaze, unable to move, unable to speak. His breathing grew arduous and the room started to feel far too hot. Seifer's touch was doing strange things to his body and his soul; things he didn't understand and wasn't totally sure that he liked. There was so much heat radiated by the simplest of touches, and Squall had always been a man to fear heat. His world was gray, bland and icy; how could he have room for warmth, no matter how much he craved it at the same time as he despised it?

::: "You will never change.":::

The memory of those words sliced through his mind, shattering everything, cruelly squashing any glimpse of hope he had clung to, if only for the length of a heartbeat. He wasn't meant to be loved, he wasn't meant to be cared for. Love and hope always ended in betrayal and loneliness. Always.

Seifer saw the change in Squall's face, the change he had feared, but it was too late for him to react. Squall's body jerked away from his touch, ice returning to the coldest pair of moonstone colored orbs that had shone with light and life only instants before. The brunette was on his feet before Seifer had even come close to realizing the turn of the tides.

"W-wait!"

His body snapped upwards and he pushed himself off the couch quickly, trying to grasp the other again before he was out of his reach. His arm froze halfway through the movement, though, when a voice dominated by chill cut through the air.

"Don't touch me."

Squall didn't turn around to face him, but the sharp edge in each of his words was threat enough. Seifer understood. Slowly, he retreated.

"Where are you going?" he dared to ask quietly.

"It's late. I'm going to bed."

Squall vanished inside the bathroom, closing the door with less force than usual but closing it all the same. He didn't care, he didn't want to care. He just wanted to shut everything out.

Seifer stared at the sleek black paint of the object that kept them apart, hating himself for his own stupidity. He should have left Squall alone instead of trying to move in on him. Yet, for a just a second, he had been sure that Squall had reacted to his touch, that something inside him had melted. He was hoping that it hadn't been his imagination, but he wasn't all too sure anymore.

'Fuck... why did I even try... I should have known better than that...'

Closing his eyes slowly, he tried to capture the essence of that moment, to hold and dwell in it for just a little while, but it was in vain. All he saw burning before him was Squall's face the second it had changed to a cold, lifeless mask.

'Why do you do this...?'

Semi-consciously, he went to turn off the TV and VD player, plunging the room into nothing but fathomless darkness. He stripped his clothes carelessly and slung them over the back of a chair. Sinking into bed, he felt his body melt into the sheets and his mind coiling restlessly.

Squall left the bathroom just mere minutes later, slipping underneath his covers and turning to face the wall. Neither of them was angry with the other, but disappointment and emptiness filled both of their hearts until sleep mercifully ended their turmoil and eased their agitated souls.

'...I'm sorry...'

 

 

=To be continued!=

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