Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VIII is property of Square Enix.

Betareader: Angel of Enigma

Warnings: Yaoi (boy love with the pairings Seifer x Squall), language, non-con (rape), self-abuse, angst, violence, fluff, AU (Alternate Universe).

Whispered Screams

Chapter Seven - Delta

"Delta - a low triangular area where a river divides before entering a larger body of water."

By Angry Angel

He was early; incredibly early, to do the truth even any justice.

For Seifer Almasy, who usually showed up to class at least five minutes late, simply being on time was a downright accomplishment. And yet there he was, 7:00am sharp, sitting at the edge of Deling City High's fountain and cursing at the coldness of the marble stone beneath his ass. It simmered through the thin fabric of his nylon shorts and the crisp chill of the air cut into his bare arms and shoulders; of course, only an idiot would wear a tank top at such ungodly hours in the morning, summer or not. Unfortunately, there'd been a few too many girls and guys telling Seifer just how nice his toned upper body looked in a wife beater, and he generally took ample advantage of said physical asset - even if it entailed the danger of catching a few nasty frost boils.

His emerald eyes screened the yet empty school courtyard. Thin layers of mist and morning dew were dusting the grass, and only the spots already kissed by the slowly ascending sun were halfway bearable. Fortunately, the spring proved to be one of them. His book bag was resting between his legs, providing at least marginal comfort. Seifer glowered down upon the red goretex fabric, recalling his late night attempts at scribbling down his math homework. He usually tried to get by without, but considering Squall's willingness to tutor him, Seifer had thought it wise to at least give off the impression that he cared about his academics.

In truth, Seifer cared little about anything but partying and athletics. Football, track, baseball, basketball - he excelled in any sport that he had ever bothered to take up. He figured that he would end up a pro player; after all, he definitely did have the skills and the connections. Nothing else but that really mattered.

And yet, for some reason, Seifer had wasted scarcely a thought on sports at all throughout the past few days. He had been supposed to talk to his football coach and to that Kiros Seagul bloke, too, come to think of it. Hands down, he had done neither, but the prospect of possibly not being able to play anything at all that season left him surprisingly unperturbed.

Thinking of Squall, however, was an entirely different story.

At school, in his car, in his apartment, at the gym, in the park, at the grocery store - hell, even on the fucking toilet - there was no place that Seifer hadn't wasted at least one thought on the silent brunette. This was definitely a crush alright, and the blonde wasn't entirely sure how much he fancied that idea. He was no rabid fan girl or docile little bitch that enjoyed stalking pretty classmates for a pastime; he simply found the brunette a fascinating and worthy subject of his interest.

That was what he tried to tell himself, anyway.

Sighing, Seifer rested one elbow upon his knees and his face in the hollow of his palm, frowning at his own pathetic self. The "Prince of Jocks" was sitting on a fountain at fucking seven in the morning, freezing his ass off and waiting for his secret crush to give him math lessons of all things... could things possibly get any worse?

'...What if he's not coming?'

Frankly, that idea too had occurred to Seifer more than just once, and he didn't like it one bit. Nobody had ever dared to stand him up, but it wasn't really his pride that he was worried about this time. He had actually been looking forward to this, and the prospect of Squall possibly not turning up made his insides churn.

'For fuck's sake, pull yourself together, Almasy. He'll come. ... I think. I hope...? Fuck.'

Groaning, he dumped his face into his hand and closed his eyes. Yeah, a whole fat load of good this crush was doing him. He should have just stuck to the original plan and dated some random dumb bitch like that Rinoa girl, or whatever her name was. At least then he wouldn't have to pretend that he didn't care... pretend that he wasn't gay, or bisexual, or what the flying fuck ever.

Instead, he had managed to get himself into this.

"Trying to think...? Looks painful."

Seifer's head jerked up at the unexpected and rather snide voice that had erupted from somewhere right in front of him. Blinking, his eyes scanned long, slender legs in light blue, washed out jeans and an almost too thin body wrapped in a tight leather jacket. A pair of arms was crossed fiercely before that person's chest, a black biker helmet clutched in one hand, and when Seifer elevated his gaze even further, his emerald green eyes clashed with dusty grey ones that glared back at him coldly.

"Squall," Seifer said blankly, noticing how the brunette's face snapped into a frown. "Uh. Hey."

Squall said nothing and continued to stare at him calmly, his eyes unusually dark. Finally, he circled the blonde's hunched figure and dropped down upon the brim of the spring next to him. He placed his helmet between himself and Seifer, wordlessly staking his territory. Seifer arched an eyebrow at the gesture, but remained silent; obviously, if he wanted to play this game, it would have to be by Squall's rules.

The blonde glanced at his wrist watch, while Squall placed his black backpack on the ground between his feet.

7:10am.

"You're early," he stated plainly and looked at the younger boy with an expression that suggested surprise.

"I can leave again," Squall responded coldly.

"That's not what I meant," Seifer growled in exasperation, trying to wrestle up all his patience. "Grumpy."

God, this was difficult.

Somehow, he could sense that something had changed. Squall's aura was darker and more aggressive than the day before. His voice held more chill than a whole battalion of freezers. A wiser man than Seifer would have probably opted to stay away from the dark haired youth, but wisdom had never been one of the blonde's acclaimed assets. He was already too curious and too ensnared to simply give in.

Suddenly, Seifer recalled Selphie's words at the diner, wondering yet again at their meaning.

..::: "On some days he'll be very quiet and hardly say a word... then on others, he'll be like, really angry and hurtful. It's kind of confusing." :::..

"Do you want to do this, or what?"

Seifer adjusted his focus to the brunette's rigid face once more, and he nodded quickly before Squall had a chance to stand up and take his leave.

Of course he wanted to fucking do this, but the other youth wasn't exactly making things any easier, either. If Squall would've just relaxed and taken a deep breath for once, perhaps he wouldn't have been so goddamn uptight. He probably had his reasons, but Seifer knew that there was little point in prying for them.

The blonde snarled abjectly. He hated secrets more than anything, even if he did have a few of his own.

Next to him, Squall's face had soured with impatience. Fortunately, Seifer noticed this and swiftly reached inside his bag to retrieve his notebook, holding it out for the brunette to take.

"There."

Squall swiped it out of his hands rudely and flipped it open in one smooth motion, then shoved a few strands of hair out of his eyes to clear his sight. Seifer watched him silently, marveling at the dark haired beauty's clean-cut profile. There wasn't a single mark or blemish that tainted his porcelain skin; he looked so perfect that it was almost surreal. Again, there was that sweet smell of apples and cinnamon lingering in the moist morning air, clinging to Squall's hair and the firm leather of his jacket.

Seifer gulped.

"Thanks for coming," he muttered disjointedly, forcing himself to focus. "I, uh, appreciate it. Really."

Squall flicked up his gaze and glanced at him from the corner of his eye, but refused to break his fashionable state of silence. He had magically produced a pencil from somewhere and was now exercising quick strokes upon the calculations in Seifer's notebook.

The blonde cringed.

"That bad, eh?"

He rubbed the back of his neck in distress, while at the same time attempting to crane it around just far enough to cast a better look at his papers in Squall's lap. Frankly, he didn't give a rat's ass about his homework, but it offered a rather nice excuse for him to move a bit closer to his object of desire and study his fine features.

Squall was an intoxicating sight, really. If it wasn't for his coldness, he'd probably have girls and guys flocking to him left and right, Seifer decided. On the other hand, he was quite glad that hardly anyone acknowledged Squall's beauty, which was indeed worthy of being worshiped.

But hey - not that he had ever been one to fear competition.

'Gee, I should open up a fan club. Then again, I could just save myself the trouble and jump off the next bridge, 'cause he'd sure as hell kill me if I didn't.'

As the minutes passed on and the younger boy continued to correct his work in silence, Seifer eventually grew bolder (or suicidal, whichever) and unobtrusively tried to slide across the marble and closer to Squall's side.

Unfortunately, that damned helmet was right in his fucking way.

Cursing inwardly, Seifer glowered down upon the dividing object. Reducing it to shreds by mere utilization of his best death glare, however, proved futile, so he ultimately had to resort to more drastic measures.

The blonde curled his fingers around the edge of the helmet and lifted it off the marble surface, wordlessly holding it out to the brunette at his side. Squall looked up and blinked at it in confusion. Seifer's lips curved into a faint smile, a gesture that seemed to say "Look... I don't bite," and a silent plea was being issued from the jade green depths of his eyes. He knew that if he'd simply put the helmet aside, he would accomplish nothing. As absurd as the whole situation might have been, he understood only too well that he needed Squall's permission.

To his great and pleasant surprise, the brunette slowly reached out and took his possession from him, his eyes boring into Seifer's as their hands almost touched. The grey seemed to fade from those cold, hard orbs as they were studying Seifer's face, acknowledging the blonde's respectful gesture, and there was a tender spark between the two young men that neither of them could any longer deny.

Of course, that didn't mean that they did not try.

Squall placed his helmet off to his right side and lowered his gaze back to the notebook in his lap, pretending to be coolness itself. Still - he tensed visibly when he felt Seifer moving in to him, closing the space between their bodies. He was about to recoil from the prospective touch, but Seifer halted before it had even come to pass.

Where romance was concerned, Seifer never made the same mistake twice. Well, tried not to, anyway.

'Hey... Nobody's perfect. At least I come close.'

Squall resumed breathing and reading through Seifer's homework. He knew that the blonde was watching him. Part of him hated him for this, but the other didn't mind too much - in fact, he was feeling uncharacteristically curious. Around Seifer, Squall felt like a little kid that was gazing at a beautiful, burning candle - wanting to touch it even though he knew it was going to hurt.

Squall frowned.

He didn't even like fire.

Irritably, he glared at the notes before him. Why was he even doing this? He couldn't remember. The soft hearted, useless idiot in him had granted Seifer's plea for assistance, but where was that idiot now? What had he been thinking to agree to his?

Eventually, Squall simply decided to blame this on a case of momentary stupidity that had befallen him for what ever inscrutable reason and to move on with it, if only to get it over with as quickly as possible.

"Were you even looking at the paper when you did this?" he grunted and jabbed his pen at the homework that was littered with errors.

Next to him, Seifer gave a lopsided smirk.

"Occasionally," he lilted.

"Figures."

"That bad? Seriously?" Seifer asked, drawing up his eyebrows.

"... Worse."

"Gee, you're awfully encouraging," the blonde huffed, feigning frustration. "'Scuse me, I think I'm gonna go kill myself now."

Seifer hadn't expected the brunette to turn around and stare at him with a face struck by thunder. His eyes were wide like those of a child, flaring white around the rim, and there was something weird in those storm blue depths that Seifer couldn't possibly understand, much less explain. Their grave expression almost frightened him.

Had Squall really taken him fucking seriously?

"Hey, I was jokin'," he quickly explained, vaguely raising his hand in a soothing gesture. "Don't look at me like that. You look like fucking Bambi after his mother got run over by a truck. What's wrong?"

Squall continued to stare at him some more, then reeled his head aside. His jaw was awfully tight, and judging by the way his tender jugular was moving, Seifer could tell that he was swallowing hard.

"I know you were joking," the brunette bit eventually.

"Then why--"

"Just shut up, alright?"

There was no bite to Squall's voice, only a faint drizzle of annoyance as he tried to force his focus back upon the sloppy handwriting on the papers before him. Seifer studied him quietly for a minute, before deciding to let the subject go.

It was the smartest thing he had done in a while.

"By the way," he started slowly, watching closely for Squall's reaction. "This is the second time you're helping me."

The brunette kept staring at the notebook and Seifer could see how his eyebrows mashed together.

"Your point?" he bit.

"My point?" Seifer repeated. "Uh. I guess I just wanted to thank you. That okay with you, or what, your highness?"

Squall crossed a few numbers out on the paper, using a whole lot more force than was necessary. Seifer smiled at him and the lethal grimace that had carved itself into his pale features.

"Whatever."

"You're a funny fucker, you know that?" Seifer purred, caressing Squall's profile with his eyes. "Hey, how old are you, anyway?"

"... Seventeen."

"That's what I thought. Kiddo."

The brunette eventually looked up at him, a question mark literally written all over his pretty face while his eyes were dark with a scowl. Seifer snorted at the priceless expression, elbowing Squall in the side playfully.

"Man, my balls for a fucking mirror," he laughed, pointing at Squall's face. "I swear, you should see yourself right now."

The brunette's high cheek bones acquired a rather lovely shade of crimson at the older youth's words, and he whipped his head around once more, trying to hide his blush.

"Whatever," he growled.

"You sure say that a lot."

"And you're annoying."

Seifer winked at him with half mock, half serious charm.

"Yeah, I know."

Squall merely shook his head, but said nothing. Secretly, he did kind of enjoy talking to the ornery blonde. It was so easy. They would simply throw pointless remarks and insults at each other, dishing out and receiving like it was just some sort of game. It was... fun, and it provided for some well needed distraction from the painful, frightening track that Squall's mind was usually running on.

Carefully, Squall threw a half-glance up at Seifer, who was now gazing out into the school yard. The sun had finally broken through the clouds completely, and its rays danced off the blonde's hair and skin in a fascinating play of light. Seifer's hair was glistening like pure, finely spun gold, and his skin could have rivaled an expensive bronze statue's complexion. He looked great in that white tank top he was wearing, and considering the chilly temperatures of a Deling City morning, he was probably fully aware of it, too. Then again, maybe he was just really stupid - an option that Squall hadn't entirely ruled out yet.

Either way - Seifer was hot and a downright jock if Squall had ever seen one.

Involuntarily, the brunette's eyebrows laced together at that thought. Why was Seifer so eager to hang out with him, anyway? He had asked himself that question more than just once over the last few days, but had never come up with a satisfying answer. The blonde wasn't his "crowd"; hell, Squall didn't even have a "crowd". He liked to be his own "crowd", thank you very much. Few people ever bothered to talk to him anyway, and if they did, they disappeared again pretty quickly. Nobody wanted to hang around a cold hearted, antisocial asshole.

Again, Squall blinked at Seifer and his frown gradually smoothed out.

"Nobody"...?

Emerald eyes suddenly zeroed in on his face, and Squall started at the attentiveness in Seifer's gaze. Muttering something incoherent, he quickly dropped his head back down to glower at the blonde's homework and pretend that he hadn't been staring.

Seifer had noticed the strange look in Squall's eyes, and it had elicited his curiosity. The brunette seemed oddly docile all of a sudden - friendly almost. At least he didn't look like he was going to tear the next-best person's head off, which was an achievement all on its own.

The blonde couldn't help but smile softly at that thought.

"So," he finally said, his voice deliberately light. "What do you do on the weekends?"

It was a harmless question, but Squall glared at him all the same. Not that Seifer had expected anything else, really. He grinned and fumbled with the fabric of his shorts, smoothing them over the powerful muscles that glided beneath the skin of his thighs. He knew that Squall was watching him.

"Why are you asking?" the brunette huffed coolly, trying to ignore the hypnotic glow in Seifer's eyes.

'So... green...' Squall thought as he felt like drowning completely in ember depths, but he shook the notion out of his mind immediately.

He couldn't do this.

"Oh... Just curious," Seifer replied innocently.

"... I work."

Seifer cocked an eyebrow at that piece of information, but Squall refused to meet his curious gaze again.

"You work all weekend?" he asked.

"Yeah."

"Why?"

Squall screwed up his face in disapproval, irritably tapping his pen upon the surface of the notebook's paper. If there was one thing he didn't like, it was being asked dumb, nosy questions. Talking to Seifer was alright, as long as it didn't involve having his private affairs being pried in. They were of no one else's business but his very own.

"You ask too many questions," he stated demurely.

"You don't give enough answers."

The brunette snorted at that retaliation, and he flicked some strands of chocolate brown hair out of his face to let Seifer suffer the full extent of his death glare. Unfortunately, the blonde didn't seem all too impressed.

Finally, Squall sighed in defeat.

"That's 'cause it's none of your business," he replied stoically.

"I'm just trying to make conversation."

"Do something else, then."

Seifer pondered that remark for a moment, watching with interest how Squall was all concentrated on his work. For some reason, he was starting to feel rather bold and giddy. After all, Squall hadn't killed him yet, and he was actually talking.

This situation had potential.

'Something else, huh?' He thought to himself, grinning. 'Alright, something else you shall get then.'

Sneering good-naturedly, he leveled his gaze with Squall's face.

"Well then. Want me to throw you into the fountain instead?" he offered with a daring smirk.

The brunette growled dangerously in reply.

"No," he snapped.

"Come on," Seifer chuckled suggestively, taking a hold of the brunette's arm and edging him towards the water. "It'd be fun."

"Fun my ass," the younger boy barked irritably, which caused Seifer to laugh even harder and tug at his arm some more. "Stop that!"

But the hysteric shade to Squall's voice only drove Seifer to ascend new levels of feistiness.

"Squally-boy's gonna get wet..."

"Seifer..." the brunette hissed softly, now shadowing the name with a subtle threat.

"Wet, wet, wet," Seifer chanted roughly, shoving and pulling at Squall's limbs.

Without issuing another warning, Squall creamed the lively blonde over the head with his notebook, though he was considerate enough not to place too much force behind the blow. Nonetheless, Seifer let out a strangled yelp. He was swearing at the brunette from under his breath, groaning and rubbing his aching forehead, but he didn't stop laughing.

"Alright, you're getting that back," he threatened mischievously, his hand still curled around Squall's biceps. "You're taking a bath now, Leonhart!"

"Don't you fucking dare--"

"Oh, but I do!"

"I'm gonna--"

"... Seifer!"

Both Seifer and Squall winced at the painfully high pitch to the female voice that had called out the blonde's name from somewhere to their left. They turned around slowly, groaning inwardly as their eyes fell upon the slim, pink-clad figure of a certain brunette classmate who was squired by two of her friends - one of them being Michelle, the curly haired blonde girl that Irvine had talked to.

Reluctantly, Seifer let go off Squall's arm.

Rinoa was looking down at the two guys reproachfully, her dark brown eyes framed by thick lashes that had received a rather thorough treatment with jet black mascara. Her fingers raked through her long, silken hair playfully, before she let herself flop down upon the edge of the spring, right next to Seifer.

About a split second later, she jumped a good foot's worth into the air.

"Eek! Oh my gosh, this is like, so cold! How can you sit here?" she whimpered at the chill beneath her tender butt, and her friends immediately joined into her lament as they sunk down beside her.

Seifer could have sworn that he saw Squall rolling his eyes.

"Uh, yeah... It's a bitch, ain't it?" the blonde said neutrally, trying to withstand Rinoa's look-over without letting his annoyance shine through. "Well, what's up, ladies?"

The brunette girl smiled suggestively, the oh so terrible cold apparently already forgotten.

Seifer couldn't help but grin on the inside.

'Yeah, this body does magic.'

"Just seeing what you're up to," Rinoa explained and crossed her legs, not without butting her knee into Seifer's. "Hey, you're still coming with us on Friday, right?"

Seifer paid her a weak half-smirk as he remembered. He had almost forgotten about their rendezvous for Friday night, or repressed the memory of it, more like it. At his side, Squall had become awfully quiet and motionless; he had even stopped to violently cross out errors in Seifer's homework and was now merely staring at it in a bleak daze.

"Uh... yeah... uh... I mean..." Seifer started hesitantly.

"Great. Don't let Irvine and us down, 'kay?" she cooed, placing her hand on his arm and leaning into him quite obviously. "So... what are you doing here, anyway?"

Seifer resisted the urge to sever her arm at the shoulder with a blunt object, and instead continued to smile, though his face was already starting to hurt from the strain. He didn't like this girl, nor did he like her friends, but they were rather hot female specimens and he was a guy - he was supposed to like them. Then there was Irvine, too... not that he really owed the cowboy any more favors, but the auburn haired guy served as a good excuse for his false friendliness all the same.

Considering the fact that she had brought Irvine up in the first place, Seifer wondered whether Rinoa understood that, too.

"Homework," he eventually replied flatly. "Squall's helping me out."

"I see," she said, before glancing from Seifer's notebook to Squall with an unreadable smirk curving her gloss tinted lips. "Oh, right. Squall. I hardly even saw you back there. How are you?"

The brunette didn't heed her with a single look nor word, but Seifer could hear how the pace of Squall's breathing picked up a notch and became unusually erratic. His eyebrows were twitching, and so were his fingers that were clasping the pen. Somehow, the older blonde couldn't help but wonder at that sudden change. Did Squall have a crush on the girl or something? He studied the dark haired youth's features intently, searching it for some sort of revelation, but Squall refused to look at him, too.

'Come on.' Seifer thought with a grim smile. 'He's gotta have better taste than that.'

"Well, talkative as ever, I see," Rinoa said with a careless shrug, causing her girlfriends to giggle and whisper to each other.

Squall bit down hard upon the inside of his cheeks. Him and Rinoa had practically been loathing each other ever since their freshmen year, when she had asked him to a dance and he had refused. Maybe he hadn't exactly been... polite... back then, but that had been no justification for her to go around spreading nasty rumors that some students were all too eager to believe.

He frowned at the memory. He hadn't been called a fag in a while, perhaps because Rinoa had eventually grown tired of her little witch hunt, but he knew that "fag" was still what some brain farted kids were thinking when they laid eyes on him. He didn't care about their retarded opinions, no matter if they were right or wrong, but all the same, he had never forgiven Rinoa for what she had done. He wasn't gay. He wasn't straight. He wasn't anything, for that matter, but that was none of that skanky ho's business. What did she know about him and his life, anyway? She knew nothing. Not a goddamned thing.

Suddenly, he felt the notebook being taken from his hands without a word, but he did not object to that intrusion. Looking over, he could see that Rinoa was holding on to it, skimming over the lines that he had marked and corrected.

His face was still blanched of emotions.

"Sheesh, Squall, you made a real mess in his notes," the girl said abjectly. "How's Seifer supposed to read this now?"

Seifer turned to his left and curiously screened over his homework again at her chiding words. Indeed, the blonde thought to himself, the paper was a bit, well, crowded looking, but that was probably to blame on the fact that he had made just about every mistake in math history.

Squall merely stared at his kneecaps, hearing Seifer mutter something along the lines of "Well, that's kinda my fault, you know," but he was already beyond the point of caring. He suddenly felt like an idiot for believing that maybe, just maybe, Seifer was different from all the other snobbish, superficial dumbasses at their school. Yeah right - all it took was some ditzy bitch in a low cut dress to make the blonde forget all about him.

Why ever had he expected anything else?

"Oh my god, I mean, just look at this!" Rinoa jeered and passed Seifer's notebook on to her friends, who immediately commenced an annoying tirade of snide comments and cries of outrage over Squall's efforts.

Rinoa, on the other hand, quietly wrapped her arm more tightly around Seifer's, smiling a smile that was much too calculating for her pretty features.

It was then that Seifer finally realized that shit was about to hit the fan.

'Ah fuck.'

Seifer had seen it coming, but he was still surprised when Squall suddenly leaped onto his feet and harshly picked up his backpack and helmet. The brunette didn't say a single word to him nor them; all he did was hoist his book bag onto his shoulder and stomp off towards the school building.

"S-Squall! Hey! Wait!"

The blonde didn't bother about the girls or his stuff when he jumped up and ran after Squall, who was persistently distancing himself from him, ignoring his yelling and his mere presence.

"Squall! Squall, wait the fuck up!"

It was no use. Squall wasn't going to stop unless he would make him. Grunting, Seifer picked up his pace until he had come up closely behind the furious youth. The moment he was within the brunette's reach, he curled his hand around Squall's left shoulder, and he spun him around with more force than he had originally intended.

Squall gasped angrily at the gesture, violently trying to free himself from Seifer's hold, but the blonde was unwilling to let him run off yet another time. He hated the dark haired boy's touchiness; it was annoying the fuck out of him. At the same time, he wanted to make sure that Squall would at least be pissed at the girls and not at him.

"Take your fucking hands off me!" the brunette in front of him commanded, angrily swiping out at Seifer's arm.

"Chill the fuck out, Squall," Seifer bit back, tightening his grasp. "You're acting like a little kid! What the hell's wrong?"

The younger boy was glaring at him for all he was worth, his skin stark with fury. Ice had returned to his storm grey orbs, and they were narrow below dark brows.

Seifer didn't think that he had ever seen the boy that angry, and he had already been able to have a taste of Squall's rage on several occasions.

This was nothing like it.

"Take your hands off me," Squall repeated slowly, his voice now sharper than the edge of a razor's blade.

"The fuck I will," the blonde retorted, his eyes a sea of green fire as the heat of his blood was rising. "What the hell is your problem, huh? Why are you leaving like this? What happened?"

"What the fuck ever!" Squall spat.

Seifer wanted to punch him for his attitude.

"Don't fucking whatever me, punk!" he snarled. "What the fuck's going on? Did someone piss in your Cheerios this morning or what?!"

"Don't tell me what the fuck I can or can't do, Almasy! That's none of your fucking business, alright?! Go back to your ditzy little girlfriend and leave me the fuck alone!"

"She's not my--"

And in mid-shout, Seifer finally understood. Squall's lips were crushed to one thin line, anger and frustration burning hotly from the surface of his eyes. That image wasn't so entirely unusual in itself, but the blonde had finally noted the other, much different emotion swirling within those dark and furious shades of blue and grey. Seifer almost didn't dare to believe it.

Without his own volition, his lips smoothed into a much softer version of his trademark smirk.

He knew what he had seen.

"Hold on..." he said, his voice suddenly very husky and low. "You're jealous, aren't you? That's what it is. You're jealous of her."

Squall's eyes snapped wide at that chancy question, which was probably a statement more than anything else, and his lips opened and closed in the frantic search for words or explanations that just wouldn't come to him. Dozens of answers and snappy come-backs echoed loudly inside his head, but none of them seemed any useful at all. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights, and Seifer's smirk only intensified at that vulnerable and utterly cute expression.

The blonde was sure that he had hit the nail smack on the head.

"Squall..." he cooed, tasting the name on his tongue in a whole new flavor.

He was testing the waters much too daringly as his ego triumphed over his reason, and his voice was so very soft and taunting.

Squall's breathing stilled. Seifer's fingers had stopped digging into his shoulder like ironclad vices, but it didn't make a difference anymore. His words had been a verbal punch in the face.

Seifer, on the other hand, was feeling rather satisfied with himself. This was almost too good to be true. Squall was actually jealous - an emotion that he had hardly thought the brunette capable of feeling. He wanted to ensure that he hadn't made a mistake, though he believed that Squall's flustered reaction had already proved him correct.

The brunette knew it, too; he knew what Seifer was thinking, or at least he had a pretty good idea. Blood shot to his cheeks at the realization of what he had unconsciously given away and the thought of what Seifer could have interpreted into everything that impulse had driven him to say. Gasping, he took a half-step backwards, out of Seifer's reach, his face frozen into a mask.

"Fuck you!!" he shouted, the spiteful words interlaced with deepest hurt.

The smirk was wiped clean from Seifer's face at the broken look in Squall's eyes, and he finally realized that he had gone way too far.

Wisdom had struck him too late, however.

Squall spun around, finally free from the blonde's captive hold, and as he charged down the path to the school building like a madman, he had no intention of looking back. His heart was pounding in his chest, racing hard and fast with anger and embarrassment as his blood turned cold. He wanted to punch Seifer to the ground for his arrogance, but at that point, the urge to simply get away from everything was much, much stronger. He was no fucking toy that the blonde could just play with however the hell he pleased; he had feelings, too, though he rarely ever put them on display.

Seifer saw the brunette running away from him, but this time, he did not stop him. His own mind was suddenly a mess of disjointed thoughts that made no sense at all. He was so confused. Whatever he had said or done had obviously hurt Squall's feelings, and that had by no means been his intention. Something inside of him had flipped at the idea of Squall being jealous - at the idea of Squall wanting him and his undivided attention. Taunting the brunette, however, had apparently been the wrong measures to take.

'Yeah, you fucking dumbass. Look what your fucking ego got you!'

Seifer would have probably run his head square into the next brick wall, hadn't it been for Rinoa and her chattering friends suddenly stepping up behind him. The dark haired girl was holding his backpack and his notebook, and her face was screwed into a fashionable frown.

"Gosh, what's his problem?" she asked, her voice annoyed as she motioned into the direction that Squall had chosen for his escape. "He's like, so touchy. Tch. Just don't worry about him, Seif."

The blonde stared blankly down the paved path that Squall had disappeared on. He felt like such an idiot. He was no longer sure whether his impression of the brunette's state of mind had really been all that correct; who was he to judge whether Squall had been jealous or not? He hardly knew the kid. Maybe he had just seen things that he had wanted to see. But of course, he couldn't keep his big mouth shut, and now Squall be all too aware of those "things" that Seifer "wanted". After all, he had been painfully obvious.

"Hellooo? Seifer?"

Irritated, he swung his neck around, glaring at the brunette girl at his side. She shoved his belongings into his hands, while igniting the sweetest of smiles upon her rose colored lips.

"You forgot these."

"Right... thanks..." he bit, trying to keep his somewhat neutral fašade from crumpling.

It was almost too much for him to bear.

"Well then, let's go to class. Okay?"

Without waiting for his reaction, she hooked her arm beneath his, smiling up at him seductively. He felt like pushing her away, but something told him that he had caused enough trouble for one morning's worth. He was surprised that he could produce any rational thoughts at all, because his ears were still filled with the sound of Squall's shocked voice.

Seifer frowned darkly at the memory.

He had wanted to test the waters, and instead he had drowned himself.

What an accomplishment.

Mechanically, he followed her lead to the school building. He knew that Squall would be in class already, probably plotting the best and most efficient way to ignore him for the rest of his life. Seifer had no idea whatsoever how he was going to get out of this one. He had royally pissed the brunette off, and at the same time clued him in on his motives. Chances were, Squall now had a pretty good idea of his not-so-secret crush and was most likely grossed out of his wits.

Groaning, Seifer decided that this was probably his worst slip-up yet, and he had a good few already chalked to his name.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he could hear the bell announcing the beginning of class. He paid no attention to the crowd of students that had gathered in the hallways, nor did he bother to listen to the stupid crap that Rinoa was blabbering on and on about. He was lamenting to himself quietly, trying to think of ways that would soothe Squall's frayed temper, but the most intelligent idea he could come up with was that of a living goat sacrifice.

'Brilliant fucking idea, Almasy. Not only will he think you're a fag, he'll also think you're a fucking Satan worshipper.'

Mumbling something disjointed under his breath, Seifer allowed Rinoa to usher him into their classroom, wishing hard that she would finally shut the fuck up.

For once, his wish was granted.

He managed to shut out all of her pointless, bitchy bickering the very moment that he nailed his gaze to the back of the room.

'... Oh, fuck.'

Squall's seat was empty.

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