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

Chapter 3

By Zen

It sucked that Zell wasn't in any of his classes this year, they didn't even have the same lunch period, and he was going to be on his own unless he found a way to transfer into some of them.

He found the room and went in, handing the teacher his schedule so that she could initial it, and then taking a seat in the back of the room. He hated not having his back against the wall and he silently prayed to who ever would listen that none of his teachers had seating arrangements.

He failed to notice the giggling group of girls that had turned in their seats looking at him and then whispering intensely to each other.

"HE is SO CUTE! Who is he and why haven't we seen him before?"

A pretty dark haired girl at the front of the group turned in her seat to glance at who they were speaking about, her eyes went wide as she studied him. Soft silky hair, flawless skin with nary a blemish, a set of full sensuous lips that just begged to be kissed he was in a word perfect. The most perfect boy she had ever seen, why had she not seen him before? "Back off girls, I think I just found my date to the junior prom!"

Whispered words of encouragement and some whining came from the group but Rinoa didn't care, she was in love and that was all that mattered.

The room filled up rather quickly just as the last bell rang. Squall leaned down to pull out his notebook from his backpack not knowing that he had just been evaluated and found worthy.

As the teacher was shutting the door a foot was summarily placed in front of it, causing her to pull open the door again. Seifer stepped in handing her his schedule with a smirk, she sighed and initialed it. "Next time Mr. Almasy can you please see that you are on time to my class? I don't like disruptions."

"Well then you probably aren't going to like me much," he smirked again and headed for the only seat in the room available.

He ignored the giggles as he passed the group of girls.

"Oh my God, does he ever leave the coat at home?"

He ignored the snickers as he sat down glaring straight ahead.

"You would think that he had enough decency to at least wash his hair once in awhile, I mean the amount of grease slicking his hair back is SO gross!"

Did they think he was deaf? He wished he was, maybe then he could keep the hot anger he was feeling from rising into his chest, maybe then he wouldn't feel anything.

He turned his head to look out the window, and saw sitting next to him was the creature of beauty. He didn't seem to be hearing what was going on around him; he seemed to be enthralled by what he was writing in his notebook. He didn't know why but having him so close made things a little more bearable. He turned his head back to the girls and smiled ever so evilly at them that they quickly faced front and quit talking.

"Alright class may I have your attention please? My name is Mrs. Peterson and what I want you to do is as I pass around this seating chart for you to write you names into the appropriate square. This will be a permanent arrangement unless problems arise.

Neither one of them knew it but both the boys rejoiced at this news, but for different reasons.

Seifer held his breath when the seating chart came to the boy with the beautiful smile because he would have to hand it to Seifer, which he did without even looking at him. Seifer slowly let out his breath not really understanding why he suddenly felt disappointed; he quickly scanned to the bottom to find his name. There in the square next to where he would write his name was a signature in calligraphy that could have only come about with much practice. It read Squall Leonheart. Seifer scratched his name in beside his, and looked ashamed as he compared them. His bold blocky letters seemed more like the work of a kindergartener next to that elegant writing. Seifer sighed as he passed it over to the boy sitting to his right.

It wasn't fair, ugliness that was all he was about, he slumped in his seat just waiting for this day to end but not really wanting it to at the same time.

When class was over he waited for the girls to leave before standing up, putting his hands over his head to stretch out his aching back. At 6'2" slumping in a high school desk wasn't such a smart idea but it was a habit that he would probably always have.

He headed for the door only to bump into Squall as he moved out of the next row. He looked down at him and smiled, expecting to see that wonderful smile of his again, but he was to be disappointed. He simply moved around him as if he hadn't even noticed that his path had been obstructed. What had he been expecting? He pushed his thoughts aside angrily, what the hell did it matter? It wasn't as if he was ever going to be able to get close to him, he wasn't a people person.

By lunch time Squall already had four assignments due by tomorrow, talk about slave drivers, it was just the first day of school, he hung his head, it could only get worse from here. Silently he moved through the line and absently picked up bits of prepackaged food to set on his tray, and then made his way over to a table that was nearly empty. All around him the sounds of kids talking and laughing, being happy in their unaware way of how cruel the world could truly be. He absolutely hated the sounds, because they represented something that he would never have. Scowling he opened up his lunch, stared at if for a moment, then pushed the tray away. Instead he picked up his class schedule scanning it to see what class he had next, when he saw it he inwardly groaned. It was gym, the single most torture a kid could go through when they looked like he did. The endless taunts, the maddening comparisons, the harsh judgments, and lets not get started on the physical punishment, he was actually surprised he had made it to lunch without ending up in a trashcan or run up the flag pole.

He closed his eyes, dreading what tortures the next hour would bring. Please if someone is listening please, please don't let Shane Wilson be in that class, His most hated and cruelest of his tormentors. Shane once grabbed him into the locker room when the coach wasn't looking and forced him to...to... "GAHH I don't wanna think about it, I don't ever wanna think about it." He put his head down on the table and softly whispered this over and over until tears stung his eyes and he couldn't sit in the cafeteria anymore. He ran out into the courtyard and sat on the bench that went around the big oak tree, pulling his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. He laid his head on his arms and silently let the tears fall unaware that he was not alone.

Seifer couldn't believe it, the thing of beauty, (he had to come up with a better title for him) had just come running out of the cafeteria and was now sitting in a position that he himself was quite familiar with. It was the same one he usually found himself in after "Talking" with his father. It didn't take a genius to figure out he was hurting, it wasn't fair, beautiful things aren't supposed to hurt.

He was surprised to find himself on his feet, fists clenched so hard they hurt, he was just about to walk over when the door was flung open and Rinoa stepped out.

Seifer sucked in his breath and moved into the shadows at the corner of the building, watching as the scene unfolded.

"Hey there! My name is Rinoa, I couldn't help but notice that you left the cafeteria depriving me and my friends the privilege of watching you."

After a long moment of silence and he still hadn't responded, she wrinkled her nose and looked really hard at him. "Hey, are you alright?" she reached out her hand.

Seifer didn't know why but he wanted to shout out and tell her not to touch him, but it was too late.

Hands....... on me........ someone touching........ don't touch......... don't please don't......... "STOP FUCKING TOUCHING ME! GET AWAY FROM ME GO AWAY LEAVE ME ALONE!"

Seifer was almost shocked at the display but when he remembered who it was happening to he decided to make things worse for her. He stepped from the corner of the building and walked right up behind her cringing form, "He said to go away, I suggest you comply or else "Darling" I will make you regret it!" It was his best and most sinister voice that he used on her, making her squeal and jump away like a frightened animal. Just to make his point very clear, he reached down inside his boot and pulled the knife he was so infamous for, opening it with a practiced flick of his wrist. When she shrieked and ran back to the door all she heard was his mocking laughter chasing after her, and that was enough.

His attention diverted back to Squall that now lay on the ground in a fetal position, hands over his ears and tears streaming down his face. He tried clearing his throat but he didn't seem to hear that, and he was becoming worried that others might come out here and see him like this. He didn't want that, so he slipped off the likewise infamous trench coat and covered him with it, painfully aware that he was exposing the cruel truth about his home life in the process, but it was worth it. This was worth protecting HE was worth protecting. He mentally corrected himself, and hurled a silent curse as well for always referring to him as a thing and not a person, he had enough of that to know it would kill someone eventually to never be thought of as a person.

He slowly revived becoming aware of his surroundings and the strangely scented warmth that surrounded him. He couldn't quite place the scent but when the mental image of the boy he ran into in the hall came to mind he immediately sat up and came face to face with those jade eyes. Instantly he felt that little jolt of electricity again, bringing tingles to his fingers and toes. His heart actually skipped a couple of beats but then returned to its normal rhythm if not a bit quicker. He hastily looked away and noticed that the trench coat the boy had been wearing was now around him, surprisingly enough he didn't feel threatened by that fact. It was sort of comforting in an odd sort of way. He swiped his arm across his face, ridding it of the tears of shame and hurt, and then blushing because he knew he was being watched. 'Why does he have to look at me? I don't wanna explain, please don't ask me questions, please, please.' But his silent pleas went unheard.

"Better now?"

He closed his eyes; he didn't know how to answer that, God, why did he have to ask questions. No he was not better and he probably never would be again. But he nodded anyway opening his eyes to stare at the boy's very wide chest.

"Good" he said as he slid the knife back into his boot, then seeing alarm rise in the boy's haggard face he shrugged. "Not meant for you, just fools who get too close."

When he really thought about what he said, he realized that it could be construed that he meant those who got too close to Squall, but then found that he didn't mind if that was the way it was taken. He would happily include him in that if just to be close for once in his life to something that wasn't dirty or cheap or ugly........ 'like me.' he closed his eyes with that thought running through his head. He stood up and offered his hand to Squall without thinking about it.

Squall didn't know what to make of what he had said. 'Not meant for you' he got that part, it was the last that was giving him trouble. He decided not to think about it anymore he had a headache now and the boy was offering his hand for him to take. He had to decide whether or not to take it.

Seifer looked down at the offending hand and shoved it into his jeans pocket. Why had he offered it in the first place? 'I must really be losing my mind, he freaked out at Rinoa's touch, what makes you think that he would take you up on the offer of yours? Besides he probably doesn't want to touch something like me anyway so just forget about it already!'

Squall got up off the ground and removed the trench coat from around his shoulders, sighing regretfully at the sudden loss of warmth, he handed it back to the boy who slid it on.

"Name's Seifer. Just thought you might want to know."

"Squall nodded again staring at the ground, "I didn't mean to yell at you......... I just..........."

"Wasn't me you blew up at," he said shrugging his shoulders.

"Who then?" his voice almost a whisper now. He was beginning to feel fear in the pit of his stomach; the last thing he wanted was more rumors involving him.

He laughed bitterly, "Who you yelled at isn't important, her name though you should remember just so that you can stay away from the bitch. Her name is Rinoa Heartilly or as I like to call her Heartlessly. Anyway, she would fuck your world over in a heartbeat if you let her."

Squall squeezed his eyes shut feeling the sting of fresh tears behind them. 'Great wonderful absolutely perfect!' It had been a girl, and girls gossiped. There was no way in hell he was going to believe that this wouldn't be all over school by the end of lunch. He clenched his hands into fists, feeling his nails dig painfully into his palms piercing his flesh and drawing blood. He didn't want to be here anymore, the air felt stifling and it seemed to be pressing down on him until it was becoming hard to breathe, he had to get out. He turned and ran toward the doors not really seeing them, not really aware of anything other than the fact he couldn't breathe.

Seifer watched as the boy's fleeing form disappeared through the door. Concern clearly written across his face. What had he said to make him run? He didn't know but it was just like him not to. His father had always told him he was an idiot and a dummy, not capable of even the simplest of tasks why had he thought that this would turn out any different?

The look of concern quickly turned into a scowl as he turned on his heel slamming his fist into the wall of the building as he made his way to the other set of doors that lay in the opposite direction of the fleeing beauty. Why the fuck should he care? It wasn't his problem, he had too many of his own demons to deal with without trying to take on someone else's too.


(End Chapter Three)




A/N: Kinda a long one this time....... Hope you are enjoying it so far........ Questions and Comments are welcome and will be answered as long as you have an e-mail address. As usual all Praise will get to light fireworks on the beach! All Flames will be set on fire and put to sea!

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