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 6

By Zen

Zell had chattered happily at Squall about his day until they had come to Zell's house, at which he flipped up his board and with a friendly wave bounced through the door. Squall shook his head and smiled sadly. There was no way in hell he would allow what happened to him to happen to Zell. It would kill him inside, kill his spirit and that in turn would kill Squall. He loved Zell, he was his best friend, and even though he would never know the sacrifice that Squall had made for him, just knowing that he had kept him safe was enough to hold him together. He entered the house through the garage, noting that his dad's car wasn't there, so that meant he was on his own for dinner. That was fine with Squall, he wasn't that hungry anyway. He dropped his backpack on the table and noted the blinking light on the answering machine. Grabbing a soda from the refrigerator and his history book he pushed replay and sat down to do his homework.


"Hi Squall it's Dad, take the trash out when you get home, I will be working late again so don't forget to make yourself some dinner. You're getting way too thin. Also if you will there are some bills on my desk I need you to slip into the mailbox, I forgot them again and the electric company is on my ass about it. (Laughter)

Squall glanced up and scowled at the machine.

"Okay I know, you can stop scowling at me, I swear one of these days I will actually remember to put them in myself. I love you, and I will be home soon, bye!"


"Hello? Mr. Loire? This is Melanie from Central Electric, and I am calling on behalf of your bill, which is currently late again, please send in your payment as soon as possible.

Squall flipped the bird at the machine while he read.

"Just a friendly reminder Mr. Loire, have a nice day!"


"Squall? Dad? Anyone home?"

Squall raised his head, wow actually a call from Quistis, isn't that nice, figured she had ran off with one of her psych buddies and had forgotten about us.

"Guess not, okay, well I just wanted you both to know that I am coming home. There was a fire at the Psych building and we don't have classes for at least three weeks while repairs are being made. I should be there by nine tomorrow night, if my flight isn't delayed, love to you both, bye."

Well now, that's all he needed, having Quistis around was a pain and a half. She was always trying to use her psychology on him and it got old really quick, but for dad he would be nice. As long as she respected his rules he would tolerate her presence.

He finished his history page, took out the trash and mailed the bills, which his dad had also forgotten to put stamps on, then took the rest of his homework to his room.

Once inside his room, he felt relief flood through him. This was his sanctuary his inner sanctum in which no one bothered him. He dropped his backpack on the hard wood floor and fell down on the thick queen size futon mattress that served as his bed, reveling in the coolness of the black satin sheets. His dad had wanted to get him a "proper" bed, saying that it unnerved him to know that his son slept on the floor, but Squall refused saying that a bed would mess up the flow of his art, and so the futon mattress stayed where it was.

He rolled over to look at the canvas that leaned against the far wall, he had been trying for weeks to do something bright and sunny again, but it wasn't working. Instead he had drawn a body hanging from a gallows tree. The body was gaunt and almost skeletal, but the really frightening part was that it had his face, he hadn't meant to do that, but the resemblance was scary and very depressing. He sighed and looked away, as soon as he could get to it, he was going to erase those charcoal lines and the image forever.

Heaving himself off the mattress he went to retrieve his backpack and his waiting homework, as he approached the eyes of the jungle cat caught his attention, and for the longest time he stared at them, head cocked to the side, barely breathing.

When he came back to himself, he realized that the light was all wrong, he glanced at the clock and was stunned, over an hour had passed and he had no idea where he had been for it, this was the first time he never remembered where he spaced out to, not to mention the fact that he had a sketch pad in his hands with a completed drawing of Seifer's face staring up at him and the words "Save me from myself" written below it. He had no recollection whatsoever of getting his sketchpad or drawing, and to say that that frightened him would have been the biggest understatement of the year.

Carefully he closed the sketchbook and with shaking hands reached for his backpack. Finishing his homework in record time, he left his room and went to throw up again.

The early morning light pierced the darkness staining the eastern sky indigo then pale salmon pink, followed by hues of yellow. Seifer watched in admiration, trying to ignore the sharp ache in his shoulders and back. Every breath was a new lesson in agony, even with shallow breathing. When the sun had finally made its dazzling appearance he got up and went to go get a cup of coffee while he waited for the school day to begin.

Squall slapped at the alarm blazing away in his ear, God, he hated mornings, and this morning was no exception. It was going to be a bitch of a day, not only was there school but Quisty's homecoming as well. He grimaced as if he tasted something bad and shuffled towards the bathroom for his wake up shower.

Still not awake yet, he shambled downstairs and into the kitchen to pour himself a cup of coffee, normally he didn't drink the stuff, but today his head felt like it had cobwebs in it and if he didn't wake up soon, he would fall asleep in class.

Forgoing his usual cereal he grabbed a bagel and sat down. In the usual manner of their morning ritual, the back door opened admitting one winded Laguna who ruffled the boy's hair on his way to take his shower. Squall smoothed his hair down without noticing and began methodically eating his bagel.

Having eaten and dressed he plodded down the sidewalk toward Zell's house, though he really wasn't aware of it. It was more of a habitual thing to do than a conscious one. Zell arrived in his usual manner, bright and cheerful enthusiastically telling Squall about a movie he watched on the late show, not really caring that Squall was somewhere else. He hated silence of any sort and because his friend was of the quiet type, he tended to talk enough for the both of them, but that was all right. When Squall was ready and really had something to say, he spoke up, that was just the nature of their friendship.

Zell guided Squall around the busses in the usual manner, avoiding the football players and had almost gotten to the middle of the campus when Shane Wilson and his flunkies stepped in front of them.

"Well if it isn't Zell and his girlfriend Squall, fancy meeting you here. I had almost begun to think that you two transferred out of here! And after we had so much fun together in gym class, eh Squall, you remember the fun times we had don't you?"

Squall's hands began to shake and he felt like there was something heavy sitting on his chest. All the color, what little there was, drained from his face, but he nodded.

Zell didn't know what was going on, but he knew that he didn't like Shane or his friends picking on Squall. "Just leave him alone Shane," he said trying not to let his fear show.

"Or what Zell? Hmmm? You gonna stop me if I wanna take your girlfriend here for a little walk?"

"Yeah I will Shane, he's not going anywhere with you!"

"Oh really? I think Squall might have something to say to that, don't you Squall."

Squall's head hung a little lower, and his eyes squeezed a little tighter, but he still managed to give Zell a slight push in the direction of the front doors.

Zell didn't know what to do, why was Squall pushing him away? Hadn't he just stood up to Shane for him? He watched as Shane put his arm around Squall's shoulders and him and his goons took him off toward the tennis courts. Tears stung his eyes as he tried to figure out why Squall was acting like this. He couldn't shake the feeling that Squall was in deep shit, but try as he might he couldn't go against what Squall asked him to do. Whether or not it was verbalized Zell had always done what Squall asked him too. Even when it hurt him to do so, like now. He hung his head and went inside.

The cool autumn air chilled his sweat soaked skin, and his knees burned from the deep scrapes he had received from the tennis court tarmac. He wanted to cry but the tears wouldn't come no matter how hard he tried to make them. He reached for his clothes and for the second time that morning got dressed.

At least they all hadn't taken him, he was strangely grateful for that. The others merely wanted to watch his humiliation, but somewhere deep down inside he knew that fact would soon change as each of them plucked up enough courage to join in.

He felt abnormally detached from the whole situation, it wasn't like the first time when he was forced to do this. This had been done of his own free will. All to protect a friend that would never, could never know. But that didn't stop him from emptying his stomach all over the court before leaving.

Seifer glanced toward Squall hoping to catch his eye, he still didn't seem aware that they were sitting right next to each other. Frustrated Seifer scrawled a note and tossed it onto his desk when the teacher's back was turned. Squall looked at the piece of paper that landed on his notebook, confused he picked it up and unfolded it. 'Meet me at the bleachers at lunch' it read. Fear coursed through his veins, and unshed tears began to burn his eyes, but he forced his eyes in the direction that the note came from.

Seifer's smile faltered when he saw the glint of tears in his eyes. He hadn't been expecting that. He cocked his head to the side in an unspoken question of what was wrong. When he received a shrug, his eyes grew hard. It was one thing for him to be beaten and punished he deserved it, but not Squall. It wasn't a question of if he was being hurt, he already knew the answer to that. It was the How and the Who that needed to be answered. He swore to himself that he would find those answers out and when he did God help the person or persons, because he was going to kill them.

When the bell rang for lunch they both headed quietly to the bleachers. Seifer wanted to take up the position he had yesterday so that he could hold Squall, but his back prevented that from happening. Besides from the boys posture he doubted that he would ever get that privilege again. He had his back to him and his arms were wrapped around himself like he was afraid his insides would fall out if he let go. He wanted to help but he knew from personal experience that you couldn't get someone to talk about their problems unless they wanted to. Seifer decided that he would take the first step. He needed Squall to know that he could trust him more than he already had.

Haltingly he removed his trench coat and placed it around Squall's shoulders. He stiffened slightly but then wrapped himself inside the warmth gratefully. Seifer smiled a little then began the arduous task of removing the loose tank top, only to hiss in pain when he discovered that some of his wounds had opened up and bled causing the shirt to stick to him, making him rip them open again to get it off.

Squall turned at the sound and the question he had been going to ask died on his lips. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. Seifer's whole upper body was one big walking wound.

"Jesus fucking Christ Seifer, what the hell happened?" suddenly his problem didn't seem quite so important. At least his wounds didn't show up like this.

Seifer smiled at his language, "Never figured you for a potty mouth."

"Fuck my language, what the hell happened?"

Seifer sighed, might as well get it over with, I went this far already. "My dad, that's what happened," he said flatly.

Squall couldn't believe what he was hearing, what kind of animal would do that to their own kid? "Turn around, I wanna see the rest of it."

"You sure you wanna do that? You look a little green already, trust me it isn't a pretty sight."

"Shut up and turn around," he growled.

Seifer turned and heard Squall's gasp of alarm. "Seifer you're bleeding all over the place, doesn't it hurt?"

Does it hurt? What a question to ask him, "Yeah, it hurts but not so much as it did the first time it happened."

"When was that?"

"I was five I think, he broke my arm in three places and fractured my skull. Told the doctors that he had been teaching me to ride a two wheeler and that I fell off."

Squall felt his heart break, literally into a million tiny fragments. He remembered his own dad teaching him to ride and kissing his skinned knees before carrying him back into the house.

With out any more hesitation he slipped Seifer's coat off his shoulders and placed it back where it belonged. Then grabbed his wrist, half dragging him to the back gate. Fuck his problems, Seifer's were a million times worse.

When they got to the gate Squall dug out the set of keys from Seifer's jeans pocket drawing an amused look from him in the process. He shrugged his shoulders and returned the keys after they both slipped through the gate. Taking hold of his wrist once more, he hauled Seifer to his house.


(End Chapter Six)




A/N: YAY another chappie done! Hope you enjoy it.

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