Author's Note: Squaresoft owns characters and I own plot. I’m going to warn you now that I will have some very disturbing scenes up very soon, so if you can’t take certain situations I recommend you to skip the next chapter. I’m a Squall-lover and everything but sometimes bad things just need to happen (yeah, *that’s* a great excuse). Proceed with caution.


Chapter Sixteen

By Jamaica

Squall hopped onto his Honda and cranked the engine. He pushed on the gas pedal with all of his might. The motorcycle started loudly and blasted down the otherwise quiet leaf-covered street, leaving a trail of wind in its wake.

He didn’t hear any of it. A fire consumed all of his logical thought. How could that bastard do this? He fumed. The red still lingered in his vision, causing him to lose visual in the corners of his eyes. Sure, I did break his computer. But that was purely accidental, and I was going to actually pay for it. Now, he could kiss my ass. Squall scoffed and grinded his teeth. No way he’s getting a dime out of me.

He lost sense of direction and had to brake abruptly when he came to a stop sign. Not that there’s any other people out here because the early evening stars already chased away most of them. Squall looked around and realized he didn’t know where he was. Dark shadows lined the road, trees and other vegetations apparently. He saw the street name and didn’t recognize it. Where am I?

He slowly stepped on the gas and rode forward. The street curved and dipped. Trees closed in around him, making it even harder to discern left and right. Squall had been in the town for 3 months, but that’s not enough time to know every nook and cranny of the place. He stopped a second, closed his eyes, then reopened them with a purpose. He saw an intersection coming up, and turned onto it as if he knew exactly what was on the other end.

Miraculously, he did. He ended up emerging onto the main street he used every day to get to school. Squall let go of the breath he had been holding for some time now. What now? Fujin’s?

No. He shook his head as he remembered. Fujin told him that she’d be out tonight with her boyfriend. He doubts she’d appreciate him showing up unexpectedly at her door when she came back from her date, probably bring the guy along with her. He didn’t have a phone on him; it’s left in the house to recharge. So he couldn’t call Fujin to tell her anything either. And he hadn’t made any other friends that he could trust to spend the night with.

It seemed like a hotel room was all there was left for an option. Squall reached into his back pocket and retrieved his wallet. He counted the money; it was enough to get a cheap hotel for at least a night. Tomorrow he would see Fujin and he could crash at hers for a while. He hated to trouble her again, but he knew he needed at least a few days to re- gather his thoughts and come up with an idea for the last painting. He couldn’t bring himself to paint the same one again. The due date wasn’t until next week; he’d manage.

All the cheap hotels, unfortunately, were found in New Haven. It was already quite late, and the traveling to the city plus the time to find a hotel didn’t help with the hours of sleep he’d get this night. He sighed. How many times did I sigh in the past hour? He thought, a faint bitter smile crossed his lips. He turned the motorcycle and headed toward New Haven.

It wasn’t that cold, quite odd for the weather. Squall didn’t think much more than how grateful he was since he had no jacket. The black sweater fit snugly onto his torso as he zoomed down the road.

Back at the house, the three figures hadn’t moved from the living room.

Quistis dropped herself onto the sofa and sat there, staring at the two men in front of her. Seifer was fussing over his computer, which indeed had been broken. Irvine was busy over Squall’s fallen easel. He’s trying to separate the canvas from the easel without tearing the canvas more.

“The thing’s ruined, okay? Drop it!” came from Seifer’s direction.

“You shouldn’t have done it. It was an accident, and it really was my fault. You didn’t need to pay him back like this.”

Seifer only snickered at Irvine’s words. “What happened? Thought you hate the guy, too.”

Irvine laughed out loud, which made Seifer pause in his examination and looked at the figure crouching on top of the canvas. “You don’t fool me, Seifer. What do you think I am, stupid or something? Hate the guy, too? Please, like you hate him. You want to suck his dick so bad that you don’t know what else to do when he’s around.”

“Irvine!” Quistis warned.

“You dare say that one more time, Kinneas.” Seifer’s voice shook.

“Next time when he comes close to your vicinity,” with a grunt Irvine successfully pried the canvas from the easel without further damage, “don’t be so blatant. Try subtlety for once. It may surprise you, but to win someone over a little kindness actually counts. But if you’re going for an easy lay don’t ask me.”

He picked up the easel, set it aside, and put the canvas on the tabletop. Then he picked up the broken brush and looked at it. All the while Seifer’s eyes followed his every move. Quistis stood up as Irvine walked away from the battlefield. He came up to her and planted a kiss on her opened mouth. “I’m sorry.”

Quistis smiled. Then she quickly said, “We can talk about his later. First, look.” She pointed to one side of the sofa.

He turned to see Squall’s jacket hung listlessly on the arm. It didn’t registered on him what she was talking about until he suddenly recognized the bulge in the side pocket.

Squall’s gun.

“Jesus Christ!”

Squall cursed loudly when he heard a pop and then felt the bumps. He pulled the bike over and hopped off. He checked and discovered a small nail was stuck in the middle of his front tire.

Not much of a surprise, though. The street he had been traveling on was not one of those bright and shiny avenues. But it just *had* to happen when I *least* needed it. He groaned in frustration and threw his hands up. Well, what else can you do? The hotel he was heading for weren’t far off, only several blocks away. Might as well walk it.

Squall locked the bike and hauled it to a corner. He found some useless plastic and draped it over the Honda. Couldn’t afford to lose it now. He then made a mark as to find it again tomorrow morning. The wheel wouldn’t turn because it’s too flat. Plus, he wanted to get to a lighted area quicker since it was completely dark.

He walked a block or two before he realized something. The slight chill attacking his arms was not all that’s bothering him about the absence of his jacket. His gun was in it. *He was a walking in New Haven without a gun at night.* The steady ringing in his ear since he left the house suddenly subsided, as did the fuzzy redness around his eyes.

Squall became exclusively aware of his surroundings now. He was standing in the middle of a dark alley. Various buildings bordered him, and they all looked broken in and abandoned. The air was deadly quiet. He had no protection of any kind. And he was alone.

The last thought made him broken into a run. He knew he needed to get out of here. Fast. His shoes crackled the rocks under his feet.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a pair of extended hands grabbed his arm and dragged him sideways, into the blooming darkness.

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