Author's Notes: This is my first FVIII fic. I beat this game long, long ago so cut me a bit of slack if the content isn't the most dead-on thing you've ever read. I hope you enjoy the fic and feel the need to review. Any flames will be used to line my snake's cage.

Enigmatic Hatred

Part 2

By Shade

It was the morning after Squall and Seifer's last "encounter". He had entered the room to find Rinoa watching television, lying across the end of the bed. She had smiled when Squall had entered and had been worried when he had stated that he felt sick and wished not to let her catch it. With that he had gone to sleep on the couch outside the bedroom (teachers and SeeDs had considerable larger bedrooms than students).

Now Squall was awake, Rinoa still fast asleep in the bedroom. Without waking her, Squall straightened out his slept in clothing and sat upright, holding his head with his hands. What had happened last night? There sounded a soft sigh from the bedroom and quickly Squall took his gunblade box into his hands. He had no intention of speaking with Rinoa at the moment. Now he had even more problems to keep from her and this wasn't the time t discuss them.

Opening the door, Squall slipped from the threshold and was greeted with several mummers. Squall attempted to ignore them. They were coming from the direction of Seifer's dorm, a good few doors away, and Squall was trying not to think about him at the moment. However, this didn't go particularly well, for at that moment Zell came bounding from the direct area he was hoping to hurry past. The hyper young man grabbed onto Squall's shoulder forcing him to stop and acknowledge his presence "Squall!"

"What?" Squall asked in a deadpan tone frowning in slight annoyance as he circled around to face him.

"There was another attack last night," he said, eyes wide open. He appeared desperate to say something.

Squall's mouth went agape in surprise "Who?"

"Seifer!" Zell blurted out as several students' attention was called to the two in the hall.

Squall hardly noticed the staring students. He had stopped breathing completely, unsure if he had heard the name correctly. Thrusting the gunblade box into Zell's arms he rushed down the hall, squeezing into the crowd. The door to Seifer's room was still down and faculty had already roped off that portion of the hallway as the janitor attempted to scrub a large, blotted bloodstain off of the opposite wall.

Squall needn't ask where Seifer was now. In a panic he hurried from the crowd, past Zell once more, and towards the infirmary.

Dr. Kadowaki's office had expanded in the last three years. The multiplying number of students had demanded more room for patients (given it was difficult to find more room in a Garden). At the moment the doctor was resting. She had had a long night and was just now finding a moment to get some rest, hand on the pulsing monitors should someone fall into a worse state as she slept at the desk.. Squall entered unnoticed and entered the main hall of beds. Only four students occupied the two long rows and it didn't take long for Squall to pick out Seifer, lying on his back a few beds down.

Squall rushed forward once more, dropping into one of the hard seats that rested between each bed. It looked as though Seifer was sleeping. Using this opportunity he looked young man resting upon the hard mattress. He looked relatively uninjured save a bandage around his forehead, the newly bandaged shoulder, and…Squall felt a surge of guilt as he took notice of the black eye…Were all the other attacks like this? Squall raised his head and looked at the other occupied beds. It appeared as though everyone was asleep and all had suffered a blow to the head. That meant-Squall sucked in a deep breath and looked back to Seifer.

"Seifer?" Squall almost begged, resting one hand upon Seifer's bare chest and the second on the far arm of the off-white trench coat. "Seifer?" he asked again, shaking him softly at first and then a bit harder. In confirmation of his fears, Squall released his hold from Seifer and again lowered his face into his hands. "That…thing…is putting students into comas."

"That's it then?"

Squall gave a start, jerking up to look to his side where Zell had pulled up a chair, resting the gunblade box upon the floor. Squall nodded to him "Seems that way," he said in a soft tone, looking back to Seifer.

Zell looked to Seifer as well and shook his head. "Man this is bad. I mean I can't say I liked the guy but I never hoped something like this would happen." Zell looked up in thought "I'd almost forgotten he went to this school. I don't see him around much anymore. Haven't heard 'Chicken Wuss' in a good while now," he admitted.

Squall acknowledged him with another nod "I suppose the only good aspect of this is that people will know he's not the attacker," he said this trying to cheer himself up and lighten the situation but it hardly worked. He didn't feel as though this was a small stroke of luck at all.

Zell averted his eyes from the obvious fact that Squall was upset "I heard that rumor. Never thought I'd hear myself defending that bastard," it was a feeble attempt to cheer him up but also sincere in tone.

Squall was about to respond but the toll of the Garden's bell cut him off. He purposely ignored the loud melody and promptly returned to watching the unconscious Seifer.

Zell nudged the gunblade box with a red tennis-shoe. "Maybe you should go. I mean you have a class don't you?"

Squall cursed inwardly. Zell was right. He needed to get going. Why did he feel the need to stay here with Seifer anyway? It wasn't as if he could do anything to help him by staying here. Perhaps it was that nagging guilt-what was he thinking! Guilt over what? Squall closed his eyes momentarily to gather his thoughts before standing, taking the gunblade, and exited the hall.

If he thought himself guilty or not he was truly too preoccupied to appropriately teach a class. Because of this he had the students spend their time reviewing the appropriate skills to junction to the gunblade, the proper GFs to draw abilities from pertaining to the weapon, and the hazards of overusing a GF.

School continued in this fashion and Squall barely avoiding Rinoa, getting a lunch from the Cafeteria. Even when he got back to where he taught the lunch was eaten absently, part of it even dropped much to his annoyance.

It was only when the class that Seifer was in came did Squall tune in a little. The students were occupied with "busy work" and one voice whispering could be heard easily by the whole. So of course when a teenage male and female began whispering between each other he heard it clearly.

"Where's that guy-" she seemed to be racking her brain for a name "The guy who was with the sorceress at one time-ah-" she chewed upon her bottom lip and then victoriously slurred out "Seifer."

The boy's ears perked at the name and he looked up from his portable desktop (standard issue for if away from the homeroom console). "You didn't hear?" it was obviously the highlight of his day.

"Hear?" the girl played her hands over the plastic top of the flat monitor.

"Something attacked him last night," he said with a smile 'I'd like to thank whoever did it. He was a danger here."

Squall almost charged at the student from where he stood but instead repressed the surge of anger "You, Go!"

The teen looked up confused "Huh?"

"Go back inside," he said a bit more calmly but none the less angrily "I don't want to see you in this class again."

The boy opened his mouth to protest but, unsure of what he had done in the first place gathered his gunblade and laptop and trudged off back into the school.

The female teen looked from the boy to the teacher with wide eyes and then instantly went back to her studying. Squall continued to be preoccupied with thought.

All his classes were finished and with this Squall headed back to the infirmary, telling himself it was only because he didn't wish to deal with Rinoa. Entering the room he noticed Dr. Kadowaki absent from where he had seen her earlier, asleep at the desk. Entering the bed hall he found her, standing over Seifer's bed with Headmaster Cid. Squall's eyes darted between the two and fearing the worst he took a few steps forward.

Both the Doctor and the Headmaster's attentions were called to him. Cid bobbed his head in greeting "Squall, good timing, I was wishing to speak with you as well."

Squall walked forward, eyes focused on Seifer. "I wanted to speak to you as well."

"Of course," the Cid said something in a soft voice to the Doctor, obviously requesting her to leave as she left the room immediately, retreating to the main office of the infirmary. Cid looked back to Squall. "I'm sure you were going to ask of this "attacker"."

Squall said nothing, assuming his silence spoke for itself.

Cid took this as a "yes" and continued. "We're not sure what it is but we think we have a suspect."

"Who would be-" Squall urged, curious himself.

"Well…Seifer Almasy…"

Squall couldn't believe what he was hearing "What!" he demanded "Are you implying Seifer attacked himself!" he said, louder then intended, motioning back to the still unconscious young man behind him.

Cid was taken aback by his reaction but spoke anyway "No, we don't believe he did this to himself. We believe that he's assisting whatever did this and what we see here is something staged to cover its tracks."

Squall looked away in disgust "You're wrong."

'We very well could be," Cid acknowledged, however he sounded doubtful "This is why we want you to keep an eye on him when he- as we suspect -wakes."

The brunette neither agreed nor objected. Instead he kept his eyes averted and left the infirmary reluctantly.

Squall approached his dorm but was immediately halted as Selphie poked her head from the door before he could even put the key in the lock. "There you are!" she said happily, her voice in deep contrast with her angry expression.

Saying nothing Squall simply stared at her, curious as to why she had been in his dorm room.

Selphie swung the door open completely, settling her hands on the yellow fabric at her hips "Rinoa was looking all over for you today. You disappeared after your classes and she said you were too sick to listen last night?"

"Ah-" Squall tried to voice an elaboration upon the excuse but Selphie didn't need to hear it, launching immediately into the rest "She's visiting Deling for-well how long and for what reason has skipped my mind. She'll be back soon though,"

Again Squall was about to speak when a second voice sounded from inside "Why is your dorm so much bigger than mine?" Squall recognized the voice as Zell's.

Selphie frowned, retreating into the room to answer his question "Because it's clean," Apologetically she looked back to Squall who had entered the room after her to find several clothes strewn across the sofa, showing that Selphie had helped Rinoa pack and Zell had simply tagged along. Squall gathered that Zell hadn't helped at all and had instead spent the time he could have been working sitting upon the end of the bed (visible through the open door) and channel surfing as he was now. "Anyway," the peppy teen added, remembering something she was supposed to do as well "Rinoa told me to give you this-" Selphie stood on her toes to reach Squall and-

"Don't pass that on!" Zell shouted after a double take from where he sat.

Selphie dropped back onto her heels and sighed "I guess it wouldn't have the same effect-well you got the idea." She looked back to Zell now who was scrutinizing the situation carefully should she try to "deliver a second message." Selphie motioned Zell to exit with her "Let's go," noticing Squall's silence she didn't think he was in the mood to chat.

Squall watched the two leave, waving a weak goodbye. With little else to do today, he moved the clothes away with a short swipe, knocking them to the floor so that he could stretch out upon the sofa. He was tired of thinking this entire situation over, he just wanted to sleep without interruption.

Squall awoke the next morning, slightly surprised. He hadn't meant to sleep this long and had only been on the sofa for a short nap. This was the second day he had slept in these clothes and now he was feeling quite unclean. Shedding these clothes he took a short shower, remembering that Rinoa was absent and heading to the closet, using a white towel to hurriedly rub his hair dry. The contents of the closet only proved further that Squall wasn't all that social. All the garments hanging within were almost identical- white shirts and pants of dark shades. A SeeD uniform hung at a far end, a second currently being cleaned.

Squall took one of the shirts and a pair of pants from separate hangers and then was drawn to look at a few of the empty ones hanging. Even clothing missing it was obvious that Rinoa had a larger selection of clothing than he. She was always going to some social engagement or dragging him along to some party. Squall couldn't stand these parties and dinner dates. The only party he ever cared to go to was the Garden Festival and then only due to the fact that Selphie would have his head if he didn't.

Unwilling to linger here any longer Squall drew away from the closet, dropped the towel and got dressed once more. Retrieving his jacket from the back of a chair, Squall left the room.

This was only the second morning Squall had made his way, first-thing, to the infirmary and yet it felt as if he had been doing so for an eternity now. He hoped he wouldn't find Cid in the room once more as he had the afternoon before. Indeed when Squall came to the entrance he knew Cid was not inside for he was already at the door with Dr. Kadowaki. As Squall drew slowly closer Cid caught sight of the SeeD and waved Squall over.

Squall was of course headed in that direction anyway and he chose not to offend Cid by breezing past.

"We're planning on canceling all classes today. We don't want to take anymore chances," the Headmaster said solemnly.

"There were more attacks?" Squall asked without much concern.

"No," Cid assured "But-we fear there will be soon. One of the attacked students…died this morning…"

Squall didn't wait for a name. His heart feeling as though it had made a leap to his throat he rushed inside, through the office and into the bed hall. Eyes darting over the patients Squall took notice of Seifer and hurried to his side and fixed his eyes upon the young man to make sure he was still breathing. Indeed Seifer's chest was still rising and falling steadily and with a sigh of relief Squall sank into one of the stools. After a moment he glanced around to the other patients. Only three. It seemed as though they had already removed the body. Swallowing in realization, Squall looked back to Seifer, knowing that what had happened to that student could just as easily happen to him. The brunette squeezed his eyes shut and supported his elbows upon his thighs, setting his head into his hands. Why did he care so much? Only a few years ago the two had been fighting eachother and now he was desperate just to hear his rival's voice again-


Squall's head shot up and his eyes darted back to Seifer. The blonde had now propped himself up with one elbow and was looking somewhat sleepily and confused towards Squall "Where am I?"

Squall felt his jaw go slack and for a moment he felt like embracing the young man before him but suppressed the emotion as he realized what this meant. The fact that Seifer was conscious would only support Cid's theory. Desperate for an idea on how he could solve this he stood immediately, knocking over the stool in the process. Glancing once more back to Seifer, Squall hurried back to the door. The Doctor and Headmaster were gone, no doubt taking care of the body. However he knew the Doctor could not be far away with patients here.

"Would you mind filling me in on-" Squall looked back to see Seifer at the door, leaning against the frame to support his long unused limbs. His question paused as memories seemingly rushed back into his mind, including that moment with Squall.

"Seifer," Squall knew what he was remembering and overlooked this fact momentarily "There's something I have to tell you," he took Seifer by the shoulder should he stumble along the way.

Seifer was about to protest when "All classes are canceled for the day. All students please remain in your dorms until further notice," perhaps there was something he needed to tell him.

Squall locked the door to his office behind them. He didn't want to explain to a second person should Rinoa choose this moment to come home. Straightening he looked behind him where Seifer was leaning again his desk, waiting for some balance to return "What happened."

There was a moment of hesitation as Squall took two steps away from the door and towards the wall "It's the attacks-someone died."

Seifer nodded solemnly. He thought this would happen (nothing ever hit the Garden at a small scale) and wasn't particularly surprised that it had. "That's not it is it?" he also knew there had to be more.

"No," Squall admitted, looking away and trying to choose his words carefully.

Seifer waited for elaboration but when none came he forced it on "And-"

"They think you're assisting the attacker-" he spat angrily. It was obvious that he thought they were making a huge mistake.

Again Seifer didn't seem surprised at the news. "I suppose they have the right to make that assumption," he said though not in the happiest or most thrilled tone.

"They don't!" Squall glared at him as if he was the accuser "That happened three years ago! They have no right to assume-" unsure of what else to say, Squall leaned against the wall and slid to the floor in defeat.

Now that was odd, Seifer watched him in slight confusion and then simply annoyance "Will you get up? There's no way you're that upset over this."

A bit embarrassed now, Squall stood and went to the other end of the desk-there weren't that many places to stand in the office. "There must be something we can do to prove them wrong."

"We?" Seifer, arms already crossed where he leaned, looked to Squall.

Squall pretended not to have heard that last comment and continued anyway "Do you remember seeing anything before you were attacked?"

"Not a thing," Seifer said in the exhale of a sigh.

"It's too bad you're not still in that comma," this comment caused Seifer to truly stare. Perhaps that was the wrong choice of words "I mean to say-that is-never mind."

A familiar smile crossed Seifer's face and he gave a short laugh "I know what you mean. Well, I'm not I was sick of dreaming."

"You were dreaming?"

"Yes Squall-I was dreaming. That's generally what one does from time to time when not conscious."

Squall took a step closer to Seifer "What sort?"

Seifer stared once more "Nothing that would help my case if that's what you'd like to know. Will you just stop trying? You're not helping."

Squall faced the wall and took a step away furiously "Then excuse me for trying. I don't know why it even mattered to me in the first place."

There was a shaky quality to his voice, which Seifer picked up immediately. Suddenly he felt guilty over his earlier words and with no true idea why. The smug expression fading from his face, Seifer stepped forward and looked to Squall "I didn't mean to-that is-" Seifer wasn't nor had ever been particularly good with apologies and it showed as Squall said nothing and instead took another step away, breaths coming a bit jerkily "Squall-" Seifer shook his head, forgetting the feeble attempt at a verbal apology and wrapped his arms around the brunette from behind. Seifer's head bowed forward, lips brushing against Squall's cheek before he realized what he was doing and pulled away.

Squall stood still for a moment and then moved to face him. Seifer squeezed his eyes shut for a well-deserved punch but was given quite a surprise when Squall rushed forward, throwing his arms around him instead. Squall was still relatively shorter than Seifer and due to this his head rested upon Seifer's still bare chest. Squall attempted to suppress a sob but to little avail "They're going to take you away and-"

"Hey-" Seifer pushed him just far away enough to view his face. It was clear that this entire situation was upsetting him "It's fine, nothing's happened yet and-" 'yet'- Seifer almost cursed. He wasn't going to help any this way. "Squall-" Seifer stopped himself from saying anything more and simply pulled Squall closer once more. Hands ungloved from the infirmary and went to the sides of his face allowing Seifer to bed down and plant a comforting kiss upon his cheek. Another failure, he knew and was about to pull away from Squall and the confused questioning when the unexpected happened. Squall raised his own hands, one circling his neck and the second resting upon the back of his head to prevent him from pulling away. Leaning back his head, he forced his lips onto Seifer's.

Without thinking Seifer kissed back, hands going to Squall's waist. Squall responded with a start, jerking to the side and then in realization taking a step forward. The step caused Seifer to bump into the desk behind them and Squall pressing harder against his chest and lips forced Seifer to lie back onto the desk. Squall followed closely, allowing Seifer's movements to pull him atop the rough surface as well. Their mouths apart now, Squall ran his shadowed hands under the trench coat. Leaning his head back, Seifer moved his arms to the side, allowing Squall to slip the arms of the coat off of Seifer completely so that the off-white fabric was pinned beneath them. With his torso now completely bare, Squall sat back on his heels, leaning in to kiss first at his chest. Moving up, his lips ran across the hollow of his neck to his jaw and then stopping finally back at his lips.

Seifer moved his arms from the side and raised his hands to move under Squall's jacket this time, pushing the black cloth off so that it dropped to the ground immediately. Pulling away a second time, Squall crossed his arms over to separate points of his own shirt, and slipped it over his own head before Seifer pushed himself up as well. Squall arched his neck as Seifer dropped his own hands to his waist once more, fingers working through the belt-loops, thumbs working their way between the waist line and his flesh. His lips played at Squall's arched neck, tracing his collarbone with the tip of his tongue and then stopping to kiss at a tender area between cheekbone and the far side of the throat.

It was then that a clink at the door sounded and Squall remembered that one person had a key to this room after all.



Well this concludes another chapter. I hope it was all right. I'm slightly off this week as I've been living off Lean Pockets and caffeine. Please continue to review and tell me how the fic is.

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