Little Black Book
By Alexis Logain
Squall frowned as the doors to his quarters slid open. Only three other people knew the code: Seifer, Zell, and Cid. He really needed to get that code changed.
"Hey, Squall," Seifer greeted. Squall sighed at the table of papers he had laid out in front of him, then glared up at Seifer as the blonde set boxes of take-out on top of them.
"Seifer," he replied, moving the boxes and shoving the papers into a folder.
"I brought dinner…what's all this?" Seifer picked up a few of the papers before Squall could grab them. "Testing on subject code named A results are positive. Results find that with enough exposure to - " Squall snatched the paper out of Seifer's fingers, sending the blonde a deadly glare.
"These are restricted to the public," Squall hissed. Dammit, he really wanted to be alone. He was on the verge of a breakthrough and no matter what he did, he kept getting interrupted.
"Really? What are they?" Seifer asked.
"They're just a bunch of boring test results, Seifer. That's all." Yawning tiredly, Squall rubbed at his face. "What do you want?"
"Like I said, Leonhart," Seifer smirked at him and began to rummage in the small kitchen. "I brought dinner. That and I'm camping out on the couch. I am not spending one more night in Zell's room…that place just creeps me out."
"You're going to be staying in here?" Squall asked. Oh phenomenal. There goes any free time Squall had hoped to be using on his research. "Why can't you just stay in one of the dorms?"
"Because," Seifer replied, setting two plates, some silverware, and a couple of glasses on the table where Squall's research had been settled. "All the dorms are currently occupied. Until Zell moves out of his room, I'm staying here." Squall made a face and glared at Seifer. "Oh, don't get your panties in a twist, Commander. It'll only be for a few days."
"A few days too many, in my opinion," Squall retorted.
"What? You'd rather I sleep in the hall? Or in the streets?" Seifer pouted, and gestured at the boxes of stir-fry and rice he had brought with him. "And to think, I bought you dinner and everything."
"Yeah, what a shame. There go your latest efforts to woo me, Almasy," Squall deadpanned. Seifer stared at him then sunk into the chair opposite from the one Squall was occupying.
"I'm not trying to get in your pants, Squall," he spat. "Just because I had a thing for you about ten fucking years ago doesn't mean I still harbor a torch for you. What it means is that while I do find some men attractive, I still lean towards the female persuasion. I'm trying to make friends with you. Or at least something a little more friendly than enemies. I don't want to work with someone who hates me."
"I don't hate you," Squall sighed. Hyne, he had too much to do to be going over this same old shit again.
"Really?" Seifer seemed somewhat surprised. "Doesn't seem like it." Squall was silent for a little while.
"Why did you hate me?"
"Don't you know you drove everybody mad? …But why did you single me out?" Squall bit his lower lip gently, a bit surprised that that had finally come out. Pandora had been on his case for more than a year now to confront Seifer about their past.
"I…I don't know, to be completely honest," Seifer admitted. He speared his fork into a pea pod and stared thoughtfully at it. "I have theories - ones that revolve around wanting you and you not wanting me…but I honestly can't tell you. I don't remember. The couple of years before…before Ultimecia - and the time during Ultimecia - I don't remember a thing." Squall sat very still, harsh words reverberating in his mind, screaming in Dante's voice. Nobody will ever love you - all they'll want is a hot fuck and that tight little ass of yours. Can't you see Squall? You can't be loved. Not even your own father loved you - he sent you away the first time he could. "Squall?"
"You look like you can't decide whether or not you want to cry or kill something," Seifer commented. Squall gave him a look.
"Don't worry - I won't dampen your shirt like I did last night. I don't make a habit of sobbing like a little girl." Yeah, maybe he was being a bit harsh, but he was slightly embarrassed that he cried all over Seifer - of all people…it had to be Seifer. But in a way, it was always Seifer.
"Okay, touchy subject." Squall glared at him some more then dumped some rice onto his plate, smothering it with stir-fried beef and vegetables. "And I wasn't afraid for my shirt. I was wondering if I should be afraid for my life."
"I'm not planning on killing you…not any time soon, anyway. I need someone around to do all the grunt work for me in the office," Squall muttered.
"And we're back to discussing my status as a slave," Seifer commented with a dry tone.
"What is it with you and calling yourself a slave? Do you have a bondage fetish I should be aware of or anything?" Squall asked. Light teasing, he could handle this.
"Me? I should be asking you that with all those belts and chains you wear." Squall grinned at Seifer with what he hoped was a sexy grin. He didn't get very much experience with the whole smiling thing - the most he seemed to be able to do was glare and look like a blank moron.
"Yeah, but I'm not into being tied up and whipped, slave-boy," Squall replied. Seifer laughed and waggled his eyebrows and they settled into somewhat of a comfortable silence.
"Hmmm?" Squall asked, his mouth full of broccoli and rice.
"Can I ask you something?" Squall raised an eyebrow - you are asking me something, dummy. Seifer laughed. "Why'd you leave?" Squall coughed as some semi-chewed rice got stuck in his throat. That wasn't exactly what he was expecting…certainly not with how Seifer laughed.
"Yeah. Why'd you leave Balamb-G? Everyone said how it seemed all sudden and shit…there were a lot of rumors for a long time…that, well…that it was because of me." Squall got very quiet, chewing thoughtfully on his food. There were a lot of reasons why he had left Balamb-G. Seifer was one of them…but so was everyone.
"It wasn't because of you," Squall finally said, unsure of how much to say and how much to keep to himself.
"But…?" The blonde looked so insecure - Squall had never seen him like that before. Shrugging, Squall set down his fork and pushed away from the table.
"You weren't the deciding factor, Seifer, but you were one of them," Squall told him. Seifer opened his mouth to speak once more when Squall's black jeans began to ring. Squall rummaged in a pocket and pulled out a silver cell phone, pressing the 'Yes' button to answer it. "Hello?"
"Squall! It's about damned time I get a hold of you," a laughing female voice replied. "Did you get my email?"
"Yeah I did," Squall replied, glad to hear Pandora's voice. "The findings were more than I could have hoped for. I feel like we're on the edge of something."
"We are definitely on the edge of something," Pandora agreed while Seifer eyed Squall curiously.
"We could even have a breakthrough - " Squall began.
"Pandora, you didn't even let me finish," Squall replied, his expression dark. It was always the same old shit - they were so close but they would never let Squall use himself as a test subject.
"I know what you're going to say, Squall," Pandora replied.
"Oh really? I'm in a room with someone who grew up with me and I doubt he knew what I was going to say."
"Oooh, and who would that be?"
"Don't change the subject, Pandora," Squall admonished.
Pandora tsked at him. "You were the one who changed it first, love. And no, we are not testing our theories on you. Who knows what kind of damage it could do!"
"It's just a little hypnotism!" Squall retorted. "Try to see if the memories are even there, that's all I want to do. I don't want to delve into them - just find out if they still exist or if the GFs wipe them out completely."
"Do you remember the last time we tried to hypnotize you?" Pandora screeched. Squall winced and pulled the phone away from his ear a little. "You were in a coma for two weeks. We didn't even know if you would fucking live! We are not doing it again." Squall glared into the air, ignoring Seifer's curious looks.
"How are we ever going to prove the theories if we can't test them?" Squall demanded. "And no, we are not junctioning GFs to rats. Do you have any idea how disastrous that could be?"
"I didn't call to fight with you, Squall," Pandora said quietly. Funny, that seems like all anyone ever wanted to do with him lately - fight. Or in Seifer's case, screw like rabbits. Which, with the way that his libido had been neglected, didn't seem like such a bad idea.
"I know," Squall replied, dragging his thoughts away from sex with Seifer and back on the topic. What was the topic again? "Yes, I got the email. I was going over it when Seifer showed up with dinner."
"Seifer? As in Seifer Almasy? You're having dinner with Seifer?" Squall could practically hear the grin split onto her face. Hyne knows he could hear her giggling. And he was pretty sure that Seifer could too, considering the intrigued look on his face.
"Yes. We're staying in the same room for the time being, it's not a surprise that we'd both be around at the same time for dinner," he told her dryly. The line was silent and Squall was almost afraid that Pandora had passed out from…well, being herself. "Pandora?"
"Are you sleeping with him?"
"NO!" Hell, even Seifer jumped at his tone. Squall mouthed 'sorry' at him and rolled his eyes, gesturing at the phone.
"That's not funny."
"I'm not trying to be funny, I'm trying to figure out why you're not getting some," Pandora replied seriously. Squall sighed into the phone. "Oh don't give me that 'it's too soon' bullshit. It might work on the tricks that hang where we play, but it won't work on me."
"I gotta get going," Squall told her. This was getting way too personal way too quickly.
"Fine," Pandora sighed. "Listen, be careful. I've noticed Dante hanging around and I'm worried he might find out where you are."
"I'm a big boy, I can take care of myself," Squall stated slowly and quietly. "And if he tries to come here, he'll regret it."
"It's already starting to leak out to the papers that the Lion of Balamb has returned…" Pandora told him. "I'm worried about you."
"Don't be. I've got my very own slave-boy to protect me," Squall joked and smiled thinly.
"Ha ha," Seifer muttered.
"Do I want to know?" Pandora teased.
"Probably, but I'm not gonna tell," Squall replied. "I gotta go - I've got a lot of work to do."
"Alright. Call me later, alright?"
"Your very own slave-boy?" Seifer asked as Squall turned off his cell phone.
"Well, I figured I'd comfort her by letting her know I had someone to do my bidding," Squall replied. Hyne…the papers knew where he was. But how? "Did the PR department release my return to the press?"
"Probably," Seifer told him. Squall frowned - lovely. "Why?"
"Dante." Seifer's expression fell.
"I'm staying in here until someone finds that bastard and puts him away," Seifer declared. Squall smiled a little.
"He probably won't even come here - don't worry about it." Squall settled back down in to his chair and picked up his fork again.
"You sure do tell a lot of people not to worry about you," Seifer commented. Squall shrugged. He didn't need people worrying about him - it made him feel responsible for them. And Hyne knew that he didn't want to be responsible for anyone. …But if that was so true, then why did he return to Balamb-G? To be the Commander of all the people?
"Yeah," Squall agreed. "I do."
"Would it hurt having someone to watch your back?" Squall grew very quiet and frowned, staring at the thick folder that sat next to his plate.
A year ago, he went against Pandora and Eric's advice and began testing their theories out on himself. He hired a professional hypnotist and began undergoing treatments to help regain his memories. What Pandora had said was true, he did fall into a coma. Squall was out for two weeks and when he woke, he told everyone that he remembered nothing. However in his files, he listed and classified every single thought, memory, and dream he had while he was out. During those two weeks, he relived two decades of his life. And he knew almost everything that had happened to him.
Yes it would hurt having someone watch his back, because he hadn't had anyone to do it since he was in the orphanage. When he and Seifer were friends. They weren't best friends, not like Seifer and Zell had been. Squall had always been closest to Ellone. However, when she went away, Matron was always very careful to keep an eye on Squall. He, Seifer, and Zell had heard Matron talking about how dangerous it was for Squall - how they needed to keep him safe. How, now that his biological father - Laguna Loire - was the president of Esthar, people would want to use him against Laguna. Seifer vowed to keep him safe, to protect him. Because he had nobody else to turn to.
That was when he was almost ten. Seifer was several months older than him and had always viewed himself as stronger and faster…just because he was older. But when he had vowed to protect Squall, the young brunette had believed him. And for the most part, the blonde lived up to his word. Then he started acting strange. He started getting moody and violent and Squall pushed him away. When they were both twelve, Matron sent them to Balamb-G to be trained, saying they had a great future ahead of them. They began to train, both as gunbladers first as friends, then they slowly turned into rivals. With the help of the GFs, they began to forget.
"Squall?" The brunette looked up, his face serene and…tired looking. "You get lost or something?"
"What do you remember from when we were little?" Squall asked him. Seifer blinked.
"Um…not a whole lot - none of us do," the blonde told him. "Why?"
"Just…answer the question." Why did this seem so important to him? Squall lied to himself and passed it off as research oriented.
"Well…I remember that you, me, and Zell were all really good friends," Seifer began. "And that…Hyne Squall - most of it is just what Matron told me…"
"And that what, Seifer?"
"And that after we came here, we started fighting and competing. I don't remember that much, Squall. Why?"
"Curiosity," Squall replied quietly, his lips the only part of his face that moved while he stared into space. "You still want to know why I left?"
"Why?" Squall's eyes shifted and they focused on Seifer's with an intensity that made the blonde visibly shudder.
"…Curiosity," he replied. Squall nodded and pursed his lips.
"I started having dreams - really weird ones - just before everything started," Squall began. "I had flashbacks to when I was little, to when I met a strange young man at the orphanage. Matron was afraid of him, afraid that he would take me away, but I trusted him. He looked so sad…" Squall trailed off, memories swirling around him. "When the ordeal with Ultimecia happened, I chalked the dreams up to Ellone's magic trying to send me back. But it wasn't. After I gave Cid back Balamb-G and told him I didn't want to be Headmaster and he let you back in, the dreams got worse. They were twisted and jagged. And a lot of them weren't even mine. They were Ultimecia's memories that transferred over with Griever."
"How do you know they were hers if you can't remember being little?" Seifer asked.
"Who says I don't remember?" Squall replied. Seifer frowned at him and Squall continued. "That was when my interest was sparked with memory transfers and the like. But…the dreams got worse and worse until they turned into sheer nightmares. I couldn't sleep. Because I couldn't sleep, I couldn't function. Dr. Kadowaki said it was post-traumatic stress syndrome, that I needed a vacation. Being around you seemed to make it worse because you always made me wonder and think about everything that had happened. Why did you do it, Seifer? Don't give me the fucking textbook answer that everyone else got - why did you do it? Why did you hate me?"
"You asked why I hated you - I didn't hate you. I never hated you. I always looked up to you, you protected me and looked out for me - and then it all changed. Everything got weird and twisted and then you hated me and I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to react. And then it got bad - really bad. And it hurt because I was so confused. And then I forgot and I just couldn't be around you. It hurt to be around you and all that seemed to do was piss you off and so you did everything you could to hurt me. Is that why? Because I passed the fucking test and you didn't? You could have - should have - long before I did…why did you wait for me to get it first?"
Seifer's mouth hung open.
"I-I…I don't…I know where to…where to start…what to answer," he whispered.
"Answer it all - start anywhere, but answer it all," Squall pleaded. Hyne, he would beg if he could just get the answers. But why did he feel like Seifer had all the answers? How could he - if he didn't remember? Squall dragged a hand through his hair, some of the questions taking the pressure off of his shoulders and chest. Jeez, he was doing exactly as Pandora had told him to do. He was finally confronting Seifer.
"I was scared," Seifer said finally. "That's the strongest thing I remember feeling - fear. I don't know what I was scared of…rejection, probably. You were very indifferent when you were around me. I've told you a thousand times already - I was in love with you for half my life." He shrugged. "I don't…I don't know what you're looking for, Squall. But I don't think I have the answers. I'm sorry I hurt you, I know I did it a hundred times over but I'm still sorry." Squall's heart sunk while his hope crashed to the floor. He frowned, his head bowed a little and his eyes focused on nothing. "Squall…don't do that - don't fall into your head. Talk to me."
"You don't have the answers and I don't have the questions," Squall told him sadly. "For some reason, I thought that was the page we were on." He stood, picking up the folder. "It seems that I'm wrong again."
"Squall…" The brunette shrugged sadly and retreated to the bedroom to think, making a mental note to take those damned sleeping pills he had brought with him.
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