DISCLAIMER: None of these characters belong to me - I'm at the shallow end of the creative pool and can't create my own so I'm borrowing the FF8 cast - please don't sue!


Part 1 - Ice on the Windowpane

By Kyrri

Squall Leonhart raced down the corridor, trying desperately to escape the turmoil of his thoughts as he fled the Training Centre. Moving as quickly as his legs could carry him he headed towards his Dormitory and somehow managed to make his way through the crowded walkways without incident.

Some distant part of his mind noticed the stares his unusual behaviour was receiving, but he couldn't have cared less. He simply had to get away! Squall's mind turned back to the events he was desperately trying to forget as they blazed brightly before his mind's eye again - leaving a red trail in their wake.

"Oh, God..." Squall sobbed before increasing his pace, nearly trampling Selphie as he rushed past her, the confusion he felt clearly written upon his usually expressionless features.

Unshed tears burned in his eyes and he blinked frantically, trying to rid himself of them, cursing silently as he felt a trail of wetness down his cheek, threatening to bring release to his tumultuous emotions.

He saw the door to his room approaching quickly through tear-filled eyes and slowed slightly. His right hand frantically began to dig in his jacket-pocket for his keys.

Success - he came to a complete stop in front of his door and fumbled with the lock, unable to find the right key in his haste and desperation to get away from everyone, including himself.

Finally he found the right key and pushed the door open, pulling it close again behind him and listening for the click as he locked it again from the inside. Faithfully and true to its purpose the lock clicked shut and Squall allowed himself to sink to the floor with his back to the door.

Silently he drew his knees to his chest and lay his chin upon them, his arms encircling them tightly. He hated this... he hated this confusion he was experiencing now... he hated the fact that he felt vulnerable... he hated feeling...

He allowed his eyelids to drop shut as he tried to calm the rapid beating of his heart. Silent tears spilled down his cheeks - he didn't know why he was reacting like this. But he knew the cause of this rather embarrassing display of emotion - 'it' was probably standing in the Training Centre with that insufferable smirk on his face...

The very thought of Seifer Almasy made his blood boil. It was far easier to be angry at his childhood rival than sift through the jumble of emotion he was experiencing. He'd never been very good at dealing with his feelings - he far preferred pretending that they didn't exist!

But Seifer had never truly allowed him that luxury - the handsome blonde had always dragged some kind of feeling from him, even if Seifer had to beat him to a pulp to get a reaction.

He allowed his hand to come up, fingers trailing lightly over the scar that ran diagonally between his eyes - proof of the fact that Seifer could make him react. Proof of the fact that he did experience passion. Proof of the fact that he was bound to Seifer, whether he liked it or not.

A sigh escaped his lips - he still didn't know how he had reached the Infirmary that day. He could vaguely remember the sensation of being carried, of being pressed closely to someone's chest, soothing words that meant nothing to him in his semi-conscious state being whispered in his ear...

Somehow the thought that this someone could have been Seifer Almasy made him snort in disbelief - his rival couldn't possibly have cared if he had bled to death. But something tugged at his mind - something he did not wish to acknowledge. Something he did not wish to accept. And even though he fought valiantly to keep his thoughts from summoning the image it surfaced - making his mouth go dry.

How long had he been ignoring this? It all seemed to come together in his mind - the stares, the fighting, even the jealous looks Seifer shot him when he was with Rinoa. He couldn't believe the direction his thoughts had taken - Seifer couldn't possibly want him...

Not when the man was openly flirting with Squall's girlfriend - trying to win her back. Not when Squall had seen him exiting the Girls' Dormitory looking rather smug on various occasions. Seifer seemed to be the perfect example of masculinity - he didn't act gay.

Squall leant back against the door, feeling ill - Seifer had never acted gay; at least not until that afternoon. Squall allowed his mind to wander; he didn't want to recall the afternoon's events. He was running away from his feelings again - he could practically hear his shrink chiding him and Rinoa's easy agreement rang in his ears.

Yeah, so what! If he wanted to ignore the fact that he had emotions then who were they to tell him he couldn't? He didn't even want a bloody shrink, but Rinoa insisted that they needed help - that their relationship was falling apart without it. She also insisted that it was all his fault - typical!

So he wasn't exactly a social butterfly... So maybe he was a bit repressed - that didn't make him a bad person and it definitely didn't mean that he had to go to Balamb twice a week to visit some nutter who just happened to have a diploma on his wall that attested to his own questionable - in Squall's opinion - sanity. Why did he ever agree to it?

"Because you can't say no to Rinoa and you know it." A soft, definitely female voice chided in the back of his mind. "She goes all puppy-eyed and your resolve just crumbles to dust." The voice sounded highly disgusted with him and he couldn't help but feel amused, smiling slightly.

A sudden chill ran down his spine as an icy palm cupped his cheek, long fingers trailing a freezing line over his lips and finally tracing the curve of his slight smile. He opened his eyes to stare directly into the chillingly blue gaze of Shiva.

She was smiling at him, the long yellow locks of her hair falling freely over her shoulders and down to her waist as she sat crouched before him.

"Now isn't that much better? I so hate it when you mope!" Squall gaped at her. It simply wasn't possible - you had to summon a GF, they didn't simply come to you of their own free will. Shiva snorted, the hand that had been cupping his cheek falling down to rest lightly on a pale blue thigh.

"I come and go as I please - we all do - some of us are just more loyal than others." She smiled at him again, her eyes sparkling with mischief. Squall noticed that his mouth was hanging open and shut it with a click. Shiva smirked before her gaze softened under Squall's glare.

"You really are a mess, aren't you?" Squall continued to glare at her, finding that concentrating on being the icicle his reputation stated him to be took his mind off of Seifer and...

He let his gaze drop to the floor, not wanting to allow her to read his emotions on his face. Not wanting her to see his weakness bared to the world upon his tear-streaked cheeks.

Cold breath on his wet cheeks brought him out of his reverie and he felt icy arms encircle him as he let his knees drop, allowing Shiva to pull him into her cool embrace. "Shh... Don't worry, sweet prince, all your secrets are safe with me - even if it is you I have to keep those secrets from," she whispered in his ear, her cold breath causing him to shiver slightly in her arms.

He pulled away, her words causing a small frown to appear on his brow. She smiled again, reading the silent question in his eyes and thoughts. "I am part of you, Squall - you cannot hide anything from me... I know you inside out. I know you better than you know yourself. You are, after all, my prince."

With these words she pulled him close again, pressing blue lips against pale pink ones in a chaste kiss before disappearing, though her icy breath still lingered on the air long after. Finally fading away into nothingness as her voice sounded one last farewell in his mind - leaving him feeling much comforted but utterly alone.

Shiva knew - she accepted him - she didn't try to change him... didn't force him to see a shrink... A wry smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he brought his knees up again, gaining leverage and finally pushing himself up so that he could survey the room.

He shivered slightly - Shiva had left her mark, and any doubt that the GF had truly come left him as he pulled his jacket closer. The room was freezing - his eyes fell on his bedroom window that could clearly be seen through the open door, it was completely frosted over - small beads of condensation only just starting to run down the misty glass.

The sight caused another shiver to run down his spine. He moved then - as if awakening from some strange spell and covered the distance to open the window - the frosty white planes seemed to be crying silently, framed by the darkness that it only barely managed to conceal. He trailed his hands over his own pale face, finding tear-streaks already dry, but sticky beneath his fingers.

Icy digits crept towards the windows, throwing them open wide and allowing the warm evening air to fill the room. Squall rested his hands on the windowsill, letting the breeze play with his almost shoulder-length hair as he leaned forward slightly into the wind.

Voices drifted up at him from the direction of the Quad and he winced slightly - Selphie was holding another one of her famous events... She definitely had way too much energy. He moved away from the window wishing that he hadn't promised the energetic brunette that he would make an appearance, but a promise was a promise - so he dutifully made his way to the bathroom and turned the shower on, letting the water heat and steam fill the room, before stripping and getting into the shower.

He allowed the hot water to run over him, warming his cold flesh. He knew he could just bail, but he'd never be able to face Selphie in the morning if he did. A deep sigh escaped his lips - he didn't want to do this, he didn't want to face Seifer again, not before he'd sorted out his feelings - something that he was desperately trying to avoid.

His hand clenched into a fist as he slammed it into the cold tiles of the shower, causing a jolt of pain to course through his arm - he could still feel Seifer's body pressed close to his, the taller man's lips devouring his own as Seifer's tongue found its way into his mouth.

He pushed the thought away roughly, in much the same way he had pushed Seifer away. It simply wasn't right - Seifer was a man and Squall wasn't gay! But you want Seifer, a timid little voice in the back of his mind made itself known. Squall immediately and ruthlessly crushed it.

He wasn't gay! He refused to admit that he could be attracted to another man in even the smallest measure. That he was attracted to Seifer, that he could want to be with Seifer, was simply ridiculous. He wasn't gay!

Why did he keep repeating that? Was he trying to reassure himself that it was true? It was true, wasn't it? He was in love with Rinoa, wasn't he? He loved Rinoa - he knew that, but there is a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone.

Cold water pouring down his neck and dripping from the strands of hair plastered to his forehead brought him out of his reverie. His breath escaped him in a long, drawn-out sigh as he closed the faucet. No! He couldn't allow himself to doubt this. He was in love with Rinoa - everything was right with Rinoa...

Then why was that little voice in the back of his head whispering another name? He squashed the voice, grabbing a towel as he got out of the shower and wrapped it around him as he entered the room.

The contents of the closet echoed his mood as he flung it open wide - mostly black, with a few white or grey shirts. He grinned when he saw a single blue shirt lying in a corner, looking quite out of place.

Rinoa had bought him that one in a vain attempt to get him to wear more colours. His smile faded - if Rinoa had been here he wouldn't be in this mess, She'd only have to flash him one smile and he'd let everything go - let her endless optimism sooth all his worries away. If she was here it would be so mush easier to avoid Seifer - he would have been safe.

But she wasn't here - she'd gone to visit her father and wouldn't be back for another week at least. When had Rinoa become his security blanket? The irony of it made a wry smile twist the corners of his mouth - wasn't he supposed to be Rinoa's security blanket?

She hadn't outgrown that yet - she still wanted a protector, still needed Squall to take care of her... And he was happy to fulfil the role, to take her in his arms and tell her that everything would be all right. But everything wouldn't be all right - everything was far from being all right.

A harsh knock on the door shattered that train of thought and he cursed softly under his breath as the knock was repeated again - more loudly this time. Whoever it was wasn't planning on leaving anytime soon.

He pulled the towel more tightly around his waist and headed towards the door, unlocking it and pulling it open so violently quick that a startled Selphie nearly fell inside before catching herself.

"What?" He said irritably, watching as the girl tried to regain her bearings. Selphie was staring at his naked chest, eyes trailing downward before she stopped herself and looked up into his stormy-grey eyes.

Squall arched one delicately curved eyebrow at her, amusement sparkling in his eyes. "Well?" he asked, breaking the silence that stretched between them. Selphie stared at him, her mouth hanging wide open, before stuttering something that was suppose to be a reply.

Unfortunately Selphie's usual exuberance and her nervousness at finding Squall half-naked combined to make an impossible mess of inaudible words. Somewhere in the jumble of phrases he managed to catch the words 'promise', 'Quad' and 'party'.

Squall smiled softly, trying to calm her rushed words and lifted a hand to signal that she should stop. When she was breathing normally he said, "I'm on my way, just let me get dressed first, Selp - or do you want me parading naked?"

Selphie blinked, staring at him as if she had never seen him before. Squall sighed, before shutting the door in Selphie's face - why did they always react like that when his sense of humour came to the fore? It wasn't like he never made a joke... So what if they were few and far between and didn't always sound like jokes - he had a sense of humour...

They didn't have to act so shocked if he actually used it! He moved back to his closet, forgetting to relock the door and stared at his collection of grey and white shirts before noticing the blue one again.

Why not? If his friends reacted to his sense of humour with open-mouthed shock - then how would they react if he actually wore something that could be classified as a colour? He smiled and took it out of the closet, but paused before putting it n, a frown spreading across his features. What would Seifer think?

He shook his head, ridding himself of the thought. It didn't matter. Squall pulled the shirt on before he could change his mind and lifter his Griever pendant out from underneath the collar, letting it dangle against his chest. A pair of tight-fitting leather pants was the next item to be extracted from the closet. He pulled them on, followed by his boots.

Quickly he made his way back into the bathroom and extracted his three belts from the bundle of clothes that lay discarded on the floor. He stared at them for a while before putting them on, Seifer's taunts coming back to him. "Are you so paranoid, Leonhart, that you need to wear three belts to feel reassured that you pants wont fall off?"

Squall sighed, before schooling his features to reveal nothing - he'd already shown Seifer too much of what he felt; it was time to stop - time to play the role of Leonheartless like he'd never done it before...

Time to push his rival and long-time friend away. Confusion and anger warred with his resolve - he didn't want to do this, but it was the only way. He had to pretend that everything was like it had been before that afternoon in the Training Centre, but he couldn't - so he opted for another way out...

From that moment forward Seifer Almasy didn't exist - he was just another SeeD - another face in the crowd... Not a lover, not a friend, not even a rival. He cringed, his calm mask shattering for a few moments before he regained control. When had he started thinking about Seifer as a possible lover? This had definitely gotten out of hand - he wasn't gay, he couldn't want Seifer!

He ignored the little voice that laughed at his protest and grabbed his jacket before heading out the door and locking it. He was so lost in thought, trying to convince himself that ignoring Seifer's existence was all for the best - trying to ignore the amused laughter that resounded in his mind - that he didn't even think to take his gunblade.

In fact he was so lost in thought he didn't even realise his gunblade was nowhere to be found in his entire room.

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