Notes: Ahh! I've been away. What have I missed? Hm.. well, this is the prologue to my new FF8 fic. It's really more a teaser than a prologue, it's so damned short. No magic. No weird stuff. Just the team dealing with everything after Ultimecia's been gone for awhile. Don't let the pairing throw you off. It's a challenge, but I'll try my best to make it believable.

Dedicated to: Mike. With his beautiful shining soul, and his sad eyes. Never stop believing in the good, Mike. It's somewhere, even if we can't see it sometimes.

Warnings: Nothing special. No gore. No pointless angst. I only do mild angst. No males being pregnant. None of that. Just a real look, at characters who should have been real. Oh wait, there is a warning for yaoi fans. There are het pairings in this fic. If that grosses you out, deal with it. No smut. Unless Mike asks for it.


Chapter Four - would you care to repeat that?

By Sniffles

It seemed unreal, maybe it was. Maybe all of this was just some fucked up dream brought about by too many sleepless nights. Seifer was in love with Rinoa, and they were getting married. Irvine and Zell... there was something going on between them too, that was obvious by the way Irvine was holding Zell, and the way Zell was leaning into Irvine. The body language between them made things clear, just as the body language between Seifer and Rinoa was obvious to even the most unobservant. Squall dropped onto the bed, flinging an arm over his eyes and letting a soft sigh escape from his lips. Quistis had someone also, though she refused to tell him who that someone was. She had told him that she and this 'someone' weren't actually together, but she had feelings for him and she was certain he had feelings for her. Selphie was the only one who was like him, alone. He knew she had always had a crush on Irvine, but that couldn't go anywhere, Irvine was with Zell.

Irvine and Zell...

Why did it bother him so much? He couldn't quite figure it out. He just saw them both as friends, nothing more... So why, when he closed his eyes, could he only see the two of them holding each other as those hoarse coughs gripped Zell's small body. Why couldn't he get that image out of his head.

//You're one sad piece of human being, Squall Leonhart.//

He turned his head, idly noting that there was another bed in the room. Obviously this room was intended to be used by two people. Did he have a roommate? Or had Laguna just put him in here because they had plenty of room to spare? He didn't care to think about it too much, instead he kicked off his boots and grabbed a pillow. He pulled it close to his chest and closed his eyes.

The reunion would continue as planned, but for now he wanted to get some sleep.

"What?" Zell stared dumbly at Laguna, hardly able to believe his ears.

"You'll each have to share a room with someone else. Selphie and Quistis are together, Rinoa and Seifer insisted that they be paired, and you and Irvine have a room together." Laguna repeated, glancing at Irvine as if seeking help. Somehow he sensed this was going to be a problem.

"You mean to tell me, that this place," Zell gestured to the hall around him but really he was indicting the whole of Laguna's home, which was, really, a mansion, "Is too small for each of us to have a seperate room."

"Well... we've had to close down a lot of rooms for security reasons." Laguna said hesitantly.

"What about Squall?" Irvine asked out of the blue, or at least it seemed out of the blue to Zell, "Who's he going to share a room with?"

"No one. Uh... I kind of sensed he didn't want a roommate so I just arranged it so he'd be left alone."

"-I'm- the one who doesn't want a roommate." Irvine said in a sour tone.

"What?" Zell and Laguna both looked at Irvine with some surprise.

"You think I want to sleep in the same room as him," Irvine pointed at Zell, "He snores! No -way-! Why should Leonhart get a room of his own when I have to suffer with loud mouth Dincht??"

Zell flushed, suddenly realizing -why- Irvine was saying what he was saying. "Irvine..." He hissed.

Irvine ignored the warning in Zell's voice, "Zell can sleep in the hall, but there's no way he's sleeping with me." And with that he sealed Zell's fate.

The door creaked open. It was a very soft sound, but it was enough to wake Squall, who was a light sleeper. He opened his eyes, surprised to see a very reluctant looking Zell standing in the doorway. But suddenly, when Zell caught Squall's eye, the reluctance seemed to vanish and the blond smiled widely. "Hi Squall!" Zell said cheerfully, stepping into the room and dropping his bag at his feet. "Guess we're going to be roommates..."

"Roommates?" Squall repeated dumbly, feeling much like a deer caught in the headlights. He didn't know whether to dodge to the right, dodge to the left or just run straight forward and wait to be hit.

"Yeah... There aren't enough rooms... anyway, it's too late to worry about it." Zell moved towards the bed beside the bed Squall was lying on. He dropped on the bed, burying his face in the blankets. "Lights off." He called, since the lights had automatically turned on when he entered the room.

The silence was oppressive. //Is he really sleeping?// Squall wondered, eyes still wide open. In the faint glow from the windows, which were curtained but not well enough to block all light from getting in, he stared at Zell's still form. "Night Squall." The two soft words made him flinch and look away from Zell's form guiltily.

"Good night... Zell."

//Is he asleep?// Zell didn't dare turn his head to look. He listened intently to see if he could hear, but even hearing Squall's soft breathing it was hard to tell if the other was asleep or not. //How could Irvine be so cruel?// He wondered with a tiny sigh. //He -knows- how I feel... and then he deliberately manipulates Laguna to get me put in a room with Squall... that bastard.//

He wasn't really angry with Irvine, not too much anyway, he was sort of disappointed though. This seemed exceptionally cruel to him. To be so close... What if Squall found out? What if he saw the signs and put them together? Irvine had, in no time... there was no reason Squall shouldn't figure it out. Zell resisted the urge to groan and curl into a tight ball, he was trying to look relaxed, as hard as that was.

He didn't think he would be getting any sleep, so he shifted minutely and tried to relax instead so he could at least be comfortable.

"Mind if I stick around?"

Irvine was startled by that question. "Uh... Sure. Whatever. I was just going to figure out how to get some food, so it'd be great if you stuck around." He grinned, tucking one leg under his rear as he got comfortable on the bed.

Laguna grinned, "Food! Now that is something I can get you." He headed for the phone on the desk, picking it up and dialing two numbers. "Hello? Could you have some snacks brought up to.... yeah, I know... this i... We really need so... oh... okay. Thank you." He hung up the phone and lookd at Irvine sheepishly, "Er... I guess there is no room service..." He looked baffled.

Irvine laughed lightly, sliding off the bed, "Well, let's go down to the kitchen and get some then..." //Let's?// He wondered at his own wording, but decided not to think about it too much as he headed out the door, Laguna on his heels.

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