Notes: Dear ... oh dear... this is just too insane. >.< Gah.

Slipping Away

Chapter Three

By Sniffles

"Where is he?"

Seifer smirked, "At this time he's probably in his room. He never lunches in the cafeteria." He started walking towards the dormitories.

Laguna, Kiros and Ward flanking him, followed Seifer. He was shaking. More nervous than he could ever remember being. He resisted the urge to wring his hands together. He looked around, staring at the students who were walking around. /What does he look like?/ He wondered as he watched a tall boy with long black hair walk by. /Like me..? Like her.../

/Will he hate me?/

Suddenly Seifer stopped walking. He stood still, his head turned to the left. "What is it?" Laguna asked, frowning.

Seifer raised a hand, silencing Laguna. His eyes narrowed, a look akin to pain crossing his features. Then he nodded, "He's in the infirmary."


Seifer turned to the left and resumed walking. This time however, his destination was the infirmary. "How do you know?" Laguna demanded as he hurried after Seifer.

Seifer smirked. He didn't look at Laguna as he walked. "I just do old man. I just do."

Squall moaned in his sleep and Irvine sat up, leaning over and pressing his hand to Squall's cheek. "You awake Leonhart?"

Squall's eyelids fluttered, then slowly opened. He gasped, as if suddenly realizing he was awake, and sat up. /What was that?.. oh god... what was that?!/ He wrapped an arm around his stomach, looking around wildly.


Squall jumped, whipping his head in Irvine's direction so fast he nearly gave himself whiplash. Irvine smiled, "Hey Leon-"

"Why are you here?" /Again. Again he's here when I wake. Why?/

"We covered this last time."

Squalled leaned towards Irvine, "Why?! Why should you be the one to care?" His voice was edged with confusion. His eyes flashed with emotion. It was the closest he'd come to letting someone see he was human since.. well, since the last time they laughed at him when he admitted to hearing voices.

Irvine's hand lifted, Squall flinched, but he didn't move back as Irvine's finger brushed his cheek. "Because I like you." Irvine said quietly, "Because I think you've been mistreated far too long."

Squall watched, his stomach tying in knots as Irvine's face grew closer and closer to his own. "You need a friend," Irvine's voice was a whisper, his lips mere inches from Squall's, "And so do I. The real question, Lion, is why shouldn't I care?"

Squall's gasp of surprise was muffled as Irvine's lips ever so lightly touched his. His eyes widened, his hands raising to grab Irvine's wrists. Irvine gazed boldly into Squall's shocked gaze, a sparkle of amusement in his olive green eyes. Irvine kissed Squall lightly, nipping Squall's lower lip, kissing the edge of Squall's soft mouth, teasing, tasting, exploring.

"Should we come back at a better time?" An amused, sardonic voice queried.

Irvine and Squall turned their heads as one to stare at the intruder. Squall stiffened, his hands tightening around Irvine's wrists.


/He's beautiful. God he's beautiful./ Laguna stared over Seifer's shoulder into the room. At the blushing brunette seated on the bed. His son. Startling blue eyes stared at Seifer, eyes that were just a shade lighter than Laguna's own eyes. /And he's.. gay./

Seifer leaned against the door jam with a smirk, "Well, well, Leonhart. I finally understand why you brushed all those adoring fan girls off."

Laguna watched with alarm as Squall's cheeks turned from blushing pink, to sickly white. Squall tried to move away from the cowboy who was sitting on the edge of his seat, and leaning close to Squall. But the cowboy wouldn't let Squall move away. He stared at Seifer, "Who're you?"

Seifer's eyes moved from Squall to Irvine. "You don't remember me? Tsk tsk. I'm terribly offended."

Irvine's eyes narrowed as he tried to remember. When he did remember his expression darkened considerably, "Almasy."

Seifer stepped into the room, "Right."

Laguna followed Seifer into the room, excited and nervous to be closer to his child. Seifer glanced back at Laguna, "This is him. Squall Leonhart. Resident lone wolf." His lips tilted in that ever-present smirk.

Irvine's gaze moved from Seifer to Laguna. "Hey, aren't you-?"

"Laguna Loire." Seifer completed the sentence, he yawned suddenly looking bored. "Look Loire, I completed my end of the deal. Now it's your turn to pay up."

Laguna nodded absently, "Kiros will pay you." He said quietly.

Seifer shrugged, "Whatever. See you around Leonhart. Kinneas." He brushed past Laguna out to the office where Kiros and Ward were waiting.

"Mr. Loire." Irvine's voice was tinged with respect and interest. "I'm a big fan of yours. Your articles in the Timber Maniacs are always great."

Laguna nodded, eyes still fixed on Squall. "Squall.." he whispered.

Squall looked up, feeling uneasy as he met Laguna's intense gaze.

/Damn him./

With a growl she turned away from the watery image before her. With a wave of her hand the image faded away, evaporating into mist. She paced across the room, tightly controlled fury clear in her tense form.

"How did he find the boy?" She growled.

Hiding in the shadows, a dark form shrugged, the slight movement revealing his position. "Well milady," His voice was a dry hiss, "My guess is the knight led him."

"Damn him!" She growled, clenching her hands into fists. The air around her shimmered as if afraid and trying to get away. "I -taught- him... and now he uses my gifts to him against me."

The figure in the shadows smiled, his teeth flashing bright white in the darkness. "It is always a risk to trust.. men."

"They are a worthless," She paced back to her throne, "emotional," she plopped into her throne with little grace, "dishonorable waste of space."

"But..there is no point bemoaning something I cannot change." Finely shaped, black nails tapped the golden throne. "Loire must die."

"Of course milady. I will handle it." The figure started to meld back into the shadows.

"And while you're at it, punish the knight. He must pay for his betrayal."

Irvine was surprised when Squall shifted in the bed, moving closer to him. But he wasn't about to complain. His arm moved of it's own accord and wrapped around Squall's thin waist. He moved to sit on the edge of the bed so he could hold Squall close. He looked down at Squall, worried at cheeks that were much too pale and eyes that were strangely glazed.

"I... know you." Squall said softly, unable to look away from Laguna. Unconsciously, in his confusion and in response to the slight tremor of fear growing inside him, he moved closer to Irvine.

Laguna moved closer uncertainly, "I... I shouldn't think you'd remember me. The last time you saw me you were only a.. a baby."

Squall closed his eyes, turning his head towards Irvine. Irvine reached up to lightly stroke his cheek.

The memories were unclear. Fuzzy, disconcerting. But the harder he focused, the clearer he became until he realized just who Laguna Loire was. His eyes snapped open and his expression was hard as he looked at Laguna. "Hello father."

Laguna jerked, startled by that cold voice. He started to tremble, "Squall..."

"Father?!" Irvine gasped.

Seifer was only a few feet away from the infirmary when he felt it. His hand moved to his chest while he slowly turned his head, scanning the area around him. 'It' was stirring in a way it had only stirred when 'she' was near. His eyes narrowed as he fought to fight down the panic that was trying to take control of his thoughts and actions.

/She can't hurt you anymore Almasy. Calm down./

But his inner voice sounded mocking, as if it was only humoring him. He clenched his hands into fists. "Come out." He muttered, his voice quiet as he searched desperately with his eyes and mind sight.

But she eluded him.

"Come out now you coward! Face me!" He yelled.

Several students walking by, jumped and hurriedly moved away from him.

'It' grew inside him, wanting to take control. His teeth chattered together, not from fear, but from effort. He was so tense he was trembling. "Come out." He hissed.

The shadows moved.

He jerked, watching closely as the shadows shifted again.

A form began to emerge. A smiling, black form. Even as she stepped from the shadows she remained completely shrouded in black. Only her teeth broke the black pattern. She was smiling at him. Amused as she sensed his fear. "Hello knight." Her voice was the same husky hiss he remembered.

"Kage." It was the name he had given her when she refused to tell him what her name was.

She was amused upon hearing his nickname for her. Her smile widened. She moved towards him, a fluid, graceful creature who would have been alluring if Seifer didn't know what she was capable of.

"I have orders to," her tongue darted out, "punish you."

He reached back, his gunblade seemed to almost jump out of it's sheath into his hands. He drew it from the sheath and held it before him, assuming a battle stance. "Oh yeah? What makes you think you can punish me?"

She laughed, the sound carried long and far. Students on the second floor heard it.. or rather, felt it. The air around her hand began to change color. Energy gathered, then grew, taking form.

A pure black sword appeared in her hand, created from the energy she gathered.

"You have always been weak. The gift she gave you, rather than accept it you 'still' fight it. Until you accept it, embrace it, you will remain weak."

'It' stirred in his breast, angered at her words. Seifer grit his teeth, pointing the gunblade at her, "Shut up and fight me Kage."

"So you do remember." Laguna said softly, watching as Squall pushed away from Irvine and slid off the bed.

"I remember." Squall got to his feet, moving quickly away from the bed as Irvine also stood.

"I... brought this for you." Laguna pulled the pendant out of his pocket and pulled it out. He extended his hand so Squall could see the pendant.

Squall reached out and grabbed the pendant, "Thank you." He said stiffly.

"Squall? Squall I... I've been searching for you. Thirteen years I've been searching for you."

Squall slipped the chain around his neck, sighing inwardly as the pendant bumped against his chest. He glanced at Laguna, "Whatever." he muttered, moving towards the door.

"I know you have every reason to be angry with me Squall, but I.. please give me a chance to explain." Laguna reached out to grab Squall's arm.

"Don't touch me." Squall said coldly, stopping long enough to glare at Laguna, "I do not wish to speak to you. I do not wish to know you. I just want," His eyes moved to Irvine. "to be left alone."

With that he left the room.

Irvine sighed, running a hand through his hair, "No offence Mr. Loire, but you really screwed things up now. Shit. Just when I was starting to break down those damned walls..."

Kiros jerked when Squall walked out of the room. His eyes widened in surprise. He watched as the lithe, beautiful young man walked past him towards the door. /This must be Laguna's son./ He decided, no other child could have hair like that.

"Mr. Leonhart." He said, glancing at the room Squall had come out of and then to Squall. Something wasn't right. Squall didn't look the least bit pleased.

Squall paused, frowning as he slowly turned to Kiros. "I am Kiros, Mr. Loire's friend. Has he spoken to you?" Kiros asked, knowing it was not his place to interfere, but feeling a need to help his friend.

"Yes." Squall said shortly, before rudely turning and continuing to the door.

"Do not judge him too harshly. Not until you have been given the whole story." Kiros said quietly, trying to sound diplomatic.

"I am not the one who abandoned him." Squall snarled, for the first time in his life he allowed his anger to dictate his words and actions. He slammed his hand against the door, which had not opened when he approached, as it was programmed to do. "OPEN!"

She moved so fast his eye could not catch her movement. But his mind sight did. His hand raised the sword swiftly as he turned to the right. Their blades clashed together and she stopped moving long enough for him to catch the slightly surprised expression on her face. She pushed against his blade, snarling, "How?!"

"I did not embrace her gift," Seifer said with a smirk, "But I accepted her knowledge." He pushed back.

She relented, stumbling back and gripping her sword tightly. "Impossible!"

He swung his gunblade, aiming straight for her chest. She jumped back, the blade missing her by a mere breath of air. "You cannot understand her knowledge without embracing the gift!"

Seifer began to laugh, mockingly. "I always was smarter than you."

"No!" She yelled, furiously. She rushed forward, swinging her blade wildly.

Seifer deflected her blows easily, all the while sneering. This made her rage grow. She continued to rush, her rage making her actions unsteady. Seifer began to chuckle, amused by her effort. Triumphant in the face of her erradict movements.

"Stop laughing!"

As she rushed forward, he ducked, bringing his gunblade down and then up. Her blade hit the side of his arm but he paid little attention as he thrust his own blade into her unprotected stomach.

The two stepped away from each other, Seifer pulling hard to get his gunblade out of her. Her now black form was marred by a quickly growing patch of red. She clasped one hand over her stomach, mouth dropping open as she gasped for air.

"I don't understand how someone so weak was ever hired to work for the lady." Seifer said quietly, lowering his hands to his sides, letting the gunblade's bloody tip drag on the floor.

"I am not... weak." She whispered brokenly. "And you..." She raised a shaking hand to point her finger at Seifer, "-Will- pay for this."

She stumbled back until she touched a nearby shadow. Almost immediatley her body faded out of sight.

Seifer's shoulders slumped, his head dropping. It had been easy this time... but it would not be so easy next time she came. She would be more careful not to let him anger her.

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