Authors notes: Don't know if it totally agrees with the ACTUAL story timeline, but it's fun so go with it ;)

Smoke and Mirrors

By Amber Rose

The music throbbed in time with Irvine's pulse, the synthesised beat thumping with his heart. He had backed himself into a corner, disoriented by the lights, avoiding the mass of writhing bodies on the dance floor.

Leaning against the cushioned seat back, he tried to remember what had drawn him here in the first place. It was certainly a much rougher crowd than he was used to. Leather, lace, and metal studs seemed to be the trimmings of choice, weird smelling smoke and heady liquor the necessary accessories.

He jumped slightly as two latex-clad girls fell onto the table in front of him, lips and hips locked tight. The one on top broke away, smiling at Irvine as she stubbed out her cigarette. Her companion pushed them away from the table, glaring at him as they moved back into the throng.

Irvine slid further down in his seat, avoiding their gazes. He definitely couldn't remember what had made him decide to come in here. It might have been a sign promising one Gil drinks, or that could have been four bars ago. Since coming in he didn't remember ordering or paying for any drinks, yet, strangely, his glass was never empty.

He was beginning to wonder if popping that second tab an hour ago had been such a good idea. Not that there was much he could do about it now. He was too wired to go back to Garden and sleep it off, and something told him he should stay. Fishing in his pockets, he searched for cigarettes he realised shouldn't be there but somehow knew would be. The song changed as he lit one, the beat slowing to pulsate like dull pain.

An opening began to slowly appear in the middle of the dancers. They parted smoothly, rhythmically, almost as if it were a planned movement. The lights dropped low, and it took Irvine's eyes a minute to adjust.

When he regained focus, it was drawn to small flecks of light in the darkness: the flicker of more silver jewellery, casting what little illumination it could steal from the room. As the lights rose slightly, he began to make out the ankles and undulating arms the bangles and chains were attached to. They rose a little more and he could see the whole slender body. He caught his breath, bottom lip trembling a little. It had to be the most perfect girl he'd ever seen.

Her hips were narrow, adorned with ragged scraps of black lace and silk. A shiny patent-leather strapless top encased her upper body, leaving her wan midriff and shoulders bare. Her dark locks were pulled back into a tiny bun, framed by radiating feathery wisps of hair. He wished she would turn, so that he might see her face. The glimpse he had caught, as she danced, of painted lips and a kohl-ringed eye was not enough. But it was enough to draw him from his corner. The closer he got, the less obstructed his view of her became. His pulse began to accelerate.

Each step she took perfectly mirrored the music, slow, sinuous and provocative, yet shaded with pain. It was clear she knew this song well. Each roll of her hips, every sensuous twist of her wrists, played the music as clear as the speakers on the walls. He shuddered a little, drinking deeply from his bottomless cup. It tasted like tequila, lightly spiced. He was sure it had been bourbon a few minutes ago. It didn't matter. Just another few steps and he would be able to see her fully.

Another figure appeared beside her, long coat and blonde hair frighteningly familiar. Seifer!

Irvine slipped back into the crowd, unnoticed. He hadn't been at Balamb Garden long, but he had been there long enough to know Seifer was an arsehole and best avoided. He'd given Squall that scar, after all.

Heart pounding, he watched as his dancing girl adapted her movements to include her new partner.

Seifer didn't move, just allowed her to twine around and cling to his body.

Irvine felt his cheeks flush in envy. How did a total prick like Seifer end up with someone that exquisite? Was she from Garden too? She did look a little familiar, but he couldn't quite place her.

Grabbing hold of Seifer's jacket, she leaned back, eyes closed, lost in the music.

High cheekbones framed an oval face he was sure he knew, and her full lips curved into an inviting smile. Her eyes opened as the song ended, revealing striking ice-blue irises. She somehow caught Irvine's gaze in the crowd, her smile widening slightly.

Irvine froze. It couldn't be.

Seifer pulled her back up, caressing her face briefly.

As a new song started, the dancers began to mingle and fuse again. And she began to make her way to Irvine.

She?! What the hell was he saying? It wasn't a she at all.

It was Squall.

Squall looking totally fucking stunning in girls’ clothes and make-up. What the hell was going on?

Backing away, Irvine retreated back to his seat. His cheeks burned in embarrassment and confusion. His eyes widened with each step Squall took, bare feet slapping softly against the concrete floor.

Squall's gaze never left Irvine as he walked. Patrons moved instinctively aside, letting him pass freely. Power radiated from him, oozing from his pores and burning brightly in his eyes.

Sitting silently in the seat across from Irvine, Squall rapped his black varnished nails across the tabletop.

Irvine's attention was drawn to the slick nail polish, and the shiny baubles dangling from Squall's wrists. He blinked and he felt like he might black out.

The gentle pad of a thumb pressed to his lower lip brought him out of it, revealing Squall's concerned face hovering not too far from his.

Frowning, Squall drew on the cigarette he hadn't held a moment ago. "Irvine, you with me here?"

Narrowing his eyes, Irvine moved away from Squall's touch. "I don't understand. What are you doing?"

Squall smiled, the tip of his pink tongue darting out to lick his black glossy lips. "What do you mean? What am I doing right now? Sitting here with you smoking--although your's is gone--"

Irvine stubbed it out in an ashtray and reached for another.

"Or," Squall continued. "Do you want to know what I'm doing here? I like this place. They know me here. I hold court." He smiled wickedly at his own words, tracing a finger on the tabletop.

Lighting his smoke, Irvine clutched at his aching head. "I meant, what the hell are you doing here, prancing around, wearing... that?"

Squall's forehead crinkled in true confusion and some dejection. "I like to dress this way. Does that bother you?"

"No." That was a lie. "Yes." Not really true. "Sort of." Thinking this hard made his brain hurt. Irvine stared at Squall, read the expression on his pale features perfectly; he looked disappointed, almost as though he had expected more of Irvine.

Irvine frowned, how could Squall be so naive? Surely he should know, that if you deviate at all from the norm you're bound to meet adversity. He took a drag off his cigarette, sighing. "It's not the clothes that bother me. Wear what you want, I don't give a shit."

Leaning on the table, Squall gazed knowingly at him. "It's the reaction they get isn't it? It bothers you that you looked at me and you found me attractive."

Irvine snorted laughter, shaking his head. "I wasn't expecting you to have such an out going alter-ego, so to speak. That's all that's bothering me."


"You're so fucking quiet at Garden. Call me strange, but I was a little shocked to see you showing yourself off in a very public place looking like you do."

"You think it's easy to balance the two?" Squall folded his arms across his chest, eyes downcast sullenly. "I don't like having to hide myself the way I do, but I've got no choice. How do you think the other students would act if they found out?"

Irvine nodded. He knew exactly how the other students would react. Judging by Squall's unrepressed shudder he was fully aware too. So, it wasn't naivete. He knew how the world worked, he just didn't like it. And he had genuinely expected Irvine to act differently. Why?

Pushing thoughts of bigotry and bloody noses aside, Squall smiled an almost smug little smile. "You were checking me out before, weren't you?"

"Only 'cause I thought you were a girl."

"So now, because you realised I'm a boy, I'm not attractive? Why? I look exactly the same as I did fifteen minutes ago. What's changed?" Squall tilted his head to one side, an earing catching the light and reflecting it sharply into Irvine's eyes.

Irvine winced, looking away, pain lancing through his pupils into his brain. Shaking his head, he looked back up at Squall, answering flatly, "I don't go for guys."

Smiling, Squall sipped from his glass.

Had he been holding that glass a minute ago? Irvine didn't know. He rubbed his eyes, waiting for Squall's response.

Squall's voice dropped low, his tone softening, but his smile remained. "You've never thought about being with a guy before?"

Unsure of how to read the expression on Squall's face, Irvine looked away. "No."

"Bullshit." Squall sniffed, sitting back in his chair, gazing intently at Irvine as he spoke what he saw as the truth. "Everyone has. I know you have, and what's more, I think you liked the idea. You're just scared."

"Say what you want, it's not going to make it true." Irvine felt his temper flare a little. How dare Squall say these things without proof, without even knowing him. "We only met last week, and you haven't said squat to me. You have no way of knowing anything about me."

"I could say the same of you. You don't know me, yet you were surprised by my actions. That means that you had preconceived ideas about me, and you were shocked when they didn't necessarily ring true. Am I right?"

Irvine nodded begrudgingly. Frustrated, he raised an eyebrow. He wasn't sure why, but he really wanted to piss Squall off. Maybe it was because he felt like he'd lost control, and he desperately wanted that control back. Even if it did mean being nasty. "What's with Seifer, by the way? Considering he was the one who gave you the scar you've managed to almost hide, I find it a little odd that you were practically fucking him on the dance floor."

Touching the bridge of his nose, tracing the scar lightly, Squall smiled a little. "Jealous?"

"Hardly." Irvine rolled his eyes, a little annoyed that he hadn't provoked Squall with his question.

"Seifer and I have a special relationship. Or at least we did have until he started seeing that slurry Rinoa. Rinoa Heartilly. What the hell kind of name is that? Sounds like a fucking two Gil hooker if you ask me. Hope she rots in hell." Blowing out a fine stream of smoke, he stubbed out his cigarette viciously.

Irvine couldn't help a faint smile. The wounds were obviously still fresh. "He dumped you for a girl."

Biting his lip, Squall looked up at Irvine indignantly. "Not exactly. We were never really going out or anything. He found out about me, and that I wanted him. So, he claimed me. At Garden we're enemies, when we go out, come here, I'm his. But he doesn't want me, won't even kiss me, just likes the way I look. Fucker probably gets off on it."

"If he treats you like shit, why do you stay with him?" Irvine couldn't quite believe he had said that; he was the last person to be giving relationship advice.

"I've never really been one for healthy relationships." Squall forced a smile, playing with an earing. "Besides, where else do I have to go? Who else'll take a fucked up, cross-dressing little fag like me?"

Irvine watched Squall's features very carefully, expecting tears to slip from his eyes at any moment. But they didn't. If anything, Squall looked proud.

Suddenly Irvine understood what was going on, what this whole display had been about. His head ached sharply again. The room began to spin, a swirl of colour and dulling music. He closed his eyes. An image of hands running up his sides, of a dark head ducking down between his legs, tongue having left a slick trail down his belly, flashed across his closed lids. His head felt ready to explode, and he groaned. In pain or ecstasy he couldn't quite tell.


Cracking open an eye he managed to make out Squall's face floating above him in a blur of lust and drug induced chaos.

"Why the mind game, why didn't you just come out and ask me?" His voice sounded distant.

Squall smiled. "You would have refused me. I had to break you first. You mean to tell me, you didn't enjoy it?" His eyes darkened, glittering mischievously.

Irvine grinned. He had enjoyed it, in a twisted, masochistic, kind of way.

Everything lurched, he felt like he was falling. His surroundings disappeared in a flash of intense light as the music rose deafeningly.

Silence and darkness followed. For a moment Irvine wondered if he had passed out, or died.

And then Squall was on him, hot mouth pressing urgently against his. Irvine tasted lipstick and cigarettes, as lips, tongues, and teeth clashed.

He nearly cried. It had been so long.

His head lolled back as he broke away, gasping for breath, allowing Squall to take control. Nails raked against his sweaty skin, drawing blood and throaty moans.

Then Squall's hands were spreading his legs, readying him.

Pressing another kiss to Irvine's lips, Squall apologised for the pain about to follow.

Irvine closed his eyes, no longer scared.

A penetrating burn shot between his legs into his gut. The first thrust felt like it might tear him apart, divide him in two.

Squall's fingers rose to Irvine's mouth, quieting a scream he hadn't known he'd given voice to, soothing.

Catching his breath, Irvine kissed the tips of Squall's fingers, giving him the go ahead.

Then there was no more pain, no words, nothing but passion and perfection.

This was how Irvine had imagined it, those few times he had allowed his mind to wander into the forbidden areas of his desire. Not with Squall, of course, although he couldn't imagine a better partner now if he tried.

Blood thundered in his ears as they moved, their bodies finding a frenzied rhythm and enduring it amazingly. His hands found Squall's hair, pulling it free to slip through his fingers. Wrapping his legs around Squall's waist he forced him deeper, muscles straining. Lips met again, wet and messy, and fingers meshed.

Squall was somehow in him and around him, above him and beneath him, as their bodies fused in impossible perfection.

Irvine didn't hear either of them cry out as they came, just felt the slight spasm of ejaculation. Just the pleasurable ripple of orgasm.

He was gone.

Irvine sat bolt upright in bed, clothes stuck to his skin with cold sweat. He drew deep ragged breaths, trying to understand what was happening. The sun filtered through his window, casting light over his rumpled bed and few possessions. He looked at his clock: seven in the morning. None of last night could possibly have been real, he was too well rested.

Dreaming, he had just been dreaming. His bottom lip trembled, and he clutched his forehead as he attempted to hold back tears. This was getting ridiculous. He'd dreamt about guys before, but never anyone he knew. Certainly not someone as cold and untouchable as Squall. "Fuck it, man, you've got problems." He wiped at his eyes, sniffling a little as he tried to get a hold of himself. This had to stop.

A knock at his door startled him and it took him a moment before he could answer it.

Zell bounced impatiently in the hallway, punching and knocking down imaginary adversaries. "You forget about the mission, Irvine? We were s'posed to be out the front fifteen minutes ago. Squall's gonna be pissed."

Irvine winced. "Fuck it, I forgot that was today! Give me a minute, alright?" Squall was going to have his arse and he wasn't sure he could take that right now.

Finally turning to look at Irvine, Zell smirked and whistled. "Jesus! You look like total crap. You didn't do those trips last night per chance?"

Irvine froze. So that much had been true. That's right, he had scored off Zell yesterday. Then what else was real and how much was just hallucination. "Yeah, I did actually. They were good by the way. But I don't think I'll be needing any more until the break." He forced a nervous smile, grabbing his hat and shotgun.

"Told you they were good. And not for the faint hearted." Zell smiled oddly, beginning to walk away.

Frowning, Irvine closed his door and began to follow Zell.

The closer they got to the entrance, the more the apprehension in Irvine mounted. He desperately tried to remember at which point last night at ended, when he had gone home to bed. But he simply couldn't.

A small group awaited them as they approached: Selphie skipped impatiently on the spot; Quistis yawned sleepily; a few other random SeeDs sat around, bored. And there was Squall, looking totally aloof and emotionless. He nodded impassively at Zell and Irvine as they joined the group, not looking the least bit pissed off.

Irvine didn't really know why that had surprised him; when did Squall ever show any kind of emotion. At least Squall's indifference confirmed that that part of last night hadn't happened.

Squall began to run through what they were required to do, keeping it short and to the point.

Suddenly Irvine didn't want to be here, he wanted to crawl back into bed, dig out his stash, and drink himself into a stupor.

As the others began to follow Squall he began to back away, retreating to the Garden's entrance. Until he came into contact with a larger, testier body. Seifer.

'Could the day get any worse?'

Pushing Irvine backwards, Seifer glared at him. "Watch it arsehole!"

Irvine put his hands back to break his fall, skinning his palms. He was sick of this shit. "Oh fuck you."

The tip of Seifer's Gunblade was against his throat in an instant, and at that moment he really couldn't have cared less.

Seifer's eyes blazed anger as he nicked the skin over Irvine's carotid artery. "You want to take that back, cock-sucker?"

Irvine snorted laughter, remembering the dream Seifer's 'special relationship' with Squall. "Not particularly, no."

Seifer rose his weapon, just itching to use it. "You piece of shit-"



Irvine sighed. Couldn't the boy just let him die in peace?

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?! Get the hell away from him before I report your sorry failing arse to the headmaster." Squall stared him down, standing up to him fearlessly despite his six-inch shorter, and much smaller, frame.

Snarling, Seifer reluctantly backed off. He rolled his shoulders once, scowling at Squall before walking away.

Squall knelt before Irvine, the slightest trace of concern appearing on his features. "You trying to get yourself killed?"

Irvine forced a smile, taking the opportunity to glance over Squall's features. They were unusually pretty for a boy, and, now that he looked closely, he realised that they were in fact perfect to be made-up. He laughed quietly to himself, beginning to stand.

Squall forced him back down. "Are you hurt?"

Shaking his head, Irvine started to move again. "Nothing serious."

"Sit down, Irvine." Squall's tone was commanding, leaving no option but to be obeyed. "Show me your hands."

He glanced the grazed palms over, then stood and removed his gloves.

"What are you doing?"

"Casting cure."

Shaking his head, Irvine went to get up again. "Don't waste it, save it for someone who actually needs it."

Squall placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm not having my best shooter fuck up and miss a shot because his hands are sore. Now sit down and shut up."

Irvine did as he was told, sitting heavily as Squall cast the spell. He felt the tingle as the skin on his hands and neck repaired, the cells multiplying and regrafting. Shaking his head, he cleared the brief feeling of disorientation.

Squall offered a hand in assistance, and Irvine took it.

And he noticed something that shouldn't be there. Slick black nail polish adorned Squalls nails.

Pulling Irvine up, Squall smiled faintly at his reaction then leaned in close to whisper "Did you miss me when you woke up alone?"

Smiling, Irvine had to resist the urge to kiss him. "Like you wouldn't believe."

"Maybe, when we get back, you can show me how much." Squall smiled roguishly, quickly running a fingertip along Irvine's jaw line.

"Why wait?" Irvine offered, only half serious.

Squall's smile faded a little sadly. "Everything I spoke about last night was for a reason. Do you remember what I said about hiding?"

Irvine nodded. As if he could forget. Any of it.

A vision of Squall in shiny black clothes and impeccable make-up transposed itself over the real Squall for an instant.

Irvine blinked, trying to clear his sight. Was he still tripping?

"No, love, this is real." Squall pinched Irvine's arm for emphasis, before slipping his gloves back on.

Realisation suddenly dawning on Irvine, he gazed at Squall in adoration and awe. "You make it happen don't you? How do you do it?"

Grinning, Squall pressed a kiss to Irvine's lips. Or at least Irvine thought he did. He felt the pressure of them against his slightly parted mouth, but didn't actually see Squall move.

"It's simply for others' enjoyment. I like to make them happy." Shrugging Squall down played Irvine's wonder. "Come on, we need to catch up to the group."

"But how?" Following him, Irvine refused to allow the question to be avoided.

Squall cast a tender glance back at Irvine, a faint smile half hidden behind his hair. "Smoke and mirrors."

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