Author's Notes: Contains m/m relationships. ONLY read if you are of age and open-minded!!!


Starry Night

Chapter One

By Keishi

Squall walked along the small beach by the orphanage, huddled in his favorite bomber jacket.  It was the dead of night, and as such, the heat of the day had dissipated into damp coldness.  The sliver of beach was silvery by moonlight, black waves lapping gently at its edge.  He let out a breath of air and watched it float away, disappearing into the starry horizon.  He always thought this place most beautiful during the starlit hours.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" A voice said from behind him, echoing his thoughts.  A tall, honey-haired man stepped from the rocks to stand next to Squall.  Irvine had suggested that the two of them come visit their old childhood home for the weekend, a comfortable chance for the two orphans to reacquaint themselves with the past.  He, too, was huddled in his coat, hat tipped rakishly forward.  "I've always loved this place," he continued when Squall said nothing.

Leonhart nodded, 'hmm'-ing a response, though he wanted to say more.  The pair stood like that for a few moments, looking out into the sea, the silence a companionable one.  Irvine murmured something, but his words were lost on the wind.  Squall halfway-turned to the honey-haired sharpshooter questioningly.

Irvine glanced at Squall out of the corner of his eye, then chuckled nervously.  "I didn't, ah, realize I said that out loud." His lips curved up in a faint, sheepish grin.

The Balamb Commander moved to face Irvine fully. "Actually, I didn't hear what you said.  I only noticed you were saying something."

"Oh!" Irvine laughed, surprised.  He tipped his hat to one side in a gesture of nervousness, then shrugged.  "It wasn't anything worth hearing anyway."

Squall studied the sharpshooter for a moment, watching the way the chill wind blew loose tawny strands across his companion's cheek.  He fought the urge to brush the hair back, to tuck it behind the taller man's delicate ear.  "What did you say, then?"

At that moment, Irvine did something that Squall _never_ thought he'd see him do-- he blushed.  He blushed a bright scarlet, color splashing across his nose and cheeks.  "I'm not going to say, if you didn't hear it the first time, Leonhart."  There was no venom or reproach in the voice, only a blandness that Squall was certain masked _something_, some sort of emotion the honey-haired boy didn't want him to know about.  The grey-eyed youth turned back to the water.  If Irvine didn't want to tell him, he wasn't going to pry. 

Suddenly, a gust of wind blew up from the frothing waves, chilling him to the very bone.  He shivered involuntarily, hands burrowing deeper in his pockets.  Squall didn't want to go back inside, but he did not know how long his small, waist-length jacket could keep the cold at bay.  He had almost turned to walk back up to the orphanage, when he felt a heavy, warm weight across his shoulders.  Irvine's arm was slung around him in an amicable gesture, the sharpshooter's usual devil-may-care grin plastered across his delicate features.

"Hey, you look cold there, buddy," he said, pressing Squall's shorter frame against his side casually.  Squall tensed for a fraction of a second, then relaxed in Irvine's grip.  They _were_ friends, he reminded himself, and Irvine was a physical person, who demanded touch in his relationships with others.  This was nothing new, nothing he had never experienced before, Squall tried to convince his brain.  He was halfway to believing himself, too, when Irvine spoke, breath tickling the stoic boy's ear.

"When I have nightmares, I think of this beach, these waves, and it calms me every time.  This place is gorgeous during the daytime, but I think it becomes truly magical at night, don't you think?"

Squall blinked at the honey-haired sharpshooter, then laughed.  He tried to contain his chuckles, however, when he saw the indignant look on Irvine's face.

"Hey..." Kinneas admonished.  "I don't laugh at your dreams."

'That's because you don't know my dreams,' Squall thought to himself.  Out loud, he said, "I wasn't laughing at you or your nightmares.  What struck me as funny was that I was thinking along the same lines before you came out here.  I think this place is most beautiful at night, too."

Irvine sighed contentedly, glancing at Squall, unconsciously hugging the brown-haired boy tighter.  "I love the way the moonlight shines on the water.  It wasn't this pretty a couple of weeks ago."

"You were out here a couple weeks ago?"

Irvine nodded, his chin nudging the side of Squall's head absently.  "Selphie and I were, yeah."

Squall 'hmm'-ed again, a smile tugging at his lips.  He couldn't help but notice the infatuation in Irvine's eyes when he mentioned the energetic young girl.  "You really like her, don't you?"

"Among others," Irvine teased, his easy grin returning.  "But yeah," he sighed, "I really do like her."

"Well," Squall prompted. "Why don't you tell her?"

"Leonhart, where have you been?"  the honey-haired youth said incredulously.  "I _have_ told her, in a number of ways."

"Hitting on her incessantly, along with every other female, is _not_ telling her how you feel.  That's just being a lech," he teased back, poking the sharpshooter in the side.  Irvine barked out a surprised laugh, arm dropping from the shorter boy's shoulders as he defended himself from Squall's ticklish assault.

"Woah there, horsey.  This is certainly a side of you I haven't seen before."  Squall dropped his hand at the words, face growing solemn.  He hated it when he tried to open up to people, because they always called him out on it, as if he were being insincere.  He turned toward the ocean, face as unreadable as marble.

"Hey, Squall, don't do that," Irvine said gently, bringing a hand up to Squall's face.  His fingers, rough yet gentle, slowly forced the grey-eyed man to face him again.  "Don't close up, I liked the playful you.  True, I'm not accustomed to it," he continued, "but I'd like to be.  Come on, Squall, look at me." 

Squall raised his gaze from Irvine's chin to his eyes, taking in their lavender warmth.  He unconsciously inched forward, wanting very much to wrap himself in the heat that was the taller man.  Irvine lowered his head, his ponytail swinging forward of it's own volition and brushing Squall's hand as it encased the one holding up his chin.  Irvine softened his grip, fingers splaying in a gentle caress across Squall's jaw and upwards to his cheek.  His fingertips caused little electric jolts to race down the grey-eyed youth's spine, and Squall couldn't tear his gaze away for anything at that moment.

Irvine pressed his forehead to the shorter man's, closing his eyes briefly, then reopening them.  He took in a deep, shaky breath; his hand clasped the back of Squall's neck as he peered at his friend, who looked like he was drowning. "Squall..." he whispered softly.  "I don't know what's happening here, but I always feel closer to you than anyone else in our heroic little group.  You are..." he trailed off, took another delicate breath.  "You are my best friend, and I'm afraid I have feelings for you that run a bit deeper than friendship." Squall blinked at this, holding his breath.

Irvine continued, "But I think I'm in love with Selphie, too.  I cannot ignore the feelings I get around either of you, they're so similar, yet so... not.  It's confusing."  Irvine let go of Squall, turning and walking a few steps away from the stunned man.  "One minute, I think I'm in love with you, the next, Selphie. I've made up my mind only to become confused again so many times, that I don't know where I am half of the time.  I just wish I knew..." his voice faltered a bit, "I wish I knew where I stood with... with you."

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