Authorís Notes:

Woo-hoo, another chapter! HmmÖ seems like this story is going to be more than just a few chapters like I originally thought. I found this nifty little computer program that lets me watch the FMVs on PSOne discs. With the movies and game script, Iím having too much fun rewriting and adding to scenes. There are too many hints in the game suggesting a more-than-mere-arch-rivals relationship between Seifer and Squall for my warped mind to pass up. *evil grin*

I donít own the characters or the world or the game storyline. I do, however, own this particular storyline, and the others Iíve written, but that doesnít amount to very much. Maybe a few rusty bottlecaps or clamshells, depending on the local currency. And believe you me, the people at 7-Eleven get pretty mad and start yelling insults in Hindi at me if I try to barter twisty-ties for a Slurpee. ~Kaerith

Tainted Memories

Chapter 3

By Kaerith

***Seifer***

I woke lying on my left side, arms wrapped possessively around Squall. I uncurled my right arm to brush a stray hair from my face.

"Mrmm," he protested, voice muffled, pressing closer to me and burying his head under a pillow.

"Morning," I replied. Looking at the old wall clock, I discovered it was almost noon. Time to get my lazy ass out of bed. "Coffee?" Stifling a groan, I forced myself to begin getting out of bed.

"Mruf!" An impossible hybrid of command and whine came from the pillow, enforced with a tug on my arm pulling me back onto the bed.

"Fine, fine!" I conceded as I burrowed back under the sheet. I lay contentedly, fully awake but not minding staying in bed with Squall cuddled close. I closed my eyes, breathing in deeply the scent of him. My friend, my lover, my conscious, my world. My mind was drifting, buoyed by a boundless sea of happiness and safety I had never thought I would receive.

When had it all begun?

I fought down rising lust as I watched through hooded eyes as Squall moved restlessly around the boat. For some unknown reason, I had found myself admiring Squall during the past few months. My hormones must be screwed up. Thereís no way I would ever like a naïve look-at-me-I-just-hit-puberty boy like Leonhart otherwise! This frustrating attraction had urged me to duel with him; I had known that he wasnít as advanced as me, but I had instigated a battle anyway. Turns out that I had underestimated his skill entirely.

Not to say that he was better, or even as good as me. After all, I am the best gunblade specialist in all three Gardens.

The brunette in question interrupted my thoughts by trying to initiate conversation. Before he even opened his mouth, I ordered: "Listen up. Our goal for this mission is to mop up all the Galbadian soldiers still left in Dollet. All you boys have to do is take orders from me, the captain." I scowled smugly as he backed away, choosing to talk to Chicken-wuss instead.

This is just some perverted crush. Not even a crush! Just forget about him, and focus on the mission, I decided.

"We'll be landing soon. Get ready," Xu announced. With that resolve in mind, I focused on getting myself prepared.

After disembarking, we stood restlessly. "Ok, you are to secure the Central Square!" Instructor Quistis ordered. "Be sure to equip your GF before you head into battle!" I scoffed at her advice. Since when have I needed GFs? I saluted her cockily, before running at full speed through Dollet. "Just try to defeat me, Galbadian scum!" I muttered under my breath, grinning in anticipation of battle.

I heard the breathless protests of Chicken W. Dincht behind me, and the pounding of boots on the cobbled pavement. I stopped reluctantly to let them catch up. Turning, I saw that Leonhart had not been too far behind me. He was running lightly, almost silently, with a look of grin determination on his face, his fresh scar wrinkling a bit in concentration.

Easily defeating a couple of enemy soldiers, I watched Dinchtís red face as he gasped for breath. Hnh. Heís supposed to be a martial artist, but he canít even run a couple miles before wimping out! Well, itís not like I had high expectations or anything. Tcha, not even normal expectations! I glared at Dincht before speaking. "The Central Square is up ahead. Hey! All you Galbadian cowards out there! Come outín show your faces! Donít leave me hanginí now!" Without waiting for them, I took off running.

Another easy battle later, the three of us were in the Square. "There may be moreÖ" Leonhart said. He stood a few paces away, looking for all the world as if he were the one in charge. Fine, I thought, hacking up phlegm and spitting it at Dinchtís feet. He glowered at me and I matched him scowl for scowl Ďtil he looked away.

"All right, I want you guys to scout the area for enemies." Of course, goody-goody Leonhart took off, flushing out a soldier whom I dispatched with ease. Even after my effortless kill, Leonhart felt the need to blab and get his commanding feelies.

"I think that's all of them."

I did not even deign to look at him. God, I hate overachieving do-gooders! But I could feel him waiting for a reply. Like a dog waiting for an approving pat on the head. How pathetic.

"Well then, we're on standby 'til the enemy comes." I adjusted the position of my gunblade, and bobbed the tip against my shoulder. I spared a glance at Chicken who was fidgeting with his glove straps and shoelaces. When he pulled out a ratty comb and small canister of hair gel I looked away in disgust. "Standby... How boring..."Tap tap tap tap tap.

Eventually the sounds of fighting and missiles began. "Sounds like it's starting," said the Master of the Obvious. I snorted. "Bring it on."

Tap tap tap.

God this is boring!

The flea-bitten mutt that had been loitering around the square started getting friendly, sniffing my boots and whining. "Get outta here! Scram!" I chased the dog off.

Tap tap tap.

Goddammit! "Hey! Galbadian Soldiers! What are you waiting for!? Come show me what you got!" I swung Hyperion in a few threatening arcs.

"...Nothing." I glanced at Squall. What is that supposed to mean? If he hardly ever opens his mouth, why does he say stupid shit? Uh-oh. He was approaching again. Another attempt at conversation? I prevented him from having the first word. "Still keeping us waiting...?" I was tired of hanging around with these two losers. "That's it...! I can't take it anymore! What is this, some kind of dog training!?" I brandished Hyperion again. The stupid cur howled and finally ran off.

"It's the enemy..." Leonhart was at it again. I rolled my eyes. No, really? I thought sarcastically, I thought it was a gaggle of school girls. Then Chicken has to pipe in with his two gil. "Where the hell they goin'? Hey? What is that up there?"

I looked in the direction the soldiers were heading. "Our next destination."

"But that's against orders!"

"Weren't you just saying how bored you were?"

"Squall!" Zell turned to the brunette for help. I waited for pearls of wimpy wisdom to fall from Puberty Boyís mouth.

"I stand by the captain's decision."

"...Captain's decision?" I was surprised. Maybe the kid has more guts than I thought. I looked at his face, at his serious eyes. Does he actually trust me?! A million emotions ran through me, but all I could think about was the way his hair Ė lighter than I had always thought Ė fell over his forehead, and imagine how his collarbones would jut out sharply through his pale skin as he reached for meÖ. Whoa. I snapped myself out my fantasies but allowed myself to reach out a gloved hand to grasp his shoulder, my fingers digging into his delicate skin to press against those tantalizing bones in a harsh grip. I struggled to think of a response. "You want to wreak some havoc too, don't you?"

I felt the play of bone and muscle under my fingertips as he shook off my hand. "It's a good opportunity to test my training. Thanks to you, I feel like I can take on anyone." A small part of my mind reveled -- Squall is thanking me! Ė before being shot down as he said, "Even if they do fight dirty, like you."

With that letdown, I snapped back, "You'll thank me when the time comes." My eyes narrowed a bit, and I resumed scowling and glaring at him. Leonhart returned the challenge with a hard, flinty gaze.

Our silent exchange was interrupted by Dincht. "What the hell... I thought you guys don't get along? You're like, all buddy-buddy now. Listen. This ain't no ordinary battle. It's an exam, an important one. I'm tellin' ya, we have to stick to orders."

I twisted my head around to look at him. His eyes and slightly oversized Garden-issue clothing made him look younger than usual. I felt a flash of protectiveness. "Then you stay here. I don't need any boy scouts." Geez. Is Squall making me soft?

"What was that!!!?" Zell pathetically tried to arrange his features into a threatening expression. Luckily, Leonhart cut in before I burst out laughing. "Don't take him seriously, Zell. Seifer, if we're gonna go, let's hurry."

"The enemy is headed for the facility. We, Squad B, are to secure the summit. Move out!" I ordered.

"Alright."

"Tch... Fine."

My ego was slightly deflated as my squad responded with minimal enthusiasm. Just my luck that I get assigned a pair of sissy cadets.

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