Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VIII is property of Square Enix. The song "Jenny's Cryin'" is property of... Dope. Well, Squall told you that already. Ahem. Nevermind me. Mc Donald's is property of... uh... yeah, who does own Mc Donald's, anyway?! I assume a whole damn lot of people, considering it's a franchise and all. Uhm my point is - I do NOT own it.

Betareader: Angel of Enigma

Warnings: Yaoi (boy love with the pairings Seifer x Squall), language, non-con (rape), self-abuse, angst, violence, fluff, AU (Alternate Universe).

Whispered Screams

Chapter Five - Jenny's Cryin'

"Just someone to hold, and someone to hate... and something to blame for all the pain."

By Angry Angel

"Seif! Yo, Seif! Wait up!"

Seifer turned reluctantly when his own name was blared into his ear. He recognized the smooth tenor of that voice calling out to him on a cold Wednesday morning in the school parking lot, and inwardly, Seifer cursed himself. He had never tried to meet up with Irvine and Zell at "Ward's Diner" the day before, too upset over his encounter with Squall. Basically, he had spent his last two Tuesday classes (Biology and English) sulking like the child that he could be, mentally beating himself for his stupidity. Everything after that was history - a trip to the grocery store, three hours at the mall to buy pants and shirts that he didn't need, and a silent banter over whether or not he should stop by "Ward's" to see if Squall was at work. In the end, his obstinacy had triumphed over his humility, and he had decided to stay home.

He watched how Irvine approached him languidly, amethyst eyes sparking with natural charm beneath a wide brimmed cowboy hat. The auburn haired teen had his hands submerged in the pockets of his tight Levi's, and the corners of his mouth were twitching in a feral-like manner. Seifer thought that he could see a hint of reproach washing across the other guy's face, but perhaps he was just making that up. In any case, he thought it safer to switch on his most winning smirk and greet Irvine with a casual lift of his hand.

"'Sup Irv?"

The dark haired teen stopped shortly before him, his lips now steadily curving upwards and revealing rows of perfect white teeth. The eye-blighting brightness of that smile caught Seifer slightly off his guard, and as he began to wonder what the heck it was that Irvine was grinning about, he could feel his own smirk fading.

"Soo..." Irvine started, his voice pounding with curiosity. "What's her name?"

Seifer stared back at him, dumbfounded by the question.

Her name? Who was "her"?

His face screwed questioningly.

"Uhh..." he scratched the back of his head, feeling a few hard tresses of hair that he had gelled a little too lovingly. "What are you talkin' about?"

Irvine cocked his head back, though the gesture was unnecessary in itself as he was insignificantly shorter than Seifer. They both stood about an even six foot, and Irvine's hat added another few inches. He flicked the brim of it up with his index finger, clearing his sight.

"I'm talking about the girl you ditched us for at lunch yesterday," he explained impatiently. "What's her name?"

Finally, Seifer understood, and he almost gave a low chuckle at the concept. Of course, Irvine would think that a cute girl had been the reason for Seifer's absence. Well, granted the "cute" part of the assumption wasn't too far off, but Squall's sex was at the other end of the spectrum, or so Seifer presumed, anyway. Not that he had had a chance to reassure himself just yet.

In general, Seifer believed that he didn't owe anybody an explanation for any of his actions, no matter what their nature may have been. Nonetheless, he had already laid out a number of possible justifications for standing the two guys up, and he flipped through them rapidly in his mind.

"No girl," he replied, winking smugly. "I did run into Edea Kramer though, and figured I'd ask her some quick questions. She kinda held me up, if you know what I mean."

"Heh," Irvine snorted respectfully. "'Questions,' huh? About math, of course?"

"Of course."

They grinned broadly at each other in mute, masculine understanding. After all, boys would always be boys, with no particular regard to their sexuality. And thus, Irvine merely nodded and pushed his Stetson back into his face; Seifer had obviously been forgiven.

They walked towards the school building side by side, and Seifer found himself longing for his warm football jacket that was at home on his bedroom floor. He was wearing a long sleeved, white t-shirt, red basketball nylon shorts and a stylish pair of running shoes - an attire that suited him well, but was slightly unforgiving in the morning cold. Of course, it didn't help his general well being that he was also dying to pay a visit to the boy's lavatory.

"Whatcha got now?" Irvine inquired, while checking out groups of girls that were rushing for the warmth of the school.

The sight of short skirts and skimpy tops always gave him warm 'fuzziness', and he smiled blissfully to himself.

"Chemistry, I think," Seifer mumbled in response.

"Humph... Quistis Trepe?"

"Guess so."

"She's a student teacher from college. Say, you partial to older chicks?"

"Uh... they ain't bad, I guess..." the blonde replied vaguely, screwing up his face once more.

Like he really wanted to be thinking about older girls right now.

"She's a babe," Irvine explained eagerly, rubbing his chin with his thumb as he seemed caught in pubescent reveries. "She's got that 'S & M' feel to her, if you know what I mean. She's probably got a supreme collection of whips at home."

"Be still my beating heart!" Seifer chuckled, not able to suppress a note of sarcasm.

They entered the building, slowly pacing down the main hallway with their backpacks slung over their shoulders. Seifer yawned tiredly, and he brushed his hand over his eyes to rub the sleep out of them. He had seen better mornings, that much was for sure, but at least he could pride himself to say that he wasn't late on this one. He actually would have enough time to go and use the bathroom, if he ever remembered where to find one.

"Well, I got Health class now," Irvine declared with rapture, his eyes a sea of pensive sparkles. "We'll be practicing CPR from what I heard!"

"... I think you'll be practicing on rubber dummies, Irv." Seifer said demurely.

Irvine stopped in his stride and Seifer had to turn around to glance back at him. The cowboy looked as if someone had just killed his pet rabbit, and his shoulders slumped miserably.

"Rubber dummies...?" he whinged.

"That's how they did it at my old school. Might be different here," Seifer shrugged. "Just don't get your hopes up."

"Dammit," Irvine mumbled grumpily. "Guess I flossed for nothing."

After a second of silence, Seifer bent over and begun chortling with laughter at Irvine's priceless expression; the guy was definitely a riot. Luckily, Seifer's reaction seemed to lighten up his auburn haired companions' gloominess. Sticking out his tongue, Irvine caught up with the blonde and they continued walking.

Eventually, the cowboy stopped short at the foot of a flight of stairs.

"I gotta go up here," he explained, jabbing his thumb towards the ceiling. "See ya, man."

"Yep, see ya."

Seifer briefly screened Irvine's ass in the tight jeans as the teen jogged up the stairs, whistling mutely to himself as he did so, before he turned around to commence his search for a lavatory. He found a hallway that looked promising, and he rounded the corner to it in hopes of finding what he was looking for. He wasn't disappointed either. A few feet further down, he could make out the entrances to the lavatories, and he approached them quickly. Just as he went to grab the handle to the boys' restroom door though, someone jerked it open from the inside.

The blonde's arm halted in mid-air. Standing in the center of the doorframe was Squall, his face so white as if it had been dunked into chalk. The brunette blinked at him out of dull looking grey eyes, one of his forearms crossed before his mouth. It looked like he had been wiping his lips with the sleeve of his dark grey sweatshirt, and Seifer stared at the image in blank confusion. He could see the chafed inside of Squall's hand, from where pale skin had made contact with the track turf. Involuntarily, Seifer frowned at the memory.

At the sight of the blonde's concerned face, Squall dropped his arm to his side, but that didn't really make him look any healthier. His skin was like wax, and his hand that was holding the door ajar was shaking weakly.

"Squall?" Seifer asked doubtfully, and he took a half step closer. "Uh, hey. You alright?"

Squall darted agitated looks past him, apparently searching for a way to escape. Instinctively, Seifer took another small step forward, now completely blocking the door. He towered the brunette by about four or five inches, and he could feel Squall's breath on his skin when he lowered his head - it was moist and cold like fog on his cheek. Squall's chest was moving in an erratic rhythm, and a thin layer of sweat slicked his forehead.

Seifer's eyes narrowed.

"Squall?" he repeated, concern and urgency now dominating the way he ground out the name.

"I'm okay," the brunette pressed eventually, but his face slanted wryly as he did so. "Leave me alone."

Squall trained his eyes on a wall far away from Seifer, and his hand was cramping at his side. Seifer connected his shoulder with the door that Squall was still holding open, and the blonde could feel it echoing the brunette's tremors. His face dark with worry, Seifer curled his fingers around the edge of the door to steady it, and Squall immediately let go.

"You don't look okay," Seifer argued skeptically.

"What's it to you?" Squall growled, but there was no bite to his voice.

He sounded miserable.

The shorter boy made an attempt to push past Seifer, but the blonde quickly placed his hand flat-palmed against the wall, trapping Squall in the doorway. He knew that something was wrong, and he didn't need to see the starch white color of Squall's skin to acknowledge that. The brunette looked like he was about to vomit or pass out, if not something worse than that.

Then, Squall started coughing - a wet, bubbling sound that came low from his chest. His long bangs fell into his face as he cupped his mouth with his hand, and every fiber of his body was shuddering. Seifer considered touching the brunette's shoulder to stable him, but Squall straightened up again almost right away.

"... Get out of the way," he commanded through clenched teeth.

He sounded almost desperate, a vague shade of plea kindling with the grated tone of his voice. Seifer studied him calmly, before wordlessly shaking his head.

"You look like you'll drop on the spot if I do," he declared firmly.

"Fuck you! I didn't ask for your opinion," the brunette hissed, the words tumbling with aggravation. "This is none of your fucking business!"

"I want to know what's wrong with you!" Seifer pried stubbornly.

"Nothing is wrong! Now get the fuck out of my way!"

"Don't be a fucking idiot," Seifer growled, and he brought his face close to Squall's. "You're sick as a dog!"

The comparison, though figurative it might have been, seemed to anger Squall. A cold glint crept into the smoky colored blandness of his eyes, returning life to them at last, and he glared at Seifer for all he was worth. When that didn't elicit the desired effect, he slapped the blonde's arm aside with astounding strength, teaching Seifer a lesson about the deceit of a seemingly frail body.

Squall writhed out of the blonde's confinement with the slickness of a cat, his backpack slamming into Seifer's shoulder as he pushed past him without looking back.

"W-wait! Fuck! WAIT!" Seifer shouted out, and he spun around to grab a hold of the brunette.

But Squall had already disappeared around the next corner, and the heels of his boots were squeaking a staccato on the linoleum floor as he almost fell into a sprint.

Seifer sighed irritably and shook his head. With his face looking grim, he gazed down the hallway that had swallowed the sound of Squall's footsteps, concern written all over his features. Regardless of what the brunette had said, Squall had clearly not been alright. But what was Seifer to do? Squeal to the school nurse? Yeah right. That would definitely earn him brownie points with the brunette. Not!

For now, all he could do was hope that Squall would hang in there, and that he'd run into him again later during the day.

Almost two hours later, Seifer had come to the conclusion that he hated Chemistry from the very bottom of his heart, and that he hated his respective Chemistry teacher even more than that. Irvine hadn't been kidding - Quistis Trepe was definitely a dominatrix if Seifer had ever seen one. Bestowed with eyes like an eagle and ears like a fox, she had been on his case for the entire length of the lesson.

Considering his unsettling encounter with Squall at the lavatory, Seifer's attention span had been naturally short where periodic tables, chemical ingredients and Bunsen burners were concerned. He had almost managed to set his entire desk on fire, and Trepe had looked dangerously close to a mental breakdown. In the end, she had loaded his back with "make up work" and tons of extra reading material, while her cobalt blue eyes had been fixing him with the kindness of ice cubes.

Seifer grunted abjectly - as if Trepe was really interested in boosting his knowledge of Chemistry. She had seemed like some prude, lonely college chick on a private mission to teach all the jocks of this world a lesson; a girl nobody wanted anything to do with for reasons that Seifer could relate to only well enough.

Caught somewhere between loathing that Trepe chick and worrying about Squall, Seifer was trudging around aimlessly in search for his art class. Finally, some girl pointed him into the direction of the "art wing" - not without heaving a longing sigh at his rearview, of course. He passed the school's auditorium, which was bigger than any the blonde had ever seen before, and ultimately found himself in a hallway that was decorated with various pieces of art. Oil and watercolor paintings lined the stark white walls, and little tags at their base gave away the name of their respective artists.

His interest suddenly piqued, Seifer found himself searching for one name in particular, and it didn't take long before he halted in front of a huge, marvelous oil painting of... well, of what exactly was it? Seifer cocked his head aside and stared at it in wonder, his hands buried in his pockets. It surely was a very dark piece - consisting mostly of blacks, deep reds and grays. At first, the blonde couldn't see much of anything in that big, black smudge of nothingness, but finally he noted thin crimson lines that traced the outline of a lion's face, which was enveloped by shrouds of nocturnal shadows.

'A lion caught in the shadows...?'

It was odd, but for some reason, Seifer couldn't stop staring at it. The lion's eyes were fixed upon him, large orbs of impenetrable darkness, and they sent a chill down his spine. Shuddering, he glanced at the tag located below the picture.

"Griever" - Oil on canvas - by Squall Leonhart, age 16, Junior Class

Seifer frowned slightly. If Squall had been sixteen years old in his junior year, he'd be barely seventeen now. Of course, he had kind of figured that the brunette was younger than him, so this did make sense. Despite his youth though, Squall possessed a lot of talent, and this picture demonstrated it only too well.

Seifer himself had taken art class only a scarce number of times. He had opted for Senior Art only to avoid having to participate in choir or band class, not because he actually enjoyed painting. He figured that Squall probably attended some of the advanced courses, though he couldn't remember their exact anchors. When preparing his schedule with his counselor, he hadn't exactly paid much attention to the creative branches of Deling City High.

Finally, he managed to tear himself away from the hypnotizing painting, though not without throwing it another curt glance from over his shoulder.

'Weird... What is it with him and lions, anyway?'

He found the door to his art class wide open, and without any trace of inappropriate timidness, he marched right in. The room was large and bright, with desks and chairs scattered in messy circles around a still-life that was located in the center of the rounds. Shelves with paper and painting supplies lined the walls, some kid was washing out his brushes in the sink, and in a far away corner, a radio was crackling on the local rock station. If anything, Seifer liked art classes for their relaxed atmosphere.

As usual, he assessed the overall situation quickly, and he let his eyes browse all the empty seats. Most of the students were already present, only waiting for their teacher and the sound of the bell to commence the lesson. Some of them were reading, chattering or giving Seifer a curious look-over, but only one of them managed to claim all of Seifer's attention in the matter of a heartbeat.

Off in the distance, at the opposite side of the room, grey eyes surging with waves of blue were fixing him from behind long, choppy strands of chocolate brown hair. They didn't look so dull anymore, nor did the beautiful face framing them seem quite so pale. Squall was sitting alone at a desk that was meant for two, his art supplies spread out neatly before him, and he was yet again listening to something blaring from his MP-3 player as he heeded Seifer with a narrow glare.

Being the straight out guy that he was, Seifer slapped on a bright smirk that was directed towards Squall alone, and he pushed past groups of empty desks for that particular free spot right next to the brunette. Squall immediately turned his face to the side, probably hoping that Seifer would lose interest if he looked away just long enough.

Squall's silent pleas, however, vanished unheard. Seifer kept advancing towards his table, and ultimately dropped into the chair that was right next to his own. Carelessly, the blonde tossed his bag somewhere off to the side and immediately turned to face Squall with his chin in his hand and a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.


If Squall had heard his greeting, he sure did a hell of a job ignoring it. He was staring upon an empty sketchpad and a set of worn down graphite pencils in front of him, carefully ensuring to keep his arms and legs as far from Seifer's as he could. The cables of his earphones were coiling on his sweater and his table, and he traced their length back and forth with his gaze as if they were the most mesmerizing things in the world.

Next to him, Seifer heaved a mock sigh and started to tap his fingers on the surface of their desk.

"I know you can hear me," he drawled suggestively.

He arched an eyebrow, however, when Squall wordlessly pulled his MP-3 player out of his pocket and demonstratively cranked up the volume slider. Seifer could feel the muscles in his face twitching, but he remained calm.

"Funny fucker, aren't ya?" he teased sourly.

Seifer looked at the small, silver colored MP-3 player and back at Squall, who was still ruling him out of his conscience. Did the brunette really think that he was just going to give up like that? It took more than an obstinate little pretty boy to breach Seifer's limits and make him admit defeat.

A lot more.

Humming innocently, Seifer suddenly let his hand flash forward, and he snatched one of Squall's earplugs. The brunette spun around with a surprised gasp, his face contorted as he glared at Seifer. The older boy merely grinned.

"What are ya listenin' to?" Seifer lilted, swinging the cable provocatively in front of Squall's face.

"... Give that back." Squall growled, a thinly veiled threat grating the words.

Seifer chuckled in amusement. "Make me."

He grinned and wriggled the plug into his own ear. He could feel Squall giving the cable a sharp tug, but he was holding on to it tightly. The brunette looked like he was about to go off like a volcano. His eyes were willing Seifer into the deepest pits of hell, burning hard with contempt. It was an interesting change from his icy behavior, and Seifer figured that as long as he didn't overdo it, pissing Squall off wasn't so entirely bad. Anger was usually much easier to deal with than ignorance.

The eighteen year old continued to smirk widely at his grumpy opposite, but once he heard the music flaring up with the beat of a thunderstorm and a rain of fast guitars, he begun to focus on the lyrics that were sung by a man whose voice wasn't unfamiliar to him.


Just someone to hold
And someone to hate
And something to blame for all the pain
I could ignore her
I could complain
I never wanted anything


Seifer blinked at Squall, who was still trying to reduce him to cinders with his vicious gaze. The blonde prodded him into the side, cackling amicably.

"Sheesh, lighten up."

Squall sat stiff like a board with his arms crossed tightly before his chest, and he gave an angry hiss, while Seifer re-adjusted his focus back to the song they were listening to. He recognized it, though he had never paid it much mind. He really didn't care for rock and metal; he was the type of guy who enjoyed club music and going wild to it. The fact that Squall seemed to be partial to this kind of music put everything into a whole new light, of course.

The blonde snorted to himself. He was starting to feel like a fan girl.

"'Dope'?" he asked quietly, turning his focus outward and back to the brunette.

Squall regarded him with a glare that could have been aimed to kill, and he snorted audibly. The younger boy could feel hot anger bubbling up inside him, and he wanted nothing more than to wipe the stupid grin off Seifer's face. Who had asked him to be his bench neighbor in the first place? There were enough empty seats around, and the fact that Seifer had "stolen" his earphone made Squall want to thrust a pencil up the blonde's nose.

"Dope." he bit in response to Seifer's question, his face curling.

Seifer noticed the implied insult to Squall's tone, but he ignored it. There was just something about this song that had snared his interest, and he was eager to hear more.


Just something to fill the nothing inside
And something to make her never cry
Just something to thrill me
And something to hide
And something to help her say good-bye
Just something to kill me
Something to die
Just something to blow her head off


Scratching his head, Seifer twirled around to face Squall once more. The brunette was crunching a pen in his right hand, and his jaw was violently tight. Obviously, Squall regarded this as a nasty invasion into his privacy, and he hated nothing more than that. He wanted to stand up and leave, or at least jerk his earphone from the ornery blonde, but he couldn't force himself to do either. Why, he didn't know, but it probably had a lot to do with those rich, jade green eyes being zeroed in on his face like he was some form of target practice for hypnosis.

"Cheerful lyrics," Seifer noted neutrally.

"Who asked you?" Squall spat back, and he swept a few stray wisps of hair from his face with a sharp flick of his hand.

He hated the fact that Seifer forced him to share something as intimate as his personal choice of music. Of course, he could have just turned off his MP-3 player altogether, but that would have been a cheap win and a foolproof way of displaying that he was honestly upset. Not a big incentive in his eyes, really.

"I don't know," Seifer said thoughtfully, and he paused. "Not you."

Squall's eyes fogged up and mirrored confusion at that statement. "Not you"? What was that supposed to mean now? Why was that stupid fuck suddenly so mellow? It seemed uncharacteristic, somehow.

Seifer, however, refused to give an explanation and merely continued listening to the song.


Jenny is cryin'
And I don't know why
And her life's so insane
So now Jenny is hating me
Do you really wanna die?
Do you really wanna die?
Do you really wanna die?
Don't cry


Out of the corner of his eyes, Seifer noticed how Squall started to twist and rub his leather wristbands, which had been concealed beneath the sleeves of his sweatshirt. The blonde found something odd about that gesture, though he couldn't really say what it was. He could tell that Squall was attached to this song, for what reason ever. It was dark, melancholic and bitter - adjectives that could have just as easily been found in a computation of Squall's character.

Suddenly, commotion around them caused Seifer to raise his head towards the door, and he saw a short, slender woman entering the classroom. Squall followed his gaze, and he immediately gave his earphone cable a fierce tug. This time, Seifer was smart enough to comply with the brunette's request, and he released the plug he had been holding captive. Squall quickly dropped his MP-3 player into his bag and fixed his steel blue gaze upon the woman.

Her hair was shoulder length, and it was silver; Seifer found that very unusual, because the woman seemed to be in her early twenties. It was glistening like a veil of fine silk, obscuring one of her eyes from view. The second one was of a strange, reddish brown color; it looked almost crimson. Her face was pretty, though very grim and tight. She wore a simple white button down shirt and loose fitting jeans that were specked with oil paint.


Her voice sounded mechanic, as if she wasn't used to talking, and only a few kids responded to her one-worded greeting. Briskly, she walked up to the center of the room, where she had arranged a still life of old tin containers, milky glass vases and wilted flowers. She tugged at some of them lovingly and gave them a final look-over. Seifer scratched his head as he watched her with mild interest.

Whoever this teacher was, she seemed to be missing a nut or two.


She had pointed at the objects, and then looked at her students with a commanding eye. Seifer glanced from her to Squall, unsure of whether she was serious or even their teacher in the first place. Squall, however, pulled his sketchpad close and grasped a pencil, and without a word he began to draw.

Sighing and feeling ignored once more, Seifer retrieved his own art supplies and laid them out before himself. Squall was denying his existence with astounding perseverance, and the brunette seemed content just sketching a wretched, rusty tin pot. Irritable, Seifer took turns staring at Squall, Squall's drawing and their teacher's strange arrangement. Around them, the other students had resumed chattering, so the blonde assumed that it was okay to talk.

"Who is she?" he asked, elbowing Squall in the side when the brunette paused in his pencil strokes for just a second.

The dark haired boy didn't look up from his work, but he tensed visibly at Seifer's touch. The blonde almost expected another "don't-touch-me"-episode to uncoil, but Squall remained silent.

Well, verbally silent, anyway.

'... Why can't you just drop dead?'

Seifer leaned over to him, hating to be treated like thin air. He was getting sick of it so quickly.

"Hello? Earth to Leonhart!" he barked, annoyance roughing the words.

Squall sighed. His shoulders slumped wearily and he rested his forehead in his hand, before starting to tap his pen upon the coarse surface of his sketchpad.


"... Fujin?" Seifer repeated blankly.

"Fujin Takahara," Squall replied, and he drenched his voice with sarcasm. "Our teacher."

Inwardly, Seifer chuckled. This guy was a fucking wisecrack alright, but he found that attitude much easier to deal with than the brunette's personification of a deaf mute. Content with the younger boy's reply, Seifer studied Squall's sketch for a moment instead of starting on his own. He watched the brunette's smooth strokes dancing across the paper, and after a few seconds, he whistled softly.

"Fuck, you're good," he murmured.

Squall shifted slightly in his chair; it was obvious that he wasn't much used to praise. His frown became a little less harsh, though the change was fleeting and only noticeable to the keen eye.

Seifer smiled in satisfaction.

"Why are you even in this class?" he asked, determined to keep the brunette talking. "Shouldn't you be in 'Art for the Prodigy' or something like that?"

"There's no such thing," Squall answered blandly.

The blonde gave a curt snort of laughter. Squall wouldn't seem to know humor even it smacked him up his head. It was actually kind of adorable - in a strange, and very annoying kind of way.

"You know what I meant," he said, while attempting to produce a straight line for his vase sketch. "Smart ass."

Squall continued exercising carefully controlled strokes upon his canvas, gracing it with different shades of grey, before he answered in a flat, subdued voice.

"I take three different art classes."

"Oh? Like what?"

"Senior Art, Sculpting, and Advanced Art."

"Damn," Seifer breathed with another acknowledging whistle. "An aspiring Da Vinci, huh?"

Squall's eyes darkened instantly, but he didn't answer. This seemed to be a touchy subject. Then again, what wasn't? Seifer studied the brunette's rigid profile quietly, finding it so much more enticing than Fujins' dumpster-still life.

Suddenly, he remembered his and Squall's earlier encounter at the bathrooms, and he leaned a bit closer when he spoke.

"You feeling better, by the way?" he asked softly, his eyes caressing the fine lines of Squall's face.

The question elicited a brief flinch from the brunette, but Squall quickly resumed drawing. Where he was willing to open his mouth to talk about art, he most definitely wasn't inclined to discuss his sickness after a lavatory visit. Of course, he was far too intelligent to believe that Seifer would quit asking, or quit wondering for that matter.

Thus, he forced himself to give a simple nod.

"Good," Seifer cooed.

He wanted to ask Squall what exactly had been going on. As a matter of fact, he wanted to ask a lot of things. He had found himself wondering more than just once if Squall had really been given a ride the day before, and if so, by whom. Also, he couldn't quite believe that the brunette's ankle would be all better this quickly, even if Squall displayed no sign of soreness. There were so many questions waiting for answers. On the other hand, he knew perfectly well that curiosity did kill the cat, even if he usually chose to ignore or "forget" said words of wisdom.

Seifer glanced down at the outline of Squall's legs in loose, dark blue denim jeans, and his gaze traced their subtly muscled form. Why was he supposed to draw a bunch of junk when he had this sitting next to him?

'Talk about a waste of resources.'

Sighing, he decided to leave Squall be and returned to the struggle at hand. Soon enough, his desk was covered in rumpled paper balls and the debris of his eraser, and his drawing looked nothing like the still life in front of him. His vases were crooked sausages more than anything else, and his tin boxes showed a strange resemblance to porta-johns. He hadn't even tried to capture the wilted leaves and petals of the flowers yet, and just looking at Squall's perfect replica in soft graphite caused his frustration to flare.

If Seifer had one sensitive spot, it was his pride.

"Fuck me," he grunted irritably, holding his picture away from himself to glare at it with disgust. "I suck."

He slapped his sketchpad onto the desk, whirling up the tiny speckles of rubber that were once his eraser. Next to him, Squall had looked up and was studying Seifer's work with a neutral expression. Seifer crossed his arms in front of his chest and leaned back in his chair, balancing it on its hind legs. He grunted, again, and his eyebrows scrunched together.

"This is hard," he griped, and he tilted his chair forward with a soft creak of metal on linoleum.

He was ready to grab his sketchpad and discard this failed project along with the other ones, but suddenly, he found a pale hand reaching for the paper quietly, pulling it slightly off to the side. The blonde froze. Squall had leaned towards him without saying a word, and Seifer stared down at his tousle-haired dark head in confusion. The brunette was suddenly close enough to where Seifer could hear the sound of his breathing and smell his lush scent, and inevitably his pulse went soaring.

Squall had taken one of his pencils and begun to draw very faint circles and squares on Seifer's sketch, thickening a few lines here and there and removing a couple of others with the blonde's eraser, or what was left of it. Seifer could do nothing but gape. Squall had laid down his own work to help him? His viridian eyes widened fondly, and his lips phased into a silly smile.

This was too good to be true.

"Here," Squall murmured, and he pushed the sketch towards Seifer. "Try this."

Before Seifer had the chance to say or do something, Squall had already retreated to his own side of the desk and continued to touch up his own drawing, acting like nothing had happened. He obviously had no idea whatsoever that his actions had just catapulted Seifer onto Cloud Nine.

"Holy fuck," the blonde muttered in disbelief, looking at his picture that suddenly made so much more sense, and back at the other teen. "Damn. Thanks, Squall."

"... Whatever."

Despite the brunette's cool reply and the supple shrug of his shoulders, Seifer was sure that he had seen the corners of Squall's mouth twitching in the semblance of a smile. Apparently, 'His Grumpiness' wasn't as entirely cold and careless as he had initially seemed to be.

During the progress of the lesson, Seifer found himself turning to Squall again and again, asking him for advice or assistance, and strangely enough there wasn't a single time that the brunette turned him down. Squall displayed extraordinary patience, while Seifer was in permanent awe over the younger teen's graceful movements, the perfection of his skin, the softness of his hair and the mysterious color of his eyes.

By the end of their class, Seifer was still unable to produce a decent looking vase, but he would have been able to paint a picture of Squall's face blindfolded.

He knew that this was bad. He had to acknowledge that he had a crush on this kid, and even though the brunette didn't seem quite as withdrawn as he had, Seifer was still light-years from figuring out which direction Squall "swung". The blonde had never encountered similar problems before; usually, girls and guys alike would come flocking to him, and the most he ever had to do was take his pick. Consequently, this was entirely new territory, but Seifer was all too willing to explore it.

As they both stood up from their chairs at the very end of the lesson, packing up their stuff and getting ready to hand in their work, Seifer stemmed his hand upon the table and leaned sideways to study Squall with barely concealed interest. Eventually, the brunette turned his head to reciprocate the gaze, irritation reflecting from the depths of his ocean blue eyes.

"What?" he inquired sharply.

"You work at "Ward's", right?" Seifer asked, his face attentive.

Squall seemed taken aback by the fact that Seifer knew this particular detail about him, and his brows immediately produced a dark frown. Seifer rolled his eyes and sighed under his breath.

He hated it when people switched moods faster than he could blink.

"Don't get all worked up," he teased. "I'm not stalking ya or nothin'."

That, of course, wasn't quite the truth, but Seifer figured that it was exactly what the brunette needed to hear. And indeed - Squall relaxed visibly, and he tore his drawing off his sketchpad before he nodded.

"Yeah. I do."

Squall grabbed his leather jacket and helmet that had been sitting in the corner of the windowsill, languidly shrugging into the coat. He was fully aware of Seifer's eyes on him, but he tried to ignore the looks. This guy surely was strange; he was one of the very few people that stuck around even after realizing that their attention elicited nothing but Squall's boredom. And Squall didn't care whether they were girls or guys, either - he was simply not interested. He wanted to be left alone. He had enough on his plate already.

And yet, for some reason, Seifer's presence had begun to bother him less.

"See, I'm looking for a decent place to eat," Seifer explained, and Squall found himself listening. "All I've had so far is microwave chow and fucking McDonald's."

Squall did not respond. He knew exactly what the blonde wanted to hear, but he was not going to succumb. He wasn't going to invite this guy to stop by his work place; he would have rather danced on razor blades. Seifer was distracting him more than he liked to admit, and if he actually chose to eat at "Ward's", Squall wanted nothing to do with it. He didn't want to be involved in anybody's business.

Of course, that was never how it worked out.

Next to him, Seifer heaved a sigh. Talking to Squall was like prying the words from his very tongue. The only subject that didn't seem to fall into dangerous or silent territory was art, and Seifer could tell that said topic was exhausted for the time being. His next art lesson wasn't until next week, either, and he didn't want for Squall to ignore him until then.

He followed the brunette to the teacher's desk, the subject of "Ward's" obviously discarded. He was clutching his sheet of paper in one hand as they pushed through rows of desks, trying to train his eyes away from Squall's ass but not entirely succeeding. The guy's stride was just screaming for attention, though there wasn't even anything unusual about it. Seifer even checked for any signs of limping, but Squall's pace was even.

They both stopped before Fujins' desk and quietly handed her their sketches. She didn't even look them over, but gazed at Seifer out of her one, crimson eye instead. Her face was stern, and despite himself and his huge ego, the blonde begun to feel slightly uncomfortable.

"Seifer Almasy," she finally said, her voice stringent and matter-of-factly.

He exchanged a hesitant glance with Squall, who stood supply with his weight on one leg and his face fashionably blank, before clearing his throat.

"Uh, yeah, that's me."

She actually looked at his drawing this time, then back at him.

"Good. Leave."

Seifer's eyebrows slowly arched towards his hairline, and he threw another disturbed look at the brunette. Granted, it was the end of the lesson and he wasn't sensitive or nothing, but couldn't she have put any less... blunt?

"Squall," she continued resolutely. "Stay. School festival."

Jade green blinked at those words and focused on Squall with interest. There was a painful edge to the brunette's movements as he nodded and folded his arms before his chest defensively. His pale ruby lips seemed to thin to a line, and his brows inevitably kinked downwards.

Apparently, this topic was not to Squall's liking, either.

"School festival?" Seifer repeated the words with curiosity. "We're having a school festival?"

Squall's hands tightened around his upper arms, and he nodded yet again.

"When?" Seifer asked.

"... Next week..." the brunette replied reluctantly.

"Humph. I didn't know."

The blonde noticed Fujin's eye on himself, and she looked about ready to chase him out of her classroom or hurl one of her tin containers at him. Grunting, he turned to Squall and paid the brunette a lopsided smirk. Squall's face was wiped clean of expression.

"Well, guess I'll see ya, Squall. Later."

Squall gave only the faintest of nods, before turning his back to the blonde and hitching his backpack higher on his shoulder with a tension that was almost unnatural. Seifer wondered at the tightness of the motion for a moment, and his mood soured at the prospect of possibly spending the rest of the day without Squall, but then he proceeded to file out of the room with a group of other students.

He couldn't know that for once, Squall was dying to follow him.

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