Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VIII is property of Square Enix.

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 Twelve - Chocolate and Coffee

"Don't flatter yourself into believing that you know what I'm thinking."

By Angry Angel

"... wake him up! Ksh! Ah, man... just go chew on my shoes or something like that. Stop fuckin' pulling!"

'... Hh... Unh... what the... huh?'

Squall Leonhart wasn't used to waking up to anything but the methodical, stoic beeping of his alarm clock, so he was accordingly confused when his peaceful slumber was interrupted by a low voice muttering incoherently somewhere... above him?

'Above...? Why...'

There wasn't just that, either. Strangely, the flat, squishy surface he'd been resting on didn't exactly seem very steady anymore. Instead, Squall perceived movement on top of him, around him and below him — a discovery that he found somewhat unsettling, to be quite honest.

Very slowly, his eyelids peeled open over a blank surface of unclouded slate blue that was, despite its sleepy state, glowing from deep within. Squall blinked once or twice against the blurriness in his sight, if only to blink once more and much faster this time in utter confusion at the bizarre picture that had snapped into focus before him.

Someone was hovering above him like, well... a very odd kind of bridge; their torso was crossing over his own, while both of their knees were placed on the right side of his body, dug firmly into the mattress for support.

'W-what... who...'

When Squall allowed his mind to stray from this awkward situation and reminisce for a moment, he finally remembered that brawny guy above him to be Seifer Almasy, his classmate and host for the night. The cocky blonde, however, wasn't paying much attention to him, but rather to something that seemed to linger by Squall's left side — off of the edge of the bed.

Then, Squall noticed a subdued noise, which sounded dangerously like the feral snarl of an animal, whirring through the warm morning air.

"Oi! Don't growl at me, stupid dog! Let go already! You're gonna wake him up!"

Intrigued by the blonde's vibrant hiss, Squall veered his head around to where he guessed Seifer's hands to be. To his mild surprise, his eyes clashed with a pair of cool, arctic blue orbs and two rows of sharp fangs that were locked tightly around their helpless prey — which, interestingly enough, happened to be Seifer's pillow.

'... What the hell is going on here?'

As if Seifer had literally heard him wondering and slanting his face in confusion, the blonde youth suddenly shifted his focus from his dog Shiva to his drowsy bed companion, Squall Leonhart. The brunette was gazing up at him with his thin brows arched to his hairline, a sort of unsure and irritated look glowering in his wide, quite adorably sleep-filled eyes. Seifer paid him a quick flash of a smile, before whisking his head around to Shiva once more.

"Told ya you'd wake him up," he chided. "Why can't ya just lay around and sleep all day like normal dogs do? Well, guess what, no bagel for you this morning, missy! Hah!"

Triumphant like a general that had just returned victorious from battle, Seifer rotated his body slightly and beamed down upon the brunette boy who was laying beneath him, motionless like a statue, and who was doubtlessly questioning his sanity.

"Sorry 'bout that," Seifer purred and squinted one of his emerald green eyes in a charming wink. "Guess she thought it'd be a grandiose idea to come and wake us up. Make a long story short - I had to smack her with my pillow. Stupid ass d-"

Distracted by his dark haired friend's early morning beauty, Seifer failed to realize that Shiva wasn't quite done toying with him yet. On the contrary, she gave the "prize" her master had been holding onto a powerful tug that sent a preoccupied, smugly grinning Seifer face forward into the mattress — and right onto poor Squall, for that matter.

The brunette let out a strangled gasp as the 210 pound weight that was Seifer's body collapsed on top of him, knocking the wind out of his lungs with the force of a steamroller. Seifer himself gave a surprised grunt and let go of his pillow as he found himself flattened across Squall's waist, an expression of lovable confusion and blankness etched into his angular features.

"H-hey! Get off, idiot!"

Apparently, Squall had already overcome the initial moment of surprise, because Seifer could feel him struggling and heard him growling in repulsion as he tried to push the blonde away. Seifer rolled around to face him, snorting sullenly, but he made no efforts at actually prying himself off his newly acquired and fairly bony "cushion".

"Why, good morning to you too, sunshine," he drawled lasciviously, baring perfect white teeth.

In response, Squall gave him another decisive shove, which only resulted in the blonde willingly sliding down to the general area of the brunette's hips, where he lingered dangerously calm and attentive like a famished wolf in a flock of innocent chickens.

"Well, well... Mhh, I kinda like this," Seifer chuckled deep in his throat, provocatively running one hand along the sheet-covered inside of Squall's thigh while his predatory green eyes glinted at his prey.

The brunette twitched at the touch and snarled warningly, but to his great dismay, none of his physical endeavors proved any useful at all. Finally, he pitched his head into his pillow, hissing in frustration.

"Knock it off!" he commanded, his voice strained and impatient as he tried to kick out at the blonde one last time. "And move it, you're heavy!"

"What? I'm not that heavy!" Seifer replied glumly, feigning hurt.

"Bullshit. You probably weigh about a metric ton."

"Aw, are you saying I'm fat?" the blonde asked, already chortling with barely constrained laughter as he clutched his chest. "I'm hurt, Squall. My heart's bleeding, bleeding you hear?"

Squall rolled his eyes towards the ceiling in mute plea, before breathing a low-pitched groan that was a guttural blend of both frustration and annoyance over Seifer's shameless amusement.

Apparently, the blonde thought this to be dead funny.

'... Considering the complete weirdness of this situation, I suppose it is sort of funny... in a very dumb, irritating kinda way.'

Something inside of Squall was prickling very subtly at that thought, and he was beginning to feel uncharacteristically... humored. Seifer was smirking at him daringly, languidly tapping the long fingers of his left hand on the flat surface of Squall's abdomen as if he was waiting for something in particular. When Squall's gaze scanned the blonde's mischievous face and inevitably focused itself on Seifer's lips, a slight blush crept to the brunette's cheeks as he suddenly recalled the passion-filled events of the night before.

Not that he had ever truly forgotten.

"No," he finally replied lightly, trying to mimick Seifer's bold attitude. "You're not fat exactly, but you sure are a fucking horrible kisser."

The very moment that that careless sentence had rolled off his tongue, Squall wanted to smack his own forehead in disbelief, or better yet, run it square into a concrete wall. He, the guy who never opened his mouth before giving each word very careful thought, had just blurted out something like that?

What on earth was happening to him?

'... "You're a horrible kisser"? Did I really just say that? What the hell was I thinking? I can't believe I'm actually reminding him of what we did, what the fuck is wrong with me?'

And of course, Seifer wouldn't be Seifer if he'd let such a perfect opportunity slip.

"Oh, is that so, huh?" the eighteen year old sneered softly, tilting his head to the side.

Seifer was chuckling slyly as he left his chosen position on Squall's body and slowly traveled upwards along his torso. He laid down next to the brunette, who had to swallow against the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat; as Squall stared up at Seifer out of blue eyes that were wide as saucers, he looked innocent to the very core, but he was finally grasping what sort of retaliation his hasty and taunting words had provoked.

"Hmm... Guess I need more practice, then..."


Squall winced at the lecherous tone that had meshed with Seifer's voice, but even more so at the feeling of the blonde's lips suddenly colliding with his own. Seifer had hooked one hand around Squall's neck and was pulling the brunette into him now, robbing him of both breath and reason. Squall's hands struggled to find some sort of hold, to perhaps even manage to push Seifer off, but the brunette was already far beyond that crucial point where his mind had simply abandoned all rational thought.

'W-wait... w-wha...'

It really was a strange feeling to be this close to anyone, so new and exciting, yet also very scary at the same time. Squall had never truly kissed another person before, not until the previous night, anyway, and though he certainly didn't dislike the act of it, it was still far too difficult for him to relax and simply let go. Painful memories were clinging to his mind, coating it like a dark film, and even though he would have gladly released said memories at any given time, they stuck with him like a disease that no doctor would ever be able to cure.

Despite his discomfort, however, Squall's muscles refused to obey his frenzied commands and his heart was starting to pound in his chest, picking up its pace the longer and more passionate Seifer's kiss grew.

'Am I... supposed to allow this to happen? Shouldn't I resist? I could push him away if I really tried... After all, I never consented to this, did I? ... Did I?'

The thought caused Squall to frown just slightly, but he quickly forgot all about his distress when Seifer ran his tongue teasingly across his bottom lip and brushed his hand along the brunette's bare side in a fleeting touch. Squall started at the contact, but he could hear Seifer whispering a soothing "shhh" against his cheek. The blonde's beard stubble scratched Squall's chin as their lips touched once more, but Squall did neither notice nor care. As frightening as this intimacy might have been, it also felt no less amazing, which was a weird sensation all in itself; to Squall, physical affection hadn't been anything of pleasance in well over six years. Yet, there he was, trapped by his own confusion and moaning very faintly into Seifer's mouth as his eyelids fluttered close and he felt the blonde smiling against his lips with satisfaction.

Inevitably, his head was starting to spin again.

Fortunately, Seifer seemed at least semi-willing to stick to his credo of "taking things slowly", because he finally interrupted their kiss and withdrew a few inches. He loved the sight of Squall's flushed, almost embarrassed face, but even more so did he enjoy the carnal spark that had come alight in the brunette's typically frigid, storm blue eyes.

"Well..." he breathed languidly, while licking his lips in a way that lanced sharp spikes of heat up Squall's spinal column, "You sure taste good even with morning breath."

As Seifer had anticipated, the brunette's features curled abruptly and his sweetly disjointed gaze snapped into a downright death glare. Laughing good-naturedly at that priceless expression, Seifer rolled over and dropped into the mattress, filled to the brim with rapture and bliss over this rather exquisite start into a Saturday that could have easily turned out as ordinary as any other. Despite the fact that Squall kneed him sharply in the side for his impudence, Seifer had absolutely no problems declaring this one of the best mornings of his entire life.

"Yeah, fuck you too, Almasy!" the sour brunette next to him bellowed when Seifer just wouldn't cease laughing, although an unsteady, amused undertone had kindled with Squall's voice as well.

Somehow, everything looked so much better and brighter in the light of a new day.

Sighing impatiently, Squall finally pushed the covers over Seifer, thus burying the blonde's loud mouth under a bulk of black satin. Then, he leaped onto his bare feet as lightly as his aching body would permit, while inwardly smiling at Shiva, who was laying curled up next to the bed and was contently chewing on Seifer's pillow.

'Serves him right.'

Circling the bed with a certain air of passive grace and arrogance, Squall silently headed for the bathroom. He stopped dead in his tracks, however, when a pillow suddenly creamed him square across the side of his face with enough force to at least cause him to halt and blink dumbstruck.

"Awooo! Hahaha, got ya good!"

Seifer had apparently struggled free from the covers and was sitting cross-legged like a very naughty chieftain, glowing with pride over his perfect toss. Needless to say, Squall regarded him with a look that suggested murder, but in the end, the brunette opted for folding his arms across his chest and snorting smugly instead.

"You," he started, the edge to his voice sharp as his lips stretched into a cold sneer, "Throw like a girl."

"Heeey now, princess, that's not very nice," Seifer retorted, mocking outrage.

"Neither is launching pillows at people."

"You're one to talk. You tried to get me twice last night!" Seifer retorted while holding up his right index- and middle finger.

"Whatever," Squall replied monotonously, rolling his shoulders in a cool shrug.

Twisting his eyes towards the ceiling at the brunette's trademark reply, Seifer jumped off the bed as well, feathering on his toes as he hit the ground. Squall was studying him warily out of glittering, narrowed blue grey eyes, but the blonde merely heeded him with a bright smirk that didn't look too unsettling - yet.

"Well, anyway," Seifer chanted blithely as he slowly walked up to the other youth, fully aware of Squall's storm grey orbs flickering in silent warning. "How's a shower sound to you, princess? Hmmm?"

Squall's eyebrows cocked upwards ever so slightly, though the brunette immediately scolded himself for even displaying any sort of reaction to Seifer's suggestive "invitation". On the other hand, he needed a shower and wanted it all the more, though he considered it best to make it clear that this was not going to evolve into any kind of group activity.

"Fine," he finally replied, his voice steady enough as he turned his head away. "Go ahead. I'll wait 'till you're done."

"Wait? Wait for what? We can shower at the same time, sweets."

Seifer had to bite down a laugh over the faint blush that tinged Squall's cheekbones. He could read the brunette like an open book, at least where these somewhat obvious matters were concerned; Squall was at the verge of a coronary at the prospect of taking a shower with anyone but himself. Chuckling, the blonde sashayed past his classmate and slapped his ass amicably, though the gesture only elicited a hitched, irritated growl from Squall's end.

"Don't fucking do that! Idiot."

"Aw, don't get your panties in a knot," Seifer purred as he opened his walk-in closet and disappeared within its seemingly fathomless depths. "Shower orgies are fun. You'll love it."

Frowning, Squall listened to him rummaging around; the brunette stood tensely in the middle of the bedroom, his right hand fastened around his bare hip and his eyes filled with mistrust as he shifted his weight from one leg to the other. It didn't take long before Seifer re-emerged and approached him with an unreadable smirk. To the brunette's surprise, he was holding out a red piece of clothing for Squall to grasp.

Blinking in confusion, the younger teenager gazed upon it as if in a daze.

"Your shirt's filthy," Seifer explained patiently. "I'll wash it for you tonight, just wear this instead. And by the way, you can breathe again — I was kidding about the orgy. You 'prolly don't remember, but there's a second shower in the guest bathroom."

To Seifer's mild surprise, the brunette in front of him continued to stare at the shirt in his hand, his features twitching slightly.

'Red... it's red... I don't wear red...'

"What?" the blonde grunted questioningly. "Any objections, your highness?"

When he again received no reply, Seifer eventually shoved the shirt into Squall's arms with an exasperate sigh, before lowering his head to the brunette's once more.

"Me — Seifer," he cooed in his best Tarzan expression, delighted that Squall's darkened eyes finally met his. "This — my — loincloth. You — wear. By the way, uh, you don't happen to be Jane, do you?"

A hiss of air swished through Squall's teeth as he whipped around, the shirt clutched tightly to his chest.


As Squall edged away to the only neat stack of clothes in the entire bedroom in order to grab his pants and socks, he suddenly remembered something aside from Seifer's kisses and overwhelming closeness of the night before — he remembered what he had wanted to take care of hours ago.

"Your bathroom."

Seifer watched with wordless interest how Squall was fidgeting with his attire, his back turned on him. Finally, the brunette threw him an evasive half-glance across his shoulder, but somehow, all Seifer suddenly managed to focus on were the smooth, almost water-like movements of Squall's neck, the way his back tapered into a slim waist and how each ever so fine string of muscle shifted beneath the silky plains of his ivory skin.

'Fuck, he's hot.'


"Ah... oh... uh... right..." the blonde coughed, quickly clearing his throat while willing the heat away from his lower extremities. "Don't worry about that. I'll take care of it."


"Hey, all I gotta do is grab a sponge and wipe down the sink and toilet, right?" he grinned, waving his hand dismissively. "No big deal. Go take your shower."

Squall had finally swiveled around to face him, his semi-clean pants, shirt and socks resting loosely in his arms. Despite the steely resolve in his turbulent eyes, he looked lost somehow.

"I want to do it, though... I caused the mess, after all. It's my fault, not your's, so it's my responsibility."

Seifer couldn't possibly explain it, but his heart had started to ache terribly at the vulnerable tone that had kindled with Squall's voice. The brunette could be an icicle alright, but regardless, Seifer had never felt this way before, about anyone — so attached, protective and helpless at the same time. Whatever this stubborn guy was doing to him with his damned pretty face and enigmatic grey eyes, it sure was working like a charm or a curse, depending on how one looked at it. Like a puppet on strings, Seifer found himself walking over to the brunette and wordlessly drawing him into his arms, clutching Squall's thin body as tightly as he could while burying his face in his chocolate brown, tousled hair with a sigh.

"Uh... H-hey, Seifer, what..."

Squall's arms were trapped between their two bodies, causing the brunette to squirm uneasily in that position. He was quite taken aback by Seifer's hug, to say the least. He had witnessed with surprise how the blonde's emerald eyes had fogged up, before Seifer had simply grabbed him like he had been afraid that Squall would suddenly disappear from the face of the earth. Squall wasn't quite sure what to think of this uncalled-for intimacy, but he was certainly feeling awfully flustered.

"S-Seifer... Hey... Uhh..."

Odd as it would be, he received no reaction. Unsure, he started to glance across Seifer's broad shoulder, darting helpless looks around the room.

'What am I doing? I mean, why am I letting him do this? What's wrong with him all of a sudden, anyway... this doesn't seem like him. He's holding on to me so damn tight, I can hardly breathe. Uh. He seems... scared...? But why? I think he's shivering...'

Confused, Squall tried to catch a glimpse of Seifer's face. The blonde had his eyes shut almost violently and his lips were quivering despite his set jaw. Something painful seemed to haunt him, but what could it possibly be? The formerly so easy going, light-hearted guy seemed unusually perturbed.

"Seifer?" Squall murmured, his voice uncharacteristically gentle. "Are you alright?"

Finally, he perceived movement from the blonde who was engulfing him so dearly. Seifer eased away from him just slightly, allowing him to free his arms and move them - together with the clothes - to his sides. Squall heard the blonde coughing deep in his chest, as if in embarrassment.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Seifer assured him curtly. "Sorry."

Squall said nothing, nor did he free himself from the blonde's hold, but his eyes searched Seifer's handsome face, studying it attentively. When the blonde noticed his curious gaze, he forced an expressionless smirk upon his lips and took a step back to separate their bodies completely.

Something had just happened between them - something that hadn't been there before - but neither of them was entirely sure what.

'I'm acting like a child,' Seifer scolded himself in distress. 'What happened just now? His eyes... that look he gave me when he said it was all his fault... I felt like I was gonna die if I didn't hold him right then... like I was never going to be happy ever again. How ridiculous. Don't tell me I'm falling in love with him or some sentimental bullshit like that... he's cute, but fuck... I don't even believe in love, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't either. I mean, I know I want him, but that doesn't exactly explain why my heart hurts like hell when I look at him... or when he's looking at me like he is right now.'

Squall's eyes were gleaming as if they had been sprinkled with stardust — confused alright, but nonetheless unyielding. There was a streak of concern, too... concern over Seifer's disheveled state, no matter how earnestly Squall tried to squash the notion. They stared at each other silently, and at that point, both of them seemed at a loss over what to do next.

Eventually, Seifer managed to regain his composure and light, if shallow nature. Grinning more truly now, he scratched the back of his head and pointed at the door that lead to the master bathroom.

"Ahh... Anyway, princess, you better go take your shower before I throw you down on the bed and think of better ways to get you wet."

If anything managed to snare Squall's undivided attention, that comment and Seifer's evocative wink did. After letting out a stifled, outraged gasp, it took him less than two seconds to squeeze past Seifer and flee into the bathroom where he quickly slammed the door shut behind himself. He thought that he could hear Seifer snickering outside, but his heart was beating too loudly to tell for sure.

'... You've got to calm down. He was just fucking with you.'

Despite his earnest resolution, he couldn't help but blush a furious shade of red at the vivid memory of Seifer's desperate hug and raunchy words. It made him angry and it scared him, but somewhere deep within, he was all the more touched by the blonde's actions. Seifer had shown vulnerability back there; he had clung to him as if he was the only reason worth living or dying for.

Groaning, Squall dumped his forehead into his hand.

'What am I thinking? This is pathetic. He's just horny, that's all. I've gotta stop reading so much into everything he does. Seriously. What do I even care? I should hurry up so I can go home... It's about time I get out of here.'

Gathering whatever bits of his sanity that he could find within himself, Squall heaved a guttural sigh and dropped his clothes upon the shut toilet seat. He stood motionless for a while, uncertain of what to do next, before he reached inside the pocket of his jeans to retrieve a silver, lion-shaped pendant that was his most precious possession of all. He had worn it around his neck yesterday, like every day, at least until he had made the decision to carve his skin for blood that night... For some reason, he always removed the necklace before he performed that painful act, as if he was afraid that his mother and Ellone would be able to see through the very eyes of that lion that they had given him as a keepsake.

'... Don't be stupid.'

He fastened the chain around his neck quietly, feeling a little more peaceful when the cold streak of silver fell smoothly against his bare skin. Then, he noticed the white bandages which coiled around his wrists, and his features inevitably slanted downwards into a frown.

'I guess I should take these off.'

Mechanically, he removed the metal clips and unwrapped the rough gauze strips, only to reveal his tortured, sliced up skin. It had bruised slightly, but neither that nor the dried up, jagged lines of blood did so much as faze Squall. He studied his delicate wrists neutrally, as if they weren't even a part of him, before dropping them to his sides carelessly and placing the used bandages upon the sink.

He turned on the water and waited for it to become warm, before he grabbed a random towel from Seifer's bathroom closet and stepped out of his boxer shorts. For a short moment, he paused at his reflection in the mirror, wondering just what it was that Seifer was seeing when he looked at him. Squall himself could not look past the dull grey eyes, the always out-of-control hair and the bluish shadows beneath his skin that were testimony to his anemia and lack of sleep.

There wasn't one part about himself that he considered even remotely beautiful.

'Why are you thinking about this? What does it matter? Whatever Seifer is seeing, if he's seeing anything at all... it's not real. He'll realize that soon enough.'

Defiantly whisking his head away, he finally scrambled into the shower and drew the dark blue curtain shut behind himself. The hot gush of water that immediately beat down upon his thin frame felt unimaginably good; for a long time, Squall merely stood there, drowning in the soothing sound and caress of a simple, suburban waterfall.

Eventually, however, even the fleeting comfort that was dispensed by the warmth of the water slowly seeped away, yanking Squall back into reality even though he would have much rather lingered forever in that state of dreamy stupor. The brunette loved taking showers, even full baths from time to time; at home, the only place nobody ever bothered him was the bathroom.

The only place.


'One of these days, I'm sure even that's going to change.'

Chasing the thought away almost frightfully, Squall swiftly channeled his focus onto something else. He used his slippery fingers to grab a bottle of shampoo off a small, metal rack that Seifer had attached to his showerhead. When Squall studied the label, he couldn't help but wonder.

'‘Cinnamon Apple'? That's the shampoo Mom's been buying ever since I was a kid. Hn. Doesn't seem like Seifer, somehow. Then again, it doesn't look like he's actually ever used it.'

Shrugging, he squirted a small, reddish glob into his hands and set the bottle back on the shelf. He winced as hot water beat onto his raw skin when he turned his wrists over, but before so much as an anguished moan could have escaped his lips, he had ground his teeth together and swallowed the pain. Unperturbed, he lathered his hair and rubbed it thoroughly until he was enveloped by that delicious smell that always propelled him back into his childhood — to the brighter days, anyway.

'... I'll make it better. I'll make it better than it was back then... better than it is now. I don't care what it takes.'

He rinsed the shampoo stoically, smoothed the wet tresses of hair out of his face and searched the metal rack for some body wash. Seifer possessed a wide array of soaps and shampoos — it was almost like glancing into the bathroom of a girl. In fact, Squall thought, his mother's special corner didn't look much different.

He smiled weakly at the thought.

Sighing, he selected a random bottle with a navy blue label that read "Ocean Surf" — a corny caption perhaps, but what did it matter. For what it was worth, Squall had always been in love with the ocean.

"Yoohoo, princess, I need some shampoo!"

Squall started at the unexpected voice that had ruptured the silence from the other side of the shower curtain, and in his surprise, he actually managed to drop the body wash to the bottom of the shower basin, where it bounced, struck three of his toes and finally landed with a wet clunk.


He clamped his teeth down upon his bottom lip as he tried not to yelp or place too much weight on his aching foot. His eyes were burning with anger as he glared down upon the offensive object, willing it to evaporate into a myriad of plastic shreds.

'Bitch, that hurt!'

"Uhm, you alright in there? Don't tell me you just dropped the soap?"

Squall acknowledged the suggestive, kinky undertone to Seifer's voice with a wry grimace. Frowning, he quickly bent down to pick up the "Ocean Surf" bottle and he did so without letting the edges of the shower curtain out of sight for even a second. Chances were, Seifer would barge in on him without even giving the concept of privacy a second thought.

"No," the brunette finally snapped, determined to sound like coolness itself when really, he felt like an idiot.

"Aw. That's just too bad. Mhh... can I have some shampoo, then?"

On the other side of the shower, Seifer was snickering softly. He had haphazardly cleaned the other bathroom, only to come to realize that he had an ample supply of shaving utensils and body wash, but no shampoo to clean his precious, golden locks.

Well - not that he minded any excuse for a chance to perhaps catch a glimpse of Squall buck naked and wet.

Unfortunately, Squall thrust merely his arm past the shower curtain, clutching the bottle of shampoo that Seifer had purchased at a local drugstore the day before for very obvious and perhaps even pathetic reasons.

'Cinnamon Apple... that's right. Hmm. Wonder if he noticed?'

"Thanks, princess," Seifer purred provocatively, if only to elicit an irritated snort from his brunette guest.

Grinning, he stretched out his hand to take the shampoo from Squall, but the smug expression faded from his lips quickly when his eyes fell on the dark haired boy's bare wrists that were littered with cuts, bruises and scars. They looked nothing short of horrifying, and painful at that, causing Seifer to frown with whole hearted disapproval.

"How are your wrists feeling?" he asked calmly, tilting Squall's arm around by the elbow to take a better look at the damage.

"... Fine," came the frayed response from the other side of the curtain as Squall swiftly freed his limb from Seifer's loose hold. "Do you want the shampoo or not?"

"... Yeah."

Seifer took it from him and watched how Squall's arm retracted and ultimately disappeared again. He stared at the empty stretch of air that it had left behind, entrapped in his reveries until he heard Squall sighing impatiently even through the pounding of the water.

"Anything else?"

"No," Seifer replied thoughtfully, but before he turned around, his eyes came alight with a sort of grim determination. "I'll fix up your bandages when you're done."


"'Kay, well... I'll be in the other bathroom if you happen to need me for anything — like scrubbing your back, for instance."

"Over my dead body."

"Hm? Say what? 'With my naked body'? Sure, that can be arranged."

"... Bite me, Almasy."

Squall was staring at the white tiles before him as he listened to Seifer laughing and ultimately taking his leave. For some strange reason, he had started to tremble despite the steady heat of the water and the steam that engulfed him like a cocoon. Shivering, he tried to rub away the goose bumps that were spreading across his upper arms.

'Fuck, what am I doing? Why am I here? I haven't spent a night at anyone's place ever since I was a kid... and now this. Do I really trust him that much? Why? He could just be fucking with my mind... he might just be making fun of me and I don't even realize it. I mean, what other reason could he have to act like this? He can't seriously like me. Why would he? No one else does, after all... not that I care, anyway. Ungh. I don't know... I don't know anything... Why do I feel so lost? I had everything under perfect control before I met him, and now I don't understand anything anymore...'

Willing himself to relax, Squall ran his hand across his closed eyes and sucked in a wet lungful of air. He felt like he was stumbling within his mind, falling to the ground, trying and trying again to get up and move on, but something was stringing him down like a cast iron chain; perhaps it was his memories, his fears or his general mistrust that rooted from them both, but Squall suspected evil motives behind every kind act and word.

On the other hand, though he didn't trust anybody per se, the more he got to know Seifer, the less he started to believe that the blonde was merely toying with him.

Unfortunately, that thought didn't calm him one bit.

'... Stop brooding on this. Finish your shower, get dressed and get the hell home. At least then you won't have to deal with him on your own anymore.'

Still, the blonde's bright laughter was ringing in his ears even after he had finished and stepped out of the shower, wrapped loosely in a dark blue flannel towel. He couldn't hear anything that went on beyond the bathroom walls, but he thought it safe to assume that Seifer was already finished with his shower; after all, Squall had spent a good amount of time conducting directionless inner monologues and trying to glare the faucet jack to pieces.

Sighing, he slung the towel from around his hips and stepped up to the sink. The face that looked back at him from the mirror of the medicine cabinet was stark and dominated by dark, lifeless eyes. Haphazardly, he swept the damp tresses of hair behind his ears, not minding what his "do" would look like once it dried. He had never cared much about appearances — neither his own nor that of anybody else.

Even so... the jock Seifer Almasy did intrigue him in more ways than Squall deemed appropriate. One had to hand it to the blonde — Seifer was damn good looking and fully aware of it, too. Never in his lifetime would Squall have thought that someone like Seifer could possibly be interested in him, especially after their nasty first encounter. Something in Seifer's sharp, lucid green eyes had caught Squall's attention that day, even if he had put all of his energies into vehemently denying it.

The memory caused Squall to flush crimson once more and he whisked his head away from the mirror.

'And since when have I been attracted to guys! Since when have I been attracted to anybody, for that fucking matter! Why'd I kiss him! I'm such a fucking idiot. What am I getting myself into? That guy has caused me nothing but trouble so far... that dumb, cocky, thick-headed moron.'

Grunting irritably, Squall finished toweling himself off and quickly started to get dressed. Putting on his socks, shorts and pants wasn't a big deal, actually forcing himself to slip into the red, long-sleeved t-shirt that Seifer had lent him was a whole different story, though. Squall honestly loathed the color red, even though (or perhaps because) the blood that slicked his skin so frequently was of the same, mesmerizing tint. The fact that Seifer had picked out one of his football team shirts of all things didn't exactly help this feeling of repulsion, but Squall wasn't one to complain. So what if he was running around with an image of the Balamb High School "Falcons" mascot etched onto his back?

He had far more important things to worry about.

He rolled up the sleeves, which were slightly too long for his arms, and gargled with Seifer's mouthwash once more, before carefully straightening out any mess that he could possibly leave behind. He wasn't entirely sure what to do with his used bandages; hence, he simply grabbed them and rolled them up as neatly as he could before placing them back onto the sink.

Suddenly, he paused.

"... Damn it."

'I should just bandage my wrists myself. I don't need him. Bastard. I feel like he's babysitting me. It's really not like my wounds are any of his business, anyway. Then again... I guess he's done a much better job at taking care of them than I have... I wonder how he knows so much about first aid? Well, whatever the reason, I'm certainly not going to ask.'

Shrugging coolly, he finally managed to gather enough confidence to leave the bandages be and slowly push the bathroom door ajar. To his mild surprise, he found the room that lay before him quite empty and the bed already made, but there was definitive noise coming from the direction of the kitchen.

"Yo, princess. I was about to check whether you'd fallen into the toilet or something."

A curt, impatient sigh escaped Squall's throat as he slowly proceeded towards the living-room and the kitchen. Seifer seemed to be rummaging around behind the counters and only the top of his head was visible, which caused Squall to stop and look around unsurely.

Seifer's apartment really was quite nice — his furniture certainly looked like it had cost a fortune - though the blonde didn't exactly seem to put much effort into keeping it in a neat condition. His couch was piled high with bulging, colorful bags of which Squall could only guess the content. Plastic cups, empty beer bottles, spare change and take-out trash from McDonald's were strung all over a low, glass-top coffee table. Some stylish carpets graced the expensive hard wood floor, but there wasn't a single picture that hung on the walls.

'I'm surprised he doesn't have a bunch of stupid posters of football players or playboy models... or even cars, for that matter. I guess his parents still live in Balamb, so why doesn't he have any pictures of them, either? Whatever. What do I care.'

"Hey, don't go near the kitchen table," Seifer's muffled voice suddenly commanded, before the blonde finally re-emerged with a brush and dust pan in his hand. "Wouldn't want ya to tear your feet open."

"... What?"

"There's glass everywhere."

When he watched Seifer sashaying around the table, clumsily sweeping up shards of glass in various sizes, Squall vaguely recalled being the cause for that mess — a realization that, of course, caused him to frown in shame.

"Sorry," he muttered contritely.

"Sorry? For what? Don't be stupid."

The blonde looked up at him from his squatting position on the floor, and Squall noticed that he had already shaved and gelled back his hair. Seifer was dressed in some khaki shorts, untied sneakers and an olive green, long-sleeved shirt that accentuated his nicely muscled torso and the enticing color of his eyes much more than Squall thought himself able to handle.

'Damn him.'

Seifer grinned as he watched Squall's face souring; it was quite the cute sight, really. The brunette looked adorable in his red football shirt, though it was slightly too large for his slender statue. Squall had pushed his sleeves up to his elbows and was now crossing his arms in front of his chest, which, upon seeing his bare wrists, reminded Seifer of his other task that still required attention.

"Watch your wounds," he chided gently as he stood up, assured that he had swept up all of the glass on the floor and table. "Grab a chair, I'll be right back with some fresh bandages."

While Seifer dumped his trash, Squall approached the table with indecisive steps. He took a chair and spun it around, lowering himself on the cushioned seat mechanically. Out of the corner of his eyes, he glanced at the smooth tabletop, remembering awfully well how Seifer had lifted him up and sat him down right there the night before, had laid him down, and...

For the fifth time that day, Squall's pale face flushed crimson.

'How fucking pathetic... stop thinking about it already! What are you, a virgin? A little school girl with a crush on the class jock? Pull. Yourself. Together!'

He cleared his throat nervously as he shot aimless looks around the room, suddenly noticing the faint smell of coffee in the air. His nose crinkled slightly at the impression; his mother was a downright caffeine addict, always on the prowl for new flavors and roasts of her chosen "poison". At some point, she had dreamt of opening up her own little coffee shop, with home made pies, muffins and the largest selection of coffee one would ever find anywhere, but that dream had vanished just like most of her other ones had.

As always, Squall could feel guilt welling up inside him, filling his heart and mind with stale discomfort.

'If it wasn't for me...'

"Oi. Stop that! It's too early in the morning to be frowning like that, princess."

He looked up, startled, gazing into a pair of striking peridots that were fixed upon him thoughtfully. Seifer had sat down in a chair before him, bandages and Bactine resting in his lap. Squall didn't stop frowning, but the shadows that were plaguing his soul had become a little more translucent.

"Stop calling me that," he finally bit, his tone challenging and cold.

"Calling you what?" Seifer asked with a kink of his eyebrow. "Princess?"

Squall nodded curtly before veering his head aside, scowling. The nickname had always bothered him, why, he couldn't even say. He usually cared little about other people's opinions, particularly where his persona was concerned, but the fact that Seifer addressed him by this loathed name made his insides churn with irritation.

"Well, what else shall I call ya then, your grace?"

"I have a name, dumbass."

Seifer's lips curved upwards, but this time, the smile didn't reach his eyes.

"So do I."

Whether he liked it or not, Squall had to admit that Seifer had made a valid point there, and he found himself deprived of any further snappy comeback. Instead, he had started to think. Squall had called the blonde that was sitting before him "idiot" and "dumbass" more often than by his real name, but quite honestly, he was simply scared of letting this whole... thing become too personal.

Then again, they had made out on Seifer's fucking kitchen table, how much more personal could they possibly get?

Sighing in defeat, Squall lowered his gaze to his kneecaps.


To his surprise, Seifer said nothing, but instead reached for one of his wrists. Instinct urged Squall to yank it back, but he managed to hold still, if only because Seifer raised his voice to a smooth crawl.

"Lemme see your wrists, please... Squall."

There wasn't even a hint of sarcasm that tainted Seifer's tone when he spoke; in fact, Squall couldn't remember ever liking the sound of his own name as much as he did that very moment in Seifer's kitchen, on that cursed, awkward Saturday morning.

Wordlessly, he extended his arms.

Seifer moved close enough to where he could rest Squall's wrists on his thighs. Of course, he could have tended to them on top of the table, but he cherished each second of bodily contact that they shared, no matter how chaste or fleeting it might have been. That strange, warm, pulsing feeling returned to his heart whenever they touched one another, causing his chest to contract and a huge lump to tighten up his throat.

'Man... what's going on? I swear I've never felt like this before... not sure how much I like it. Maybe I should just fuck him and get it over with already. Ugh. Yeah fuckin' right. There's no way I could do that. I bet this sounds really fuckin' corny, but I don't wanna hurt him... not if I can help it, anyway. I like it when he's relaxed like he is now. He's usually so damn tense, like he's got a fuckin' stick up his ass. I think he's starting to loosen up though, at least a little. Holy fuck. I sure am getting soft in my old age, huh? Just when did I start caring about anyone's feelings, anyway?'

Chuckling mutely to himself, Seifer swiped Squall's wounds with the Bactine solution, covered them with gauze pads and finally wrapped them up as professionally as he could manage. All the while, Squall was studying each of his movements very attentively, though not without pretending to be poise itself. The brunette's eyes scanned Seifer's sinewy hands, noting with faint interest how they were so much larger and distinctly more tanned than his own. They looked strong... too strong... capable of doing cruel, painful things. Nonetheless, Seifer seemed to know well how to utilize them in a careful manner, and quietly, Squall thanked him for that.

"I made some coffee," Seifer murmured under his breath, not looking up. "I'll have to run down to the bakery around the corner and grab some bagels for breakfast, though. Don't have jack in the fridge. You like bagels, right?"

Squall's face slanted awry as he was suddenly reminded of his conversation with his mother the night before. He hadn't told Seifer about this, but she had asked him to bring his friend over for breakfast. After all, Squall hadn't slept over at anyone's house ever since middle school, so this was an event worthy of celebration.

"My mom..." the brunette started reluctantly, a crack to his voice when he suddenly felt Seifer's eyes on himself. "She wants you to come over for breakfast. I guess she figured you'd drop me off at home and hang out for a while."

He shrugged, even though Seifer was still holding on to his arms. Finally, he met the blonde's gaze, and he flinched noticeably at the odd, sparking interest that was smoldering in those jade green orbs.

"Really..." Seifer said, his voice low and husky. "That's pretty damn nice of her."

"Hn," Squall agreed gruffly.

"Too bad you'd rather see me dead than at your house."

Squall blinked, honestly dumbfounded at that remark. His forehead creased into wrinkles when Seifer stood up almost abruptly, causing his chair to topple back and forth. Then, Seifer placed his first aid supplies on the table, distanced himself from his brunette guest and opened up a seemingly random kitchen cabinet.

Back at the table, Squall thought his head was about to explode.

'... What? What'd he just say? 'I'd rather see him dead than at my place...'? What the fuck! That's not...'

"I never said that," the dark haired teen finally ground out, while chewing on the corner of his bottom lip.

Seifer peeked at him from behind the open cabinet, both sneering and smiling at the same time. His eyes were glowing virulent green like those of a wild animal.

"Nah, but you thought it."

The remark had been light, careless and almost too easy to ignore, but Squall's face darkened nonetheless. He felt sudden, overwhelming anger charring his insides to hot ash, though he wasn't entirely sure where this unexpected, dire fury had erupted from.

Apparently, Seifer had discovered some fool-proof method of stirring the most intense of feelings from the frigid brunette, and Squall found himself hating the blonde for it.

"Don't flatter yourself into believing that you know what I'm thinking," he snapped icily, weighing each of his words down with arrogance. "Because you don't. You don't know a damn thing about me."

"Oh, aren't we catty this morning, eh?" Seifer retorted smugly. "Meow, kitten."

"Shut the fuck up!"

Squall had catapulted himself out of his chair angrily and retreated to the window to glare down at the parking lot and try to regain his composure. He had no idea why he suddenly felt the urge to punch Seifer to the ground, but he was honestly upset over his words. Of course, Squall's typical behavior would have suggested exactly what Seifer had assumed — that Squall would hate to spend any more time in the older youth's presence than absolutely necessary — but for some unknown reason, which admittedly bugged the hell out of the brunette, Seifer was mistaken.

'Why am I so angry? Because of what he said? Idiot. Who does he think he is? He doesn't know dick about me. Looks like he's not quite as thick-headed as I thought, though. I guess he got the "hint" all along. But... that would mean that he stuck around even though he knew well enough that I didn't want him to... But why would he do such a thing? What is he, masochistic? Why do I even care? And why the fuck would I rather have him come along to my house than not? What's wrong with me all of a sudden? This isn't making any sense.'

He pinched the back of his nose in aggravation, his eyes shut as tightly as possible, and he didn't stir until he suddenly felt a hand placed flat upon his left shoulder. Frustrated, he spun around, but before he could have uttered so much as a single word or curse, he already found himself silenced by a pair of lips that were forced hard onto his own. Seifer was kissing him almost violently, pinning him up against the wall as he ground their bodies together with long, powerful arms. Squall practically forgot to breathe through his nose at the initial surprise - a fault that left him accordingly winded and panting when Seifer eventually did break their kiss. The blonde was still pushing him against the wall, grinning wickedly, but Squall didn't even attempt to offer any resistance.

He didn't know what was going on, which of course made him feel suitably nervous, until Seifer finally decided to shed some light on the situation.

"Fact is," the blonde breathed into his ear suggestively, causing Squall to wince at the blazing intensity of those two monosyllables, "I have no idea what you're thinking, Squall Leonhart. None whatsoever. And you know what? I hate it."

He nipped at the nape of Squall's neck, teasing the sensitive flesh with his teeth. For a moment, he felt guilty, because he knew full well that Squall would be intimidated by his offensive approach. To his surprise, though, the brunette merely growled deep in his throat and pitched his head into his neck, trying to writhe out of reach.

"Then quit with the assumptions... idiot," Squall hissed hoarsely, his blue eyes slit and nailed to the ceiling as he spoke. "Because you're not very good at it."

The blonde snorted softly in reply and ghosted Squall's exposed jugular with another kiss, before venturing upwards along his jaw line and burning his violent green gaze into the brunette's.

"Alright then..." he whispered, kindness seeping back into his voice. "What's for breakfast, kitten?"

Squall laced his brows together at the new nickname, which elicited a lascivious grin and a playful wink from Seifer's end. The smaller brunette sighed evasively. It was difficult for him to keep a clear head, but when he finally did manage to come to his senses, he snaked out of Seifer's embrace with impressive ease.

The blonde merely leered at him.

"Pancakes and waffles," Squall stated evenly, a vague smile playing at the corners of his lips as he strode over to the table and sank back into his chair, all of his coolness regained at last. "Best you'll ever have, too."

"Mmmh," Seifer declared impishly, while licking his lips as he stalked Squall's retreating body with his eyes. "Nice."

"Knock it off," the brunette bristled, a strained edge to his voice.

"Knock what off?"

"That... you... whatever you're doing... just quit it."

"Why? Don't tell me you're getting excited?"

"Like hell I am."

Seifer couldn't help but be amused by Squall's obstinate display of frigidness. Apparently, the brunette was still indecisive on what (or who) he wanted just yet, but Seifer was certainly planning on rectifying that. This guy wasn't like any other he had met before, and Seifer would rather be damned that waste this unique "opportunity". He wanted the brunette — a feeling that probably went even beyond that raw, physical desire - and so he would have him, no matter what it took. That was the attitude he had been raised with and he saw nothing wrong with it. He was an Almasy — one way or another, he always got what he wanted.

For Seifer, it was as plain and simple as that.

Little did he know that for Squall, life hadn't been "simple" in almost eighteen years.

"Want some coffee?" Seifer asked eventually, pointing at two steaming cups sitting aloof on the kitchen counter.

"... Yeah."

The blonde took both mugs in one hand, nonchalantly setting one down before Squall and one in front of himself. With a muffled snort of laughter, he noticed how Squall was staring at the light brown swirls of liquid in obvious mistrust, before raising the cup to his pale, ruby colored lips and taking a small, hesitant sip.

About a split second later, the brunette's pretty features twisted into a mask of pure, unconcealed disgust and he started to gag hoarsely.

"What the fuck...!"

Laughing from the very bottom of his heart now, Seifer had trouble not spewing his own mouthful of coffee all over the kitchen table. Of course, Squall was glaring bloody daggers at him, his dark blue eyes sharp and narrow with anger.

"What the hell is this?"

"It's called coffee," the blonde elaborated, before bursting into another fit of uncontrollable laughter over his friend's twitching features.

Squall wanted to throw something at him.

"It's fucking gross," he bit tartly. "Stop laughing, you asshole! This isn't funny."

"Oh, but it is," Seifer replied, waving his hand through the air as he kept chortling.

For the life of him, he just couldn't pull himself together.

"It's just a little milk and sugar, silly," he lilted, his eyes sparking like lit up emeralds as he sipped on his drink. "No reason to make such a face."

"A little! Are you outta your fucking mind! Do you want me to die of a sugar shock, or what!"

This time, Seifer did snort a spray of overly sweetened, hazelnut flavored coffee in Squall's general direction, only barely managing to spare the brunette's furious face. At that point, the dark haired youth looked about ready to simply murder Seifer with his snobbish, silver teaspoon.

"No," Seifer replied eventually, the word bubbly and suggestive as he wiped his mouth with his sleeve and waggled his eyebrows. "I just thought you could use something hot and sweet down your throat, ya know what I mean?"

That comment caused Squall to give another angry hiss and snap his head to the side sharply. He looked downright livid as he stirred around in his cup, every line in his face tight and grim. With each time that his spoon clunk against the china of the cup, his brows slid a little lower over his eyes and the knuckles of his hands turned a little more white.

What had he gotten himself into?

"Stupid ass," he finally snarled cynically.

Chuckling in amusement, Seifer pushed himself out of his chair, though not without ruffling the younger boy's still slightly damp, chocolate brown tresses playfully.

"Stupid ass, huh? So cute."

Squall furiously swiped out at his hand in response, swatting it away like an overly annoying insect. His blonde host grinned amicably at that reaction, before retreating to one of his cupboards once more.

"Don't talk to me like I'm a girl or a fucking child," Squall caterwauled acidly, while crossing his arms in front of his chest. "I'm not."

Seifer smiled at him more kindly this time. He had retrieved another mug and was pouring coffee into it now — black... no sugar, no milk. For some reason, he had known all along that Squall wouldn't drink it any other way, but the temptation of playing with his mind had been too hard to resist.

"I know that," he replied complacently as he placed the cup on the table and sat down again.

When Squall grabbed his cup, Seifer suddenly leaned into him without warning, his angular face with the trademark, mischievous smirk only inches from the brunette's. Squall immediately edged back in his seat as far as he could, his grasp around his mug tight as his features went blank.


Seifer tilted his head to the side, winking.

"I'd be downright devastated if you were a kid!" he exclaimed blithely, before bringing one finger to his mouth in thought. "Then again, you're not exactly legal as it is. When ya turning 18 again, babycakes?"

"Fuck off."

"Hahaha... I swear, you wouldn't know humor if it smacked you square on the ass, kid."

Seifer ran his hand through Squall's hair yet again, more softly this time and with a blinding smile on his lips. For some odd reason, the brunette's longish, chunky tresses always reminded him of pure, liquid chocolate and he found himself liking that comparison very much. Not that chocolate or sweets in general had ever been amongst his favorite kinds of food, but perhaps it was time for a change or two...

Somehow, Seifer already knew that it would be for the better.

Squall, however, didn't seem quite as happy over the blonde's fond caress. Sulking, he no longer even bothered to swat Seifer's hand away, but instead funneled all his energies into looking as menacing as he could.

'Bastard. Why does he always try to fuck with me? How annoying. How old is he, twelve!'

Both scowling and pouting at the same time, Squall skidded away from Seifer to the other end of the table. There, he stubbornly took a much too large gulp of his drink, which was still quite warm, and it immediately scorched his sensitive throat. Screwing up his face at the white hot pain, Squall coughed hoarsely into the hollow of his right hand, fighting for his breath until he felt someone slapping his back mercifully and a deep voice was echoing in his ears.

"Idiot... No one chucks hot coffee like that."

He wanted to give some sort of snide reply to Seifer's words, but his throat hurt too much to hold any sound. Hence, he simply sat there, his unfocused gaze scanning across the cherry wood table before him as he tried to keep a straight face, although he was still coughing rather cutely every now and then. The blonde who was standing by his side seemed to be smiling again, but Squall ignored him with a persistence that had begun to border to despair.

They continued to drink their coffee in silence, only interrupted by Shiva demanding her breakfast from her master. Seifer willingly complied with her request, and he was fully aware of Squall's subtle look-over as he left the table to bend down and fill his dog's bowl with dry kibbles while lovingly scratching her ears.

Indeed — Squall was studying him with thinly veiled interest from behind the brim of his cup, his half-lidded eyes dark and intense like the coffee he was sipping on.

'... I just can't figure him out. First he's being a downright jerk, then he acts all... sweet and what not. He's been like this ever since I met him. I hate it. Why can't he just be one way or another? He's confusing me. I never know what to think when I'm around him. I'd bet he's doing this on purpose.'

When Seifer sat back down, Squall cocked his head into his neck to take in the last of his drink. As he placed his cup on the table, his attention strayed to the white strips of gauze that enveloped his wrists, and he continued to stare at them empty-eyed until the boy next to him cleared his throat rather noisily.

"Where are your wristbands, anyway?"

Squall flicked up his gaze to meet Seifer's, who was still finishing his coffee. For a moment, the brunette did have to think on that question, until he recalled cutting himself amidst that secluded group of trees at the park. The memory was a bit vague now, but he did remember that he had been crying — something that he usually refrained from doing because it did nothing to ease the pain or solve his problems. Why exactly he had cracked this time, he didn't quite know, but apparently he had left his wristbands somewhere by those trees when he had staggered over to the playground.

'The playground... if Rinoa hadn't been stupid enough to climb all over the jungle gym like a drunken monkey, I doubt Seifer would have ever found out about this. It's all her fault then, huh? Whatever. I guess as long as he doesn't ask too many nosy questions, it's not that big of a deal. I mean, he's bound to lose interest in this whole thing sooner or later...'

Squall didn't really approve of the feeling, but there was a strange sort of sadness that constricted his throat at the thought. A small part of him was thankful that Seifer had found him out there in the darkness, but he wasn't foolish enough to believe that the blonde would stick around for very long.

In any case, it probably wouldn't be very healthy for either of them.

"... I lost them," he answered, his voice barely above the barren level of monotony.

"You lost them?"

"At the park."

"Oh," Seifer replied, sounding a bit dumbfounded. "I see. Well, anyway, with those sleeves you shouldn't have any problems."

" Yeah. I guess..."

As if Seifer had given Squall a cue, the brunette slowly tugged at his sleeve cuffs and pulled them over his forearms. Seifer watched him neutrally, smiling on the inside at how very much too slender Squall was for that particular shirt of his. He was seemingly drowning in its depths, looking almost like a girl that had snatched away some of her boyfriend's attire.

Well, regardless of the appearance of the situation — Squall wasn't a girl and Seifer felt nowhere near "boyfriend" status (which by no means is to imply that he held no aspirations). For the time being, however, the blonde was simply relieved that Squall was neither glaring him to shreds nor denying his mere presence.

Somewhere along the way, Seifer had learned how to be humble in his demands.

"What time is it?"

He looked up at Squall's question, then glanced at the stainless steel watch he was wearing.

"Almost ten," he replied, while turning his wrist so Squall could look at it as well. "Think your mom's waiting?"

"Yeah," Squall drawled reluctantly. "Probably."

"Alright, lemme finish my coffee and then we can take off."


Seifer downed his lukewarm coffee in one gulp and stood up with a satisfied groan, surprised to see Squall following his example immediately. The brunette had grabbed his own cup and was getting ready to drop it off in the kitchen, but suddenly, he halted in his steps and gazed down at the floor as if he expected to find something of great interest on the white and cream marbled tiles.

"Hey. What's the matter, kitten?"

Squall reluctantly raised his head to meet Seifer's curious looks. His face soured at the cutesy nickname and the prospect of having to explain himself, but he managed to shrug in a manner that was so careless, nobody would have ever guessed how he really felt on the inside.

"The cutter..." he started, noting how Seifer's features hardened slightly. "Where is it?"

"Why are you asking?"

Frankly, Squall didn't like the sound of that question. What business was his cutter to Seifer in the first place? After all, it didn't belong to the ornery blonde; he had no right to even ask why Squall was searching for it.

"It's mine," Squall replied evenly, but a subtle note of warning had slipped into his tone. "I want it back."

"What for?"

Squall ground his teeth together in response.

'... Nosy asshole.'

"What do you care?" he bit.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me."

Seifer's voice had become sharp, causing Squall to swallow the snide remark that had been lingering on his tongue. He shoved his free hand into the pocket of his jeans and turned his head aside evasively. Who did Seifer think he was, anyway? His bodyguard? His loyal knight? How pathetic. Squall didn't need the blonde's protection, much less did he want it. If he wanted to cut up his wrists then that was his choice and his alone - not that of Seifer "Nosy Ass" Almasy.

"You really don't get it, do you?" Seifer suddenly asked, cold bitterness and anger swaying the words in a way that caused Squall to look at him from the corner of his eyes. "Did you listen to anything I said last night? Huh? Apparently not, or else you wouldn't be asking stupid questions like this. I hate to see you bleeding like a stuck pig, idiot, that's why I got rid of the goddamn cutter. I tossed it, alright? Because I like you. But if you want the damn thing that badly, I guess I can root through the fuckin' trash and get it for you."

Seifer whipped around harshly and proceeded towards the kitchen with swift, furious steps, but to his honest surprise, Squall called out to stop him.


Sighing, Seifer looked over his shoulder as he set his mug down upon the counter more roughly than he had originally intended to.

"What, Squall?" he asked, his voice grating with strain as he suddenly became awfully aware of the fact that his patience was starting to run dangerously thin.

"Forget the cutter," Squall answered calmly, slicing the air with his hand. "I don't want it, alright? I don't care. Let's just get going."

With that, Squall pushed through the kitchen, placed his cup in the sink and disappeared in the bedroom without saying another word. On the inside though, he was bubbling with thoughts and feelings. Frankly, Seifer's outburst had shocked him and affected him in more ways than he really liked to admit. It wasn't even so much what Seifer had said, but the way in which he had said it.

Well... perhaps it was a little bit of both.

..: "Because I like you." :..

Shaking his head, Squall grabbed his boots and casually sat down on the bed to put them on. The lines of his face were firmer than usual, and his lips thinned a little more with each time that he yanked on his shoelaces.

'Goddamn bastard. Why does he always have to go saying things like that? I can't stand him. He's rude, annoying, he meddles in things that are none of his business, he dares to fucking kiss me... and then he says those kinds of... things. Things that make me feel like... my heart stopped beating... and I don't know why! I've never cared whether anyone liked me or not... In fact, if it was up to me, nobody would ever say another damn word to me ever again! And yet I'm here, I've been here all night, sleeping in one bed with him and what not... What am I? Just another hypocrite?'

..: "Because I like you." :..

'Argh. Shut up! I don't wanna hear it, okay!'

"Squall, are you trying to strangle your ankles or what?"

Not until then did Squall notice that he had been pulling on his laces so hard that they had cut into his fingers, right through his skin and down to his very blood.

Now that he thought about it, it stung quite a bit.

Sighing, he let go of the black strings and gazed upon the insides of his hands as he rested them on top of his thighs, dropping his head so low that his chin was almost touching his collarbone.

'What am I doing...'

Blood was snaking into the creases of his right hand fingers in very fine, languid trails. His left hand was alright, probably due to its lack in strength.

Somehow, it was hurting either way.


Past the outlines of the dark brown bangs that were falling into his eyes, Squall suddenly noticed Seifer, who had called out to him just seconds ago. The blonde was kneeling before him, his face dominated by a disapproving frown. He took Squall's hands, who surrendered them without putting up any sort of fight, and examined them patiently. Despite his seemingly calm exterior, however, Seifer breathed an angry snort.

What was it with this boy, anyway? Did he care about his own health at all? Did he care about anything? He looked so... lost. The color of his eyes was a depressing blend of sky blue and fog grey, slicked with a sheen of helplessness as he cowered there on the edge of the bed, avoiding Seifer's direct gaze.

'I've seen this look on him before... and I don't like it. In fact, I don't like it one damn bit.'

Squall watched Seifer quietly, an odd feeling of defeat clawing at his chest as he studied the blonde's cool, collected façade. Why did Seifer always have to see him in such states of vulnerability? Was he really that weak...? Could he not take care of himself on his own anymore?

'I think I'm starting to lose it. If I cut myself on shoelaces, then I really-'

With a sudden start, every thought was bleached from Squall's mind when Seifer took his injured hand into his own and slowly guided it to his mouth. The blonde closed his lips around the cuts, gently sucking away the blood that was seeping from them like crimson poison. His green eyes flicked a neutral glance to the owner of said hand, noting with interest the violent blush that had conquered Squall's cheeks.

"W-what the hell are you doing! Seifer! Unnh... S-stop that!"

Squall was stammering and cringing, trying to reclaim his fingers from Seifer's mouth, but the blonde was keeping them with almost ridiculous ease. He stoically continued to clean his brunette classmate's wounds, and he was intrigued by the bitter, metallic taste that now coated his tongue. He was used to the flavor from his countless fist fights and his football history of almost one decade, but the fact that it was Squall he was tasting gave this an entirely new twist.

"Nhh... Quit it already!" the brunette before him pleaded almost desperately. "That's fucking gross, you-"

"What?" Seifer asked calmly as he licked a cut on Squall's middle finger, grinning cruelly. "Don't worry, my spit won't hurt ya. My parents made me piss in a cup and poked me with needles just about every damn week of my life ever since I hit puberty."

"N-no... I mean..." Squall replied, feeling distinctly uneasy now. "My blood... you really shouldn't... ungh..."

The blonde chuckled huskily.

"What's wrong with your blood, kitten?"

"Nothing," Squall snapped back with as much ferocity as he could muster, "But still, you-"

"Alright then. Don't worry, my mom did this to me when I was a kid. It's fine. Just relax and it'll be fine."


It was a kind of torture that Seifer thoroughly enjoyed, especially since Squall seemed all too receptive for it, despite his outward display of embarrassment. The brunette looked nervous, perhaps even a little bit aroused in his own way, but regardless of that, he certainly no longer resembled a lifeless icicle. No matter how many disjointed glances he flicked around the room during this special "treatment", his gaze always returned to Seifer and the hungry glint in his eyes.

"Bastard..." he growled, his voice weak and off pitch.

"Why, you're welcome," Seifer smiled as he gave Squall's palm one final kiss. "There, all better, kiddo. Don't think you'll need any band-aids now, will you?"

Mumbling, Squall pulled back his freed limb, his expression grim. The fiery red on his cheeks had submitted to ivory once more, causing him to look a little more composed. Nonetheless, his heart was racing and jumping in his chest, distributing heat to all the wrong areas of his body. He hated Seifer for making him feel this pathetic, and the hot blooded anger that raged across the surface of his eyes informed the blonde quite effectively of the nature of his feelings.

Not that Seifer seemed to mind.

"You ready?" the eighteen year old asked lightly, apparently amused by the fact that he was on the receiving end of a thousand death glares.

The boy on his bed didn't think it was funny at all.

"If you ever... do that again..." he ground out, the words shaking with irritation. "I swear you'll be fucking sorry."

Biting down fiercely upon his lips, a fairly light-headed Squall scrambled onto his feet and snuck past Seifer before the blonde had any noteworthy chance to react. As he stumbled out of the room, his disappearing steps were echoing more loudly than they should have. Seifer was still kneeling on the floor, an arrogant but loveable smirk tugging on the corners of his mouth as he chuckled quietly to himself, savoring the very last bits of Squall's blood on his tongue.

"... We'll see about that."

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