» Title: Snow » Author: Sodoshiin, Aim: Moogle Lo Mein » Webjournal: » Fandom: Final Fantasy VIII » Rating: R » On Going (WIP)/One-off/Series: May be the first of a series » Classification(s): Lime, POV » Warnings: Angst, Language, YAOI » Pairing(s): Irvine x Squall » Author's Notes: This is possibly the first story in an Arc I'm writing. The pairings will more than likely change, but for now it's an Irvine x Squall. Irvine's POV.

On a side note, I want to thank everyone that's been sending me feedback still from the Illusion series. It was one of the major reasons I decided to find the time to write again. Frankly, I'm terribly glad I did. I'm in school right now, so it might be a little while before I get the next part of this out, so please be patient. I'm working on another Arc also called Bloodlines, so I'll be dishing out plenty of SxS. Feedback is always welcomed and adored. ! Thank you everyone!

» Summary: A peeping Tom of a cowboy takes a certain silent brunet out for a night of fun, and ends up learning a few unexpected things.

Snow:

It was snowing for the damn third day in a row, freezing as all hell, and drivin' off any monsters in the area. Up in Balamb area they all hid away for the week or so when the cold season came 'round, then feisty as ever afterwards. Hell, if I was cooped up in the same hole for that long I'd be rowdy too.

Despite the cold outside he kept the window almost completely open, preferrin' the chill to the overheated small space at night. It was a large reason why people rarely poked their heads into his room even with permission, and I guess he was happy with that. Still, he seemed to like the feel of the wind on his skin as he looked over his students' progress reports. Every once in a while a few flakes of snow would flutter their way in through the screen and kiss his flesh before meltin' away like they were never there at all. I guess if you could say anything, short of a better term, he loved the winter. There was somethin' fresh about it, somethin' clean, and he could walk around outside at night without gettin' too interrupted.

I guess it was his own fault for keepin' the window open all the time. I walked too, mostly to clear my head after the long days of work. Half I guess for the fact that Squall enjoyed his privies, and the few days it snowed, where he kept the window open, really was worth it.

I'm not a peepin' Tom or anythin'. Really, I'm not. But Squall shuts himself out so much that it's nice to see he likes SOMETHIN' at least. And I don't sit for hours in the freezin' cold watchin' him while he changes his clothes or anythin'. I mean, honestly, he's smart enough to close his blinds for that kinda stuff. But just watchin' him while his guard is down, while he's relaxin' and just enjoyin' something for once is nice. Reminds you the guy's actually a person somewhere in that little mind of his.

I lit a cigarette, cuppin' my hand against the air so the flame didn't go out, and puffed a few times, sneakin' 'round the pillar just outside Squall's room as a few students walked by. I was a wallflower, nothin' more for the moment, which was fine to me. The last thing I needed was a rumor around the school that the Guns and Sharpshooting teacher was stalking actin' headmaster.

I snuck a glance, watching them slow by Squall's room too, bein' a hell of a lot less inconspicious about it, whisperin' n' gigglin' away. Fuckin' hell, they were gonna ruin it for everyone else.

It was gettin' late though. I checked my watch just as the hands read eleven o'clock on the dot. Student hours had just ended, which meant...yep...I glanced in through the window again to see Squall slip off his bed, movin' to get his coat. He wouldn't put it on 'cept when he walked by the Infimary window on his walk. The Doc had caught him a few times without it in the past few days and I figure he just carried the thing to put her at ease. I guess it was kinda nice of him, seein' as how I know he doesn't give two shits of what people think about him, which is one thing I admire about the guy, but he was really lookin' to put the old lady's mind at ease.

The nice guy that he was n' all that.

His light went off and I turned around to lean against the pillar on the other side, facin' the fenceway, knowin' he'd be appearin' through the doors in a few minutes. He'd check for his keys even though he always carried them in his front pants pocket, which never obscured his ass, much to the Leonhart fanclub's delight. Selphie wasn't a member, but she had this group of students that always hung around her room playing Triad with her and Quist. I learn more about Squall from them than anythin' else. Most of the stuff is probably BS, I ain't never seen the guy sleep with a freakin' moogle plush or anythin' stupid as hell like that, but it's interesting to hear some of the shit they come up with.

On cue, he appeared at the side exit, lockin' it behind him, which was part his job anyway. He dangled his set of keys in his fingers for a second before slippin' 'em into his pocket, not a single jangle escaping.

Inhaling, he dared to smile in the dark, closing his eyes as the snow fluttered over his bare forearms. I smiled a bit too, knowin' that there wasn't another soul on the planet who'd seen him like this.

So fuckin' pretty.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a stalker or nothin', it's just, out of all my friend's Squall's the one I know the least about. So little that I dunno if I could even call him a friend as much as I want to. It started out small enough, me just tryin' to hang out with him more, askin' him questions, and usually that sorta shit works, but with Squall, it's like tryin' to pry a chocobo from a behemoth's mouth. Ain't gonna happen unless you got another plan. Tuggin' sure as hell won't work, so, gotta figure out a better way. I figured, the easiest way was to do it without him knowin'. 'Cause as soon as he catches on it's all over.

Sadly, as much as he enjoyed the snow, it rarely came, and as often as it did it only lasted a few days, so he took every opportunity he could. And so did I.

Halfway down the main outdoor walkway he stopped and looked up at the falling snow, the dim lights of the Garden making the flakes glow like stars. I noticed because he noticed, watchin' that smile a'his like it was gonna pull me in.

"OW!" My cigarette burned down to where my fingers were holdin' onto it and I dropped the fuckin' thing into the snow. My boot heal stomped on it a few times before I glanced up, realizin' I had a semi-confused brunet starin' at me.

"Irvine?" It wasn't much of a question, me standing there, hat n' all, cursin' away at my long disolved cig.

It was as pointless as a Gold Chocobo on a flat range to try and sneak away now. I raised my hand; pretty lame like, wavin' a bit at him like it was nothin'. "Hey there Squall. Wanna cig?"

Stupid fuckin' ass question. Guessin' he thought so too, his eyebrow raisin' like I had three heads. "I don't smoke."

"Right." I nodded, slipping another cig into my mouth but I didn't light it, knowin' he wouldn't appreciate smoke in that face pretty face a'his. I glanced at him, moving to stand beside him, leaning against the railing of the walkway. "Whatcha out and about for? Kinda late, hm?"

Squall shrugged and I smirked at how small and girly his shoulders were. Figured he wouldn't appreciate me sayin' anything though.

"Takin' a break from work?" Tryin' to get a conversation goin' wasn't anythin' wrong.

"A bit." He replied in that way of his. That way that always hid a little more than he meant, knowin' he didn't want anyone catchin' on to his lil sanctuary walks.

I obliged to humor him n'all.

"Nice night to do it I guess." Grinnin' like a bobcat I nudged him. "But if you're looking to relax a lil more you could always head for the town, hook up with some hottie and be back by mornin'. Always works for me."

"Which is why our afterhours habits differ so greatly." He sounded a lil amused. "You're always late to your own classes. Hangovers don't constitute the right to call in sick days."

I scoffed, grinnin' at him still. "They damn well should."

He made a face at me, one he made at Zell a lot, like he was ready to smack me over the head. "You go out with the intent to get yourself plastered, KNOWING you're going to feel like crap the next day and you have a job to do, yet you do it anyway. It's your own fault. There's a heck of a lot more resposibility for being a teacher than there ever was for that chocobo herding job you took."

"Hey," I raised a finger. "I only did that for ONE summer."

"And you smelled like a farm for a good three months afterwards."

Chucklin', I nodded. "Yeah, had to buy all new clothes, but still, the point is, if you don't go out and live a little, there's no point in livin' at all, ya know? You can't be a hard ass all the time." I took a chance and nudged him lightly. "We don't need any more'a you around."

His face was serious as he looked out over the field beyond the school. "I do what I have to."

I leaned back and just watched him, the snow floatin' down into his hair all pretty like. "Do you ever wonder why we do all this? You know...savin' the world n'all that?"

"Never." Squall never stopped starin' at the field, never turned his face, but he sounded so certain of it that the way he said it made me feel cold inside.

I was quiet for a few seconds, then gave him my best smile, takin' it at face value, somethin' at which I was pretty good at faking. "Good thing I guess...I'd rather have you know what you're doing when you're pullin' all of us outta trouble."

"I've never said I knew what I was doing Irvine." He finally looked at me, but I wasn't lookin' at him, takin' his job of starin' out at the water, worryin' about what he was gonna say even before he said it. "I just said I never question it. I don't have any reason to." He watched the waves again, inhaling the scent of the water. "This is what I do."

I'd never pitied anyone before, and if I was gonna bet money on it I sure as hell wouldn't have told you at any time that I'd ever even think of pityin' Squallers. But there I was, feelin' sorry for him. Felt kinda like goin' to the zoo and watchin' the tigers n'lions in their cages. They weren't built to have their lives decided for 'em, they weren't made to live in boxes. Squall was the same way. Born into captivity, it was all he knew. "And yer all content with that?"

"I don't know how to do anything else." It was a sad way to say it, and he looked a lil more gloomy when he did. That made me feel a little better I guess, knowin' that he realized how shitty the whole thing was.

I sighed, then looked up at the snow comin' down on us, then over at Squall, nudgin' him lightly. "Let's go somewhere."

His pretty face quirked and he looked as perplexed as I ever did see 'im. "Where?"

"Away from the Garden for a while. I think you could use some perspective." It sounded reasonable to me, for the most part, though where I'd come up with the damned idea was all shits n giggles to me.

"I can't just pack up and leave Irvine. I have a hell of responsibility to the Garden to deal with."

"Squall, you're fucking twenty four. You've never gotten laid, you've never gotten drunk, and the only time you've actually GONE somewhere was for those fucking death missions they send you on because you're smart enough not to get your fucking ass killed." I fumed a bit, half glarin' at the poor guy, before realizin' he could kick my ass for just half the things I'd just blabbered at 'im.

He swiped a few snowflakes away and frowned at me. "And just how many of those 'little problems' are you planning on fixing for me?" He made quotation marks in the air at the word 'problems' which made me realize it was the first time I'd seen him not wear those damn gloves. Frankly, he had nice hands.

"Depends. How long you gonna let me steal you for?" I grinned and winked at him, wonderin' if he'd actually let me have my proverbial way with him.

He took a long glance at his watch before shrugging. "I'm fairly caught up with things here. I'll give you tonight."

"You want me to get you drunk and laid and all that shit?"

"I want you to somehow persuade me that what I do in my life is a big joke. And that wasting my time on all the trivial, asinine little ventures you seem to think are so important will somehow give me perspective." He stretched lightly. "I could find it slightly amusing, but don't give your hopes up." He frowned slightly, and for a minute I swore I saw him blush. "And who told you I've never had sex?"

I grinned, tapping a finger to my head. "Virgin Radar. How do you think I work my mojo, man? Many a lady has given up their cherry for a ride on the wild cowboy express line. Yeehaw."

He made a face at me and shook his head. "There are just some things I really don't need to know Irvine."

"Come on." I huffed, annoyed actin, and grabbed his hand, draggin' him back toward the doors.

"What are you doing?" He sounded almost worried for a second, but I brushed it off. Prolly wasn't used to someone else takin' charge for once.

"Gonna dress you up. There's a party in town tonight, yer gonna be my date." I slipped my hands into his pocket, and he jumped a little, his cheeks tintin'. He raised his hand a little like he was gonna shove me off before I pulled my limb back out, danglin' the keys at him. Huffin' he watched me unlock the door, his arms folded over his chest.

"And what makes you think I'm going to let you do that?" He glared up at me as I turned to face him again, brushin' some snow off his sleeve before tossin' him a cheeky grin.

"Because if you don't I'll tell your fanclub you keep your window open at night." They already knew, granted, but what Squall didn't know wouldn't hurt me, and usin' a fib like that to my advantage didn't seem like such a bad idea for the moment. He knew and I knew that once that group of fuckin' insane fangirls got a whiff of that tiny bit o' info they wouldn't leave him alone. EVER. What Squall loved most was his privacy, and if that was in jeopardy it would either make him my proverbial plaything, or dig me my own grave.

For a night anyway.

His mouth opened, then closed again, like he didn't know what to say. Then finally he probed a finger painfully at my chest, glarin' all hard at my face. "JUST tonight Kinneas. And no funny business. Balamb and BACK. No one says anything, no one sees anything, no one asks questions, and if they do you LIE to them."

I raised my hands in mock defense, then grinned as he moved past me into the building.

Hook. Line. Sinker.

Havin' Squall in my room was kinda like havin' a girl use a vibrator on you. Doesn't quite feel right, but after a few minutes you're moanin' like a whore like you dunno how you coulda overlooked somethin' so simple. He looked all out of place at first, but once I managed to talk him out of his jacket and startin' throwin' clothes at him he looked a lil more like he belonged.

Most of the things I owned were too tall for him, his legs a bit shorter than mine, but our torsos matched up pretty well. His pants were ALWAYS agreeable to grateful eyes and I didn't mind draggin' his leatherbound hiney all across town.

But, on the downside, that might draw a little more attention than little Squallyboy was ready for. The last thing I really wanted was to tote him around with a slew of suitors danglin' around him like he was a piece of road kill in a hyena buffet line. I was the one that'd suckered him into all this, I was gonna reap the benefits as much as possible.

'Specially dressin' him up like my own personal life sized, full action, Squall doll. Complete with the menacing glares and deadly silence.

"I have some more stuff in my closet, pick whatever. But I get final dibs on the pick o' the night." I winked at him and he frowned, foldin' his arms over his chest like he always did when somethin' didn't go as planned, or when someone decided to get in his face 'bout somethin'.

Usually that person ended up in the Infirmary.

'Course, I never was big on boundaries, 'less I was crossin' em. And, right now, I was about to attempt the biggest line jump of the century.

"Here..." I dared to reach forward, my fingers grazing over the rings of the choke chain necklace he wore. The pendant unclasped pretty easily and I slid the chain slowly off the skin of his neck. Just that little thing totally changed his appearance, and, apparently, broke his confidence a little. He looked scared for a second, glancing around like he wasn't sure what to do. I held the weight of the thick silver mass in my hand, the ends waving over the edges of my hand. "You're leaving the collar at home. You're not a Balamb Dog for tonight. You're just a normal guy lookin' to have some fun." I grinned. "You know what fun is right? That stuff that everyone else does when you're shovin' your nose in progress reports?"

He glared at me but his hand went to his neck, rubbing lightly, as if he'd never had the necklace taken away from him before. He looked uncomfortable, like he didn't know what to do now. I felt a lil bad, but it passed as I turned to rifle through my clothes drawers, tossing stuff onto my bed for him to rummage through. "Pick out somethin', you're not goin' as is."

Turnin', I smirked. "You could go naked, but there's a higher chance of us gettin' kicked out that way."

He huffed, turning to glance at the stuff I was throwin' just a few feet away.

I'd almost cleared out my drawers when I turned to find him just sittin' there with this lost look on his face. It was slightly irritatin' to think that I'd have to do all this by myself, but then realized it'd be kinda fun to have a Squall barbie to dress up in any way I wanted. "You gonna stand there and look at it all? Or do I have to rip your clothes off and dress you myself."

"Not a chance." He still glanced all worried like at the clothes and sighed. "But...some ideas would be nice..."

I laughed, shakin' my head at him. "Knew you weren't one for fashion." I aimed a thumb at his jacket, which he'd tossed neatly over the back of the chair at my desk. "Whoever taught you to dress before did a good job though. Wasn't you I bet."

He looked down, like I'd hit a nerve before glancin' back up, shakin' his head. "I just like it is all."

When you act oblivious to the obvious all the time, people tend to get careless. Secret of genuises I say. When they don't expect you to pick up on stuff you get to spy on them in the open. I wondered, but didn't say anythin', knowin' he wouldn't answer anyway. "Well, if you're all into the leather, I have some old stuff in the back of my closet, but, this might look good." I held up the monogrammed nearly seethrough, black, moldingly tight tank top I kept for "special occasions". Frankly, it was a bit too small, but I wouldn't mind it morphin' around abdomen and chest I knew Squall was hidin' under that wife beater.

He took it without question, like he was thankful that a decision had been made for him, tuggin' off his old shirt with no problem. Well, honestly, as underclassmen we all had to shower together years ago, so I'm sure it was no big deal for him, me bein' a guy too. But I went to a different school, I never got the chance to get used to it, and I sure as hell wasn't prepared for it now.

I didn't turn, but watched with my arms folded over my chest like I was inspectin' the way the shirt fit on him as he pulled it over his skin. Inwardly I swore as the long line of muscle disappeared under the stretchy cloth, but grinned, as my original idea was proven.

The shirt clung to him like he wasn't wearin' it at all, the patterns on the front dancin' along the curves and lines like they belonged there. Hell of a lot nicer than a damn jacket and wife beater.

"I don't know about this." He was lookin' at me expectantly, and I kept my fake professional look aimed at the shirt. "What do you think?"

"Looks good." I nodded twice before meetin' his gaze, smirkin'. "Doesn't really fit me anymore. If you like it you can keep it."

Hell, maybe that would give him incentive to wear it again.

He shrugged, lookin' down at himself. "It's alright I guess..." His voice was a little quiet, like he wasn't sure, but he looked back up, sighin'. "Are we going?"

I opened the door for him, leanin' in the doorway, tippin' my hat. "After you."

Outside the club in Balamb, we stood out on the other side of the road, beside the transport we'd come in on, on the curb. I smoked a cigarette while Squall gathered his wits about him in the only way he knew how.

He stood there and watched, assessing the situation like it was some kind of mission he had to do.

That mind of his was always workin', always tryin' to figure out the solution to every single fuckin' problem that he came up to. And, honestly, it usually worked too. But this time I was confident that there was no way out, that there was no escape.

This mission had no easy way out, if you could call it that.

In a way I guess it was. He was only doin' it because I'd blackmailed him into it, but damnit, if that's what it took then I had no reason to feel guilty about it. Besides, I was sure he'd end up havin' at least a little fun. Enough to not regret doin it, and enough to, hopefully, keep him from maimin' me later.

"Irvine, what if someone recognizes us?" He called, and I noticed he was half standin' behind me, half glancin' about around the crowds.

I let my cigarette fall from my lips into the snow, and snuffed it under my boot before hookin' my arm through his like he was my gal. I'm sure he didn't appreciate it, but he didn't move, and I realized that there was a bit of fear in the way he stood, like he was gettin' charged by a herd a'Catoblepas or somethin'. 'Cept Squall wouldn't blink at shit like that. Figured this was as close to a normal person's fear as anythin'.

"Squall, even if, by chance, someone we knew managed to make their way here, after hours, in the cold, to the rattiest part of Balamb town, they'll probably be so buzzed off their asses by now they wouldn't even give two fuckin' flyin' shits." Sounded logical to me.

He didn't seem so convinced.

I grunted, rollin' my eyes a bit. "Look, there's so many people here that no one'll focus on anyone in particular. We're just two more losers."

"Speak for yourself." He huffed, and for a minute I was happy. Least the guy didn't have self-worth issues.

"Well, we're gettin' no good done just standin' here like a couple'a idiots. You wanna go in or not?"

Glarin' at me, he punched my arm a lil more than gently. "I don't exactly have a CHOICE."

I grinned back. "Sure you do, you coulda killed me when you had the chance."

"Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind." He moved, headin' across the street to take the lead and I followed, laughin' a bit. I was sure he was serious.

As we entered, I slid up behind him, puttin' my hands on his hips to lead him. I grinned, feelin' how curvy they were, more than they should have been, and, as if it wasn't apparent before, I realized why he was sometimes referred to as the "Ice Princess".

He shifted uncomfortably, knowin' what I was doin, half glarin' at me as he moved my hands away from him.

"I'm not a girl, Irvine. You don't have to lead me around."

"That why you're so fuckin' paranoid?" I grinned, movin' my hands right back where they were, tuggin' him closer as I swayed to the music as we moved from the doorway toward the main room. "Afraid yer a little too girly? Tryin' to go all guy overdrive so people don't notice you've got the sexiest fuckin' body in Balamb? Girly n' all?" Winkin' I nudged him. "Hate to tell ya this, but leather and chain really ain't the best way to drive off the manfolk."

He glared at me hard. "Seifer used to say stuff like that, you know." His look deepened.

I blinked. "Is that what that fight was all about?" I poked a finger at his scar and he defensively swiped it away.

"Shut up, Irvine.." He grumped then squeaked all undignified like as I pulled him in with a grin on my face, throwin' his hands around my neck. I clamped my hands around his waist, feelin' him struggle a bit against it, but for the moment I'd gotten the better of him.

"You should start dancin'. All this good music's goin' to waste."

I saw a faint blush cross his cheeks as he shook his head at me, but he didn't push my hands away, so I guess that meant it was all okay. "You don't want to see me dance."

I took advantage of our current situation and pulled him closer, grinnin' all the more. "Like hell I don't."

Finally, he glanced up at me, frowning slightly. "I was under the impression that when you suggested we go out dancing we'd be doing it with others."

"You mean girls?" I blinked stupidly at him, and pouted as he pulled away, heading for the bar. "Hey, where ya goin?"

He sighed, like he was tired, or fed up, or just plain embarassed. "I need a drink. I can already tell tonight is going to require a large amount of patience. Enough that I feel the need to get loosened up a bit for."

Grinning from ear to ear I followed him, closely, like I was his bodyguard or somethin'. Probably saved him from a few smacks on the ass, even if he didn't realize it.

I'm a damned hero you know.

An hour and seven shots o' Jack Daniels later I was thankful that there wasn't anyone here I recognized, or that went to the Garden, 'cause I had Squall windin' around me like a boa constrictor. No one noticed, or cared, we just fit in to the see of people like we weren't any different, just like I'd told him before that we would.

And damn, Squall could dance. Those hips a'his were grindin' up against me like the devil was swingin' him like a puppet, and he had a smirk on his face that woulda put even Seifer to shame.

I was dancin' along right with 'im, takin' advantage of the situation, my hands all over his hips an' ass like it didn't matter. He didn't push me away, and I blamed the alcohol. But hell, he was the one who'd started chuggin' off on his own. Figured that meant we'd have to go out drinkin' more just to get him used to it.

I didn't drink, knowin' we needed at least one person sober enough to get us home. Figured I could have all the more fun tomorrow night when I didn't have an image to keep up with him there. I wasn't on my game, and thankfully, no one seemed interested in persuing me for the night. A first, yeah, but I didn't care, or at least didn't notice. Why would I? Squall was fuckin' entertainin' as all hell.

He was a sight. We both were I imagined, but we weren't the only guy couple on the dance floor. Figured that would bring a little less attention to us. Still, I wish I had a camera so I could at least show it to him later, wonderin' what his reaction would be, all sober and straight, watchin' himself flounder around the way he was.

Grinnin' at me in a way I didn't even know he could, he swiped my hat off my head and plopped it onto his own, darin' me to take it back from him. It suited him, and seein' him all playful was kind of a turn on, so instead I flicked a finger along the brim, smirkin' at him.

He went right back to dancin', content with his victory, and I smiled, glad he was havin' a good time.

The music changed but never slowed, the whole giant room heatin' up like a furnace with all the bodies pressed so close together. Dancers were gettin' indistinguishable from each other, and I knew that pretty soon it was gonna get crazy with heat and noise.

The way my date was downin' alcohol wouldn't be a good factor for him once that happened, and I started thinkin' about callin' it quits for the night.

I looked over Squall's shoulder and blinked, seein' a pair of cat green eyes starin' right back at me from long across the room.

I didn't know why he was there, or how no one was bashin' his face in, or if it was really him at all at first glance. But a closer look a split second later confirmed it, the scar divin' down between his eyes, hair blonde as haywheat.

It had been years, to say the least, since the last time I saw those fuckin' eyes. They'd probably wormed their way out of everyone else's memory now that the world was back to bein' livable again.

But I'd never forget them.

Seifer looked shocked to say the least, a shotglass of caramel colored alcohol danglin' from his fingertips. He jumped for a second, probably as the glass started slippin' out of his hand, and caught it, causin' more of a commotion to himself than if he'd just dropped it. I watched the liquid splash up on the nice red shirt he wore, smirkin' a little as his lips distinctly mouthed out cursewords that I probably didn't even know all the meanin' to.

I figured I owed him a little more than just that smirk, but the one who deserved the satisfaction was buzzin' away in front of me, completely oblivious.

"What is it?" Squall's attention returned to my face then moved to look in the same direction I was. By that time Seifer had disappeared into the crowd, as if Squall was sober enough to see him clearly anyway.

Lookin' back at me with this sort of innocent expression on his face, I smiled for him, nudgin' my hat down over his eyes, watchin' him fume over it for a few seconds.

"Nothin' Beb." It worried me a bit, Seifer of all people seein' us like that, and the expression he wore, not like he was pissed or anythin', but not just shocked. I couldn't put my finger on it, but forgot the whole thing in a split second as Squall started saggin' against me like a ragdoll. I caught him with my arms under his, heftin' the weight of him back up into a standin' position. "I think we'd better get outta here."

Squall merely nodded at me as I led him toward the exit.

He wasn't swayin' on his feet or anythin', but to anyone who knew him you could tell he was plastered.

He climbed into the passenger seat of the transport with no help, clickin' his seatbelt on, and stiflin' a yawn. "Where are we going?"

"Back to the Garden. I'll put you back in your clothes and send you back. All snug n' safe. Just like I promised."

Durin' the half an hour drive back to the Garden, I kept glancin' over at my passenger, watchin' him drift in and out of conciousness. I wasn't worried though, he seemed more sleepy than drunk, and I figured the short nap would do both conditions good.

I was glad, by the time that we reached the gates, that we'd snagged ourselves a quiet transport, as they were rare on the premesis. Hell, we were in charge, but that didn't mean we were out of the woods if we got caught. ESPECIALLY Squall.

When I parked I turned off the engine, sittin' back. The cab had the faint smell of alcohol as Squall dozed, his face leanin' toward me a bit, his sag constricted by the seatbelt that secured him.

I smiled, watching him for a moment, before I nudged him lightly. "We're here."

Instantly he was awake, sitting up and looking around us before leaning back against the seat, rubbing at his eyes. "Feels like we just left."

"Sleep okay?" I smirked at him, ruffling his hair lightly, and he nodded, blinking at me like a sleepy child.

"Want me to take my clothes off?"

I gaped for a second before chuckling. "Why Squall, I didn't know you-"

"I meant your shirt you jerk!" He gawked at me for a second, hitting my arm, his words slurred a bit. "Fucking pervert..."

"I assume you mean when we get back to my room." I added, still grinning. "Yeah, that is, if you don't want it."

"I don't think I'll need it." He unhooked his seat belt and opened the door, sliding into the cold of the transport hold. "Thanks for letting me borrow it though."

I nodded twice, following him out, locking the doors behind us and heading for the exit.

Sneaking your way back into Garden is pretty easy once you've gotten out. With all the guards gone since the demise of Zorg-face it was up to the teachers anyway to keep the hallways clear after hours. Even the after hours people were long into bed with classes starting early the next morning.

By the time we made it back to my room not a soul had stirred. Part of it was practice. I'd been sneakin' in and out for years, but I couldn't totally pat myself on the back. Squall wasn't so graceful. In what remained of his drunken stupor he'd nearly tripped twice, provin' he was soberin' up by catchin' himself both times before he'd slipped off his feet, but continuin' to follow me in the dark.

With practice, he'd get better.

"We did it." I sighed victoriously, closin' and lockin' the door to my room behind us. "Mission accomplished."

It was a victory, really, not only had I stolen Squall for night, had him to myself the entire time, and gotten to see him with the walls down and him makin' an ass of himself, we'd fuckin' gotten away with it.

He'd flopped himself onto my bed, yawnin' again, starin' at the ceilin'. "Yours is higher than mine."

"Hm?" I moved up to him, shruggin' off my vest and tossin' it onto a pile on the floor before glancin' up at what he was lookin' at. "The ceilin'? That's cause I'm on the second floor. Built it after or whatever. Doesn't matter though, yours is bigger."

He seemed content with that answer and rolled onto his side to watch me as I sat down on my bed, pullin' my boots off. "Do you go out a lot?"

"All the time." One boot landed hard on the ground, and I listened for a minute, reflexively, like I didn't want anyone to know what was goin' on even if they couldn't hear anyway, even if we weren't doin' anythin' wrong.

"Do you get drunk a lot?" He looked all cute n' thoughtful, his head tilted a bit as it rested up on his hand, hair all messed, cheeks flushed from drinkin', watchin' me still.

I grinned, movin' to remove my socks. "Not a lot. Not a huge drinker."

"I was wondering why you didn't drink tonight."

I laughed. "That was to keep YOU out of trouble." I nudged him lightly, not hard, but enough to send his wobbily form sprawlin' back until he had to use both hands to steady himself.

He laughed for a second, a giddy, sort of kiddish laugh before clamping a hand over his mouth, as if he thought he was bein' loud. "Sorry."

I chuckled at him, sprawlin' out beside him, facin' him on my side to watch him. "You make a funny drunk."

He frowned deeply at me, or was tryin' to, his face obscured slightly. He wagged his finger at me in the air, but it wasn't really pointed at me, more like off to the side toward the door. I don't think he really noticed. "I'm not drunk."

"You hold your liquor like swiss cheese would hold water." I nudged him again, just for the amusement of watchin' him flop about like a fish out of water before steadyin' himself. "How often do you go out? I mean, don't you do ANYTHING?"

Squall tilted his head at me, resting it on his hand again, lookin' all thoughtful. "Well...there was this one time...I mean...it was just once. Seifer and Zell decided to kidnap me for my birthday, like, seven years ago, before the crap with the shit and the stuff." He waved his hands around a bit, but I knew what he meant and nodded anyway. The mention of Seifer's name brought the look I'd seen on his face earlier to my mind. I pushed it back, not wantin' to bring it up, not wantin' to break the roll I was on with Squall. "Kinda like what you were trying to do tonight, but on a more epic level I guess...anyway...it was the first and only time I got plastered off my ass." I decided not to tell him that he was pretty plastered at that moment, just wanting to listen to him talk for a bit. "Lucky for me it was all before I became a SeeD, before all the shit with Seifer went down, no one knew who I was. We took a few nights in Deling, I drank too much. They somehow convinced me to get myself all...pierced up..."

"The ear?" I grinned, dragging a finger over his earlobe for emphasis. I loved his skin, felt like velvet, and saw him blush again. I liked it when he did that, meant that his guard was down, which meant nothing was calculated for him anymore. Made things interesting.

"Well...yeah..." He trailed off, lookin' away.

Hm...half a confession was this? I grinned again. "And?"

He was playing with my hair tie, acting like he wasn't really listenin', but I knew he was, 'cause the blush stayed. "And what?"

"Well, you can't trail off and not tell me the rest of the story, Darlin'. Spill it." Hidin' my grin was gettin' pretty tough.

He sighed, shifting a little. "I got something...else pierced."

"Holy shit, you didn't get the Prince, did ya?" I grinned.

"The Prince?" He blinked at me a few times and I made a jerkin' off motion with my hand. His eyebrows furrowed and he shook his head. "Oh hell no."

"Here, I'll close my eyes and you can just guide my hand to it." I closed my eyes and grinned until I felt his hand swat the side of my head. My attempts at takin' advantage of his drunk state were goin' noticed.

"Pervert! NO!" He frowned deeply at me, like he was poutin' at the same time.

"Well come on." I half whined at him, leanin' in to nip a his lower lip, figurin' I shouldn't get too used to it.

Again, he didn't push me away, which I considered a small victory due to the Jack Daniels, but he sighed. "I don't...exactly remember what it's called...but...it's a post...or, whatever it's called...the long metal rods with the nubs on the ends..."

"Where?"

"Don't laugh..." he muttered, turnin' his head away, and blushin' like it was the only thing he knew how to do. "It's...uhm..."

"You didn't get anythin' pierced to anythin' else did you?" I was a little worried. Squall was fuckin' beautiful, and I woulda spent days just mappin' his body on my brain, but I wasn't into pain. God, I hoped he wasn't either, 'cause if he was thinkin' of marrin' himself 'r anythin' I'd fuckin' kill 'im.

He blushed more and shook his head again. Glancin' at me all shy like, he snaked his fingers at my wrist. "Don't...don't look...just look at me...okay?"

He led my fingers to his thighs and I felt a little guilty, pushin' him like this while his resolve was so low. He was starin' at my chin, like he was ashamed, or just worried that I'd do somethin'. Maybe laugh, which I couldn't guarantee I wouldn't, but I figured it would be at least nice to hide it.

My hand moved like it had a perverted mind of it's own, slippin' farther between his legs and under, feeling for any evidence of the metal that would be there.

He gasped in surprise, clinging at me as my fingers grazed two tiny round studs behind the shape of his balls. I grinned slightly as he shuddered against me, figurin' it'd been a while since anyone had touched him in general.

I wanted to look, wanted to see what the person who'd done it had seen, and felt a little jealous that a complete stranger had probably seen more of him than anyone else had.

He shifted closer, arching a little, probably more of a reflex than anythin', then tensed again.

"Did Seifer and Zell watch you get this?"

If his cheeks could darken anymore I bet then would've. But the combination of all the alcohol and embarassment from before made it impossible to tell. "Yeah...Seifer made a crack about having a threesome when I was done, but I don't know if he was serious or not."

It was an odd thing to mention but I took it. "Would you have gone with it if you knew he was serious?"

He shook his head, like he was clearin' it more than sayin' no. His hand sliding down to cover mine, and for a second I thought he'd pull it away. But he just left it there, his fingers, tiny and warm against mine. "It hurt too bad...and I'm not...I mean...I wouldn't have said yes anyway..."

I let my fingers drift, my thumb moving back a little, sliding over the hill at his zipper. He made a noise, and finally, I could feel him startin' to stiffen under my hand. Probably took so long 'cause of the alcohol again.

"Can I see it?" I whispered, tasting his earlobe. It was as soft as the rest of him, my hands finding their way under the back of his shirt, lifting it, wondering just how much clothing I could get off him before he actually noticed.

He nodded once, sort of wobbily.

I snaked my fingers over his waistband after tuggin' open the buttons and zipper, pullin' his pants down to his hips, his underwear followin' close behind. I slipped one leg completely bare from the leather and cotton, movin' his legs apart a little, starin' at him like a piece of art.

Every inch of him had the same creamy, soft texture as his earlobes, and I moved my hands to his hips, strokin' lightly.

It wasn't huge, much, I'm sure, to the unknown dismay of his lil fanclub, but I was a bit relieved in it. It suited him, pretty average, maybe slightly bigger. I mean, I'd seen smaller, definately, but it wasn't large enough for me to develop any kind of complex.

Not that at ten inches I would even worry too much about it. Pretty proud of that too.

No need to scare him with that info as of yet.

It looked soft, softer than it should have, and when I touched it, fingertips only, I smiled a bit. It felt like velvet, warm and smooth, and for a moment I totally forgot what I'd crawled down there to see to begin with.

Took me a second but I finally remembered, sliding my hands under Squall's thighs, milky and soft just like the rest of him. He jumped a little as I spread him more, liftin' his lower half slightly to inspect his little secret.

The piercing was almost directly in the middle of the space between his the rounds of his balls and the pursed, tempting skin of his ass. Exposed to the air of my room, I studied him, imprinted ever inch of skin onto my brain. Two tiny studs just over and inch away from one another, secured by a metal bar I couldn't see, glinted a lil in the dim light,. When I reached out a finger to touch them, his cock jerked reflexively, like it was a magic button.

Glancin' up at his face, over his tightenin' abdomen, just barely visable where his shirt had lifted to show off the skin there, I leaned my face up, slidin' my mouth around the tip of him, his body shiftin' against the bedspread.

He had his eyes closed, his fingers clinging to the pillow, those pretty lips of his parted as he breathed. Smirkin' as much as I could, I sucked louder, makin' sure that he didn't forget, so the sound would echo in his mind later when he was all lonely and alone in his room some night. Maybe he'd think of me, maybe he'd want more.

I made noises in my throat like I was enjoyin' it, and really, I was. His knee curled up, over my shoulder, his hips archin' into the air. I watched and smiled, the sound of his breathing, erratic and uncontrolled gettin' a reaction out of me more than anyone else's, hands down.

When he came, it was quiet, like he was afraid of it, afraid of what I would think of hearin' him enjoyin' it so much.

The physical evidence was thick, glazin' my tongue like chocolate sauce, more than I would've thought for one shot, but I figured it was because he probably didn't get around to touchin' himself often. Explained why he was so tense all the fuckin' time.

I grunted a little, slidin' back up to his face, grippin the back of his head with both hands and shoving my mouth over his, claimin' him, makin' him taste himself.

He didn't pull back, grippin' onto the back of my shirt like it was the last thing in the world before I noticed he was tryin' to pry it off me.

I helped him, liftin' my arms and growlin' almost angrily as the sound of the phone overlapped the sound of him pantin' against my skin. Who the fuck would be callin' me at two in the damn mornin'?

"Let it ring..." He breathed at me, archin' his body against mine. He felt delicious, like a dessert I'd been cravin' for without knowin' it. My hands worked on my fly, almost desperate to get me against him, wantin' to screw him so bad the pain of the need of it washed through my nerves like electric fire.

My own voice rang through the room as my answering machine kicked in, but I ignored it, sliding one leg over Squall's thigh.

"Hey Cowboy."

My blood froze instantly as the girl who'd been causing the phone to roar at me began to leave a message. Fuck.

"It's Yanka, just wondering if you were still interested in tomorrow." Her voice was teasin' and ready even over the phone, damnit. "I'll be at the usual spot, you know what to bring baby. Can't wait to see you again. I'm learning how to ride side saddle, got you a bit and everything." She giggled, and my stomach lurched as Squall started to pull back from me. "I can't wait to show you. See you tomorrow Cowboy."

Squall was quiet, and I sure as hell wasn't breathing. His fingers released my shirt, and moved to gently slide my hands away from him. He was smiling a little sheepishly, but there was something else too, like he was kickin' himself.

Like he just realized what was goin' on.

"I should go."

"Wait-" I managed pathetically, trying to grab at him as he slid off the bed and started to readjust his clothes. He'd sobered up DAMN quick. I sat up and watched him cover up all that skin of his with cotton and leather, wishin' I could just rip it all off him again. "Squall."

He didn't listen, grabbing his coat, not in any kind of hurry, but I figured he wanted to get the fuck out pretty badly. "Thanks for, you know, taking me out. I think I needed it." He turned, smiling sheepishly, gesturing at the phone. "Have fun with Yanka. She sounds like she'll keep you busy for a while."

"Squall." I sounded completely whiny, definately not fond of the idea of Squall leavin'. Especially like this. The situation in my trousers was definately Code Red material. "AW come on..."

He got irritated fast, raising a hand to stop me from talkin' I guess, palm out and facin me, the walls goin back up. He'd sobered up DAMN quick. "I don't know what you were expecting. I think you can go one night without getting LAID, Kinneas."

Hell if I didn't get offended at that. "What the FUCK! You think that just because I bring you back here I want to nail you! What kind of a guy do you think I AM?"

Sure, I guess it was true, but he didn't need to know that. Besides, I was pretty damn sure that wasn't the only damn reason for bringin' him here. I was capable of more than that, right?

"The kind that gets ridden side saddle by a girl named YANKA." He grumped at me, and I guess I couldn't blame him. "And, while we're on the subject, I need a fucking shower now. Just hearing that perverse message and thinking of all the people you've fucked senseless in this room makes me feel ashamed of myself."

Swear to Hyne, the next thing I remember was my hand stingin' like fucking crazy, and Squall's head tilted toward the wall with this sort of dazed expression on his face.

I fucking bitchslapped him.

Squall Leonhart.

The Ice Prince.

The Lion Heart.

The fuckin' HEADMASTER of Balamb Garden.

I was gapin' at him, like he'd been the one who hit me, horrified as all hell. I choked as blood balled at the corner of his lip, but his tongue flickered out to drag it away before it had time to peek out too far.

"Oh fuck Squall...I'm sorry..." My eyes were stingin' somethin' fierce as I moved toward him, but he raised his hand, still not looking at me, stopping me from comin' closer. His other hand went to his lip, the once pretty thing already startin' to swell and redden. "Squall...please. I'm sorry."

"Have fun tomorrow." He called at me like he was givin' me an order, and then his back was to me, movin' away, until he was at the door and gone.

Days went by without seein him, and I worried. The Garden wasn't that big, the student body wasn't that vast, that a teacher wouldn't catch sight of the headmaster at least once without good reason.

'Course, I knew it was because he was avoiding me.

Or worse; Avoiding everyone BECAUSE of me...

I didn't go searchin' for him, figurin' he was holed up in his office, or some other secret place that I probably wouldn't be able to find. He was good at disappearin' when he didn't wanna be found, and I knew that until he was okay with seein' me, no amount of lookin' was gonna make me see him any faster.

At first I was angry, grumpin' to myself that he was just bein' a brat about it all, and that, honestly, he shouldn't have been surprised.

It's no secret, I'm Irvine "the fuckin' manho" Kinneas. I teach sex ed classes first hand on a regular basis if you know what I mean, and I know you do. Everyone knows about it, no one cares, no one's surprised. Why the fuck should it matter so much to Squall? As the damn headmaster he knew my habits more than anyone else, right?

It was his OWN damn fault for thinkin' I was somethin' I wasn't.

But, of course, I was just screwin' myself sideways, with somethin' pointy...like a cactus...a spiny one...one of those ones that the needles come off and just stick in you all over. Yeah, one a'those.

It wasn't that I didn't want to talk to him, or maybe it was.

Maybe I was scared.

After the angry phase, the guilty phase set in. I spent those days thinkin', wonderin' what I could have done, what would have happened if the damn phone hadn't rung, or if I'd answered it in time.

Nothin' seemed to make sense, especially Squall's reaction.

He was Squall fuckin' 'Don't care, don't wanna care, don't wanna talk about it' Leonhart for Hynesakes! He was the LAST person that shoulda been hidin' out from everyone! 'Specially the guy that started all this! I woulda rather had him come out and beat the shit outta me like I deserved than him closin' up somewhere secluded.

But the only thing that scared me more than Squall's reaction, was mine.

Phase three I couldn't quite describe. Regret maybe? Digust? More than a bit of everything I'd imagine.

The last few days, I just couldn't function. I skipped out on my own classes, started doin' what Squall was doin' and avoidin' everyone like the plague...

Of course, there's always one person who knows me in and out, can find me anywhere, can pry anythin' outta me no matter how much I wanna keep it in.

And when she found me, I let it all out. And was glad for it.

I don't think, in all the years I'd known her, that Selphie had ever seen me cry. And believe me, she looked damned scared.

Days of holdin' it in, tryin' to act normal, tryin' to pretend things were okay, were failin' miserably. It woulda been easier if Squall was there, if I could see him, watch him hatin' me for what I'd done. I could accept that. But not seein' him, not bein' able to do anything about it, was drivin' me crazy.

Of all the people I knew, Squall was the one who I never thought I'd get around to hurtin'. Or wanted to hurt. Or thought I COULD hurt. After all that time of tryin' to get to know just SOMETHIN' about him, and when I'd just managed to learn more than anyone else. I fucked up.

And when I exploded, when I couldn't take it anymore, when the tears just wouldn't stop comin' to the point where all I could do was sit there and look stupid with water stainin' my face, Sel was there to see it.

Not like I wanted her to be there to see it, but I didn't have much of a damn choice. Suddnly the tears were just there, and no amount'a hidin'em was gonna do any good. We were holed up in the main room of the suite she and Quist shared, and I just blurted everythin'. All about watchin' him, all about that night, all about Yanka. And for once, all I could do was cry. Not the sobbin' sort of girly cry, but, just let my cheeks get drenched till my eyes hurt so bad I could barely keep them open.

Sel was cooin' at me, rubbin' my back, like she didn't know what else to do, and I let her.

I dunno how long it'd been, but when I finally stopped, I was exhausted as hell. Sel helped me into the next room and I plopped down onto the bed on my stomach, huggin' the pillow like it was the only thing in the world that could save me from somethin'.

Broken heart maybe?

I didn't really know what to think about that, I'd never had one before. Made me think of all the girls I'd done this kinda shit to. Made me think that if they'd felt half as bad as I did now, that they deserved a hell of a lot better than me anyway.

And maybe Squall did too.

Selphie started cuddlin' onto me, breaking me outta my haze, her hand slidin' up and down my back again, and I realized that she'd managed to get both my boots and socks off.

I felt pathetic. Guilty, stupid, and pathetic.

"I fucked up so bad Sel..."I managed, slidin' the lower half of my face behind my arm, starin' at the headboard. I couldn't look at anything else.

"Irvine..."

"No...I mean it..." I closed my eyes, swallowing heavily. "He trusted me and I totally shat on it. I'm worse than Seifer. at least he-"

Selphie's hand came down, slapping me hard on my back and I yelped loud enough for everyone in the Dorms to hear.

"Irvine Kinneas! Don't you DARE compare yourself to that slimeball!" She was fumin as I turned to look at her, my skin shocked and tingling from where she'd hit me. "Yeah, you messed up, but at least you were doing it for the right reasons!"

"Yeah, I guess..."

She glared at me, raising her hand like she was gonna hit me again...I squeaked, curling up quickly into a fetal position.

"Ghaa! You're right! You're right!"

She sighed, seemingly satisfied, letting her hand fall to her side, her eyes rolling as she flopped onto me, wrapping both her arms around my waist, hugging me.

"You know Irvine..." she started, nuzzling my back lightly. "You...haven't been all that good with the people you end up with...maybe Squall sees...I mean...you hurt a lot of people..."

I winced, knowing Selphie was right. But was this really her way of helpin'?

"So I'm just getting what I deserve, right?" I half spat. I felt her jerk slightly, knowing she could feel my abdomen clenching.

"Maybe..." she answered quietly, sort of half clinging to my shirt as if she was scared. "Well, Irvine...honestly, what was he supposed to think? You gloat all the time about all these girls you screw like crazy, you practically have a trophy count of all of them you devirginized. Then one calls you up while he's there promising you a night of hardcore, hanky panky. Squall's a level guy. He wouldn't have let you get THAT far unless he meant it. He had a moment of clarity and remembered what kind of guy you were. He probably just didn't want to feel cheap. Which he still might by the way." She looked down, her voice more quiet than before. "That's what I think anyway..."

I paused, blinking, before angrily prying her arms off me, sitting up and sliding off the bed. She sat up too as I shoved my boots on, not bothering with my socks as I tugged almost painfully on the laces.

"Where are you going?"

"For a walk." I growled, not even grabbing my hat or jacket, opening the door.

"But...it's raining out."

I slammed the door behind me, the thunder echoing my anger as I strode down the corridor, the lightning flashing through the window on either side. Squall's snow was completely gone, turned into muck and mud by the fucking rain.

The lights above me flickered a few times and I ignored it until the generators groaned and gave out.

Then everything went dark.

As I made my way through the main building, students stopped, looking up, as if they couldn't fucking figure out what had happened. I pushed through them, around the half circle, past the parking garage and to the main entrance. People were shoving their way through the entrance gates, lined up, soakin wet. I was the only one going through the exit. The campus outside was empty, foggy, and drenched as the rain came down in sheets. I was soaked from head to toe, not a single dry spot on me by the time I reached the stairs.

And I stopped.

Because there he was.

He was half bent over the railing, his arms folded on the concrete as he looked out over the fields, at the ocean beyond the school. I wondered if he could even make out anything through the haze and rain.

I looked around, wondering if I should go back, leave him alone, which had probably been his idea. I owed him that much at least.

I made my way back up the hooded stairs, the rain thundering above, the lightening streaking just above where I was.

I'd barely gotten to the forth step when something bounced off my back, turning just in time to see a small pebble tumble down the stairs behind me.

Squall was looking at me, his thumbs hooked into the beltless beltloops of his jeans. The rain had soaked through him, matting down his hair, his clothes clingin' to him like he wasn't wearing it at all. It was beautiful, his skin pale against the darkness, showin' through the material of the white wife beater. He looked like he was glowin' and my body ached for him all over again.

He raised one hand, his hip jutted out slightly, gersturing with one slender finger to come back down.

Fuck, I was screwed.

And still pretty pissed.

And about to cry all over again.

Fuck.

I made my way back down, back into the rain, no hat to hide behind. Still, I bent my head, shoving my hands into my pants pockets, staring at my feet. I stopped walking when I could see his too.

"Can we get out of the rain? And...I'd like to go first if that's okay with you..."

That wasn't quite what he was looking for, but he nodded, accepting my terms.

I looked around before seeing the transport I had used that morning still parked on the other side of the entrance gate. I gestured with my head for him to follow me, searching in my pants pockets for the key, but remembering that I'd shoved it into my jacket, which was back in the room with Selphie. I sighed, praying I'd been irresponsible enough to leave it unlocked.

I should probably worry at how unreliable I am sometimes.

The door opened easily and I let him slide in first before moving after him, settling into the drivers seat, shutting the door behind us.

We both sat there in utter silence for what seemed like forever, the rain beating down on the windshield in front of us, and we were both watchin' it like it was the most fascinating thing on the planet...or the ONLY thing on the planet for that matter. I wasn't lookin at him, he wasn't lookin at me. But at least the thunder kept us company.

"I''m sorry..." He said finally, staring ahead of us as the water cascaded down the front of the windshield, blurring everything outside. "I didn't have the right to mouth off at you like that...what you do in your personal time is none of my business. And it wasn't as if I was moving to stop you before that or anything. I should have realized sooner what was going on. I can't blame you."

I winced, wishing that his words didn't sting so much for the fact that I'd only managed to prove I was a whore to the one person who really didn't need the tutorial. "Don't...say it like it was somethin' wrong...I didn't bring you there for that."

He frowned a little, like he was offended, his arms going over his chest. "So your mouth just HAPPENED to find my crotch?"

I couldn't help but grin. "Of course. I guess my filling' were magnetically drawn to the metal down there."

Squall glared at me, and I kicked myself mentally, knowin' that this was probably gonna be the last personal convo he and I would ever have, so I figured I'd make it count.

"Squall, look..." I sighed, leveling with him. "You do weird things to me. And I don't mean in the usual way. Despite what yer thinkin' in that pretty lil noggin of yours, I'm not tryin' to sex you up in no way." I looked at my hands, settin' uselessly on my knees. "Not...you know...intentionally...I don't know any other way to be. I never intended to do you wrong, or treat you wrong, and if I did I'm damn sorrier than a cat caught in a mouse trap." I looked back at him, hopeful. "Now, I really dunno what else to say about it, and I'd like it if you'd forgive me. If ya can't, I'll be understandin' about it. I won't hold it against you or anythin', but I'm gonna try and do better by it...If you'll let me..."

I heard him sigh, his arms folded over his chest, more protectin' himself than anything else. I hoped the wall was down while he listened, hoped that maybe he'd reply without that professional coldness he used all the time.

For a minute all there was was the rain, and my stomach clenched, waiting for somethin', anythin' to make him say somethin'.

When he spoke I was starin' out the window, wishin' the sting away from my eyes. Hyne knew I'd cried more in that day than I had in seven years and the last thing I wanted was for Squall to see it too.

"Irvine...did you go meet Yanka that night?"

I turned, blinking at him, and instantly melted. The look on his face was like a little kid that had scraped his knee up bad, and was lookin' to his ma for a band-aid. I remembered the talk with Sel, and realized that maybe that was what it was. I'd hurt him, and he was lookin' to me to fix it, hopin' I could, because he didn't know how to on his own.

And immediately felt like the biggest jackass on the face of the planet.

I didn't want to tell him, didn't want to admit what an ass I'd been, that, part of me had done it to spite him, figurin' he didn't need another reason to hate me. And I was beyond lying to him now.

"Yeah..." I breathed at him, the words turnin' to lead in my mouth even as I said them, guilt lurched at my stomach. "When you left I had no fuckin' clue what to do. You messed me up more than anyone else EVER has. That's sayin' something. 'Specially after one night. I had fun, a lot of fun. And you actually talked to me, you know? It felt like I knew you, and I loved that. I loved havin' you trust me enough to do all that stuff, and you know, you had fun too."

"But...you went..." He sounded strange, a way I'd never heard from him before, and knew I'd hurt him all over again. Only this time it was my fault, just for bein' me. "...Did you have a good time? I mean, with her..."

"I guess." Didn't really wanna talk about it so much, but I figured he didn't want details either. "Woulda rather spent the night with you...but, I needed company. I needed to feel like myself again I guess."

He paused, but I knew what was comin' before he even said it. "Did you sleep with her?" It was all quiet-like of a question, and I kicked myself, again.

"Yeah..."

"Of course, because declaring yourself as Irvine Kinneas again it requires you sticking your dick in something." He fumed slightly, turning his head away from me, and I resisted the urge to retort, knowin' he was right.

He paused again, thinking before continuing. "I'm not much better I guess...All I know is Garden...All I know is being a SeeD and doing my job. Unless I'm working on a team or giving orders I have no idea how to deal with people. Half the time it doesn't even feel like I'm real...and it's just whenever I try to change that I end up making huge mistakes that scare the fucking hell out of me." Lookin' back at me I felt like cryin' just from watchin' his eyes, the way they watched me. "You were just doing what was familiar to you..."

"Baby...that's what life is. Being scared and makin' mistakes. Hell, I've made some huge ones, but it's all worth it 'cause you get some really nice moments in there. That night was one of the best times I've ever had. That's not something everyone gets to do. I realize that and I appreciate it every time I see you. And now that I have it I sure as hell don't want to lose it over something as stupid as getting laid by some chick with a horse fetish." Made that sound a little more perverted than was intended, but Squall got the point and that's what mattered. "When we were in my room it wasn't that I wanted to get laid, I wanted you to be there. And I totally forgot about Yanka or I woulda cancelled on her earlier."

"Do you want to sleep with me?"

I blinked at the question, deciding to answer as truthfully as possible. "Hell yeah. But not without your permission."

"Preferably." He added.

"But if you're asking if I'm willin' to work up to that stage with some kind of official relationship type thing, then yeah, that works too." I smirked, lookin' down a bit. "I mean, I'd like to be your first, you know? But, I also don't want you to feel like I cheated you out of somethin' good, so I'm willing to long haul and all that. Man-hoin' is a way of life n'all that...but you're worth it..."

I hoped that would be enough, that somehow it would make him see that I meant what I said, as I did and all that. He was sighin' and starin' out the window in a way that worried me.

"I don't know Irvine..."

I wanted to beg him to just listen, but I knew that he was, I knew that anythin' he'd decided on was gonna stay that way. It was the way the guy worked. But still, every inch of me just wanted him to forget the whole business of the way I was before the night before. Knowin' me though, I wasn't even sure if I really could stay different, even for him. It all sounded good now, but it was like changin' the way beasts are, once it's in you for so long, there's no goin' back, not right away at least.

"Oh..." Was all I could get to come out.

He was lookin' at me like he was sorry, and like I'd hurt him, which I knew I had. When he turned away from me to look back out the window I rubbed a hand over my eyes, tryin' to stop the stingin'.

Lot'a good it did.

"Squall...Can I ask you somethin'?" Didn't really want to honestly, didn't want the answer to make me feel even worse than I did already. And I didn't wanna make him feel anymore bad about it either.

"Whatever." Not as harsh as he usual ones, but it still ached to hear it.

Sighin', gatherin' as much courage as I could, I looked back at him again. "That night, after you left. Did you cry? I mean, because of what I did? Because, I know I hurt you bad...and I'm sorry..."

He paused, then looked away again, like he was ashamed of it. Had to be hard for someone like him, just admittin' something like that. That was it though, "someone like him" didn't really mean much anymore. He was Squall, plain and simple. He'd taken a chance, let me take a chance on him, and I'd been the one who blew it.

Coulda been my greatest conquest.

Fuck, thinkin' like that, I didn't deserve him anyway.

"I...don't let people touch me often...at all...even just like normal touches..." He didn't look at me, but I supposed that was for the better. "I...didn't cry...That's weird...isn't it? It's not normal...I'm...not normal..nothing about me is...and for a night I just wanted to be normal, without it hurting...without feeling like...like I wasn't worth being touched." He swallowed, loud enough so I could hear it. "I trusted you..."

Takin' things at face value.

"I haven't told anyone." I assured him. "And I'm not plannin' on it either."

"Thank you..." He muttered, but I knew there was somethin' he wasn't sayin', probably somethin' that shouldn't have been said, at least now, not after what I'd done. "I'm sorry I blew up at you that night..." That wasn't what he was keepin' away, but it would do. "Can't expect someone to change overnight."

"You did." I blinked at him, then watched as he turned to me.

And I realized that there was more to all this than I knew. This wasn't the first time someone had pulled somethin' like this on him, from what I could tell anyway. I didn't know what to make of it, or why I hadn't realized it sooner.

"I should head back." He didn't move, like he was waitin' for permission or somethin', waitin' for me to say we were done.

"Yeah..." I nodded twice. The weather hadn't improved, but I didn't think he much cared. "Hey..."

"What." He didn't look at me as his fingers grazed the handle of the transport door, like he was tryin' not to show he was in a hurry. He wasn't lookin' at me either, which definately made me think he was tryin' to escape before he cried again. 'Figured I might start to.

My throat, as clenched as it was, barely got the sound out. It broke a bit, but I knew he heard it, which was good at least for the moment. "Don't hate me..."

"I can't hate you." He opened the door and inhaled deeply. "But stay away from my window from now on."

The door shut behind him, and I could heard his footsteps for a few seconds, movin' away from the transport, through the rain, back toward the school.

I banged my head twice against the headrest of the chair before growlin'. "Fuck."

Practically throwin' myself out the door, leavin' it wide open, I landed hard on the ground, pain shootin' up through my leg like it was on fire. I ignored it, dashin' at Squall, who apparently was so distracted he didn't hear me comin'.

Grabbin' at his shoulder I turned him around to face me. My entire body froze.

Not a single tear stained his cheeks.

It wasn't a glare, it wasn't a snarl.

It was something worse. And I had a feeling it wasn't the first time he'd had to look at someone like that.

'Stay away from me.' His eyes told me said.

My hand drew back like I'd burned, and it had. I took a step back, wide-eyed at him. I wasn't sure what else they were tryin' to tell me, but I was scared, scared of him, scared of what he would do if I tried to touch him again.

But it didn't seem like it was just me he saw, but someone else. Maybe that other person who'd hurt him so bad.

And I was just like them now.

I backed off from him, lettin' myself cry like it didn't matter anymore.

He didn't say anything, but turned away from me, heading back toward the Garden, and was gone.