Boys Like You

BY : angelofinnocence
Category: Final Fantasy VIII > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1009
Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VIII, nor any of the characters from the game. I make no profit from the writing of this work of fiction.

Boys Like You

Chapter Four: Empty In Between

    Squall buckled up before his right arm went over the back of the passenger seat, twisting his body to look back over his shoulder, pulling out of the parking spot. "No worries. I'm gonna get something to eat anyways. I'm frigging starving. I didn't eat at lunch," he replied, seemingly unfazed by the blond's indirect invitation, the trip to the cafe already on his agenda for the afternoon. Staying to eat and then giving Seifer a ride back to the school wasn't really any kind of hindrance for the brunette. Heady guitar chords poured from the speakers in the car, no vocals, just instrumental, which Squall turned down as he drove out of the school's parking lot, the engine purring.

    An odd look came over Seifer's face as he turned towards the other boy. "Why'd you skip lunch? I mean, there may not be anything edible here, but you don't seem to be hurting for cash and you obviously know your way around the cafes. You're not like anorexic or something, are you?" Seifer's voice held a note of concern beneath the humour he had tried to place in it. Squall was thin in the blond's opinion, almost too thin, though he definitely had a charm all of his own. Seifer took a moment to look him over in his seat while Squall's eyes were on the road in front of him. Squall Leonhart was androgenously beautiful; he could easily pass as a boyish girl or a feminine boy with the soft chocolate strands of hair brushing his jaw, thick dark lashes the likes of which woman would kill for rimming uniquely stormy eyes. His slim figure was appealing, not too tall for a guy, but almost delicate in a lithe sort of way, feminine hands gripping the steering wheel, the black-lacquered fingernails that were kept fairly long for a guy though nothing like the lengthy claws that women tended to favour tapping along to the heavy guitar rifts; Seifer couldn't look away as he took it all in. Squall was in a category all his own. His style was that of most punk rock bands and it simply suited him, only adding to the already oozing sex appeal. Seifer had to forcibly tear his gaze away when Squall responded to his inquiry.

     "Mm, I was busy, so I forgot to," was the nonchalant answer that came from the pretty boy's lips as he gave a half shrug, the implication that it was a common occurence obvious by the manner in which the brunette had responded. "So is that the reason you're taking drama; 'cause you wanna be an actor?" he asked after a second, changing the subject from his eating habits and creating idle chit chat as he took a right, heading down the block and a half to the coffee shop, getting stuck at the lighted intersection right before the block the cafe was located on. His fingers tapped against the steering wheel to the beat of the music idly, the bracelets on his wrists making soft jingling noises as his hands moved. He rarely stayed still, needing to be moving, tapping a hand or a foot, forever fidgeting to the music in his head.

    "Yeah, I kinda want to be an actor I guess.  I mean, I'm pretty comfortable in front of people," Seifer said with a shrug of his own before he continued speaking, not ready to let the subject of Squall's poor eating habits just yet, "So why didn't you grab something anyways and just be late to class?" He was sure that the brunette's meal skipping could have easily been avoided, being that Seifer was aware of Squall's habit of being truant during his gym class and he very much doubted that the other teen would have cared if he'd been a bit late to class in order to get a snack.

    Squall pressed a booted foot on to the gas pedal as the light changed again, glancing at Seifer from the corners of his eyes "I was still too pissed off to eat," he replied simply, knowing the other male had seen the altercation at the end of lunch.

    "Yeah. He was a little out of line there. Does that happen all the time?" Seifer questioned, emerald eyes avidly watching the younger teen once again, deciding now was as good a time as any to find out a little bit more about the strinking brunette and maybe find out just how much of the gossip was just that.

    Squall shrugged, "Often enough I guess. Usually it's their girlfriends. Girls are much nastier than guys. A girl actually slapped me and called me a home wrecker once. It's not my fault she wasn't any good at giving head," he said with a snort, "As for guys like Gregory, they're all the same. They want it until it's over, then they can't admit it was the best they'd ever had so they have to act like jerks to make themselves feel like they're still men, as if sucking dick makes me less of a guy than any of them."

    Before the brawny blond had a chance to respond, Squall had pulled into the asphalt lot belonging to the cafe, parking between the faded yellow lines with practiced ease. Pulling the key from the ignition and unbuckling, he glanced over at Seifer, "Can you grab my wallet out of the glove compartment?"

    "Please," he added with a smile, eyes twinkling, catching the sunlight as he looked at the tall blond, mischievous heat lurking in the depths, knowing that the other would see the condoms and lube he kept in there as well. He would have gotten the wallet himself, but it would have involved leaning over the other male's lap and he'd promised to keep his hands off. Besides, Seifer's reaction to the other items in the glove box might be fun.

    "Glove compartment; why can't you-- Oh," Seifer began with confusion, interrupting himself as his reasoning quickly followed the same path as Squall's. If the brunette had reached over, his hand would end up in Seifer's lap. 'Clever,' he thought idly. The politeness and the begging tone made him sigh, reaching to open the glove box.

    When he opened it up and reached inside to retrieve the requested wallet, he found himself suddenly wide-eyed, mouth dropping open just a little. Inside the glove compartment alongside Squall's wallet and car registration were an excess of condoms and lube. Honestly, how much sex was the slim brunette actually having to facilitate such an amount? "Oh..." he swallowed audibly, uncertain about what to say about the items. It was rather obvious that Squall had purposely asked him to retrieve his wallet just to fuck with him. "Safety first, huh?" he finally commented, clearing his throat, hoping his voice wasn't as shaky as it sounded to his own ears as he gingerly reached inside, feigning nonchalance. He pushed aside some condoms, wrapping his fingers around the wallet before pulling it out, careful to avoid knocking any of the other items out. He avoided the other male's eyes as he offered the smooth black leather wallet to Squall and closed the glove box, sealing the offending items out of sight and hopefully out of mind.

    Squall had watched the blond with a sort of amused fascination; he laughed outright as the other teen retrieved his wallet, making an awkward, nervous comment about the other contents. It was like teasing a virgin or something; Seifer seemed too innocent for their age, even though Squall very much doubted that the blond was a virgin by any stretch of the imagination, not with how damn hot he was. "Of course, who'd want to get some gross STD or something from one of those idiots at school?" he replied, getting a kick out of making the other male squirm without really doing anything at all. He took the proffered wallet, soft fingertips brushing against Seifer's for the briefest of moments as the leather wallet exchanged hands.

    Making him squirm was one thing, just knowing it was in the car for Squall's immediate use was entirely different. As the wallet was passed off, the lingering touch burned under Seifer's skin long after the other youth had pulled away. "Yeah," he agreed, not really hearing the words the other had said, acutely aware that he couldn't stand up right then, his thoughts having wandered into dangerous territory that Seifer was nowhere near ready to analyze. Boys weren't supposed to get hard thinking about other boys, no matter how pretty they might be.

    Unaware of Seifer's discomfort, Squall opened his door, getting out just as gracefully as he'd gotten in, lingering in the opened doorway as he straightened, his ass and legs visible for a few seconds before he turned, leaning back inside, that soft, flowery scented hair falling into his face and the bracelets on his wrists jingling again, "Coming?" Seifer jumped, startled by the sound of the brunette's voice. 

    When Squall had gotten out of the car, Seifer's eyes had followed him, unable to avoid getting an eyeful of that pert rear and shapely legs. He gave an involuntary gulp and quickly averted his gaze to the other side. "Yeah, sorry," he apologized awkwardly before slipping out the passenger door. 'Smooth Almasy, real fucking smooth,' the blond thought with a definite air of self deprecation. He adjusted his pants and shirt discreetly before running one hand through his short blond hair as he walked around the side of the car towards the cafe, again finding himself holding the door for Squall.

    Seifer gave himself a little shake, deciding it would be best to pick up the previous conversation, thinking it would be safer than the alternative, which was asking the brunette about the items he kept in his glove compartment. "What'd you say to Greg anyways? Stiffened him up like a board," he inquired, clearing his throat inconspicuously after he'd spoken. He watched Squall with bright green eyes, trying to get a read on him. Apparently, Squall was proud his behavior, at least enough to carry on with it even through being slapped and insulted at any rate. 

    The brunette flashed the blond a wicked grin, "I told him that I'd post the video of him crying my name like a little bitch while he came in my mouth on Facebook and Youtube for all the world to see. Apparently, he likes being threatened as much as it terrifies him," he quoted, shaking his head at the memory. He raised raised a slim cinnamon brow, noticing how Seifer kept shifting around and adjusting his clothes. 'Hiding something?' he thought though he didn't give voice to it, not having realized how the previous events might have affected the other male. 'No wonder he was spacing out in the car.' He chose not to voice the observation as he turned towards the cafe, smiling over his shoulder as the taller male held the door for him.

    A somewhat shocked and impressed look crossed the Seifer's features as he was fed that little tidbit of info. Squall kept videos? That would certainly explain the power he seemed to have. It would definitely shut Seifer up, if he were in Gregory's position. Having that kind of power over someone guaranteed that Squall wasn't treated with blatant violence, if for no other reason than keeping their own reputations intact. He found himself wondering just how many videos the brunette had, but he figured it would be best not to ask.

    "You're quite the gentlemen," Squall remarked impishly as he stepped inside the coffee shop, sauntering over to the counter. He smiled at the cute college boy he'd gotten the latte from earlier, watching the other blush and fidget uncomfortably as he asked the pretty youth what he'd like to order looking between Squall and Seifer, obviously trying to discern their relationship.

    "Habit, I guess. Besides, I keep beating you to the door, " Seifer teased back. Having long legs and a tall frame meant that when he wanted to go somewhere; he typically arrived quickly; it certainly didn't take much to beat Squall to the door. He adjusted his pants again and when he was fairly sure no one was looking, adjusted something else, hopefuly to keep it from being too obvious and saving himself some very awkward and embarrassing explanation.

    "I'm gonna have the grilled greek veggie wrap, and a cranberry juice," Squall ordered quietly, batting his lashes and tapping his fingers on the counter, black lacquered nails making small clicking sounds over the hard top. The guy behind the counter stuttered as he gave the pretty boy his total. Squall smirked at him as he handed him a twenty dollar bill and took his change which the other male very nearly dropped. He leaned over the counter slightly, "Can you put extra dressing on it too?" he asked in a seductive tone, running his tongue along his own plump bottom lip as if he didn't know what he was doing to the other male as the employee nodded, his face beet red. Squall glanced at his companion behind him as the boy behind the counter, Brian according to his nametag, turned to make the wrap which was pretty much premade, just adding the extra greek dressing before he folded it up and stuck it in the sandwich press to grill, returning with the cranberry juice and setting it on the counter in front of the attractive teenager.

    "This place has the best service," Squall commented with a cheeky grin as he stepped aside, drink in hand, leaning a hip against the display case of pastries and other baked goods. Brian's blush intensified, barely managing to ask for Seifer's order.

    Squall's order, the greek veggie wrap sounded seemed tasty, but Seifer found he was in the mood for something else, something with more meat and less 'veggie'. "Hmm," he murmured, eyeing the menu. When the guy behind the counter had collected his wits enough to ask what Seifer would like, he'd already made his choice. "Well, the chicken caesar wrap looks good," he placed his order casually, watching idly as it too was placed on the grill, "Um, I'll take a cranberry juice as well." He figured the bittersweet drink went with pretty much everything and he wasn't all that picky. He paid as quickly as possible before turning back towards Squall.

    Seifer watched with some interest as Brian's eyes went between himself and Squall, lingering on the latter. The brunette's mere presence seemed to be making him blush Squall leaned against the baked goods, seemingly unconcerned with the attention he was being given. It was almost amusing really.

    Squall completely ignored the guy oggling him, instead focusing those pretty stormy eyes on Seifer as he ordered a wrap and cranberry juice as well. Squall could feel the eyes lingering on him as Brian blatantly stared at him, apparently content to watch the brunette instead of paying attention to the grill. Stormy depths narrowed, slanting to the sizzling sandwich press. Their wraps were definitely ready. A glare took up residence on the pretty face as he finally looked at the enamoured husky.

    "You gonna let our wraps burn there Brian?" Squall asked sweetly, giving the other male a pointed look, gesturing with one pale slim hand at the grill. Brian blinked several times, abruptly coming out of whatever fantasy he'd been conjuring up in his mind and rushed to get their food before it was ruined. Squall glanced sidelong at Seifer, shaking his head a little, the corners of his lips quirked up in a naughty little grin.

    The blushing college kid returned with the delicious smelling wraps momentarily, apologizing profusely. Squall merely waved him off as if he didn't care about the near inconvenience.

    "Wanna sit outside?" he asked the tall blond as he took his paper covered wrap and napkins in hand, his attention back on his companion.

    The food looked and smelled heavenly. Luckily Brian had gotten ahold of himself before he had burned their food, though that was more because of the Squall's intervention than by a sudden burst of willpower, Seifer suspected. The older youth shrugged in response to the sidelong look Squall gave him. He, himself, had spaced out a bit in the sultry boy's presence, so he couldn't blame Brian.

    "Yeah, might as well since it's nice out and all. It'd be a shame to waste it, no?" he agreed to the suggestion. He gestured to the door, waiting for Squall to get it this time. 

    The brunette nodded in agreement, leading the way back to the door, using his hip to push it open and waiting for the older boy to exit before he followed after him. It would be a shame indeed since the day was really very nice, probably one of the last decent days to be outside for any length of time before the winter set in and it got too cold.

    "There are tables just around the corner," he said gesturing to the right hand side where several small, round metal tables with umbrellas and stools were set up. He moved fluidly as he made his way to one of the tables, straddling one of the stools and setting both his drink and food on the little table. 

    "So, did you move here 'cause of your dad's work?" the guitarist asked as he twisted the cap off the bottled juice, taking a sip before licking any excess juice from his lips with a pink tongue.

    Seifer's movements weren't quite as fluid as Squall's; with his brawny frame, he wasn't what you'd call graceful though he wasn't exactly clumsy either. Raising his head as a breeze passed, he glanced around the little area as he sat down opposite his brunette counterpart. "Mmhm, his work had us move. The party thought he could swing this district or something like that," he shrugged noncommitally, obviously displeased with the move, "It's happened a few times. Getting integrated into new schools has become a routine."  He took a drink of his own juice, looking at Squall over the rim of the bottle before setting it back down and unwrapping the warm wrap from its paper.

    "I mean sure, I get the house to myself, but that hardly makes up for it and with the elections coming up this year, I'll probably be bored out of my mind there for the next couple months. I dunno what I'm gonna do for a ride then, if the bus doesn't change routes or I don't get another car, which doesn't seem too promising a scenario after the last one," he said after he had finished unwrapping his food. He very much doubted that either option would happen any time soon. 

    "Hm, that's shitty. I was lucky; my dad retired before I ever had to move around. When I was a kid, he'd just go on tour and leave my mom and I at home. He decided it'd be better to retire when--" Squall paused briefly, eying Seifer, uncertain about sharing something as personal as what had happened with his mother. He didn't talk about her to anyone. It was too painful.

     "When my mom died, so he could take care of me and we wouldn't have to move around while I was still in school. That was right before highschool started," he finished explaining after a moment, not giving anymore detail about his mother's death. He unwrapped his own food and took a bite, chewing and swallowing as he watched the other male, admiring the handsome blond as the breeze ruffled his short hair.

    Squall looked thoughtful, considering what Seifer had said about the upcoming election and about his dilemma. "I could pick you up and drop you off, if you give me twenty bucks a week for gas, if you want, I mean. You know my rep after all," he offered after a few moments deliberation, making the offer without an ulterior motive. He was rather enjoying hanging out with the jock and wouldn't mind making the chase last just a little longer. 'Might be nice for a change...'

    Seifer winced sympathetically when Squall spoke about his mother. He had been right about Squall's dad being a single parental figure, though he hadn't been expecting something as extreme as death to be the resoning behind it. Apologizing to the brunette wouldn't bring her back and so he didn't give the generic apology in response to the statement. An extra twist of pity got to his gut as he remembered some of the rumours he'd heard about the other teen. They had started right about the time Squall had entered as a freshman, which would have  been right around the time he had lost his mother. He didn't know the full story, nor did he really feel that he needed to, but he suspected that these outside events had something to do with the way Squall had chosen to deal with the situation. Perhaps there was more to it, either way, it seemed to Seifer that the reputation was probably poorly earned.

    "Twenty dollars a week? Sounds fair," Seifer agreed with an idle nod, ignoring Squall's comment about his infamous reputation. Even if he had to put up with the flirty brunette, the offer was too good to pass up. With Squall giving him a ride, he would get home at a decent hour and wouldn't have to be picked up by his dad or by Mike. Plus, it would provide him with an acceptable excuse to hang out with Squall Leonhart again, which against his better judgement, he found he very much wanted to do. He would still be by himself for several hours a day, but it was better than nothing. He was willing to take the offer at face value, since Squall had proved to be nothing, but chaste during their encounter thus far. He'd kept true to his word and hadn't laid so much as an unwanted finger on Seifer. Aside from the subtle and not so subtle flirting, their outing had been completely innocent, just two guys getting a bite to eat after school.

    Squall had been relieved Seifer hadn't asked further about his mother or responded with the obligatory apology that he so often had heard before; he simply didn't comment on his mother's death at all. It just pissed Squall off when people apologized to him for her death. They didn't even know the circumstances. They just apologized so freely, thinking it was polite when it just made it worse in the yong man's opinion. It was part of the reason he rarely told anyone about her at all. What was the point if they didn't even really mean what they said in response?

    "Alright. You'll have to let me know when you want me to start picking you up," he replied, a little surprised that Seifer had agreed to the arrangement without any bartering or conditions. Squall smiled genuinely, the expression softening something in those smoky twilight depths. Apparently, he'd done something right in order to change Seifer's impression of him just a little. He took a drink of his juice before eating some more of the wrap, getting full quickly, even though he'd been starving when they'd arrived.

    Seifer's wrap was steadily shrinking as Squall picked at his while they talked. "Yeah. It'll be about a month yet, so don't worry about it. I'll keep you posted." He caught the rare smile that had lit up on the other boy's face and found himself returning it in kind, flashing Squall his desvastatingly handsome lopsided grin once again. That grin was starting to do funny things to the brunette's heart and he wasn't sure if he should be worried or not.

    Squall blinked, breaking his stare to wrap up the last third of his late lunch before he leaned a cheek on the palm of his right hand. "You know, people might spread shit about you too if I'm acting as your chauffeur," he said after a moment, the thought having just occured to him. It was only fair that he give the blond warning of that possibility. For once, Squall was actually a little regretful of his reputation. It could potentially ruin this chance for him.

    When Squall set aside the rest of his wrap, Seifer was just polishing off the last of his own, crumpling up the wrapping as Squall spoke. "T'ch,  I'm willing to trade a few whispers in the halls for a ride home. Besides, what will they have to whisper about? The Republican's son getting a ride home after school by the shady homosexual with the corvette? Like really, who's going to believe that we're doing anything more than that? Pfft, several guys know I need the ride, but not a single one offered," he said, scoffing at the implication. Sure, there would probably be some ridiculous aligations and alleged sightings of nefarious acts between he and Squall, but they would be flimsy at best.

    Squall sucked on his bottom lip, worrying it between perfect white teeth. He didn't think the whispers would be the kind the other wanted to have following him, but he didn't try to argue with Seifer about it. If the brawny jock said he could handle it, Squall wasn't about to push the issue; he'd wanted to be the one to drive Seifer after all. He snorted, "Of course they didn't offer. Most of them have to drive their mom's minivans if they even manage to get them for the day."

    The brunette pulled out a cigarette and lit it, taking a hit off it before resting his hand on the table as he exhaled smoothly, leaving the pack on the table in between them in case the other male wanted to try his hand at smoking once again. He dug his cell out of his pocket and checked the time. It had only been little over an hour altogether, leaving Seifer with at least another whole hour before his ride would show up.

    "You want me to take you back to the school now or you wanna go somewhere else?" he questioned, willing to spend a little more of his free time chatting and hanging around if the other wanted to. He could always play guitar or something if they waited at the school or went to the nearby park. Otherwise, he'd just head home and finish up his song for the following night's performance.

    Seifer passed on the cigerette, figuring he'd already made enough of a fool out of himself trying to finish the first one. Trying again would just be a waste of Squall's smokes. He used the time the pretty boy spent smoking to finish up his drink, crushing the bottle and tossing it in the recycling bin next to the one for trash where he deposited the wrapping from his food. He had been raised with manners if nothing else and not littering had simply become a habit over the years.

    "What else is there to do here in town?" he asked curiously. Other than the McDonalds, the highschool, the bar he'd been told about, and now the cafe, there didn't seem to be much else around. Sure, the place had that 'small town charm' or whatever, and was obviously picked by his father to keep him out of trouble, but it didn't serve to dispel the creeping boredom he had toward the place. Squall was by far the most exciting thing he come across yet.

    Squall placed one painted fingertip to his lips as he considered the other activities that were often favoured by the teenagers in the somewhat small community. "Well, there's the park, the mall, the theater or the arena if you like watching hockey," he counted off, closing one blue-grey eye as he took another drag off his cigarette. He didn't go to the movies often and when he did, he went alone to the matinee show to avoid his peers; he'd never been to the arena to watch a game and only went to the mall when he needed to shop since he didn't find it particularly amusing to mull about in the food court or wander from shop to shop, just looking around; it irritated him. As he thought about it, he considered that he might actually not mind seeing a movie with Seifer sometime. They seemed to be getting on fairly well, which was rather surprising, since the jock had obviously heard the rumors and clearly knew he was well within Squall's sights. The brunette wasn't about to complain though; he was rather enjoying their interaction even as pure as it was.

    As they got to know each other more, Squall was becoming a little weary. He'd only wanted to fool around with Seifer, just like all the others on the long list, but he was actually starting to like the other teen, which was cause for concern in his mind. Squall didn't do friends, figuratively and literally.

    He leaned forward in his seat, resting his elbows on the table as he smoked, flicking the ash idly as he mulled over his thoughts. It was fun teasing the blond, but if he wanted to actually be friends with the other male, fooling around with him was out of the question. 'Ugh, why'd he have to have such a nice fucking smile?'

    "Perhaps. Well, I've got another hour to kill," Seifer said with a shrug. It wouldn't kill him to hang out with the pervy little brunette a  little longer. He picked one of the options at random. One hour was too short for a movie, and he doubted there was anything exciting going on at the arena at the moment, the park would be alright, but it would be getting chilly soon as the day wore on. The mall seemed boring, but it seemed the most logical of the list. "Mall?" he suggested casually. Squall didn't seem half bad, though there was a little voice in the back of Seifer's head that was desperately concerned about just how invested he was in having a friendship with the oddly alluring boy across from him. He had made it a point not to get too heavily associated with the 'rejects' and the like, yet here he was, chatting amiably with the talk of the school and it seemed like Squall wasn't even trying too hard to get into his pants. That little voice tried to tell him it was just another way for the brunette to weasel his way in, but Seifer chose to ignore it.

    Where Squall was worried about getting closer to him in ways that could undoubtably hurt the brunette, Seifer was worried about keeping his newly formed reputation intact and the more he dwelled on it, the louder that little voice got. He knew how their peers were; if he spent too much time with Squall, he would no doubt end up as ostracized at the other teen. That was his main concern. After all, the right kind of connections were everything.

    "'Kay, we can do that. It's not all that exciting though, just warning you now," the dark-haired youth said, nodding as he stood up, turning towards the direction of his car as he flicked the mostly finished cigarette away. He stretched slim arms above his head languidly, revealing the tattoo on his lower back once more, before his shirt covered it once again, arms back at his sides.

    "It's not really that far away from here either; nothing really is. The school's pretty much in the middle of the whole town," he remarked, glancing back at the other male before collecting his leftovers, wallet and his unfinished drink before stepping off the patio towards his car. He dug the keys from his pocket once again, hitting the unlock button on the remote. The corvette gave a little yip, announcing that it had been sucessfully unlocked. He stuck the leftover wrap in the backseat next to his notebooks, closing the door and opening his own, still holding his drink and wallet in one hand as he waited for Seifer to get in before he followed suit.

    The dark ink on Squall's pale skin showed in blatant contrast, drawing Seifer's eye when the youth had stretched. It could only have been a tattoo; he was certain of it. The blond couldn't help but wonder about it and made a mental note to ask the other boy about it. Squall was just full of surprises. "Yeah," he acknowledged, flicking his eyes back up and away from Squall's back. Even after the tattoo had been covered once again by the brunette's shirt, Seifer's jade-eyed gaze had lingered there until Squall had spoken and begun moving. Seifer jogged unnecessarily to catch up with his new acquaintance as he made his way to his corvette. "But what else can I do for the hour? I can hardly walk home," he added as an afterthought.

    "Small towns are all like this. Rarely anything interesting happening," he remarked casually, clearly having lived in other small townships before. He slid into the passenger seat once more and waited for Squall to slip in before he posed the nagging question about the tattoo. "Not many high school kids have tattoos; when'd you get yours?"

    "True enough. Nothing of interest happens in small towns. That's why I can't wait to get out of here," the slim boy said as he slid into the driver's seat, sticking the key into the ignition as he closed his door. He buckled his seat belt, settling the juice between his thighs. The same strains of guitar filled the car as he turned the key, starting the corvette. He held his wallet out to Seifer, asking idly "Can you stick that back in the glove box?"

"Hm?" he replied belatedly to the blond's inquiry, confused by the unexpected question regarding the inking on his back. It took him a second to realize that the other must have glimpsed the tattoo when he'd stretched or bent over or something earlier. "Got it for my fifteenth birthday, so like a little over two years ago I guess. It was a gift from my dad," he said, reaching over Seifer's seat in the same motion as he had before, pulling out of the parking spot. He gave the taller boy a sidelong glance, raising a thin brow, "You like?"

    Seifer took the wallet, sticking it back in the glove box without comment as he listened to Squall talk. He'd known what to expect inside the glove compartment, so he didn't freeze up out of shock again. He tossed it unceremoniously over the condoms (there really were quite a lot of them) before closing it up, a slight shade of pink in his ears as he dismissed the thought. Foresty green focused on the road as the heat faded from his ears.

    "Maybe. I only saw a few black lines of it earlier, so it's hard to say," he replied noncommitally, unable to give a definite affirmation without seeing the rest of the tattoo in question. The side glance Squall gave him as he backed out of the parking lot made him feel guilty, hearing an accusation that just wasn't there, as if he had been caught doing something sinful. "Why did you want a tattoo?" He hadn't ever really thought about getting one himself because he had no clue what he would get even if his father would allow him one.

    "Hn, maybe I'll let you see the whole thing sometime, if you play your cards right," the brunette commented with a sly wink as he began driving further away from the school towards the mall. "It's in memory of my mum. She had one similar. There's a line of lyrics from one of my dad's songs too, though you probably couldn't see that much," he explained easily, humouring the other boy's curious questioning. He wondered why it was that it seemed easy to talk about his mother to the other male. Maybe it was because Seifer hadn't given him that pathetic feigned sympathy that most gave when they were confronted with a person's death. Lacquered fingertips pattered against the steering wheel unconsciously to the humming guitar chords playing in the background of their conversation.

    He took a left at the next intersection, weaving through the afternoon traffic, clearly comfortable behind the wheel. "Why so curious? You planning on getting one or something?"

    Seifer shrugged one shoulder, taking in the explanation, his curiosity being sated for the time. "No, just a few lines, not much at all," his response seemed more to himself than to Squall as his eyes went unfocused for a moment or two, Squall's cheeky wink totally lost on him at the time. He hadn't seen anyone with a tattoo on their entire back before and he could imagine that it had likely hurt a lot, which said a whole lot about Squall; he certainly wasn't some wimpy little gay boy, that was for damn sure, between the tattoo and what he'd witnessed earlier in the day during Squall's encounter with Gregory, Seifer wasn't too keen on crossing the lithe brunette. Seifer nodded along with the music unconsciously as Squall effortlessly guided them through the streets of the town. He seemed to come back to the present when Squall spoke up once again.

    "Well, maybe. My dad would probably kill me though and I don't know what I would even want to get," he replied belatedly, trying to appear as though he had been considering his answer. His dad would kill him if he ever did any of several things; get a tattoo, let his grades fall under a 3.0, borrow the car, cut class and any number of other things his father considered rebellious or unbecoming for his son. Of course, kissing another boy was probably on that top of that list followed closely by hanging out with homos. Uptight was a profundly astute description for Alexander Almasy.

    "Hm. Something tribal would probably look pretty hot, maybe on your upper arm or on your shoulder blade or something," Squall observed cooly, glancing over at the taller jock for a moment before dragging his eyes back to the much less interesting street in front of him.

    "What daddy dearest doesn't know won't hurt him. Why not get one somewhere he won't see it? Besides when you're eighteen, he'll have pretty much lost his power over you, right?" the brunette said, making another right, the mall now within their view a couple blocks ahead on their left. It was difficult for Squall to imagine what it was like to live Seifer's life, to have such restrictions placed on him. Squall would have become a run away ages ago if that had been his life, he was sure. It made him appreciate his own father's laidback and easygoing manner all the more. "Does your dad get to control every aspect of your life? Are you even allowed to get laid?" He asked, feeling a little miffed at the politician on Seifer's behalf. It was pretty telling when Seifer was even reluctant to bring up his future career choice with his uptight father.

    The blond looked taken aback as Squall came up with a tattoo that would most likely appeal to him so quickly, then again, he supposed Squall had probably checked him out several times already. That fact didn't bother him nearly as much as it should have though.

    Seifer shrugged, too embarrassed to admit to the younger brunette that he was, in fact, already eighteen. He was just so used to the constant intrusions into his life that he hadn't thought to simply go against his father's will; it just seemed like such a hassle. Most of his apparel could be summed up in polos and dark jeans, all of which were father approved; he would fit right in at the 'fraternity' his dad insisted he would be joining once in college. It made him cringe inwardly, feeling distinctly foolish for being so powerless against his overbearing father when he was sitting next to the damn epitome of teenage wetdreams and glorious freedom. "I could I guess, but then I'd have to listen to him bitch about how disappointed I made him for the rest of my damn life, I swear," the blond said through a frown before he paused for a long moment.

    "Well, actually he kinda does, when he's around anyways," he the first of Squall's questions, looking out the window at the passing cars and the surrounding area before he answered the other, if for no other reason than to avoid Squall's questioning stare. He took a long moment before answering quietly, "He would rather I didn't. It's not exactly Christian, you know what I mean?"

    Squall gave a hollow chuckle. "I wasn't being serious. God, your dad actually wants you to be chaste, like as in waiting until marriage or some shit? That's so... Archaeic," he said with a decidedly sarcastic tone before sighing, "Then again, I suppose it's better than turning out like me, huh?" The question didn't really require an answer as it was obvious what the answer would be.

    "Yeah. He probably would have preferred I didn't even know about the birds and the bees until my wedding night. Perfectly innocent, upstanding son and a bitch wife who abandoned us both. Sympathy voters and values voters all at once, I guess," Seifer muttered darkly, bitterness seeping into the words unconsciously. He had gotten an earful of it when he had been caught with a girl in his room once, not that they had really gotten all that far to begin with. He hadn't even enjoyed it that much which was the real bummer. It hadn't ended up being worth the verbal lashing he'd received from his dad. He perked up suddenly, grinning at Squall's comparison between the two of them, so completely opposite. The brunette had a point and a bit of humor about his rep apparently which served to pull Seifer out of dark memories. Somewhere in the back recesses of his mind, he wondered if sleeping with Squall would be worth it. 

    "Hm, you've got it pretty rough; you should try to let loose once in a while," Squall suggested, changing the subject as he turned into the plaza that held the shopping mall, finding a spot as quickly as possible and pulling into it. He didn't leave the car right away when they arrived at the mall, sharp eyes catching on a familiar group of jocks and cheerleaders, including Gregory and Rinoa, the girl Seifer had been eyeballing eagerly earlier that day. He didn't say anything about the group, just sat in his car, watching them, waiting for some kind of cue from the brawny boy next to him.

    Seifer moved to get out of the car then stopped short as he saw his football friends and the cheerleader girls grouped together outside the entrance. He flopped back down in his seat, realizing belatedly that Squall had quite obviously seen them too. "Ah..." his voice trailed off quietly, uncertain what more could be said, when he and the brunette both were clearly thinking the same thing. Both his and Squall's hesitance was a fair indication of their similar thoughts.

    Squall felt awkward for the first time in a long time, knowing the other male didn't really want to be seen hanging out with the likes of him. It would surely ruin whatever reputation the blond had been building whilst attending their school. He inhaled a deep breath, letting it out in a heavy sigh. "Guess the mall's a bust. Well, at least you know where it is now. You wanna head back to the school?" he asked, not looking at the other male. He was a bit pissed off, mostly at himself and at the injustice of society's views of what was and was not acceptable. Squall's lifestyle was unacceptable in the eyes of people like Seifer's father and others like him, their children too. He sucked on his lower lip, tapping his foot, annoyed with the whole situation, having put a damper on his outing with the handsome jock. This was why they couldn't be friends. 'Who am I kidding?' he questioned inwardly.

    "Yeah. Back to the school then, I guess," Seifer agreed while rebuckling his seat belt, guilt creeping along under his skin. Squall seemed like a nice enough kid, but really, they didn't run in the same circles; they couldn't even if they tried. He wanted to be a high achiever, get into the best college he could, make his father proud; get a real job and maybe act somewhere as a hobby, marry a nice good girl and have some little baby Almasys. It was a life his father would hopefully approve of, even if Seifer thought it a bit boring and structured. He only hoped he wouldn't be too miserable having to be the one living it. He wasn't to know that the very lifestyle that his dad had taught him was ideal was going to drive him completely mad. He had his reputation on the line. Squall would understand, probably. The moment was just as awkward for  Seifer as it was for his brunette opposite and he wished he could come up with something diplomatic to say to Squall to make it a bit better. He didn't think there were any words that could make the situation any less than exactly what it was. 'Besides, I'm not Squall's type, too uptight, a bit too straight and way too focused on my reputation. And it'd take me ages to get past all that anyways. Too much work,'  he justified in his head, even though he knew somewhere inside that he was making excuses just to make himself more comfortable with what he was thinking and doing. He wasn't sure what he was trying to convince himself of, that he really wasn't Squall's type or that he didn't want to be Squall's type.

    The brunette's jaw twitched and instead of agreeing verbally, he merely gave a curt nod, starting his car once again, reversing before driving out of the parking lot. It wasn't fair that this had happened. It should have been simple. He shouldn't have offered to go to the cafe with Seifer or offer to chauffeur him in the coming months olr anything else after that. Now, he liked him. It should have been simple; teasing Seifer, seducing him, fooling around and nothing more. No fuss, no muss, just instant pleasure and then nothing. But it was too late now and he was surprised that it hurt, especially considering how guarded he had been keeping himself over the years. A pained expression flickered across pretty features, really too beautiful for a guy. The look was gone as quickly as it had appeared on his face when they stopped at the red light.

    He had nothing to say now, shocked silent by his own realization that he'd broken his own rules, rules that were in place to avoid just this situation. He didn't need friends. You couldn't be hurt if you were alone, if you never let anyone in. 'I even talked about my mother... Fuck, this is a mess,' he thought irately, running pale, slim fingers through his hair, suddenly in desperate need of a cigarette... or two.

    He didn't have friends because you couldn't fuck friends. If you did, things got complicated. Seifer could only be what was considered a friend now and Squall didn't know how to go about removing that title from the other boy in a quick and easy method. He wanted to kiss him, to fool around, but it was more than that now and that scared the shit out of him. 'I'll just pretend... I'll go back to normal tomorrow. I'll flirt with him and tease him, but I won't touch him...It'll be as if this never happened. I'm not gonna fall for him, that's all there is to it.'

    Seifer suddenly felt completely exposed and out of place in Squall's car, the amiable atmosphere that had been between them replaced with a strained silence. His eyes focused outside, trying to look at anything, but the pretty boy, his hand kneading his own leg unconsciously. Boys like Squall; they were trouble anyway. The blond had started something kind of nice with Squall and he'd even been offered transportation in the coming months. It could work for him if he played it right, but he didn't like hurting other people, not intentionally anyhow. He needed a drink. 'What a damn mess.'

    He sighed heavily, breath making the window next to him fog up slightly. He would have to make this up to Squall sometime later somehow, that was assuming the beautiful brunette would even be willing to speak to him again after he'd so obviously chosen his reputation over Squall's company. 'Damned self image,' he cursed inwardly. They would have been just fine if there'd just been no one there.

    It was then that he realized, with the taste of bile rising on his tongue that he would have picked his reputation anyway because even if there hadn't been that group there, there would always be someone to see them together and make assumptions.

    'Well Damn...'

    He had found a less than superficial friend, one that he could actually see himself getting close to, trusting even and it turned out that he was the worst kind of people to associate with in the name of image alone.

    Squall stayed silent the entire ride back to the school, unable to think of the right words to say, unable to fake a flirty smile and make a move on Seifer. The only sound in the car was the melancholy chords of guitar playing out of the speakers. Squall's knuckles whitened on the steering wheel as the notes he'd composed and played, recorded and burned made his eyes cloud with unshed tears. 'I will not cry about this... I am the one that wanted it this way...I am not lonely... I don't need friends... I don't need him...I don't...'

    Finally, they pulled up to the school. It was just passed four thirty and Squall didn't think he could spend any more time in the other boys company, not until he had had a chance to collect himself. Tomorrow would be better. He chewed a plump bottom lip as he stopped at the front of the school.

"I can't stay, but it's been real," he said, turning guarded slate eyes towards Seifer, smiling as if he were perfectly fine, though it didn't reach the rest of his face. "Lemme know if you ever wanna let loose. I'll come pick you up anytime," he said, winking at the other male.

    After what had seemed like eternity to Seifer, the corvette had pulled up in front of the school. Squall gave him a send off, albeit a distanced and chilly one compared to how he'd spoken with him at the caf'e. Apparently he had fouled up badly. The smile seemed forced, but at the very least, he seemed to be okay, if not a little cold. A flirty wink and an open invitation was what he'd expected and he wasn't disappointed when Squall ended with just that. It all just served to make him feel like more of a douche.

    With a guilty nod, Seifer slid out of the car. "Ha, I'll keep it in mind," he tried to laugh, to give the impression that nothing had changed when it clearly had, simply giving the brunette a two fingered salute before moving out of the way. He stood on the curb closest to the bus stop, watching Squall's car speed off with another heavy sigh. He had a thirty minute wait and he was pretty certain it was going to be the longest thirty minutes of his entire life.

    "Well, I fucked that one up," he muttered to himself as he sat down on the grass lawn, running a large, tanned hand through the short spun gold of his hair and waiting dejectedly for his ride to show up.

    Squall went home in a pissy, depressed mood, annoyed and angry at himself and Seifer and life in general. Once he'd gotten home, he'd waved his father off when he'd asked how his day had been, his guitar slung over one slim shoulder haphazardly. His father had given him an understanding look and didn't pry, accepting his son's obvious intention to be alone.

    The dark-haired youth spent the night pouring over the songs he would play at the bar the following night, neglecting to eat once again, too engrossed in his work to even notice the rumble of his stomach. It was far into the wee hours of the morning by the time he finally stopped and crashed. When he didn't get up on time in the morning, his father peered in at him. Leaning in his son's doorway, Laguna watched Squall silently, curled up surrounded by crumpled, scribbled pages containing notes and lyrics, still fully clothed, looking rumpled and forlorn with dark circles under his eyes. He'd obviously had a rough night. The long-haired older man gave a half smile, reminded of himself in his younger years, staying up all night to work on his music until he'd drained himself. Instead of waking him for school, he let Squall sleep. He had a big night ahead of him after all; he could probably use the rest.

    The evening ritual for Seiferer went as follows: go home, see dad, sit through interrogation masked as conversation about his day in the most superficial way he could, check Facebook and add the jocks and cheerleaders, and finally go to bed. It was easy really; he'd done it a thousand times already. The only thing was that out of those thousand times, he'd only met Squall Leonhart just once and that made all the damn difference in the world for some reason. The following day, he was definitely going to apologize to the brunette, had decided to dress up for it and rehearsed what he would say simply because he couldn't think of any other way to make amends. He slept like shit that night.

     To his surprise, the infamous brunette was not at school, nowhere to be seen. Both classes they shared lacked Squall's presence. Even when he'd went out looking for him over lunch at the cafe and in the parking lot, there was not a single sign of him to Seifer's immense disappointment. His friends were the football jocks, so it was with them that he hung out during breaks and at lunch and in gym class, getting reminder about the trip to the bar with all of them that evening. One of them had even taken the liberty of procuring a fake ID for him.

    It worked out well for Seifer thanks to another weekend trip on his father's behalf. His father had left early that morning, complete with the 'Be good. Don't let me hear about any trouble' and 'I'll have Mike check in on you so be home safe!'  It was bullshit really, all of it. It was all an act his father put on, using Seifer as a pawn for his career, good PR and all that. Still, he tried to make the best of it and after school, he met up with a bunch of the football guys just as they'd all agreed. Gregory was there, boasting that he had 'taught the little faggot a lesson' to restore himself after the episode the day before. It was all a lot of shit of course, since Seifer had been with Leonhart after school the day before, but he didn't correct the other. Seifer just smiled and nodded instead, satisfied that the brunette and himself had escaped notice during their out the previous afternoon. 

    He had even managed to get an in with the Rinoa, spending a good portion of his day making light passes at her and receiving them in exchange. By the time the last bell had sounded, they were officially a beta couple and the deciding factor would be how things went at the bar. It would be simple and he wouldn't be expected to fuck her right away either, which was a perk of sorts. Queen bitch she may be, but school whore she most certainly was not.

    Even without Squall actually present at the school, he seemed to be a hot topic, Seifer noticed. The other students talked just as much about him while he wasn't there as they did when he was, maybe more so even. It seemed that though Squall had only skipped school a hanful of times on account of 'work injuries', it was suspected and assumed that that was what the brunette was getting over.

    It was now that Seifer realized exactly how much truth there was to the rumours and how much was simply speculation and fabrication. It was pretty clear to him that the rumour surrounding Squall's absence was a flat out lie as Seifer knew for a fact that the other youth would have had to work awefully quickly to get a guy in bed after spending so much time after school with Seifer himself.

    Lost in his thoughts after school, he mechanically told Mike that he had a ride and not to worry about him; he'd just call him if he needed anything. He was pulled along for the ride with his new 'friends'.

    Squall hadn't been exaggerating the previous day; everything was near the school, Seifer realized as the group made their way to the bar. The bar was quite literally just down the street opposite to the direction of the cafe he had visited the afternoon before. Needless to say, Seifer and Co. were lightly buzzed before five o' clock even rolled around and thoughts of the sultry brunette seventeen year old had faded to the back of Seifer's mind with every sip of alcohol he took. He had never been so god damned thankful for the mind numbing effects of liquor in his whole life.

TBC...



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