Author's Note- Hey, this is Sodoshiin. This fanfic was actually posted several years ago, and was removed when decided to delete all NC-17 fanfics from the website. Well, it's back! The two other stories that make up the arc are also on my account, so please read them after this. I'm currently working on a brand new arc so keep your eyes peeled!

Remember, this story was written well over four years ago and hasn't been edited in any way.

Sections with names are presented in the character's POV. Not all of the sections are in specific POV. Most are narrative.

Semi Comedy, Semi Romance, Semi Angsty...blah blah blah...has bits of other stuff...Lemon cough (Not until the later parts you hentais..)

Warnings - YAOI-YAOI-YAOI! Angst, Rape-not done by Seifer, Flashbacks, Mushiness, tiny amount of Laguna bashing- done by Seifer, Lots of lusting- done by Seifer, Rinoa bashing- done by everyone...

Most of the characters spend the entire story just wondering what the hell is going on.


Illusions

Part 1

Seifer

There was a soft breeze, I could hear birds, which was odd seeing as how I was supposed to be dead. I opened my eyes warily, staring up at the blue sky above me. The clouds were gone...I didn't know where I was...or where'd I'd been? I couldn't quite remember. My entire body hurt like hell. My rib was broken and I could feel myself bleeding. I heard laughter and turned my head. Fujin and Raijin were coming toward me, across the field, dumbstruck faces searching over the flowers, wondering how they'd gotten there. I followed the laughter to the top of the hill where Rinoa sat, crying happily, looking down at a weary looking Squall.

Who smiled...Leonhart had actually smiled. It was small, but it was what it was. In all the years I'd known him, I never, ever, remembered Squall even attempt to smile.

We were back at the orphanage. Ultimecia was gone. The time compression was over. They beat her...They actually did it...

A strange emptiness filled me.

Selphie and Irvine gathered their bearings a few feet away while Fujin and Raijin stopped to look up at the sky, amazed that everything had turned back to normal.

I ignored the wet droplet that made it's way from my eye and lay there, still and quiet.

Trying to figure out what that made me...


six years later-

Seifer departed from the brightly colored transport and gazed around himself, sighing. A new city, new hope that he would actually find some kind of a life in this shithole place with all its shithole people...It had been years since the demise of Ultimecia and still no one would let it go. He'd gone from city to city, hoping to finally settle down somewhere. It had been more than a few times when he'd actually thought he'd succeeded, just to be fired from work or evicted because of his past records. People usually found out who he was.

So here he was. One of two cities he'd attempted to steer clear of. One was Balamb. There were too many people he knew nearby. Zell's family was still living there and with the Garden so nearby he didn't want to risk anything. Fujin and Raijin had returned to their SeeD training almost three and a half years ago, welcomed by Cid. They'd been SeeDs ever since. Seifer couldn't hope for any kind of forgiveness like that. His two former lackeys had stayed with him until they realized they had their own lives to begin. Last Seifer had heard, Raijin had gotten married. He and his wife had settled down in Balamb. He hadn't heard anything about Fujin...

He glanced around, wondering where he should go first, his chest sinking.

Esthar...

It was a big city and the only person here he figured would recognize him would be Laguna, and he'd probably be too busy being the president to notice.

He saw a nice looking redhaired boy go by and glanced at him.

Nice body. Not my type though...

He'd made no secret about his sexual preference... which varied. Fujin and Raijin had never complained. He found himself attracted to all kinds of people, both male and female. They only stuck around for a little while though... He liked it better that way, no attachments, no promises.

"Excuse me." he called to one young woman who was passing by. "Could you tell me where I could find a hotel?"

The woman smiled and pointed down the walkway. "Just past the airstation, take a left at the divide and head toward the center of the city."

"Thanks." Seifer nodded to her, offering her a practiced smile. He walked in the direction she had said, pulling his dark over shirt off and throwing it over his arm.

It was way too hot this time of the year. He cursed himself for wearing such dark clothing, momentarily grateful that he had retired his trenchcoat. After the big battle the jacket was in shreds, far beyond repair.

The only two things he carried with him were a shoulder duffel with clothes and his gunblade case. Wandering around the country called for weapons, if it hadn't been for that reason he would have discarded Hyperion a long time ago. Now that he wasn't fighting for anything there wasn't much of a reason to keep it around anymore.

Two hours and four hotels later, Seifer found himself unpacking in one of the rattiest rooms he'd ever laid eyes upon. The Belhelmel Hotel sat on the far side of the city, away from the stereotypical cleanliness and productivity of the rest of the city. There were a few residential customers and the rent was only one hundred and forty gil a week. It was the cheapest room he could find and there was a bed, a small bathroom and even smaller kitchen and torn sofa and a desk. That was more than enough. He wasn't sure if the television worked, it was an old model, probably built before he was born and hadn't been used since the communication tower had been destroyed. The paint on the phone was wearing off, the walls were stained, the carpet had holes and a bright neon sign peered in through his one window.

He sighed, falling back onto the bed, listening to the sound of a couple arguing in the hallway and the traffic outside. "Home sweet home..."

When night fell he rolled away from the window, throwing the pillow over his face to shut out the lights and the sounds from outside. Crowds of people had gathered in the streets to celebrate the night. He was almost eager to join them, party and maybe create a little havoc. Like old times.

No, he had to keep his act straight so that maybe he could show people that he was capable of good too, which sounded odd even to his own ears.

Me, a reformed citizen.

He closed his eyes, shutting out all the elements around him until the sound was only a dull background noise.

He thought hard, trying to wish himself someplace else.

As sleep drew nearer an image began to appear in his mind.

The field of flowers behind the orphanage, just as he remembered it as a child. It seemed so big, so cast, like it was the largest place on earth and it was all his...He could almost smell it, feel the wind blow his hair back. The sun was setting, making the green of the grass a dark red hue. Birds flew overhead toward the forest of trees in the distance, heading toward their nests. He sat down, letting his hands brush against the cool grass.

"Seifer! Supper!" A little voice called from the house, he turned around to see a small redhaired girl standing in the doorway.

"Coming!" His own tiny voice answered as he stood, brushing himself off.

Something was odd though. Out of place. Selphie wasn't usually the one to call him in...it was always someone else. Someone who'd cared more...Something had happened to that person...

Why couldn't he remember...


The next morning, Seifer wandered from another shop that wasn't hiring and headed for the next.

You'd think that in a city as big as this SOMEONE would be hiring, he thought. Boy, it's just my luck..

He sighed, lost in his own thought when he ran into a what had to have been a wall and fell to the ground. He shook his head to clear it and looked up at the giant mass of person that had sent him reeling.

"Woah, sorry guy," a voice called from the man's side.

Seifer's mood darkened, recognizing the two.

Laguna's lackeys...

Kiros was reaching out a hand to help him up. Seifer took it, pulling himself to his feet. "Uh...no it was entirely my fault..." Low profile, don't make a scene. I don't think they recognize me. "I should watch where I'm going." He ducked his head. "Excuse me..."

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Kiros study him a little. "Hey, I know you from somewhere..."

Seifer sighed, here it goes. They're gonna throw me in the dungeon at the Presidential Palace. I don't even know if there IS a dungeon...I'm screwed. I know it.

"You worked at the Cafe in Fisherman's Horizon a while ago." Kiros nodded, obviously proud that he'd been able to place the young man before him.

Seifer almost gaped. He didn't really remember seeing Kiros go anywhere near the Cafe when he'd worked there over a year ago. And that Kiros had recognized him after seeing him for such a short time and such a long time ago was impressive. "Uh...yeah."

"Good food there." Kiros nodded. He blinked. "You don't work there anymore?"

Seifer shook his head. "No. I came here for work. No one's hiring."

"Well that's not hard to believe. Every time this season people go job hunting crazy. I doubt there's a job anywhere in the city."

Seifer's face fell. "You mean I came all the way here for nothing?"

Kiros tossed him a sympathetic look. "Sorry to burst your bubble." He paused then, grinning. "Hey, would you mind kitchen duty? They need some people at the Presidential Palace to chauffeur food to the guests that stay for conferences. They need an odds-and-ends boy too." He winked. "Plus I bet you know how to make that diner chili."

Seifer blinked. "You mean me, working at the palace." He stopped. What if Laguna recognizes me...Well, if Kiros didn't then Laguna probably wouldn't. He's an okay president and all but he has less braincells than a Turtapod. "Is it just seasonal work?"

"I dunno, probably not. We have guests all the time. Plus the cooks are always looking for help."

"I wouldn't have to see the president would I?"

"I dunno...he gets pretty busy..." Kiros looked at him oddly. "I'm not sure. Maybe not."

Seifer shrugged. "I'll do it."

"Kiros Seagill, and you are?" Kiros asked, holding out his hand.

"Michael..." he replied, picking a name out of the air. "Michael Vansen." He added, picking the last name from the label he remembered on the back of the blue button down shirt he wore.

I'm so screwed...


"Hurry it up blondie." Hilde, the redhaired, slightly overweight middle-aged head cook called, putting another plate on the steel cutting table. She was one of the few people Seifer could actually saw he truly liked. She seemed like a mother-type but had a sarcasm and wit he found matched his own.

Seifer balanced four plates on a tray already, adjusting them for the trip up the elevator to the royal guest suite. "Chancellor Kay has a "guest" up there." She made quotation marks in the air with her fingers and shook her head.

"Again?" Seifer shook his head. "What flavor this time?"

Hilde tossed him a smirk. "Brunette."

"Ah," Seifer replied. "Another one?"

"He likes his brunettes."

Seifer shook his head. "I've known lots of brunettes. Most of them pretty, all of them were pains in my ass."

"That's the way the cookie crumbles." She sighed. "Not much luck with the ladies, Michael? You'd think with your complexion they'd be all over you."

"Never said they were ladies," he added and headed for the elevator, listening to her cackling laughter.

"Please, you're straighter than a nail and only about twice as round. Which reminds me. When you come back, eat something! You need fat!"

Using his foot to push the button the elevator he laughed as the doors closed.

He'd only been there for two weeks and already it was the best job he'd ever had. He'd had no run-ins with the president yet, and there were so many people around they never thought twice about him when he walked the halls, delivering food. Chancellor Kay had been a guest for the past five days, every night be brought back a different woman, ordering something different for dinner and over twice as much more than they needed.

It was a hell of a lot to carry in just one trip but he managed.

There was something about Kay that unnerved him. It wasn't the odd make-up he wore, which was creepy. He couldn't put his finger on it, but the man always gave him chills whenever he answered the door.

The elevator door opened and he walked down the hallway, stopping at the suite door. He knocked with his foot. "Room Service, Chancellor."

It was a minute before the door opened as a pair of dark eyes met his. Pale make-up covered his face, red liner around his eyes. He looked like a demented circus clown.

"Thank you," a low growl came from the older man as he took the tray away from him.

Seifer felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

What was it about him...

He handed Seifer twenty gil then shut the door.

Seifer released the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and walked back down the hall.

"Hey, Michael," he heard a voice call. Kiros smiled at the young man as he walked down the hall with the empty silver tray under his arm. "How's work."

"Work." Seifer replied, watching as the dark skinned man stepped into the elevator. He followed. "I get off in an hour though so it's not so bad."

"You got off lucky. You could be upstairs doing paper work and talking to drawling bureaucrats all day." Kiros stuck a finger down his throat and made gagging sounds.

"So THAT'S what you do." Seifer nodded. "I often wondered about that."

"Oh not just me. There's some people there about your age who are stuck in there two. Lag's son being one. He hates it. His dad is trying to get him elected once he leaves, office which is still a long ways away, about ten years or so. He plans on nominating him for it. But the kid doesn't want anything like that. He's not very comfortable in positions of great responsibility. Put him in charge of two or three hundred people and he's a natural leader, but he doesn't think he can handle an entire city." Kiros shook his head. "I don't blame him."

"I didn't know Laguna had a son." Seifer blinked. "Was he ever married?"

"Not long," Kiros said. "His wife died a few years after the kid was born."

"Ouch," Seifer muttered. "That must have been horrible. How did his son take it?"

Kiros shrugged. "He never really knew her. He spent most of the beginning of his life in an orphanage."

"I can relate." The blonde nodded, he tilted his head at Kiros. "So, what's Laguna's son like?"

Kiros thought for a minute. "He'd kind of perfectionist, really quiet most of the time, but he's fun once you get him around people he knows. A few of his friends came by about a month ago. He was a lot of fun then. He's usually hanging around the training room when there isn't much else going on. Besides that he's a hard worker, Laguna's crutch and a terrible driver...not much else." He saw Seifer laugh a little and huffed. "No, seriously, you have to see this kid drive. He's a speed demon."

Seifer shrugged as the elevator stopped at the second floor and the door opened. "He doesn't sound so bad."

Kiros started to step out and looked back as he did. "See you around."

Seifer's smile as the doors closed and the elevator continued it decent down.

Hn, Laguna has a kid...


Climbing off the transport (the only one that even came CLOSE to that part of the city) he began his walk toward the hotel, passing groups of young people, headed for parties or nightclubs or just some midnight entertainment.

He lit a cigarette as he walked, taking a deep drag and letting it out slowly, watching the smoke trails as they moved upwards, masking the people around him.

None of them paid any attention to him. He was just another face in the crowd. Which was fine, who needed people anyway.

You do, he told himself. Come on, without Fujin and Raijin you've been going soft, letting your guard down, letting people walk on you...you need stability man, you need more lackeys.

"Hey, you wanna party?" a young girl who couldn't have been past the age of fifteen called to him from her place in front of a brightly lit bar/dance club. She had her arms wrapped around her uncomfortably. Inexperienced, probably her first night "on the job". She wore clothes far to short and revealing, too small in some places too large in others.

Seifer couldn't even bear to look at her. "No thanks."

She flushed and looked embarrassed, her eyes welling up. She didn't want to be there. She was scared.

He stopped walking and looked at her. A small part of him pitied the poor girl. Her eyes looked both terrified and hopeful as he reached into his pocket.

She flinched almost reflexively as he took her small hand and placed forty gil, most of his week's pay, into it. "Go home."

She looked grateful and nodded. He just hoped it was enough to keep her off the streets for a night.

You're getting too soft.

He ignored the looks a group of men standing along the pub walls as he walked by.

One, dark with several tattoos and a shaved head, stared too long.

A moment of fear passed through the blonde as he saw a flash of recognition in the man's eyes. Then it was gone.

Still he walked faster, refusing to look at anyone, hoping he didn't have to stay around there much longer.

He got back to the hotel to find the landlady knocking on his door. Sighing he walked up, tapping her on the shoulder. She turned, surprised, her elderly features recognizing him quickly as she frowned. "Where's the rent."

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small white envelope, handing it to her. The last of his pay for the month. "Next week's is in there too."

"Good boy." She nodded, patting him on the arm. "You're the only one who pays on time. Oh, the water's gonna be shut off tomorrow. They're repiping. It should be going again within the next few days or so."

Seifer sighed. Great, just my luck.

She turned and walked down the hallway as he unlocked the door and stepped inside.

He'd made some attempts to clean the place up but it still looked like shit. He'd bought a fan which sat beside his bed, the only non-neccesity he'd bought since he began working. It just got so god damned hot in the small apartment...

He flopped down on the bed, his feet hurting, his body sweating and the only energy he had left was to lean over and turn the fan on. He sighed and closed his eyes, letting the fan blow over him, drowning out everything else.

"Seifer?" a little voice called as sleep drew nearer.

"Ya?"

"Whatcha doin'?"

"Nothin'."

There was a light gasp of joy. "Cool! A buggy."

"I found him."

An image flashed and Seifer found himself looking down at a pair of two little boys, crouching down behind the lighthouse at the orphanage.

"What kinda buggy is it?" the little brown haired boy asked, blinking. "He's pretty."

"I dunno." the other one told him, blowing his blonde hair away from his eyes.

The brown haired boy sat down crosslegged. "Whatcha gonna do with 'im?"

"He's gonna be my pet." the bigger boy replied in a proud little voice. "He can be yers too."

Gray eyes looked hopeful. "Really? I never had a pet buggy before. Cu'we name him Bob?"

"Sure." the little blonde shrugged. "He can stay in the lighthouse so matron don't squish 'im."

"'Kay."

"You guys are stoopid..." another little voice came as a little blonde girl peered down at them. "Bugs are gross."

"We're NOT stoopid. Yer stoopid." The blonde challenged.

"Am not!" the little girl huffed. "I'm telling Matron that you have a bug!"

"Quisty, no!" Gray eyes widened. "She might hurt'im!"

"I'm telling! I'm telling!" she cried, rushing back to the house.

The brunet picked up the bug and began to run with it toward the field.

"Where're you goin'?" the other boy asked.

"I gotta get him to the big place," the first replied, his little legs flying.

The blonde glanced back at the house before he ran after him, toward the field of flowers...

The image left as quickly as it came, leaving Seifer confused.

Why do I keep having these stupid dreams about the orphanage? ...No... they're not dreams, they're memories...but I don't know where they're coming from...Why can't I remember anything else?

He sighed, rolling over. It must be the effects of the GF training. It messed with all our heads...

Maybe I'm just goin' nuts...

He stood walking into the bathroom, removing his clothes to take a shower, catching a glimpse of himself.

A few random tattoos littered his body, a small snake on his chest, his first tattoo while he was still a trainee in Garden, the fire cross on his shoulderblade... He removed his watch which hid the triple row of scars on his wrists; the failed suicide attempts. Not even Fujin and Raijin knew about those.

He sighed and turned on the shower. He let himself relax, just standing under the flow, the water running planes down his body, massaging his tired muscles.

He huffed, I need a vacation already...


He went back to work the next day, still tired, glad that Chancellor Kay wasn't going to be around for the next few days, at a meeting somewhere else, which meant less work for him. Hilde had ten pies in the oven and several different food projects going at once when he got there. Busy as always.

When he walked to where Hilde was usually working he heard voices and saw two people talking with the cook. One was Kiros, the other was a young, brown haired man with round sliver framed glasses. They were both leaning over the counter, the hem of the dark, high collared work shirt the young man wore folding under the metal counter, molding against a pair of semi-tight black pants.

"Hey, Michael." Hilde smiled.

The two men turned, the brown one's face looked shocked before he looked back at Hilde, watching her as she continued her work.

Seifer glanced at the side of the face that was visible to him, studying the soft, chocolate hair, shorter bangs reaching just passed the thin, furrowed eyebrows into a pair of gray-blue eyes. They angled down sharply but evenly to where the bangs were longer, brushing just past his cheekbone. He was cute, Seifer had to admit, guy-pretty. Not many guys fitted that description. They were usually handsome or they weren't, almost never pretty. This one had a nice high cheekboned face, soft features save for the sharp jawline.

He smirked. Yes, very pretty.

The stranger had continued to look away allowing Seifer a few more seconds to study the rest of him, ignoring the fact that he seemed familiar. There was potentially a very nice body underneath the cloth and the blonde was taking every opportunity to check it out. He was only a few inches shorter than Seifer as both he and Kiros straightened and turned to him.

"Michael." Kiros smiled, putting his hands on his hips. "Meet Laguna's son..."

Seifer began to reach out his hand, seeing a potential future in this one, but paused. His eyes widening as he finally placed who the young man was even before Kiros said his name.

The scar...

No, no way, not here...not him...

"...Squall Loire."

Seifer's throat went dry.

The brunet smiled politely and for a second Seifer thought he didn't recognize him. But the eyes, the eyes told him that he did. Surprisingly, he said nothing about it.

"He's helping Hilde with all the grunt work," Kiros continued. "He's a good worker. We'll probably have him around for a while."

"So...MICHAEL, is it?" Squall's eyes studied him, the light tenor of his voice vibrating in Seifer's chest. "Kiros told me a lot about you."

Seifer swallowed, answering uncertainly, not quite sure what he should do. "All good I hope..."

"Nothing but the best." Kiros smiled genuinely. "Well," he patted Squall's arm. "I have to be getting back to your dad. See you later Michael."

"But-" Seifer started, but Kiros was gone and Hilde was working around the corner on her pies. Out of eyeset and earset.

The two merely stared at one another, eyes locked. Squall could have murdered him right then and there, but he simply watched.

"Been a while," the blonde offered, finding it hard to look at the other young man, and hard to look away. So, this is what Squall Leonhart had turned into... "You look good."

Squall leaned in closer, his face stoic. "Let's just get one thing straight. I won't tell anyone who you are, you can keep your job." His face darkened, his eyes turning to slits. "But you stay AWAY from my father. I swear, if anything happens to him and I find out you had ANYthing to do with it, I will PERSONALLY bury you alive."

Seifer never thought anyone could ever be that intimidating, or frightening, especially considering the way he used to be. He watched as the young man turned and walked toward the elevator.

Seifer scoffed loudly, blinking at the closing elevator door.

Just my luck, I find the greatest job in the world and Leonhart's my boss.

He tried to hold his composure, but inside he was jittery.

Squall was his rival, usually there was a pure hatred that always sparked between him.

But there was none of that now. A deep irritation, yes. Anger, and frustration, of course. But mixed with it was some kind of indescribable tinge of fear and regret that he couldn't quite place.

He huffed to himself, blowing it off. Stupid fuck, I'll beat the shit out of him if he ever threatens me like that again.

The curse was empty, he knew, only to please himself. The blonde had to admit, he was a little glad to see his old rival and classmate. Even if Seifer hated his guts and would sooner kill him than start a friendly conversation with him, a familiar face was a familiar face, and he hadn't seen one in a very long time.


Squall walked upstairs into his father's secondary office, grabbing the assistant's arm and dragging her out into the hallway. Her one good eye blinked at him questioningly as he pulled her down the corridor and releasing her.

"What's wrong?" she asked, studying him. He was clearly unnerved by something and that made her worried.

"Seifer's here."

Her eye widened. "Are you sure it's him?"

Squall nodded. "He's working downstairs in the kitchen. Kiros brought me down there to meet him. When he described him to me it just sounded so familiar...he's going by the name of Michael now." She said nothing, but looked away. "He doesn't know you're here, I wasn't sure if you wanted him to know. But if you want to see him he's still downstairs." He sighed, his face lightening. "I had to tell you. I know what he means to you."

"Thank you." She nodded and walked past him. He watched her, unmoving until she disappeared into the elevator before sighing and walking off in the opposite direction.

He walked to the large picture window at the end of the hall and stood, scanning over the city. Everything looked so peaceful from such a height, the people rushing back and forth.

He rubbed the back of his neck, not sure of what to do. He couldn't just forget Seifer was in the building, working for his father. He couldn't ignore the fact that he had tried repeatedly to kill his friends...

And the torture...

He couldn't ignore the fact that the memories of the pain woke him up at night. The face that haunted him. The cold blue eyes, soulless, merciless eyes...

He sighed, closing his own eyes, letting the sun warm his face.

I wonder what Dad would do...


Seifer was washing off the main counter when the elevator opened and a young woman walked in, coming toward him.

It took him a second to recognize her and when he did he almost cried in joy.

"Fujin!" He tore around the counter and hugged her, picking her up and squeezing her tightly.

She laughed, lightly slapping his arms. "Alright. Alright I can't breathe."

He set her down, but refused to let go of her. "God, I missed you so much. What are you doing here?"

"I work here," she told him, straightening her clothes as he released her. "I'm Laguna's assistant."

"God, look at you." He held her at arms length. "You look beautiful."

She blushed lightly. "Thanks...you look great too. Nice tan."

"I've been doing a lot of traveling." He smirked, tilting his head. "Have you talked to Raijin lately?"

She nodded. "I talked to him the other day. His wife is pregnant."

Seifer let out a laugh, truly happy for the first time in years. "Rai's gonna be a dad? That's awesome!"

Fujin smiled. "Come on, I'll tell you all about it over lunch. My treat."

"I'm really not dressed to go out." He told her, looking down at his clothes, dusted with flour.

She threw her hand out in front of her. "Oh, come on. Live a little."

He only smiled. "Well, if I don't you'll probably beat the shit out of me."

She winked. "That too."

"So, how long are you staying in town?" Fujin asked, looking over the top of her iced lemonade, studying him.

"I don't know," he told her. "As long as there's work."

"You're lucky you found what you did." Fujin assured him.

"Yeah, I have to thank Kiros. He's the one who gave me the job." Seifer popped a french fry into his mouth. "He never would have done it if he knew who I was." He looked at her. "Leonhart wasn't very happy to see me."

"Well, considering what you did to him and his friends..." Fujin trailed off. "I'm sure he'll see that you've changed.

Seifer smirked changin the subject. "So, what's with the full dialogue thing? I thought you were just sticking to two word sentences and shouting."

"Yeah, it was hard to get a job when all you say is "RAGE" and "AFFIRMATIVE". The guys were good enough to help me pitch in for speech classes."

"The guys?"

"Oh," her face flushed. "you're not gonna like it..."

Seifer looked at her wide-eyed. "No...you're one of Squall's crew now?"

"Not his "crew"." she corrected. "I'm just one of his friends now...he's not such a bad guy."

"He's an ass kissing pretty boy." Seifer huffed.

"You know that's not true," she told him. "He never asked for all the responsibilities Cid gave him. He was as much of an ass kisser as you were."

"Yeah, but HE never let a chocobo loose in the cafeteria his freshman year." He laughed to himself. "I bet he's doing something really important right now like making sure his dad doesn't blow up the world."


Squall shook his head as his father continued his victory dance through his presidential office. Kiros had made the ultimate mistake of landing on Boardwalk with two hotels and three houses.

Squall had to feel for the guy.

Kiros on the other hand had a small pout on his face as he threw his arms over his chest and sighed. "My, aren't you the gracious winner..."

"Oh, leave him alone." Ellone chided from her seat beside her brother. "How often does he win."

"About as often as we have to see him do that stupid victory dance." Squall muttered, trying not to look amused by his father's antics.

"Oh, and yours is sooo much better." Laguna huffed, tossing his son a grin.

"Yes, yes it is." Squall replied, matter-of-factly. "And I think everyone here would agree."

"Oh please, my moves are so much better." The president peered over at his second in command, winking. "Wouldn't you agree Kiros."

"Submissive is better on you." Kiros told him. "You don't need moves."

"Oh, gee thanks."

Squall shook his head, chuckling. Laguna and Kiros had been lovers for as long as he could remember, which was perfectly fine with him. Anything different was most likely to spell disaster.

Which brought him to Seifer.

What am I going to do about him? Should I do anything at all? Well, I can't just go on knowing that he's here and not do anything...Fujin tells me not to worry, that he's changed...but I have to worry. I know Seifer. And it scares me to think that I could be wrong about him...even more than if I knew he was planning something...because if he's changed...does that mean he remembers?

He felt a nudge and saw Ellone watching him as Kiros attempted to stop Laguna from carrying his dance into the hallway. "Are you okay?"

He offered her a weak smile. "Yeah Sis, I'm fine..."

"You're lying..." she told him.

He sighed. "I know..."


Part II

Days went by and worked carried on as usual. Squall made no surprise visits to the kitchen, although Fujin did often and Kiros would check up on him once in a while.

Two weeks after the incident with Squall, Seifer learned that some of his old acquaintances were coming into town.

He dealt with it the only way he knew how.

Seifer rolled his eyes and huffed. "The Scooby gang unites..."

"Oh come on." Fujin eyed him over the steel table where Hilde worked nearby. "Just come to a club with us. It'll be fun. You'll see. You need to get out more often. You don't have to talk to any of them, but I think it would be good to show them you've changed."

"Not a snowball's chance in hell." Seifer shook his head. "I have nothing to prove to those guys. I can't stand them."

Fujin gave up. "Fine...but at least promise me that you won't start any trouble. I know how you get when Zell's around. And you're even worse with Squall. I'm afraid that if you piss him off too much he might beat the shit out of you..."

Seifer tossed her a look. "Such confidence."


Seifer

I watched Fujin leave, knowing she was disappointed. Behind the mask of indifference I knew I wasn't ready to face any of them again.

Forget it, they'd never forgive you, my mind continuously told me. You saw the way Squall looked at you. He has every right not to trust me... after all I did to them, to him..

I remembered the distrust I'd seen in those eyes. The same eyes in my dream. The one's I could have sworn had once looked up to me in complete adoration and trust...

I knew none of that had been a dream, but I couldn't place exactly where it had come from.

I looked at my watch and sighed. Another long night ahead.

Well, maybe I could go out for a little while tonight, just show Fujin I hadn't become a hermit.


Squall

As soon as I unlocked the door Rufus was bouncing happily around my legs.

I smirked and picked up the small two month old pit bull, retriever mix and walked into my apartment.

The puppy's caramel colored tail drummed against my arm.

Yes, me, a puppy.

Even I needed some company.

Sue me.

I had to admit, it wasn't as hard as I thought.

Feed me, walk me, pet me, let me lay on your pillow until I get too big and you have to roll me onto the floor.

That's basically it.

Well, toss in some "play with me" and "let me out once in a while" and that was all. He never asked for commitment or to go out to a fancy restaurant, or yelled at me when I wasn't thinking about her...

Well, him.

I stopped comparing him to Rinoa when he started to go on the paper.

He was pretty redundant too. No surprises. Well, once in a while I'll find a shoe chewed on a little or a little "present" in the middle of the living room floor but he was a puppy and I was patient. Just as long as he stayed away from my jacket and my gunblade things were fine. I didn't need my dog shooting himself before he was at LEAST three months old.

I walked into the kitchen, setting him on the floor and raided the cupboard, pulling out a can of dog food.

Puppy formula.

(Shut up.)

He knew what the sound of the electric can opener meant and was instantly hopping around my legs.

For 550 gil every two weeks my apartment wasn't bad at all. Heck, even Quistis thought it was nice. And that's in ESTHAR, where she's paying two grand a month for her little studio apartment in Dollet.

I lucked out. My paycheck as the leader of the Esthar Elite Force is pretty good so it's not problem. Yes, I actually have a job. It's not all cushy like my dad's either. It's pretty much like being in charge of the Garden again, only I don't have to take tests. (I really didn't get why I still had to take those when I was in charge...)

The main room was pretty big, about the one and a half times the size of Cid's office with a ceiling that's about five feet taller than I am. There's only a counter separating it from the kitchen on the east side of the room, to your right if you're walking in through the front door. The bathroom is along the same wall as the front door. It's small with only a toilet, a sink, and a stall shower. My room is on the other side of the room, opposite the front door. It's in the very back of the apartment complete with its own master bathroom, which is pretty sweet seeing as how it's as big as my old Quad room at Garden. The apartment as a whole is pretty dim. Hardly any lighting. The walls in the living room and kitchen are completely decked out with dark furnished wood.

Cozy, yes.

Roomy, yes.

I figured one bathroom for me and one for the mutt isn't so bad.

I have a limited amount of furniture.

A black leather couch and matching recliner (a housewarming gift from my dad), a bookshelf, a tv, big screen (from Dad) an entertainment center (from Dad). The bed, the microwave, the bar, all from my dad. I figure he's trying to make up for all the time he missed when I was a kid. It makes me kind of uncomfortable. I mean, I love my dad and everything but sometimes I just wanna be able to do stuff on my own.

Not that I'm complaining. The entertainment center kicks ass. The sound system when you play movies shakes the entire building as Selphie, Zell and I found out one night when we decided we were going to have a Monty Python movie marathon.

The neighbors called the cops on us twice thinking we were being bombed.

All the cookware and pretty much everything else were either housewarming presents from the rest of the guys or stuff I bought myself. Not that I need seven different sized pans, a juicer, and all that other crap. I don't cook. My cooking has been known to kill people. (Or just a severe case of the runs...there is a story behind that theory...don't ask...)

I patted Rufus on the head as he ate and walked into other main room to remove my shoes.

Just as the phone rang.

A gift from Selphie.

So she could call me...

Like now.

"What?" I sighed.

"We're picking you up in an hour. Be ready."

Then there was the dial tone.

I sighed and headed toward my room to change. They were always doing this to me.


Selphie

"Come on Squall! Open up!" I cried, banging loudly on his door. Irvine stood behind me, looking at his watch and glancing at the door across the hall. The guy that lived there was completely anal retentive, every time we came over to get Squall he would always yell at us.

How rude.

"Squally!"

On the other side of the door I heard Squall's puppy barking.

Yup, he got a puppy. The big softy! Isn't it cute?

I'd only seen the little guy once. The gang only gets together once in a while and usually we don't go into his apartment.

Already got the pup paper trained and everything.

I don't know what Rinoa was thinking when she broke up with Squall. Especially whenever he walks around in that little black t-shirt and those nice little leather pants that hug in all the right places. I don't know how he can walk in those things without them squeaking! I don't even think he realizes how hot he is. He reminds me of one of those really hot television sex god types and he just thinks girls like him because who he works for, and is related to, the president. He's pretty dumb when it comes to stuff like that. I mean, I love the guy and everything, but he's just so CLUELESS!

He bent down and gave the dog a nice pat on the head.

I took the opportunity to look at his ass.

Hey, I love Irvine and everything but COME ON! If it's THAT nice and it's RIGHT THERE then by all means.

Besides, it's not like Irvine doesn't look at girls...or guys...

He swings both ways these days...we even agree on the hottest guys on television...

We headed off to the car. I walked a step behind them, watchin' both they're butts with extreme happiness.


"Come on, Squall! Dance with me again!" Quistis beckoned him, smiling, trying to pull him back into the sea of people on the dance floor. Her short blue skirt and matching half top sparkled with the constant strobe that illuminated the area.

Squall sighed. "Come on, Quist, I need a drink."

"Party pooper," the now headmaster of Galbadia Garden huffed, sticking her tongue out at him. "You owe me a dance when you're done."

"Fine." Squall shook his head, smirking.

"Yeah, I need those gyrating hips, Squall! Hurry up you sexy thing!" Selphie laughed as Irvine dragged her back into the crowd.

He laughed, blushing slightly as he turned toward the bar and sat down on the first available stool.

"What's your poison?" The bartender called.

"Labatt's," Squall replied, resting his arms on the counter.

The man nodded and pulled a bottle from the cooler behind him. Squall was about to reach into his pocket when five gil landed on the table. The bartender nodded to someone behind him.

"And what'll you have?"

"Jack Daniels, Manhattan on the rocks." Fujin replied, taking a seat beside Squall.

"Zell tire you out?" Squall asked, looking at her as he sipped his beer.

"Naw, he's passed out on the lounge couch." Fujin replied. "I tired HIM out."

"The endless ball of energy?" Squall was impressed. "That's a talent."

"One of many." Fujin smirked. She tilted her head at him. "Look, can I ask you a serious favor?"

"Shoot."

"Give Seifer a chance?" She saw his face darken as he processed her request and knew it would be hard for him. "For me? Please? I really think he's changed and if you just let him show it I'm sure that you two could come to some kind of understanding..."

He looked at her. "You REALLY think he's changed?"

She nodded. "I know him better than anyone..."

He looked down at his hands, biting the inside of his lip before sighing. "I'll try. That's the best answer I can give you."

She smiled, kissing him on the cheek. "Thank you, Squall. You won't regret it."

He eyed her. "I hope you're right."

Both their ears perked up as the DJ tossed on some Garbage and a squeal of delight rang over the dance floor. Selphie's theme had come on.

The two looked at one another then to the girl who was busy dragging her cowboy boyfriend into the crowd, lip synching the lyrics to "When I grow up" knowing the words by heart.

Squall smirked and shook his head.

Fujin was staring at something behind him, a smile spreading across her face. "I'll be right back."

Squall followed her with his eyes as she got up from the stool and headed toward the entrance, where he lost her in the sea of people.

"When I grow up I'll be stable..." Quistis sang as she pulled Squall off the stool, allowing him one last gulp of his beer before he set the bottle on the bar. Then he followed her willingly.

Seifer had been wandering around the perimeter of the dance floor toward a group of girls, one who had been eying him since he'd arrived. The three others were looking toward the bar. He wasn't all the particularly interested in any of them but he was getting pretty bored and the old part of him wanted to party a little. The girls were moving toward the bar, toward a brunet head that had perched there. He could only see the hair but knew who it was.

Squall.

Seifer watched the head, his stomach tightening.

He noticed the girl troupe had backed off and were heading toward the bathroom area as a gray head joined the brunet.

Fujin.

The two spoke for a moment. Seifer felt momentarily jealous of how close they seemed to be. How happy they were.

Ah well, it felt good to go somewhere, be around people. He'd even dressed up a little, a red silk shirt and a pair of blue dress pants, tossing on his silver choker as well. He hadn't worn the thing in years but somehow it felt really good. The place wasn't too far from the hotel so if things started to look bad he could just walk home. Not that he was too fond of that idea.

Not too far away he saw Selphie Tilmitt and a short haired Irvine Kinneas dancing, if you could call it that. He noticed Quistis near the lounge area talking to the chicken wuss. Quistis hadn't changed much, she was still drop-dead gorgeous, but Zell seemed to have traded places with Irvine. His hair was long enough so he could pull it back, and there was no more tattoo. He looked relatively human...

Seifer glanced back at the bar and saw Fujin coming toward him. He smiled and embraced her as soon as she was close enough.

"Glad you made it." she told him, her eyes studying his choice of clothing. "Not bad, wanna dance?"

"Eh, I feel like spectating for the moment." he sighed.

He spotted a familiar face in the crowd and focused on it momentarily. It had been Quistis moving toward the dance floor, but before he saw anything more his vision was obscured by a group of people who had decided to dance in his line of vision.

"So, what made you decide to come?" Fujin inquired, looking up at him.

He looked back at her. "I dunno. I guess I just wanted to see what you guys did for fun." He smirked and threw an arm around her. "Plus, I wanted to hang out with you, it's been too long." He looked over at the DJ as "Push It" rocked over the sound system. "What are they doing? playing the whole CD?"

"They do that a lot." Fujin told him. "Last time it was all KMFDM."

"Yeah, it's so stupid that they changed their name." Seifer nodded. "MDFMK doesn't sound as good. Music still kicks ass though."

"You should come here more often." Fujin nudged him.

"This is the noise that keeps me awake." the speakers blasted. "My head explodes and my body aches!"

Then the crowd in Seifer's line of vision seemed to part like the red sea. Whatever Fujin was saying was lost as Seifer's eyes fell on on the center of the dancing sea.

In the very center of the room...their legs zippered around each other's, body's pressed together as they writhed in perfect harmony, heads thrashing to the beat. Her arms on his shoulders, his on her waist, movements in perfect sexual, intoxicating synch...

...were Quistis and Squall.

Seifer was dumb struck as his body seemed to grow twenty degrees hotter, watching them.

Fujin followed his gaze and smirked. "They're pretty hot together aren't they?"

The couple went down, knees bending then seemed to swim back up, never breaking their unison. The strobe lights danced around them.

God, I never knew either one of them could move like that... "They're together?"

"Oh, heck no." Fujin laughed. "They're too close to ever get involved."

"If they got any closer they'd be Siamese twins." Seifer muttered, unable to take his eyes off them. Seifer hated to admit it but they were beautiful.

Quistis he always figured had a wild side, but Squall was a completely different story.

God, what is he wearing?

His eyes traveled down over the little black t-shirt, down the pants, stopping to watch the curves of the body as they moved. Their hands seemed to have changed positions as Quistis went down, her face level with Squall's stomach, her legs traveling down his sides to his thighs and up again, Squalls resting on her shoulders.

The room was growing hotter by the second.

God! Knock it OFF! he yelled at himself. It's SQUALL! You're macking over a guy you've hated your entire LIFE!

But he looks pretty damn sexy in those little leather pants doesn't he..

He sighed, knowing his libido had been lying dormant for far too long and it was just the setting that was starting all this.

"I'm gonna go smoke a cigarette, you wanna come?" he asked Fujin as he turned.

Fujin shook her head. "I'm gonna hang out here for a little while. You're not leaving are you?"

"Probably not." Seifer shrugged. "Even if I do plan on leaving I'll come back in and say goodbye to you." He turned and headed for the exit, looking over his shoulder.

The two had stopped and were now smiling and laughing as Selphie and Irvine came up. Selphie handed Squall his beer before Irvine dragged her off to dance again.

He found himself looking at Squall again, standing there sweating and panting his exertion.

If he wasn't in public Seifer would have smacked himself right there and then. So he did it mentally and walked out the door.

The air was nice and cold as he pulled his cigarettes from his pocket and searched around for a lighter.

I need to get laid, he told himself. Maybe then I wouldn't have to get all hot and heavy over a little bump and grind-now where's my fucking lighter?

"Need a light?" a voice called.

He turned. "Yeah thanks."

The man pulled out a lighter and attempted to start it, but it didn't work. "There's to much wind. Come on, we'll light it over there." He gestured to the alley. Seifer was so in need of a cigarette that he didn't think anything of it as they walked toward it.

It was only a split second later that he was dragged into the alley by several pairs of hands.


"Oh man, I need some air." Squall laughed, patting Quistis on the arm. "Wanna come?"

Quistis shrugged and nodded. "Yeah, sounds good. Let me get a drink first. I'll meet you out there in a few minutes."

"Okay." Squall headed through the crowd toward the exit, tossing a wave to Fujin.

"Nice moves out there." Fujin told him, throwing an arm around his shoulders and walking with him. "Where are you going?"

"Out for a little air." he replied. "I take it you're coming with me?"

"Of course." She looked up at him.

They made their way outside and Fujin was instantly shivering.

"God, it was so hot out when we got in. Now it's freezing. Man, Esthar weather sucks." she said, watching her breathe as it steamed from her mouth.

"Follow me." he told her, walking up to the curb where his black Cruiser was parked. He unlocked the door and reached in, pulling out his bomber jacket. "I wasn't sure if I'd need it or not."

She took it from him, laughing lightly. "You still have this thing? I haven't seen you wear it in almost two years." She pulled it on, then paused. "Do you hear that?"

Squall was about to shut the door when he stopped too.

The sounds of cold laughter and hard hits.

"Sounds like the drunks are beating on each other." Squall sighed.

"It sounds like they're really hurting someone." Fujin blinked, suddenly concerned.

Seifer had only come out a few moments before they had. Where was he now? He promised he wouldn't leave without saying goodbye...

Squall saw her concerned face and knew there was something else behind it. Fujin didn't generally get upset for nothing, there was something really wrong. He walked around to the other side of the car to the storage trunks and pulled it open. His Esthar Elite Guard- Captain uniform was the first thing he saw. He brushed it aside, revealing the silver case underneath. He opened it and pulled out is gunblade, and his badge, which was luckily attached to a chain so he could just wear it. He shut the door and gestured for Fujin to follow him.

The shouts and jeers grew louder as they walked closer to the alleyway. Four men were standing in the entrance, smirking and nodding their approval as five other men crowded around a form inside.

It was another person, Squall realized as he drew nearer, who the men were beating and kicking, and as his eyes adjusted and saw the glimpse of blonde hair.

Seifer.

Squall didn't know what to do at first. He just stood there, his mind frozen.

A swift kick came from the man closest to the wall.

Squall saw Seifer's face briefly as he coughed...

...blood splattering the ground.

"Yeah! Kill the bastard!"

The man moved to kick again, but was thrown up against the wall, staring wide-eyed down the barrel of a gunblade.

The rest of the group stopped and stared. The two holding the fallen blonde down still held him in place. Seifer noting that the beating had paused began to breathe again, coughing violently.

Fujin was upon two others, weaponless, kneeing one in the groin and backhanding the other.

"Let him up," Squall muttered, keeping a steady gaze on the one he held while simultaneously watchin Fujin's back.

"You don't know what you're doing kid." one of the men at the head of the alleyway hissed. "That's Seifer Almasy. He's the one who helped the sorceress. He's evil."

Squall put pressure on the trigger. "I know who he is."

Seifer looked up at him warily, his mouth covered in blood, his eyes unsteady. "Squall?"

Squall didn't look at him but kept the man at bay while Fujin picked up a metal bar and waved it menacingly in the air.

"Holy shit!" Quistis cried as he gaped at them as she entered the alley. "What the hell happened?"

"Quist, get the car." Squall ordered.

Quistis moved immediately.

He turned to the men holding Seifer. "I said, let him up."

The two gave Seifer one last shove before moving away, their hands poised above their heads.

"Fujin," he called, tossing his gunblade to the girl, who caught it and forced the others back.

Squall bent at the knees, putting an arm under Seifer's' and helped him up.

Two of the men moved to stand in his way but apparently the one in charge put a hand out, stopping them. " Let him go."

Squall waited until the two decided to move before continuing out and into the street. Seifer was heavy against him as a car stopped on the curb next to him.

"What happened?" Quistis asked, concerned as she watched Squall slide the now unconscious blonde into the back seat. Beside her, Zell looked dumbfounded.

"A bunch of guys who found out he was the sorceress knight." Squall replied, moving in back behind the passenger seat. "Go to my house."

Quistis nodded and pulled away from the curb.

"Shouldn't we take him to a hospital?" Fujin asked, eying the beaten blonde through the rearview mirror.

"No, there's no guarantee that someone would treat him there if they knew who he was. They might try something there too..." Squall sighed.

"I thought you hated him." Zell muttered.

"Not enough to let someone just beat him to death. Besides, Fujin and Raijin would never forgive me."

"Those guys are watching us." Quistis said uncertainly.

"They weren't too happy I broke up their party." Squall sighed.

Fujin looked at Seifer as she held a hand to his bleeding head. "Looks like I got there just in time. He needs the shit kicked out of him once in a while."


Part III

Seifer woke up in a bed. Nice, soft bed. Definitely not his own.

The smell of it wasn't right either. It smelled strange, kind of musky but familiar. Almost a good smell.

And there was something licking his face.

He opened one eyes to see a small puppy standing on his chest, looking down at him.

It's tail wagged happily as he weakly reached up and patted it on the head.

Memories flashed as he remembered the alley, remembered Squall saving him.

Remembered that his rib hurt like hell as he tried to sit up.

He hissed in pain and fell back down again.

"Rufus, get down." he heard a voice call and Fujin appeared, picking the dog up and setting him on the floor.

Seifer blinked up at her. "What happened..."

"You got the shit beat out of you." she told him, pressing a damp cloth to his lip and sighed. "Who were they? What did you say to them?"

"Nothing." Seifer told her. "I didn't say anything at all. The guy just ask me if I needed a light then I got pulled into the alley... I saw one of the before...a few weeks ago. I was walking. He was standing outside a bar. I think he recognized me..." He looked around himself. "Where am I?"

"Squall's room." She told him.

Seifer's face quirked. "Does he know I'm here?"

"He TOLD us to bring you here." The gray haired young woman sighed. "They'd need your ID. He wasn't sure if they'd treat you at the hospital if they knew who you were."

"How long?"

"About six hours. It's three a.m."

Seifer closed his eyes. "Can I have a ride home? I'm staying at the Belhelmel."

"That place is a shithole." he heard another voice call. He turned his head slowly and saw Squall standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame with his arms folded over his chest. Seifer was reminded of his past libido rush. "Besides, they'll probably expect you to go back there if they know you stay there. Which they probably do."

Seifer was too tired to think, he hurt too much to argue. "So what am I supposed to do?"

Squall grabbed his jacket from the chair. "I'll take Quistis and Zell with me to grab his stuff. I'll call if there's trouble."

Fujin nodded and watched as he walked out of the room.

"Where'd you get my room key?" Seifer asked, looking up at him.

"We emptied out your pockets." Fujin replied. "You look like shit."

"I feel like shit."

"Well, you look worse."

Seifer gave a light laugh. "Thanks...way to boost a guy's self esteem when he's down." He sighed. "So, where are you tossing me?"

"Here for now." She told him. "We can't send you anywhere else in your condition. He's giving you the bed tonight but it's the couch tomorrow."

"I can't afford rent here." Seifer said, thinking Squall would want something out of the deal. He was surprised that Squall would even allow this.

"I didn't say you'd have to pay any. Just stay out of trouble. We'll find you someplace else soon." Fujin kissed him on the forehead. "Until then, try and be civil with Squall. It's really nice of him to take you in like this considering he hates your guts."

"Only for you, Fu."


Seifer

Squall's house was strange. It was dark, and quiet. There were no party noises, no neon lights.

And the bed smelled good.

I know, I know. Squall's bed. I couldn't help but wonder what kind of cologne he wore. Or maybe it was just him. Guys have a certain smell of their own. Most of them were completely nasty. But I really liked this one.

I couldn't stand it either, because I still wasn't all happy about being stuck here. Knowing I'm in a house with a guy I'm not too particularly fond of, with a guys who completely hates my guts and was most likely doing this for Fujin wasn't making me very comfortable. I didn't want to start anything with him that could get us fighting again. Fujin wouldn't like that and would probably beat the shit out of both of us.

She's the only reason I decided to go along with any of this.

That and the strange feeling I kept getting, like there was something I should have been remembering...

I slept with my face in the pillow. It smelled that good...

There was something seriously wrong with me, I knew it. All the homicidal feelings I had toward him had simmered down. I still wanted to kick his ass and everything, but not to the extent I wanted to before. I remembered all too well what had happened when we fought armed and serious.

One or both of us got maimed.

I have scars from that guy and I'm sure he had a few from me.

I knew Squall was still uneasy about me being around. I still couldn't blame the guy. I figured Fujin had a pretty big influence on him too and that was the only reason why he was allowing me to stay.

Well, the bed was so comfortable, so warm, and smelled so good that I was asleep at almost four o'clock on the dot. My body still hurt like hell but it was nothing compared to how tired I was. I felt like I hadn't slept in weeks.

When I woke up I actually saw the sun shining through the window, and there was a dog sleeping on my pillow.

I was able to walk to the bathroom (huge one too. I was loving this apartment more and more.) and take a piss. I thought about a shower but wasn't sure if Squall would appreciate it so I just walked out into the main room.

His apartment kicked ass.

He wasn't there, but Fujin was.

And so was Zell.

Together on the leather couch.

Necking.

Talk about a wake up call.

"Good morning."

They both jumped away from each other and looked at me, wrapped only in a blanket.

They were busy trying to make up an excuse as I walked to the corner where all my stuff was piled.

Including the fan.

The mutt followed me, sniffing at my gunblade case.

"Where's Leonhart?"

"Work." Fujin told me, standing to help me. "He had to leave early. He has a lot of responsibilities."

"Like finding you a place to crash so he doesn't have to put up with you." I heard Zell mutter.

I can't blame Zell for hating me either. But I still wouldn't let him get off so easy.

"So...chicken-wuss..." I started casually. "Think you can handle Fu huh? Good luck. She's broken guys bigger than you."

Surprisingly, he said nothing.

More of Fujin's doing I suppose.

Squall came back around lunch time and ate. I sat around with Fujin and Zell, watching television. It was Saturday, cartoons were on. Squall spent the last fifteen minutes of his break with the dog, playing with him, feeding him, letting him out. He didn't say anything while he was there.

Not to me anyway. Not that I cared.

Then he was gone again.

Fujin left a few hours later, taking chicken wuss with her. I wandered around the apartment a little, raiding the fridge, tossing one of the pup's toys around, waiting for him to trot back to get it.

That was basically my day.

Fujin came back alone around six with take-out Chinese, explaining to me that Leonhart usually didn't get back from work until around nine or later.

"So," I called as I forked my plate of pork fried rice. "What's with you and Zell?"

"We've been dating for a little more than a year." She told me as she sat down next to me on the couch after putting in the movie she'd rented to the night, "Gladiator". "Be careful with your food, Squall'll have a conniption if you spill anything on it."

"So, what happened to Rinoa?" I asked, glancing over at her. "I thought she and Squall were all mushy and crap."

"SHE was mushy. He wasn't." She corrected. "Rinoa's a whiney little bitch and I'm glad he broke up with her. She wanted too much. I hear she went off and married Zone or something."

I cringed. "God what was she thinking. Even I'D choose Squall over Zone...At least Squall can hold his food down. Then again, Rinoa never was too bright..." I stuffed a forkful of food into my mouth. "God, I can't believe I went out with her..."

"MORON." Fujin nodded.

"So, who's he with now?" I asked.

"No one." Fujin replied. "Joaquin Phoenix is so hot. He plays the emperor in this."

"Yeah, that's nice Fu." I laughed. "So, he's single?"

Fujin looked at me oddly. "Joaqiun Phoenix?"

"Squall."

She blinked. "Why does it matter?"

"I dunno." I shrugged. "Just curious. It doesn't make me feel so bad knowing he we're both single. Now we can see who gets laid first."

"PERVERT."

I winked at her. "You know it."

"Of course, in your case it'll probably be a guy."

"Not necessarily." I pulled and eggroll from the carton on the table and took a bite out of it. "I'd fuck Quistis."

"She'd never fuck you though."

We carried on our conversation through the first part of the movie and by the time it was finished we agreed to watch it again because if the ending was that good the beginning and middle parts couldn't be all that bad either.

The movie kind of reminded me of the relationship Squall and I used to have. I was the emperor and he was Maximus, the gladiator. I didn't really like categorizing myself as the bad guy, and the whole thing about him having this strange infatuation with his sister completely kinda freaked me out, but the main elements were there. Heck, they even ended up killing each other at the end. That's what probably WOULD have happened to me and Squall had we been allowed to continue our little rivalry.

And it almost scared me.

Squall arrived just as Maximus had to fight the other general guy with all the tigers in the stadium with him.

The puppy went ballistic.

It was late, after ten.

He looked like hell.

"There's some Lo Mein in the fridge for you." Fujin offered, looking over the back of the couch as he wandered into the kitchen. He nodded to her.

He took it to his room.

The mutt went with him.

After Fu left he came back out, tossing a blanket, a pillow and some sheets onto the floor. "The AC tends to crank itself up in the middle of the night when it gets this hot out." He pointed to the fridge. "If you're hungry help yourself, there's still leftovers. Drink whatever you want but don't overdo it on the alcohol. There's a towel and washcloth for you in the spare bathroom if you want to take a shower and all your stuff is over there."

"Thanks." I replied. He started to turn back into his room. "Hey Squall?" He paused, looking over his shoulder at me, waiting. "Uh..." My voice suddenly caught in my throat. "...nevermind."

Then the door shut.

"Good night." I muttered.

I fell back on the couch and sighed, not knowing exactly what I was going to say to him and getting an odd feeling deep in my gut...


Squall

Seifer woke up the next morning as I started heating water in the coffee maker. He peered sleepily over the side of the couch and yawned, watching me busy in the kitchen, getting ready to go back out. I had to admit, he looked kind of adorable with his hair tossed all around like that. He reminded me of when he was little...which in turn reminded me of other things...

"Where are you going today?" he asked me, sitting up.

"Meeting Fujin and Quistis for breakfast. You can come if you want." I replied. "I'll give you a ride."

He looked surprised by the offer but complied. He grabbed some clean clothes and headed for the spare bathroom.

I heard the door shut and sighed. I wasn't very comfortable having him around and I think he knew that. I wasn't making it blatantly obvious or anything, and it wasn't just because it was him, although that was a huge part of it. Just having another person in the house complicated things. That fact that it WAS Seifer didn't help. He brought back too many bad memories. Not that it was his fault. Fujin was right. He HAD changed. I could tell that just by looking at him. When you know him as long as I have you'll understand. And I was willing to give him a second chance, I just wasn't ready yet...In fact, I think this was the worst possible time for him to show up out of the blue.

That wasn't his fault either.

I heard the shower start and hopped up on the counter, taking a sip of my hot chocolate (I don't like coffee all that much) and looked out the window.

I was tired. I hadn't been getting much sleep lately...

I turned on the news and sat on the couch as I waited for Seifer to get out of the bathroom.

A storm was coming in from the north, a bad one, forecasted to hit sometime late in the week.

I flipped the channel.

Infomercial.

Court tv.

Sitcom reruns.

Kiddy show.

Scooby Doo.

Shaggy frightens me...

I flipped again.

Ah, here we go.

Iron Chef.

God bless PBS.


Seifer came back out, fully clothed, drying his hair with a towel. He joined Squall on the couch and stared at the television. "Iron Chef...I love this show."

Squall nodded and took a sip from his coffee.

Seifer looked at him. "Can I ask you a question?"

"What?"

"Why aren't you a SeeD anymore? Did you just wanna be around with your dad?"

"I got shot."

Seifer blinked. "When?"

"A few years ago. The riots at the memorial with the Magi? You remember those? All the sorceress supporters trying to preserve the place? Well, we were sent there to keep the peace. Didn't last very long." He lifted up his pantleg, showing the scar on his knee. "Two bullets directly in the knee. Shattered it completely. It still hurts sometimes. Anyway, they figured that the stress and energy it took being a SeeD might set it off and it could be permanently damaged to the point where I'd never be able to walk again."

"That sucks..." Seifer chirped. "So why happened with you and Rinoa?"

Squall suddenly winced. "I don't wanna talk about it."

"Oh come on. Humor me, I've been out of action for a while." Seifer pouted. "So why did she break up with you."

"She didn't break up with me. I broke up with her."

"Why?"

Squall sighed, looking at him, then at his mug. "I couldn't give her what she wanted." He replied softly.

"What? Sex?" Seifer could tell by Squall's expression that it was part of the reason. "What, you mean you couldn't get it up?" Seifer smirked, punching him in the arm lightly. "I thought you weren't supposed to get that problem until you got older."

"It wasn't that." Squall tossed him a look.

"Was it the leg wound?"

Squall shook his head.

"Then what was it?" Seifer tilted his head at him. "Do you like guys or something."

"No." Squall replied quickly. The blonde only heard the words and saw them as a reverse answer, he couldn't see the look or pain behind them.

Seifer grinned teasingly. "Oh, so you couldn't get off because she didn't have a penis? Man, how long have you swung like that." He followed Squall as he walked back into the kitchen.

"I don't. It's nothing like that." Squall's voice was angry.

"Oh come on Squally." Seifer taunted playfully. "You can tell me. How long have you wanted to know what it's like to have a guy's hands on you? They know what you want. The way you like it."

"Shut up." Squall had a white knuckled grip on the counter.

"And there's nothing like feeling a guy inside you." Seifer's body shuddered, purely voluntarily, just wanting to get Leonhart uncomfortable, a little queasy maybe. He layed the act on thick. "Or bein' in one. Nice and tight. I bet you'd like the receiving end better."

Seifer was knocked back against the wall, holding his chin. Squall's hand was still clenched in front of him in a fist. "I said SHUT UP!"

Seifer's eyes blazed, anger boiling. Forgetting about Fujin as he felt blood pouring down his lip he leapt at the other young man, dragging him to the ground. "God, what the hell is your fucking problem! I was only kidding!"

Squall kicked him off him and rolled back, standing.

Both of them stared at each other, panting.

"Squall turned and walked toward his room. "Call Fujin, tell her to pick you up. I'm not going."

Seifer blinked, suddenly feeling extremely stupid. Surprised because he could have sworn there were tears in Squall's eyes when he'd turned.


"What did you do!" Fujin demanded as soon as Seifer got into the car. The call was so sudden and the bruise on Seifer's chin clearly meant something had gone horribly wrong.

"Nothing." Seifer shrugged. "We were just talking then he went ballistic on me."

"Squall doesn't just go ballistic for no reason." Quistis told him. "What were you two talking about?"

"Well, we started with him and Rinoa, that wasn't the bad part, I didn't tease him or anything. Then we started taling about him doin' guys. I was only kidding." Seifer shrugged. "I didn't know it would set him off like that. If I had I wouldn't have said anything."

Fujin shrugged. "Maybe he misses Rinoa or something."

Quistis looked down. "I don't think so...hey, just go easy on the guy will you? He's doing a lot for you right now."

"Eh, I'll apologize to him later." Seifer sighed. "You want my honest opinion? He needs a good fuck up the ass."

Quistis looked out the window and sighed. You don't know the half of it.


Squall sat at his desk and sighed. The day was taking to long to end, it should have been over hours ago. He just wanted to go home, take as shower...sleep...

Sleep...

"Hey." Laguna waved a hand in front of his son's face. His own was concerned as Squall rubbed his forehead. "You look like shit."

"The past few days have been incredibly long for me..." Squall sighed.

"Why don't you take the rest of the day off." the president patted the young man's arm. "When was the last time you took some time off."

"Never."

"Well, maybe it's time that you did." The long haired man sat down on top of the desk. "Come on, you have some paid vacation time. Go on a trip somewhere. Bring a girl."

Squall smirked his head. "WHAT girl?"

"I dunno. Fujin, Quistis? You pick one. You got a lot of good looking lady friends there kid."

"Thanks Dad. I'll think about it."

He watched as his father walked away.

He felt a pang of desire to call him back, tell him everything... All those things were too far away now. He couldn't bear to hurt his father, he knew that telling him would break his heart.

So he remained silent.


Seifer awoke (from a strange dream of dancing chocobos and a blonde Fujin trying to sell him banana) to the sound of thunder and whimpering three days after his little battle with Squall. They'd both apologized to one another, but still hadn't talked much. Their conversations always seemed to lead to them feeling more uncomfortable with each other anyway. The apartment was dark as he opened his eyes.

Whimper.

Scratch.

Whimper.

Rumble.

Whimper.

Scratch.

Moan.

Seifer sat up, looking at Squall's bedroom door.

The puppy sat there, whimpering and clawing at the door.

Moan.

Seifer flushed.

Is he jerking off in there?

He glances warily around the room for something to cover his ears with.

Rumble.

The dog looked back, seeing Seifer looking toward the door and gave a light bark, clawing at the door again.

"Uhnnnnn...NO!" The shout was loud, full of fear.

Seifer was on his feet, sprinting to the door, his bare feet barely touching the floor. "Squall!" He pounded on the wood. "Squall, open the door!"

The puppy barked and scratched harder.

"NO!" The frantic scream of terror rang in the blonde's ears.

Seifer rammed into the door with full force. He felt it budge a little and moved back to try again.

I swear if anyone's in there hurting him I'll rip them apart!

He was surprised by his own threat, surprised that he was suddenly so terrified of anything happening to the young man.

The door burst open at the second blow and Seifer fell to the bedroom floor. The puppy sprinted to the bed and whimpered trying to climb up.

Seifer picked himself up, ready to fight.

His eyes widened.

Squall lay writhing frantically on the bed in a cold sweat, tangled in the blankets. His eyes rolled wildly under their lids.

"NOOO!" he half screamed, half sobbed. His hands clutched the sheets in a white knuckled grip.

Tears were streaming down his face.

"Squall." Seifer ran to the bed, shaking the young man as hard as he could.

"NO!" the shrill, terrified voice answered back.

Seifer shook him again. "Squall, wake up!"

Gray eyes flew open, seeing only the dark figure poised above him. "Get away!" he cried, pushing himself wildly against the headboard, eyes impossibly wide.

"Squall, it's me." Seifer's hands gripped his shoulders and the eyes focused, the effects of the dream wearing off.

Squall closed his eyes, his body shaking as he tried to regain control of his own body. He let out a single sob and his shoulders hunched, his head bowing, more tears fell.

"Hey..." Seifer sat down on the edge of the bed, watching him, overcome with the sudden urge to protect the young man who was trying to control himself. He brought a hand up and brushed Seifer's off his shoulders.

"I'm okay now."

Seifer blinked. What the hell was that? And why do I think I've seen him like this before.

A flash of a little Squall in a crying Matron's arms, his back bleeding, other places bleeding. He just lay there, eyes blank, shaking...

Another flash.

Squall played happily on the floor with a pile of Legos. It was storming outside. Matron and Cid were gone. The other children were in bed. All but Seifer who'd started to come down the stairs when he heard the door open and stopped. Ducking down. If Matron came home and he wasn't in bed he'd be in deep doo doo. But he didn't want to see Squall get in trouble too.

A man came through the door. Not Cid, but the one who always came with those funny sparkly things... GF's. He was always talking to Matron about Garden and SeeDs. Why was he here now? It was past everyone's bedtime.

He walked into the main room where Squall was playing.

Squall looked up at him. "Hi."

The man grinned. "Where are Mr. and Mrs. Kramer, little one?"

"Der not here." Squall replied, looking back down at his Lego tower. The man stepped over it and looked down at him, looking him over.

"You're a pretty little thing, you know that?"

Squall just blinked.

The man gave him a feral smile. "Come on, I'll teach you a new game."

Squall looked down at his Legos and started to play again. He didn't like this man. He was funny looking and smelled bad. He didn't want to learn a new game, he liked his Legos. He never got to play with all of them because Irvine always hogged all the blue ones.

"Come on, let's go play."

"I don' wanna." Squall replied.

The man didn't like that answer. He pulled Squall up roughly and shook dragged him into the next room, past the dark stairwell.

"No!" the little boy cried as the man flung him over the edge of the wooden table and pulled a small knife from his pocket.

The man cut as his clothes, tearing them off the rest of the way.

"No!" Squall kicked as hard as he could one foot connecting heavily with the man's groin.

"Ah! You little SLUT!" he swung the knife down. The small child screamed in pain as blood poured down his back and onto the floor. Four times the blade sliced across his frail skin. "Now, you'll stay still and shut up or I'll keep cutting you."

The was one last little scream as the man buried himself within the tiny body under him. A hand flew across the small face, slamming it against the wooden table.

Squall was too terrified to move. His body shook and tears streamed down his face as the man moved. He could feel himself bleeding again where the man was hurting him. The man was making sounds, his breathing was foul and rancid against the tiny face.

"I would have settled for that little blond one. In fact, I came here for him. But you're just as good." A large, callused hand rubbed up against the tiny penis kneading it lightly. "You'll like this someday. You'll see." The man groaned, moving faster. "Ah, nice and tight..."

There was another blast of pain and the man tensed, moaning loudly... Then he was pulled out, letting the little boy slide onto the floor, curling up into a ball. Blood seeped onto the ground from his face, back and rear.

The man rearranged his clothes and pulled the small face up by the hair, planting a rough kiss on the tiny mouth. The little boy just stared blankly at nothing.

"You know," the man smirked. "I always preferred brunettes anyway."

Then he was gone, leaving the door open, the rain blowing in.

A little boy stared on from the stairs, watching silently as his best friend sat in the middle of the floor, bleeding.


Seifer

Squall refused to look at me as he straightened himself, trying to make it look like he was alright. My eyes widened, finally recognizing him for who he really was.

My best friend.

I remembered why things had changed so much. After the incident he didn't want to be touched, he'd closed up, he lashed out an anyone who tried to get in. He didn't want to be around anyone, he was always alone.

And I'd been too young to understand why. I couldn't understand why I was suddenly alone, even though I never remembered NOT being alone. I didn't understand why there was always a strange void, one I thought my dream of being a sorceress knight would fill, but never could.

But I understood now.

And late is better than never.

He tensed up in my arms as I hugged him, rocking him back and forth. It took a few minutes but he relaxed and the shaking subsided. He said nothing, I think he knew I knew. And I think he accepted it, because he put his arms around my waist and quietly cried.

It was the most horrible thing I'd ever experienced, Squall crying. It was one of those things that would only happen in the world were ending. One of those horribly unnatural things. But I let him.

I realized then that he must have been waiting for me all this time...waiting for me to stop being the sorceress knight and start being his friend again. That was part of the reason why he cried.

He was hanging onto me like I was the only thing in the world at that moment.

And I didn't complain, because I was doing the exact same thing to him.

When I felt him calm and go still against me I lay him down, pulling the covers around him.

I sprawled out next to him on top of the blanket and just watched him, running my hand up and down his back. His eyes stayed open for a few moments, not really looking at anything, almost as if he was afraid to look at me. Like he was afraid I'd use my new memories against him. Or that I would think less of him because of them.

So I pulled him closer, wrapping my arms around him and waited for him to fall asleep.

He did, after what seemed like an eternity of silence.

And I followed.

When I woke up he was still there, only I was under the blanket too and the puppy was lying above my head. The bed was nice and warm and smelled like the body beside me.

My best friend.

It was distinctly a Squall smell, like shampoo and leather. I guess that's why I liked it so much.

The clouds outside parted a little and a ray of sun fell over the bed, hitting both of us square in the face.

His face contorted uncomfortably as it tried to continue his sleep. I smirked and put my hand in the way of the light, casting a shadow over his eyes. I knew I couldn't keep my hand like that for long but his face relaxed and he smiled a little.

And he still woke up. "Seifer, what are you doing?" he yawned, looking at my hand.

"You were doing that "Sun. Bad." thing in your sleep again."

He blinked sleepily at me. "Again?"

"Yeah, you used to do it all the time when you were little. Matron thought it was the cutest thing in the world." I rested my head against his. "I'm sorry..."

"For what?" he asked, yawning again.

"I'm sorry for I forgot..."

"Oh..." He looked nervous. "You remember...everything?"

I nodded.

"That's okay...I only remembered a few years ago..." he looked at me.

"So, do you still wanna kick my ass?"

I smirked and shook my head.

He got comfortable again, resting his head on my arm. "Good."

"Hey, Squall?" I asked quietly, trying to get his attention but wanting him to stay half awake so he could at least fall asleep again. "Does this mean we're friends again?"

He let out a small, tired sigh and replied softly, on the edge of sleep. "I hope so..."

Then he was out again.

I got up as carefully as I could, pulling my arm from under his head and resting it carefully on the pillow. Quietly I walked into the livingroom and folded up my blanket and sheets, setting them in the corner.

I was hungry. I always get hungry when I'm in a good mood.

I called in a sick day at work for both of us. Kiros complied completely saying it was the first day Squall ever took to himself since he started.

After I hung up I started to raid the refrigerator.

Empty.

I sighed, seeing the keys to his car on the counter.

I changed my clothes, left him a note as to where I was going with his car and said when I'd be back.

Then I was gone, leaving the dog in charge.


Squall

When I woke up I was still tired and almost fell back asleep. I noticed my door was open and that Rufus wasn't around. I remembered last night, wondering where Seifer had gone until I saw the note posted next to my bed.

Went to store
Be back in an hour.
Took your car.
Crash and Burn D ...jk...

9:30 am

p.s. Called you in sick.

I flopped back down on the bed and prepared to go back to sleep.

Until I smelled bacon...

And eggs...

And hashbrowns...

I sat up, sniffed and stood.

Trudgint out, my nose led the way, my ears told me the radio was on...Was that Seifer singing with ZZ Top?

Don't get me wrong, La Grange is a great song, but not the way Seifer was singing it.

At least he was knew all the words correctly.

All his notes were off though.

When he saw me standing nearby he smirked. "Thought that'd get you up."

"You're like a bad radio alarm clock." I nodded and walked toward him, looking over his shoulder. "Whatcha makin'?"

"Breakfast." he replied, looking back at me. "You still like scrambled eggs?"

"Preferred twenty to one." I replied.

"Want to help?"

"Want food poisoning?"

He smirked. "I'm sure you're not THAT bad."

I raised an eyebrow. "I burn SOUP."

This time, he laughed.

I can tell you right now I instantly felt better having him around now knowing he was my friend. Knowing I had my friend back. You don't realize how much you miss someone until they make you breakfast.

I really HAD missed him. More than I'd admit. I figured he already knew seeing as how I'd burst into tears last night.

And someone knew...

That felt pretty good too. Especially when he decided to stay with me.

I saw him looking at me and I tilted my head. "What?"

"You know? I don't know how I could have mistaken you for anyone else...you look a little different, but your hair's pretty much the same...Why'd you cut the bangs and the back shorter?"

"Looked kinda shaggy the other way. And it's not THAT much shorter. They only took about an inch off." I shrugged. "What? You don't like it? I WAS tempted just to shave it all short."

"Oh, don't EVER do that." He shook his head. "ACTUALLY, I kinda like it better like this. It looks neater. At least the angle for your bangs isn't as choppy as it was."

I laughed. Seifer Almasy was giving me fashion advice.

Now he was shoving a forkful of hashbrowns in my face. "Try this."

I think he liked watching me eat off the fork he held.


Fujin gaped at them as they fought over the last dumpling in the buffet express line. Seifer was armed with a chopstick while Squall fended him off with the serving spatula. Quistis and Zell just looked at one another. It had been a few days since the nightmare, the group hadn't gotten together in between that short time but there was already something drastically different.

"I'll stab you." Seifer threatened as they walked back to the table, holding the chopstick a few inches above Squall's hand.

Squall sat down, the others following, and bit half of the dumpling, handing Seifer the rest. "There, now shut up." Seifer popped it happily in his mouth. Squall started to work on his plate when he noticed the others giving them blank stares. "Uh..Seifer? They're looking at us funny..."

Seifer stopped in mid chew and glared across the table. "What?"

"What's wrong with you guys?" Zell blinked rapidly.

"We remembered that we were best friends." Seifer shrugged. He hovered over Squall's plate, pointing his chopstick at the teriyaki chicken. "You gonna eat that."

"Yes!" Squall laughed, slapping his hand. "Now work on your OWN damn plate."

"Fujin, see if they have a temp." Quistis ordered. "This is too weird."

"Oh, well, as long as they're getting along..." Fujin started to smile.

"Did you know he can cook?" Squall gestured to the blonde with his chopstick. "He made me breakfast."

The table turned to Seifer.

"What?" He asked, half a Lo Mein noodle sticking from his mouth. "He's letting me stay at his house for free."

"Not free mister." Squall assured him. "You're teaching me how to cook."

"Yes PLEASE!" Zell cried. "Last time he cooked I got the runs for a week! And he made HOTDOGS!"

Seifer grinned, nudging Squall. "Man, you MUST suck."

"I told you I was bad." The brunet shrugged.

"So, Zell, what happened to your tattoo?" The blonde asked.

"You know, it's a funny story." Squall was already laughing. "It's better when he tells it though."

Zell rolled his eyes and sighed. "I never had a real tattoo. It was a temporary but it looked cool so I kept going over it with permanent marker..."

Seifer snickered. "I knew you didn't have the balls to get a real one. You're a big pain pansy."

"Yeah, I did the same to another one too." Zell laughed. "I said I got one on my arm a couple years back. I markered "HotDogLovers" on my arm. I WAS gonna get it done but I chickened out..."

"Yeah, which sucks because I lived up to MY part of the bargain..." Squall huffed.

"And what bargain was that?" Seifer eyed him.

"If he got a tattoo I'd get a piercing."

"But you already HAD an earing."

Squall smirked. "The deal was no ear piercings."

Seifer was intrigued. "So, where'd you get it done?"

Squall looked around before lifting his shirt up partway.

Seifer stared at the naval ring there. "Holy shit!"

"Shhhh!" The entire table answered.

Squall pulled his shirt back down. "ANYway, he still owes me a tattoo."

"Very few men can pull a naval ring off and not have it look trashy. Feel proud of yourself." Seifer told him.

"I think it's hot." Quistis winked at the brunet.

He winked back. "Tell him where yours is."

She threw a napkin at him.

"Trepe got one too!" Seifer was grinning.

She stuck her tongue out at him. He saw the hole in the center and shook his head. "Man, you guys are nuts. I can handle tattoos but no piercings."

Fujin eyed him. "When did YOU get tattoos? As in plural? Not just the one?"

"I got a fire cross on my shoulder."

"So Fujin." Squall arched his eyebrows. "What about you."

"I have an eyepatch." she replied. "And a tattoo, that's all you need to know."

Seifer blinked. "Since when?"

"Since before I met you." she shrugged. "It's in a discreet place."

The whole table "Ah" ed.


"Dad! GHAAAAAA!" Squall cried as the super soaker hit him full blast in the back. "Hello! I'm on your team!"

Kiros laughed as he watched Laguna pummel his son with water and jogged around the perimeter of the courtyard looking for more targets. Selphie, Quistis, Zell, Irvine and Michael.

"All's fair in love and war!" Laguna shouted.

Squall shook the water from his sopping hair and eyed the older man. "Come on already..."

"Okay, okay son..." Laguna gave him a sympathetic pat on the back. "Let's go get them."

"Hey, Fu! Are you sure you don't wanna play?" Squall called up to the balcony where Fujin stood, watching them. Hilde and a few other employees watched as well.

"No, that's okay. I have work to do."

"Come on Fujin, you're on my payroll! Have some fun. We only get to do stuff like this once a week." Laguna shouted. "Kiros! I'm coming to GEEEET you!"

"I'm on your team too..."

"Yeah, but you're wearing white!" The president purred. "Rawr!"

"Michael! Did you get anyone?" Squall called, running through the lightly wooded area of the courtyard. It had taken him a moment not to yell "Seifer". He'd just have to get used to that. He felt a spray of cold water hit him in the chest.

"Yeah, you." Seifer smirked.

"Does anyone here get the definition of TEAM." Squall looked down at his sopping wet clothes.

"Wet looks good on you." Seifer winked then continued in a British accent. "Come, let us hunt the Selphie creature!"

A tree eeped and Selphie darted from behind it, heading for more cover.

Fujin laughed from her birds eye view.

Through the window above her a pair of eyes watched.


Seifer woke up early one morning for no apparent reason and checked on Squall, making sure he'd slept alright.

His hair was tousled from constant repositioning. His face remained calm, relaxed, a few bangs falling ruthlessly over one delicate closed eye. One arm rested on his stomach the other flailed out to the side, fingers curling lightly.

He really was beautiful when he slept.

People say you look younger when you sleep.

He smirked.

Squall just looked like Squall.

Asleep.

Seifer shook his head. Now don't go falling in love with the guy. He needs a friend right now. And you've been without a date for too long. You'll just end up hurting him.

Maybe it's time I started looking for a new place to live...

He stood and walked in to the kitchen, preparing to make some breakfast.


Part IV

"Eat my dust, Kinneas!" Selphie howled as she jetted past the tiny blue "Pepsi" go-gart that the tall cowboy was strapped into. Her little green one was going full speed as she turned the corner, missing the guardrail by inches. "This is the best birthday present I ever HAD!"

She felt herself swerving and growled as Seifer budged past her, taking her spot in third place behind Fujin and Squall, who was way ahead. She huffed as Irvine passed her again. "Hey! Have some pity, it's my birthday!"

Zell remained almost a lap behind everyone else. "This go-cart sucks! I want my money back!"

Seifer gripped the tight little steering wheel, just coming behind Fujin who was head to tearing after Squall like there was no tomorrow. He'd passed Zell again which put him almost one forth of the track ahead of Fujin, who was gaining on him.

Seifer bumped her from behind, causing her to look over the little seat and smirk at him. "NO!"

He bumped her again. "Come on! One side of the track or the other Fu!" He noted that Irvine was stuck behind him, trying to get around them both.

Irvine huffed and bumped at Fujin, who was closer. She eeped as the blows from both corners behind her thwarted her attempt to turn.

Seifer tore into second place, but second was losing and he wasn't about to lose. "I'm coming to GEEEET you Squall!"

He pulled up beside the red go-cart and bumped lightly. Squall grinned at him and bumped back.

Even at play they were rivals.

The man near the booth waved the white flag, signaling there was only one lap left.

"Get outta my way, Leonhart!" Seifer taunted playfully. "You don't really think you WIN do you?"

"Whatever!" Squall replied and sped forward.

"Hey! That's not fair! You got the fast one!" The blonde whined.

"You just have to know how to use it!" Squall shouted back before laughing. "Come on Seifer, I need some competition here!"

Seifer screeched over the next curve in the track and tried to go faster, pressing his foot against the gas as hard as he could. After a few seconds he noticed Squall wasn't breaking around turns.

"So, THAT'S how you do it!" He chided. "You're lucky you don't ram into the guard rails!"

Squall turned briefly and arched his eyebrows. "I'm talented! Come on Seifer," he winked. "you're not trying to LET me win are you!"

No, Seifer thought, a feral smile crossing his lips, I'll beat you, Squall. I'll show you who's better...

He focused on the back of Squall's head and drove toward it, speeding around curve after curve until he was driving next to the other. Neither one dared a look off the road, both eyes were focused on the little white line only one curve ahead. Both feet pressed the pedal to the floor, hands gripping the steering wheel so hard it began to hurt. The little white line drew closer, and closer, and closer...Seifer's teeth gritted as the man at the edge brought the checkered flag up, ready to drop it. He was head to head with Squall. It was win or lose, if he lost this to Squall he'd be a loser and he was no loser. And then it was over-


"I can't believe Selphie beat us!" Seifer laughed, shaking his head as he straightened his blue silk long sleeve shirt, trying to decide how many buttons to leave undone from the neck.

"I didn't even realize she passed Irvine." Squall replied from his bedroom. Seifer heard the door open and bare footsteps come toward him. "Okay, black or white?"

Seifer turned, his breath choking as Squall held both shirts up to him, clad only in a pair of his leather pants. His eyes traveled down the leanly built chest and abdomen before he noticed the young man was waiting patiently.

God! Don't STARE at him when he's LOOKING!

"With those pants?" The blonde asked, trying to put an excuse for his scan. "The white one. Or better yet. Do you still have that dark gray stone washed T? You know, the one that looks like it has those black compressed zebra stripes on it? That would look good too." He spoke quickly, blinking rapidly.

Squall looked at both shirts and shrugged. "That's a good idea." then he traveled back into his room to raid his closet.

Seifer let out an almost whimpery sigh and turned back toward the mirror, trying to control himself before his needs became physically apparent.

Man, I HAVE to get out of this house soon...

The club was on the same side of town as Squall's apartment. The Dragon's Den. Seifer looked at the crowded streets on this side of the city and immediately liked it. It was cleaner, and looked like more fun. He glanced over at Squall, eyes dancing over the shirt he'd help pick out and cursed himself. It accented everything from the waist up. And the pants did the same from the waist down. Seifer could feel saliva gathering under his tongue.

Down boy.

It had taken Seifer nearly ten minutes to decide that two buttons were efficient and fastened the rest. His necklace lay just under the collar, the silver medallion the only thing showing through just above the V of his collarbone. He tapped his finger against the material of his black pants and cast another look over at Squall.

"So, how old is she now?" Seifer asked, starting to light a cigarette.

"Twenty four." Squall replied, tossing him a disapproving look. "Scary huh?"

"Wow...Selphie...the big two-four..."

"We're getting old." Squall sighed. "Here we are." He searched for a parking space, finding one and began to get out. Seifer stopped him, pulling him back in. "What?" He looked back, sitting down in his seat.

Seifer rubbed the back of his neck. "I-I just wanted to say thanks...for everything..." Seifer said. "I really like staying at your place."

"I like having you around." Squall assured him. "It's no trouble at all."

"I'm probably gonna be moving out soon so I just wanted to tell you." the blonde told him.

"Where to?"

"I haven't decided yet."

"I could pull some strings and get you an apartment near mine." The brunet offered.

Seifer smiled. "That would be awesome."

"Well, we'd better go in. I told them we'd be there at nine and it's nine thirty." Squall eyed him. "You and your hair..."

They got out of the car and headed for the club.

I don't want to leave him, Seifer thought to himself. I want to stay with him forever but I don't think he'd appreciate it all the much.

God Seifer, you're getting too attached to him. I know you just found him again but come on already, it's not like you'll never see him again... He tilted his head as Squall led the way inside.

His eyes rolled up.

Damn he has a nice ass...

"There you two are!" Selphie huffed. "You're late!"

"Seifer had to do his hair. Blame him." Squall said, gesturing over his shoulder at the taller young man.

"Oh sue me..." Seifer replied.

"What do you want to drink?" Zell asked. "I'm going up to get something."

"Beer." Squall chirped.

"I'll steal some of his." Seifer added.

"Squall has to dance with me!" Selphie sang, pulling Squall onto his feet. "Right now!"

"I just got here." He laughed.

"That's not MY fault." She told him. "Come on, humor the birthday girl."

Squall tossed Seifer and exasperated look before he was pulled into the crowd.

Seifer smirked and shook his head.

"Okay, what's going on with you and Squall?" Quistis asked quietly so the others didn't hear.

Seifer glanced up at her. "What are you talking about?"

"Please, you're practically making googily eyes at him." She said.

His face quirked. "I am not."

"Are too." she folded her arms over her chest. "Come on Seifer. You're not falling for him are you?"

"Of course not!" he whispered loudly, feeling his face flush slightly. "We're just friends."

She sighed. "Look. Just don't intimidate him okay? He's been through a lot."

"I would never-" he blinked. "You know about that?"

She nodded. "For a while I was the only one who did..."

"Selphie, you're nuts." Squall shook his head as he came back.

"Oh come on!" Selphie stomped after him. "It's my birthday."

"What does she want?" Seifer asked as Squall sat down beside him.

"You two have to dance." Selphie chirped, gesturing to the two former rivals. "And I don't mean just sway your hips until it's over. I want a serious bump and grind."

"You need to get laid." Squall sighed. "Isn't Irvine giving you any?"

Selphie slapped his chest.

Seifer arched his eyebrows. "What'll you give us if we do it?"

Selphie threw her hands on her hips. "It's my birthday! I don't need to give you anything!" She paused then sighed. "Twenty Gil each..."

"Make it thirty and we'll talk." Seifer told her.

Squall smirked and shook his head.

"Fine, thirty." she pulled them out of their seats and pushed them out on the dance floor just as Nine Inch Nails "Closer" came on. "Now go out and have fun. And nothing G rated!"

The two rolled their eyes and made their way onto the crowd.

Squall stopped Seifer as soon as they were in the midst of the people and smirked. "I've never done this with a guy before."

"You don't know how often I hear that." Seifer winked at him.

"Why did you agree to this anyway?" Squall tilted his head at him.

'Cause this is the only way I get to touch you and not get the shit beat out of me for it... Seifer shrugged. "It's better just to humor her. Just pretend I'm Quistis."

Squall laughed, almost evilly. "Fine, but you're taller so you lead." He wrapped his arms around Seifer's neck, waiting for Seifer. And continued to wait.. "Come on."

"Are you really okay with this?" Seifer asked, unsure.

"You CAN dance right?" the brunet smiled.

"It's just been a while." Seifer told him.

Squall sighed, smiling. "Just put your hands on my hips and follow me."

"So, how long do you think it'll be before they decide to come back?" Quistis asked, looking to Fujin.

The gray haired girl sighed. "I give them thirty seconds, a minute at the most."

"I can't see dammit!" Selphie stomped her foot. "For all we know they could be at the bar waiting until the song's over!"

Zell sighed with relief. "I hope. I don't want to be the only straight guy in the group."

"Just because they dance together doesn't mean they're gay, Zell." Quistis assured him.

"Oh my GOD!" Selphie cooed excitedly, hopping up and down. "I just pictured them having sex!"

"Selphie!" Quistis made a sound of disgust then thought for a moment before a blush went over her face. "That would be kinda hot wouldn't it..."

Fujin flushed.

"Are Irvine and me the only one's who aren't thinking that?" Zell rolled his eyes.

"I wanna fuck you like an animal!" Irvine sang, headbanging violently. "I wanna feel you from the inside! You get me closer to GOD!"

Zell sweatdropped. "I hate bein' me sometimes..."

Fujin laughed, wrapping her arms around his waist. "Oh, don't say that. Then you wouldn't have such a beautiful girlfriend."

Zell laughed, planting a kiss on her cheek before groping her, grinning stupidly when she fwacked him over the head.

"Not in public." she scolded.

"Hey Selphie, you wanna know-" Quistis paused. "What's wrong."

"Huwawawa..." Selphie slurred, pointing out into the dance crowd.

Quistis gulped and Zell's jaw dropped.

The two young men were dancing so close together that it was hard to tell them apart.

Seifer's legs enclosed Squall's as he held the brunet around the waist, his hands traveling lower then back up. Squall kept his arms around Seifer's neck, pulling his face down so it was only breath away from his own. Their eyes stayed locked together, lips smirking as their hips continued to move.

"God, it looks like they're having SEX..." Quistis muttered, holding her hand over her nose to make sure it didn't start bleeding.

"Somebody help me..." Zell whined into Fujin's shoulder. "I need some new friends!"

Irvine tilted his head. "...they look like they're having fun...Hey Zell!"

Zell shook his head frantically, hiding behind Fujin. "No way in HELL Kinneas! You're not turning ME gay!"

Squall glanced over at the group and smirked. "I think they like it."

Seifer huffed. "Well I hope so or we might not get payed."

"Well," Squall grinned. "I have an idea to make sure there aren't any doubts...but you have to go along with it for it to work."

Seifer laughed lightly as Squall, trying not to laugh himself, began to pull Seifer's face down.

"Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday to me.." Selphie sang, hopping up and down happily. "Still not sixty Gil worth tho-"

Her voice stopped as she watched Seifer and Squall's lips meet, open mouthed, hips still moving together. She could barely make out the fine lines of tongue before her view was obscured by lip and cheek.

"Holy fuck!" Fujin's jaw dropped to the floor. "They're not-"

"They are!" Irvine blinked.

Selphie had fainted.

Fujin and Quistis tore onto the dance floor as soon as the song stopped, filling the already noisy room with hoots of appraisal and laughter.

"That was so hot!" Quistis sang pulling Squall away. Seifer's hands fell limply from the brunet's sides as the body was dragged away from him. Their shocked eyes remained locked until Quistis turned the young man and started to walk him to the bar.

Seifer followed, dimly aware that he was moving and less aware that Fujin was beside him.

Irvine had managed to get Selphie to come to as they walked up. "That was definitely with sixty Gil."

Squall just patted her on the head, smiling lightly. "Happy birthday Selphie."

She beamed.

"So are you happy now?" Quistis asked, nudging her.

"I'll give you a hundred gil a piece if I can watch you two make out. A thousand if I can watch you have sex and ten thousand if I can tape it." She spouted, hooking her arm around Squall's arm.

"You know, the sad thing is, you're probably serious." Quistis laughed.

Fujin saw the blank look on Seifer's face, the way Squall was trying not to look at him, and tugged on the blonde's arm. "I'm going for some air, come with me."


Seifer needed the cold air, it was too hot in his clothes. He looked up at the star filled sky and rubbed the back of his neck. What the hell's wrong with me?

"What happened in there?" Fujin asked, leaning against the wall beside him.

"We did that just to get Selphie to shut up for the night." Seifer shrugged. "No big deal."

"No, I mean after that." she folded her arms over her chest. "The way you two were looking at one another I could have sworn there was something else. You looked like deer caught in headlights." She looked a him. "Do you wanna talk about it?"

Seifer shrugged. "I don't know what there is to talk about...It's just weird because of all that happened...I mean, we just started being friends again...I don't want to hurt him or anything...I'm probably just trying too hard."

Fujin smiled. "Maybe you're in love with him..."

He eyed her, swalloing nervously at the same time. "And what brought you to THAT brilliant conclusion?"

"Little things." she shrugged. "I notice them more because I know you better." Her eyes turned serious. "The fact is Seifer, whatever you're feeling, you'd better be damn sure of it before you make the biggest mistake of your life. Either hurting him when you don't really want him or letting him go when you do. And remember, you're the one who's going back home with him tonight."

Seifer just looked at her, his eyes giving away everything. Her eyes smiled at him, understanding. "I don't want to hurt him Fu..."

"Well," she sighed, smiling. "It's up to you to decide what you're going to do..." She patted him on the shoulder. "I hope you make the right choice."

He looked up at the sky, at the bright moon that hung overhead.

So do I...


Seifer could help the antsiness he felt during the drive home. The ride was unnervingly quiet. He dared a few glances over at Squall who seemed to be concentrating fully on the road before him.

He thought about his words with Fujin and sighed. Trying to decide what exactly he was feeling was harder than he thought.

The silence began to get to Seifer to the point where he leaned forward and turned the radio on. He spent a few moments shuffling through stations before he landed on some Aerosmith and leaned back in his chair.

At the least the car wasn't quiet even though the two people in it remained so.


Seifer

Things started to go like they had the first day I'd come to Squall's place. Things were uncomfortable, quiet. Both of us spent the whole day at work, came home, hardly said a word to one another and went to bed. Days went by like that. I hated the silent treatment, it was almost as uncomfortable as the fact that something had happened between us.

I knew he felt it or it wouldn't have been that big of a deal.

I went to bed thinking about it. It kept me up most of the night.

Maybe it reminded him of what had happened to him when he was little...

This thought scared me shitless. I didn't want to be associated with that any more than I already was. It scared me because there really wasn't anything I could do about it.

It hurt because I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable around me. I wanted him as my friend again. I wanted to pal around with him. I wanted to touch him and hold him and watch him while he slept.

"God, I AM in love with him aren't I..." I muttered to myself one night almost a week and a half later...almost a month after I'd moved in.

I was completely, utterly, impossibly, horribly in love with Squall.

And he wasn't talking to me.


Laguna

I noticed something was wrong with him as soon as he walked into the room. He'd been that way for the past few days. Kinda jumpy, trying to keep busy. Keep his mind off something.

I figured he and Michael had had a little spout or something. Two people living under the same roof can be difficult sometimes. I'm glad he finally got a roommate though, it's good for him to have someone around. I worry about him. Hell, I'm his father. I wish I could be there for him all the time, but I just can't.

I wonder what goes on inside his head sometimes. There's ALWAYS something going on. The gears are always turning. He's a bright kid. A hell of a lot smarter than I am. I know I'm not an idiot or anything (contrary to popular belief) but I know that some of the things I have to do are way out of my league. That's where my moral support group comes in. Fujin, Squall, Kiros, Ward and a few others keep me on my feet, preventing me from falling on my ass.

I can tell when something's wrong with them.

And something was definitely wrong with Squall.

I wanted to go over and talk to him, but that damn directive group kept talking to me.

I hated meetings.

I hated politicians.

I needed a vacation.

We all did.

Zell burst into my office and bounced around him, excitedly inviting him to a bash they were holding down at a club. Apparently no one else wanted to go or was too busy.

Squall agreed.

I was glad he was at least getting out.


Seifer

I was sitting on the couch when the phone rang. I looked at the clock, wondering who the hell would be calling at midnight and picked up the receiver.

"Hello?"

"Seifer?"

I blinked. "Squall.

"Yeah... Look, are you busy?"

I looked down at my old t-shirt and jeans, my bedclothes, and the tub of popcorn on my lap. The rented movie was still going. Some action thriller that had done horrible in the box office. I hadn't seen it before, and I was only about a half an hour into it, but I hated it already.

"Not really. Why?"

"Could you to pick me up..."

I pushed the mute button and sat up straight, setting the bowl of popcorn on the coffee table. My eyes turned to slits. "Is everything alright?"

His voice muffled, as if he was looking over his shoulder. "Someone laced Zell's beer with something. We're in the lounge of the Dragon's Den. We walked so the car's still at the apartment. Can you come and get us?"

"Yeah." I tried to hide my concern, knowing there was something he wasn't telling me from the strange tone in his voice. "I'll be there in a few minutes. Keep Zell conscious."

"Too late."

I let out a sigh, standing to pace. "Okay, then just stay at the bar, within sight of the bartender. I'll be there soon." When I hung up I knew I was being overprotective of him. But considering what had happened to me at the ot her club, and the fact that the ones responsible had seen Squall there helping me, unnerved me. I was scared.

I grabbed the car keys and my jacket and headed out the door.

The drive lasted a hell of a lot longer than I would have liked. Most likely because of the fact that I was trying to speed and everyone around me was going the stupid goddamned speed limit. My heart was going a mile a minute as I sped past a little gray station wagon. I was doing that thing again, the thing where I worry about Squall more than I probably should. I know he can take care of himself but it felt like that night all over again. The one where I remembered...When I heard him screaming.

The club came into view, and I growled a little, seeing Squall in the parking lot, waiting for me. Zell was leaning on him, unconscious. His face lightened in relief when he saw the black sportscar coming toward him. I stopped a few feet away and climbed out.

"I thought I told you to wait inside." I told him, partially angry with him.

He watched as I set Zell down in the backseat. "Thanks for coming to get us."

I glanced back at him. "Don't worry about it." We both got into the car and headed for Zell's place. "Do you think he'll he be okay there?"

Squall nodded. "Yeah, Fujin'll probably be there."

I looked over at him as he glanced out the window. We dropped Zell off with Fujin and headed back to the apartment.

The car didn't seem to like that idea.

Halfway through the city it decided to run out of gas.

I groaned. "Dammit. Don't you ever fill this thing up?"

"I was going to do it first thing in the morning." He opened the passenger door and looked around. "We're closer to my place. We can call a tow from there."

I smacked the steering wheel and then got out, making sure to put the car alarm on.

Squall had already begun to walk down the street, his arms folded over his chest. I jogged to catch up with him, handing him the car keys. "So...what happened?"

He looked at me funny. "We ran out of gas."

I stopped walking, giving him a look. "At the club."

His face darkened. "Oh." He looked at his feet. "Some chick asked me to dance with her and when I got back Zell was passed out at our table."

"Someone laced his drink?" I shook my head. "Why?"

"He was drinking my beer when I looked over to see if he was still around." Squall replied, much to my dislike. "Someone laced MY drink."

I felt my blood begin to boil. "Did you see anyone? Did Zell? Who gave you the beer?"

"No, no, and the bartender." he told me. "And yes, I feel fine, so don't worry." He glanced up as a drop of water bounced of his shoulder and sighed. "Great."

"Don't worry!" I yelled, throwing my hands up, stopping him in midstep. "What do you MEAN don't worry! Someone was trying to drug you! And what do you think would have happened then! They would have dragged you off somewhere and-" I stopped, we both knew where the conversation was heading and I didn't want to bring that up. Besides, the people on the street were starting to look at us funny. I rubbed my forehead, feeling rain start to fall. He was biting the inside of his lip, refusing to look at me. I sighed. "I was worried as hell."

He looked at me, blinking. "You were?" A crack of thunder shook overhead and the rain turned into a downfall. He threw his arm over his eyes. People scattered to find someplace dry to go.

I stopped my scolding and scanned around frantically for some kind of shelter. Seeing a suitable answer I readied myself to run for it.

I looked back at Squall, surprised to see that he was just standing there, his face pointed up, his eyes closed, letting the rain fall on him. His clothes were starting to soak and his hair was already plastered to his face but he didn't move. In fact, he looked almost happy...

I watched him for a second more before he let out a deep, content sigh, the corners of his lips curving slightly upward.

Another thunderclap rang off and I threw an arm around him, leading him toward the awning of a closed department store. The rain pelted down on us mercilessly, drenching us before we made it.

Squall stood between me and the store entrance, completely soaked, water dripping from his nose. I looked over my shoulder at the emptying streets as another strike of lightning lit everything. I looked back at him, seeing he was shivering and pulled off my jacket, wrapping it around him.

"Thanks." he muttered. "God, where did THAT come from."

"That lovely Esthar weather." I muttered.

He laughed lightly, pulling the jacket around him tighter. "What about you?"

"My clothes are dry." I assured him. "You're the one who got soaked because you never wear a jacket."

"They cramp my style." he laughed lightly before shivering again.

I put an arm around him, feeling him move closer to me, to the warmth. Burying his head against my chest I put both arms around him, a crash of thunder sounding overhead. "What were you doing anyway? Were you just gonna stand there?" I chided lightly, letting him snuggle even closer.

I felt him shrug. "It felt good. We used to play in the rain all the time. We loved it."

I gave him a light squeeze and rested my chin on his head. "You're cold."

"I'll be okay." I heard him laugh quietly.

The rain continued as we stood in silence.

He moved slightly so the jacket covered my arms and shoulders as well and folded his arms between out chests to keep with warm before he buried his head against me.

"Thanks." I muttered.

I felt his eyelashes fluttered against the nape of my neck as he glanced up at me. The small brush against my damp skin sent shivers down my spine, clearly felt by him.

"Are you okay?" He asked, moving his head back so he could look up at me. His blue gray eyes were concerned as he scanned over my face.

I nodded, meeting his gaze, locking onto it. "Yeah, I'm..." I stared into the cloudy pools, which seemed so clear suddenly. And was I thought I saw there made me freeze with surprise. "...I'm..." My words were caught in my throat when I felt him move nearer, standing on his tiptoes to reach me because I was still so much taller than he was. My heart was beating a mile a minute when his lips brushed against mine.

It was a small, tentative movement. He was hesitant, hovering just a breathe away from my face, unsure of how I would react. I could feel his pulse racing everywhere my body rested against his and knew he was probably terrified. I was silent, still, not sure of how to react, not wanting to scare him away, and he grew bold again. He kept his arms at his sides as he locked his lips against mine, as if he was afraid any other contact would break the hold he had on me.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little scared too. But I was in my glory, and when he moved away again I was carefully pulling him back into yet another kiss, this time with my arms squeezing him slightly around the waist. This time HE seemed surprised, his arms still hanging loosely on either side of him as I moved on hand to his face, running it gently down one soft cheek, brushing my tongue against his rose petal lips, pleading for access.

Hesitantly, he allowed it. I explored carefully, holding the back of his head lightly, the tips of my fingers stroking the nape of his neck encouraging him without pushing. I didn't want to push. I'd take whatever he was willing to give.

I felt him sink slightly, his legs briefly unable to hold his weight and braced him with my other hand, pressing him against me for leverage as my tongue danced against his.

I was breathing deeply, inhaling the scent of the rain and him. Memorizing the textures of him, his mouth, his skin, his hair. I wanted to open my eyes to see him but it seemed as if they wouldn't allow it, as if it was some hazy dream that I would wake up from and find myself on the couch in my pajama's with a bowl of spilled popcorn on the floor and Squall in his room, still not talking to me.

In the midst of my thoughts I felt Squall's arms go around my neck and lost all brain function completely. He was responding just as I was, arching his neck as much as he could, or as much as I would allow him with my hand holding him, to press more completely against me. I didn't need him hurting himself, on the other hand the thought of giving him massages for an achy neck didn't turn me off at all.

He made a light sound in his throat and pulled himself closer with the hold he had around my neck. I lifted him slightly so he was on the very tips of his toes, surprised at how light he was. And feeling his soaked body under my arms and against me I realized how much smaller than me he was. He was physically strong and always had held an aura of strength and dominance, but now that I was touching him he just seemed so small and delicate.

It's not a word you usually associate with Squall and it didn't exactly describe him, but the only better word I could think of was beautiful. And that really won't tell you much.

"Hold on there boy, give the girl some air." a voice called. Squall's mouth jumped away from mine and he slid back to the ground. He sighed with relief, seeing no danger, his arms going around my waist as mine went over his shoulders. I looked over my shoulder to see a little old lady, smiling at us, shaking off her umbrella as the rain stopped. Squall looked around my arm and smiled, shaking his head.

The lady patted his cheek. "Now isn't that much better deary?"

I chuckled to myself, blushing a little and kissed the top of his head.

"I think you can go now. The rain's stopped." The old woman laughed, nodding her head. She pointed a finger at me. "You take that nice young lady home and get her all dried up and in bed so she doesn't catch cold."

I held back another laugh. "Will do."

She seemed happy with that and went back on her merry way, her shoes splashing against the damp sidewalk.

After she was gone Squall and I burst into laughter.

He folded his arms over his chest. "I don't look THAT much like a chick..."

I chuckled and planted a light kiss on his lips. "Come on, have a promise to keep. Let's get you home."

I started to move but he stopped me with a firm hug, resting his head against my chest and giving me a tight squeeze.

"What's this for?" I asked, running a hand up and down his back.

I felt him shrug but he still didn't let me go.

And that said more than any words he could have.

The couple left, walking down the street, the taller with his arm protectively around the smaller.

The figure in the car across the street watched with a wary eye.

Things weren't going according to plan.

The boss wasn't going to like this.


Part V

Seifer

It's nice when you woke up in a nice, warm bed and see the most beautiful guy in the world sleeping next to you. You have no idea how great that feels. Especially when you're madly in love with him. I could have sat there and watched him for hours. Actually, I think I did. And I did it happily. One kiss and the guy turned me into a mushball.

It was one HELL of a kiss.

It made me giddy just thinking about it.

And no, Squall and I did NOT have mad monkey sex.

We took showers (separately, you hentais, I'm giving you evil looks), called the tow, brought the car back, talked for a while, and went to bed. And HE invited ME into his room. I mean, I started to get ready to sleep on the couch again but he wouldn't have it. I like having a nice, warm, human sized, Squall shaped Teddy bear. He doesn't snore or anything. He moves around a lot but that's about it. I woke up at about two a.m with him half on me half off me. Thank god he was light.

Now, I bent down over his sleeping form and kissed him gently on the lips, lightly enough so that hopefully he would stay asleep but pressed enough to get a smile out of him while he dreamed.

Internally, I was giggling like a love-sick school girl.

I carefully got off the bed and headed for the bathroom.


Squall

When I woke up the room was light. The sun was up already. I forgot for a minute that it was a weekend and panicked until I remembered.

Then I wondered why the hell I was by myself.

Seifer, the weenie, had probably gotten up in the middle of the night and gone back to the couch.

Then again, I do have a tendency to move around a lot in my sleep. When I first got into the Garden, Zell and I shared a room with bunk beds. I moved around so much I'd shake the entire structure.

I sat up and noticed the door to the bathroom was closed and light was streaming from under it.

Then a toilet flushed.

I smiled.

So he HAD stayed.

Standing, I tiptoed to the door. The sink started as he washed his hands then the door opened just as I hid behind it.

I saw him walk out a few steps and stop, eyes locked on the empty bed, blinking. "Squall?"

I leapt out from behind the door and grabbed him around the waist. "HA!"

I swear he jumped ten feet in the air and almost screamed like a chick.

I was laughing my ass off when he turned around and growled, picking me up off the floor and trudging me back to the bed. I screeched with surprise and delight as he tossed me onto the rumpled covers and proceeded to jab his fingers at my sides, tickling me, muttering hopeless curses at me.

I was thrashing on the bed, laughing, trying to get away from his hands, I didn't dare kick for fear of hitting him in the face but I beat at his arms until he stopped, leaving me gasping for breath with a big smile on my face.

He sprawled out next to me and pulled me into a kiss.

My body melted, luckily I was laying down this time.

"Hungry?" he asked once he released me.

"Yah." I nodded.

"Come on, you can help me make breakfast."

He ignored my pleads for his life as he dragged me into the kitchen and sat me on the counter.

"Just watch me."

I did, but I don't think I was looking at what he wanted me to. He was ranting something about eggs and I was staring at his ass. He looked over his shoulder to make sure I was paying attention. Of course I wasn't and I got a little lecture about how I'd wanted to learn how to cook. But that was BEFORE. NOW I just wanted to sink my teeth into that nice, tight-

"Squall!" he cried. "You're STILL not paying attention."

I jumped a little and smiled apologetically. "Sorry, hun, but you're kinda distracting...Have ZELL teach me how to cook. HE'S unappealing." I said pointedly.

Seifer tossed me a humored look and shook his head.

"Well, put an apron over your ass or something." I told him, throwing my arms up.

He laughed.

I don't think he thought I was serious. So I got the apron and did it myself.

Before the morning was up I learned how to successfully scramble an egg. I felt pretty proud of myself too. Seifer ate it. Hell, I wasn't gonna touch it. He pulled out a small piece of an eggshell but said it was good. I wasn't sure if he was just trying to humor me or if he was being honest.

He had more balls that I did.

I sat on the counter and watched him eat the eggs I'd cooked, offering me a forkful. I shook my head.

He shrugged.

After a few seconds he smiled and pulled me down for a quick kiss.

When I pulled back I was chewing on egg. "You tricked me."

"See? They aren't bad." he grinned. "You want some?"

"Can I eat them out of your mouth?"

He laughed, almost choking on a hashbrown.


Squall

When I went into work I knew I was grinning, parting from Seifer, tossing him a kiss when no one was looking. I headed upstairs to my father's office while he went down into the kitchen.

"Why are you glowing?" Fujin laughed as I walked in. "You're smiling like an idiot." Then she gasped. "You got laid!"

I tossed her a look, still smiling. "Did not."

"Then what's the deal?"

I shrugged, flopping down to sit on her desk and rummage through her pencil cup. "Can't I just be happy for no reason?"

"YOU can't, it's scary when you get this happy..Did you kill someone?" She gasped. "Oh no! You didn't murder Seifer did you?"

I coughed inconspicously, looking around. "Michael."

She put a hand over her mouth and smiled sheepishly. "Whoops..." She leaned in closer, whispering. "So, what's the deal? Are things okay with you and Michael?"

I was sooooo grinning like an idiot by then.

She finally got it. "No!" She smiled. "No way!"

"Shhh." I put a finger to my mouth, laughing.

She was bouncing up and down in her chair excitedly. "What happened? Did you kiss him? What? Tell me!"

"Later." I assured her. "How's Zell."

"At home sleeping." Her face darkened. "What happened?"

"I'll tell you THAT later too. It's part of the story." I put her pencil cup back and sighed, kicking my legs back and forth over the side of the table.

She smiled and shook her head. "God, you're in love."

I just nodded.

She let out a giggle. "So is he."

"I dunno, I didn't ask."

She rolled her eyes. "No, I mean he is too. He told me the night of Selphie's birthday bash."

I blinked, dumbfounded. "He actually said that?"

She shrugged. "Not in so many words, but I can just tell these things about him."

I was smiling off my rocker just as my dad came in.

"What's with you?"

I let out a sigh. "What?"

"You look like you got laid."

Fujin laughed. "That's what I said." Fujin batted her eyes. "He's in love."

Dad started to look all teary eyed. "So, who's the lucky girl?"

"Michael."

He looked at me for a second, as if he didn't quite believe me, then he laughed and slapped his knee. "That's my boy!"

I tossed him a look. "Dad.."


I got home early and decided to work out a little. I had a punching bag hanging in the corner of the main room. I hadn't used it in weeks, being so busy with work and now seemed to be a good time.

I changed into a pair of dark jeans and turned on some music, some tecno rock band and started hammering away at the bag.

I didn't even hear him come up behind him until his arms were around my waist, his face buried in my bare, sweatdamp shoulder. He felt me jump and I felt him grin.

I glnced at the clock and realized I must have been working out for over an hour. "How was work?"

"Boring."

"Ah." I turned my face and kissed him. "Come on, I'll cook dinner."

He blinked at me, surprised. "Are you sure?"

"I've watched you long enough, I think I can manage." I tried to pull away but he pulled me back, kissing my neck, his hand resting on my bare stomach.

"You're all sweaty. Maybe you should take a shower first. I'll get the stuff ready. What were you planning on cooking?"

"I think I can handle spaghetti." I reached around both of us and slapped his butt lightly. "Come on, let me go."

"In a minute." He assured me. "You know, despite what you may think this is all new for me too."

I leaned back against him. "You've dated guys before."

"Yeah, but...you know..."

I laughed. "You're not gonna get all sentimental on me are you?"

"Gettin' there." He bit my shoulder lightly, grin widening. "Wanna make out on the couch for a little while?"

I laughed again.


Quistis

Selphie wanted to go to the zoo, so we went.

We spoil her. I know this. SHE knows this. Then again, we didn't really have anything better to do...

I saw Squall and Seifer holding hands, talking amongst themselves.

It was kinda weird seeing them like that, I needed a little time to get used to it. People were giving them looks. I was giving THEM looks. Seifer and Squall were oblivious. They'd been like that for days now.

Zell wasn't saying anything, he and Fujin were watching the monkeys. Irvine threw an arm around Selphie. She smiled up at him and kissed his chin.

He put his cowboy hat on her head and kissed her cheek.

He can be so sweet sometimes. But, they're both hentai and proud of it, just give them a few minutes..

I was walking along the other side of the path by myself.

I was the only single one now that Seifer and Squall had announced they were together. I admit, I used to have a thing for Squall but I backed off once Rinoa had come into the picture. The little snob. It had always been about her her her... She just wanted a guy to parade around with. For a while it seemed like she'd cared but it didn't take long for her true colors to come out. She was a rich, spoiled, selfish...

And speak of the devil.

I saw her dark prudey head over the rest of the crowd, thinking it couldn't have been her. It was too much of a coincidence. But I saw her face and muttered under my breath.

She'd seen me and now Selphie and Irvine. Seifer and Squall were behind us, still not paying attention to anything.

She was with a guy, definately not Zone so I figured that had just been a rumor. Actually, the guy was pretty hot. Rinoa had a pretty smug look on her face when she came up to us.

"Hey." she sighed, blinking at us. "How are you guys?" she put her arms around the guy's waist. Probably to show us how happy she was without Squall.

Boy, was SHE in for a surprise.

Irvine hugged Selphie tighter, his eyes turning to slits. "We're fine, you?"

"Great." Rinoa replied. "Hey Quistis."

I gave her the weakest attempt at a fake smile I could muster.

The little bitch turned. "So, Zell, finally find someone who'd stoop down to your level?"

"Rinoa, finally find someone to shave all the hair off your back?" I heard Squall retort before Fujin had a chance to defend herself and her man, and I laughed openly. Selphie turned to give him a thumbs up and doubled it when she saw Seifer chewing on his earlobe as he'd said it.

"Squall?" Rinoa looked dumbstruck. "Seifer?"

Seifer looked up as if he'd just noticed she was there and grinned, putting his arms around Squall possessively. "Oh, hey Rinny." Then he proceeded to lick a trail down Squall's neck.

They looked incredibly hot, Rinoa must have been shitting bullets.

"I thought someone would have thrown you in jail by now." she folded her arms over her chest.

"Oh, what, because I tried to kill you?" Seifer opened his mouth in a surprised O before he rolled his eyes. "Please, it wouldn't have been THAT great at conviction. Remember? Nobody likes you, DEAR..."

"Down boy." I heard Squall mutter in his ear. "Save that energy for late."

Seifer "Rawr" ed and laughed.

They were so cute in the face of danger that I was practically floating.

Rinoa made a disgusted noise, her face contorted nothing short like a confused bobcat. "So, you're gay now?"

"I'm not gay!" Squall made a shocked noise, his eyes going wide, as Seifer began to chew on his earlobe again. "I'm just happy."

"Well, anyway." she huffed, gesturing to the man next to her. "This is Adam."

Adam mouthed "Help Me" while the snot wasn't looking.

"Well, Squall." Rinoa smiled a little, eyeing my friend. "You look good."

"Good enough to eat." Seifer arched his eyebrows suggestively and bit a trial down to Squall's shoulder.

"Later." Squall laughed.

Rinoa didn't look very happy.

No that I blamed her. She'd lost Squall to Seifer. SHE'D never made him that happy and seeing him now with a guy she'd used to date, a guy Squall was supposed to hate was probably eating her up.

I was enjoying it thoroughly.

She was glaring at Squall and Seifer with a completely appalled look on her face.

They went back to being oblivious and kind of faded into the background, probably going off to make out somewhere.

"I'm gonna go get something to drink at the food court." Adam muttered, backing up quite quickly, probably before Rinoa noticed. Then he was gone.

So, Rinoa was left facing five of us, alone.

Fujin looked like she was gonna kill her. I bet I looked close to the same thing.

"Well, it was...nice...seeing you all again." she sighed, looking bored. "I'm sure I'll see you guys again."

Zell muttered something under his breath as she walked away.

"God! I can't STAND her!" Selphie roared, stomping her feet. "I should rip all her hair out!"

"It shouldn't be all that hard." Fujin rolled her eyes. "With all the hair dye she's used I bet it's falling out on its own." She looked around. "Where'd Squall and Seifer go?"

"Is she gone?" Squall's head peeked out from behind one of the bird cages.

"Yeah, you can come out now." Zell sighed.

"I figured they'd already DONE that." Irvine laughed.

Selphie giggled.

Zell rolled his eyes. "Irvine...God!"

"That was weird." Squall sighed. "Just seeing her out of the blue like that..."

"Are you okay?" Seifer asked him, kissing his hand then his lips.

"N'aw!" Selphie giggled. "How disgustingly cute! I love you guys!"

"Mountain lions!" Zell called.

"Hey, last time we were here they were mating!" Irvine winked. "Hey Selphie, remember the janitor closet near the food court?"

"Oh yeah baby." She arched her eyebrows.

"More information than we wanted, guys..." Squall made a face as Seifer laughed, pulling him along by his hand.


"We should do something." Squall sighed, looking over at Seifer who was brushing his teeth in the bathroom.

Seifer spat into the sink and looked back. "Like what?"

"I dunno." Squall shrugged. "Anything. Just go out and do something."

Seifer smirked. "Date stuff?"

Squall shrugged and nodded. "You know, once I'm done will all the stupid paperwork and stuff that Dad has me doing."

Seifer rinsed off his toothbrush and lay down beside Squall, his upper body hovering over the brunet's. "Like what? Dinner? Party? Dinner party?"

"Or we we could go to a movie."

"Or," Seifer sighed, looking down at him. "we could stay home. I could make some dinner, we could rent a movie, eat some popcorn...completely defeating the whole purpose of going out. Not that I would MIND going out and showing off my gorgeous kiss wonderful kiss sexy kiss beautiful kiss great smelling boyfriend. But I prefer to keep you all to myself. kiss"

"Mmm..." Squall's eyes twinkled mischeviously as he pulled Seifer's face down to his.

Seifer smiled against the kiss, running his hand down Squall's side, cupping his face with the other. The hand continued to roam around Squall's waist, over his ass, petting the flesh over the pair of sweats Squall used as pajamas.

Squall let out a sigh and moved closer, his hands running down the front of Seifer's chest.

The blonde's nipples hardened at the contact and Seifer tried painfully hard to keep his control.

Don't move too fast, you'll frighten him off. This is for him, not you. Take your time.

He moved Squall's hands and placed them over his shoulders, feeling the brunet's fingers curl in his hair.

Seifer moved his mouth, feeling Squall's lips on his neck as he whispered into one ear. "If you want me to stop, just say so."

Squall kissed his jawline, brushing his nose against the sharp bone. "I'm fine."

"We still have to pace ourselves." Seifer laughed. "How 'bout we go by bases?"

Squall pulled back, an amused look on his face. "Bases?"

Seifer shrugged, smirking. "It's the only way I know the stages. Now ignore all the derogitory things associated and just stay with me here." He cleared his throat. "This," he kissed Squall briefly and pulled back. "is the batting plate." He kissed Squall again, this time pressing his tongue into the brunet's mouth, squeezing the hand he had on his ass. Squall welcomed both almost hungrily. Seifer pulled back again, laughing. "That's first base. Apparently you like that base a lot." He nuzzled Squall, a serious look in his eyes. "Now, SECOND base...Well, I'm not sure if we're ready to go that far yet. I mean, it's a big step and considering..."

"What's second base?" Squall blinked at him.

Seifer moved his hand and briefly fanned it over the crotch of Squall's pants. Squall jumped slightly and Seifer began to move his hand away. "See? We're not ready for that."

Squall grabbed his hand before it left contact and kept it there, looking at the face that was hovering not far from his. "Don't stop..."

Seifer smiled, his hand cupping around the clothed flesh under his hand. He heard Squall make a small sound in his throat and felt his chest heave briefly.

He kissed Squall's lips, nuzzling him lightly, noting Squall wasn't even hard yet. "Just relax, I won't hurt you."

"I know you won't." Squall sounded surprised by Seifer's words, laughing lightly. "I'm pretty sure this usually doesn't hurt."

Seifer shrugged, smirking, trying to keep the edge off. "I just don't want you to be nervous...Like I said before, If you want me to stop just say so. I won't do anything you don't want me to."

"What do you want ME to do?"

Seifer kissed his chest and moved his hands to Squall's waistband. "Just lay there, don't do anything."

Seifer put an arm around him, drawing him closer so that they were both on their sides, facing one another. Squall looked up at him then pressed his face against Seifer's neck. Seifer bit his lip and moved his hand under the waistband of Squall's sweats.

Ignoring his screaming libido he moved his hand in between Squall's legs, feeling the brunet tense slightly. He paused, then gripped the bare flesh carefully in his hand, his other moving to brace Squall's back. It took a few seconds of gentle coaxing before the flesh started to get hard and he smirked lightly.

He's as big as I am...

Squall was gripping onto him like a vice, his head still buried in Seifer's neck as the blonde's hand went around him, his fingers tracing up the length. Squall exhaled sharply and moved against the hand.

Seifer didn't need anymore encouragement. He moved carefully, stroking easily. Squall shifted, moving the arm under him over Seifer's shoulder.

Seifer watched him, careful to make sure the brunet wasn't uncomfortable or trying to get away.

Squall was starting to breath heavily, his back arching lightly.

Seifer's breath was beginning to come out unevenly as well but he forced himself to calm down before he got carried away.

Squall's fingers pressing into Seifer's back. He was close. Seifer's hand moved faster. Squall's moved to grip the blonde's moving wrist while the other went around his neck pulling Seifer down, kissing him heavily as he came, loud moan muffled.

Seifer stopped, feeling Squall release.

Squall was panting against his lips as he pulled back, eyes half closed.

Seifer rolled him onto his back and kissed him lightly. "Was it okay?"

Squall nodded, sated. He opened his eyes all the way, searching the blonde's face. "What about you? Are you-"

"I'm fine." Seifer assured him, smiling as he sat up.. "I so have SOME control over myself." Although what the hell I'm gonna do when third base rolls around, who knows...

Squall nodded. "Now I'm tired."

"Good." Seifer laughed. "Sleep. But first you might wana wash up a little." He released Squall and walked into the bathroom to wash his hands, looking over his should briefly to see Squall changing.

They both met back at the bed, Squall curling up against the blond, smiling contently. "Thank you."

Seifer smiled. "You don't have to thank me. You can have a handjob whenever you want."

"Mmm.." Squall was smiling. "Do YOU like them?"

"Giving or receiving?"

"Either."

"Both." The blonde yawned. "Giving only to you though..."

"Don't think I won't return the favor." Squall said, a wan of a smile flaring on his face before it relaxed.

Seifer's libido jumped back from its temporary dormancy just as Squall fell asleep.


Toilet paper.
Shampoo.
Milk.
Bread.
Dog food.
yadda yadda...

Seifer eyed the grocery list. Where the hell am I supposed to find all this stuff?

The supermarket was as big as the presidential palace, only more like a maze with a bunch of people who had no idea what the hell they wanted. He turned the shopping cart to the left.

Baby diapers...

Who needs a whole isle for baby diapers?

Apparently a lot of people did for the isle was crowded. Moms and Dads with sceaming children.

Boy, am I glad I'm gay.

Okay, next isle.

Feminie hygeine products...

Seifer made an abrupt turn. No way in hell am I being caught DEAD there...

He looked back at the shopping list.

Paper towels.

He looked down the isle he was parked in front of.

Ta da!

Paper towels AND toilet paper!

Tissues.

Great, three out of about two hundred things.

He wandered around a little more, coming across the shampoo isle.

This should be easy, just find the one that smells like Squall.

This should be FUN too.

Or...he looked down at the list. I could just look for the one he wrote down...hm...is THIS it?

He pulled down a bottle of blue colored shampoo and glanced at it.

It looks like what he uses.

He unscrewed the top and smelled.

His knees buckled a little,

Oh yeah, that's it.

He fought the goofy grin the tried to pass over his face and tossed the shampoo and a conditioner of the same brand into the cart.

He was halfway down the dog food isle when he noticed a strange movement out of the corner of his eye and looked.

There was a man standing at the end of the isle.

Seifer went back to dog food hunting, searching for the right puppy formula when he realized he recognized the man.

He looked back.

The man was gone.

He grabbed the dog food and sped out of the isle.

He looked behind him to see if the man had reapeared, he hadn't.

The man from the alley.

While he was at the checkout he decided not to tell Squall. It would only worry him. And he had enough stuff to deal with.


"The Magi's?" Squall shifted uncomfortably in his seat, eyeing his father. Even Fujin was gaping. "Are you sure that's wise?"

"Chancellor Kay has been staying here as an ambassador from the Magi's. He assures me that peace between Esthar and the Magi is definate." The president replied. "Look, I know you're not sure about all this. You were at the Sorceress Memorial Trials. But all that's over now."

"It seems weird that they just decided to show up out of the blue after five years." Fujin sighed. "This could be good...or not...Chancellor Kay unnerves me..."

Squall's face quirked. "Who's Chancellor Kay?"

Laguna laughed. "The guy's been staying here for over two months."

"No one tells me anything." Squall huffed. "He's one of the Magi?"

Laguna nodded. "Apparently, he's one of the leaders."

"He came by himself?"

Laguna nodded again. "He came in peace. He just wants to vouch for the right for the Magi's to use the Memorial as a place of worship. I mean, it WAS originally THEIRS..."

"Until they started using human sacrifices..." Kiros reminded him. "That's one of the reasons we took it over in the first place."

"I'd like to talk to this guy." Squall told his father.

"He's not here right now, but I can set up something within the next few days." his father assured him. "We're going to treat him as a guest, not a spy." He eyed his son. "Got it?"

Squall sighed and nodded.


"Why did the dead baby cross the road?" Selphie asked, looking over her plate of french fries and watching the two young men.

Squall sighed. If Quistis was still around she'd know how to stop the stupid riddles Selphie seemed to pour out with. Too bad she'd left a few days earlier with Zell to head to Galbadia. Only Irvine and Selphie remained of the four.

"Give up?" Selphie chirped.

"Yes." Squall sighed, looking toward the entrance of the restaurant.

Seifer, hurry up...

"It was stapled to the chicken." Selphie told him. "What's big and green and lives att he bottom of the ocean?"

"Moby Snot." Squall rolled his eyes. "You told that one already...Besides, I read the book you got that from..."

"So? I like them." She took a big bite of her hamburger.

"Yes, eat...fill your mouth with something other than words..." Squall looked up as his coffee came and looked at his watch. "Where's Seifer?"

"I thought you didn't like coffee." Selphie blinked, looking at the mug.

"I need all the caffeine I can get..."

She smirked. "Boyfriend keeping you busy?"

"No, PAPERwork's keeping me busy." The young man sighed. "It was what? Three days ago we went to the zoo? Since then I've been doing almost nothing but work."

"Seifer must be cranky."

"Seifer's fine." the blonde assured her, sitting down in the booth next to Squall, giving him a kiss before reaching for a menu. "How's work so far?"

"Tiring." Squall sighed, leaning his head on Seifer's shoulder, closing his eyes. Seifer could smell the shampoo he'd bought only a few days before and smiled to himself. Then he frowned, remembering the man. He shook his head a little and looked back at Squall as he continued to talk. "We have a meeting with a Magi embassador tomorrow."

"Aren't they the bad guys?" Selphie's face quirked. "They're the ones who messed up your leg, right?"

Squall nodded and yawned.

"I know someone who's going to bed early tonight." Seifer kissed him again as the brunet sagged against him more, as if he was ready to fall asleep.

"Can't." Squall muttered. "Paperwork."

"That can wait for one night. You've been busy with it all week. Why don't you ask your dad if you can have the rest of the day off. You look like you need it." Seifer told him.

"Yeah, I can drive you, Squall. Let Seifer drive the car home."

"Yeah, you can call him from here." Seifer added. "Or, I can tell him when I get back to work...oh yeah, I've been promoted."

Squall straightened and looked at him. "Really?"

"Yup." he kissed Squall on the lips. "I'm your secretary. My office is in with yours now."

Squall tilted his head. "When did this happen? I mean, I'm happy and everything, but where was I? I have a secretary."

"She's on pregnancy leave." He knocked the brunet lightly on the head. "Wakey, wakey, baby. She's been gone all week. I moved in this afternoon. You were in with your dad."

Squall blinked. "Oh."

"Go home, get sleep."

"I'll eat first. Then I'll go tosleep. That okay?"

"Uh huh..."


When Seifer came home he headed straight for the bedroom where Squall was still asleep. He sat down on the bed, beginning to take of his shoes and socks and kissed Squall's sleeping lips.

Squall stirred and opened his eyes.

"Hey." he smiled, stretching. "You just get home?"

"Yeah." Seifer bent down again, putting a hand on either side of Squall's face and kissed him again. "Have you been asleep this whole time?"

"Naw. Irvine came over earlier." Squall replied. "You coming to bed?"

"In a little while, I was gonna take a shower first." Seifer told him.

"Stay for a little while?" Squall played with the collar of his shirt and looked up with him with puppy dog eyes.

Seifer laughed lightly and sat up, pulling his socks off and laying in the bed on his back, Squall curling up beside him, using his chest as a pillow.

"How was work?" Squall asked, throwing and arm over his waist.

"I helped Fujin with some stuff. Kiros and I moved a desk. I filed some of your paperwork." Seifer replied. "Pretty boring without you around." He looked down at Squall, who's fingers were tracing around one of the buttons on his shirt. "So, what did you and Irvine do?"

"Not much." Squall sighed. "I had some questions about stuff."

"Like what?"

"Eh, nothing too important." Squall sat up leaning over Seifer and kissing him.

"You could have asked me." Seifer told him, feeling Squall's lips travel down to his neck.

"Wouldn't have been the same if I'd asked you." he heard Squall reply.

Seifer pouted. "Aw...I wanna know." He smirked. "Was it about you looking like a chick?"

Squall sat up, his hands on his hips. Seifer just seemed to notice that Squall had straddled his hips and already gotten three of his shirt buttons undone. "I do NOT look like a chick!"

Seifer laughed, patting his leg. "I know you don't, honey. But there are some things about you that are kind of...feminine." He hands went up to trace Squalls hips, which were over his thighs. "They just make you look incredibly hot. Which you are."

Squall smirked and bent back down to kiss Seifer's bare chest, unbuttoning the last few buttons on the shirt Seifer wore. "Good save."

Seifer shivered as Squall's lips traced around one of his nipples, his hand stroking the back of the brunet's head. "Honey? What are you doing?"

Squall's eyes were mischevious as he looked up at Seifer's face, kissing his abs.

Seifer's eyes went wide. "You're not...uhhnnnn..." He moaned lightly as he felt Squall's hand on his crotch. Squall's hand stroked over the cloth as his head went lower, his tongue dancing over the contours of the blonde's stomach.

"Squall, no..." Seifer managed, his breath already starting to come more quickly. He was already hard and there was no way in hell Squall didn't notice. "Squall, don't push yourself."

"It's alright." Squall assured him, unzipping Seifer's jeans slowly. He looked up at Seifer's face and laughed lightly. "Oh and, this is my first time doing this so if it's bad don't sue me. And if you don't want it tell me now."

Seifer's hands were shaking as they ran through Squall's hair. He smirked a little. "Squall? If somebody doesn't do something soon there's going to be a big mess on your bed. 'Cause just thinking about it's gonna make me uhh..."

Lips brushed softly against the tip of his erection, brushing up the small drops of wetness that had begun to gather there, then it pulled back.

Seifer watched Squall as best he could over the contours of his body. Seeing Squall lick his lips carefully, as if testing the waters, seeing if he liked it.

Seifer remained as patient as he could as the gently exploration continued, lips and the tip of a tongue running over the base and slowly upward.

The blonde's head rolled back a little, his neck starting to ache from his attempts to watch what was happening. Then he let out a gasp.

Squall's mouth was on him, sucking carefully. His tongue danced lightly over Seifer's head, the sensitive skin relaying jolts of pleasure throught the taller man's body.

Seifer's fingers laced through Squall's hair as he breathed. Squall's hand wrapped around the rest of his length as his lips moved lower around it, taking a little more into his mouth.

Seifer moaned softly, his eyes closing as the lips moved farther and farther down.

The hand disappeared and reappeared again on his hip, the other joining it on the opposite one. Seifer could feel Squall's mouth over almost all off his length, amazed that the brunet had ever consided going that far. Seifer never would have thought it possible so soon. But he could feel the interior of Squall's throat enclosed all around him and new he wouldn't be able to hold on much longer.

"Squall...I'm gonna..." he managed to warn, but Squall didn't budge. In fact, he seemed to spur it on, sucking harder, his head moving in a steady rhythm. Seifer's hands gripped onto Squall's hair as he arched upward involuntarily, moaning, his head thrown back.

When he came, he moaned even louder, his back arching off the bed.

Squall swallowed as much as he could without choking, which, he was surprised to find, was almost all of it, and remained where he was until he felt Seifer go limp in his mouth. Only then did he move, or WAS moved. Seifer pulled him up, over him, and kissed him hard on the lips, still panting.

"Nnnn...you taste like me..."

"You taste good."

"That was the best blow job I ever had."

Squall smirked. "Yeah, right."

"Mmm...fine, don't believe me..." Seifer laughed, looking down. His knee went up, rubbing against Squall's well hardened crotch and smirked. "You know, I still need that shower...wanna come?"

Squall laughed, despite the fact that the knee was now rubbing circles against his erection. "Is that an invitation or a gratuitous reference?"

Seifer kissed him. "It's whatever you want it to be. Come on, we have to take care of you or it'll bother me all night..."

"Aw, feel sorry for me?" Squall planted a kiss on his nose.

"No, I want your dick in my mouth."

Squall blushed and made a face as Seifer picked him up and began to carry him to the bathroom over his shoulder. "Oh, THAT'S romantic."


Part VI

Seifer

My clothes were easy to take off seeing as how he'd already unbuttoned all of them. I watched him as he pulled off the t-shirt and old pair of jeans he'd worn to nap in and tossed them into a pile near the toilet.

I started the shower and knew his eyes were on me as I stood there, naked, waiting for the water to warm up. I felt his arms go around my waist and hug me from behind. Thank god his erection wasn't pressing against my ass or we'd be doing something else, and I'd be more than willing to let him be on top first.

But we REALLY weren't ready for that.

We WERE moving a heck of a lot faster than I thought we would though.

Shows you what I know about Squall.

"Hey, was that what you and Irvine were talking about today?" I asked, looking over my shoulder at him.

He shrugged. "It came up, briefly. Mostly we were talking about you."

I arched my eyebrows. "Really? Like what?"

"Just you in general. How you have a really nice ass, how you always manage to get yourself into trouble, how incredibly hot you are, how you're a great cook," he kissed me. "How I'm madly in love with you."

I swear I stopped breathing.

"Really?"

I felt him nod. "You'll probably think it's weird, but I can't remember NOT loving you..."

I turned and faced him. God, I almost started crying. But I was a man, I held it in.

Until he looked up at me and I just crumbled down like a woman.

Tears were leaking all over my face. "I love you, too."

He looked shocked through the wet fuzziness. "You're crying."

"Ya see?" I laughed, accusingly, pulling him against me as more tears fell. "You've turned me into a mushball. Now I can never be released into my natural habitat."

He laughed too, only his laugh was different. It had a whole other tone to it. "Are you sure you wanna take the shower NOW?"

It took me a second to realize what he meant and I swear my legs started to buckle.

Boy, Squall really IS full of surprises.

"Only if you are."

So, within five minutes of heading into the bathroom we were back out again and back on the bed.

We didn't talk for a minute or so, we just kind of lay there, watching each other.

"So, how do you want to do this?" I asked, for the first time in my life nervous about sex, my fingers tracing the hemline of his boxers. "I mean, it's up to you. I think doggie style is out."

Squall laughed. "There're other ways to do it?"

My face quirked. "Of course...but first...I have something to take care of. We gotta get these off." I winked at him and snapped the waistband of the boxers before I gently pushed him onto his back and slid down him. I slowly pulled the fabric down the length of his long legs, my hand brushing against his semi erection, causing him to gasp. I slid them past his feet, letting them fall to the floor. Then I was left there, just looking at him, naked and starting to breathe heavily, his lean body warm and enticing under my hands.

My mind started gibbering senselessly as I planted a kiss on the center of his chest. "Beautiful..."

I kissed my way down to his nipples, taking one in my mouth, suckling carefully, he tasted so sweet. My hands rested on the inside of his velvet soft thighs...stroking...teasing. He gasped, arching slightly, trying to get those hand to touch him were he needed it so badly.

I didn't want to tease him any longer so I moved lower, feeling the mattress dip under my weight.

He let out a tortured sigh when my breath danced along his sensitive flesh. I was deciding how to approach this without scaring him.

Head on is always best, pardon the pun..

I suckled at the tip, his hips jerks upwards almost of their own volition, seeking more friction, before falling back to the mattress. "Uhhhn!"

That was all the encouragement I needed, dipping my head, taking him all the way into my mouth. With slow, unhurried strokes, my tongue played along his length, eliciting even more sound from my writhing lover. Soon his slender hips jerked up again in my hands, desperate for the pace to quicken.

I gladly obliged.

He tasted wonderful. Everything about him was euphoria for the senses. The beauty of him, the musky scent that was left on almost everything he touched, the softness of his skin under my fingers.

I heard him moaning, felt him arching against me, his body trembling.

He came, arching up off the bed briefly, his body shaking slightly in the aftermath as I swallowed.

I could feel him settling in my stomach as I moved back up and smiled, wrapping my arms around him.

He was breathing almost evenly again when he nuzzled my nose with his. "It won't hurt too much, will it?"

I touched his face and rested my forehead against his. "No, I'll be careful. I promise. If you're sure that's the way you want to do it...You know, I thought you wouldn't want to be the uke..."

He blinked. "Uke?"

I smirked, enjoying the suddenly innocent look he had on his head. "Bottom."

He laughed nervously. "Oh."

I sat up on one elbow, planting a kiss on his shoulder. I reached behind me and took the bottle I had carried in from the bathroom from the top of the dresser.

"Roll onto your stomach."

Hesitantly, he did.

I winced.

The scars were as pronounced as they day he'd first gotten the bandages off.

Tears threatened my eyes, remembering his screams of terror and pain. I sat there, just looking at them.

"Seifer, it's okay," he told me, feeling one drop of water land in the small of his back, looking over his shoulder, drawing me with one arm into another kiss.

We continued to kiss, not really helping me regain my bearings.

The kiss went on and I poured some of the lotion into my hand. It was the same stuff he used when he gave me backrubs, or vice-versa. It didn't smell like anything, but it felt warm when you put it on.

I figured it was better than the other stuff I could have grabbed. It was freezing cold no matter where you kept it. I'd only used it once with a guy from...Dollet was it? Eh, I couldn't remember.

Didn't really want to either. Only Squall mattered.

He made a surprised sound in his throat when I put one lotioned finger in him. "Fuck, that's cold!"

I laughed lightly. "It should get warmer in a few seconds."

He relaxed a little as my words became truth, but was still slightly tense, uncomfortable. I whispered gently to him that it was me and things would be alright. He forced himself to relax completely.

Soon two, then three fingers were in him and he was starting to breath faster, his body moving a little as I brushed against the spot that made him forget about everything else.

"Okay, roll over," I whispered, watching him as he did so.

He looked up at me as I moved over him, kissing him. I reached one hand down and pulled his legs apart and up carefully, then positioned myself over him. "Are you ready?"

He nodded, blinking nervously as he felt me against him.

I moved slowly, pressing myself gently.

He made a sound and tensed up as the pain hit him.

I hesitated, letting him get used to it, letting him relax as it subsided. This repeated a few times before I was completely in him, my body pressed up against his, our faces only inches away.

I watched him, making sure he was ready before I moved.

He gripped onto me, wincing at the first few, slow thrusts.

He started to shake a little, still unsure, still feeling pain. For me it was wonderful, being buried within his lithe body. He was so warm, his skin was so soft under my fingers...

But he wasn't enjoying it yet so I paused again, my hands on his hips, managing to make out a few words. "Do you want me to stop?"

Still shaking a little he shook his head, determined. "No, keep going..."

Despite how good it felt for me I was hesitant, waiting a few more seconds for him to get more used to me before I moved again.

Then I hit it.

He let out a moan and clung to me.

I moved, hitting that spot in him over and over. His breath was ragged as I quickened my pace, my body shuddering when his airy mewl chanted my name against my ear. We were both clinging to one another, panting, moaning and sweating. I didn't know how long my arms would hold me up.

His legs were around my waist under the blanket, trying to push me in deeper while his hips moved upward to do the same.

He came first, holding out as long as he could for his first time. I didn't last much longer, for the first time feeling completely satisfied, emptying myself in him.

We lay there for a few moments, panting. I lay partially collasped on his chest, his hands around my neck, his chest heaving.

Only when we were both breathing normally did I carefully remove myself and curl up beside him.

He moved onto his side, facing me, and pulled the blanket around us before falling asleep with his head against mine.

I watched him for a few moments, the love of my life.

He DID look like a child now that I watched him. A beautiful, haunting little reminder of the little boy he used to be with only a shade of what he had become.

He really, truly was beautiful.

It didn't take long before I followed him in sleep.

We both woke around two in the morning and made love again, this time with me still in him, him on top, naked and straddling me. I could hardly think, looking up at him, hips moving, his back arched. I was still hesitant about hurting him, but his confidence and libido had grown during the few hours of rest, much to my amazement and partial delight.

We rested again before doing it one last time that night.

He looked a little scared when I told him how I suggested we do it. He was afraid of hurting me, I told him not to worry.

I didn't have the heart to tell him it was my first time with someone in me. That would probably would have only scared him more. It hurt a little, not as much as I thought it would, probably because he was being so gentle.

I gripped onto him as he moved in me over and over again, growing bolder with ever thrust he made. We were both sweating like crazy by then.

I don't think I ever moaned as loud as I did that night. I was surprised I didn't hurt my voice.

I suppose we would have taken a shower if we weren't so tired afterward. We both curled up against one another and slept.


Overslept.

I woke up with Squall hopping around on one foot, trying to get the other into a pair of pants. He'd managed to get a pair of boxers on. I THINK they were on forward.

I was laughing as I looked at the clock. We were over an hour and a half late. "Just call in sick."

"I can't, I have that meeting with the ambassador." He ran into the bathroom and grabbed his toothbrush.

"Oh, shit." I remembered. "Well, that's not until this afternoon."

He stopped at the foot of the bed with the toothbrush still in his mouth. "Oh yeah."

I smirked. "Get over here."

Pulling him across the bed I dragged him beside me, taking the toothbrush from his mouth and setting it on the nightstand, kissing him.

"I need to spits," he muttered, worming from my grip and crawling off the bed toward the bathroom.

I sat up, leaning my back against the headboard and watched him.

When he was done he crawled back over the bed and lay on top of me over the blanket. "How do you feel?"

"Mmmm..." I muttered, resting my forehead against his, my hands in his hair. "Madly in love."

"I was thinking 'hungry' but 'in love' is good." he laughed, his lips meeting mine briefly. "So, you want food?"

My hands traveled down his body as I gave him a suggestive look. "Not really. Although, hungry would be a good word for it."

He smirked. "Still horny are we?"

I nuzzled his cheek. "You wanna be on top?"

He shook his head unbuttoning his pants.

Well, now that Squall was more comfortable during sex it was a little different than the night before.

I think it may have felt better because his body was growing used to it. His short nails digging into my back felt kinda good with his wrapped his legs around me. I dared to thrust harder than I had the night before, he seemed to enjoy it.

I came first this time, continuing on him until he came.

We DID take a shower this time, and after that we had to take another one.

I was starting to think I'd created a monster.

I wasn't complaining at all.

Thank god the dog was still asleep.

The doorbell rang around ten-thirty, interupting either the fifth or sixth time we'd gone at it that morning. That particular time we'd left breakfast on the kitchen table and headed straight for the bedroom.

I looked up from the curve of Squall's shoulder as noise came again and swore loudly. Squall laughed lightly and planted a kiss on my sweat beaded forehead, his erection pressing firmly against my stomach while mine...well...yeah...

"Go away!" I shouted, loud enough for whoever the hell it was to hear.

"I was just wondering where you guys were," Fujin called back. "Can I come in?"

"Yeah, we'll be out in a minute," Squall replied, then looked at me, hovering over him, trying to keep myself from pounding into him again. "Make that five minutes."

As I heard the front door open I started again, picking up where we'd left off. The interuption had taken some of the heat out of it and it took a couple seconds for Squall to get back into it.

I was fine. In fact the intermission made me hornier that ever.

I came in thirty seconds flat, moaning so loud the neighbors probably heard it.

HE had restarted.

Well, with Fujin waiting in the other room I wasn't just gonna start again, so instead I moved down and started sucking him off.

Doesn't sound very romantic does it. Well, we were in a hurry and I didn't want him to have to take care of it himself. It's much better when I do it for him.

I didn't let myself get TOO into it or we would have been there a lot longer. Just as long as he enjoyed it, which he did because he was writhing around pretty good and the moans were getting louder by the second.

He came loudly and I swallowed, kissing the bone of his hip and sitting up while he caught his breath. "Come on, we have to get dressed."

"Should we take another shower?" he winked at me, still panting.

"Yeah, but it'll have to be a quick one."

We were in and out in less than five minutes.

Our third shower that morning.

I pulled on a pair of pants, putting the towel over my shoulders and headed out to greet Fujin while he got dressed.

She was sitting stiffly on the couch, blushing. "That was quick."

I shrugged, smiling. "I'm not complaining."

She laughed. "I bet you aren't. Have you guys been at it all morning?"

"Since last night." I told her, looking back at the bedroom door. I could hear Squall walking around and figured it was only a few seconds before he made his appearance. I sat down beside her on the couch, sighing happily. "It was great... I love him."

"Did you tell him."

I nodded.

"What did he say?"

"The feeling's completely mutual." I felt arms go around my neck and lips press against my cheek.

I lifted one hand of his and pressed it against my lips. "Are you dressed?"

"Yes, I am."

"Dammit."

"So, Squall." Fujin winked. "That's a decent set of vocal cords you have there."

I could feel Squall blushing and I patted his arm, which looked like it too was growing red. "Oh come on, I was soooo much louder last night. If he's gonna get praise for that I want a fuckin' medal."

"I REALLY didn't wanna know that." Fujin rolled her eyes.

I heard Squall laugh. "Hey, our breakfast is still out, you want some?"

"Who? Him or me?" Fujin asked.

"Either."

"Sure." Fujin nodded. "Hey, when were you actually planning on going into work?" She called, standing up. I followed, my eyes traveling down the pair of pants and the shirt Squall hadn't buttoned up. I smirked devilishily and danced toward him, laughing evilly as I pulled him in for a kiss.

"Whenever he lets me." Squall replied, looking up at me, blue gray eyes smiling happily. "I really should get ready to go, shouldn't I..."

I made a pouty face, then grinned. "Hey, when the meeting is over I'll be in your office..." I arched my eyebrows.

I could tell he was considering it.


Squall and Fujin walked into the presidential office just before the meeting started. The room was packed with his Laguna's aids and attendants.

No one seemed to notice they were late.

Apparantly the ambassador hadn't arrived yet either.

Fujin took a seat beside Squall and waited. The other members of the committee were talking amongst themselves.

"You know, I bet he won't even show up. I could have just stayed home with Seifer," Squall whispered folding his arms over his chest, looking up at the wall-clock.

1:20 pm.

"Yeah, and you would have been asleep for two days afterwards." she assured him quietly. "I swear, from what I heard, you two'd both be dead by the end of the week."

"I take it your talking about Michael?" Kiros asked, smirking. "Didn't realize you two were together."

"I just learned about it...what...two, three weeks ago?" Laguna added. "You guys are already goin' at it?"

Squall rolled his eyes, glad the other members were caught up in their own conversation about the Dollet deligacy. "So?"

"Sorry for the inconvinience," a voice called. The room turned face toward the door where Chancellor Kay stood.

Squall was shaking his head as his father patted him on the back before going up to shake the man's hand.

Only then did Squall look up.

And almost died in his chair.

His face paled as he looked back at the surface of the table, his eyes wide.

Fujin looked at him, her face heavy with concern. "Squall, what's wrong?"

"It's him," he muttered.

While the chancellor was busy greeting the rest of the committee, Laguna looked over, his smile fading. He walked over, resting a hand on Squall's shoulder.

"Dad, I need to be excused," he muttered, standing.

Laguna didn't question it, he just nodded, allowing his son to pass.

'Go with him' he mouthed to Fujin.

Fujin led him out.

"Ah," the Kay called out, looking at the retreating duo. "this must be..." He paused, studying the brunet as he glanced up then away as Fujin took him out the door. He couldn't quite place the face at first, but the eyes...the eyes were full of the same terror... He grinned. My, you've grown... "...your son..."


Seifer looked around Squall's office, his finger brushing over the desk top, removing three or four layers of dust. In his other hand he held a purple stress ball, tossing it up and down, resting his feet on the top of the desk. He looked at his watch, the meeting was probably just getting started.

He sighed then paused.

There was a framed photo on the surface of Squall's desk and as he picked it up he smiled.

"Aw!" Seifer laughed out loud, seeing the small child in the photo.

A three year old Squall, laughing happily in a scruffy little yellow Garfield t-shirt. Holding his hand stood a pretty, young woman in a blue sweater with a young Ellone beside her.

That must be his mom... He remembered Squall telling him that she'd died when he was three. The picture must have been taken just before. That means this was just before the two met at the orphanage. They'd been sent there before anyone could do the children any harm.

Squall had been harmed anyway.

Just as those words had entered his mind the door was thrown open.

Seifer looked up abruptly, his eyes falling on the entering two.

Fujin leading a grief stricken and terrified eyed Squall into the office.

"What happened?" Seifer was on his feet moving toward the two. He winced when he saw Squall shy away from his touch. He looked up at Fujin. "Can you get him a glass of water?"

Fujin nodded seeing he wanted some time alone and walked out.

"Squall?"Seifer rested his hands on Squall's arms, bading him to look up.

Squall looked up at him. "He's here."

"Who?"

"Chancellor Kay...it's him."

Seifer didn't quite understand until he felt Squall shaking. "You mean HIM."

Squall nodded, rubbing his forehead. "He's the ambassador."

Seifer released Squall, feeling his blood raging as he paced back and forth. "I knew it. I KNEW there was something wrong about that guy..." He likes his brunnettes, he remembered Hilde saying.

"What am I gonna do? I can't say anything. He's the Magi ambassador, he's the only chance we can make peace with the Magi."

"We have to tell your dad."

Squall's eyes widened. "No!"

"Squall." Seifer sighed gently, handing him the picture, watching as Squall looked at it, his shoulders hunching. "He deserves to know." Squall looked at the floor, closing his eyes as he nodded, letting Seifer pull him into a hug.

Just as a loud explosion rang through the palace.


Squall

I was running. It didn't even seem like I was running but I was, my feet were hardly touching the floor. I don't even think I was in control of it. At least I knew where I was going. Through the chaos and debris of the halls I was running toward the meeting. People were running in the opposite direction, trying to get out, but I heard someone behind me.

Seifer. He was trying to keep up, I could his boots following me.

Fujin was at the end of the hallway with a few men, trying to pry open the door to the conference room.

I was the first one in.

"Help me!" I yelled to the others in the doorway. Seifer was already beside me, helping me to lift the the heavy wooden conference table. People were being pulled out of the room, some alive some dead.

None of them were my father.

I was searching frantically.

I found Kiros pinned under one of the overhangs. I pulled out the half-alive form of my father's lover and placed him into the care of Fujin who enlisted the aid of two others to pull him to safety.

Then I saw it, covered in grime and soot, buried under scraps of charred paper.

It was still sparkling despite the smoke and dirt, that's how I found it.

My father's wedding ring. The one he'd worn for my mother.

With no father attached to it.

I felt myself fall backward onto my rear, staring at it.

"Squall, he's not here." I heard Seifer tell me, feeling his arms pull me up, leading me out.


Seifer

People were rushing everywhere, some going in, fire men, others rushing out to get to safety, to find out what had happened.

He was running toward Ward who was standing near an ambulance, where Kiros was being loaded in.

I kept my distance as I saw Ward shake his head sadly.

Squall's face paled. I watched him as he raced from person to person, my heart sinking.

"There was a bomb lining three rooms under the conference room..." I heard Hilde say after I stood there for an hour, watching Squall as he hunted for his father. "At least, that's what I heard...No sign of the president?"

I slowly shook my head watching as Squall stopped, shoulders hunched.

As another ambulance moved away I walked to him, putting my arms around him.

I held him for what seemed like hours, the Presidential Palace smoldering behind us.

He didn't move, hardly breathed.

I think he was in shock.

My eyes fell and I saw drops of red land on the dark pavement. Squall held onto his father's ring, it's shape imprinting deeply in his hand. He was shaking, sobbing as he collasped against me.

Crying for his father.

A shadow passed over me and I looked up.

I didn't recognize the man, but I didn't really like what he said next.

"Seifer Almasy?"

My throat clenched as I nodded. Squall turned a little, looking up too.

The officer gestured behind him.

And I was being pulled from Squall by several pairs of hands.

"What are you doing!" I shouted, feeling handcuffs binding my wrists behind me.

"Seifer Almasy, you're under arrest."

"For what!" Squall, still dazed, sat there as he tried to comprehend what was going on.

"For terrorism on the presidential palace and the murder of President Loire."

"Squall!" I heard a scream and through the window of the transport I was pined against I saw Squall collapse onto the ground.

"SQUALL!" I fought against the gaurds but there were too many of them.

They pushed me roughly into the transport.

I pounded against the door with my body, seeing Fujin bending over Squall.

The transport began to pull away as she looked back.

Take-care-of-him, I mouthed, tears streaming down my face. I didn't know what was going on, but I knew it would probably be a long time before I saw either of them again.

She nodded.

The last thing I saw was Squall's unconcious face as the ambulance pulled up.


Part VII

"Time for supper!"

The little boy looked up, seeing the young woman in the doorway and smiled.

"We'll be there in a minute!" The man behind him laughed, tossing the ball one more time as the puppy bounded across the grass.

Squall looked up at his father and smiled. "Mommy's gonna get

Ma-yad...""Yah, she probably will." his father nodded.

Squall giggled as the puppy trotted up.

His father tossed the ball again. "You'll never find me you know."

Squall looked at him. "Why?"

"Squall..."

"Co-ming!" He looked back, the image of his mother was fading. "Where's Mommy goin'?"

"She's dead Squall. We're all dead."

"Squall."

Blue eyes flew open, staring blindly up.

"Mommy?"

"No, Squall, it's me...Quistis."

Squall let out a noise, the effects of the dream slowly wearing off as he remembered. "Where's my Dad?"

There was a pause as his eyes focused.

He was lying down. Quistis was there, sitting on the bed beside him.

"Where am I?" He asked, looking around.

"In the hospital. You passed out. We all came back as soon as we heard." She told him, brushing a hand through his hair. "How do you feel?"

"Where's my Dad?"

"They- they haven't found him yet."

"Where's Seifer."

Quistis' gaze- fell away from his and her shoulders hunched slightly. "The police have him."

Squall's eyes widened. "Why!"

"They say he had something to do with the explosion."

Squall paled. "But he...he didn't..."

"I know." Quistis shook her head. "Don't worry, we getting the best lawyers working for him."


"No one will take my case?" Seifer rested his head against the bars of the jail cell, sighing. It would have been better if Squall had been there. He'd heard that the young man was recovering from shock and had woken up in the hospital but hearing about him and seeing him were two completely different things. He needed Squall, here beside him... "God, I didn't even DO anything."

Fujin sighed, rubbing her forehead as she tossed the folder she'd been searching through on the metal table nearby. "I know. But just because of your reputation no one wants to represent you." She suddenly smirked. "But I think I know SOMEONE."

"Oh, God. You're getting the look." Seifer looked scared, shaking his head frantically. "I HATE that look. That's the look that says "I've got a plan, look out'."

Fujin smirked. "RELAX."


"Kiros?"

Dark eyes opened and pale lips curled up in a slight smile. "Hey, Kid."

Squall sat down, knowing the nurse told him he should stay in bed, looking toward the doorway every few seconds. "How do you feel?"

Kiros laughed a little. "Like shit."

Squall smirked. "Is that any kind of an improvement?"

"Not really." Kiros replied.

"God, Kiros. What happened?"

"I-I don't remember..." Kiros shook his head. "My mind gets all fuzzy when I think about it. The Doc says it might be a few days before I remember everything...Have they found your Dad?"

Squall looked at him sadly.

Kiros smiled a little, looking at his hands, trying to put on a brave face for the son of his lover. Inside, Squall knew he was breaking down. "They didn't find a body, so they think he got out before it happened..."

"That was your Dad's..." Kiros curled a finger around the chain Squall wore. Laguna's ring and Griever hung there.

"I found it...in the room..."

Kiros watched him. "Shouldn't Michael be here?"

Squall swallowed, hard. "He was arrested, they think he had something to do with it..."

Kiros's eyes widened. "You don't believe that, do you?"

"No."

"Why would they?"

The brunet looked guilty. "We lied about him...His name isn't Michael...He's...He's Seifer...Seifer Almasy...I'm so sorry Kiros I know I should have told you..." the young man's shoulders sagged. "Maybe that would have helped somehow..."

Kiros sat there for a moment before nodding. "I'm sure you had your reasons for not telling us..."

Squall looked hopelessly at him. "He didn't do it."

"I believe you." The black man told him. "Have you seen him?""Not yet."

"You should let him know you're okay. Go on, I'll be fine."

The brunette's expression turned sheepish. "I'm supposed to be in bed.""Like that ever stopped you before." Kiros laughed, patting his hand.

Squall smiled and stood, planting a kiss on Kiros's forehead. "Feel better soon. Then we can both go and find Dad."

"Okay." Kiros replied quietly.

When the boy was gone he closed his eyes, tears streaming down his cheeks.

Be alright, Laguna, please be alright.


Seifer stared up at the ceiling, one hand under his head. He hadn't seen Fujin since the evening before and wa slightly worried. He still couldn't get it. Who'd found out who he was? And how had he been connected to the explosion? Fujin wasn't giving him any info, probably because she wasn't getting any.

"Seifer, your lawyer's here!" He heard Fujin call and looked up. The man was large, the suit he wore must have been specially made. His dark hair was slicked back and shone in the bright lighting of the prison. But there was a large grin on his dark skinned face, like it had always been plastered there...

Which sounded familiar.

"Ya know? You gotta learn to stay outta trouble, Seifer."

"RAIJIN!" Seifer was on his feet in a second, hugging the bulking man through the bars.

"Ghaa! Leggo, I can't breathe!"


"I'm sorry, Sir. I can't allow you to see him." The officer at the main desk sighed. "It's for your own safety."

Squall shook his head in disbelief. "You can't be serious! He's behind bars! What's he going to do!"

"I'm sorry sir. I have my orders."

Squall's eyes narrowed. "Orders? Well, as the president's head of defense I order you to let me through."

The officer didn't know what to do. If he allowed the young man through he would be defying the courts orders. If he didn't, he'd be defying the head of defense, the president's son.

Squall's eyes pleaded with him. "Please...just let me see him..."

The officer sighed. "Oh hell..." He wasn't getting payed all THAT much anyway...

He pressed the unlock code.

A beep rang out and the heave steel door opened.

"It's straight down the corridor. He's in the security office with his lawyer."

The brunet smiled gratefully.

As the young man disappeared the gaurd sighed, going back to his stantion. "Well, there goes ANOTHER job...I wonder if the cafe is hiring..."


"So I don't know if legally..."

"Squall!" Seifer jumped up from his bed and in less than a second he was at the bars. Squall was there an instant later.

Raijin blinked, laving stopped in mid-sentance, mid- search through his legal papers as the two kissed. "I guess Fujin forgot to tell me a few things..."

Squall pulled back, his head resting against Seifer's through the bars of the cell as he looked over at Raijin. "Hey, long time no see."

Raijin waved on hand happily at him. "Hiya."

Seifer nuzzled his forehead against Squall's as his eyes closed. "I didn't do it Squall, I swear."

"No shit." Squall laughed lightly. "I'm so glad you're alright. I thought they might try something."

"Why didn't you come sooner?" Seifer asked him. "I was worried.""I was in the hospital."

"They released you already?"

Squall grinned sheepishly. Well, he HAD stayed overnight "Uhm...no?"

"You snuck out?" Seifer pulled back, eyeing him. "And you're by yourself too, I'll bet. Squall! You have to be more careful! That maniac is still out there!"

"If I'd brought a gaurd they probably wouldn't have allowed me to see you..." Squall watched as the blond sighed. "Don't be mad at me?"

"You're okay though right?" Seifer brushed a finger over Squall's cheek. "I mean, when you passed out-"

"It was just shock, stress, and a little bit of smoke inhalation. Nothing I can't handle. I'll be okay."

"You guys are so cute!" Raijin giggled happily, seeing their fingers thred together through the bars. "I thought you hated each other."

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Fujin sighed. "They WERE apart for six years...it was bound to have SOME effect..."

"How's Kiros doing?" Seifer asked, then shook his head. "Probably about as good as I would be if YOU were missing."

"Well be right back." Fujin told them, pulling Raijin up.

Raijin blinked. "But--Ow!" He rubbed his shin where Fujin had kicked him. "AW Fu, that hurt, ya know?"

"GOOD."

Then the two were gone. The door shut.

Silently, Squall thanked Seifer for having such understanding friends.

"Good ol' Fu." Seifer chuckled. "Always knew when I wanted to be alone. Always had the consideration to take Raijin with her."

"I'm scared Seifer."

Seifer sighed, touching his face. "Me too lover..."

"Well..." Squall sighed, reaching into his pocket. "I snuck the key off the gaurd..so if you REALLY want out..." Squall dangled the metal key from his fingers.

Seifer shook his head, looking slightly amused. "No, I'm gonna try and see this to the end LEGALLY. Raijin's doing a good job. Besides, I don't like the idea of making you a fugitive of the law..."

Squall nodded. "I DO know a judge. I'll pull some strings..."

Seifer nodded along with him. "That's good..." he smirked lightly. "You know what you can do in the mean time? Use that key to come in here and keep me company for a little while."

Squall smiled sadly. "I like that idea..."


"Okay guys, we got some grub..." Raijin stopped in the doorway, holding a tray of food. He smiled warmly and tilted his head. "Aw..."

Fujin stopped beside him and smiled.

The two were curled up on the small cot together, clothed under the scratchy gray blanket.

Asleep.


Squall opened the door to the apartment, noting the lack of dog bouncing around his legs. Quistis had been taking care of Rufus for as long as he'd been in the hospital and hadn't given him back yet. Which was a good thing seeing as how Squall wasn't sure if he could take care of the little guy in his current state.

The brunetmade his way in, shutting the door quietly behind him.

He moved straight to the bedroom, even though he hadn't eaten anything all day and dropped himself onto the bed.

It was odd having the bed as cold as it was. It was still in the same order as they had left in days before after their lovemaking. Squall reached a hand over, brushing against the pillow Seifer's head had rested against. Tears sprang into his eyes as he wrapped the blankets around him and cried himself to sleep.


The crowd around the courthouse jeered as Seifer entered, surrounded by gaurds. Squall followed close behind with Fujin and Quistis, keeping his eyes locked on the blonde head not too far ahead and away from the crowd around him. He wanted to shout at them, scream at them for being unkind, unfeeling bastards, booing and cursing at an innocent man, but he kept quiet. To his left, the presence of Kiros made him feel a little more at ease. He'd been released only days before the court date and was bent on seeing Seifer released at all costs.

Squall just hoped it was enough.

Seifer was growing paler and paler by the moment. After hours of accusations and witnesses and circles of evidence being brought up and cancelled out, they had done it.

Squall was on the witness stand.

Raijin smiled at the blonde reassuringly and stood to face Squall, smiling at him as well.

The brunet was as pale as Seifer.

"Mr. Leonhart," Raijin began. "The night before the incident, where were you?"

"At home. I'd taken the day off because I wasn't feeling well." Squall answered simply.

"Mr. Almasy came home at what time?"

"About six-thirty, seven o'clock."

"And he was home from that time until the both of you went to work the next morning."

"Yes."

"During the incident where was he?"

"In my office."

"Were there any witnesses to him being in the office?"

"Uhm..." Squall thought for a moment. "We only were gone for about five minutes. The cleaning lady was in, taking the garbage out when Fujin and I came back in. She stated that he'd been there while she was working. He was there when Fujin and I left and was there when we returned about five minutes later."

"So, pretty much, with the exception of those five minutes he hadn't gone anywhere that morning."

"Right."

"No further questions."

Squall sighed and watched as the other lawyer approached the stand.

"Mr. Leonhart," the imp faced, gray haired man sighed. "You stated that you and the accused were seperated while he was at work. Could he have planted a bomb while you two were apart."

"Kiros was with him during the time that I wasn't."

"That night. Would it have been possible for the accused to leave the house while you were asleep and plant the bomb."

Squall winced. "No."

The laywer mocked surprise. "No? And why not?"

"He was with me the whole night."

"In seperate rooms."

"No, in the same room."

The lawyer blinked at him for a moment. "You say he couldn't have gotten up in the middle of the night at and-"

"The time intervals when we were awake wouldn't have given him enough time to go to the Palace, plant the bomb and come back. It would have taken longer." Squall interrupted coldly.

"Why was it that the two of you kept waking up? Why was he sleeping in your room in the first place. It was stated he was your roommate and his sleeping space was the couch in a different room."

Squall blinked uncomforably under the gaze of the lawyer. "He and I are lovers..."

The lawyer nodded, pacing in front of the stand as the courtroom rumbled with voices."Have you any interest in becoming the president, Mr. Leonhart."

Squall stared at him, wide-eyed, knowing exactly what he was getting at. "No."

"So, it would be completely out of the question for you to, how-say, AID this lover in the kidnap your father and take his place as president."

"I would never!"

Kiros and Seifer stood at the same time, boiling with anger.

"So you would NOT betray your own father for his power?"

"Objection!" Raijin yelled.

"Sustained!"

"Would you betray your own father for your lover!"

"Objection sustained!"

"I LOVE my father!" Squall roared at him. "I wouldn't do ANYTHING to harm him! And Seifer would NEVER do anything to MAKE me harm him!"

"Got that right." Seifer muttered through gritted teeth.

The enemy lawyer looked almost sympathetically at Squall as the young man sat back down, his shoulders hunching. "Would you think it possible for him to use you to get to your father Squall? That he would do anything to get his revenge for the defeat of his sorceress."

Squall looked him in the eye. "Even when he was under the sorceress I don't think he would. He has more honor than that. He's better than he was. I for one should know that. I know him better than anyone else and no one has the right to judge him like this. "Maybe you don't know him as well as you think." The lawyer eyed him, then looked at the judge. "The Prosecution rests..."


Squall eyed his glass of water blankly as Kiros sat beside him.

"How much longer until they reach a verdict?" Selphie asked.

"Ten more minutes." Quistis replied.

"I want to see him..." Squall muttered.

Kiros patted his shoulder. "I know you do, but they're not letting anyone near him until it's over."

"How do you think we're doing?" Irvine looked to Raijin.

"I don't know, it's hard to tell. I wish I kne-" he was cut off as he saw a figure in the doorway.

Squall looked up.

There stood Rinoa.

He closed his eyes and aimed his face back down at his untouched glass.

"What are you doing here?" Quistis asked for him.

Rinoa shrugged. "I wanted to see what was going on. Do you think Seifer's gonna win?"

"We're not doing so good..." Irvine told her.

Squall sighed heavily, resting his head in his hand, fighting the tears that threatened his eyes. "I'm gonna lose him..."

He could feel the room staring at him hopelessly.

He looked up. "And you know what they're gonna do to him in prison? I don't even want to think abou-" he cut himself off, his eyes going blank. "They think he attacked the president..." his face paled. "They could sentance him to death...I was...I was so wrapped up in trying to help him that I didn't even think...I can't lose both of them you guys...I can't..."

The room watched him, his eyes blank with tears streaming down them.

Only one person moved.

Squall jumped when he felt arms go around him.

"For what it's worth, I'm rooting for him." Rinoa told him before kissing his cheek. "And, I pulled a few strings of my own..."

Squall looked up at her.

She smiled cheekily. "Almost half the jury is made up of Timber Owls and they're all voting on Seifer's behave under my orders."

Squall swallowed. "W...why? Why did you...How..."

She shrugged. "Seifer's an asshole but he doesn't deserve to die. And I guess I still owe you for saving my ass with Ultimecia. But after this I'm gonna go back to hating your guts you emotionless, self abosorbed bastard." With that she kissed him on the cheek again and began to depart from the room.

"Rinoa?"

"Hm?" she turned, looking back at Squall.

"Thank you." Squall smiled a little.

She said nothing, but smiled,and left, the sound of her shoes echoing across the floor long after she was out of sight.

Quistis made a noise. "That was actually very nice of her. She's gonna have to do a lot of bad deeds to make up for this one."

"In honor of her great gift no bashing her for a least five minutes okay?" Fujin smirked.

"Well, that just increased our chances by a lot but we still have to get majority vote..." Raijin sighed.

"What if we don't?"

"Plan B." Fujin said. "We break him out and haul ass out of here."

"And die in the process." Zell humphed. "Great plan..."


"All rise."

Squall stood, his hands bone white as his fists clenched.

Raijin and Seifer stood in front of him, both of them pale.

The judge looked at all three of them, mainly at Squall and Seifer. "You may be seated."

Everyone but the prosecution and the defense sat.

Squall's heart was going a mile a minute, his arms wrapped around him as he braced himself for the verdict. The judge and jury had been in discussion for an hour and a half. In a few minutes, Seifer could be ripped away from him...less than that...

He felt a pressure on his leg and realized Kiros had set his hand there, patting reassuringly.

The judge sighed. "Due to the amount of insufficient evidence, and the fact that the accused was..." he cleared his throat. "preoccupied before and during the attack, the jury and I have no other choice than to find the accused not guilty."

The crowd booed and cheered. Squall collapsed back against the bench, sighing heavily with relief. Kiros was hugging him.

"HOWEVER." The judge continued over the noise in the room. "I hereby order that he be put under house arrest until further notice. For his own safety." With that the gavel went down.

"You mean, you WANT me to stay home?" Seifer asked as people began filing out of the room. Squall came up beside him as he approached the judge, wrapping his arms around his lover's waist.

"Yes, and I think it would be safer for you to stay at him with him Squall. And there will be gaurds posted in your building around the clock." The judge eyed them. "We need our head of defense. If we don't find your father you're the next in line to take his place."

"That's not gonna happen." Squall assured him. "I'll find my dad."

The judge looked to Seifer. "Take care of him." Then to Squall. "Keep him out of trouble."

Squall smiled. "Thank youCid."


Squall unlocked the door to the apartment, glancing down the hall at the two SeeDs that guarded the elevator. Three were positioned in the lobby, two at the front entrance and a transport patrolled around the building.

Cid had ordered it.

The unnerved feeling his got with all the gaurds around was overlapped by the warm presence of Seifer by his side.

No gaurds in the apartment, he reminded himself. The door opened and he stepped inside, tossing his jacked onto the couch.

"Are you hungry?" he asked, hearing Seifer shut the door. "I hear prison food can dissolve the rust off a hubcap."

"I'm not hungry." Seifer assured him, following Squall into the kitchen. He watched Squall for a moment as the brunet started buzzing around the kitchen, babbling about how HE was hungry. "Squall..."

Squall stopped, looking up at him, plate in hand.

"Fujin tries to keep busy when she worried about something too..."

Squall sighed, setting the plate down on the counter and leaned against it. "It's just, my dad...Kay got him..."

"How do you know?" Seifer asked. "Not that I don't believe you. "I just do. I didn't tell anyone because there's no proof. Besides, they say he was taken too..." Squall closed his eyes, a tear falling. "Jesus, everything was so perfect, then this shit happens..."

Seifer put his arms around the young man and sighed. "Things'll be okay..."

Squall hugged him back. "And now we have all these gaurds around. They have to check in every three hours you know..."

"Hey, they're keeping you safe. That's all that matters to me."

"Yeah, but that also means I can't go look for dad."

Seifer sighed. "Squall, let these people do their jobs. I have Fujin and Raijin on it too. And the others are all over it. They'll keep us posted. And, once we find Kay, I'LL be the one sneaking out. You don't need a murder record. I'm not sending you into prison looking as fine as you do. The only wife your gonna be is mine."

Squall let out a small laugh. "Uh uh...I'M not the wife..."

"Oh, I am?" Seifer smirked, lifting Squall onto the counter so he was sitting.

"You know? My dad asked Kiros to marry him once..."

Seifer blinked. "Really? Why didn't Kiros say yes?"

"He was worried my dad might be thrown out of office."

"How long ago was this?"

"Two years I think." Squall smirked sadly. "I wish they would have. They love each other so much."

Seifer nodded. "I can see your dad wearing a veil."

"Hey!" Squall was laughing again.

He moved to punch Seifer lightly in the arm but his hand was captured. His body tilted forward as Seier pulled him closer, kissing him. Their first kiss since they slept in the prison cell. Squall wrapped his arms around Seifer's neck, sighing contently. He pulled back and rested his forehead against Seifer's. "My dad'll be okay. But I'm still gonna go look for him."

"How?"

"Well...if we can get past the gaurd..."

"If they check in every three hours that'll give us more than enough time." Seifer told him. "We just jave to figure some way to get rid of the ones in the hall."

Squall smirked impishly. "I have an idea..."


"Uhhn!"

"Oh!"

The gaurds looked at one another, then down the hall at the door.

"YES!"

The shorter gaurd blushed. "No one told us they were a SEXUALLY ACTIVE gay couple..."

"Hey, come on." The taller of the two nudged the other. "Let's go check it out."

"But- but they're having sex!" The first whispered loudly.

"They could be in trouble..."


"Oh Squall HARDER!" Seifer moaned, trying deperately not to laugh.

The two young men were huddled by the door, Seifer looking through the peekhole, Squall squating near the doornob.

The brunet tossed him a look.

Seifer smirked. "Well, we can't have them thinking you're a SUBMISSIVE head of defense." he winked. "Even though you are."

"Not always." Squall whispered back defensively.

"Ohhhh!"

"They're close enough."

"Go?"

"Go."

Squall's eyes closed as he concentrated, muttering a single word.

The guards paused in front of the door.

"Maybe we should leave them alone, give them a little privacy..." the shorter muttered. He felt a warm, humid breath on his neck and waved his hand at it, still looking over the shoulder of the soldier ahead of him. "Knock it off

Hanson.""Hanson's downstairs." The taller pilot looked at him, then behind him. His eyes widened, his face paling.

"Then...who..."

The shorter man turned slowly.

Six pairs ofglowing red eyes blinked in unison and thegiant, three-headed dog growled.

"AAAAAAHHH!" The two men screamed, taking off down the hallway.

Cerberus took off after them, all three heads barking wildly, until they disappeared around the corner. He stopped, huffing, then began to trot back.

"What's going on out here?" The old man from 212 peered out angrily. "Is it that Tilmitt girl again!"

Cerberus came up behind the door and one head began sniffing at the door's edge.

The man huffed, seeing Squall and Seifer emerging from their apartment. "Not you two again."

Seifer blinked at Cerberus, still sniffing around, just beyond the man's line of sight, behind the door.

"Sorry Mr. Murphy." Squall smiled appologetically.

"What does it take to get a little piece and quiet around here!" The door slammed shut. Startled, the three headed dog jumped, all ears alert, looking around for danger.

"CER-ber-us!" Squall cooed playfully, clapping his hands for the giant Hound of Hell to come.

The dog trotted foreward, tail wagging, the middle head coming up to rest on Squall's shoulder, the left head nudging his side and the right whimpering happily as the young man stratched behind his ears. The giant tall continued to wag rapidly.

"Glad the pup's not here or they'd be going nuts." Seifer laughed, picking up the twin dufflebags from the doorway.

Squall held out his hand and Cerberus turned into a small ball of light, flying into the hand and disappearing. "Let's get out of here."

"How?"

"Fujin has the car waiting for us downstairs." He looked at his watch. "Zell should be providing a distraction any second now."

Seifer blinked. "You had all this worked out. You were going to do this whether I joined you or not..."

Squall looked at him. "He's my dad Seifer. I'd do the same thing for you."

Then the power went out.

"I'm guessing that's chicken-wuss?"

"Yep." Squall grabbed his hand. "Let's go."


"Took you long enough." Fujin called, watching the duo slide down the sides of the fire escape ladders. She blinked, straightening against the front door of the car parked in the ally beside Squall's building. "I thought you were coming alone."

"Is there a problem?" Seifer asked. "I wasn't going to let you two conspire behind my back about something that could very well get you both killed. Nice job by the way Dincht."

From the passenger side of the car, Zell shrugged. "I do my best."

"They got a transmission at the Garden from the Magi." Fujin told them.

Squall tensed. "My dad?"

"He's alive." Fujin assured him. "Xu called Quistis as soon as they received it. Quistis tried to call you but the gaurds downstairs wouldn't let her through, so she called me. She headed to the Garden right after she called. She has the mutt with her."

"But you're sure my Dad's alive?" Squall's eyes had brightened.

"Xu said he was in the transmission."

"Where's the Garden now?" Seifer asked.

"On the continent about a day's drive from here."

Squall nodded. "Let's go."


Part VIII

Seifer

The drive was long and quiet. The car moved across the dry unpaved earth with little sound, kicking up dust behind it. Everything outside was a deep red as the sun set over the treeless ground.

Fujin had been driving for a good four hours and Chicken- Zell was pushing her to let him drive so she could get some sleep. I didn't hear most of the conversation but she declined.

I sat behind her, keeping my eyes out the window. Everything looked the same but it helped that the ground changed color as the sun set. I gave myself the job of looking out for danver. Other cars of monsters. Mostly it just gave me something to do, but just in case I'd set Squall's gunblade on the floor of the car next to mine.

Not that Squall was worrying. Not that an attack was likely.

Hell, it gave me something to do when no one was talking.

"I have to go to the bathroom." I heard Zell whine after five hours. "Can you pull over really quick?"

Fujin sighed. "Pull over where? It's not like we're on a road."

"You know what I mean!" he huffed. "Just stop, I REALLY have to go."

As soon as the car stopped Zell was out and deaded for a dead bush nearby.

"I'm gonna get some food from the trunk, you guys want anything?" Fujin asked as she started to get out.

My stomach started yelling at me to feed it at that exact moment. "Yeah."

Squall said nothing, he just continued to stare out the window.

Fujin gave him a wary look before climbing out.

I thought about saying something, but just looking at him I could tell the gears were turning and figured he was coming up with some kind of a plan.

I looked back out my own window. Zell was still out there, facing the bush, his back to the car, sillouetted by the setting sun.

"Zell, hurry up!" Fu called, sitting back inside the car and immediately started handing me food items. A sandwhich, a bottle of water, and a big back of chips.

She nudged Squall.

He jumped, blinking as Fujin brought him back to the land of the living.

I was surprised when he took the food from her and tore at it almost greedily. He took one huge bite accenting the grin he gave her. "Thanks, Fu."

I could feel Fujin smile but I wasn't looking at her. My eyes were aimed directly at Squall as relief washed over me.

"There's plenty more in the cooler." I heard her tell him as she turned and began eating her own food.

Squall caught a glimpse of me staring at him and blinked at me. "You okay?"

I smiled and leaned forward, kissing his jawline as he continued to eat. "I'm fine."

When I pulled back, he came with me, his head resting on my lap, his legs resting against the back passenger side door. "What kind of chips?"

I looked at the flashy orange bag. "Barbeque chedder." Then I let out a laugh as he opened his mouth waiting for me to drop some in.

I gave him to and popped one in mine.

"Moogle!" Zell cried from outside. "Oh my fucking GOD IT'S A MOOGLE!"

I looked out the window to find him running back and forth across the sandy ground, chasing a tiny creature.

"Zell, come on already." Fujin huffed.

Both Zell and the moogle stopped and looked at the car.

"Aw..." I heard Zell mutter, sulking as he walked back to the car. "Bye lil moogle."

The moogle disappeared into a hole in the ground.

"Uh uh." Fujin stopped her boyfriend as he grabbed for a sandwhich and placed a wetnap in his hands. "Clean up."

I shook my head and looked down at my lover, smiling sleepily up at me. "You okay?"

"I'm okay." he assured me.

I accepted that and ran a hand through his hair. He closed his eyes and continued to smile. "I'm glad you're here..."

"Me too..." I told him, wishing suddenly we were alone so I could show him just how much I'd missed him the past few days.

"I'm driving." Zell announced, half a sandwhich still stuffed in his mouth. "We still have about eight ours left. You're sleeping."

"Six." Fujin corrected. "Are you sure you know how to get there?"

"Yeah, I know where we're goin'."

Squall yawned as the car started.

"You sleep too." I ordered him, even though I figured he would anyway. "I know once we get to the Garden you're gonna want to find your dad."

"Do you want me to move? You're legs with fall asleep." He blinked up at me.I lau

ghed quietly. "My legs are going to fall asleep anyway." I assures him and continued to run my hand through his hair. "Go to sleep baby..."

He smiled again and closed his eyes. I wrapped his jacket around him and leaned back against the seat, determined to fall asleep before my legs did.


Squall smiled in his sleep realizing that he was being kissed awake by warm lips and hands stroking his face.

"Wake up hun, we're here."

Squall scowled a little, knowing that once his eyes opened the caresses would stop so he popped one open and looked up at his lover.

"Comfy..." he muttered, sticking out his lower lip.

"Numb..." Seifer replied. "Come on, I'm gonna have to walk around the Garden a few timed to get the feeling back in my legs as it is. Quistis is already waiting for you."

Suddenly Squall was very awake.

The transmission.

His father.

He sat up and went to gather his things, seeing they were already gone.

Seifer started to get out of the car, but his legs buckled.

With a loud cry he collapsed to the ground. "Pins and needles!"

Squall smiled appologetically at him as he leaned through the doorway. "Next time just say no..."


Squall paced back and forth across the room as the transmission continued to load. Behind him Seifer was desperately trying to massage his legs back to life after Zell and Fujin had helped him into the Garden. Luckily it was after hours and the Garden was dark and silent so Seifer didn't have to worry about any of the students seeing him.

Quistis had almost fallen on the ground with laughter. More like relief, Seifer had thought. When they'd approached the woman had looked positively frightened, as if she feared the car had been attacked and Seifer had been wounded.

"Ghaa!" Seifer cried when Zell poked his leg, sending a shot of pins and needled from his toes to his thighs. "Dammit! Get away!"

Zell just laughed until Fujin smacked him over the head.

Squall looked back at them and made a face, walking over.

While Seifer worked on one leg, Squall massaged the other, starting from the ankle up.

"Thanks honey..." Seifer sighed gratefully as proper feeling began to return. "Feels nice."

"Well, it IS partially my fault." Squall reminded him.

"Squall?" Quistis called, indication the transmission had finished

loading.Squall turned, straightening as he eyes the large screen ahead of him along the wall in Quistis' office.

The screen was blank for a moment. Then Squall saw his father, chained to a chair, gagged, facing the camera.

He looked alright with the exception of a bruise on his head.

Squall's eyes narrowed as he saw his father, tousled and grimestreaked, though still defiant. It looked as if Kay hadn't tried anything yet.

"The deal is simple." A voice rang out from the speakers before the figure came into view. It wasn't Kay, but another man, with a beard and stone gray eyes. "Two hundred million Gil, the sorceress memorial, the land and artifacts taken by the government from us, and he goes free. I know Esthar is good for the money, I've seen it myself. That little hoard the government put away under the Palace should suffice. We'll give you a few days to arrange it before we contact you again. At that time we'll give you the place and time of the exchange. Be waiting." Then the screen went blank again.

"Two hundred million gil!" Zell cried. "Holy shit!"

"Hoard under the Palace...I don't know anything about that..." Fujin's face quirked. "How are we supposed to get at it?"

"We aren't." Squall told her, still looking at the blank screen. "We're going to find a way to get my dad out of there."

"We don't even know where he is." Quistis told him. "The transmission was too short to trace."

"I'll work on that." Squall assured them. He watched them for a moment. "I'm gonna keep watching the transmission, see if I can pick anything up. You guys go to bed..."

"I'll stay with you." Seifer told him, standing up and limping over to him.

Squall smirked at him. "You look so pathetic..."

Seifer just stuck his tongue out at him.


Seifer lightly kicked the door open to the empty dorm room and made his way in. Glancing around with only the light from the hallway he saw that he and Squall's belongings had already been placed in the room. He memorized his path in the dim light and kicked the door shut. Carefully, remembering where he was going and the way things were layed out, he made he way to the bed and carefully, gently, set Squall down.

They'd been staring at the transmission for hours and they weren't getting anywhere. Seifer had accidentally dozed off and when he woke up, Squall was curled up over the edge of the desk, asleep too.

Seifer moved, almost tripping over a dufflebag as he flailed out for the light. He simultaniously braced himself on the wall and hit the light.

The room was small, not that they needed much space, but it made Seifer miss Squall's room with it's thick carpet and big, Squall scented bed...

He looked at the one they shared now. It wasn't THAT small, being an upperclass SeeD level dorm, but it wasn't the same. Either way, if Squall was there, he was happy. It was hard to think that only hours ago he was wondering if he would ever see the brunet again.He turned

on the lamp near the bed and the overhead light off as he pulled his shirt over his head and prepared for bed. He didn't take the chance of waking Squall, fearing he might not get any sleep in the near future. After pulling on a pair of dark sweatpants he slipped into the bed beside his sleeping boyfriend. He pulled off Squall's shoes and socks and carefully stripped him of his overshirt, leaving him in his t-shirt and jeans. He clicked off the bedside lamp and pulled the covers around them both.

As his eyes adjusted to the dark, the light of the moon allowed him to scan over the room. He'd left the bathroom light on and the door open slightly so if Squall woke up in the middle of the night with an urge to go he wouldn't trip over everything on his way there.

Seifer looked down at the sleeping brunet's face and sighed.

To think, he came so close to missing this...

He kissed the other young man, his thumb caressing the soft chin and neck before he curled up alongside him, feeling Squall move closer in his sleep.

Seifer's own eyes closed as he fell asleep.


Squall moaned in frustration and buried his head in his lovers chest. "Go away..."

Seifer, just waking up himself, didn't realize what was going on until he heard a voice coming from the other side of the door.

"I just wanted to let you guys know breakfast is being served in the cafeteria, and i have a few things that belong to you guys from when you were here as students."

Squall was up before Seifer could stop him, trudging sleepily to the door and opening it.

"Grr..." he muttered to the person outside.

"Yeah, I love you too." Xu assured him, patting his cheek lightly as she handed him a large brown box. "You know the hours for breakfast. Don't be surprised if you're recognized by some of the students." she started to turn before she paused an looked back, smiling sheepishly. "And watch out for the yaoi club."

Squall just blinked at her.

Xu smiled. "Uhm...nevermind."

Squall shut the door and trudged back to the bed, setting the box down. He collapsed on the mattress into his lover's waiting arms and sighed.

"What's in the box?" Seifer asked.

"Uhhhmmmmuhmuhmuh..." Squall replied, curling up against the warmth.

"I don't remember leaving anything behind..." Seifer's face quirked and he reached over Squall to pull at the tabs of the cardboard box. His eyes went wide for a second. "Holy shi..."

Squall turned briefly, blinking stubbornly. "Hey...is that?"

"My baby!" Seifer sat up, letting Squall's head land roughly on the bed.

"Ow..." Squall muttered, blinking sleepily. "Gee thanks..."

Seifer stood, grinning like a maniac as he dusted the long gray trenchcoat off. "It's my spare!"

Squall leaned his head on his elbow and watched his lover's childish delight with sleepy eyes. As the blonde put the coat on Squall rummaged through the rest of the box. Hey, another vest like the one you had...holy! my belts! My lion pendant!" Squall stood too to rummage deeper into the box. "MY jacket's in here too...how..." he shook his head, grinning. "That's right. I let Quistis borrow it a few years ago and she never gave it back."

Seifer turned around, looking down at the jacket. "Well? What do you think?"

Squall looked and winced.

The blonde frowned. "You hate it..."

"No, no it's not that..." Squall assured him. "It just brings back a lot of memories...I'll get over it."

Seifer sat down beside him. "If you don't want me to wear it, I won't...but..." his finger trailed against the jacket on Squall's lap, the feeling passing through the jacket and against the brunet's thigh as Seifer leaned in for a kiss. "I would like to see YOU in the old ensemble...you know, it was always a fantasy of mine to fuck you in it..."

"That jacket's messing with your mind." Squall assured him, blushing. "But it would be neat to wear the old outfit again..."

"Come on, let's get dressed and head to the Cafeteria. I'm starved." Seifer kissed him quickly and pulled him up off the bed.

"Are you going to wear your old stuff?" Squall asked.

"Maybe later."


Squall

It felt weird to be walking through the hallways again.

Well, good.

It felt good.

But still weird.

You don't realize how much you can miss a place until you've been away from it for six years. Students were buzzing everywhere. A few of them stopped and looked at us as we walked past, not because we were standing close, because we weren't. Although, I would have liked to. I don't think anything would have felt better right now than having him closer, maybe holding my hand. But my insides told me that would be a bad idea, not that I really knew why. I was guessing the students recognized us. I don't know where from, I hadn't seen any of these students in my life.

Seifer stood about a foot and a half away on my right side, walking in pace with me. It was weird seeing him without his jacket in the hallways of the Garden, but I wasn't complaining. The red t-shirt and black jeans he wore looked awfully nice on him.

And I wasn't the only one to notice. A group of girls we walked by began gawking at him...well...me too...in fact I think I heard one of them whistle at me...

I looked down at my own blue jeans and white T, wondering what all the fuss is about.You'd think after all those times Seifer told my I was beautiful it would sink in after a while, but no, it didn't.

Selphie always did say I was clueless.

And maybe I was, so what. Being clueless was great. I had a great job, a great boyfriend, a great father...

Who I would find...no matter what it took.

Apparently I was going off in one of my blank stares, the one where everyone just usually waits for me to be done with because apparently they think I'm contemplating something. I'm usually not. It's nice sometimes to just nod off with your eyes open, especially when I was in SeeD training, classes were evil...not that I would ever tell that to Quistis, although she probably knew...Anyway, Seifer nudged me, noting that I'd gone past the Cafeteria.

I smiled sheepishly.

The Cafeteria was always as I had remembered it. Standing in line I half expected to see Zell rush past looking for hotdogs...I was only half surprised when he did.

Squall glanced up at Seifer and smirked, taking another sip of his soup. He was looking at his sandwhich like it was going to come up and bite him on the face.

"I forgot how bad the food here is." he muttered, throwing the sandwhich down.

"Oh, it's not so bad." the brunet assured him.

"Excuse me?"

The two young men turned to see a small brown haired girl peering uncertainly at them. "Are you two...THE Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy?"

"I...think so...why?" Seifer blinked. "Wha'd I do?"

The girl was grinning as she turned back and sent a thumbs up over to her table. The two men followed her gaze to a table that was closely watching them, filled to the brim with girls and two guys. A girl stood from the table and jogged over.

"Hi, I'm Sareth Brise." the first girl told them, excitedly, then gestured to the black haired girl beside her. "This is Vera Ranerth."

"Is it true you guys are gay?" Vera asked, looking from one to the other."Uh...yeah..." Squall blinked, uncertain at the girl's

forwardness."With each other?" Sareth seconded, wiggling her finger back and forth between the two young men.

"Uh...yeah..." Squall repeated.

The two girls looked at one another and squeeled in delight.

"We learned ALL about you guys in class." Sareth continued as the two of them took seats at the table. "So, when did you guys know that you were gay?"

Squall blushed. "Um..."

"Who are you?" Seifer took the liberty of asking.

"President and Vice President of the Yaoi Club." Vera told them proudly."Ah..." Squall and Seifer answered together, as if that explained everything.

"So, Seifer. You were a bad guy right? I mean...no offense...How did you two get together? Before or after you graduated?" Vera continued.

"After." Squall told her. "Actually only up until a few months ago."

"So, when did you first-"

"Oh, leave the poor guys alone." a male voice called.

The two boys from the table had come over to see what was going on.

"Hey..." Squall's eyebrows furrowed in thought. "I know you..." he pointed to the taller, lighter haired of the two. "You're Zell's brother...Hakin, right?"

The blonde nodded enthusiastically, excited. "I didn't think you'd remember me!"

The boy next to him cleared his throat and Hakin jumped slightly, grinning sheepishly. "Oh, this is Donovan Wells."

"You guys are in the yaoi club?" Seifer asked, smirking at the two guys."Well, no...but it's the only table we can sit at without being gay bashed by everyone there." Donovan huffed.

Squall blinked. "You two are together?"

Hakin nodded, smiling brightly.

"Zell never said anything about having a brother who was gay." Seifer smirked. "It's nice to see the rest of his family is relatively normal."

"Gay isn't normal hun, remember? Just where we come from." Squall patted his arm lightly.

"Esthar?" Donovan blinked. "Is their a big gay community there?"

"Hello? The president and vice president. Nuff said." Seifer replied before realizing what he'd said. He looked to Squall to see if there was any kind of reaction and saw that the brunet's eyes weren't quite as bright as they were before. His hand met Squall's under the table and stroked it as an appology. As an answer, Squall's did the same back.

"I'm sorry about your dad..." Hakin told the brunet, his face purely sympathetic.

Squall returned it with a sad smile. "It's okay."


Squall headed back to the Headmaster's office to review the transmission a few more times, telling Seifer to head off and not to worry.

Seifer wanted to stay, just to make sure Squall was safe. But Squall was practically forcing him to do otherwise.

He suggested to Quistis that he take the blonde to the TrainingCcenter to brush up on his fighting skills.

Quistis had dragged him. Five hours later Seifer rubbed his head as a ChocoNut from a nearby tree hit him in the head. "Hey what was THAT for?"

"You don't have to be so worried about him Seifer..." Quistis assured the blond as the T-Rexuar rambled off, defeated. "I mean, he's safe here. And if you let another monster run off because you were day dreaming I'm gonna flail you." Her tone was playful but her eyes said she just might do it.

"I know." Seifer sighed, running a gloved hand down the blade of his weapon. "I just can't help it..."

Quistis grabbed his hand and led him deeper into the foliage. "You know, he told you not to worry."

"I'm ALLOWED to worry." Seifer protested. "He's MY boyfriend." The young man's eyebrows wrinkled together. "So, how long did it take for you to get over your crush on him anyway? Just out of curiousity..."

She looked back at him and winked. "Who said I got over it?"

Seifer stopped walking and glared at her.

Quistis made a noise and waved her hands in front of her, her face sheepish. "Although I never said I'd DO anything about it. I realize he's yours and you love him a lot. He loves you too."

Seifer humphed. "I know...Dammit Quistis. Guys like me aren't supposed to fall in love."

She smirked. "Who says?"

"You know," Seifer made quotation marks in the air. "Those 'they' guys. 'They' say you shouldn't put crayons up your nose... 'they' say that mayonaise goes good with french fries...yadda yadda..."

Quistis raised an eyebrow. "Cute. But seriously. I'm happy for you two."

Seifer smirked. "He smells good."

"Heehee!"

The blond man blinked. "What?"

"Your eyes did this twinkly thing." She sighed dreamily. "That's so cute..."

Seifer threw her a look. "Yeah, thanks...by the way, you have a Jellyeye behind you."

"Yeah rig-agh!"


Two hours after that Seifer trudged toward the Dorm, rubbing the back of his head. His legs hurt, his arms hurt, his back hurt, his hair hurt, EVERYTHING hurt. He made his way to the room he and Squall shared and leaned against it for a second, pulling his key from his pocket. He was glad he hadn't worn his jacket today. He was out of practice and his muscles were complaining. He might have collasped under the weight of the garment. He unlocked the door and stepped inside. All he wanted was a shower and some sleep.

Sighing, he shut the door behind him-

And was instantly thrown against it, a moist mouth feverishly pressed to his, a very warm body fitting nicely against him.

He froze for a second, surprised, before running one hand up the side of the wall looking for the lightswitch, his other caressing the back of the one against him.

As soon as his fingers grazed the rim of the switch he was pulled from the door and led in the opposite direction. The back of his legs bumped into something along the way and he fell backwards onto the bed.

Fingers tugged at his shirt, trying to pull it over his head. As soon as the garment was removed a warm mouth attacked his chest sending tiny jolts of electric pleasure to his brain.

"S-Squall?" the blond barely made out. The mouth moved from his chest and fit against his, a warm tongue lining his lower lip, begging for entrance.

Seifer closed his eyes as the lips moved to his neck, hands traveling down to the buttons on his jeans. He blinked, trying to come back to his senses. Sure, it all felt good, but there was something wrong with it. "Squall stop..."

The mouth continued it's attack on his neck, nibbling lightly. Seifer's hand flailed out towards the nightstand, brushing against the side of the lamp and feeling around for the switch.

He lost his bearings and his grip on the lamp as a hand snaked it's way into his pants. He gasped as long fingers slid along his length as it hardened. He bit his lip, trying to gather enough composure to turn on the light.

Light flooded the room, momentarily blinding him and the one on top of him.

He blinked down, his eyes halfway closed against the burning sensation as a brunet head buried itself in his shoulder.

"Ah geez!" Squall complained, his voice muffled.

Panting, Seifer relaxed little as Squall removed his hand and rubbed his eyes.

"You okay?" The blond asked, looking down at the brunet hair burying his nose in it for a moment.

"Of course I'm okay." The muffled voice came again. "Geez, what does it take to get laid around here..."

Seifer made a face. "You could have warned me. I mean, for a second there I thought was I was being attacked."

"You were." A tongue lapped against his neck in short strokes, almost like a cat bathing itself.

"I just, didn't think you'd want to do anything like that. I mean, with everything that's going on you know..." Seifer reasoned.

Squall ceased attack on the blonde's jugular and sat up quickly, looking more than slightly peeved. "Do you want to have sex or not?"

Seifer blinked. He reached a hand up to touch Squall's face. "Honey, what's wrong-"

"I'll take that as a no." Squall stood and strided to the bathroom, leaving a baffled Seifer sprawled on the bed.

The bathroom door slammed and Seifer just sat there for a moment. After a few seconds he heard the shower start to run.

He stood, pulling off his shoes and socks and knocked on the door.

"Honey?"After hearing no reply opened the door a crack. Squall's clothes were littered across the bathroom floor, his jeans thrown over the toilet. He glanced at the shower, watching steam jet from under the curtain.

Closing the door behind him he stripped off his already unfastened jeans and cautiously pulled the curtain away. Squall was facing the wall of the shower, soaping himself roughly, almost angrily.

Seifer stepped up behind him and wrapped his arms around the lithe waist, nuzzling his face against the other young man's hair. "Squall what's wrong."

"Nothing's wrong."

"Apparently something is or you wouldn't be acting like this."

Squall's arms dropped to his sides, his hands clenching. "I said nothing's wrong."

Seifer tried not to sigh, tried not to sound annoyed, tried not to sound hurt. So he just turned and started washing his hair.

"You stink like Jellyeye." Squall chirped evenly after a few moments of silence.

"Quistis and I had one explode on us. Don't ask."

"I wasn't planning on it."

Seifer's shoulders fell. They were all such simple words really. But the way they were said brought him the worst feeling. It was the same tone Squall had used so many years ago back when they were both in training. The same indifferent, cold, uncaring tone.

More silence.

"Did I do something wrong?" Seifer asked quietly.

"No.."

The reply was quick and efficent, like Squall's fighting.

Seifer closed his eyes tightly. "Do you want me to leave?"

Squall didn't reply.

Strong arms wrapped around the brunet.

"Get away from me!" Squall screamed wrestling the blonde away, his eyes firey. "I don't love you anymore! Get out!"

Seifer stood, shocked, his face paling. "Squall..."

"Get out.." Squall said more forcefully, his eyes glaring.

Seifer's own darkened. "No..."

"Just go back to Esthar. I'm sure you'll find yourself a new toy to play with." the brunet turned and began soaping himself again. "Just get away from me."

There was more silence.

Seifer swallowed heavily, something in him returning from slumber after years.

He straightened, folding his arms over his chest and glaring at the back of the brunet's head. "Make me."

Squall turned and glared back. "Don't tempt me Seifer."

Seifer smirked. "And what are you gonna do about it, Squallyboy?"

Squall just turned back to the wall.

Seifer scoffed. "Fine...I'll ask Quistis to get me a room."

He turned off the water and stepped angrily out of the shower, forcefully throwing the shower curtain aside and grabbing a towel.

"They wouldn't keep him alive..."

Squall's voice was quiet, but less like the old Squall as it had before only a few moments ago.

Seifer turned to him, watching him as he stood slumped against the wall, his arms at his sides.

"They wouldn't would they..."

"You don't know that." Seifer told him, his face softening.

"They could just kill him and take what they wanted..."

"Squall-"

"They could have recorded that message weeks ago..."

"Squall no.."

Seifer's eyes widened as he looked down at his feet. Steaks of red swirled along with the water. He let out a strangled gasp as he saw the source of the red.

Squall's clenched fist was closed to tightly the nails were cutting into his skin."Just go Seifer..." the young man whispered. "Please...just go...as far away as you can..."

Seifer buried his nose in the brunet's damp hair. "You couldn't pay me enough baby.."

Abruptly, Squall turned and was gripping onto the taller man like a vice. "I don't want to lose you..."

Seifer eyes stung. "You won't baby...I promise..."

The blonde held his smaller lover tightly, planting kisses wherever he could reach. "You're dad's fine. I know it. I mean, why else would Kay go through so much trouble? Besides, he's worth a lot more alive than dead. He's bargaining equipment. They still have the Vice President to deal with. And you. And the SeeDs. I mean, Kiros is a pretty scary freagin' guy when you get him mad. You have to remember, I was on the opposing side when I first met him. I've seen it. And Laguna means more to Kiros than pretty much anything. Kay knows that, that makes him valuable. And you don't just go off destroying valuable stuff that you can use to your advantage. I was a bad guy I know."

Squall shook his head. "No you weren't. You were a braindead minion of evil...No offense."

"Hey, not so braindead if I can remember all that crap. But you see what I'm saying?"

He felt Squall nod.

"Alright then, let's get you into bed okay?"

Seifer relaxed as he was pulled into a kiss and suprised with he found Squall moving against him slowly. But it was an uncertain movement, slow and almost

innocent."Please?" the brunet eyes brimmed with unshed tears as he leaned his head against the taller man. "I think I need it..."

Seifer smiled warmly, understanding. Squall's need for comfort and reassurance was more evident than ever. Seifer was willing to do anything he asked. "Come on." he whispered, kissing Squall's closed eyelid as he picked the young man up and carried him from the bathroom.

He dried the brunet off with a big fluffy towel and set him on the bed as he went to dry his own body.

Squall gave him a look that told me he could have done it himself, but didn't complain. He was warm and content, wrapped in his overlyhuge towel, watching his lover wipe the glistening water droplets from his body. He allowed himself to smile a little. And he's all mine.

Seifer caught the smile and smiled back, returning to the bed and slowly easing the two of them under the covers.

They kissed, slow and gentle, side by side, their hands sliding lightly along each other's body, hoping to ease the pain the stress that had worn on them both.

Pulling out of the kiss and rolling so he was laying comfortably on top, Seifer ran his hand along Squall's cheek lovingly.

"I love you." the blonde whispered, taking a delicate fingered hand to his mouth and kissing it. It had seemed like ages since he'd said those words but he was glad he had.

Squall smiled a little and started to reply but Seifer shook his head pressing his finger to Squall's lips and kissing his forehead.

He began to look around for something but Squall stopped him. Shaking his own head as Seifer's eyes widened a little he ran his hands over the blonde's shoulders.

Seifer watched him for a second. He was beautiful, with his cheeks flushed and his lips parted. He was beautiful. He smiled a little before moving, sliding as slowly and gently as he could. It should have been agonizing, but something was missing, something that usually burned in him.

The blonde looked down at him, examining his face. He never imagined anyone would look at him with that sort of trust. That anyone would look up at him and be so vulnerable. Squall was vulnerable to him. Squall trusted him. Loved him. Needed him.

He started to rock, gently. Squall took in a shaky breath. He moved in a slow rhythm now, unable to break eye contact.

There had always been something with their sex. A heat, a drive. Even the first time there had been pain, a desperation to be satisfied, a need to be claimed. But there was nothing like that now.

They were making love.

And the simple idea of it was mind blowing.

It was relaxing, reassuring, and passionate, all at once. Squall was moving beautifully under him.

He stroked the brunet's cheek again. Squall looked up at him with half lidded eyes. Blue eyes and dark hair, soft parted lips and flushed skin.

Seifer couldn't think anymore.

It was Squall who came first. His entire body tightened around Seifer suddenly, he arched slightly upwards and let out a quiet cry, his hips moving involuntarily. When he was done, he lay relaxed under Seifer, dreamily stroking him with his fingertips. Seifer came then, gasping, nearly falling over onto him.

They curled up beside one another, quiet.

Neither one spoke.

They remained awake for what seemed like an eternity, watching one another, gently stroking, caressing.

It was almost dawn by the time they finally curled up limbs entwined together, and fell asleep.


Part IX

Seifer

I hate the sun.

I really truly do. I'm one of those guys who appreciates rainy days everlastingly. I cursed that stupid bright thing for not letting me have a few more moments of sleep.

And I bet it just pointed and laughed at me.

Stupid sun...

I rolled over a little, pressing closer against Squall's sleeping form. I opened one eye and smirked. He was sprawled over more than half the bed, the blankets half on, half off his naked body. Not that I was complaining. I closed the eye again, my lips still curved upwards and threw an arm across his waist.

I was about to go to sleep again when it hit me.

I really had to go pee.

Sighing, I disentangled myself and made my way to the bathroom in the nude. After flushing, I examined myself in the mirror, running a hand along my chin. I hadn't shaved in about thirty hours and it was showing. My face felt like sandpaper.

I was about halfway done shaving when I turned to see Squall sitting up in bed, his hair tousled on the top of his head, the blankets draped over his waist. He blinked sleepily at me.

"So what's on our agenda today m'love?" I called, glancing at him, trying not to cut myself.

He just continued to blink at me for a moment before falling back onto the disheveled bed and pulling a pillow over his face. "Morning sucks..."

"How are you feeling?"

I heard him sigh. "Better." His voice was less muffled so I figured he'd pulled the pillow away. "You know, my plan last night when I attacked you was to ravage you so much that you would be totally incapacitated while I snuck out."

I smirked. "Yeah, but if you had sex with me THAT much YOU'D be out cold too."

"Give me a break, I hadn't gotten that far..."

I smiled at him. "Need a shower?"

"You read my mind."


"Squall?" Quistis called as she walked toward him, her dark boots clicking off the marble floor of the Garden's circular main hallway. "I have a job for you."

Squall turned to her and blinked as he stood, waiting for Seifer to come out of the Infirmary.

He'd banged his head on the showerhead.

Dr. Kadowaki hadn't even asked how it had happened, she just didn't need to know that much. "A job?"

"Yeah, I need someone to lead a group of first years through the training center."

"Don't you have staff for that?" he asked warily.

"We're shorthanded this semester and the help we DO have don't have the qualifications." She replied. "And I figured seeing as how you were here and pretty much just taking up space for the moment you wouldn't mind helping out. It'll keep your mind off things until we have something we can work with to get your dad back."

He raised an eyebrow at her. "What time?"

"14:00" she replied. "They'll be in front of the Training Center."

"First years?"

Quistis nodded.

Squall sighed. "Fifteen year olds...do they even have any weapons yet?"

Quistis nodded. "To the first year standards. Not the best quality but good for training."

"How many students?"

"Eleven. Zell and Nida agreed to help you keep an eye on them."

"Any gunbladers?"

"Two." the young woman told him. "A boy and a girl."

Squall nodded. "For how long?"

"Two hours." She told him.

"Fine." Squall replied as Seifer came trudging out of the Infirmary with a band-aid on his forehead. "How did it go?"

"She laughed." Seifer muttered.

"What happened?" Quistis asked.

Squall couldn't help but chuckle. "He was a little over-zealous. Don't ask."

Quistis smiled sheepishly. "Too much information as it is."

Squall saw Nida and Zell waiting for him a little before two, just outside the hallway entrance to the training center. He'd dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Comfortable. He didn't need to get any of his better clothing ruined and he just didn't feel comfortable wearing the old ensemble around.

"Where are they?" Squall asked, resting his gunblade on his shoulder and blinking at them.

"They're all in the sanctuary." Zell eyed him.

As they walked into the sanctuary of the training center the group of students chattered amongst themselves.

"Attention please." Nida called, clearing his throat quite loudly.

The students paid no attention.

"Um, excuse me..."

There was a sharp whistle and the students came to attention, staring silently.

"Thank you." Squall eyed them all, putting up the most professional air he could. He hoped he'd be able to intimidate them into submission.

He looked over them warily.

Fourteen and fifteen year olds.

"For many of you this will be your first time in the Training Center." Squall went on. "Believe me, it's a lot bigger than it looks, it's easy to get lost in, and there's lots of bad things to run into if you're not careful." He put a hand on Zell's shoulder. "Take this one for example. His first time in the Training Center ended with half the place destroyed and the automatic steel door dented by the T-rexaur's head. I should know, I was there."

"Gee thanks," Zell mumbled.

A few of the students laughed.

"Keep serious about this." Squall told them sharply. "This isn't a playground. The monsters are real. They DO attack, and they CAN kill if, again, you're not careful."

"Any questions?" Nida asked.

A few hands rose.

"Cyra?" Nida gestured to a girl in a purple vest and black pants.

"Can we chose our own teams?" she asked.

Another hand rose.

"Talen?"

"Can I go to the bathroom?"

Nida let out a sigh. "Hurry."

One more hand raised.

"Argas?"

"You're Squall Leonhart, aren't you?" The boy's eyes watched the dark young man almost nervously. Some of the students began whispering. Many looked a little nervous.

"Is that a problem?"

The boy smiled sheepishly. "Not at all." The girl beside him was staring wide-eyed.

The gunbladers, Squall realized.

"We're splitting into three groups of three, one group of two." Nida announced. "Make your teams now. Each team will be supervised."

"Let's go." Squall told them, leading the way inside.

"Mr. Leonhart?"

Squall winced. "PLEASE don't call me that. I'm not that old..."

"Uhm...Mr. Squall...sir..." Argas tried again, looking sheepish. The boy was short with sandy brown hair, his dark eyes blinking nervously.

"What is it?"

Argas gestured behind the older man. "Shouldn't they be training?"

Squall turned and rolled his eyes. One of the groups that consisted of three girls was staring and giggling at him.

He eyed them, one elegant eyebrow arching upwards. "Train ladies?"

They continued to giggle but moved on.

Squall made a face as he realized one of them carried a toned down version of a Pinwheel.

Looks like Rinoa made her mark on the world too...lovely...

He looked back in time to see the dark haired girl, Ryvin, dash the final blow to a malboro, defeating it.

"Good form." Squall told her. "Your stance is better. See how much easier it is to flow now?"

She turned, blue eyes sparkling, and grinned, nodding.

"So what made you guys decide to chose gunblades?"

Argas shrugged timidly but Ryvin tossed him a smile. "You."

The brunet made a face. "You're kidding."

"Nope." she laughed. "You were the coolest thing. A lot of people wanted to use a gunblade after you defeated that sorceress chick. Most of them couldn't handle it. We're the only two gunbladers in first year." The girl pushed her wire frames back onto her face and gave a little stretch. "I always wondered what it would be like to meet you."

Squall put his hands up. "Nothing special." He eyed them. "You two related?"

"Nope." Argas shook his head. "Met this semester."

"That's cool."

"Squall!"

Squall looked toward the steel door and saw Xu rushing through.

The two young gunbladers blinked, tensing slightly as the woman ran up to the brunet and began dragging him toward the doorway.

"What is it?"

Her chest heaved. "The second transmission just arrived."

Squall looked back at the two. "Find Zell, tell him I'll be in the headmaster's office."

The two stood at attention. "Yes, sir." Then they dashed off.


"Here's the deal." The man on the screen began. "The money, in two duffle bags, Seifer Almasy carrying one, Squall Leonhart the other. Centra Island by sixteen hundred hours tomorrow. Both are to be dejunctioned. No magic, no summons, no surprises. Once we have confirmation our territories have been returned to us, we'll make the trade. One transport is allowed to bring the president home. No more than two people aboard. We see anyone else, your precious little president dies." the man smirked coldly. "See you then."

The screen went blank.

"But that's in the middle of nowhere!" Zell shouted, throwing his arms in the air.

"And you're not going by yourself." Quistis told them. "I'll be on that transport."

"You heard him. If they see anyone else they'll kill my father." Squall sighed. "We don't have much choice."

"Well, at least we get to go together." Seifer said, his arms folded over his chest as he leaned against the headmaster's desk. "There'd be no way in hell I'd let you do this alone."

"Can we get the money here by morning?" Fujin asked, glancing at Squall.

"It'll be here..." Squall sighed. "Kiros didn't waste any time..." He suddenly looked sad, feeling horribly guilty about leaving Kiros behind. The black man wanted his father back just as much as Squall did, and he didn't even know half of what was going on...

"He wants to get your dad back just as much as you do." Seifer told him, picking up on his thoughts in an almost uncanny way. "The only reason he's not here with you is because Esthar needs him."

"I know."

"At least we know where they are now." Zell told them. "We can go in and get him if we really want to."

"Just because that's where they're making the transaction doesn't mean that's where they're camped out." Quistis said. "Insane, not stupid."

"Besides, I don't know if they'd be able to fend off so many Tonberrys." Fujin added.

"You're really gonna do this?" Quistis asked.

The brunet man sighed. "Not much else we CAN do..."


"Is everything okay Mr. Leonhart?" One of the students asked as Squall returned to the Training Center.

"Yeah, you're all dismissed." Squall replied, his hand to his forehead. He just wanted to forget for a moment what was going on. He wanted to pretend everything was alright. He wanted to bash something's head in REEEEEALLY hard...

"Sir?" Argas called as the students began filing out, talking amongst themselves. "Are you going to be staying?"

Squall looked at them and nodded a little. "Yeah, I feel like killing something..."

"Can we stay sir?" Ryvin asked. "We won't be any trouble and we'll keep up."

Squall watched them for a moment before he warily nodded. "Alright."


Seifer wandered through the halls of the Garden looking for his boyfriend. He'd pulled the band-aid off hours ago, going crazy with all the people asking him what had happened to him. It was really none of their business but he blushed each and every time someone asked.

And that was as much of an answer as any.

He could just picture himself.. 'oh yeah, I was trying to have mad monkey sex with my boyfriend in the shower this morning when my head collided with the shower head. Like the band-aid? It has a Pikachu on it...'

He gestured to a few students passing by.

"Hey have you seen Squall Leonhart around?"

The girl looked at him and pointed down the hall. "Not since this afternoon. He was in the Training Center."

The Training Center.

"Thanks." Seifer jogged down the hallway and headed for the dorms.

The T-Rexaur roared and began to stomp off, leaving a small trail of dust.

"It's getting away!" Argas shouted, starting to chase after it, a grin plastered on his face. "Hey! Get back here!"

"Ah, leave him alone." Squall laughed lightly. "He'll come back when he feels like it."

"Man, we've already been here four hours." Ryvin looked at her watch.

"Hey, can we see a summon?" Argas' eyes bulged with excitement.

"Yeah!" Ryvin clapped her hands together and nodded rapidly.

Squall raised a finger and wagged it back and forth. "You shouldn't rely on your summons. If they don't like you they might not even bother showing up."

"Aw, come on, we just wanna see ONE." Ryvin pouted.

"Oh alright..." Squall rolled his eyes. "Let's go find a guinea pig."

"Mind if I tag along?"

Squall turned and smiled a little as Seifer walked up the path toward them, his gunblade leaning on his shoulder. He was wearing his jacket, which surprisingly didn't bother Squall as much as he thought it would. He wore it with a white t-shirt and a pair of black jeans, his necklace absent.

"Of course you can." Squall told him. "Seifer? This is Argas and Ryvin."

"This is sooooo cool!" Ryvin was grinning ear-to-ear. "Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy all to ourselves!"

"Hey." Seifer made a face. "He's mine, get your own."

"Oh, that's right you guys are gay." the girl nodded.

Argas blinked. "You are?"

"Don't you watch television dummy?" Ryvin threw him a look. "They're LOVERS."

"Hey what happened to your head?" Argas asked innocently.

Seifer huffed. "Faulty showerhead."

Squall was blushing furiously. "Alright, alright, let's just find a turtapod or something..."


Seifer woke up in the middle of the night, his mouth dry and walked to the bathroom to get a drink. He sat in the doorway of the bathroom, leaning against the frame long after he'd finished his drink and just watched. He was glad he'd forgotten to shut the blinds before they'd curled up on the bed to sleep. He realized that a good amount of time he spent watching Squall was watching him sleep. With the moon shining through the window it gave him a perfect opportunity.

After tomorrow things would be good again. They could buy a house somewhere, maybe out of the city. Get away from the crowds of people.

Maybe someday Squall would become president. He couldn't really see Squall in that kind of a field though, he was too independent, too unruly.

Too damn wanton.

Seifer smirked and slid back into bed and smiled as Squall moved to use him as a pillow almost instantly.

"You awake?"

"Nope." Squall replied softly, as if on the verge of sleep. Seifer could feel his long lashes blinking slowly against the flesh of his chest.

Seifer put his arms around him and yawned. "You should sleep, we have to get up early tomorrow and head out to get your dad."

"He's okay right?"

"Of course he is. How could they trade him if he wasn't."

"Tomorrow I'll be back with my dad. Everything'll be okay again."

"There you go. That's the way to think..."

"Seifer, will you marry me?"

Seifer blinked. "What?"

"I just...I guess I don't want what happened to Kiros and my dad to happened to you and me...I mean, if my dad had said yes that first time...If they'd been married..."

"Things still would have happened the way they did." Seifer finished, kissing Squall's forehead. "Nothing would have changed."

"I think they would have been happier..."

"Do you think we'd be happier?"

"I don't think I could get any happier with you than this." Squall replied, snuggling closer, resting his head on the blonde's chest. "I mean, you and me, not you me and all this other stuff."

Seifer nodded. "I understand."

"But you don't want to."

"I didn't say that."

"I mean, I don't have any kind of a real ring for it or anything..." Squall sighed a little sadly. A small pout was starting to form on his thin rose lips.

Seifer kissed him. "Of course I will."

Squall sat up. "Really?"

Seifer smiled at him in the dark. "How could I say no?"

Instantly the brunet had pulled him into a tight hug, half on him, half off him.

They sat in silence for a few moments.

Seifer's chest was floating, or something that felt similar too it. He didn't even bother fighting the smile that made it's way onto his face.

Until Squall replied.

"Just letting you know, I'M not the bride."

"Hold on now, WAIT a minute..." Seifer growled, tackling the brunet in the dark.


Seifer opened one eye to find Squall already up.

"Come on, lover, up and at 'em." Squall looked up from dressing for a moment to plant a kiss on the sleepy blonde's lips. "We have to get going."

Seifer mad a pouty face but nodded and threw the blankets off, stretching lightly.

"I'm going to head to the transport. See what's up. I'll be back in a few minutes." Squall made his way through the door with one of them.

Seifer was left alone.

He trudged out of the bed and scratched his stomach lightly, yawning like a cat. Making his way into the bathroom he looked at himself in the mirror.

He needed to shave again.

And his mouth tasted foul.

He sleepily groped for his toothbrush on the counter and grabbed the toothpaste.

He went to spit when he looked at his hand.

Perched on his ring finger, almost a perfect fit, sat Griever.

He sat there, blinking at it, his toothbrush hovering in the air in his other hand, his mouth still full of foamy toothpaste.

Squall had put it on him sometimes during the morning...

It took him a moment to figure out why...

His fiancé.

When Squall came back Seifer practically threw himself at the smaller man, kissing him until they were both dazed.

"Twelve hours from now we're going to be back here and I'm going to be ravaging you wildly." Seifer promised, his voice low and quiet.

Squall blinked. "I thought we'd be with my father."

The blonde considered this for a moment. "Okay, AFTER that I'll be ravaging you wildly." He kissed the brunet again, lightly this time. "You nervous?"

"Scared as hell." Squall sighed. "What if something goes wrong?"

"Can't you ever think on the bright side?" Seifer smirked. "Do I have to be the optimist?"

"You being an optimist is scary." Squall told him. "You're supposed to be intimidating-guy."

"I thought YOU were intimidating-guy." Seifer countered with a smirk. "I'm sarcastically frustrating disobedient-guy."

"Let's just go you 'tard."


"I HATE shots!" Seifer complained as he turned his head away from the needle that Nida was poking in his skin.

"This is just to temporarily dejunction your magic and GFs." The other man replied.

"Needles make me want to throw up."

Nida laughed. "Squall wasn't this bad."

"Squall didn't almost get his arm ripped off when he was getting his tetnis shot." Seifer momentarily glared across the room at Dr. Kadowaki who was looking over some files at her desk.

She eyed him. "You kept struggling."

Seifer continued to glare.

"All done." Nida said, pulling the needle out. "This should last about sixteen hours."

"After that they'll be back the way they were?" Seifer asked.

"Yep. You'll be alive and toasting monsters in no time."

"Sweet." Seifer replied, folding his sleeve back down. "Well, I suppose I should get to the Ragnarok. Everyone's probably there by now..."

"Hey." Nida touched his arm lightly. "Good luck. Come back safely."

Seifer nodded. "All of us will come back. Have a little faith."

"Don't get yourself killed." Dr. Kadowaki told him.

Seifer smirked. "Only for you doc. That and I don't want to end up here ever again. I don't trust you. Even with my dead body."

"Eh, don't worry Seifer. You're not THAT cute."

Squall looked back at the Ragnarok doors began shutting. Fujin, Kiros, Nida, Zell and the others were all standing there, wishing them off.

Fujin and the SeeD driver were up in pilot's dock and Seifer was standing beside him.

"Two hours..." the brunet muttered. "We'll be back here with my dad within two hours..."

"And then we'll be working on retaliating against that freak Kay." Seifer told him as the doors shut. "We're gonna get him for what he did. Make no mistake about it."

Squall gave a light nod and turned, heading for the passenger dock.

Seifer let him go, figuring he might need a few minutes alone to compose himself and sat down where he stood, leaning against the steel wall as the giant red machine beast took off.

Everything about this screamed "trap" at him. Squall had been right though, there wasn't much else they could do.

Squall was completely devoted to his father, you could tell if you could just get below the surface. Seifer felt rather proud of himself, being one of a very select few that had the pleasure of seeing the brunet out of his shell.

He asked me to marry him...Never in my life did I even consider thinking...

There was something wrong with this thought, but he couldn't put a finger on it. He'd have to think about it more when all this was over with, when he didn't have so much on his mind. When it was just him and Squall alone like it should be. Away from everything and everyone.

Just the two of them.

I'm gonna repay that bastard Kay for what he did to my Squall, and then I'm going to kill him...

For Kay's sake nothing better have happened to the president.

For Squall's sake he hoped Laguna was alright.


Squall could see them, already waiting in a clearing below in the center of the island. A small group of men, circled around a transport, their clothes blowing about as the Ragnarok began to lower itself to the ground.

Kay was nowhere to be seen but the brunet figured he couldn't be too far away.

He strided back to the cargo hold and stood at the large steel door, waiting for it to open. Bending down to pick up the duffle on the ground, he noticed Seifer getting up from his resting spot along the wall.

"You feeling okay?"

"Yeah I'm fine." the blonde replied. "You?"

"Peachy..." Squall answered.

Seifer moved beside him, picking up his duffle and watching as the hold began to open.

Seifer glanced at his lover for a moment, impressed with his professional, stoic expression. Maybe all that SeeD training HAD payed off for the brunet. Maybe that was the reason Seifer hadn't passed, he just didn't have the composure.

The brunet's expression broke however when he the holding dock door finished opening.

His father was being pulled from the transport.

He was alive.

He was alright.

Laguna's eyes locked with his and even the president seemed relieved.

One of the men pushed him forward and the longhaired president began the walk to the transport.

Squall turned to Quistis who stood behind them. "You get my father inside as quickly as you can."

The blonde woman nodded and the two men began walking out.

Squall kept his eyes on his father the whole time he walked to the men. Laguna returned the look and as they passed one another Squall offered a small, relieved smile.

Seifer could hear Quistis calling to the president and pulling him inside as they came up to the men.

"Open them." The leader ordered.

The two unzipped the bag and showed them the piles or money within.

The man motioned for a few others to take the bags from the two. "Pleasure doing business with you."

A loud explosion rang out in the air behind them.

Squall and Seifer turned and gaped.

The Ragnarok was being fired upon.

Shouts from the enemies and shots from their weaponry showered on the great red demon ship as it jumped into the air.

Seifer grabbed Squall's hand and ran, ran as fast as he could, anywhere.

Trying to get to safety.

The Ragnarok was speeding away, trying to avoid the explosions that filled the air all around them.

Seifer and Squall looked around for cover, a place to hide, to escape...

But it was too late, they were already surrounded.


Squall woke up, his head groggy, his vision blurred. He was suspended from a wall, his arms stretched high above him.

"Good morning." A sickeningly familiar voice called.

Squall's vision began to clear, forming into a figure that stood before him, a long red robe pulled around him, his eyes dark lined and coldly staring.

Kay.

"It's been a long time, little one." the man smirked coldly.

There was a groan beside him and Squall turned his head to see Seifer suspended only a few feet away.

"Thank you for complying so well with our demands." Kay told him. "I'm glad we got this chance to see each other once again."

"They'll be coming to get us." Squall spat.

"Not before we're gone." Kay laughed lightly. "Besides, why would they think we'd still be here?"

"Because Laguna is with them and he knows." Seifer added.

"Laguna had no idea where we were." Kay smirked. "We kept him thoroughly subdued. He wouldn't know how far we traveled. Hell, we could have been dead in the center of Esthar and he wouldn't know it." He walked to where Squall was suspended and ran a hand down the brunet's side. "My you've grown. I knew Squall Leonhart was the president's son, but I didn't realize Squall Leonhart was you. I'll have to discuss old times with you again sometime in the near future."

"You keep your hands off him..."

"And my DEAR Seifer." Kay turned to the blonde, grinning from ear to ear. "Congratulations, your mission is complete."

Seifer glared. "What the hell are you talking about."

Kay mocked astonishment. "You mean you don't remember?"

The blonde scoffed. "There's nothing to remember. I don't deal with cretin scum like you."

"Tell me, honestly." Kay smirked. "Between the times you were in Deling and Esthar, what were you doing?"

"I was.." Seifer faltered. He'd never really thought about it. And now that he had his mind was blank.

"You really DON'T remember? You mean, you forgot an entire three week period of time?" Kay looked more than slightly amused.

"I drank a lot." Seifer put in weakly.

"REALLY? Then I guess THIS isn't familiar to you?" The older man held something in his hand, a small blue stone.

Squall looked to Seifer.

The blond was staring at the stone with a thoughtful expression.

"Think Seifer, think." Kay told him. "This is the..."

"The Hycimone stone..."

A grin folded over Kay's face. "Correct."

Squall looked at the stone with a puzzles and almost fearful expression. "What IS that? Seifer?"

Seifer's expression turned almost dead. "I work for you..."

"Ah, so you DO remember."

"You wanted me to keep Squall busy..."

"Yes, but we couldn't have you two fighting all the time. We had to make him think he could trust you, so he would keep his guard down." Kay looked to Squall. "I knew of course that you were Squall Leonhart...but I had no idea it was YOU until I saw you during the council."

"You implanted me with false emotions..."

"We had to make you convincing, and if you were convinced how could he not be? We also had to make sure that you didn't remember any of our meeting in case any of it would "slip out" accidentally."

"You're lying..." Squall growled.

"No he's not..." Seifer whispered. "I remember everything."

Squall looked at him, his eyes wide. "What are you talking about!"

Seifer looked like he'd been shot in the heart.

"I don't really love you..."


Part X

"Where are they..." Kiros whispered, looking towards the sky for the familiar red dot to return.

"They'll be in sight in a few minutes, Kiros, relax." Nida assured him.

"There they are!" Selphie shouted from high on the balcony of the Garden.

All eyes turned to the sky.

Kiros' face noticeably relaxed but remained stern. "I swear if they hurt one hair on his head..."

The Ragnarok hovered in the air for a second before lowering onto its platform, kicking dust in a large ring around it.

Kiros and Nida ran forward.

They stood, as close as they could get as the cargo doors opened.

He was there, dirty and disheveled, but alright. He looked slightly thinner, tired, hungry...

And Kiros was running toward him.

Laguna was pushed back a few feet as the tall man embraced him tightly.

"God, I thought I lost you..." Kiros whispered, fighting tears that stung his eyes.

"I love you, Kiros..."

"I love you too..."

Laguna didn't let go. "They have my son..."

The black man pulled back. "What!"

"They got them both." Quistis spat as she stormed out of the ship. "I want a full SeeD assault team here and ready to go after them in five minutes."

"No!" Laguna shouted. "If they see an attack coming, Kay will kill them. We need to plan. Kay won't do anything right away."

"We'll get them back." Kiros nodded. "And then that bastard will pay."


Seifer sat hunched against the cell wall, his eyes aimed at the floor. The small room was dark, quiet. He couldn't see or hear anyone else, but he knew there was another, close by. They'd been sitting there for hours after being dragged around the large compound, thrown roughly into the cell...

Squall hadn't said a word. Seifer hadn't bothered to start a conversation.

It just seemed too painful for both of them.

But Seifer didn't know how much time they had left before Kay decided to separate them...

"Squall-"

"Tell me he was lying... please... please just tell me it's not true..." Squall's voice was just above a whisper. Seifer had to strain to hear him. The pain in his voice was evident, almost painful to hear.

"He wasn't lying... They planted me in Esthar knowing somehow you'd find me..."

There was another moment of silence.

"Then none of it was real... you never really cared about me..."

"Squall..."

After a few more seconds there was a quiet, ragged intake of breath.

"Squall-"

"You can't just implant emotions into people!" Squall's voice shook, a clear indication that there were tears.

"Squall, please..." Seifer closed his own eyes, fighting off the sudden stinging sensation that brought on water that blinded him. "The stone was used as a triggering device, to make me remember. It's like...you hear a song and you can remember the first time you heard it, even if it's been years since you thought about it. All he said was true. He brainwashed me..."

"He's LYING!" Squall sobbed. "I love you, I know you love me!" He got quiet. "You're the greatest thing that's ever happened to me...It wasn't a lie..."

Seifer bit his lip violently to keep it from trembling so much. "Squall...whether these feelings were implanted or not, it doesn't matter." He heard no response so he ventured out into the darkness of the cell, crawling until he felt the warmth of a body.

He felt relief that he knew could never be fake and moved closer to Squall, wrapping his arms around him. "I still love you and nothing's going to change that. It's all real to me. We're going to get married. We'll move someplace, away from people. Just you and me. That's all I want."

"I love you." Squall whispered softly, burying his face into Seifer's chest

"I love you too...God I love you so much..." Seifer let the tears fall freely as he squeezed Squall tightly to him.

"Alright loverboys, up and at em." A harsh voice called through darkness.

Seifer and Squall were instantly alert as two large men strided into the small room.

Seifer stood protectively in front of the brunet. "You can't have him. Tell Kay he's mine."

The man in the doorway smirked coldly. "Oh, it's not him we were told to collect."

"Seifer!" Squall cried as one of the men grabbed the blond and threw him into the open doorway. The other pulled the brunet back against the wall and pinned him there while the other two held sturdily onto the other.

"Don't worry, we're going to take good care of your boyfriend." the man told Squall, his rancid breath almost causing the smaller man to gag.

"Get AWAY from him!" Seifer struggled in his binds, glaring murderously into the cell.

The man laughed and pulled from the brunet.

Squall ran to the bars of the cell just as the door closed. "SEIFER!"

"I love you!" The shout echoed through the hall even as the group disappeared.

Tears streamed down Squall's face again as he tore at the door, trying to pull it from its hinges. He prayed that he might suddenly get the strength to do so, but it never came.

They were gone.

"Please God no..." He sobbed, sliding down the cell door into a small crumpled heap on the floor.

He was alone.


Quistis paced back and forth in her office with Laguna, Kiros, Selphie, Irvine, Zell and Fujin standing nearby. It had taken a few hours for the Garden to get off high alert. I had taken another few hours to get them all collected here. Selphie and Irvine had to be updated. Laguna had visited the Infirmary, much against his will. Quistis had been working on suitable plans of attack.

So far they didn't have much of anything.

Laguna sat hunched in a leather chair, his hands on his lap, looking down at his knees. Kiros had a hand perched on one of his legs and was leaning close, making sure his presence was known, and comforting to the other man.

"We can't let him have my son..." Laguna whispered. "There has to be something we can do..."

"Until we know what we're dealing with there's not point on attacking." Quistis sighed.

"We don't even know where to look." Zell added.

"Well, we know where their territories are." Fujin said. "They'd have to be holed up somewhere within those."

"They could take days to search." Quistis shook her head.

"And Kay would have thought of that." Kiros sighed. "Besides, we'd have to be more discreet. If Kay knew we were looking for him, or if we were close they might kill Squall and Seifer."

"They might kill them anyway if we don't hurry." Zell growled. "We have to get them out of there."

"And with Squall's past record with Kay we should do it quickly..." Quistis sighed. "There's not telling what that lunatic might try."

"Past record." Laguna sat straight up. "What are you talking about?"

The woman looked at her hands. "When Squall was five Kay...raped him..."

The room was quiet.

Zell blinked repeatedly. "Y-you're kidding..."

Quistis shook her head. "Seifer saw it all. Squall has scars on his back from it. If Kay recognizes him..."

"I'll kill him!" Laguna stood, his fists clenched tightly, his face red in fiery anger, his eyes blazing. "That bastard is going to die no matter what it takes! NO ONE HURTS MY SON!"

The door opened and Nida strided in, heading right for Quistis' desk.

"Nida? What are you doing?" Quistis asked as the black haired man hopped into her chair and began typing at her computer.

"Well," he started. "remember when I gave Squall and Seifer their dejunction rounds?"

"Uh huh." Quistis nodded, her eyes blinking.

"I also added something else." He grinned broadly as he moved to let her see the screen. A green dot blinked on the world map.

"Vargas Tear."

Zell made a face. "Hawhaa?"

Quistis was laughing. "I forget it's chemical name but it's a hormone in most organisms bodies. It's what allows us to use scan on them."

"It's harmless, but if you pump enough in you can find them anywhere." Nida added.

"You mean, it's like a tracking device." Fujin gaped.

"Exactly." Nida replied. He pointed to the screen. "They're still together in the same area. Still Centra Island."

"The Tonberrys also could keep unwanted guests out..." Fujin reasoned.

"Done, then." Quistis told them. "Set up a team. We're getting our boys out of there." She turned to Laguna. "With your permission sir."

Laguna's face turned to stone. "Get my son out of there and shut that bastard down."

Quistis nodded." YES sir."


Squall didn't know how long he lay there. Hours upon hours upon hours...alone. Guards wandered in and out, checking to make sure he was still there, still alive. He lay in the same position he had for all those hours, curled up along the wall, his back to the door.

As much time as a day might have passed before the cell door opened again.

Squall looked briefly over his shoulder at the guard that stood there before facing back toward the wall again without a word. Seconds later he was being dragged onto his feet.

He knew he was out of the cell when a blinding, painful flash of light hit him. It might had been as dim as a candle for all he knew, but his eyes burned.

Torture time probably.

For what, he didn't know. They had all they wanted.

Maybe they didn't need a reason.

His head was spinning.

He wanted to go back to the cell. He wanted to be swallowed back into the dark. He wanted them to forget about him so he could die. He wanted to be with Seifer again, who was probably hours long since dead...

He was dragged for a long time. Or maybe it wasn't a long time. He couldn't tell. He just knew when it ended.

He was dropped heavily, his chin connecting with the cold, hard floor.

A door closed behind him.

He lay there, silent and still for a few moments before pushing himself up onto his hands.

A new cell?

No, it was much too large.

It was more like the size of the Quad, colored similarly too. It seemed to be a ballroom in a great castle.

He looked down and could see his own tired, worn reflection in the marble floor. The floor was in perfect condition, it was the person whom owned the reflection who looked weary.

He heard doors on the opposite end of the hall open and looked up.

A tall figure was striding toward him, a long black jacket swaying behind him. Boots clicked off the floor in a steady rhythm as long, black pant clad legs strided toward him over the long expanse of the room.

Squall's eyes widened with relief and confusion.

"S-Seifer?"

Squall started to get up, swaying lightly on his tired legs.

A slight, grateful smile crossed his features, which most lightly resembled a grimace as he straightened himself.

Seifer was alive, Seifer was alright. Squall wanted to rush into the blonde's arms and hang there for days, forever, but the pain in his body kept him in place.

"Seifer, I thought they-"

A fist slammed across his face sending his body reeling across the floor.

Squall landed on his side, the wind knocked out of him.

But that didn't stop his attacker.

The boots moved forward again, toward him.

The brunet cried out in pain as one connected just under his ribs. Again and again the foot flew, doing its damage. Squall lay there, silent in shock as the beatings continued.

"That's enough Seifer." A voice called out.

The form above him grunted and continued to kick.

"Seifer! Enough!"

The assault stopped for a brief second before Squall was dragged to his feet by his hair.

Seifer was moving away, toward a small group of others who had just entered the room.

Squall sagged slightly in the grip of the guards that held him as Kay approached.

The man traced a finger alongside Squall's bleeding face and let out a sigh. "I told you not to scar him."

"Those won't scar." Seifer replied, cold and even.

Squall watched him, still shocked, confused and hurt by this sudden betrayal. Was this part of some plan that Seifer had? No, the look in those cold eyes was real.

Hatred. Pure and true.

"You look a little lost." Kay told the brunet, patting his cheek lightly.

"Seifer?" Squall watched the blond as he began wiping the blood off one boot. Malicious green eyes glared at him.

"As you can see, we've returned the true Seifer Almasy to us." Kay explained. "It was only a matter of erasing the false emotions...and all the memories that went along with them." He turned back to Seifer. "Not that you would miss them."

Seifer tossed the bloody rag he'd used to clean his boot at one of the guards. "Don't imagine I would. Now when am I getting paid?"

"As soon as we have our territories safely back in our possession. I have men on their way as we speak." Kay replied. "Don't worry, your services proved both useful and entertaining. Expect a bonus."

Seifer grinned coldly.

Squall's eyes were aimed at the floor, wide open and unseeing.

Seifer saw a single tear escape to the floor and scoffed. "Leonhart's cryin'?"

"Long story." Kay sighed, shaking his head shamefully at the brunet. "Wouldn't want to bore you with it."

"Why..." Squall whispered.

"To whom are you referring?" Kay asked. He looked to Seifer. "I believe that was meant for you, my dear boy." He patted Seifer on the shoulder. "Well, I'll leave you to it." He motioned to the guards. "Alright. We have work to do."

Squall glanced up once to see the group leaving. A few seconds later he was alone with Seifer, standing on his own wobbly legs, body bleeding.

Seifer eyed him. "Look at you. You're pathetic."

Squall closed his eyes. "Why...why did you do this..."

"Why?" Seifer glared at the brunet's bent head. "What did I have to lose? I would have given ANYthing to pay you back for what you did! You ruined my life! And to top it off you came out looking like a prince! You were the big hero! Because of you and your little Scooby gang I was stuck shoveling shit jobs and getting kicked in the ass by every nobody whoever heard the name Seifer Almasy! I was on the bottom and you had EVERYTHING! A father, friends, a girlfriend! You had a home and people patting you on the back all the time treating you like you were the greatest thing with a dick!"

Squall closed his eyes, swallowing even though it was horribly painful.

Seifer folded his arms over his chest. "So it looks like you're finally on the losing side. I'm gonna win this time Leonhart. I'm not too sure if you'll be around to see it though."

Squall closed his eyes. "Don't let them hurt my father..."

"If I were you'd I'd be more worried about what they're gonna do to YOU."

"Don't you get it?" Squall replied quietly. "You've done your job, they'll probably kill you now..."

Seifer huffed. "What the hell would YOU know?"

Gray eyes closed again and Squall sagged to the floor.

"Hey! Did I say you could rest! Get up!" A hand flew again, knocking the brunet head to the side. Squall made no move comply. "I said get up!"

The hand flew again and again. Squall just lay there for a moment before grabbing it and glaring menacingly.

"Don't touch me...you don't have any right anymore..."

The blonde laughed coldly. "Aw, what are you going to do about it?"

Squall turned his head away, biting his lip. "You're not him..."

"Get him the hell out of here." Seifer spat, turning heel and walking away.


"How long do we have until his programming starts to fail?" Kay asked, leaning over the desk in the dimly lit room as the doctor looked over his readings.

"I'd say at least six months." the other man replied. "More than enough time for us to get our lands back."

"Good." Kay nodded. "One last thing I have to worry about." He straightened and walked to the metal bed in the center of the large room, his hand tracing over the large machine next to it.

It looked like a torture device, needles splayed along one side, a series of command screens and configured buttons.

In a way it was.

"You really have a way with your work doctor." Kay smiled coldly. "But tell me, could you do the same to the young Leonhart that you did to the sorceress knight?"

"Make him your slave?" The doctor thought. "Of course."

"No, more than a slave." Kay closed his eyes, licking his lips. "I want him to be whatever I want him to be. Make him mine..."

The doctor blinked. "As you wish, sir."

"Good." Kay replied, his robed shifting as he exited. "I'll have him to you by nightfall. I want him in my chambers by morning, willing and completely submissive to me."

"As you wish, sir."

Kay left, the door swinging behind him.

"That man is a lunatic..." the doctor sighed. "A pervert and a lunatic."


Seifer knocked on the door again, huffing impatiently. After three minutes of standing behind the heavy wooden doors he opened them and entered into Kay's quarters. The room was a mess, like it always was.

The chancellor was nowhere to be seen.

Seifer folded his arms over his chest and made a face.

"How the hell am I supposed to get paid if the guy's never around when you need him?" Seifer asked aloud.

While he wasn't ready to leave just yet, Squall had made a little bit of sense. They didn't need him anymore, it was best to take and split soon.

"Well, maybe he has a safe around here somewhere..." Seifer looked over his shoulder, closing the door behind him and began to hunt around.

The desk drawers held nothing but papers.

He looked through the nooks of the vid system, scanning around. He searched for hidden compartments, knocking lightly on the wood.

When he bumped into the desk.

Everything on the piece of furniture wavered dangerously.

He caught the desk lamp just before it hit the ground, his elbow smacking into the vid system.

The main screen on the wall instantly turned on.

Green eyes went wide, skin paling.

The lamp fell out of his hands and crashed to the floor.

It was him and Squall on a large bed, in a nice looking room.

Having sex.

Seifer felt a flush creep into his cheeks and hunted around for a way to turn it off. Kay had said he and Squall had gotten close during the time he's been brainwashed, but he never said HOW close.

Well, at least I'm on top...

He blushed even redder as the sounds escalated. The Seifer on screen was moving faster, Squall's arms gripping onto him.

It was disgusting.

Seifer made a noise, pushing things aside. He had to get the remote and turn the screen off before-

Both the young men on the screen cried out loudly.

Seifer looked back just in time to see the two finish, panting loudly.

He rolled his eyes and folded his arms over his chest as the couple on screen moved to lay beside one another. He began hunting back around on the desk, muttering to himself.

"Ah hah!" Seifer let out a victorious sound and swirled around, the remote in hand, his finger ready to press the power button.

"I love you..."

Seifer paused.

He pressed a button and the vid moved back a few frames.

Play.

"I love you..."

Again.

"I love you..."

Each and every time it said the same thing. Squall's mouth never faltered with the words.

"I love you..."

Rewind.

"I love you..."

Rewind.

"I love you..."

"Huh..." Seifer huffed. "I get it now."

"I love you too..." Came the reply, from a voice that was his, but wasn't, from a mouth that belonged to him, but he couldn't remember controlling.

He watched them for a moment as they feel asleep in each other's arms.

Seifer laughed coldly. "Man, you were a fool Squallyboy."

He turned the screen off and looked back to the vid system, opening the drive and taking the disc out. There was a case and three other discs nearby. He grabbed them all and headed out of the room, leaving the mess behind. He tossed the discs into the first garbage can he could find and headed down the hallway.

"Seifer!" Came a loud whisper.

He turned.

Zell and Quistis were running towards him down the hallway.

"Well well well..." he muttered, a slow grin starting to spread on his face. "How nice to see you."


Squall

"Squall..."

My eyebrows furrowed and I rolled over, away from the door, half-asleep.

"Come on Leonhart, get up..." the voice whispered again. "We don't have much time."

I opened my eyes and looked over my shoulder.

A man stood outside the door of my cell, fumbling with the lock.

"Irvine?"

The cowboy grinned at me.

The door swung open.

"What the hell are you doing here?" I whispered weakly.

"No time, come on get up." He told me, bending over me.

I gasped in pain as he tried pulling me up into a sitting position.

"Man, what the hell happened to you?"

"Seifer..."

"Yeah, we have our people lookin' for him too." he told me, pulling my arm over his shoulders as he braced me up.

"No...Seifer did it..."

Irvine stopped for a moment. "HE did this to you?"

"None of it was real." I muttered, my voice sounding small to even my own ears. "He was working for Kay all along..."

"We're getting out of here." Irvine told me, his voice sounding angry, but still quiet. "We have to get you into a transport." He moved out into the hallway carefully, looking around for the enemy, his hand bracing his shotgun.

"How did you find us?"

"Nida. I'll explain later OH SHIT!" He threw us around a corner as gunfire showered upon us.

"Don't let them out!" a voice shouted. "Close all the exits!"

He began shooting around the corner and I pulled the small hand revolver from the back of his pants, cocking it.

I almost died when I felt someone come up behind me.

"How did they know we were here!" Selphie shrieked.

"Zell and Fujin must have run into some trouble." Irvine shouted as he reloaded. "Seifer switched sides."

Selphie's face gaped. "No..." She looked to me. "Are you sure?"

I couldn't answer. I didn't want to..

I didn't want to believe that the thing I loved most in the world had betrayed me..

"He's not the person he was..." was all I could manage. "Kay did something to him..."

"Irvine we're getting out now!" I could hear Quistis shouting, suddenly she appeared in the hallway across from us with Zell and Fujin.

"Look out!" Fujin yelled.

Irvine grabbed me and began running. I realized at the last moment that Seifer had been walking down the hallway towards us.

It was a nightmare from my past. Us against him.

There was an explosion and the wall before us seemed to open from the outside.

A large dust cloud covered us all.

I heard shouts.

Orders being screamed.

SeeDs poured in.

Somewhere in the confusion I was pulled away from Irvine and lost in the smoke and debris.

I saw Seifer fighting off a group of SeeDs without a weapon. His face was a mask of anger.

I didn't even recognize him anymore.

"Like what I did to your boyfriend?" A loud whisper called into my ear.

Kay.

I tried to scream for help, but there was too much smoke in my mouth, my throat was so dry. His arm went over my neck from behind, pulling me against him and backwards.

I was being pulled away from the cloud my friends were caught in. The SeeDs were running down the hallway towards us, armed and ready.

I heard shots and realized Kay had a gun and was firing.

He was using me to shield his escape.

"It wasn't hard." he told me as he shot. "All I had to do was overlap previous programming with a new one. And now he's my slave."

He shot again. The SeeDs were shouting at him but not firing.

I was in the way.

"In the end, one way or another, I always win." He hissed with glee. We turned another hallway and the SeeDs disappeared. It was dark here, the light from the other hallway bleeding away. "I should have let him kill you. I bet you would have let him. Even if you figure out how to reverse the programming he won't be yours. And even if you had kept him under his previous programming it would have faded soon anyway. Either way you LOSE!"

"No, YOU lose." A voice called. I could feel Kay's head turn.

I could feel his face fly back.

Someone had hit him.

His arms went limp around me and he fell to the floor reeling in pain.

I braced myself against the wall, watching in the dim light as my father aimed his small handgun down at the man. His eyes had turned to slits.

"You alright?" he asked me without looking at me.

"I'm...alive..." I replied. That wasn't completely true.

I was numb, with fear, with hurt, with loneliness, with sadness.

With relief.

My dad amazed me sometimes. Just when I thought I knew him, here he was, looking at this man on the floor with such pure hatred...

"No one hurts my son..." he whispered.

I closed my eyes as he fired.

And then it was over.


I watched from a distance as they loaded Seifer into the Ragnarok, unconscious. It had taken a while but he'd finally fallen.

They'd almost killed him, but luckily we'd gotten there in time. My father and I...

I was glad he was alive. And he was going to be okay.

My father knew what to do, he'd heard everything.

Remove the programming.

All of it.

Which left me alone again.

Only this time it was worse.

Fujin stood beside me as we watched more people being loaded into transports. The followers of the Magi.

"You're leaving aren't you..."

It was more of a statement than a question.

"What makes you say that?" I asked, looking briefly at her.

"I can tell when people plan on going away for a while. They get this look on their face. Seifer had the same one when he left us." She told me. "So you ARE going?"

I merely nodded.

"Where?"

I didn't look at her. I didn't want her to see the pain, the hopeless sorrow in my eyes. I was dying. "I'd rather not say. The point of going away so no one can find you is so no one can find you."

"Does your father know?"

"He'll understand."

"What if we need you?" She was looking down at her feet.

I closed my eyes.

"You won't..."

"Do you want me to tell him anything?"

I sighed. "Tell him and Sis that I love them..."

"I meant Seifer..." her voice cracked a little.

I looked at her for a moment, then at the Ragnarok.

"No..."


"So...he's completely void of all the emotion implants? All of them?" Quistis asked, her arms folded over her chest. The hospital in Esthar was bright, everything the same horrible off blue color. It was too lighted to be a place where people died every day, where lives here destroyed.

And lives could be destroyed in so many ways.

"Every single last one." The doctor told her, looking at his clipboard. "The memories, if there ARE any, will be hazy. He'll probably think he dreamed them. He'll forget in time."

"He'll be different...He'll probably be the old Seifer again..." Zell muttered. "He calls me chickenwuss and we'll know..."

"No, the Seifer he was before Kay nabbed him..." Fujin sighed. "I wonder what he'll be like...I mean, the Seifer after the Time Compression wasn't so bad..."

"But at least it will be him." Kiros added. "If you love him that much you'll have to accept him as the REAL Seifer."

It was a few seconds before Fujin nodded.

"The implants were made to wear off sooner or later anyway.." Laguna added. "Can we see him?"

The doctor nodded leading the way into the room.

They headed into the room and watched as the unconscious Seifer drifted on in sleep, oblivious to all around him.

"Kiros?" Laguna called, sliding his hand into his lover's.

"Hm?"

"Do you think Squall will ever come back?"

Kiros sighed, looking at the dark haired man. He wanted to say yes, he wanted to believe Squall would. But deep down he knew that it was futile to wish. Futile to hope. "I don't know...The person he loved is gone forever now. He needs some time... When he's ready, maybe he'll come back."

"I hope you're right..." Quistis sighed and looked out the window, her eyes starting to sting.

How fitting.

It had begun to rain.

Squall looked up at the hospital, small droplets of water bouncing off him, beginning to soak into his clothes and hair. He fought the urge to cry. There'd be time for that later. Right now he was glad. His father was safe. Seifer was safe, even if it wasn't HIS Seifer. His friends would take care of him, help him get better no matter how much he fussed. But it was wrong for Squall to stay. Seifer would need time and space and after all that had happened he owed the blonde that much.

He sighed looking farther up, closing his eyes, letting the water his face.

At least he'd have his memories.

"Sir?" The man from the cab called as he pulled an umbrella over him. "Are you ready?"

Squall nodded and turned, what belongings he found most necessary and dear stuffed into two duffle bags in the trunk of the vehicle.

He opened the door to the back of the cab, casting one last glance at the hospital.

"Goodbye Seifer..."

Then he slid in and shut the door, leaving those most precious to him behind.

The End


Continued in "Reflections" and "Lasting Impressions". Please comment!