I instinctively knew he was there.
No, no. I have no psychic relation with him. I don't see his dreams through my eyes, and I don't feel different when he's gone.
Quite the opposite, I hate him. I have for a long time.
I pushed the door open in that little bar in Balamb, and I saw him at the counter. He turned, met my eyes, and turned back to nurse his drink.
"I knew you'd find me sooner or later, Commander Puberty," He mutters, just barely overheard as a stepped up to him to take a seat next to him. I don't answer.
It's not my style.
"Barkeep, bring another for the new guy," He yells, and for a moment his trademark smirk returns. "Wouldn't want you to be thirsty."
My head turns, and I meet his eyes. For a second, I can see mistrust, but it's soon replaced by joviality. For whatever reason, Seifer Almasy doesn't give a rip that I'm here.
"I don't drink," I answer, though my lips were parched. I desperately needed something, anything. But, not the golden liquor that slid in front of me. Anything but that.
"C'mon now, Leonhart. It's on me."
Seifer laughed in my face. As he did, I was surprised that the smell of liquor wasn't on his breath. Almost as if...
"Were you waiting for me, Almasy?"
Seifer's defenses raise.
"I drink alone. I just offered you a drink. That's all."
It occurred to me in foolish time that this was the most I said to anyone. But, still I pressed on.
"'Cause I wanted to. Nothing wrong with that, right?"
His words struck me as odd. It still made no sense. This was not Seifer Almasy.
"You'd never drink with me when I was in Garden-"
"-Because you snuck the liquor in against Garden policy. You should've been caught a hundred times!" I interrupt, exclaiming.
He turns away from the counter, putting his back on it. The few eyes that my outburst had caught suddenly found more interesting things in the room to glance at. I notice this, all the while waiting in some sort of anticipation for an answer. He remained silent.
"Well, things are different now," He finally relents. He doesn't elaborate though.
It's not his style.
"Just drink with me. I'm asking as a former comrade. I'm unarmed, I ain't here to start anything, and I don't want to finish nothing. I just want to drink with the kid I grew up with."
His reasoning is unusual. But, with a quiet sigh, I pick up the glass and take a sip. The small amount of alcohol burns my esophagus as it travels down it, and for a moment I revel in it. Whatever liquor I'd been bsought was quality. He looks over and laughs.
"Leonhart, you sly dog. You drank too, didn't you?" His voice says, though not out of one-upmanship as I thought. More... of respect? Respect from Seifer Almasy... how strange. But of course, I didn't say a word.
It's not my style.
"Fine. You don't have to answer."
As the two of us drink in silence, he glances over at me.
"You expect something from me, don't you. Some sort of apology." He said as fact. He thought it was true. He thought correct.
"In your place, I'd expect the same. Hell, I'd demand it. But you? The strong and silent type. You wouldn't ask for an apology. You're above that. Above it all, but in a way that makes you look like you don't give a shit."
His words ring true, I realize as I take another dose of my own liquid fire. The stuff had long since stopped it's more endearing effects, and I was forced to continue to listen.
"It's funny though. 'Cause, you see, I know you, Leonhart."
"You don't know jackshit, Almasy!" My words cry out before I can stop them. Apparently, the alcohol has had some effect on me after all.
His lips turn up into a smirk.
"Sure I do. I know you..." He trails off as he takes a large swig from his mug.
"I know you, cause I am you."
My fist lashes out before I can stop it. I should've known. After so long, I couldn't hold my own in liquor. I mildly cursed, wishing for a moment that I could be back at Garden.
I expect his fist to meet my face, and brace myself for it. It doesn't... and that surprises me. He didn't punch me.. which is unusual.
It's not his style, after all.
His face is an outright grin, with blood collecting on his lip. He wipes it off with his bare hand.
"How many can piss you off to violence? How many people have you punched in your life? And I ain't talking in battle. I'm talking just like what you just did. Don't lie to me, Leonhart. I know you."
I didn't respond, only taking my seat again. I put the mug, which had somehow remained mostly filled and in my hand back on the counter.
"You irritate me, but that doesn't mean you know me," I mutter, my eyes closing.
His laugh echoes this time, and before I know it, he's clapped me on the back.
"See, Leonhart? Right back in that shell."
I stand up.
"What? You think you're worth my time to come out of it? Don't make me laugh, Almasy."
For a moment, he blanches. I hit him with my words harder than any fist could. But, then his lips curve up in a smile. His eyes scrutinize me.
"When backed in a corner, the prey fights harder than it ever has."
I frown. I'm not some experiment, and I feel as such under his scrutiny. I take a seat, and begin to nurse my drink once more.
"See, Leonhart. You, if you weren't interested in what I was saying, you'd ignore me. You ain't ignoring me. You're ashamed to admit it, but Seifer Almasy knows you better than any goddamn man alive."
I don't answer immediately, and he obviously takes notice of this.
"You want me to go?" He questions me.
He chuckles. The sound is beginning to infuriate me. It's almost as if this whole ordeal is some kind of joke to him.
"Tough shit. You want me gone, then you're gonna have to make me. Or get out yourself."
I shrug. But, apparently, he takes this as my urging to go forward.
"You want to know why, don'tcha."
I close my eyes, refusing to commit to this anymore.
"The official record, as I've heard, says that I was seduced by the power the Sorceress offered me. That she used some wicked mojo shit on me. I wasn't in my right mind. That what you want to believe?" He asked, then finished off his glass. A nod at the barkeep found the glass refilled a moment after.
"I don't care."
"Sure. Well, you might as well believe it. I don't know. I fought her control, and apparently I lost. And when I regained it, I was too far along to do anything. I'm a goddamn failure."
His denial of his own pride surprises me, and I'm sure he sees it.
"See, shit changes. I admit that I wasn't strong enough. Got a problem?"
My own subtle laugh surprises me as much as it surprises him. I empty my own glass.
"So, what do you want, Seifer? Redemption? A nice 'I forgive you' and a hug? You want someone to make you feel good? Well, you won't get that from me. You either move on, or suffer where you are. Your choice, and it has nothing to do with me."
I face back to my glass, which appears to have been filled during my rant. I look over to see the former Sorceress Knight looking down at his drink. He picks it up, and begins to drink from it. Then as quickly as he picked it up, he slammed it back on the counter.
"Goddamnit, Squall. It's not like this is easy."
"Who said it was supposed to be?"
"You don't have to be such a prick about it!"
"But, since you know me so damn well, you should've known that I would!"
I tensed, ready for battle. Though alcohol had dulled my senses, the mercenary inside of me continued to fight. I was ready to fight, and I knew he was. It was who we were. Pacifism was not.
It wasn't our style at all.
"Too true, Leonhart. I shoulda expected it from you."
His hand is back on his drink, and he drains a quarter of the glass.
"But, I thought, you know, who would I talk to? The instructor lady? Chicken wuss? Rifles are us? Nah. None of them would listen to me. They don't know me. You do. They woulda left by now."
Strangely, I saw the reasoning. But...
"Why would you stay? I dunno. That's for you to ask yourself. You got plenty of reason to hate me, so why are you here?"
The question had been asked. What had drawn me here? The intelligence reports on the rogue SeeD cadet? He was a criminal, but truly, there was no point in bringing him in.
"...I don't know."
He laughs, but this time not out of amusement, but out of glee.
"See, Squall? I'm here 'cause sooner or later, I knew you'd be. You ain't got no reason to sit at this counter and drink whiskey with me. But you do anyway. Why?"
I had no answer.
"Let me toss something at you. I think you want to forgive me."
I scoffed, but said nothing.
"You asked me something. What I was looking for."
"Redemption? It's a nice thought. But my hands are forever stained. So are yours."
He pauses, and drinks a small bit more of his liquor.
"And I obviously don't want to suffer, or that crazy huggin' shit. That ain't my style."
I look over at him. What was this mysterious want he had?
"Forgiveness is nice, but it ain't everything. I'll either get it, or I won't. I'll move on or I won't. No big deal."
"Then, what do you want?"
He smiles ruefully.
"The one thing I can't live without for too long. Something that I saw you have when we sparred in Galbadia Garden."
A long pause. I only now realize that perhaps I'm leaning on every word he says. Curiosity, or the buzz from the liquor kept me hanging on every word he said.
I knew instinctively at that moment what he meant. Not some two story house with a nice driveway. He meant it far beyond that. Only then did I realize what he was saying. What we both held in common; what made us so alike.
"Come on." I said, leaving my second glass mostly full.
He looks up at me, with a curious look in his eye.
His lips spread in a smile.
"Sure. I'd like that."
After paying the bill, he follows behind me. We're headed back to the one place we've both always known as the thing he wanted most. But, we didn't walk shoulder to shoulder, or even next to each other.
That isn't our style, after all.
Hm. Dunno where this came from. I'm afraid that some people will make more out of this than is intended, but oh well. I've made reference to a few different things which I might elaborate on at some point. Mainly something that could possibly indicate a alcoholic addiction shared by both Squall and Seifer. Who knows.