Author's notes: I know it's long in coming, but here is the full version of part 5. Alot has been added to the section I had posted before. Also there have been revisons, so Chapter 6 has been updated with a new revised version and I recommend rereading it if you've read the earlier version.

I had intended the the entire scene played out in this chapter to finish in this chapter. But once I started fleshing out the dialogue with narrative... well... it became much longer than I expected. The rest of the scene will be in part 6 and going by how this went, it will probably be all of part 6 grin>.

Also note I have a companion story to this one. Homecoming~ Second Chances is the story from Squall's point of view.

Warnings: Yaoi, angst (always), foul language, possible graphic violence, and most importantly: Rinoa romance. shudder>

By Lady Tempest

Part 5c:

"If I didn't know better, Leonhart, I could think you actually cared," Seifer muttered wryly, clasping a hand melodramatically over his heart.

Squall's arms tightened into a more rigid knot across his chest as his eyes narrowed and his lips thinned into a scowl.

"Okay, okay!" Grumbling, Seifer shuffled over to his bed and sat down numbly, his long legs stretched out before him. "Well..." He sighed and stared, head bowed, as his fingers laced together.

Seifer was no fool. And he knew neither was Squall. A nagging sense of... something... tickled the back of his neck. Something foreboding. Something which, the truth of, he wasn't sure he wanted to know. But Seifer Almasy never ran from anything. Especially not the unknown.

"I woke up a few days ago," he began, absently absorbed by the motion of his thumbs rubbing against each other. "... in the middle of nowhere...turns out it was Esthar..." He tried to chuckle but it fell from his throat in a rasped grunt.

"... or at least on the continent... about a day from some airstation. The last thing I remembered was being in Timber." Seifer lifted his head and gazed with intense aqua eyes at Squall.

Arms crossed, Squall stood still and rigid in the middle of the room. Waiting. Expectant.

There had to be more, right? Right? Timber, then... ? Timber was no where near Esthar. So how...? It was Esthar, right? A sharp pain sliced through his eyes. Blackness crowded the edge of Seifer's vision. Blackness. Nothing but nothingness.

Brow wrinkled in agony, Seifer pinched the bridge of his nose as though squeezing out the pain stabbing his mind. Tiny pricks of white light pulsed and darted within the half-dark of his clenched eyelids.

Fuck, it hurt! He tried to focus, to think, remember. But there was only pain. Nothing but pain.

He gasped, "I..."

Nothing. Black. Only black. Like caught in a dream, a nightmare, darkness enshrouded his mind. Silence engulfed him. He couldn't see. Couldn't hear. Couldn't feel. Or smell. Or taste. Just a vast nothing. And the pain.

In the dark, all he could feel was the pain. Taste it. Smell it. Hear it. Blood. Metallic and sickly sweet. And screams. Horrible screams.

Then nothing once more.



His fingers clawed into his scalp, bristled hair tickling his palm. Nothing. Black. Pain. Nothing and nothing and nothing. A nothing so empty it hurt. Cold. Alone. So alone...


And suddenly, it was gone, shattered like fine glass. Like sand seeping through fingers, the dark, cold shroud of that endless nothing slithered from his mind. Shivers raced along his skin. Seifer's hands dropped limply to his lap, slapping against his thighs. He blinked.

"Seifer." Squall stood just a step or two before him, arms swaying at his side, hands twitching; Like he didn't know what to do with them.

Seifer peered up the length of Squall's body, so close he could almost taste the leather and heat of Squall's tight pants. Dark blue eyes stared down at him, a crinkle in the scar between them.

His breath was quick and sharp. "I... I don't remember anything else. It's... it's... just..." Seifer's lips pouted into a scowl. "... nothing."


"Nothing. Timber then... nothing. Literally."

Rubbing the back of his neck, Squall was silent. His thick lashes flickered as his gaze went distant. A familiar distance Seifer knew well. And knew how to bridge. Usually. At the moment Seifer's own mind was roiling with more thoughts, confusion, than he knew how to control. Intruding on Squall's was the least of his concerns.

Why couldn't he remember? Why did it hurt so much? Why couldn't he fucking remember? Dammit! He couldn't have just appeared in Esthar. Or where ever it was.

"It had to have been just a few hours," Seifer said quietly.

"What?" Squall blinked.

"Esthar. It had to be!"

"Why do you say that?" Squall's expression was closed, his lips thinned.

"I... I just know."


Seifer rubbed his forehead. His hands shook, and his skin was cool and clammy. Damp. The whole situation was decidedly creepy. Very, very creepy. But hell if he would let anyone know his wits were on edge and his skin prickling. Especially not Squall. Hell, he didn't want to know.

Staring at the floor, between his legs, the rough fibers of the carpet faded in and out. The blur slithered into his vision as the world crowded in on him, cold and suffocating. Maybe he was...

No! There was a perfectly logical explanation of how he got several hundred miles from Timber and left in the middle of nowhere. Perfectly logical. And if someone of his superior intellect couldn't come up with one, then... well...

He pinched the bridge of his nose. The throbbing behind his eyes spiked into pain and flashing sparkles of white. Fuck! There had to be an answer. Why the hell couldn't he find it! Dammit! Through pain-slitted eyes Seifer stared ahead. And stared into the glaring shine of black leather and the silver studs of Squall's belts. He winced.

Dammit! Must Squall stand so close? So close the warmth radiating from him heated Seifer's face. Why did Squall have to be so fucking hot? It was stifling. How the hell was he to think straight with gloom-boy looming over him? Hell, he barely had room to breath, no less think. How did the guy even get into that second-skin masquerading as pants? Did Squall have a can of 'spray-on-leather' and he just washed it off at the end of the day?

"Squall?" Seifer sighed. "Could you just go sit somewhere, anywhere? I'm sure it has a lovely personality..." With a raised brow, he squinted up at Squall. "... but I would rather not talk to your crotch."

Blinking, Squall glanced down between them. With a grunt, he took a step back. Squall shook his head, his chestnut hair drifting across his face, giving the illusion of a slight grin on his lips. Illusion though it was, it remained as Squall stepped around Seifer and sat casually beside him on his bed.

"Better?" Squall grumbled. Yet, what little Seifer could see through all that hair, the grin had become an airy smirk.

"Much." Seifer rasped, his throat gone dry.

He swallowed, pressing his sweaty hands to his pounding head. As he licked his lips, attempting to wet his mouth enough to prevent his tongue from sticking to it, he realized: He hadn't been. Not then. Not at first.

Another swallow and he turned to Squall. "I wasn't dehydrated or even terribly thirsty, or hungry," he stated.

Squall lifted his face and quirked a brow at him. Definitely Squall's 'What the fuck?' look. Finally, one he recognized.

"... so only a few hours passed since Timber, maybe four or five at the most."

"Because you weren't hungry?" Leaning slightly away from him, Squall canted his head and stared at him with incredulous ocean-blue eyes.

Squall's 'What the fuck...' look slipped into 'Almasy, you're a fucking lunatic.' Another one he recognized. Hell, he should; He'd seen it often enough. Besides, after much dedication in requiring if of Squall, it had been uniquely created just for him. An accomplishment he was well and duly proud of.

Seifer replied, finding his grin. "I am a growing boy!"

Squall snorted, shaking his head. "I noticed. But what..."

"I ate on the train from Balamb. Figured might as well keep my energy up if I was going to save your sorry asses."

"Whatever..." Squall rolled his eyes.

"So, see, only a few hours."

"Seifer." Squall's gaze softened as he held his. Strangely, it felt... nice. Several times over the years he and Squall had similar moments. Moments where whatever it was they were to each other -- rivals, classmates,... friends -- suddenly surfaced. Moments where he could almost swear Squall actually did care. Moments that passed too quickly.

Squall turned away, rubbing his forehead with his palm. His other arm snaked over his stomach in a half self-hug. "Go on," he said quietly. "What else do you remember?"

Staring at his bare toes, Seifer's arms wrapped unconsciously around his own stomach to still a weird flutter. He took a deep breath. "I... I don't know."

Squall was quiet beside him, waiting.

"I just remember waking up in that wasteland. I was..." He paused. No way was he admitting he had been scared. Even though he had been. It wasn't important to figuring out any of what happened, anyway.

"I was ... concerned I had lost Hyperion, then I found it nearby, a bit scuffed up and dirty, but in good condition otherwise. Besides the clothes on my back and Hyperion I had squat else. No water. No food. No fucking clue where I was or a way to find out. It fucking sucked!"

Seifer frowned. "And it didn't help that when I finally did come across other people they were fucking loony!"

With a snort, Squall mumbled something Seifer couldn't quite hear properly. He glanced over at the brunet whose face was suspiciously too expressionless. Seifer's eyes narrowed as he watched Squall warily.

"Also," he continued, scowling. "I looked like I had been in some sort of fight, but I don't remember one. Pisses me off too..."

He really hated kicking someone's ass but not remembering doing it. Kinda made it a bit pointless. He missed out on the fun and what he might have learned. Plus just the raw energy of battle singing through him was exhilarating.

His frustrated scowl melted into a smirk. "... although I'd love to see the condition I left the other guy in."

Squall coughed, like he had breathed wrong, and shifted uncomfortably beside him.

"You okay?" Seifer asked reaching over to slap Squall on the back.

Slightly pale, Squall nodded. "Continue."

"Well..." The leather of Squall's jacket was warm as Seifer's hand absently rubbed the younger boy's back in slow circles. He could clearly remember the trek through the wasteland to Balamb. He could clearly remember his breaking out of detention to rush off and save Squall. Anything in-between: nothing. Zip. And fuck it if he would go to that painful, dark place again.

He shivered.

"... Well, other than a detailed synopsis of how I used my superior charms and skills at diplomacy to get from there to here, there's not much to tell."

Squall snickered. "I'll have to ask my father if there's a trail of bodies from Esthar to Balamb. Your 'diplomacy' is about as subtle and 'skilled' as mine."

"Hey! I'll have you kno-..." His hand on Squall's back stilled. "Wait a sec, did you say your 'father'?"

(End Part 5)

More Author's notes: This was an interesting, although complex and difficult, chapter to write. At first I felt I had lost some of the tone of previous chapters and hope I was able to recapture it. It took a bit of it's own direction near the middle. Initially most the conversation/dialogue was light-hearted. And then out of nowhere Seifer went all dark and moody, bringing out the pained non-memories. I like this version much better than the one I intended.

Also, there's so much going on with Squall I needed to express but needed to express properly and Squall-like as well as subtly. Ironically, once I started writing Second Chances, instead of relieving some of the pressure of portraying Squall, it increased it. shrug>

Plus, Squall is being an outrageous flirt (by Squall standards) in this chapter and there was a careful balance I tried keep in Squall being very much 'Squall' while he was being flirty, as well as concerned and caring. Thankfully he's dealing with Seifer, so the dynamic and foundation is already there. (Although if it wasn't Seifer, I'd have no reason to worry about it or bother writing it. grin>)

Hope you are enjoying the story and there is more to come.

And remember, please let me know what you think so far.