"I have a girl back home."

That's his last resort—his last feeble attempt to salvage the wall that's crumbling between them. They are the last words he has to offer as he tries to resist without knowing why and the other man demands answers. They are his last line of defense in the face of intoxicating lips and a searing touch that leave him no options but to give in. The other man drives him to surrender in a way that terrifies him because it is so immediate, closer than even the threat of death can make it. It's funny, because Cloud is the last person he would have accused of trying to get through to him. He can see Zidane beating blithely away at the wall he hides behind; he can see Bartz making a conscious effort to pull him out of his shell.

But Cloud is... Cloud. He has a wall of his own, just as sturdy, and he's just as hell bent on keeping the others on their side of it.

Maybe he'd just let his guard down, Squall thinks, but the thought is fleeting, his attention stolen instead by the mouth that has returned to his own. The warmth of the other's soft lips escalates into reckless heat at the promises contained in brief but hungry kisses. There were red flags everywhere, but he sees them only in retrospect. It should have been obvious that it wasn't safe to assume that Cloud had enough wall for the both of them, and the intensity of their camaraderie should have set off an alarm. He never should have allowed himself to find comfort in fleeting looks in casual touches, but he has.

The verbal spat has mostly dwindled, which is good because he's not entirely coherent at the moment. Cloud's hips rock deliberately against his own, and Squall has found that the delicious friction reduces him to heavy panting and hungry moans. The hand hooking his thigh tugs higher, driving them closer together, and he gasps at the contact. His hands quiver on the other's exposed back, a silent order to keep moving, and Cloud chooses that moment to pull back.

"Tell me you don't want this, and I'll stop," the older man says against his lips, and his reaction is instantaneous.

"I don't—"

Squall has always been a good liar, but he can't finish that sentence. Not when Cloud is watching him from mere inches away, the mako in his eyes bright with lust, holding their bodies just far enough apart that he can't sate the desire running rampantly through him. That's why he resorts to Rinoa and uses her as an excuse, if not by name, even as he pulls Cloud back against him. He has refrained from mentioning her until now, because a part of him has wondered if that is a line the older swordsman will be unwilling to cross.

It shouldn't be anything to fear because he shouldn't even care in the first place. It shouldn't matter to him, whether it's Cloud or anyone else—it's just this... this damn tension that he needs to get out of his system. But the fact is that he does care, and he doesn't want to lose what he has found with Cloud. So he seeks reassurance in the responsiveness of the other man's pliant lips against his own, seeks reassurance that this is still okay, despite the knowledge that it shouldn't be.

The kiss is broken and Squall is faced with a look that seems at first to be scolding. But then he realizes that it would be unlike Cloud to expect so much from him—that the older man, for all his faults, is not a hypocrite. Cloud would not expect him to have offered up details of his personal life without prompting or necessity, and the fact that he has kept his secrets is no surprise. There's something about this man. He gets it. They draw the line at the same place, and he knows it; that is why he has been so bold as to persist. Because he knows, down to a point, how far he is allowed to push. Cloud understands him. And that notion is confirmed by the words that are murmured into his mouth, amused but matter-of-fact.

I have a girl back home, he has said.

To which Cloud replies only, "So do I."

A/N: ( lol what's chronology, amirite? )

The Strifehart Invasion continues! Hope you enjoyed... :3 Please drop me a review, especially if you have suggestions for 7x8 fics I can spam you with 8'D