"It's foolish; this isn't the past, anymore."

He can't remember when he said that last.

"Don't make it any harder."

He can't remember when he feigned so earnestly.

"Stop it … "

He can't remember when he didn't want it to.

"Don't."

He really can't.

Because he's here, right here, here on the muddy ground, wishing the kerosene lamp didn't burn so damn bright that he shied away from the shadows; because he's all too silent, all too loud, all too overbearing, rocks digging into his back, sans comprehension or the choked indifference that was shed along with his resistance. Because he wants to push instead of pull, stand instead of fall, walk away while his demolished pride was still intact, the stale air of the corridor clogging his nostrils. Because there was something so wrong with finding nothing wrong about it, from the beginning of his footsteps to the tangle on the floor, fifteen ways he could've said that it was entirely too immoral, too destructing.

Because Leon shakes.

To grasp.

It's too much, yet it's not enough—it was never enough from the start, it was never feasible to overlook, it was never enough to erect broken barriers, and the revelation strangles him as much as the incapability to breathe, stagnancy pricking his fingers. Wrenching, bending, struggling, writhing on a muddled surface to the anticipation of capture and an unnamable factor, submitting himself to a torrent of the past he refused, crushed, buried, the hallway dark, the hallway bright. He quakes for air, for nonexistent sensibility, for the sheer corruption of it all, for every breath he takes, and lies to himself that he had denied everything from the moment he knew.

But Leon's a liar.

He always has been.

He's a liar, he's liar, he's a liar, and he lies once more to mocking silence. He's a liar, he is, a liar who had a pretty wife, for God's sake, all tied a nice yellow house with a white picket fence by the ocean, teeming with four children who had their mother's eyes. He's a liar, the worst, his SeeD uniform displaying his apparent brevity on the battlefield, the strength of his control. He's a liar, what a liar, a traitor, erasing everything but the knot in the abandoned armoire, panting against a piece of the past.

Leon's a hypocrite.

—who doesn't care.

And he can't, because he can't, because he shuts himself off from the world to the dead thrumming of his heart against another, his fingers clutching onto bruised shoulders, rationality as cheap as his opposition. Thus, he focuses, only to lose it, swallowing his own sounds, repelling others, limiting his gaze to closed lids that would not be exposed to stare into pools of gunmetal, so like his own. One shift, two breaks, quiet indecision in his movements, forward momentum, or he loses it, and he inters his face into the wing of a shoulder.

There is nothing to be salvaged.

For Leon.

Throwing it away, one by one, maybe that was when he was unable to move—to run, to defend, to expel, to do anything for a brief moment of false reprieve; to neglect whatever he had to meet a gaze as inerrable as the sea, a myriad of challenges and bridges to burn, not to turn around and chase after an outline he avoided to save himself. Maybe that's when it started, the genesis to his demise, yet he finds himself incapable of anything to say, to only angrily breathe into an equally angry mouth, tongues clashing as strong as his frustration at keeping away, telling himself that he had a damn life, that it took over the entirety of his sanity and lifetime to forget a brother lost to civil war, child with eyes so alive. He wants to confirm it, to dig into that identical face of seventeen years and yell, to scream at this wicked urge, to thrust away the form on top of him, to exclaim that it was entirely too wrong to be doing something like this.

That he didn't want it to stop.

That he wanted it, that he hated it all, that he was greedy, so greedy, grabbing a fistful of hair the color of his own, a mouth the same fullness of his own, a brow as scarred as his own, a desperation as tempered as his own; that he wanted to demand where the hell this boy—no, this man—had the audacity to do this to him, to forget that he was the commander of Esthar Garden, to stride up to him and drag him down to wreak havoc on his being. Loss, that's all there is, grinding and twisting, this way and that, channeling a deluge of self-denial and age-old wanting into an exchange that was brutal, in the least, pushing and pulling and taking and taking and taking and baring. He hated that same slash on the center of an obstinate forehead as much as he feared it, wanted to rip it off, to burn it, to mold it into the ridges of his pronounced stigma.

And he wonders how, struggling against each other in a frenzy, the depths of the room a tad too condescending—how he had lied, had been lied to, had been drawn inexplicably like a moth to a flame, the appearance of a ghost of eight years that should've perished long ago. He wonders how it had invariably led to this, to throw a knowing look that ended up with him waiting in the ancient chamber, a kinetic sensation low in his gut. He wonders how long it had taken for the other to show up, solely glance into brewing storms, and acutely slant his mouth over one that had been anticipating, tongues grappling for power, biting into his flesh and tearing away any sense of morality. It had been him to blame, him to sell, him to know that he was weak—a bastard—to give into the demands of the prodigal son.

Him to initiate it.

Him to take it.

Him to return it.

Leon to not regret a single thing.

Leon to know this wouldn't be the last.

Leon to stare into seas so grey.

And Squall knows that more than himself.