Author's Notes: I've decided to switch to my usual style for the rest of the story and not the first-person pov of the prologue. I just think it works better with Homecoming this way.

This part fits with part 3 of Homecoming. I hope, put together, the two perspectives create a far richer whole. I'm curious how well (or not) it works out?

Warnings: Yaoi (male/male romance/sex)(eventually. I intend to actually get to a sex-scene for this series.), foul language, angst...

Pairing: Seifer/Squall (for those who don't know, I kinda use the Slash designation for pairings, not the Yaoi one. The reason: In slash there is no seme/uke rule. I like to write characters as equals, not with set sexual roles. )



Second Chances
(A companion piece to Homecoming, from Squall's POV)
By Lady Tempest



Part 1:

"Squall!"

Squall glanced over his shoulder as he stepped from the Infirmary corridor, the fur of his jacket tickling his cheek. Rinoa. Her face lit with a smile.

He contemplated ignoring her and walking onward to his quarters, but knew from too much experience it would only cause him more grief. Great. Just what he needed to cap his oh so wonderful day. Flexing his hand which still tingled from a low-level Cure, he stopped, turned, and waited.

The giddy brunette hurried towards him in quick, dainty steps. "Squall. Where have you been?"

"Around," he replied blandly as he rested a hand on his hip. Squall knew being himself was just going to get him into trouble, but he was too tired to care. There was always the possibility of being so 'aggravating' -- as he'd been called more times than he bothered, or gave-a-shit, to count -- that maybe at least Rinoa would just give up.

... And T-Rexaurs could fly! He'd have a better chance if he held his breath. Unconsciousness could give him a few hours of peace.

Rinoa's face scrunched into a disapproving pout. "I've been looking for you."

"And you found me." Oops. Judging by Rinoa's pout-turned-frown, he was being an 'ass'. Again. Whatever...

"Squaaaal!"

Crap! That means the 'You're-a-Meanie-lecture'. Again! Dammit!

Squall forced a slight smile. "Soooo... Why were you looking for me?" His booted foot tapped softly on the marble floor as he plastered the smile more firmly.

Some days he really hated being him. Not because of a sense of insecurity -- Well, not much insecurity. Kinda hard to live the life he had without a few scars. -- His lips quirked into a wry grin.

...Rather, for all the crap that being him brought him. Moments like this were high on that list of crap. Very high. Very.

Rinoa tilted her head, her dye-streaked bangs swaying across her searching gaze. With a quick nod, she smiled. "I just wondered where you were and thought you'd go get dinner with me."

"Been busy." Unfortunately, not busy enough.

"I know." She clasped the ring hanging from a chain around her neck and pouted. "I haven't seen you all day."

The ring. His ring. Well, not exactly. A copy Zell had made. For Rinoa. Without his permission. A fine example of why he could never be interested in her. Getting one of his teammates to go behind his back -- a violation of team protocol -- was bad enough. But to return it to him with a ridiculous confession of her supposed affection... in the middle of a warzone, for Hyne's sake, while his comrades and cadets under his responsibility were dying around them, that was the height of an immaturity and obliviousness he could and would never get past. Never.

His hands clenched. Squall bowed his head, his cheeks reddening with frustration hidden by the thick fall of his chestnut bangs. How could anyone be so fucking clueless? Shit!

It was also a fine example of Seifer not being ambitious enough in annoying Zell if the hyper blond had been left with enough time on his hands to annoy him or make rings for ditzy, won't-take-no-for-an-answer 'princesses'. However, Zell certainly wouldn't make the same mistake again. A quick reprimand on putting his skills to better and more efficient use and keeping to his own business actually shocked Zell to stillness for several whole seconds while he babbled an apology.

Okay, so he had said 'maybe if Zell spent more time using his brain for once and less time fucking around in Squall's business, Zell wouldn't be such a moron'. And maybe Zell, after the apology -- while near tears-- was too scared to talk to him for a week. And maybe Squall did feel a little guilty. Just a little. The battle with Ultimecia did bring them all somewhat closer -- Friendship forged by battle and all that. But still, he seriously doubted the blond would pull something like that again.

"I feel the same way," Rinoa giggled.

Uh? Huh? Oh. She was still there. And still talking. Damn. What the hell was she talking about?

"No need to be shy, Squall."

His brow furrowed as he stared at her through his bangs. The fuck? Shy? Rinoa must have gone to her 'happy-place' again, because she definitely wasn't on this planet. If she ever had been. And all evidence on that issue wasn't in her favor.

Before he ask her what color the sky was in her world -- or the 'Don't-incite-the-Meanie-tirade' version, which wasn't as interesting -- someone, a girl, yelled. What? He couldn't understand, but it sounded urgent. And it sounded like it came from near the Entrance.

Without a second thought Squall broke into a run. Others, students and several instructors, scurried from all directions towards the disruption, some bumping him as they passed. Once he reached the foyer, a crowd had formed at its edge, everyone staring at some thing by the Directory.

"What's going on here?" Squall barked impatiently, shoving aside a wide-eyed student to get to the literal core of the situation. When the last student blocking his path cowered aside at his scowl, Squall turned to the mound of rags on the floor. And froze.

Seifer?

"Seifer!"

The battered young man strained to lift his head, but collapsed.

Alive. Seifer was alive!

"Seifer!"

Squall fell at Seifer's side, his leather pants squeaking against the cold marble a brake to his momentum. The blond lay still, blue-green eyes open... and blinking. And glassy, dazed. Seifer's gaze wandered, floating, like he couldn't focus, although he was trying. Squall grasped Seifer's shoulder. To help him. To feel him.

Seifer screamed. A dry, raspy sound of sheer agony. It was agony to hear it. Yet it grounded him in the reality beside him, as the brief moment of solid warmth under his hand had grounded him. Seifer was alive. Real. Real!

... And in pain. Squall lightened his touch as it roamed carefully over Seifer's body, searching for wounds. Seifer's coat was torn and filthy with dust, mud, and... blood. Blood.

His throat tightening, Squall glanced at Seifer's dirt smudged face. He was drifting, his spiked-golden lashes drooping as his aqua eyes rolled lazily.

Squall leaned forward, his breath gusting against Seifer's dirt-dusted golden hair as he whispered, "Hold on." The likely days worth of grime and sweat, and tang of blood clinging to the blond tickled Squall's nose, but Seifer still smelled... like... like the best thing ever. "Just hold on."

"Get Kadowaki! Now!" Squall blindly ordered to whomever would hear. The sudden silence was his first awareness the crowd had been rumbling murmurs around him, and he had been oblivious. And he still didn't care. As long as someone did as they were just told.

Absently his hand stroked sweat-stiff golden hair, while the other attempted its gentle examination of Seifer's condition. It wasn't easy. Squall didn't want to hear that horrible scream of pain again.

A weak smile crept through Seifer's chapped lips. The pain lining his handsome face and clouding his eyes softened to muted happiness. For the barest of moments Squall stopped breathing. It was so beautiful. So warm. His mouth went dry, his skin cold and sweaty, and his heart spun around in his chest. And he had no idea why that simple smile made him feel so... so... strange.

Well, not much of an idea. His friend was back from the 'dead'. Alive. And back with him. That could certainly explain it. Partly. It didn't explain why the warmth of Seifer's hair and skin seeping into his fingers shivered into tingling bumps along his own skin. Well... probably residual effects of Cure. Except... that was his other hand.

He wet his dry lips with a nervous swipe of his tongue. Could he...? Was he...? Maybe...? With... Seifer? Seifer?

Seifer began to murmur, and it was then Squall realized: Seifer was longer looking at him. Squall glanced over his shoulder. He was looking at... Smiling at...

"Rinoa," Seifer rasped and collapsed into unconsciousness.



(end part 1)
(tbc)

More A/N: I want to thank those who have commented so far on this story, and who have supported my others too. I'm so glad you liked it. I'm also glad some of you seemed to really like Squall's fist/wall comment in the prologue. grin> I almost didn't go with it, but I wanted to add a little touch of the external to all that interior monologue. Funny, how things work out.

Anyway, I had fun with this. Squall's usually a little more difficult for me to click with than Seifer, but I think that has more to do with the sudden character change from the game -- basically trying to reconcile the Rinoa-fiasco with his previously established behavior. So, I prefer to keep him closer to his persona in the first 2/3's of the game. Besides, I like rude-'anti-social'-prick-Squall much much better than the Rinoa-infected, pod-person Squall he became. He was far more interesting. And funny. (Yes, Squall has a sense of humor and a wicked one at that. Probably part of why he and Seifer actually do get along.) So if you think he's an 'ass' in this fic, it's because essentially he is one. smirk> I always try to keep characters In-character and I hope I have succeeded here.

I write S/S fics from the perspective (as I saw it in the game) that *if* Rinoa made Squall 'open' up, it was by making him change into someone he wasn't, which isn't love; *Not* by touching his nature in a way that let him be himself and express himself on his terms. Which is how I see Seifer affecting him. Squall always had a choice with Seifer: to ignore him or 'play', he just always chose Seifer. Rinoa doesn't know Squall, Seifer does.