The High Price of Love
November 2005

 

[Squall]

I have no friends.  At least, not as of last night.  They are all fucking bastards who don't understand anything about what I want out of life... or so I want to think.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that isn't entirely true, but I'm too busy being absolutely furious with them.  If only I could carry around a large sword...

"... ir?  Sir?  Excuse me, sir?"

Glancing up, I chose to notice the poor stewardess who had probably been trying to get my attention for the past several minutes.

A picture of customer service, the dark-haired woman smiles brightly once catching my eye.  "Would you like a drink before takeoff, sir?"

I hesitate, sincerely considering the benefits of alcohol in my current situation, but I instead opt for a clear mind over a temporary escape.  Turning my gaze back to the window, I mutter to the stewardess that I don't want anything.  She doesn't push the point, already moving to the couple seated directly across the aisle.  The blond-haired bimbo giggles at the man's request for champagne, the obvious newlywed pair adding a cruel touch to my already tormented state.

I hate couples, I hate weddings, and I hate fucking planes.

"Sorry, but I think you're in my seat."

Scowling at the new interruption, I glare to the side, only to discover that the deep voice belonged to someone taller than I had expected.  Lifting my eyes further, I first notice pale lips set into a mocking smirk, my gaze then focusing on bright cat-like eyes that stare directly at my face.  I have to give this pale-haired, green-eyed man some credit - he's very handsome in the classic, 'I'm a jock and, therefore, can fuck anything with breasts' kind of attractiveness.  But dressed in expensive clothing of a partially open gray shirt and dark slacks, I can only see him for what he is - an overpriced escort, or a whore by another name.

A blond eyebrow raises in a questioning expression as the man repeats, "That's my seat," this time producing the ticket stub to prove his point.

"I changed my mind.  I want the window."

The large man blinks at the comment, a slow smile coming to his lips before he maneuvers his broad frame between the seats and plops down into his chair.  "So, you're Squall Leonhart, huh?  You're nothing like I expected."

"Can't say the same," I state under my breath.

"Don't know if Kinneas told you, but the name is Seifer.  Seifer Almasy."

I stare at the offered hand, then refuse it as I return my attention to the activity outside of the plane.

Seifer chuckles at my reaction.  "Kinneas mentioned that you'd be a hard-ass when we first met.  I don't see why.  Your friends paid in full for my services.  A normal guy would be praising the Lord for such wonderful friends."

"Fuck them.  I never asked for their help."

After a quiet pause, the large man laughs deeply.  "Damn, you have a mouth on you.  Kinneas didn't tell me about that."

"... ..."

"Come on, princess.  We have a seven hour plane ride ahead of us, not to mention the rest of the trip.  Do you want to waste your time being as stubborn as a jackass, or would you rather prepare me to meet your parents?"

Not wanting to reply, I shift closer to the window, mentally cursing that first-class seats aren't as wide as I thought.  I should have made him sit in coach, but despite the peace of mind it would have given me, I know Seifer is right.  He should be warned about my family, at least enough for him to appear my boyfriend.  I don't like lying to my father about this, but Irvine and the others did pay a high and non-refundable price to torment my step-sister.  There's nothing I can do but play along.

Hearing Seifer speak to the stewardess, I glance over and watch as he seduces the young woman with his low voice and charming smile.  It's a sickening sight, but sadly, I know that we'll have little trouble getting fast service for the rest of the flight.

As the giggling woman leaves, Seifer looks at me and widens his smile.  "Welcome back.  You were thinking so hard that I thought I had lost you."

Accustomed to people mocking me for losing myself in thought, I don't respond to the taunt and instead ask, "Won't it bother you to pretend to be my boyfriend?"

"Why would it?  I'm bi and you're hot," he states with a smirk.

Scowling at the idiot, I decide that I should've guessed earlier that he was bisexual.  In a job like his, it'd be more profitable to be willing to have sex with both men and women.  Though given his apparent ease with seducing women, I still have to assume that he prefers breasts over cocks.

After a sip of his drink, Seifer adds, "I also got a bonus for dealing with your personality, so I have no reason to complain."

I scoff, not at all surprised that Irvine made certain that Seifer wouldn't regret agreeing to the task of being my temporary boyfriend.

"Well, since you seem sociable for moment, how about I ask a few questions, like why the hell you are doing this in the first place if you're so against it?"

I stare into bright green eyes, wary of him making fun of me behind that interested mask of his.  "Didn't you talk to Irvine?"

Seifer shrugs.  "It was last week and in a club - we didn't talk much.  And frankly, from his words, I was surprised to have an airline ticket delivered to me.  Kinneas made it sound like you weren't interested after all."

"I wasn't," I state while looking away from his smirking face.  "But I changed my mind."

"You change your mind a lot, don't you?"

I scowl at his comment and make no effort to explain my reasons for bringing him along.  It's no one's business that Rinoa had called me last week, that her words had snapped my last restraint.  Of course I instantly regretted giving Irvine the okay to purchase a second ticket with my credit card number, but it's too late now.

"So, are you planning to explain anything to me?"

I sigh, wishing I didn't have to say anything for the next week, but I know that I'm not that lucky.  "It's nothing complicated.  My sister... well, my step-sister, if you want to be technical about it, is getting married.  She hates my lifestyle, something that irritates Irvine and the others, so they decided that I should ruin her wedding by flaunting a boyfriend in front of her friends.  It's stupid, really.  Completely childish."

"Then why are you going along with it?"

"Temporary insanity."

Seifer laughs.  "Well, I can't say that I haven't done this before, though it's usually some woman wanting to show off a handsome boyfriend.  It'll be interesting to help out a queer for once."

"... ..."

"So, we've got a homophobic step-sister... Anyone else in the family I should be ready for?"

I shake my head.  "Dad thinks it's wonderful that I'm living my life the way I want to live it, something he reminds me constantly.  My adoptive sister, Ellone, and her husband think pretty much the same, though they are less open about it."

"And your mother?"

"She's dead."

"Shit, sorry.  I shouldn't have--"

"It's alright," I interrupt, not wanting to hear false platitudes.  "I was young and it wasn't a surprise.  She was in the hospital for years beforehand."

Seifer said nothing for a short time before continuing his line of questions.  "Then, if you have a step-sister, I assume there's a step-mother?"

I scoff.  "Julia lives in another world where there are no such thing as homosexuals.  I could fuck a man right in front of her and she'd think we were just wrestling."

The blond sniggers and comments, "Why do I have a bad feeling that you aren't exaggerating and that that scenario had actually happened?"

"At least she didn't hang around to see who would 'win'."

Seifer laughs loudly at my reply, turning a few heads and making me cringe low in my seat.  "You're not too bad, princess.  Now, let me see if I get this right - you've got a father who loves you, an adoptive sister who is married, a step-mother who is a special kind of idiot, and a step-sister who hates you.  What's her name again?"

"Rinoa."

"Oh right, that sounds familiar from what Kinneas mentioned.  Well damn, if you don't mind me saying so, you've got an interesting family there."

I shrug, accustomed to the comment.  Suddenly, a heated touch is at my chin, coaxing me to look directly at the large blond and into his clear green eyes.  Seifer smirks broadly, revealing bright white teeth and a sharp incisor tooth that makes his appearance even more like a cheshire cat.

"Now that I know about the family, what should I know about us?  How long have we been together?  Where did we meet?  What color are your drawers?  And of course, how often do we fuck?  Just so you know, I won't agree to anything less than four sessions a week."

I knock aside his hand.  "I don't care about the details.  Make up whatever you like."

"From my experience, it's easier to get our stories straight from the beginning."

"And I'm not one to talk to people about my life."

"I'm beginning to notice.  So if you're not talkative--"

"I don't do public displays, either," I state in a near growl, not liking his suggestive expression.

"Kill joy," he huffs while moving back in his seat.  "You know, a normal person wouldn't mind the excuse to loosen up.  And wouldn't us doing the tonsil tango in front of the blushing bride be more satisfying for you?"

I turn and look to the window, watching as the plane slowly backs out from the gate.  "I don't hate her, really."

"Oh?  Then why are you going to such lengths to add a black spot to her wedding?"

"... ..."

"What, you're not going to tell your 'boyfriend' all about your deepest and darkest thoughts?" he asks while placing a large hand at my thigh and rubbing it in manner that fails to be soothing.

"I'm done talking," I state while slumping against the uncomfortable wall of the plane.

"Don't give me that.  I don't even know where you live or where you work.  I'm not going to look like a convincing boyfriend at this rate."

"Irvine arrived in California earlier this morning.  You can ask him."

Seifer scowls at the brush off, his hand still on my leg but unmoving.  "Why do I have to wait when you're stuck here with me?"

"I'll be working," I explain with a light kick to my carry-on bag.  "You can entertain yourself."

Looking much like a teenager who had just been grounded, Seifer jerks his hand away and slouches in his seat.  Growling in an angry murmur, he declares, "They better not be showing some God-damned chick flick on this flight."

~ > < ~

"Hey, wait up, princess!"

Adjusting the strap of my carry-on to rest more comfortably on my shoulder, I reluctantly slow my pace as I allow the large blond catch up to my side.  In a low voice, I tell him, "Stop calling me that, you idiot."

"But it's the best way to get your attention," he counters with a smug grin.

"... ..."

"Why are you so angry, darling?" Seifer asks with exaggerated concern.  "Don't tell me you're still upset over that drooling incident.  I swear that I'll pay for the dry cleaning."

Reminded of the stain, I glance at my shoulder and scowl at the small circle.  The blond had fallen asleep after an apparently exhausting task of mocking the in-flight movie.  Relieved for the resulting quiet, I didn't bother to wake the man when he had slumped to the side and rested his head on my shoulder.  It was a mild annoyance compared to when the blond was awake.  But I didn't realize Seifer had begun drooling until the captain had announced thirty minutes until landing.  Why do I have a bad feeling that Irvine is going to make his own guesses as to what this stain is from...

"Uncle Squally!!"

I straighten at the young voice calling for me and easily spot the small girl dressed in bright pink overalls and wearing high pigtails that bounce while she runs.  Watching her move straight through a large clump of people in business suits, I smile softly and drop down onto one knee.  The four-year-old eventually tackles me with a hug that nearly topples the two of us to the ground, a bad habit that was learned from her grandfather, no doubt.  But it's far easier to forgive a child for being so reckless with her hugs.

Done with the greeting, the dark-haired girl pushes back to look at me.  "Uncle Squally, Uncle Squally, are you gonna live with us now?"

Meeting her overly serious expression, I reply, "Sorry, Raine, but I'm just here for your Aunt Rinoa's wedding.  I told you that on the phone."

"Oh," she says with a disappointed frown.

"One minute in town and you're already breaking Rainy's heart.  You should be ashamed, Squall Leonhart."

I glance up at the voice and smile at the attractive woman of short dark brown hair.  "Hey, Sis.  I thought I told you to get us at the pickup area.  You didn't have to park."

"Nonsense.  That would've meant waiting an extra few minutes before meeting this new boyfriend of yours."  Without shame, she proceeds to look over Seifer with a critical eye.  "And I have to say, you aren't what I was expecting."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Seifer says with a charming grin and holds out a hand.  "The name is Seifer.  And I assume you are Ellone?"

Smiling, Ellone accepts the hand.  "You got it in one.  It's nice to meet you, Seifer, though I can't say that I've heard much... well, anything about you," she says with a scolding eye in my direction.

Seifer chuckles.  "I'm not surprised.  Since we first met, it feels like Squall hasn't spoken more than ten sentences to me."

Ellone laughs in agreement, not knowing that the man's 'exaggeration' was very close to being truth.

Standing up, I take Raine's hand in mine and turn my back to the laughing adults.  "Our luggage should be here by now."

I take the lead with my niece, the young girl immediately going into details about her all-important role of flower girl in the upcoming wedding.  With her dress already bought, it seems like Raine's primary concern is when she'll be able to go flower picking before the event.  I smile down at her, recognizing the child's true worry about the matter.  Figuring I'll be able to find a nearby park, I assure Raine that I'll take her someplace where she can pick as many flowers as she likes.

"Hey, are you making a date behind my back?  With a young lady at that!  I'm offended."

Though I glare at Seifer for the comment, Raine giggles and says, "Uncle Squally can't date me.  He likes boys."

Green eyes widen at the girl's statement, the large man most likely surprised that the four-year-old knows all about my preferences.  I enjoy the moment for what it's worth, but in the back of my mind, I have to wonder if Raine will ever be disgusted with what she accepts so easily now.  Placing aside that constant worry, I stop in front of the carrousel that should eventually produce our luggage and I hold tightly onto Raine's hand, knowing just how much the girl would love to hop onto the moving platform.

Seifer walks around me to kneel next to Raine, his large size making the dark-haired girl press shyly against me.  "So, your name is Raine?"  At her nod, the blond switches on his charming smile which probably shouldn't be used on minors.  "Nice to meet you, Raine.  My name is Seifer and I'm the 'boy' your Uncle Squall currently likes."

The young girl frowns at him.  "You're too big."

"Well, your uncle doesn't think I'm too big," Seifer says with a wink in my direction.

"Your brain is certainly too small," I mutter in return, earning a soft laugh from Ellone behind me.

"Cute, princess, but I know you love me anyway."

Raine promptly steps forward to tug on Seifer's shirt sleeve.  "Uncle Squally isn't a princess.  He's a boy.  Daddy says only good girls can be princesses."

Seifer grins widely at the somewhat lisped comment, his eyes brightening in a manner that worries me.  By unexpected reflex alone, I find myself smacking the side of his head before he can utter a single sarcastic word in reply.  He blinks up at me in surprise.  Though I must be showing my own shock at my reaction, I manage to scowl in a silent threat to the blond.

He smiles at the wordless warning, his eyes then shifting back to Raine.  "You know, your Uncle Squall told me that you were a smart little girl.  I'm impressed.  What college do you go to?"

Raine giggles shyly as she shakes her head.  "I'm too little for school."

"Are you sure?"

I shake my head at the inane exchange between the two, a small ache building in my stomach at how easily Seifer is integrating himself with the most important people in my family.  The fact he spouts lies as if they were truths doesn't help my anxious state.  Moving my gaze to the slow movement of luggage, I silently demand for my suitcase to appear and end this moment of torture.  That request is ignored, however, as I notice the same horrid mustard-yellow bag that has already pass by twice.

"He seems sweet," Ellone comments quietly, not interrupting the deep conversation at my other side about whether or not Barbie went to college.  "Though he's a bit different than your usual sort."

"You don't know what type of guy I like, Elle."

"Hn, I suppose you're right, but I always thought I knew the kind of man you would attach yourself to.  I guess I don't know you so well after all.  But I don't mind being wrong if it means that you finally met someone you wanted to bring home and introduce to the family.  I'm so happy for you."

I frown, wishing I could tell her that she probably knows me too well, but I hold back.  She and Dad have always wanted me to settle with someone, and if this sham can hearten them for a brief moment in time, then it's worth my inevitable humiliation.

"Nuh-un, Ken doesn't like boys.  He likes Barbie."

And with that argument from my niece, I press my free hand to my face and wonder what plague I've brought upon my family.

~ > < ~

I'm slow getting out of Ellone's minivan, the line of cars parked on the street reminding me that Rinoa had decided to hold a party today.  A kind of pre-wedding celebration which only Rinoa could get away with and no one would dare argue.  It just wouldn't be worth the wasted breath.

"Wow, this is a really nice place.  How many millions did it cost your family?"

I glare at the blond for the blunt question and refuse to comment about his fairly accurate guess that the house is overly expensive.  To own a two-story house with plenty of square footage in Southern California basically guarantees a large loss of money, but Mom loved this house the moment she had stepped over the threshold.  I used to enjoy this house just as much, but that was before cancer took her away from the house and family she loved.

"...ey.  Hey, princess!"

I jerk at the sight of a large hand waving in front of my face.  Knocking it roughly aside, I glare at Seifer in a silent question of 'what the fuck do you want?'.

He smirks, completely unafraid of me.  "Are we standing out here all day or going inside?  And before you answer, you should know that Raine has already bolted inside to announce your arrival."

I sigh out a deep breath, readying myself for the inevitable onslaught.  I step forward with the intention to move past the large blond, but Seifer moves quickly to wrap an arm around my waist.  Before I make a serious move to escape the uncomfortably close hold, Seifer brushes his lips against my ear and whispers, "Am I your lover or not?"

I tense at the touch of his heated breath, but I don't remove his arm.  Despite how much I hate it, the bastard is unfortunately right.  Resting a hand on his, I squeeze his fingers tightly and warn him, "Just because you are my 'boyfriend', it doesn't mean I like being touched in public."

He hums quietly while nuzzling my neck.  "Alright, alright, I get it.  I think we're done with the show anyway, so you can stop inflicting pain on my hand."

Curious about his comment, my eyes widen as Seifer pulls away, revealing Ellone and her husband standing on the front porch.  Ellone smiles brightly with her hands clasped in front of her; meanwhile, Jonathan has a more uncomfortable expression as he doesn't look directly at us, but a few inches to the right of me.  Though accepting of my preferences, the Navy man certainly doesn't care to witness me in action.

"Come on, Granddad!"

Everyone turns at the sight of small Raine leading a long-haired man through the front entrance of the house.  Laguna bears an amusedly confused smile as he pretends to be dragged along by the girl, but when he glances up at his audience, the smile disappears to momentary surprise as my young looking father recognizes my presence.

"Squall..."

I think to remind him that he knew I was coming today and arriving at this very hour, but I can't bring myself to scold his emotions like that.  And he never gives me that chance, either, as I'm quickly enveloped in his arms.  With a smile in his voice, my father welcomes me home and asks about my flight in the same breath.  I don't reply immediately, and instead enjoy the warmth unique to my father.

Laguna eventually moves back with a hard slap to my shoulder, his dark green eyes meeting mine.  "Lord, it's been forever since I've seen you.  You look good."

"It's been six months, Dad."

His eyes widen in mock surprise.  "Six months?  Are you avoiding me?"

"Even if I tried, I know you'd be on the next flight to New York."

"Damn right," Laguna states with a loving smile that never fails to sooth my worries.  "It's wonderful to see you, son."

I nod once in reply, forever awkward with his open nature.

"Oh, and you brought a friend with you!  Are you Squall's boyfriend?"

"That I am, sir," Seifer replies, reminding me of his presence as he reaches past me to offer his hand to my father.  "Seifer Almasy."

"Please, call me Laguna," my father responds as he accepts the large hand.  "But why are we still out here when there's a party inside?  Go ahead and leave your bags in the van.  Right now it's time for you to have something to drink, meet the rest of the family, and then you both can tell us all about your relationship," he insists as he proceeds to pull Seifer in the direction of the front door.  "And I won't be taking 'no' for an answer."

The large blond glances back at me, and though I'd be much happier running in the opposite direction, I sigh and follow behind Laguna and my 'boyfriend'.  One step into the house and I regret not booking a later flight.  There are too many people around, all of them mingling with various drinks and snacks in hand.  I imagine most are Rinoa's friends from college, though there are a few relatives included in the mix, easy to spot with their disapproving frowns in my direction.  Hardly a minute here and I'm ready to go home.

And then there's warmth at my side followed by a steady hand going to my waist, a casual touch that makes me tense further.

"Hey, you okay?  You look about ready to hurl."

I glance up into bright green eyes and recognize the true concern reflected there despite the blunt words.  "I'm fine," I mutter in reply, silently asking Seifer to reform distance between us.  I don't care that we're supposed to be dating and it doesn't matter that it helps to have him serve as a barrier between me and the crowd of people around us.  It's the principle of the matter.

Seifer huffs as he backs up a step and raises a hand in an irritated sign that he was no longer touching me.

But with the large man's retreat, I'm immediately spotted as a sudden cry of "Squally-poo!" is yelled out.  Shortly following the call, an unbalanced body crashes into mine and slim arms wrap around my shoulders in an awkward hug.  The smell of alcohol isn't surprising as Rinoa plants a wet kiss at the corner of my lips.  "Squall!  You're here!"

I gaze into dark brown eyes and force a small smile.  "Hello, Rinoa."

The raven-haired beauty beams at my greeting and presses closer.  "I knew you would come to my wedding.  I knew it."

It's obvious that a brother would go to his sister's wedding, so I know very well that isn't what Rinoa means, but I'll never be able to guess the true thoughts that are bouncing about in her head.

"So, this is the famous step-sister," Seifer says while leaning in behind me and replacing a hand at my waist.  Smiling from over my shoulder, he comments, "You're a pretty little thing."

Rinoa blinks up at the man, obviously confused with the presence of the flirting stranger.

Ever helpful, Laguna announces, "Rinoa, this is Squall's boyfriend - Seifer."

While it takes a moment to seep into her brain, the dark-eyed woman eventually looks at me sharply as if I had just stabbed her with a knife, her expression incredulous and angry.  "Your boyfriend?  You brought your boyfriend to my wedding?"

Expecting this reaction, I lean back against Seifer as my reply, not trusting my voice to speak the lie.

"You... You're horrible!  Why can't you be normal for once in your life?!  Instead you bring that... that... that queer to my wedding?  You've ruined everything," she partly screeches as she turns and runs across the room to her fiancé.  As she rants and sobs to the bewildered man, I sigh at the dramatics.

"Squall..."

I interrupt my father's attempt to console.  "Don't worry about me.  You should help to calm her down."

Laguna nods, though his dark green eyes remain filled with worry.  "Alright, but don't disappear anywhere before I have the chance to talk with you."

"I'm here all week, Dad."

"And not nearly long enough," he states with a soft smile before he heads over to the hysterical bride-to-be.

"That was a fun reaction," Seifer comments while holding me a touch tighter.  "But now I'm curious - is that the groom Miss Theater Club is draped on right now?"

"Yeah," I reply as I brush aside his arm from my waist.

"Huh.  And am I the only one who thinks he looks a bit like you?"

The question comes off casual, but when I look up, I meet sharp green eyes that reveal just how much the blond is assuming.  I open my mouth, wanting to divert the man from dangerous thoughts, but when I take too long, Seifer smirks as if achieving a great victory.

"You've got an interesting family, princess," he says, repeating the same comment he had already made on the flight here.

"Don't say anything and stop calling me that."

Seifer's smirk widens as his catlike eyes brighten, his coming remark almost visible in the green depths, but he's thankfully interrupted.

"That was priceless," the new-comer announces as he slaps his hand hard against Seifer's back and smiles broadly at me.  "I told you that this guy was worth the price I had to pay."

I glare at the lean man of wavy auburn hair and a flirting smile.  I know I agreed to this game of playing boyfriend, but I'm unable to share Irvine's enjoyment in watching Rinoa run off in tears.

Seifer grins at the long-haired man.  "You know, Kinneas, if my price is too high for you, I'd be more than happy to give you a discount," the escort purrs as he proceeds to finger a free lock of curling hair.

His expression wiped clean of his previous smile, Irvine jerks away from the blond.  "Hey, that's not funny.  You know I don't lean that way.  Go waste your moves on Squall."

Not allowing the lanky man to escape, Seifer hangs onto Irvine's arm and teases him with a lisped voice that doesn't fit the broad shouldered man in the least.  After watching the display of flamboyant gayness for a time, I eventually notice green eyes watching me carefully.  Once I find myself smiling vaguely, I realize that the large idiot was doing this for me, to ease my anxiousness.  So, he can be a decent human being after all.  That's somewhat surprising.

"O-oh, Squall," a consoling voice sounds from behind me and soon a warm hand is at my shoulder, encouraging me to turn and face the kindhearted woman.  Ellone frowns softly as she tells me, "I was out of the room with Raine, but Xu told me everything.  Are you alright?  Do you want me to speak with Rinoa?"

"It's alright, Sis.  She has her right."

"It may be her wedding, but she certain does not have the right to insult both you and your boyfriend.  We don't want you to be afraid to bring home the people who are important to you."

I place a hand on Ellone's and silently assure her that Rinoa's outburst didn't affect me like she thinks.  The dark-haired woman doesn't show any relief at my gesture.  Instead, her frown deepens as she shows her distrust in my ability to tell anyone about my 'hidden' feelings.

Meeting her dark eyes, I tell her, "I'm fine.  Really."

"And would you tell me if you weren't?"

I hate that question, and for long as I may live, I never want to answer it.

Catching my scowl, Irvine speaks up for me.  "Give him a break, Elle.  You know that he isn't the type to gush out his feelings just because you want him to.  He needs plenty of alcohol in his system for something like that."

Ellone sighs at the words, the determination in her eyes fading as she smiles softly.  "I'm just worried about you, Squall.  It's hard with you hiding across the country from us."

I shrug, accustomed to the attempt of a guilt trip.

"Don't worry, fine lady," Irvine says while wrapping an arm around Seifer's shoulders.  "You've got me and this guy to watch over Squall and keep him out of trouble."

Seifer doesn't add to the statement except to smirk broadly, a lustful suggestion of just how he would 'keep me out of trouble'.

Ellone smiles happily at the comment, as if reminded that I'm not alone in the world.  Really, I'm not that helpless that I need idiots watching my back.

"Oh good, I see Irvine found you," my father says as he approaches.  At his side is a dark-haired woman dressed in a simple white gown that highlights all of her best features.  Despite being in her forties, she is still a lovely woman and obviously Rinoa's mother.  "Seifer, I'd like you to meet Julia, Squall's step-mother."

Holding out a limp hand, Julia directs an enchanting smile to the handsome blond.  "It's a pleasure to meet one of Squall's friends."

Seifer takes the hand, and after a light kiss to long fingers, he says, "Actually, I'm Squall's boyfriend."

"Of course you are.  You can't be his girlfriend after all," Julia states with a laugh.

"No, I mean I'm dating him.  We're lovers," Seifer insists with humored determination.

Julia just laughs.  "Oh, boys these days.  Always making up new slang.  'Brothers', 'homies', and now 'lovers'?  I can hardly keep up."

"I don't think you understand--"

I stop the man with a hand pressed against his chest.  He looks disappointed at the game being cut short, but I really don't want to be responsible for upsetting both Rinoa and Julia in the same day.

"Well, I'm sorry to greet you and run, but Rinoa needs me right now," Julia says with a scolding eye in my direction.  "We can talk more during dinner."

"Oh, we will," Seifer replies with a charming smirk, a dangerous expression that renews my regret for ever listening to Irvine.

As Julia leaves, Laguna smiles weakly at the blond.  "I'm sorry about that.  Once her mind is set..."

Seifer simply grins as if he had found a new fun game to play.

Taking the man's smile as one of forgiveness, Laguna brightens and says, "Enough about our family.  I haven't heard a single word about you yet.  What do you do for a living?  Do you work with Squall?"

Finally Seifer's expression flickers to one of uncertainty, and before he manages to say more than a single stuttered word, I announce to my father, "He's an escort."

Of course I'm stared at for the abrupt reply.  My father just appears stunned, his mouth slightly parted as if deciding whether I was joking or not.  Ellone bares a similar expression, but she also shows her displeasure at me being sarcastic toward a serious question.  Meanwhile, in addition to disbelief, Irvine looks a touch angry for ruining the act.  As for Seifer... after his initial surprise, he smiles softly with an odd sense of pride before he wraps an arm around my waist, something that is becoming a bad habit of his.

"I'm afraid that's the truth, sir," Seifer says, voicing no shame in his profession.  "I got into the business while trying to pay for college and found out that I make more money than people with a Bachelors on their resumes.  While it's something I don't want to do forever, it's helping me to make a large nest egg for the future."

Uncertain how to take the information, Laguna looks to me.  "And you don't mind?"

I shrug.  "It's a job."

"And it's how we first met," Seifer adds, laughing at the ridiculous truth to his statement.

Ellone stares at us with wide eyes and a hand covering her mouth.  "Squall, you didn't..."

"No, I didn't hire him," I say firmly, though I feel sick at telling such half-truths.  "I'm not so desperate that I'd actually pay for this asshole to annoy me."

Irvine sniggers into his hand, knowing exactly how much he and our other friends paid Seifer to harass me.

"Oh, well, as long as you are safe about it," Laguna manages to say, still uncertain how to take the fact that I'd date an escort.  I suppose I am pushing the limits with him - an antisocial, gay son who has a whore for a boyfriend... it's a wonder I still have a father.

With a kind smile, Seifer adds, "If it makes you feel any better, I did finish college with a poly sci major.  I know I won't get very far with my background, but I have fun helping people into positions of power and keeping them there."

Dark green eyes brighten immediately.  "You majored in political sciences?  What a coincidence, that's what I studied back in my youth.  You'll have to tell me what they are teaching these days.  Oh, and I'll certainly have to introduce you to some friends of mine.  Maybe if you got a job out here..."

"Dad, I'm not moving back to California," I state a touch more harshly than I intended.

Laguna just smiles, not showing any hurt.  "I know, I know, but you can't blame a father for trying."

I shake my head, knowing that I do have a right to 'blame' him, but that will never stop him from these attempts to bring me back home.

"But seriously, Seifer, have you looked into getting a... different job?"

The large blond grins.  "No, not yet.  But I did entertain a Senator once.  She promised me an internship during the heat of the moment, but I doubt that she'd admit to knowing me these days."

While my father stares wide-eyed and Irvine laughs loudly, I cringe at the open nature of my 'boyfriend'.  I have a bad feeling it's going to be a very long week that should result in a lot of apologies on my part.  This idiot blond is going to end up costing me more than he's worth.

~ > < ~

"And for a onetime fee--"

"Stuff it, Seifer.  I don't want to hear it," I growl at the large moron lounging on the bed... The single bed in the room... My old room, actually, and the only bedroom left in this damn house given visiting relatives.  My trusting father hardly thought twice about having my 'boyfriend' and me stay together like this.  No, us going to a hotel would be a far worse situation than me sharing a bed with another man.  To Laguna, it's probably a forgone conclusion that we're already having sex, so there was no reason to fight it.  Fuck him for being logical when it does me no good.

Seifer sighs at me as he stands up from the bed.  "Are you going to continue this hostile act all week?  I mean, was it really that bad showing me off as your lover today?"

I pause in the task of unpacking my clothes and glare at the blond.  "You asked my grandmother if she knew the difference between sucking and blowing."

Seifer smirks as he steps closer.  "What's wrong with that?  She didn't seem to get my joke about the milkmaid and the--"

"I heard the joke and I'm not interested in reliving that event."

"Your dad thought it was hilarious."

"My father is hardly a connoisseur of jokes."

"Bah, you're no fun."

I shrug as I return to hanging up my clothing.  I don't particularly care if I'm not entertaining enough for him.

Abruptly a strong hand grabs my arm and pulls me away from the closet just as the blond closes the door.  Once I'm turned around and pressed back against the wall, I stare into keen catlike eyes and I strangely feel like a trapped mouse.

"Tell me about your prissy step-sister."

"Wh... what?"

Seifer smirks, an interested gleam highlighting his eyes.  "I want you to explain a couple of things about her.  For instances, if she hates you so much, why did she greet you at the door in such a friendly way?  And why does her lover boy appear to be your clone, granted a low quality clone?"

I want to lie, I want to shove Seifer away, and I want to get the earliest flight back to New York, but instead, I find myself saying, "She wants too much."

"Oh?  Is that because she wants you?"

It's odd hearing those words spoken out loud in another person's voice.  I don't know why no one else has noticed her fixation with me.  My father and Ellone thought it was wonderful that we got along so well, Julia was oblivious as always, and Irvine had his own troubles during our high school days.  Aside from us being step-siblings, I couldn't respond to Rinoa's affections for me, something that eventually led me to realize that I preferred men.  I'm tempted to thank her for that someday, a day when she wouldn't slap me for the words.

"Hey, princess, I'm trying to have a meaningful conversation here.  Does she want you or not?"

I move my gaze away from him to stare at the far corner.  "It was just a childish crush.  She's getting married."

Seifer says nothing for a time, but moves in closer to add to my discomfort.  "But she'd rather marry you, right?  I'll bet that's why the slut hates you for being gay."

"She's not a 'slut'."

"Hey, I'm a slut myself, so I know one when I see one."

Incredulous, I glare at the man just in time to notice that he was far too close for anything but one intention.  Surprisingly moist lips caress mine, and after a wasted moment spent on deciding if I was really tasting kiwi-flavored lip-gloss, I jerk back and accidentally smack my head against the wall.  I hiss out a pained curse, then meet narrowed green eyes.  I know I should yell at the man for taking this 'boyfriend' thing too far, but Seifer beats me to the punch as he abruptly pushes away.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me.  You're not gay, are you?"

I stare at him for the question, clueless as to how he came to that incredibly wrong conclusion.

"How pathetic, you're just pretending to be queer to drive away your neurotic sister.  Is Kinneas in on this?  Wait, what am I saying, he has to be.  Isn't he your good buddy-bud since elementary school or some crap like that?  I swear, I'm going to throttle him for getting me involved in this fucking mess."

Thoroughly confused with his anger, I straighten to better meet his vibrant glare.  "I'm not faking this, you asshole.  I don't like being with women and I love being fucked.  Is that 'queer' enough for you, or do I need to sing the songs of some Broadway musical to better prove myself?"

Seifer continues to watch me with a suspicious eye.  "Then why are you so adverse to me?"

I roll my eyes at the obvious question.  "Don't put me on the same level as everyone else in New York who wants to be fucked by you."

He tilts his head in a deceivingly boyish manner.  "You want me to fuck you?"

"I didn't say that."

"Yes, you did.  You said--"

I interrupt him, not wanting to hear how his mind translated my words.  "Whatever you heard me say, you know very well that I didn't mean it."

"Tch, then you aren't gay."

"... Wait a moment... Then, in your special world, I have to be attracted to you to be gay?"

"Of course," Seifer replies with a swing of his arms.

I press a hand to my face, unable to decide on the numerous comebacks flying around in my head.

Perhaps realizing his arrogance, the blond backs up a step and clears his throat.  "It's not just that.  I mean, you don't have to wiggle your ass for me or anything, but men who like men should be attracted to handsome guys like myself."

... Or maybe I just don't realize the extent of his arrogance.  "Fine.  You're handsome.  Does that help your dick to grow a bit longer?"

Against my intentions, Seifer smiles brightly at the comment.  "I don't know.  You wanna look?"

Growling in frustration, I attempt to return to unpacking, something that turns out to be a horrible idea when a heavy weight presses against my exposed back and two strong arms trap me as Seifer pushes me against the closet door.  He's too close like this, his smell of faded cologne and faint body odor mildly arousing me after too many years since I've been surrounded by such a masculine scent.

"Alright, I think I get your clue that you aren't interested in me, but just so you know, I can be a safe release for you."

I scoff.  "I'd hardly call you 'safe'."

Seifer laughs deeply, his lips lightly caressing my ear.  "It's just an offer, princess."

"Then why don't you go offer yourself to one of Rinoa's friends."

With a disgusted huff, the large man pushes away and walks toward the bed.  "Please, I have some standards.  And try to remember that I'm your boyfriend for this week.  It wouldn't look good for me to play around like that."

Turning around in preparation to argue, I'm presented with the sight of Seifer unbuttoning his shirt, apparently getting ready for bed.  I can't do anything for a time, my eyes morbidly attracted to the body people would willingly pay good money for.  And even with this brief examination, I can clearly see why people would waste their cash on this well-built and attractive man.  Once his shirt is dropped onto the bed, I unconsciously lick my lips, reminding myself of the strange taste of fruit.

"Do you wear lip-gloss?" I accidentally ask out loud.

Seifer looks back to grin at me.  "I'm surprised that you noticed from such a brief kiss."

"But... why kiwi?"

The blond breaths a laugh while rubbing his bare shoulder in an uncommonly shy action.  "Because I ran out of raspberry?"

"... ...?"

"Hey, it's nothing special.  I've discovered that people are attracted to moist, shiny lips, and a touch of flavor encourages a deeper taste for most people.  But you, of course, have to be different."

I shake my head, unable to believe the lengths this man will go to heighten his sexual presence.

"Now, the question remains - why are you so different?"

I scowl at the obtuse man.  "I thought we had already covered this."

"Yeah, but that was before you gave me a heavy look-over.  Admit it, you like what you see."

I want to argue, but at that moment, Seifer turns to face me directly, revealing a gold ring in his right nipple.  I don't realize I'm staring at the taunting sight until deep laughter snaps me out of it.  God, it's be too long since I've been with another man.

"Twenty-first birthday present," Seifer states as he fingers the ring, his voice taking on a rough sultry edge.

Purposely looking at green eyes and nowhere else, I tell him, "If you're that desperate for sex, go to a bar or something.  If anyone finds out, I'll just tell them the whole truth about us."

"Don't give me that," Seifer argues as he abandons his seductive act and proceeds to unzip his slacks.  "I'm a professional.  And while I don't need to have sex everyday to live, every now and again, I spot a person who could use a hard dick up their ass and I think that's something you've needed for a long time now."

I bite back the offended comeback I want to give, and with an arm around my waist, I look away from overly sharp eyes.  "I've told you once and I'll tell you again - I don't want an escort.  But now that you're here, Dad and Elle are happy to see me with someone, and that means they've stopped asking too many questions about my business.  I'll keep up this act for them and that's all I need from you.  So just... stop doing this other crap."

After a time of silence, Seifer chuckles and replies, "We'll see what I can do about that, princess."

A flying object then catches my eye and I watch as his dark slacks land near the man's unopened bag.  Reluctantly, I look to the escort and glare at the blond clad only in dark green boxers.  He smirks at my annoyance, but says nothing as he tosses his shirt to join the discarded pants.  He then thumbs his boxers, but after getting an apparently satisfying expression from me, Seifer laughs while simply adjusting the last piece of clothing.

"Are you joining me or not?"

I frown at the suggestive question.  "I have work."

Seifer sits down onto the mattress and leans back against the headboard.  "Give me a break, lover boy.  It's after midnight and we had an early flight today."

"I'm not tired," I state as I move to the desk and open up my laptop.

"What type of work do you do, anyway?"

"... ..."

"Now, now, no secrets.  You know that eventually someone will ask me questions about your job."

"... I'm an editor for a publishing company.  I doubt you would know the place."

"Hn, probably not.  But I have to say that I'm impressed that you found a job that suits your anal nature."

I scoff at him, but in a moment of weakness, I ask him, "Will it bother you for me to do some work?"

"Nah, I sleep more during the day, so the lights aren't a big problem."  Seifer shifts in the bed, stretching out his body for a night of rest.  "The real question, though, is if you're okay with us sharing the same bed."

"Just stay on your side."

Seifer laughs lazily.  "I don't know - I left my Pooky at home, so I may need to use you as a substitute."

"... ..."

"Well, don't stay up too late, princess - it isn't good for your complexion."

I don't bother replying and instead focus on the work in front of me.  I had managed to get through the book once with general corrections, and though I didn't care for the cliché plot flow and obvious ending, I'll have to read through it a few more times to fix everything I can with it.  But a chapter into the book, I find myself unable to concentrate as a soft roll of snoring sounds behind me.

Turning in my chair, I watch the sleeping man and my mind empties of all thought.  It's strange and oddly peaceful to have him there, resting in complete comfort within my presence.  I know it's not real and that I'll be alone again after this week, but for this one moment, it's calming to forget why I'm not allowed to have the blond and simply watch the unconscious man.  Like most people, Seifer appears younger with a touch of innocence while asleep, but as time progresses and he begins to dream, his lips curl into a faint smirk, revealing his true predator nature.

Sighing at the man's inability to be decent even in sleep, I return to my laptop and ask myself what I did to Irvine for him to curse me with this unpredictable blond.

 

{Continued}

 

Author's Whining --  Whee, I love random jabs between SxS.  They are so much fun as rivals and even more fun as lovers.  Anyway, I don't expect this to be a long story, maybe a few chapters in length.  Whatever happens, this is a nice break from the angst of FNFE and I really needed it.  Oh, and as I'm certain you can tell already, I only stole the general idea of an escort pretending to be a boyfriend at the sister's wedding from 'The Wedding Date'.  The rest of the story is going to be different, especially since I thought the escort fell in love with 'Kat' for no reason whatsoever in the movie.  Let's hope I have a better setup than that. =P