This is the Last Time
September 2002

 

Two boxes.  Almost seventeen years of Squall's life fit into two boxes, and he was mildly surprised it was that much.  Years of moving from foster home to foster home, he learned to not bother keeping the worthless stuff that would be too bothersome to take, especially when he would only find out that he'd have to throw it away because there was no room for it in his 'new home'.  Even since living in his own apartment, he was too busy saving money to purchase the things his peers would consider necessities.  So here he was, staring at the two boxes that made up his life while he waited for his ride.

At the loud rap to his door, Squall opened it to find a rather stern looking Seifer.  Dressed in a black overcoat and scowling, he probably managed to frighten all the tenants back into their holes as if death was walking about himself.

"You're early."

"Why the hell did you move here in the first place?  It looks like a breeding ground for the plague."

"Don't be dramatic.  I'm all packed.  Let's go before you comment on my roommates."

A blonde eyebrow rose.  "Roommates?  Hiding someone from me?"

The brunette didn't need to reply as a large rat he had recently dubbed 'Behemoth' decided to make a walkthrough of the room.  Seifer growled a curse before quickly grabbing a box and exited the apartment.  After placing his backpack on his shoulder and picking up the second box, Squall paused as he said a silent goodbye to one phase of his life, then left without bothering to lock the door.  Waiting on the stairs, Seifer looked back with a somber expression.

"I've got a surprise for you in the car.  Not too certain if it's a good or bad one, though..."

Deciding to hold a response until seeing the so-called surprise, he nodded for the blonde to move ahead.  Three floors later, Seifer went through the exit of the apartment building first, propping the door open with his foot for the younger man.  Parked out front was a black hummer, a vehicle that had no right to be on city roads except to frighten pedestrians.  As Squall slowed to a stop, the thought that the driver certainly was a danger to human life came to his mind just before shock completely overwhelmed him.

With long dark hair tied back in a loose ponytail and looking dressed for a business meeting, Laguna appeared more like a politician than Squall could remember.  Pushing away the instinct to say 'Dad', he only stared at the younger version of the man that truly had aged well in his years.

"So, this is the boy that has everyone talking.  At least he doesn't look sixteen."  His friendly smile lightened the harsh tone of the statement, but Squall frowned anyway.  He didn't like the idea of 'everyone' talking about him.

"Shut up, Loire."  Turning to Squall, "Sorry, but all of my cars barely fits two people let alone boxes.  Though if I had known it'd be only these two..."

Laguna laughed.  "I know you just wanted to show off that you found someone before me.  Have to admit, I was curious who could tie you down in less than a couple weeks."  He held out a hand.  "The name's Laguna Loire."

"Squall Leonhart." 

He locked into the dark green eyes, wishing for recognition to appear in those depths, but of course there was none.  Perhaps for the better.  He could already tell this wasn't the man he was used to.  Apparently his time around Seifer had made him more assured about his place in the world as compared to a common soldier trapped in the flow of a war.  That damn charm of his was still in place, though.

As they drove further downtown, Laguna spoke of random exploits of theirs since they met in college while Seifer continually corrected the man's driving.  Seemed his sense of direction hadn't improved even in this era of GPS.  Watching the passing city blocks from the passenger seat, Squall found some peace that had avoided him during the week.  Pointless worries about the past life faded as he listened to the calming voice.  His vague smile widened as a warm hand grasped his shoulder from the back seat.  Normally he didn't care for such public displays of affection, but their only audience was Laguna, the man who had married them 'because damn if the president of a country can't perform a civil marriage for his son'.

They reached a tall building within good time, Squall exiting the large vehicle before the doorman could open the door for him.  There was a subtle glance from the uniformed man that suggested his interpretation of why a kid in holey jeans and a faded shirt would be in the presence of a person who lived here.  A returned icy glare made certain that he would second guess revealing such thoughts again.

While Seifer arranged for the boxes to be taken to his apartment, Laguna called for Squall's attention.

"I'm a decent judge of character, and I have a good feeling about you.  However, if you are only stringing Seifer along...  Let's just say I take care of my friends."

"Then I hope to be friends someday."  It was a quiet reply, something Squall was surprised to find himself saying out loud.

After a moment of examining, Laguna smiled.  "I would like that."

Placing arms around the smaller man, Seifer leaned them forward further into the hummer.  "Don't bother trying to play the tough guy, Loire.  I know you'll be wrapped around Squall's little finger within the month."

"If you say so, blondie.  I'll catch you at the party next week.  If you haven't scared him off by then, bring Squall with you."

Seifer scoffed in response before stepping back with the brunette and closing the door.  The two men watched the hummer drive off in a moment of silence.

"So?"

"It's nice to see him again."

The blonde smiled, obviously pleased with himself, then started for the building entrance with an arm still around the teen.  "Too bad we probably can't get him to marry us again.  He'll just have to settle for best man."

"You know things can't be the same as they were."

"Of course not.  It'll be better."

"... ..."  Squall wished he could share the optimism, but this time he was the one lacking - seven years younger and nothing to his name.  He couldn't think of why Seifer would still want him.

Stepping into an elevator, the blonde placed a key card into the slot and pressed the lit pad for the penthouse.  "Don't doubt things before we get started.  We have never let stupid things like status separate us, great Headmaster."

Unable to explain his continued fear that he wouldn't be able to earn the man's respect in this lifetime, Squall chose to remain silent during the rest of the elevator ride up.  Trying to push worries aside, he focused on the strange feeling of going home.  Eventually the doors slid open to reveal a set of double doors, his two boxes waiting by the entrance.

"Here."  Seifer placed a card and key into a spread hand.  "Welcome home."

A touch of nervousness settled in his stomach as Squall placed the key into the lock.  Home.  He opened both doors wide and stepped inside, his first view being the large room with sparse black furniture and a wall of windows overlooking the city.  The sun was setting, a gorgeous deep red color in no way natural, but breathtakingly beautiful nonetheless.  He walked to a large window, the height of the view reminding him much of standing at the helm of the flying Garden.

"Take it you like?"

Turning around, Squall smiled softly at the blonde who had already brought the boxes inside and closed the doors.

"I'll give you the dime tour later.  I want to show you something first."

He held out a hand which the brunette took with bare hesitation at the juvenile contact.  Passing several doors as he was led forward, Squall hoped he kept his expression under control at seeing the obvious affluence of the man.  Why would one person need so much in an apartment?  Reaching the end of the hallway, Seifer glanced back with a smile before opening the door and letting the teen enter first.

Candles were everywhere, soft light filling the large bedroom.  The vague smell of burning had a calming effect as he took in the sight of flickering flames and a bed that would've filled half his previous apartment.  He could sense warmth just before Seifer pressed against his back and ran hands down his arms, fingers eventually intertwining.

"Seifer..."

"I thought our first time should be special."  He kissed the long neck, nibbling just below the hairline before pulling back.  "Go ahead and get undressed.  I have to get something from the bathroom."

Automatically going to the side of the bed opposite of the bathroom, his side of the bed, Squall removed his clothing unhurriedly, placing folded clothing on top of the bare nightstand there.  Looking up at the open doorway, he found the blonde smiling fondly, the light green eyes being the only ones that could make him feel exposed no matter his attire.  The expensive jacket and tie were gone, but he still wore a dark shirt and slacks.

"I never have deserved this," he stated quietly.

Fist on hip, Squall glared at the man.  "Why are you still dressed?"

"Because I love it when you order me to strip."  He tossed a bottle to the brunette before starting at the buttons of his shirt.  "Will that work for you?"

Unscrewing the cap, a mild aroma flowed from the bottle - some kind of herb with a hint of fruity sweetness.  "It's nice."

Slacks were unzipped and fell to the floor, joining the removed shirt.  "It's called clary sage.  It supposedly has aphrodisiac effects," he added with a wink.  "Get comfortable on the bed.  I'm going to treat you tonight."

Recapping the bottle of oil, Squall sat on the raised bed and moved to the center where the blonde soon joined him.  Pillows placed behind his head and upper back, he found he could easy view his already partially harden member.  Just after closing his eyes, a firm hand gripped his chin in the demand for attention.

"Relax and watch.  Trust me, you'll love this."

Though he nodded his understanding, Squall couldn't force his body to relax.  With a sigh and a shake of the head, Seifer placed oil on his hand and warmed it before placing it on the lightly tanned chest.  Each stroke of strength and care slowly massaged away the nervous tension in the small body as the light oil soon made his shoulders, chest, and stomach glimmer in the soft candle light.  After warming an additional amount of oil, Seifer placed a large hand on the area just above the stiffening shaft while his other gently handled the sensitive testicles.  With reminders to breath deeply, he eventually brought his hand down to stroke the penis in twisting motions around the length, occasionally kissing the head with feather light presses.  His body feeling hot, Squall sensed his release was approaching just before the larger man removed his hands.

"Shit... finish what you... fucking started..."  He could feel his heart pounding hard with the need.

"Ever hear of a lingham massage?"  Large hands took a foot in hand, pressing thumbs against the fleshy sole.

"I didn't get undressed for a foot massage."

A deep laugh.  "The 'lingham' is your dick, idiot.  The idea is to bring you close to the edge several times before the ultimate release.  And I do mean the ultimate release."

He breathed deeply, the heat in his body subsiding a little.  "How many times?"

"Oh, six is the preferred number, but we can go easy your first time."

With a swallowed growl and clutching the comforter, Squall attempted a neutral expression.  "Whatever."

The blonde smirked.  "Six it is, then."

A warm hand returned to the aching flesh while fingers stroked behind his testicles.  Trying to not let the sensations overwhelmed him, Squall kept eye contact with his torturer while maintaining steady breaths.  Smirking at the defiance, Seifer leaned forward to lick beads of precum from the redden head.  Involuntary arching in response, Squall was once again left cold as rushing blood echoed in his ears.  Biting his lower lip, he started a mantra to countdown for when the blissful tension would end.

Eternity later, he stated with a controlled tone, "Fuck me now or I'm leaving."

"Technically, I'm only allowed to touch..."  He leaned forward to kiss the lips lightly hinted with blood.  "But we can break the rules for tonight."

Squall stopped the man from reaching over to the nightstand.  "No condoms."

"I haven't been a good boy, Squall.  It's for your safety."

"I don't care.  Whatever you may have, I want it."

Green eyes narrowed.  "Do you realize how insane that sounds?"

"I can't get further behind you in time.  I'll lose you..."

Momentary silence was broken by a defeated sigh.  "Alright, but we will talk about this later."

With a pleased smile, Squall removed the pillows from behind him so he could lie flat on the bed while Seifer coated his harden flesh with the scented oil.  He then leaned forward again to kiss along the neck and jawbone as slick fingers carefully made way through the tight passage.  Purposely avoiding too much attention to the prostrate, he prepped the smaller man.  After moaning a cue to him, Squall soon felt the heated tip positioning at the opening in a brief pause before the rough entry.  The pain was much sharper than he remembered for his previous first time, but then again hurt meant two different things to a mercenary and a high school student.  By the time he could control his breathing again, he noticed Seifer looking worriedly at him.  Lifting up as best he could, Squall wrapped his arms around the thick neck.

"Move."  His voice cracked on the simple word, emotion overwhelming him as he first recognized that this was Seifer, his one and only lover within him.  An unrealized need was suddenly fulfilled in his life.

Pain became mixed with pleasure, his body soon remembering unsatisfied tension.  With uncoordinated kisses and thrusts, he urged Seifer to move faster and deeper.  He thankfully complied to the physical requests.  Too soon Squall came, the release hitting long and hard.  He clutched onto the blonde as if he were the only anchor in the sudden rush of energy, eventually feeling a hand gently rubbing the back of his head.  Lying back down, he took shaky breaths in the attempt to expel the aftershocks of sex while Seifer rested his head on the heaving chest.

"Fuck..."

"Yes, that would pretty much sum it up."

"Are you..."

"Mmm, I'm definitely good.  I hurt you though, didn't I?"

"You expected differently?"

He sighed.  "So, what's the vote - cleanup now or sleep?"

"Sleep."  Squall didn't want to mention that he couldn't feel much of his legs beyond a tingling sensation.  Despite the uncomfortable coating of cum, he decided that standing was something beyond him for the moment.  The arm tightening across his waist, apparently not caring about the drying fluid, told him Seifer's vote in the decision.  He spared only a brief thought to worry about the lit candles before sleep overcame him.

~ > < ~

He's late.  Sitting on the edge of our bed, I try not to stare at the door while waiting for Seifer to appear.  Dressed in a dark gray shirt and black pants, I'm hot and uncomfortable, but I know that the restaurant is typically freezing.  I should be there now with a glass of wine in hand while looking into green eyes lit by candle light.  Smirking, he would be mentioning something along the lines about the slut of a waitress hitting on me.

I know he isn't the most prompt man in the world, but it's our fucking anniversary.  Where is he?

At the sound of the sliding door, I look up with scowl in place.  Almost immediately my anger dissolves into fearful confusion.  Filling most of the doorway with his large frame, Seifer stands straight as a sneer darkens his expression.  He is wearing the forgotten trench coat, red cross swords bright on the sleeves.  Hyperion held out in front of him, I foolishly hope that isn't blood dripping from its edge.

"Time to go, Headmaster."

I stand up from the bed, hysterical laughter somehow held back.  "What is the meaning of this, Seifer?"

His eyes narrow.  "Don't get personal, fucking SeeD.  You'll live only because my mistress demands it."

Even if junctured or Lion Heart within reach, I know I can't fight him anymore.  All I can do is dam up every feeling that he had pulled from me over the years, then hopefully kill them off before it's too late.  For now, I'll follow his lead and pray for an opportunity to kill the bitch that had taken him from me.  Feigning confidence, I stride up to him.  Of course he can't let the Headmaster voluntarily leave Garden while showing no fear, since the act would only boost morale of any persons still alive within these halls.  He raises his gunblade high, the hilt soon stealing my consciousness.

~ > < ~

Eyes opened wide while staring up at the ceiling, it took Squall several moments to realize he was awake and within safe arms.  He then recalled how to breathe.  Not caring if he woke the blonde, he pushed against the man to make the hold loosen enough that he could move lower and place his head comfortably under the chin.

"Nn, what's wrong?"

"Nothing.  Go to sleep."  The words were sharper and louder than he intended.

There was a brief pause before arms tightened protectively around him.  "Morning."

He didn't reply to the demand for an eventual explanation, focusing only on the strength of those arms in a reassuring hug instead of the damaging attack in his dream.  Hoping Seifer would forget this fleeting moment while he was half asleep, Squall was eventually dragged down into dreamless sleep.

~ > < ~

Leaning against one of the pillars that surrounded the ballroom, Squall ignored the urge to try and readjust the collar of the new tuxedo.  It wouldn't have helped to relieve the pressure on his throat anyway.  Instead he settled with watching the two dances taking place within the room - the physical dancing of various couples and the verbal plays between the people of wealth and power.

"Sorry for dragging you along, but Laguna only wants me here for moral support and there is just no way in hell I'd let you off easy tonight."

Squall took a glass of water from the man's hand.  "I've dealt with this in the past.  Though I think I prefer the SeeD uniform."

"You look amazing either way."

"Then the rumors are true that you picked up a little playboy.  And here I thought the son of Niklas Almasy would be raised better than this."

With a forced smile, Seifer turned slowly to face the man.  "Mr. Dowsen.  I hadn't expected to see you tonight."

The older man presented a better example of a false smile.  "Funny how your friend Loire said much the same thing.  So, boy, how much is your allowance per week?  Or is that per night?  Enjoy it while you can before my call to his funding source in the morning."

"Mr. Dowsen, truly a pleasure.  Congratulations on reaching the Fortune 500 list."

The man blinked, caught off guard from the blasť expression.  "Thank you, boy.  It's been a hard climb, but--"

"I'm certain.  I hope your divorce doesn't effect the wealth of your business too much."

A graying eyebrow twitched faintly.  "I'm afraid you've heard incorrectly.  My wife and I are still enjoying marriage after these thirty-three years of bliss."

"The mistake is mine, then.  I assumed the young lady you were with earlier was a consoling partner for your time of need."

"Know your place, boy."

"I do."

"We will see about that."

After the man had left, Seifer pulled the brunette around the pillar in order to steal a kiss.  "How the fuck did you do that?"

"Right place, right time."

"But it could've been his wife."

"I did some research before the party with Laguna's help."

"Oh?  Conspiring with him behind my back already, is it.  And how the hell did you get a hold of my former friend?"

"Selphie is still a sucker for flattery.  And unlike you, I expected harassment tonight."

"You do realize that you have now officially earned yourself the role as my informer at these parties."

The neutral mask broke with a small smile.  "You'll have to give me a raise for that."

Grinning, Seifer leaned in for another kiss.  "I can handle the price."

"Ahem.  Sorry to interrupt, you two, but I think you're making people talk enough for one night."

"Go away, Loire."

Squall placed a hand on the broad chest, forcing the reluctant man back.  They casually walked back into open view as Laguna led them into more populated areas of the room.  His smile was warm to everyone they passed, the man either perfecting the false smile or amazingly liking something in all the people present.

"Have to say I'm impressed, Squall.  Not many people can't get rid of Dowsen so easily."  Laguna looked at him with a hint of pride.  "Most of Seifer's other conquests would have run off crying."

"Implying something, Loire?"

"Can't a friend show his approval every now and again?"

The banter between the two men continued, but Squall's attention was drawn to the side and a fair distance behind Laguna.  A dark haired woman was walking in their direction, slim hips shifting in a seductive sway.  He didn't recognize the woman from his research during the week based off the guest list Laguna had provided him, but that wasn't what held his gaze.  She looked straight at him as she proceeded forward, golden eyes glowing softly in the bright room.

"Squall?"

He broke eye contact with the woman, and was surprised to find himself clutching the blonde's hand.  That explained the worried tone in the man's voice.  Squall didn't reply however, looking back up in search of the woman.  Not seeing her, he frowned and squeezed the hand harder in a silent declaration of possession.


One thing that Seifer both loved and loathed about his lover was the fact that Squall could rarely be forcefully persuaded to do something he didn't want to.  Speaking unfortunately ranked the highest on that list.  At least they were home and he had all weekend to wait out the brunette.  Sitting stiffly on the couch, he watched Squall lean against a window, a light mist appearing on glass from his steady breaths.

"Do you think it's possible for a sorceress to exist in this world?"

His first reaction was to laugh at the thought of real life sorcery, but then the memory of Shiva's cryptic words came to mind.  "What did you see?"

"A woman that could pass as Matron's younger sister.  She had golden eyes."

A shiver passed through Seifer at the thought of the eyes that had filled his nightmares until Squall had given him something better to dream about.  "I wouldn't doubt the possibility, but fuck if we're caught unprepared.  If I thought it'd do any good, I'd hire a bodyguard for you."

"What are our options exactly?  We can't juncture, we have no spells and no weapons.  Even if we did, face it, we aren't skilled soldiers anymore."  It was faint, but Seifer could hear the hysteria in his voice.  Squall needed to have some control in a situation and it was clear that they had none.

"Then there's no reason for her to want us."

"A sorceress uses her knight to channel power, not necessarily for physical strength in the form of a guard.  Ultimecia protected herself well enough to not need you in that sense.  You also served as a damn good figurehead as a commander for her armies."

Truth always hurts.  "Well, I'm not going to give in to some bitch that wants to use me.  Not again."

"It's already been twice."

Seifer straightened at the soft statement.  "What?"

"We forgot about Adel.  While we basically took care of Ultimecia, we accidentally freed Adel at the same time.  She built up her strength over time and then took you."

"Then... then I killed everyone."

Squall shook his head.  "I can't remember that far."

Standing up, he walked up behind the brunette and wrapped his arms loosely around the slender waist.  "Why are you still here?"

"I trust you.  Haven't died by your hand yet."

"Oh, only had you tortured and scarred for life.  Loads better than death."

"Don't doubt my love for you."

Said so easily, as if it was obvious that he should love Seifer without second thoughts.  Years spent discriminated against as a traitor in addition to a lifetime surrounded by false sentiments of the elite, he knew how rare this complete trust and pure emotion was in this and any other world.

"Never, lovely."  Seifer kissed the neck and then rested his chin on a shoulder.  "You're the only person I've never had doubts about."

~ > < ~

Hugging my legs to my chest, I childishly try to hide in the corner of our cell.  I can't meet his eyes.  Not the eyes that had held so much love for me, so much undeserved trust.  It would hurt too much to find the disappointment and disgust.

I don't remember at what point it started, but I had been in darkness for a long time.  Instantly I had recognized it as similar to the time when Ultimecia controlled my body.  Then like before, I had woke to find myself where I shouldn't have been.  I was kneeling, Hyperion lying before me with a hint of blood on its edge.  Looking up, I found Squall limp in shackles, blood dripping from his chest.  From the corner of my vision, I saw others shackled in place near the brunette but I couldn't move my horrified stare from Squall to identify those people.  Darkness returned shortly after.  I reawakened in this cell.

A cool hand touches my cheek, brushing away shameful tears.  "Look at me, Seifer."

Unable to deny him anything, I lean against that hand as I angle my eyes upward.  My breath catches at his unrestricted smile.

"You broke her control.  She can't use you anymore."

Squeezing my eyes close, fresh tears flow down my face.  A lie.  It has to be a lie that he is here and doesn't hate me.  As if to argue with my thoughts, Squall sits by my side and wraps an arm around me, pulling me close such that my head rests on his shoulder.  I can smell the blood on him, his shirt turned into bandaging for the relatively minor wound.

"I hurt you.  Made you bleed.  I can't--"

"Shhh.  It wasn't you who did it.  Everything will be fine."

A scoff from the corner.  "And how will that happen, Squall?  You can't make Shiva appear again, and the rest of us are shielded.  We're all goin' die and it's--"

"Zell!  I wouldn't finish that thought if I were you.  Squall is sending ice daggers your way."

"Shiva?" I whisper.

"I summoned her despite Adel's block on us.  I don't know how," he explains quietly.

Shit.  Everything is all my fault, but this idiot is going to try and take the blame from me because he isn't able to do the impossible twice.  I can't let him take the guilt for this.  No matter what, the blood of everyone who will die must only stain my hands.

~ > < ~

Sitting distractedly on light colored sand, Seifer faced into the ocean breeze while his sleep worn hair swayed limply.  He figured Squall was going to be furious that he had left while the other was showering, but he needed the time alone to deal with the rush of guilt he was feeling.  Funny how he ended up on the beach once again.  He had barely used the private beach since he got into the deal with Laguna, but with returned memories came returned habits apparently.  How many times had he run to beach in the need to be alone, but knowing deep down that Squall would come searching for him there.  ...If Squall still wanted him, that is.

The peaceful sounds of the breaking tide was interrupted by a loud engine approaching and then cutoff nearby.  An amused smile crept on the blonde's lips as he thought about how Squall already has Laguna tied tight around that finger of his. 

"The shower is free if you want it."

His smile broadened at the terse tone.  He held out an arm in a request for Squall to come sit next to him.  Holding him close to his side, Seifer continued to stare out at the ocean as the teen waited patiently for the words to come.  They both knew it would be too hypocritical of him to ask Seifer if he wanted to talk about it.

"I dreamed of waking from Adel's hold.  It was all my fault."

"It was no one's fault but the bitch who took control of your mind."

In other words, get over yourself.  Seifer guessed that would be the best thing to do, especially considering it's rather difficult to change the events of the past, and certainly of a past life.  But guilt and shame aren't so easily wiped away from the slate to make it clean once more.  Squeezing the teen tight enough to cause Squall to wince, he kissed the damp hair.

"Well, isn't this just a tender moment?"

Reflexes of old kicked in at the alluring voice as Seifer stood up quickly, soon followed by Squall.  The world began to wave and shimmer as it shifted around them, nausea held back while the blonde searched for the source of the voice.  In time, the background returned to focus in a surreal setting of the sorceress's design, the dark haired woman in question descending marble steps that led nowhere.  Seifer growled at the apparent need for dramatics.

"So long I've searched for someone to amplify my power, and in one night I discover a choice between two men.  You cannot imagine my joy."

She waved her arm across her body, a wave of air crashing into the men and throwing them back against a wall.  When lost breath and vision returned, Seifer discovered himself shackled and unable to move.  Strong fingers gripped his chin, forcing him to stare helplessly into golden eyes.

"How would you care to dominate this pathetic world with me?  No one would dare stop us, or else they would die for trying."

Seifer laughed in reply.  He didn't do it to show his defiance, but rather from his own sense of humor at realizing he once fell for such hollow promises.  He choked on the full strength of his laughter, bliss traveling in his blood at the additional realization that he couldn't be so easily taken this time around.  No, Seifer Almasy wasn't quite so low on the worthless scale anymore.

Golden eyes narrowed in fury as she slammed his head against the wall, but only succeeded in reducing the laughter to a quiet chuckle.  "I asked you first, boy, because I sense that you would be easier to break.  But I think now it would better worth my energy to demand the services of your little fuck toy here."  She leaned forward, venom clear in her eyes.  "You do know that he is infinitely stronger than you could ever be."

Seifer met the gaze without fear, sneer in place.  "Why else would I want him?"

Her expression full of displeasure, she brought her hand lower to grip lengthy nails into the flesh of his neck.

"Back off bitch."

The hold was instantly released as she looked with part horror part disbelief at the man to his side.  Able to move his head once more, Seifer faced to his left as cool air brought goosebumps on his bare arms.  The shackles that restrained Squall were steaming as he glared at the sorceress before him.  With a quick jerk of his arms, frozen metal shattered and fell to the ground.  His body arched back just before Shiva seemed to walk out of the body.  She directly began her attack on the momentarily stunned sorceress.

"Squall.  How...?"

He hugged arms around his chest as if cold, but remained standing and firm unlike the last time the ice demon appeared.  "I don't know.  I'm not junctioned, but I still called her--"

A strangely musical scream echoed in front of them, blood immediately soaking through the sleeve of Squall's shirt as he clenched teeth in pain.  Sparing a glance to the fight, Seifer easily noticed the twin cut on the ice demon, only glittering water instead of blood flowed down her arm.

"Do not underestimate me, boy!  I have ruled quietly for centuries.  This... creature of yours cannot defeat me."

Meeting with stormy eyes once more, Seifer didn't care for what he saw.  But in truth their options were lacking - either they die or be controlled.  Though never given the choice before, he concluded that death might not be the worse of the two alternatives.

A bloodied hand caressed his cheek.  "This is the last time I'll bleed for you."

"You know you can't make that promise, Squall."  No matter how much it hurts me to see you like this, he added silently.

Smiling, Squall leaned in for a chaste kiss, the metallic taste of blood abruptly joining his natural flavor.  When the teen stepped back, Seifer saw the deep cut slicing smooth skin of his cheek just before Squall turned to the battle.  He suddenly fell to his knees and bent forward, dark wings erupting from his back without piercing skin.  Sickening smile in place, Diablos flew out of the hurting man to join the ice demon.  Seifer could hear the heavy breaths of Squall as the young man stood up shakily, determined to see the battle through while upright.

There was nothing for Seifer to do but witness the meaningless fight.  Several guardian forces made passage through Squall, his clothing wet from blood and sweat as he somehow became their channel into this world.  The sorceress attacked with spells the blonde had never seen nor imagined, most probably of her own design created throughout the years she was unable to wield her full power without the aid of a knight.  If it were her against the guardian forces, she wouldn't be able to win.  But instead it was her damaging attacks against Squall's stamina and willpower.  Observing closely, Seifer noticed the demons backing off whenever their injuries could result in death for the brunette.  It was only a matter of time.

A short cry from Squall regained the blonde's attention.  The teen was on hands and knees as a final guardian force appeared - Griever.  Instantly, the other demons retreated to surround the worn but unharmed sorceress.  Her stance stiff with confidence, she glared at the new opponent.  Seifer didn't care anymore about the endless battle, and instead studied Squall.  He couldn't stand up.  No, he wasn't even trying to stand, the pain too much.

Out of frustration, Seifer jerked against his chains, but he couldn't reach his hurting lover.  Finding the bite of pain a rather pleasing compliment to the ache in his chest, he continued to pull on his restraints while focused on the still breathing form in front of him.

Then he nearly fell on top of Squall.

Shocked and confused, Seifer looked ahead to see a large man hold the sorceress high in the air by her throat.  Judging by the feline tail swaying behind him and the horn on his forehead, Seifer assumed the newcomer to be Griever somehow in human form.  The sorceress struggled weakly, but gradually vanished into nothingness as the demon pulled her spirit within him, her created world dissolving with her.  While the guardian forces began to fade as well, Shiva chose to step forward to the fallen men.

The stunned moment passed as Seifer remembered the teen's state, just now noticing him lying unconscious on the redden ground.  Fury flaring within him, the blonde stared up at the ice demon, his expression full of accusation.

"Heal him before you vanish.  He'll die like this."

Cool eyes looked down on him with regret.  "Our strength is based on energy borrowed from him.  To take the power needed to heal him would only result in death."

"Then why do this to him?  Hasn't he done enough shit in the name of SeeD and fucking guardian forces?"

"My chosen cannot die so easily."  Seifer shifted his angry gaze to the source of the growled tone - the lion demon in human form.  "Calm yourself, child of Ifrit.  Care for him as you have in the past and all will be fine.  And... my apologies for the future necessity of him breaking his foolish promise to you."

Whispering more so to himself, Seifer spoke his understanding as he looked down at the unconscious teen.  "This is never the last time."

With the disappearance of the two guardian forces went the final remains of the alternate dimension.  Turning the brunette onto his back and placing the limp head on his lap, Seifer ran shaky fingers through dark locks.  He barely heard the panicked cries of someone running poorly toward them in the beach sand, and he didn't dare look away from Squall to identify the approaching person.  He was frozen in place by the baseless fear that if he turned for a bare moment, his love would certainly vanish from his life.

 

{Continued}

 

Author's Note - Damn it, why hasn't this story ended yet?!  Well, only one more chapter left...  whenever I get time to write it.  The past revealed!  And I'll certainly try to fit in another lemony fresh scene.  Oh, and loads of sap.

Sorry about the last chapter being confusing.  Trying to fit in the ideas that Laguna was important to Squall as a father and that the relationship between Squall and Seifer didn't just immediately start off from a simple kiss.  ...Eh, the stupid things I find important to point out. ^_-