Authors Note (8-7-02) - As been brought to my attention, the original part three was highly rushed...  simply put, I didn't feel like going through the steps to get the twosome together.  I've rewritten the part in the first half (the end of this first scene and some after) to give it a better feel.  It is still rushed, however, since I'm really lazy and don't feel like prolonging the story more than I have to (I do believe in such a thing as too much angst) but this time there is a bit of rationale behind it... at least I hope it there is. ^_-  BTW, yes, I suggest reading the reworked section since I've added something I may refer back to.

 

Game Restart
August 2002

 

|Squall|

It's been at least ten minutes since I woke up, but I can't bring myself to leave the bed, childishly believing that everything is okay in the world as long as you stay under the covers.  At least for the first time in a long time, I had slept well.  The spell forced me to sleep before I could spend half the night stressing over things I've done wrong and things I have to accomplish the next morning.  I was also asleep before I could set the alarm.  It could be early morning or late afternoon right now for all I know, and thus far, turning around to look at the clock seems like too much effort.

With a sigh, I finally push sheets away from me and sit up.  I can't help looking down at the evidence of torture by Seifer's hand, a marking that isn't simple to ignore or forget.  I wasn't going to tell him anything about the things he did, but the bastard just had to corner me and persuade me with his quiet, almost desperate voice.  I hope he regrets it now.

Strange how he seemed almost upset that I no longer hold feelings for him, the egotistical asshole.  What else could he expect from me?  I know he was controlled by the sorceress, and I have already forgiven him for most of the things he did.  Just like the rest of us, he is a mercenary thus killing is his job and his life.  But I can't forgive him for choosing her over me, for not even attempting to fight whatever spell he was entranced with.  And he didn't have to go so far with what he did to me.  I guess that just shows he has always hated me more than any other emotion.

It doesn't matter anymore.  There is simply nothing left in me.  With the first cut he made in my flesh, I could hear the sound of something breaking.  The shattering was so loud that it blocked out some of the physical pain he caused me, the silence afterwards evidence of it being destroyed and gone.  At first I held some kind of denial over it, trying to revive whatever it was through Rinoa, the last woman close to Seifer.  I tried too hard over nothing.  Now, I just don't give a damn about it.

I take my first steps out of the bed and spend the next few moments stretching tired limbs.  Looks like I haven't caught up on the hours of sleep I've missed over the last months.  Hopefully this time it won't be such a complicated matter to deal with the Sorceress.  Within the week, if things go as planned.  Smiling wryly, I wonder why I don't feel too guilty about this.

Dressing in freshly cleaned clothes and equipping Lion Heart, I decide to test out how well Galbadian SeeDs are trained... before this Garden could still be possibly taken over by the sorceress.  The door slides open at my approach and I walk into the hallway.

"About time you woke up."

I stop at the sound of the voice, but otherwise don't acknowledge his presence.

"Careful, you might shatter if you get much colder."  A hand grips my upper arm.  "Come on, I want a talk with you."

I turn sharply and shrug off his hold on me.  The harsh words and look I wanted to give him died within me at the glance into desolate eyes.

He smiles weakly as he holds up a small cooler.  "I packed lunch."

Against better judgement, I follow his silent lead outside of the Garden and into a nearby patch of thin trees, just enough for decent shade.  He sits down against a lightly barked tree, him looking rather odd in only his blue vest sans trench coat, and opens the cooler to retrieve some kind of canned soda.  Never could stand that sugary liquid.

"Stop the act, Almasy.  Get this over with."

The blonde only smiles and tosses a bottle of water at me.  "No need to be so eager.  Sit down and eat, if you remember how."

I throw the bottle back at him.  "I'm out of here."

It was obvious that he would try to stop me, but I didn't expect the minor ice spell directed at my legs.  Momentarily frozen in place, I don't have the range of movement needed to properly defend myself from his tackle.  With shaky breaths, I try to calm myself while completely covered by the larger body, hands held above my head.  It wasn't so bad last night, my only contact with him from his hands gripping my arms.  But this is too overwhelming.  There is too much of him.

"Damn it, why do you always have to piss me off like this?  All I want is to talk civil like, and you..."

"Hyne, get off me."  I can't push away the memories with him like this.  Please, I don't want to remember this anymore.

"I don't think so.  You're not getting away until I get my say in."

<You aren't going anywhere, Leonhart.  Tell me what I what to know.>

My eyes widen at the echoing voice of the man above me, a shadow of a sneer somehow overlapping the clearer serious line.  The blue sky beyond small, round leaves seems to have grown darker in my vision.  Why of all the memories, of all the years that the GFs stole from me, why couldn't this small bit of time have been one of them?

"All these years, and I hadn't a clue that you had feelings for me.  Fuck, I didn't even know if you were capable of loving someone, let alone me."

<You love me?  What fucking joke!>

"I wish I had known.  Squall, there's no reason for you to believe this, but I've wanted you for such a long time."

<What would I want a dick sucking queer for?>

"I've wanted everything about you, from your body to your deepest thoughts to those rare words of yours.  I've wanted you to be mine."

<I will take everything that's yours - your information, your fag virginity, and then your life.>

"I love you."

<I hate you.>

"From the depths of my soul, I love you."
<From the depths of my soul, I loathe you.>

I'm trapped between times, paralyzed from any kind of movement.  To step backwards means returning to the suffering of torture and futures I can't prevent.  Before me has to be an illusionary world that doesn't exist.  At the most, Seifer is speaking these words because he feels the guilt of what he technically hasn't even done.  Either way, there is pain.  The shards of what he broke in the past now stir at his words, cutting me apart inside.  I don't want this.

I cringe when the double image of Seifer grips my chin, but only one moves forward slowly without the threatening sneer.  There is the soft press of his lips on mine, in itself undemanding and yet I am drawn to him with irresistible force.  He breaks the contact and leans back enough that our eyes can meet, his no longer hinted with the shades of venom.

I manage to find my voice.  "What are you doing?"

"Trying to get your attention."

"You kissed me..."

"Mmm, I know."  His smile is teasing, but sea-green eyes are calm with seriousness.  "Listen, I don't know for certain, but I think that sorceress bitch somehow twisted me inside... well, the other me... (this damn time thing)  Anyhow!  I want you, and I think she made it into a darker need for you."

"You said you hated me."

"Never.  Haven't you noticed that you're the only one I give a shit about?"

"Rinoa--"

"A live action porn magazine for all I care.  Doesn't matter, I dumped her this morning."

"Wha--"

"Squall.  Are there any feelings left in you for me?"

"...No."

"Then why save me?  Why bother protecting me from the witch?"

"Because... you shouldn't be her lapdog."

He smiles and bends in close to me once more, the barest of space between our lips.  "It's okay now.  You can love me again.  I won't laugh at you or bring you any harm, because you saved me.  I'm yours, but only if you still want me."

And then it became my choice to accept or reject him.  Bastard.  How could he do this to me?  I'm just pieces at this point, not even belonging in this time.  All I know is that I don't want to hurt anymore.  Physical pain I can handle being something that can be driven away with a simple spell.  To accept him would subject me to the possibility of that continuing ache once more.  An ache that only he has been able to plague upon me.  If I rid myself of Seifer, then logically I can never be hurt by him again.  I need him for now, but once I finish this personal mission, I will leave without a second glance.

"Get. off. of. me."

"Squall--"

"You think this can be solved so easily?"

He lifts up from me, but doesn't release the hold on my wrists.  Shifting green eyes examine me closely as if trying to find something within this empty shell of mine.  I silently wish him luck.  Ignoring the hint of ache crossing those eyes, I push him off the second he releases my hands.  He rolls onto his back limply, a strained laugh emitting from him.  Confused, I sit up on the ground while watching the man warily.

The odd laughter halts as he looks up through the tree branches.  "You are such a fucking liar, Leonhart."

"... ..."

"Just how many times a day do you tell yourself that you don't need anyone?  That everything is fine as long as you don't let anyone get too close?"

"... ..."  I resist the urge to point out he is the same as me in that regard.

"I've got Fu and Rai, but just who do you have to watch over you?"

I look away, upset at myself for momentarily forgetting the strange duo of his 'posse'.  "We all watch each other's backs."

"That's sweet, but I'm not talking about during a fight.  Who do you run to when it gets too quiet at night, when stress turns into a physical pressure on your body, or when nothing seems worth it anymore."

Smirking, I decide the blonde must have gotten a harsh blow to the head lately to admit any of this out loud.  "Whatever."

It's silent for several heartbeats before he begins again.  "Whether you give a shit or not, I would give my life for you."

"Should I be honored?"

"I just... I wish I could be someone you can depend on."  He rolls his head towards me, his neutral expression immediately creasing into a look of worried puzzlement as he sits up.

I squint a little, my vision of him not as clear as it should be.  Looking down, I find my hands shaking violently along with the rest of me, my body refusing the silent command to be still.  Why?  Why am I shaking like a child?

"Squall..."  He reaches out for me.

I knock the hand away.  "How dare you.  You rape me and now you want me to depend on you?"

After a second of thought, he smirks at me.  "Yep.  That's exactly it."

I stare at him incredulously, unable to do anything else.  I can't even get these fucking tremors to stop racking my body.

"It's impossible to undo what's been done, but I still want you.  I won't, I can't give up on that."

A sneer forms easily on my lips.  "Trust me, it's simple to do."

"I don't believe you."  Light green eyes narrow at me.  "Why did you come back to this time, Squall?"

The sudden change in subject makes me reply before considering his reasoning.  "The mission didn't work as planned."  I place my hands onto my upper arms trying to physically still the increased shaking, or to at least stop myself from falling apart.

He sighs.  "Hn, I guess it's too much to hope that you wanted to give me some kind of second chance."

Before I can confirm his statement, my vision blacks out as if someone hit the switch.  My other senses stay functioning a few moments afterwards, enough to tell me I'm falling.  My last thought is that I'm lucky to have been sitting down.


I stumble forward, not certain where I should be going but forward seems as good as anything.  Closing my eyes tightly and reopening them, I find myself still in this desolate place with no one in sight.  We were supposed to meet at the orphanage, wasn't it.  But where is it from here?  Why couldn't someone have shown me the way?

Exhausted, I fall limply to the ground with a puff of dust.  I sit there for who knows how long, trying to remember the faces of my compatriots.  Rinoa's image evades me, though I believed she would be the one to take me home.  She's the only one I can come close to loving in this broken state.  But it's no use, I can't focus on her.

Something draws my attention from above.  A single white feather drifts in front of me, briefly holding my interest as it flutters to my hand.  I look up from the feather, my eyes growing wide at the form in front of me - Seifer.  He smirks down at me, looking exactly like he did before any of this shit happened.  I smile weakly back at him, relieved that someone was able to heal him.  Fujin and Raijin must have come back for the blonde.

"I'm sorry."

I frown, not caring for his disheartened tone.  "It wasn't your fault."

He shakes his head with closed eyes, but then truly smiles at me when eye contact is made once more.  "I'm sorry.  I always loved you."

Slowly he fades before me, the specter gone before I could even think to stand.  His image no longer blocking my view, I see a new platform of stone that is floating closer.  In time I can clearly see the mangled body left there, redness dripping off the small island as blood flows from the numerous deep wounds.  Wounds caused by a gunblade.

The silence is broken by a scream.  I can't control the sound escaping from me, the end coming only when I have no voice left.  Images of Seifer flood through me, all overlaid by the final sight of him smiling as if he gave a damn about me.

I hate him.  For ever getting close to me.  For doing those things to me.  For making me kill him.

I hate him.  I hate him.  I hate him.

Rolling onto my side and hugging myself tightly, I wonder why I'm crying then...


I find myself staring up at a darkened ceiling, my body numb from the dream.  I had forgotten.  I could feel the hatred for Seifer within me, but didn't realize the primary reason behind it.  It seemed obvious why I should hate him, but I had forgotten about his lifeblood on my hands.  Hyne, how could I have blocked that from my mind.  Then again, I guess it could be simple by focusing on slightly less painful memories, obsessing on them to avoid the true ache I felt.

"Are you awake?"

I start at the deep voice, not noticing his presence to the side of the small bed.  "Seifer..."

"Yeah, it's me.  Are you okay?  You gave me a bit of a scare early."

I turn to face him, the minimal light from the window behind him adding an odd glow to the blonde.  "How dare you..."

He blinks at me, confused.

I sit up from the mattress. "How dare you apologize to me."

"What are you talking about?"

"I fucking kill you, and you have the nerve to apologize to me.  Why!?"

Understanding starts to dawn in green eyes, but before he speaks I throw a punch at that slightly parted mouth.  I don't want to hear his reply, suddenly afraid of it.  But either due to my sitting position or lack of concentration, Seifer easily palms the fist before it can cause any damage.  Using the extended arm and my momentum, he pulls me into a part defensive hold, part hug as he sits up on the edge of the bed.

"Because I forced you to do it," he breaths into my ear.

"It was my fault.  I could've walked away."

"You never walk away.  You're a stubborn prick that has to see everything through to the end."

I don't reply to the comment, and amazingly Seifer keeps his tongue after that as well.  He only holds onto me, the forcefulness of his embrace reduced to calming hug.  Releasing my arm, he moves his freed hand deep into my hair to keep my head against him and under his chin.

He is giving me shelter to cry.

I don't know exactly why the tears are flowing down my cheeks.  There were simply too many possible reasons - being forced to relive the worse days of my life, not knowing if I may have to repeat these months for all of eternity, remembering Seifer's death at my hands, the aching void within me from the pain he caused...  Whatever the reason, I can't stop crying.

For a long time we are like that, my senses and thoughts dulled to the point of only caring about clutching onto the warmth in front of me.  Thus it startles me when it begins to move away.  Seifer leans me back to create eye contact, the shade of green reminding me too much of the phantom that had visited me.

"I'm sorry.  For everything I've done and that's happened to you, I'm sorry.  But now I want you more than ever."

I whisper back to him.  "I can't love you."

"No, you don't want to love me.  There's a difference."  He bends in close to me.  "Do you mind that I'm holding you?"

My eyes widen slightly at the realization and I shake my head.  For the first time since I woke up at the infirmary, his touch wasn't painful and his closeness entirely unthreatening.  I can't think of what changed.

He doesn't give me the chance to think.  Crossing the small distance between us, he kisses just below my eye to sample the moisture that remains there.  Bit by bit he travels down my cheek until reaching the corner of my mouth.  Suddenly feeling hypersensitive, I sigh quietly at the contact of soft flesh, wanting and afraid of having more.  He takes my upper lip gently between his, sucking on it as he pulled back.

"Can't we start from here?  Before I had done anything to you.  Before you were forced to fight against me."

"I won't forget."

"I'm not asking you to.  Hell, you don't even have to love me.  But don't you think it's time to rebuild what has been lost?  You're getting a second chance here, Squall.  Don't waste it dwelling on a past that doesn't exist anymore."

Seifer is right.  I know that in my heart and mind, but such things aren't easily done.  "Can... you wait for me?"

He smiles at me.  "What do you think I've been doing?"  When I don't answer, he places a hand into my hair to bring our foreheads together.  "I bear your mark, Squally-boy.  I belong to you as long as this scar is here."

I scoff at the statement.  "Does that mean I belong to you?"

"No, I wanted to keep this scar.  You didn't have a choice about any of yours, so they don't count."

The insight stuns me.  Of course, Seifer was able to use magic by then like the fireball that nearly toasted me.  He would obviously have cure spells as well to use on the deep cut, but instead he let it heal naturally to form a scar.  To form my supposed claim on him.

He sighs and moves back from me.  "We have a busy day tomorrow.  As our great leader, you better get more rest.  It didn't look like you were getting decent sleep earlier."

He rises from the bed, about to walk to his own for the night.  Without thinking, I grasp onto his wrist to stop him from leaving me.  His steps halt at the touch, but I release him before he looks back at me.  Smirking, he leans forward to be eye level with me, a hand on the bed to support him.  . 

"If I swear that no clothing will be removed tonight except in the case of bathroom emergencies, would you want me to stay with you?"

"Just lie down already."

With a chuckle, he obeys the order and lies down on his back as I direct him to.  Once he gets comfortable enough on the small bed, I place my head on his chest, the heartbeats quick and strong underneath me.  After seeing his corpse in my dream that night, I need this proof of his life to be able to gain some kind of peace.  With an odd sense of shyness, his arm wraps around my waist in a testing maneuver.  When I don't show discomfort, the hold tightens slightly while a couple fingers rub lazy circles on my stomach underneath the shirt.  Despite half my day wasted from sleep, I'm easily lulled into a soothing darkness.


Standing in front of the General's mansion, I study the group in front of me.  While it was a major bother, I think the lot of them got some decent experience from the tomb.  It helps that I didn't participate in their battles, watching them closely to judge their current levels.  Fujin and Raijin stand off to the side with Seifer, the twosome finding their posse leader at the Galbadia Garden and now refuse to desert him.  The added glint to Fujin's red eye whenever I catch her glance makes me wonder what stories Seifer has already told his closest friends.

"I'm changing the mission directives.  There will be four groups as follows.  The sniper group, Irvine and Zell, will be stationed as planned but you fire on my signal - the appearance of Shiva.  The gateway team is Quistis and Selphie."  I look directly at the blonde knowing her future plans of apologizing to Rinoa for supposedly speaking harsh words to the princess.  "This team will not leave its station until that gate is down at the appropriate time.  You may endanger the mission otherwise.  The third team is Fujin and Raijin who will be backup for Seifer and I, the frontal assault team.  Any questions?"

Everyone shifts into a kind of 'ready for battle' stance as a couple shake their heads in reply.  It's nice having a team that doesn't question the occasional strange orders that are made.  Then again, I think those that witnessed my one-on-one with the Sorceress gained a slightly fearful respect for me.

"Very well.  From now until we reconvene here at 1800 you will have time to prepare yourselves and stock up.  Use it wisely."

The SeeD soldiers salute with overconfident smiles on their faces.  Watching them walk off, I remember how I believed this to be a simple assassination mission myself back then, but at least this time I truly understand how much depends on each stage.

"Irvine.  A moment."

He turns at me with a frown and begrudgingly releases his hold on Selphie and Quistis.  He saunters over and stands right before me with questioning in his deep blue eyes.

"I'm not going to lie about a lot being on your shoulders tonight, but I know you excel at snipping.  Don't worry about anything else tonight besides hitting the target."

At first he appears insulted at the comment, but a relieved smile gradually reveals itself.  "Didn't realize our leader had a keen eye.  I'll try not to let you down."

"You won't."

He looks at me curiously, then tips his hat as he strides off to rejoin with the ladies of the group.  I don't need the cowboy panicking like he did the last time on this mission, and since I won't be there to watch over him, hopefully the brief exchanged eased his worries enough for him to perform under pressure.

"Ya know, ya haven't told us what we're doin' exactly."

I turn around to face the complete DC group, somewhat pleased to see them together and not at my throat.  "Fujin, Raijin.  As backup, I need you to not get involved with the fight until I call for you specifically.  As you will be stationed within the gateway door, it's also your duty to make certain Quistis and Selphie do not interfere, either."

The twosome look at me with uncertain expressions.

"Follow the man's command, or I'll make you pay for it later."  Seifer looks directly into my eyes.  "Go get ready, you two.  I have business with our great leader."

They do a mock SeeD salute, Fujin smirking slightly as they leave in the same direction as the others.

"What do they know?"

"Nothing much.  Just that we slept together last night."

"... ..."  If he had used those exact words, I'm certain he didn't bother to explain the clothes status of the situation.

"You gotta loosen up, Squally-boy.  A good breeze could snap you in two."

'Loosen up' is it?  An unusual urge overwhelms me.  I stride up to the larger man and wrap an arm around his neck.  Gripping his head firmly with my gloved hand, I lean him down enough so that I can kiss him comfortably.  Tasting his warmth and flavor, I also focus on the spells within me for the purpose of transferring to Seifer.  Before he regains composure and tries to join in with the tongue play, I step back from him with my neutral mask in place.

"Those fire spells should go well with Ifirit."

Hazy green clears as he smiles at me.  "I hereby declare that all future trading of spells must be done like that."

"I'll be certain to inform Raijin."

"Or you can finish that kiss of yours."

Instead of replying, I head for the open gate.  Seifer mutters something about 'unjustified cruelty' and promptly joins me at my side.  Not needing to stock up with any items myself, I head directly for some peace in the local park.  Once we step into the shade of trees, Seifer wraps his arms around my chest and forces us to the ground, myself sitting between his legs as he rests back against a tree.

"I want you to know something."

His hold tight around me, I can't do anything but look forward as he talks softly against my neck.

"If I turn on you again, it's okay to kill me."

"No."

"Just thinking about the things I've done to you sickens me, and I don't want to be forced to watch it while I'm not in control of my body.  I bet I was happy when it was all over and I didn't have to hurt you anymore."

"I can't--"

"For me."

I place a gloved hand on his and squeeze gently.  "Then I die, too."

He stiffens behind me.  "Don't say that kind of shit."

"Then don't turn."

"I'm certainly no stronger then I was in your past.  How can I resist her?"

"Remember that you belong to me."

He laughs lightly.  "And love will save the world, right?  Didn't realize you had such a romantic heart under that ice."

"Stop thinking and focus on the fight."

"You don't have to tell me that one, but I still think you are trusting me too much to have me as your only support."

"Seifer.  Shut up."

He complies with my command, setting his mouth to more productive tasks.  Light kisses trail along my neck until he pauses at one lower point, some pressure added to the skin.  Seifer is marking me again, but for the first time I wanted his branding on me.  I could recognize that it wasn't so much a claim on me, but a silent vow that I'm the thing he is fighting for.  He has told me once before he doesn't give a damn about the world as long as he gets what he wants, and apparently Seifer always gets what he wants.


The cool healing power of an elixir flows over me while I keep a close eye on the sorceress for weakness.  Everything has gone as planned to this point, now the task of bringing down the magical barrier left to Seifer and me.  We managed it once, but she formed a new one before I could signal Irvine.  This next chance I have to time just right such that Shiva's attack will destroy her barrier as well as alert the gunslinger.  But such caution is taking its toll on us.

My deep breaths are echoed by Seifer's as the magic of haste pushes our bodies to the limit.  At least the sorceress has focused on attacking me as the larger threat, leaving Seifer relatively out of danger.  Holding my blade back, I charge the woman once more.  She winces faintly at the standard strike, but I don't miss the suppressed reaction.  Waving back Seifer, he performs a defensive spell instead of attacking while I call upon the lovely snow queen.

A mist of tiny ice shards swirl up from the float's surface to form Shiva.  Her frozen assault shatters the weakened barrier in addition to throwing the sorceress off guard.  She has barely the time to sneer at us before she jerks backward as Irvine makes his mark with perfect aim.  The dying sorceress mutters something before dropping to her knees.

Suddenly there is overpowering, dark energy circling the immediate area.  Seifer and others nearby drop where they stand, including the dark-haired woman that just couldn't keep herself from 'helping' the trained mercenaries fight.  I resist the pull on my life force to maintain consciousness as the determined spirit of Ultimecia searches for a new host body.  I almost laugh when I hear Rinoa's shuttering breath at accepting the wandering soul.  Seems like some fates can't be changed afterall.

I stumble to the fallen sorceress and kneel by her side slowly, pushing away my dizziness.  After curing the deadly bullet wound, I revive Edea with a phoenix down.  Waking, she looks up at me with confused light brown eyes, the golden glow gone with the release of the controlling spirit of moments ago.

"It's okay now, Matron.  We'll take you to Cid."

She covers her face with a shaky hand.  "What have I done?"

"You did nothing.  Go ahead and sleep."

Her eyes study me between thin fingers.  "Squall...?"

"Shhh.  Sleep."  I speak the spell along with the word, bringing the woman momentary peace.  "Fujin.  Raijin.  I need you out here."

The thick door opens immediately at the sound of their names, the twosome followed closely by the fuming Quistis and Selphie.

"SEIFER?"

I don't stand at their approach, my already spotty vision threatening to worsen for such an energy consuming movement.  "He'll be okay.  Listen to me closely.  First, Edea is not to be harmed or turned over to anyone but Headmaster Cid.  Second, Rinoa is to be taken to Balamb Garden with the rest of us, a guard on her twenty-four hours.  Understood?"

Selphie stomps her foot.  "Why should we listen to you, keeping us out of the battle like that.  Do you think we're weak or something?"

"Sorry, Selphie.  Later, I... I will..."  I couldn't keep the darkness from my eyes anymore, the promise of rest too overwhelming to resist.


"Are you certain there's nothing you can do, Dr Kadowaki?"  Quistis looks worriedly over the unconscious woman.  "Everyone else has woken up without problems.  Why only Rinoa?"

The plump doctor simply shakes her head.  "I ran tests all day, but it's still a mystery to me.  Perhaps a more specialized physician would know at least how to diagnose such a case."

Selphie frowns.  "Poor girl.  Sure, she got annoying sometimes, but she only wanted to help us out."

I watch the events in the infirmary without words of my own, unable to bring myself to meet anyone's eyes, especially Seifer's.  Even so, I feel his gaze on me as he tries his hardest to peer into my thoughts.

"Alright, everyone out.  I will be certain to contact you all once something changes."  The good doctor shoos the group away, purposely stepping around me.  Once the room is cleared, Dr Kadowaki turns to me.  "Is it really necessary to have a guard on this girl?  Despite her unconscious state, it could cause unneeded stress."

"It is for everyone's protection."

She looks at me with steely eyes, clearly not wanting to accept the vague explanation.  Firm on my stance, I don't break the eye contact until she finally gives in with a sigh.  "You're one of the few that I could never crack.  Very well, the guard stays.  However I must insist that Headmaster Cid be informed of the basis for such an action."

I nod in agreement, figuring the older man probably has a good idea about my intentions anyway.

Her talk done, I'm forced out of the infirmary for being too healthy.  The door slides behind me while I stare forward at the waiting blonde.  He looks up at me, about to ask something, but I turn and head towards the elevator.  His echoing steps follow me, but he gratefully doesn't speak up.  Soon enough I am unlocking the door to my room, Seifer trailing me closely inside.

"You shouldn't beat yourself up over this.  You can't save them all, even if you do have some foresight."

Looking at the bare wall above my bed, I keep my back to him.  "I meant it to happen."

"...What?"

"There's really only one way to remove a sorceress as a threat, and that's to seal her away.  We tried Time Compression, but it only sent her back into time to repossess Matron.  One of these times, Ultimecia could remember the future and prevent us from defeating her in the same way."

"I don't understand."

"I can't really explain it, but just know that it isn't a reliable method."  Forget the fact that I don't want to risk doing this all again.  And the chance of finding Seifer's bones in that desolate place again...  "Sealing Ultimecia while aware and in control of Matron would have been too difficult.  I knew by defeating Ultimecia in a battle, the spirit would seek out a different body, the joining for some reason causing the new host to fall unconscious, thus vulnerable."

"Rinoa."

I nod, but I can't tell him that I also made certain the other women of the group wouldn't be there since the highest probability of things going as plan required replicating my past.  It required making Rinoa the sorceress's target.  Knowing the dark-haired girl couldn't resist fighting with us, I only had to keep Quistis and Selphie away.  The mission was loosely designed for her sacrifice.

"Squall..."  His voice is laced with something I'm afraid to identify.

"No need to be surprised.  I'm Shiva's Lover.  Leonheartless.  This is something a cold, calculating monster like myself is expected to do.  Just like how I was able to kill you."

"While you're calculating things, just how many lives are you saving with this plan?" 

I note how he chooses to ignore the last statement I made.  "That's not the point."

"And just what is the point?  You haven't told me much about your past, but you have mentioned a war.  War means death.  A lot of death.  Since I haven't seen anything that resembles war, I'm assuming your actions have thus far prevented it.  Why are you worrying about one life among the masses?"

"We know her."

"Yes, we do.  And I personally believe that if we had asked her, she would be a willing sacrifice in order to save the world."

Funny enough, she had.  But by that time it was too late, Ultimecia already released from her body.  It was pointless to leave her sealed away when we could better use her by our sides as a healer if nothing else.

His quiet approach unnoticed, Seifer takes my wrist in hand and turns me around to face him.  "And I'm ashamed that you think I consider you a heartless monster."

"I believe you came up with the nickname."

He frowns at me.  "But I never meant it beyond that frigid bastard persona you like to show everyone."

Before I could think of forming a response, Seifer pulls me against him.  Angling my head with his hand, he leans in to kiss me with an edge of forcefulness.  Instinctively, I open my mouth to invite his heat into me.  The probing tongue both tickles and excites me as he rubs against the roof of my mouth, but it isn't enough.  I had to force myself to look apathetically at Rinoa while knowing her fate and my blame, and now it feels like a glacier is driving through my body.  I'm hurting.  Taking the large hand at my side, I guide him lower without possibility of misinterpretation.

He coughs into the kiss.  "Direct, aren't we.  Certain that this is what you really want?"

"Seifer, shut up."  This isn't about love or companionship, just pure and simple need on my part.

He laughs lightly before kissing the corner of my mouth.  "Yes, sir."

Using both hands, it takes Seifer little time to undo the tight pants, nibbling at my earlobe in the mean time.  After brief hesitation, he takes my manhood in his grip, the light friction already warming me more than the kisses could alone.

"Undress for me," lust causing a rough edge to his voice.

I resist the whine of protest that he was probably hoping for.  Still, it is too cruel of him to expect me to be able to focus on removing the jacket and shirt while he is stroking me like this.  The barriers gone, he trails wetness down my neck and along my collarbone until blowing gently into the small dip, making me shiver at the cool airflow against heated skin.  He chuckles at the appearance of goosebumps before licking them away for me.  All the while, he keeps the same steady, slow rhythm on my length.  Still, I need more connection between us.

"Stop... Seifer."

He straightens immediately, green eyes full of uncertainty and regret.  "Too fast after all?"

I shake my head.  "I want... you on me... with me, but not..."  I hate talking in general, and this is certainly nothing easier to talk about for me.

"I think I understand."

He releases his hold, the resulting coldness somewhat painful.  It's worse when he clutches the waistband of my pants and pulls them down without warning.  My hands on his shoulders to steady myself, I let him completely remove the piece of clothing.  He stands back up to eye my naked and excited form, both desire and guilt plain in his expression.

I take the couple of steps backwards to sit down on the bed and lie down.  Looking up at the ceiling, I hear the rustle of quickly removed clothing before the mattress sags and Seifer leans up into my vision.  I feel him radiating above my body, unquestionably keeping too much distance between us.

I place a hand on his cheek.  "I trust you."

His smile is almost childlike in relief as he leans against my touch.  Finally he lowers himself on me, his stiffness somewhat surprising against mine.  He shifts forward in a testing move, the effect in my vocal opinion a most gratifying one.  Encouraged, he continues the stimulation with increasing speed and strength.  Though my breath is hitched from panic in addition to the pleasure, I know I truly want this, need this, and only from Seifer.  He pushes me closer to ultimate bliss, my hands pressed against his back for a solid anchor.  The addition contact from arching into him finishes me, a quiet yell escaping my throat.

Blinking in the dim light, it takes me a moment to realize Seifer stopped moving against me, instead lying mostly to the side with his head resting against my chest.

"You didn't have to stop when I..."

"What makes you think I didn't come?"

"When?"

"I didn't know you were a screamer."

"I don't scream."

"In Squall terms, you screamed.  And," he looks up at me with mischievous eyes.  "I liked it."

I choose not to respond, enjoying the feel of him brushing a couple of fingers along my softened length.  He returns to his previous position and I raise a hand to scratch the short golden strands.

"Thank you," he says in a low voice.

"Shouldn't that be my line?"

"I'm serious.  It must be hard for you to be with me."

"I thought we were starting over.  Rebuilding and all of that."

"Phft.  Words are one thing.  Doing it is another."  He kisses a harden nipple.  "Do you know how much I love you?"

"Whatever."  It should be a rule to never believe such words stated after sexual activities.

He laughs at the overused word of my vocabulary while moving a leg to better lock me in place.  I never considered the blonde as the cuddling type before the last few nights, and I still don't.  The fool is probably just making certain I don't try to disappear while he is asleep.

"Seifer, we should get cleaned up."

"Why?  It's early yet."

"We're leaving before sunrise."

He turns to me with a confused expression.  "First I've heard of this."

"I'm taking Rinoa to Esthar, and you... I want you with me."

"Esthar?  What the hell is that, and why am I the only privileged one to join you on this journey?"

"Are you going to argue or come with me?"

"Of course I'm coming with you, but I do prefer some kind of reasoning beyond 'because I said so'.  Then again, maybe I don't need a reason to follow your lovely ass around."

"Tomorrow, I'll tell you everything."

His eyes widen a bit at that one.  "Everything about everything?"

"Everything."  There is no longer reason to keep anything from Seifer, the only hesitation on my part left from not wanting someone else to overhear.  It's too hard to predict how those of the party would take it, and frankly they don't need to know.  Leaving early, I'd have almost a full day to tell Seifer the story before everyone else could catch up.

He smiles widely at me.  "Well then, we better get cleaned up.  It'll save time if we shower together."

I raise an eyebrow at that.  "Save time?"

"Sure, because then we won't make another mess of ourselves in bed."  He winks and then rolls off the mattress with renewed energy.

I have the urge to smile while I try to figure out how I was able to resist him so completely only days ago.  Maybe I didn't realize how much I would crave his touch on my body, caresses that somehow reach even deeper to my very soul.  I give into the pulling at my arm and follow Seifer into the small bathroom.  Blaming myself for starting this tonight, I can only hope that the blonde keeps in mind that we'll need some sleep before we head for Esthar by foot.  If only the Ragnarok was on hand...

 

{Continued}

 

Note - See, told ya I'd get cliché and a half. ^_-  Ah, well.  I just can't have Squall mad at Seifer forever, even if the blonde technically deserves it.  Didn't get quite as far as I thought I would with this chapter, so the true banishment of Rinoa will have to wait until next time.  And I'm thinking there's one more chapter left of this story... if I can figure out where to end it. =P