Give people a year without reminders, and they'd probably forget their own names. Fucking idiots. Dressed as normal but without the destroyed trench coat of old, I stride through the gates of the resettled Balamb Garden and not a single head turns in my direction. I'd think there would be at least an Almasy alarm rigged up or something. This is so far turning out to be a pathetic welcome home.
Reaching the elevator without harassment, I jab the up button a few times. Nothing else to do while waiting, I take a brief glance around of the old home. Except for a few more plants and a new paint job, it's B Garden without a doubt. How utterly exciting. With a ping, the elevator doors split open and two female cadets look up with wide eyes. Before I can find any satisfaction in their expressions, the girls brush pass me, childish giggles left in their wake. Hyne fuck me.
Gritting my teeth, I select the third floor. It kills me, but frankly there isn't much good work in the world for an uncertified mercenary. I dragged out my money reserves as far as I could before admitting to myself that there is no life for me beyond Garden walls. I've grown up with the lessons that killing gets you paid. Hard to work well in a different sort of environment.
Doors open and I step out onto the horrid carpet only Cid could pick out. Have to wonder how the old fart is doing these days.
Finally, some recognition for the Sorceress Knight who aided in the attempt to subjugate humanity. "Why, Messenger Girl. Looks like you are rising through the ranks."
Standing up from behind the secretary desk, she plants a fist on her hip and next to those overdone sticks of hers. "The name is Selphie, so get it right for once."
Smirking, I turn my focus to the double doors before me.
"Hey, you can't just go in there."
"You are more than welcome to try and stop me, sweet thing." I send a wink her way.
Taking advantage of the momentarily flustered girl, I make my way for the Headmaster's office. With the doors opened wide, light from large windows blinding me before I can focus on the scene inside. Pulling back from their kiss with a wet sound, Squall and Rinoa stare at me dumbly from behind the large desk.
Sneer in place and eyes sufficiently narrowed, I almost open discussions with a snide remark. But then I notice another figure standing off to the side and my arrogant mask is immediately forgotten. "The fuck--?"
Rinoa hops off of Squall's lap, quickly straightening her clothes. "Seifer, I... we..." She takes a deep breath then points a finger at me. "What are you doing here, Seifer? And don't you know how to knock?"
"Forget that. Why the hell are there two Squalls?"
A brunette head snaps up at the question, stormy eyes staring at me with an uncomfortable intensity that is enough to make me slide a foot back a partial step. Wearing the same old battered bomber jacket and arbitrary belts, he looks exactly like I remember him last. I half expect the guy to pull out Lion Heart and charge at me for being the Sorceress Knight. Instead, he looks at me steadily, something unnerving in those blue-grays that I have never seen before.
The silence of the room is broken when the other Squall stands up from behind his desk, thus gaining my attention. Dressed in a button down shirt and vest, he appears more the pansy than I would have believed possible. His eyes narrow before he speaks, worry clear in the deeper colored eyes. That almost disturbs me as much as his counterpart's stare.
"Seifer, there is only one of me in here. Is everything okay?"
"But..." The other Squall shakes his head, a finger going to his lips. Fuck, maybe I am as insane as the rumors once said about me. Alright, Almasy, turn on the smirk. "Must've gotten blinded by Rin baby's ring there. I guess Puberty Boy figured out how to take care of his ladies."
"Squaaall...?" interrupts a questioning, high pitched voice from behind me.
"It's okay, Selphie. I've been waiting for Seifer to make his appearance for a long time." His arm wraps around the slender waist as he pulls Rinoa close. "I want you to know that I'm truly sorry about this. I didn't mean to steal her from you or anything, but... Rinoa and I love each other." He smiles, the ice sculpture surprisingly not breaking.
"To quote an age old thinker, 'whatever'. Doll face and I were just a fling, those days long gone and forgotten." Resisting a glance at the other Squall, I step forward to take a seat and get comfortable with filthy boots placed on the desktop. "Anyhow, that's not the reason I'm here, Squally-boy."
"Have you finally come home to stay?"
Repressing shivers at the words and hopeful tone, I instead smirk at the sound of the other Squall scoffing. "I've come back to do some paid murder and mayhem. The outcast life is rather boring these days."
Rinoa frowns. "Squall, can you really trust him this easily?"
"He must have been under the Sorceress' control, just like you and Edea were. And he hasn't tried taking over the world in the past year, so I'm not too worried."
My, so wordy when a solid 'yes' would have sufficed just as nicely. What has this girl done to our little lion cub?
"Well, as my knight, I trust you to protect me." She kisses his cheek before leaving his hold. "I'll see you later, hun."
"Don't worry, this shouldn't take long." I wish he would stop smiling. It's disturbing.
The door thankfully closes behind the dark-haired beauty, giving Squall and me some privacy. I'll just go ahead and ignore the fact that there happens to be two of him. The one before me retakes his seat and leans over to open a file drawer. Hair shifting forward, I notice his earring is no longer in place. A shame. I always wondered what it would be like to take the earlobe into my mouth, tasting both the metal and his natural flavor on my tongue.
"Come on, Leonhart, what's with this act for her precious highness? She can't be that good in bed."
"An act? What do you mean?" His eyes are wide and honest in his bafflement.
"Forget it. So, you're taking me in?"
He shuffles through the paperwork he had retrieved from the drawer. "The details have already been prepared since shortly after the incident. You will start at SeeD rank five and have a single room in the same corridor as the rest of us. People may have put the past aside for the moment, but don't assume bad feelings won't rise again with your appearance. We may have to--"
"Right. Whatever. Just tell me where I sleep when I'm not fighting."
He sighs, probably upset at some rehearsed speech being interrupted. "Room 3C. The code is 8-7-6-5 as default."
Letting my feet drop with a satisfying thud, I stand and turn to the doorway. As an afterthought, I decide to ask, "When's the wedding?"
"In two months. Of course, you are invited."
"Wouldn't miss it for the world," I mutter in the attempt to sound sincere. While I would imagine them making a rather shitty couple, obviously they have made it this far. Maybe it's that chemistry thing people tend to go on about.
Making it to the double doors, I glance back quickly to the side, but don't find the other Squall against the wall. Stress. That's it. Seeing Rinoa with Squall must have pushed my mind over the shaky edge hard enough to instantly create Leonhart of the past in the same setting. Ignoring whatever Selphie tells me as I head for the elevator, I decide that I should probably visit Dr K for a free and overdo checkup.
But first, a nap to get rid of this fucking headache the 'new and improved' Squall has given me.
The walk to the dorm section of Garden is a dull as my original entrance, these lambs clueless about the wolf in their midst. Without harassment, I make it to my designated room in quick time. After punching in the code and then placing in my own security code for the door, I step into a spacious room that seems as big as two of the singles for cadets. And fuck me, there's my own bathroom. If I had known being a 'bad guy' would get me an upgrade, I would have done it sooner.
Leaving Hyperion on top of the dresser and kicking off my shoes, I slump onto the bed and roll over onto my back. The sight from between my feet, however, makes me sit up quickly and back into the headboard of the bed.
"Shit. Leonhart, what the hell are you doing in my room?"
Leaning against the wall, he only stares at me. Shock clearing from my mind, I realize that this is the other Squall. The one created by my delusional thoughts.
I place a hand to my forehead, somewhat surprised at the lack of fever. "Listen, I'm going to probably be dreaming of you in about five minutes here, so can't I just meet you there? I kinda need my sleep"
Dark eyebrows scrunch in thought. "Dream... of me?"
"It speaks. And being a figment of my imagination, you certainly know what I'm talking about."
"Seifer, I'm not something from your fucked up mind."
"Yeah, right. And you've always had a twin." Rolling over to my side, I mumble into the pillow. "Why the hell do I have to make such a good copy of his personality."
"Please... talk to me..."
Blinking, I sit back up. "You did not say that."
"... ..." Squall stares at me, that sheen of something bright in the blue-gray color causing a nervous throb in my stomach.
"How about you talking, Squally-boy? What is this all about?"
"... I'm not here."
"Of course not, because you aren't real."
He shakes his head once. After raising a hand to gain my attention, he proceeds to place it through a very solid wall. I have to look away briefly from the rather disturbing sight of a real looking Squall being partly through into the next room.
"And how does that not prove my point?"
"No. I..." He sighs, obviously unsure of his words. "When you were under Ultimecia, didn't you feel... split? As if you existed, but another personality pushed you aside to take control of your body."
"What the hell do you know about that?"
A weak smirk forms. "Rinoa is a sorceress."
Well, that certainly begins to explain some things. "Alright, maybe I can accept that. But I certainly don't remember taking a stroll all by my lonesome like you seem to be doing."
"You didn't go through the Time Compression as halves."
I stare at him, suddenly not wanting to know any of this.
"... Rinoa only called for the one she wanted back from that place. I was left behind... for a time longer, that is."
At a loss for words, I stand up from the bed and walk to the brunette. With the clear view of his eyes, I now have a name for that something - the beginnings of insanity. "Leonhart, am I the only one who can see you?"
It's slight, but I see the smaller man shake. "A year. No one... And I thought I wanted to be left alone," he half-jokes.
Being left alone is far different from being ignored as another takes complete control of your body and life. Not to mention that other person making a huge mess of your reputation. A stray thought comes to mind. "If you can't touch anything, how do you eat?"
He shrugs. "Maybe my body being alive keeps me around."
Not being able to contact anyone, to touch and feel, or to even taste... Fuck, I'd go insane within the first month or two. But this lion, he has always been stubborn as hell. Not thinking, I try to place a hand on his cheek, but of course my fingers slip right through the image. The feel of intense coldness makes my breath catch.
Stormy eyes go wider than I have ever seen them, Squall suddenly bolting from room as he passes directly through the closed door.
I chase after him, an unavoidable second lost waiting for the door to slide open for me. "Leonhart! Get your scrawny ass--" Skidding to a halt, I barely avoid collision.
Blue eyes blink at me. "Seifer? Shit, you are alive, you asshole!" Arms too strong for their size hug me and Zell lifts me off the ground.
I growl at the small blonde. "Let me go, Chickenwuss. I gotta catch that pretty boy before he gets too far."
He sets me down, confusion clear in his expression. "Squall? He ain't here. Think him and Rinoa went for their lovers dinner or some crap like that."
I have the sudden urge to smack my forehead. Shit, the Squall I want can go anywhere he damn well feels like, and I can't even ask people where they've seen him last. Looking over the top of Zell's spiky head, I don't see the Ice Prince anywhere in sight. That guy is too fast for my own good.
Turning, I find the one-eyed freak to my side. "Hey, it's my baby girl. I didn't know you came back to Balamb."
Without warning, she backhands me across the cheek. "IDIOT."
I wince when touching the most likely redden flesh. "Ow. I get you, baby girl. Next time I'll discuss it with you when I try to take over the world."
Fujin shakes her head, then hugs me. "IDIOT."
"I think she's referring to your MIA status, dolt."
"Oh? And what makes you the authority here?"
Gagging on my own air, I glare at the beet red munchkin. "Dincht...?"
"Damn it, Fu. I hate it when you say it like that."
"Now, why are you associating yourself with this piece of poultry?"
She leans back in her hold on me, a grin spreading wide across her face. "ENERGETIC."
"FU!!" Don't believe I've seen the chicken glow red before.
"Right, stepping away from from the realms that should be left untouched."
Coughing, Zell changes the topic. "So, what the hell are you doing here?"
"What do you think? I'm not here for tea and cookies, chickie."
"Yeah, why don't ya join us? We're meeting the others in the caf. I'm sure they'll want to see ya, and that way you don't have to tell your story five times over again."
Taking another look into the empty hallway, I decide there's nothing better to do with Squall avoiding me. "Do I need to grab my gunblade first?"
Zell laughs, the redness of his cheeks still fading. "You're the loser, buddy. We can kick your ass if ya get too rowdy, blade or not."
"Yeah, and I seem to recall it taking three of you to try and stop me." Stepping back from Fujin, I look seriously at the twosome. "Listen, you don't have to keep up this act for me. I know it must bother you that I'm here."
"Whatever, man. We figured you were controlled or something. Even not, those were fucked up times. Aren't we good now?"
I raise an eyebrow. "Good? Us? Chicken, have you forgotten who you're talking to?"
"Someone who didn't kill us during the war."
I whisper a curse. Never thought it'd be Zell who would see something so subtle as a cell full of SeeDs left alive for no damn good reason. Not to mention incompetent guards put on them that had no information about a martial artist within the group, someone who didn't need a weapon to attack and escape. While I did some horrid things, I wanted to be able to say that I kept my, for lack of a better word, friends alive. It's not much, but I had to have something to keep me feel a bit cleaner.
"Anyway, having ya around might clear some things up in Garden."
A bark of laughter escapes me. "What, have some heads you need me to knock around?"
"Yeah. Squall, for one."
Looking around the entertainment room for this level, I have to say SeeD members certainly get it easy for supposed mercenaries. Large television, stereo system, and even a refrigerator stocked with various drinks are just a few of the luxuries available. At least it makes a nice private meeting spot with the couches and lockable door.
Zell half sprawls on the single sofa chair with a hand and foot moving to the constant beat that has been running through his head since birth. In the corner of the couch is cowboy... Irvine, loose and relaxed while rubbing Selphie's shoulder with one hand. It's the happy-go-lucky girl that has caught me up with most of the year, though I won't retain a quarter of the information she's given me. I'm still amazed how Selphie switched her mood from that little scene in the Headmaster's office earlier today. With me relaxed in the other corner of the couch, the middle section is left open for Quisty. My favorite one-eye isn't here due to having tests to grade or some other inane instructor activity.
Socked feet resting comfortably on the short table, I gratefully accept the bottle of beer from Quisty. "So, not all is well in paradise?"
"It's nothing that dramatic, I assure you. Just... I don't know how to put it."
"We've lost one of the gang," Selphie offers. "But now you're here, Seify. One good smack to the head should get us our lion back, and you're the only one who can get close enough to do it."
"What happened to opening the Ice Prince up to the world? Thought you'd be relieved."
Quistis frowns. "But he hasn't really opened up. He seems more one-sided. Flat."
"Rinoa is the light of his life," Zell scoffs into his beer.
Before I can make a comment, I witness a leather encased leg step through the door, the rest of the luscious body following soon after. Smirking, I lock eyes with the brunette. "Ever consider that it isn't Leonhart sitting in the Headmaster's chair?"
"Whoa, what's that proof on that alcohol you gave him, Quistis?"
I ignore him. "The point being, Miss Princess is a sorceress and your precious commander is her knight."
The ensuing silence is broken by Quistis who moves into Instructor mode with a push up of her glasses. "Seifer, this is nothing to joke about. Rinoa has done nothing for you to make such a statement."
"Oh, she has done something. And he's scowling at me right now for telling you."
Heads turn to the closed doorway, none of them seeing the gorgeous sight of eyes flaring with frozen fire. While his anger confuses me, I savor in the life of those eyes. If the fight is still there within him, maybe we can find a way to return the rightful spirit to its body.
"Um, seriously - what's in this beer?" Zell eyes the bottle carefully before setting it to the side.
"Seify, are you okay?"
"Never felt better. While the mechanics are really dull, Squally-boy here got split in two - Rinoa's lapdog in the body and our special boy roaming around like a lost ghost. Apparently my status as a former lapdog gives me the privilege of seeing him."
"None of us appreciate this game you are--"
"Excellent idea, Quisty. Let's play a game. Someone get out a deck, and I'll tell you every card there with the help of my lovely assistant."
Smiling widely, Selphie whips out a triple triad deck and sits on the arm of Zell's chair in order to keep the cards better hidden from my view. For the next ten minutes or so, we go through a quickly tiring game of guess the card with Squall clearly annoyed at being treated like a street magic act. His limit is when he identifies something as a horribly deformed rabbit, which turned out to be Selphie's artist skills at doing a 'snuggle bunny' monster on one of the blank cards that came with her starter set. I really don't want to know what goes through that girl's mind.
"Wow, how'd you guess it?"
"I'm telling ya, the invisible man behind you is telling me everything." Fuck, after all that torture, they still don't believe a word I had said. "Leonhart, just step on forward."
He glares at me before closing his eyes and sighing.
"What are you--" The high pitch voice squeaks as Selphie shivers from Squall passing through her tiny body. Unavoidably, he brushes through Zell's body as well, the chicken cursing under his breath.
However, those reactions are almost lost to me as I watch Squall slump to the floor, hands clutching his hair. Kneeling before him, I have to stop myself from trying to place a hand on his shoulder. "Shit, are you okay there?"
"Never again. I don't give a fuck if they still think you're insane, I'm not doing that again."
It hurts him. I hadn't considered that, even though he had gone running from my touch only hours ago. Too long in self-imposed exile must have dimmed my thought process more than usual.
Suddenly Squall stands, not too steady on his feet. "If they believe you, tell them that I never would have said what he did months back."
"You wouldn't have said what? I don't do cryptic, Leonhart."
"They'll know." With that, he leaves the room. I bite back the urge to follow him, knowing full well that these meetings with Squall are completely according to his terms. And I thought it was hard to track down the brunette before.
Sighing in defeat, I look over to the forgotten others in the room, discovering various expressions of shock on the four faces. Quistis covers her mouth with a shaky hand, tears threatening to fall from her eyes. Rising from the floor, I take a seat next to the blonde beauty, her other hand going straight to my arm.
"What did he say?"
"Something about never saying what his evil twin did some months back. The guy won't be specific with me."
"Sweet Hyne. Squall really is here."
"Actually, Leonhart just left. Passing through the energy batteries there kind of threw him off balance."
She doesn't seem to hear me, covering her face with both hands. "All this time, he's been here and we didn't know. Has he been trying to contact us? Is he well?"
Unsure how to answer, I glance over to the other faces, but their desperate gazes certainly don't settle well with me. Even Irvine seems a bit too eager for my reply. "He's good enough. Care to explain the sudden urge to believe me?"
Quistis shakes her head. With an oddly soft voice, Selphie speaks for them. "A bunch of the countries got together to reward the saviors of humanity, deciding to honor Squall specifically. He didn't mention any of us once in the speech or interviews, as if he did everything. We confronted him about it and he blew up in our faces about how without him, we couldn't have done anything. That he could've saved the world with any SeeD members and we just happened to be lucky enough to join him."
Zell laughs darkly. "Ya know, that should've been our first clue. The bastard yelled at us for more than twenty minutes. Squall never used that many words in a year."
"Why'd you stay with that kind of shit?"
The chicken shrugs. "This B Garden. Our home, our life. And I guess we kinda hoped Squall would come around."
"Does he hate us?" Quistis whispers without looking at me.
"Come on, you know Squally-boy. He doesn't hate anybody. Just gets really annoyed with people."
She laughs weakly and brushes aside some tears.
"Hey, stop treating him like he's dead. There must be a way to bring him back."
Zell hops to his feet. "Yeah, maybe Ellone or Matron will know something. Or even that quack Dr Odine."
Nodding once, Quistis adjusts her glasses. "I'll call them all in the morning. Certainly, there's something we can do."
And so the kiddies have a mission again. Seeing the touch of fire in their eyes reminds me why Ultimecia lost so easily - these people fight with everything, never considering to reserve energy for the next possible battle. With a friend in danger, they seem to find new strength to fight even harder. Meanwhile I always have been too dead inside to fight with that much passion. Unless it was with Squall, of course. He's the only one who seemed worth it to put forth that extra energy. I just hope this collection of strength is enough to get him back.
Waking to the sight of a dark ceiling, I close my eyes again with a silent curse. Not even a full day spent with Squall and the dreams of him are already back with crystal clear clarity as compared to the hazy, less potent visions in the last few months. It's nights like this where I wonder if my true calling was in the literary arts since I doubt even Squall would think he could make half the noises he does in my dreams.
Unceremoniously, I shove my hand in my boxers and take a hold of my erection to finish off what my mind started without me. Hopefully I can get some decent sleep afterwards. Pumping away, of course my thoughts wander to delicious fantasies of the brunette pressed into a mattress, begging for release as I pound in him. And when I want him to, Squall begs beautifully.
Sharp coldness at my shoulder spreads quickly throughout my body, making me jump up into a sitting position with eyes wide open. My heart pounding, I decide that it is certainly possible to die of shock.
"I think you overestimate my flexibility."
Glaring to the side, I growl deeply. "What the fuck do you think you're doing, Leonhart? Holy fucking Hyne, you're lucky that I can't touch you."
He smirks. "Just... curious."
Slowly my thoughts regain some order, and I realize what he had said. "Wait a minute here, how do you know that... well, that you are..."
"You saw. Right." I shake my head. If he can really see thoughts just by touching a person, I could be in serious trouble here. "Ever hear of privacy rights, Puberty Boy?"
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"What, that I've been fucking you in my dreams for the past few years? Had a crazy idea that you wouldn't care to know and I'd end up with a gunblade through my chest for a wake up call."
"... ..." He frowns, apparently out of words for the moment.
"What are you doing here anyway? It's..." A glance at the glowing clock. "...two fucking forty-four in the morning."
"I am tired," he admits quietly.
"Then get some shut eye. Not like you need my permission or anything."
"You can at least sleep, can't you?"
Oh, that's just lovely. "Why do you bother, Squall? What the hell are you sticking around for like this?"
He shrugs. "What else am I supposed to do?"
I fall back down onto my pillow. "Fuck if I know. So, you just going to stand there all night?"
"I can leave."
"But perhaps you don't want to? Hell, stay there, lie down, or whatever else you want. As long as I get sleep, I don't care."
He smirks. "That sounds familiar."
Blinking, a vague memory of the past comes to mind. "Heh, always found it amusing that you were afraid of your own name's sake."
"Maybe it was an excuse." His whisper is so soft that I could almost mistake it for a sigh. But instead it's perfectly silent at this time of night, so the words are clear as they could be. Squally-boy, Squally-boy. Just what are you trying to tell me here?
Before I can question the brunette, Squall suddenly hisses in pain, hands going directly to head as he had done earlier in the evening. He steps back, but looses his balance and falls to the floor. I'm immediately up and sitting on the edge of the mattress, but force myself to stay there with hands clutching the comforter. I can't touch him. The attempt alone would be painful to him, yet that thought doesn't make it any easier to stay in place.
It's strange watching him there, the corner of the dresser sticking into his body. White teeth bite into his lower lip and eyes are tightly shut as he deals with whatever pain he is experiencing. Then the image of Squall seems to flicker and fade.
A deep growl resonates from the man before he yells out, "I'm not going ANYWHERE!"
For several minutes afterwards, there's nothing but the sound of harsh breathing from Squall. Never hearing the brunette scream like that before, I'm too dumbstruck to do or say anything. Even though he doesn't seem to exist to anyone else, I'm still surprised that no one is pounding on the door and demanding to know what is happening in here.
"I'm sorry. I'll go." But he doesn't get up from the ground. I doubt he can even move.
Unclenching my hands from the cover sheet, I try to look more relaxed. "You were right before, Princess. You aren't going anywhere until I say."
"... ..." His eyes are focused on me, wishing to trust me but too afraid to give into hope.
"We'll figure this out. Quisty is on the case, and you know how determined she can be."
"Believe in us, Squall. All you have to do is hold on."
"What else can I do?" he asks with a defeated tone.
"Stay with me until we fixed this thing. At least I would be someone to talk to."
He looks taken aback for a moment before his lips curl slightly. "Volunteering yourself as babysitter?"
"Hyne knows you need one."
After a shake of his head, Squall pushes himself up to his feet. "I can't stay far from my body for too long."
"Or this happens?"
"No. Extended separation just makes me feel ill."
"And watching your other self have at it with Rinoa doesn't?"
"She isn't at fault. Don't blame her for being inexperienced."
"I can do whatever I damn well please. If I want to drop the little miss sorceress into the ocean at the next opportunity, I'll do just that."
A small smile comes to his lips before he turns to leave.
"Wait. I... You know that--"
"We'll talk about that afterwards." At the door, Squall pauses without looking in my direction. "But I know."
It's too empty when he leaves, and yet relieving at the same time. He knows. Have to say that I never imagined it this way, Squall finally discovering my hidden emotions for him. In a way, it's almost too perfect like this since he knows some if not all of my thoughts about him. I doubt he could have believed me otherwise, the untrusting bastard. And yet this new understanding between us means nothing if we can't restore him. Squall refuses to give into the vague hopes of a happy ending, and no matter how much I want to assure him everything will be fine, I know the good guy doesn't always have to win.
Running a hand through my hair, I look at the clock and sigh. Feeling energized and stressed, I decide that I might as well hit the training center for some good old grat bashing fun. Sleep is overrated, anyway.
The vid phone flashes to black and Quistis sighs deeply in relief. The glasses come off so she can rub the bridge of her nose, and then she glares at me.
"It's been a long morning I take it?"
She sighs again. "Neither Ellone or Matron have a clue about what exactly happens to a sorceress's knight in order to make a split like this possible. The Time Compression aspect doesn't help whatsoever. As we know, Ellone can only view the past and not change it without involving another Compression, but that would be impossible without Ultimecia's full strength."
"So, compression is out. What else?"
"I just finished talking with Dr Odine. He is of course thrilled with this idea of separating spirits. Thinks it may be a link to true cloning or the like. I lost him somewhere about an hour ago in his ramblings. Anyway, while he can't be certain of anything, the doctor is very excited at the chance to examine Squall."
"Ah. In other words, we have a problem."
She nods. "There is no way the Headmaster will let himself be tested by Dr Odine, especially for the clear purpose of getting our Squall back."
"So just put a sleep spell on the ass and drag him to Esthar."
"We can try, but just like when you were under Ultimecia, Rinoa may be unconsciously making him resistant to status effects. Anyhow, we have plenty of time to figure out a plan."
"What do you mean?"
"Dr Odine said he will need at least a couple weeks to design the proper equipment he'll require. This is nothing like what he has researched in the past, focusing on the knight instead of the sorceress. The magical power scheme is all different, apparently. Who knows how long it'll be before the doctor can start testing. He'll keep in contact with us."
Of course. This isn't something that could just be done with the snap of the fingers. How many years did it take for Dr Odine to modify his machine to imitate Ellone's power? And it still hadn't been perfected in the future. There has to be another way to get Squall back. Something faster and perhaps easier. From Zell's descriptions, the guy sounds too much like a mad scientist that goes for the end goal while forgetting about the human lives he is playing with. But time may be the largest factor to worry about here.
I jump a little at the call of my name. "Yeah."
Light blue eyes study me in an oh-so-familiar manner. "You're not telling us something."
"Because you don't need to know."
"And you do? Seifer, that isn't fair in the least. We all care about Squall."
"I wasn't supposed to find out," I whisper more to myself than the blonde. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, I stand up to leave the small office. "Do what you can, Quisty. Leave the lion cub in my hands."
Walking from there to the dorm wing, I focus my hardest on not thinking. The lack of sleep last night certainly helps, getting me into a comfortable dazed state where the world doesn't matter so much. I just hope my feet know which way to go in order to reach my room, or more importantly, my bed.
Getting into the elevator, I press the button for the SeeD level and then drum my fingers on the back hand bar while waiting out the dull seconds. When the doors open, I almost put a dent into the innocent bar with my grip. In front of the elevator is Rinoa and the Headmaster kissing far too deeply for me to stomach with the sight being the second time in less than twenty-four hours. I clear my throat, not for politeness but mercy.
"Oh, hello, Seifer." Rinoa blushes a little while stepping back, then places her hand lightly on the brunette's cheek. "I'll see you tonight, hun. Don't miss me too much."
He grins. "Don't ask the impossible."
After patting the cheek, she steps into the elevator while I make certain to walk quickly out of there, not caring that I bump into her a bit too hard. There's mumbling behind me, the sliding of doors, and then heavy steps coming after me.
Stopping, I take a deep breath before spinning around to face him.
"Listen, I know this must be hard for you coming back, but do you have to be so cold to Rinoa? If anyone is to blame here, it's me."
"Leave it, Headmaster." I don't want to hear this shit from his voice, his body.
"She told me that you two were closer than you said, so I understand your jealousy."
"... ..." Oh, sweet Hyne. Don't tell me she actually believes that.
"Please. Take it out on me, not her."
Whether from frustration or lack of sleep, I do just that. Of course I realize this after the fact, finding the Headmaster lying flat on the ground and dead to the world. Hmm. Well, oops? A pair of boots walks up, Squall kneeling next to his rightful body. An amused smile on his lips, he angles his head in my direction.
"He's out cold."
Running a sore hand through my hair, I have to laugh. "That was a bit too easy."
"He's let my body go to waste. Hasn't touched a gunblade in months, and he certainly isn't used to you."
"How long would you need?"
"To fuck me."
I know my mouth is open, but nothing can quite get out. Words. Words would certainly be a good thing.
"With him unconscious and Rinoa gone, I can regain control and hold him back for awhile. An hour. Maybe two. Is that enough?"
"Uh, Squall. Do you even know what your asking for?"
He nods. "Your imagination is rather detailed."
Before I can respond, Squall places a hand on the slack face and gradually fades into nothing. After witnessing him almost disappearing for good last night, I can't breathe while waiting for something to happen. Eyelids twitch before snapping open to view the ceiling above him. Slowly his hand rises off the ground to gently feel the redden area to the side of his left eye, and then he frowns.
"He passed out from this."
Smirking, I offer the prone man a hand up. He hesitates to take the hand, but then grasps it firmly so I can jerk him up to his feet. Unbalanced, he leans into me, gasping quietly at the contact. It's an odd moment with Squall touching me like that, his forehead soon pressed against my chest and hands running down my sides.
"My room. Now."
When you've been waiting for such an order for years, you tend to act first and think later. Thus, I soon found myself with the lanky brunette on my shoulder as I carry him towards his room.
"What the hell are you thinking?"
An easy excuse comes to mind. "Don't need you getting hurt thinking that you can still walk through walls. What am I supposed to do if you knock yourself unconscious?"
There's a frustrated sigh, but he doesn't resist my hold.
"What's the code for the door?"
"I'm touched, Leonhart. Why didn't you ever wish me a happy birthday?"
I feel him shrug.
The door slides open at the code entry. "Surprised the love birds haven't changed it."
"Doubt they realize what it comes from. By now, it's just a simple code for Rinoa to remember."
I grunt out my understanding, not surprised in the least. Glancing around the room, I decide it doesn't pay that much extra to be Headmaster, the room seeming only half again the size of a SeeD's room. But with a mission in mind and time lacking, I go directly to the decently sized bed. Letting Squall slide a bit off my shoulder, I take a seat and guide the man down onto my lap. For a long while we stare at each other, the closest we've been when not fighting. So much time wasted.
Not certain who leaned in first, but suddenly we're kissing, his lips warmer and softer than I had imagined. He's also quite a bit less experienced, the fact not all too surprising. It's almost heartening, actually, as if he trusts me enough to lead him through these steps. Why must temptation be so sweet?
"Squall. We don't have to do this."
"Yes, we do." His fingers begin work on the buttons of my shirt. With all my clothes being laundered, I had to wear the undershirt and pants belonging to the formal SeeD uniform that had been waiting for me in the closet of my room.
"Because, a second chance may never arise." My shirt is pushed off my shoulders, cool hands brushing along my arms.
I want to argue, but then he may go into detail about those episodes of pain he has. Frankly, I don't want to know. Ignorance is bliss and all of that. Hope is a fragile thing, and I want to hold on to it as long as I can. We will get him back. The kiddies haven't lost any of their battles yet, so why should this one be any different? Right?
While straddling my thighs, Squall removes his shirt and drops it to the ground. Again, we end up staring for a time before a lengthy kiss. Undoing the single belt and unzipping his pants, I move one hand to his lower back in order to steady him. My other hand brushes against the slight bulge of his briefs, Squall hissing against my lips at the contact. Smirking, I let the brunette straighten while I take my first taste of his flesh. The skin of his chest shivers at the feel of my tongue, and I smile at the sound of his shortened breaths while my hand strokes the hardness beneath white fabric.
"Seifer..." The whimpering undertones of his voice brings me to full hardness. It sounds so much more sweeter than I could have believed possible.
I fall backwards onto the mattress and then roll on top of Squall, the brunette looking a bit dazed at the sudden change in view. Well, that and from other things, I would imagine. Looming over him, I have to smile at the idea that comes to mind.
"You know, when Rinoa finds all these little marks over her boy toy, she isn't going to be happy."
Squall frowns a bit, but I can see the hidden amusement in those stormy blues, just like the times I would convince him to break curfew in order to duel with me under the stars of night. His hand comes to my cheek, brushing aside stray strands of hair. Turning my head, I take a couple fingers into my mouth and suck gently.
He speaks after a few moments. "I don't want you to get into trouble."
I let the fingers slip from my mouth. "Does your other half know what is happening?"
"No. He isn't awake yet." Slowly his frown turns into a small smirk before he wraps his arms around me and pulls me down to him. "Finish this. Then we'll ensure your safety."
Not wanting to cause more worries for him, I hold back the comment that I'd do this even if it meant facing a firing squad. Hopping back off the bed, I rid myself of the bothersome slacks and then help free Squall from his burden of clothes as well. I retake my place beside him, lying down on the bed while looking in eyes full of silent, but not quite hidden emotion. Emotion that I cause in him.
My hand on his stomach, I trail it downwards to the stiff organ and tease him with light touches for a moment before going further below. My eyes never leave his when a finger slips inside of him. The expression on his face isn't quite one of pain, but then again, this is the boy who got an icicle through his body and only made an 'ow, I stubbed my toe' look before falling off the parade float. My attention is completely entrapped by his face. Eyes closed in bliss at my ministrations, he takes shallow breaths, every now and again taking no breath at all as I happen upon his prostrate.
All of a sudden, Squall grabs my arm when his eyes snap open in a silent demand. Removing my fingers, I kiss the brunette once before moving between his legs. One leg placed over my shoulder and the other in my arm, I position myself rather easily at his entrance. No warning needed for the man, I force my way deep inside of him. Once as far as I dare go, I try to relax while enveloped in his inner heat and let Squall adjust to the feeling. I wish I could tell him the cliché terms such as, 'it will get better with time,' but those words would only hurt him more.
After a breathy order to continue, I begin fucking and loving the one I've wanted for too long. It's a bitter sweet emotion that finds its way into my chest. I don't want just this. I want to watch him sleeping, a small satisfied smile on his lips as he curls closer to me. I want to see him the morning after, stretching out sore limbs from the unusual exercise. I want to be with him tomorrow night when he would look at me with a smirk, silently asking for a repeat performance. I want so much more, and yet I have to take what I can get.
Opening my eyes, I realize that I've been thrusting far too hard for someone's first time. Squall, however, doesn't look too bothered. In fact, quite the opposite. One of his hands makes its way into my hair, the support helping him to counter my thrusts. So good, so beautiful, so perfect. At the least, even if I can't have him, no one else will. Not the true Squall. He is mine.
Release comes hard, blissfully knocking out all thoughts but the last from my mind as I fall from the heavens. Squall belongs to me now, and damn if I'm going to let him leave me without my permission first.
Rolling over to the side of the panting brunette, I try to regain a sense of normality. The feel of stickiness on my body is a welcomed relief, suggesting that Squall reached orgasm near the time I did. Running a finger through the fluid, I take a sample of the man. Not horrible, and since it belongs to Squall, I can savor it for what it's worth. Glancing over, I find him staring at me more with curiosity than revulsion at the act.
An eyebrow lifts in a 'you have got to be kidding me' gesture, and then he sighs. "We need to clean up."
"That's nice. Tell me again in a few hours."
Shaking his head, the bastard actually manages to sit up and move off the bed. "I'll shower first."
The mere mention of a shower brings my energy levels back to full as I hop off the bed. Squall stares at me, clearly sending the statement that we don't have time. After assuring him of my good intentions, we share a steaming shower. What is it about water that makes a person look even more sultry? As I had promised, nothing more exciting than a prolonged kiss under streaming water took place. One shouldn't be too greedy, I suppose.
Cleaned and soon dressed, we leave the room much as we had found it, except the cleaning crew had to be contacted to change the comforter. I have the sickening feel that they're use to it. I follow Squall as we walk through Garden, his stride so much more confident than when his other is in control. Focused on his shifting ass, I'm caught off guard when he stops in front of a door. Blinking, I realize too late where we've ended up, the door opening as Quistis lets us into her office.
"Squ-- Headmaster. What can I help you with?"
"I want to make certain Seifer is not held responsible for our activities this afternoon, no matter what I say later."
She look strangely at the brunette before questioning, "Squall...?"
Smiling brightly, Quistis almost jumps out of her chair. "You found a way to retake your body."
"No. It's only temporary and unlikely to happen again."
"He's unconscious for the moment, but he'll awaken and reform the walls he has been careless about lately. Rinoa's presence will only intensify those barriers." Reflexively I reach a hand to place on his arm in a form of support, but he speaks out before I touch him. "Give me a moment with Quistis."
Flexing my hand, I turn to the door and leave them in privacy. Damn the walls for being practically soundproof. At least I don't have to wait long before the door slides back open. Without warning, Squall grabs a wrist in one hand and reaches behind my head with other, pulling me forward for a clumsy kiss. Instinct takes over as I try to take control of the pleasant situation, but he pulls back too soon for me to do so properly.
Before I respond, Quisty calls from her desk, "Very. Thank you much."
I look at the blonde then back to Squall. "Should I feel used here?"
A vague smile is his reply. "I'm going to my room. Don't follow."
"Am I a stray dog now?"
His eyes narrow dangerously. "Never."
Confused, it takes me a moment to realize he must be thinking about my time as a lapdog to Ultimecia. "Get out of here, Leonhart. I'll see you later."
His expression softens before he leaves. I resist the urge to touch him, knowing I probably couldn't handle the 'one last time' type of thought.
"What's that, Quisty?"
"How long you and Squall had been dating. Two years, right?"
I laugh, ignoring the pain in my chest. "We aren't an item. This is a recent development."
"Really? Hmm... Are you sure?"
"Yeah... Listen, I think I'm just going to head to my room, too. Didn't get any sleep last night."
"Stay away from Squall," she warns.
With a wink and a wave, I leave the room and go to the elevator. Fuck, I don't think I've ever felt this tired before, the compression of little rest, enjoyable exercise, and general emotional stress being a bit too much for me. Despite the stray thoughts of risking another moment with Squall, I can't betray his order. As it is, escape into sleep sounds too good to pass up.
Opening my eyes has always been the worst part of the morning, except for these last couple weeks, of course. Squall is always there when I wake, watching me with that deep thinking stare of his. A single stream of morning light comes into the room from a gap in the curtains, sunlight barely passing through his image and giving him a slight glow. Hyne, how much I want him.
"I dreamed of you."
"Where this time?"
I smile at his assumption. "No sex this time. Just a kiss." More than a kiss, actually. It was pitch black around Squall and me, his finer complexion gaining a new level of radiance. Our lips met in an overly simple kiss. A child's kiss. But it was perfect for the somber atmosphere of the dream.
My daze is interrupted by a muffled cry. Instantly I jump off the bed and kneel just before Squall, the man on his knees and clutching his hair. I hate seeing him in suffer like this, but losing him can't be an option. Not with Dr Odine near readiness for the first bouts of testing. Though I can't touch him, at least my whispers still reach the lion, demanding him to fight no matter what. The words are full of nonsense, but he told me how my voice is all that he needs.
His face slowly relaxes out of pain, but stormy eyes are wide open, suddenly focused on me with a sharp intensity. Squall reaches a single hand out to my cheek and I force myself not to flinch at the painful coldness. He smiles then. Nothing toothy or goofy looking. Just a simple smile.
And he's gone. Not with a bang or a whisper or a flash of light. He's gone with nothing left except for the vague taste of leather left in my mouth.
I'm not certain how long I stayed there, looking at empty air and mentally demanding it to reform the image of Squall. When a warm hand is placed on my shoulder, I don't react to the contact. Just like his name, the Ice Prince had cool hands whenever he touched me. If it's not him there, I don't give a fuck.
"Seifer. Can you hear me?"
"We've been worried about you all day. What's wrong?"
"Talk to me, Seifer."
"... gone ..."
The hand tightens with a quiet gasp of 'oh'. "If... if it means anything, he thought it was going to happen a while ago."
"... ..." It means nothing. What's another week or two if I can't have eternity.
"He said he left something for you. In your old locker."
"... I'm sorry, Seifer. We tried. He knew that."
"... ..." That just means I failed. One more fucking tally mark on the board for an Almasy failure.
In time Quistis leaves the room, thankfully keeping the lights turned off despite the set sun beyond the curtains. Maybe when it's dark enough, I can find it in me to move, to accept his loss. Or maybe I'm only hoping to relive the dream of last night, to feel those lips against mine while surrounded by darkness. Denial is a beautiful thing.
With a swipe of the blade, yet another beastie joins the corpses littering the desert ground. It's been too easy thus far, the regular creatures of Lunar Cry popping out of nowhere to attack us and die. Two SeeD groups have been sent to this area, none of them returning since. When Zell asked for me to come with him and baby girl to investigate, I recognized it instantly as a futile attempt to make me forget a little. But I've never been one to refuse a decent challenge.
"What exactly are we looking for, chickie?"
He shrugs. "I told you. Something landed in the area and we want to know what."
"Fucking wonderful," I mutter while adjusting the bracelet on my wrist. Had the damn thing for barely two weeks now, and already it's become a bad habit to touch the silver alloy that is the same style as my choker. Only difference is the etching of Griever on the long piece held by chains.
So we wander, killing anything that foolishly decides to jump in our path. You'd think these beasties would have a sense of survival in them to avoid us. Just when I'm about to suggest heading back for the night, I hear something that makes me cringe -
"Oh, what's this?"
Before Fu or I can stop the chicken, Zell pokes at something sticking out of the ground. He jumps back as if stung, then drops to a knee with almost all of his energy gone. The sand shifts before him and some odd monster crawls out of slumber, obviously cranky.
She nods, immediately focusing on a spell to heal the curious blonde. Meanwhile, I rush forward to attack the awakened giant, Hyperion held strong before me. The blade easily connects with the dark skin, but my arm twinges at the sudden halt. Fuck, its resistant to weapon attacks. Well, this isn't going to be fun for me.
I switch roles with Fu then, using items to heal the twosome while they call upon the Guardian Forces that I refuse to junction with. My mind is my own, thanks. I don't need anything else in there fucking around with whatever it finds. But this creature, alien or perhaps a late-comer from the Lunar Cry, does far too much damage for our own good. As time passes, the beastie eventually looks worse for wear, but we are also down on usable GFs. The only hope is to pick at the thing until it dies and hope that our healing spells hold out until that point.
"You know I don't junction, Fu. We have to attack it."
"Actually," Zell speaks up, "you've got something. I was going to draw a Curaga from you and noticed it."
Searching within me, I realize the chickie is right. Shit, I wonder if he or Fu snuck a damn GF in me when I fell asleep in the Rag. Well, no reason to let the thing go to waste. Sighing, I focus on summoning for the first time since the Fire Cavern test. The words come fairly easily to me, the feel of the GF's presence not as sickening as I once remember.
"... to aid in our battle and victory, appear before me - Unwanted." The final word feels wrong in my mouth, the title unknown to me.
More unexpected is the immediate reply to the summoning. As with many of the GF's, the sky grows dark with cloud cover due to the demon's approach. The clouds shift slightly before blackness erupts through, the dark mass aiming towards our enemy. A short distance before the creature, the GF opens to reveal a cloaked figure supported in flight by black feathered wings. With a dark blade covered in scattered blue flames held to his side, the GF goes into attack in a far too familiar sequence of moves. The weakened monster never had a chance.
"Uh, Seifer... what is that?"
I don't answer Zell, finding myself walking and then running up to the remaining GF. It turns at my loud approach and pushes back the hood of its cloak to give me a clear view of the expected face.
"Squall..." I stop once I get as close as I can without touching him. "How...?"
He smiles softly, a wordless statement that he won't tell me.
"Can I... touch you?"
With a light scattering of feathers, the black wings lift and move to encircle us as he closes the space between bodies. The kiss is perfect, nothing lustful or desperate about it. Only a simple press of lips in the declaration that he is truly here before me.
"So, what the fuck is this 'Unwanted' crap? It's a lie, you know."
He presses a gloved hand against my cheek. ::It wasn't my choice.::
There's so much I want to say to him, but I can't get anything out. And yet I feel like if I don't say something, Squall will disappear on me. Lifting a hand to hold his on my cheek, the bracelet shifts on my wrist. "I got your gift."
::I see that.::
"I've missed you."
::I know. Seifer--::
"Don't go." Hyne, I sound so pathetic.
An apologetic smile forms. ::I can't stay like this. We'll meet in your dreams.::
And Squall vanishes as he did before, the scent of leather still in the air. But it's not as painful this time since I can feel him lurking within me. The bastard, assuming that I'd want him there. Pressing cool metal against my cheek, I try to imagine it as a replacement for his touch. Squall is completely mine at this moment, yet untouchable as ever. If there ever was a sweet torture, this would be it. Hyne help me to savor this gift instead of damning it.
"Let's head home, Dincht. I really need to get some sleep."
Author's Whining - The next part will be the same storyline, but via Squall's pov. Sorry for the dullness of the story, but eh, I'm just playing around with the pov thing here and wanted a shorter fic to work with. Some things that may raise questions here will be answered by Squall's thoughts, ie what he said to Quistis and the whole GF thing. Hopefully I'll get to the second half soon...
And thanks to Ariss Tenoh for beta-ing this first half.