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Back to Balamb
Chapter 14 - Swimming
We silently walked through Balamb, Seifer walking quickly and I half-running to keep up. I decided to break the silence by apologizing again. "I really didn't mean it like that."
He slowed down. "Yeah, well…" he cleared his throat, "I should apologize for saying all that shit to you. I'm- we are all- concerned about you. I'm not in the position to be telling you all that. Hyne knows we haven't been the best of friends."
"Not since the orphanage," I specified. We strolled along for awhile, me wondering about what position he thought he was in. Seifer broke the silence after a while.
Suddenly he chuckled. "Remember that one day at the orphanage when we became friends and threw spiders at Quistis and Selphie?"
I laughed. "Yeah, and Selphie was jumping and dancing all over the place. Quistis just stood there trying to calm her down."
"They got us back, y'know. Dumping buckets of wet sand over our heads." Seifer was grinning.
I smiled too. "Matron was so annoyed." We had just passed the drug store when I remembered the things I needed. "Hey, wait. I gotta go in here."
"'Kay." He said, stopping and pulling out some money from his wallet. "Get me some gum? Cinnamon?"
I took the money, "That's the best kind. Be right back." He nodded and sat on a bench, propping his arms along the back of it. I entered the drug store picking up the shampoo, razor blades, aftershave, and gum. On a whim, I selected a classic car racing vid from the rental rack. I went to the counter, paid, and went out the door.
Seifer was still sitting on the bench. Arms outstretched and head tilted back with eyes closed. I said next to him, his arm barely touching the backs of my shoulders. It feels so right, I thought, leaning back slightly.
Seifer opened his eyes. "Whatcha get?" He grabbed the brown paper bag holding my purchases from me. I was disappointed when he brought his arm away to sort through the contents. "Razor blades?!"
"Not for that," I said, shaking my head. I had to reach up to move my bangs back from my eyes.
He looked at me. "I don't want to have to confiscate these," he warned. "Okay," I agreed. He plopped the package of blades back in the bag, pulling out the gum. "Change?" he asked, holding his other hand palm up.
"My tip," I teased. Seifer gave a pretend growl, and I rolled my eyes. "That is so not scary," I said, faking a yawn.
"Fine. I'll just have to hold something of yours hostage." He extracted the vid. "Ah hah! One of my favorites! I guess I have something to watch tonight."
"Gimme that! Besides, there are no vidscreens in guest rooms!" He held it just out of my reach, grinning. I pouted my lips and pretended to sulk. *Yeah, I know I'm flirting. But he is too!* "I was going to let you watch it with me, but…" I trailed off.
"Okay, fine," he said, offering the vid and brown bag back to me. "Let's get back to the car."
"Shotgun!" I cried unnecessarily while I began running to the car. We raced to the edge of Balamb.
On out way back to Balamb, I thought about the walk back through town. *That flirting was pretty fun. I think Squall knew I was flirting, too.* I felt his presence in the passenger seat. The smell emanating from him was quietly reassuring. *Hyne, it's so nice to just be able to play with Squall. It's nice to be friends. Though, I would like to be more. Much more.* Those clothes he was wearing that clung to his form made me horny. My thoughts turned less friendly and more sexual. *God. He is just so beautiful.* The hope I had felt while teasing him had made my heart flutter even while twisting it in agony. The agony that Squall would never want me or love me.
I looked from the corner of my eye at him. He was looking out the window watching the light blue waves roaring up onto the sand then slowing flowing back. I pulled over and turned off the engine. "Huh? Why are we stopping?" Squall asked.
I opened the door and stepped out onto the green grass. Squall got out and followed me as I walked down toward the beach. "Why did we stop?" he demanded.
When I reached the sand I pulled off my shoes and socks. "Going swimming," I said, avoiding Squall's gray eyes as I took off my jeans. I hesitated before removing my shirt. It's either Squall sees my scars or all of the Garden does. I can't enter the Garden with a soaking wet shirt. Leaving my clothes in a pile on some driftwood, I ran toward the water, whooping. It was the closest to freedom and joy I had felt in many years.
My progress became slower as I got knee-deep then waist-deep in the ocean. At mid-chest I ducked under and started swimming. *Goose-bumps,* I thought. *They'll go away in a few minutes.* The sea was chilly, but not really cold. I swam for as long as I could hold my breath, reveling in the feeling of weightlessness and liberty.
I got a sudden chill when Seifer went underwater. He left his clothes here, so he must be coming back. After counting to a minute I began stripping, even removing my jewelry, until I, too, was standing my boxer shorts. I ran toward where the blond man had disappeared, hardly even shivering when my flesh hit the water. I dove under and opened my eyes, peering through the stirred-up sand that clouded the water, trying to find Seifer.
Eventually, I had to break the surface for lungfuls of air. When I did, I felt water hit the back of my head. I turned, getting a splash directly in my face. After blinking away the water I saw Seifer grinning at me. The salt water in clouding my vision gave the impression of rainbows circling his head.
I splashed back at him, "Dammit, you had me scared. How long can you hold your damn breath?"
"Two minutes and twelve seconds," he said, still grinning. He readied himself to splash me again when I lunged at him, trying to dunk his head underwater. This began a wrestling match that lasted until we were both tired out.
Finally, leaned back, floating belly-up in the water. Seifer did the same, and I let my thoughts wander. Enjoying the peace of the ocean and how amazing it felt just to loosen up and horse around. I had missed out on a lot of my childhood. I remembered the feeling of Seifer's wet, slick skin. *No, don't think of that!* I struggled to think of something else.
"'Bout time for us to get back to Garden for dinner." Seifer's voice seemed to boom over the natural sounds of the waves and birds. Neither of us moved.
"Guess so," I sighed reluctantly, sinking my legs back down into the deeper water. I began swimming back to the shore. He did the same alongside.
He got out of the water first, goose-bumps rising on his skin from the breeze that began. I rose after, shaking my hair like a puppy, sending droplets flying in all directions.
"No peeking," Seifer said, grinning and turning his back. He pulled off his shorts and started wringing them out. I stood staring at his back; torso tapering down to his hips, his butt, thighs all pale and muscular. *Oh my god.* I stood still, watching the movements of his hands and arms affect the display of muscles in my view. With a final wring, he lifted a leg, preparing to don the boxers again. I turned and did the same, wringing the salty water from my garment, imagining (or not imagining, I hoped in my mind) feeling his eyes studying my back in turn. I was still slightly blushing when I turned, back in the safety of my shorts. With some dismay, Seifer was fully dressed. He must have been dressing and not looking. I hid my disappointment, and pulled the rest of my clothes on my still-damp body. I realized, walking back to the car, that he hadn't given me enough time to study his chest. He mentioned earlier that there were scars on his chest too. *Is he embarrassed about them?* Probably. I was about my scars. *He always hides his arms with long-sleeves. His are too big to hide with bracelets.*
We both took our seats in the car without saying anything else. He turned up the radio the rest of the way back, silence returning only when we entered the garage. I cleared my throat. "Thanks for stopping the car back there. I actually had fun." He turned to me, noting the slight smile on my face and returning it. "Yeah, me too. I actually felt kinda free out there. I haven't felt free since before the last war." We turned away from each other and opened our doors. I reached back in to grab the bag before slamming the door shut.
I yawned. "I'm tired now."
"Me too," Seifer repeated, yawning also.
"Yawns are contagious," I said, smiling. "Wanna grab dinner with me and go watch the vid in my room?"
He nodded. "I'm just gonna change first."
"Okay. I'll head to the cafeteria and grab a tray on my way to my room. Anything specific you want me to get for you?"
"Nah. Thanks, though. Would anyone else be interested in the movie?"
I thought. "Zell said he'd be with Neria tonight, and the girls aren't interested in racing flicks."
We had reached the path to the cafeteria. "Alright. See ya at your room in a few minutes." We waved and he continued on to the elevator.
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