Disclaimer: the characters and places contained herein do not belong to me and I make no claim or money from this. I can't even claim responsibility for most of the idea because it came from both Race Ulfson and the song "Hurt" covered by Johnny Cash.

With many thanks to Pixie, Acid Rain and Astraea.

This fanfiction is dedicated in its entirety to Race Ulfson, also known as the beta babe who usually previews all my stuff and tells me where I've fucked up.

As far as I know, trendie pretty much means the same as preppy. Or as close to it as I can get.

Warning: Cross dressing contained in this chapter.

Hurt

Chapter 7

By Darksquall

what have I become?
my sweetest friend
everyone I know
goes away in the end
and you could have it all
my empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

Johnny Cash (cover of NIN) - hurt

 

It had been a couple of hours since Squall had fallen asleep again. Sleep was good for the wounded lion, Seifer reminded himself. No matter how quiet or still he became, he was healing. He was getting better, even if he seemed to be loosing touch with reality.

Seifer glanced down at the shallow score on his arm that Squall had given him while he'd been... Whatever he'd been. Out of his mind, taking a short break from reality, submitting to paranoia, whatever. It didn't matter. It'd proved to Seifer that he was beyond control, and that he did need the help that was being presented to him on a silver platter then forced down his throat. He'd be good for Squall, he swore that to himself.

He'd been reading for a while in an attempt to still the atrophy of his brain, just a novel he'd picked up a few weeks before but had never got around to reading. It was good, but Seifer was distracted by thoughts of the sleeping brunette in his bed and as a result, he didn't seem to be absorbing much.

From the sofa, he heard the mattress springs creak as Squall moved.

Squall was standing by the time he reached the door, straightening his back carefully and glancing around as though he'd misplaced something. He looked barely coherent, a tiny frown curling his lips downwards.

"What are you doing?" Seifer asked, trying in vain to keep the concern from his voice. Squall had moved too much, he should have been resting. He was afraid Squall would really injure his back beyond repair. He couldn't imagine what Squall was, or more than likely what he wasn't, thinking.

"Stretching." The younger man said dully, his voice still as cracked and dry as it had been as he'd confessed everything to his lover.

Seifer moved to his side as Squall took one tentative step towards the doorway, ready to catch him in case he fell. "Careful, bonehead."

"I can't stay still." Squall said simply, his eyes clouded with exhaustion and the fever of his withdrawal. A faint sweat had beaded on his forehead, the shadows under his eyes seeming impossibly deeper, dark smudges of illness and fatigue. He teetered briefly; looking confused and lost before he limped for the doorway.

With a heavy sigh of annoyance, Seifer let his book rest against his thigh, his finger folded within the pages to mark his place. "Do you need some more painkillers?"

"They just knock me out." The brunette muttered softly, heading for the kitchen slowly. Every step took determination, forcing himself to lift his foot, bring it forward, and place it down again before repeating the whole chore again. His body felt heavy and sore, sluggish as he moved towards his destination.

Seifer followed close behind him, drumming his fingers lightly on the soft cover of the book that rested against his thigh, a quiet rain of beating the only vocalisation he gave of his anxiety. "Are you feeling any better?" He asked, hopeful.

"Better than what?"

"Better than death, sunshine." The elder man couldn't help but let a little of his exasperation creep into his voice. He followed the brunette into the kitchen, laying the book on the counter and turned to look at him.

Squall stopped, just a step away from the counter. A small frown surfaced on his lips, a soft expression of confusion and uncertainty. "...My back doesn't hurt as much." He chewed his lower lip thoughtfully, too deep within the control of his need to even recognize the withdrawal that was sending his system into shock, glancing down at his socks on the dark tiles of the floor. He wondered absently where they'd come from, and how he'd gotten from the bedroom to the point he'd now stood at, then shook his head. He'd walked. He had to keep a firm grip on himself; he was going to loose control if he didn't.

The golden fingers of his lover reached out to brush Squall's bangs from out of his eyes, making Squall look up at Seifer with a deeper frown.

Seifer couldn't help touching Squall's cheek gently, letting a few of his bangs fall back into the blue grey eyes that blinked up at him curiously. He looked so pretty, so rumpled, so... needy. He offered Squall a tentative smile, despite the burning temperature of the skin beneath his touch. A fever raged in the ice princess the likes of which he hadn't seen since... since they'd been kids. Squall had gotten sick because he'd stood out in the rain waiting for his sister to return, and caught a cold. The memory surprised him. "How about a drink?"

"Please."

"Rest your weight against the counter then. I'll get you something."

The order just made the brunette scowl angrily and remain just as he was, swaying gently in place. He watched Seifer pour a glass of soda, dropping ice cubes into the dark liquid suspiciously.

"Or, if being a stubborn ass makes you feel better, suit yourself." He returned to Squall's side and offered the drink, forcing himself to remain as calm as physically possible. Seifer's voice showed nothing of his annoyance anymore, none of his anger leaking into his words.

"It does, thank you." Squall sipped from the glass, the cool sweet liquid quenching his thirst. He never lowered his eyes from Seifer, wary though he couldn't place a reason for it.

"Fine by me." Seifer smiled his easy smile. Squall shrugged with his good arm and lowered the glass to the black worktop carefully, the ice cubes clicking quietly against the side of the vessel. Turning slowly, he glanced around, his eyes searching the counter for something. "What's the matter?"

"Where's it gone?"

Turning in a full circle to search for whatever Squall had misplaced, Seifer frowned. He could see nothing missing from the kitchen, nothing wrong, and no new additions. It was just as he'd left it that morning before he'd left to shop. Finally he returned his attention to the injured brunette again. "Where's what gone?" He couldn't help but gaze at the brunette as though he'd lost his mind. He feared that Squall really had.

"Griever." He almost pouted, a confused look sliding into place on his features as he tried to remember where he'd left them. He'd thought... no, he'd dreamed that his tokens of strength were there. It had seemed so real; it couldn't have just been a dream...

"You told me you left your personal stuff at some other place. Remember?"

"Really?" The word was so small, so quiet. Squall sounded as vulnerable as a child as he leant heavily against the counter.

Seifer nodded slowly, watching his lover intently. "I told you I'd go with you to get them."

In his confusion, bought on by the sudden clash of the real world and his dreams, strengthened by the pain in his back and his shoulder, the growling hunger for rapture and nicotine in his veins and the fear of being hurt again, Squall edged along the counter. His eyes darted here and there, locating the items he could use as weapons as he'd been trained in SeeD. The knife block, perched innocently at the corner of the counter was the most likely source of protection. "Oh. Right."

The taller man folded his arms over his chest, observing the nervous lion as he moved into the corner of the counter, seeming to shrink. He looked weak. He looked as though he was ready to hit the floor at any moment. "I don't think you should be on your feet too much."

"Don't." and that scowl returned to Squall's pretty mouth in full force.

"Don't what? Look after you?"

"Just... whatever."

Seifer shook his head, a few errant strands of burnished gold hair falling into his eyes, covering his scar. "Luckily, I knew this was coming. You're a moody little shit when you're not trying to kick." He flicked the hair away, averting his eyes.

"Nearly as bad as Priest." Squall muttered quietly.

At the words, Seifer's head snapped up, rage burning in his green eyes. He glowered at Squall, his hands tightening into firsts at his sides so sharply that his nails dug into his palms. When he spoke, he spoke slowly, enunciating each word carefully through gritted teeth. He hadn't been so angry in years. "What did you just say?"

The smaller man's stance shifted into one a little more defensive, bringing his good arm up to rest on the counter, his hand close to the block of knives and his eyes locked with Seifer's. The clash of wills was almost audible, over the ragged sound of Squall's breathing. "You're almost as bad as Priest. If you want me to do something, say it. So I can respond."

"Fuck you, Squall." Seifer hissed, his rage beginning to get the better of him. His face was drained of colour, just as it was every time he was overwhelmed by his anger. He could barely control the bubbling flames of his fury that made him want to lash out at the broken figure before him.

"Sure, whatever. Just get it over with." Squall's voice was a single tone, nothing to distinguish any form of emotion that he felt showing in his words or his face.

Unclenching his hands and then tightening them into fists once again, Seifer forced himself to stay in place. "Like Priest, right? Give you some drugs and bend you over and take whatever I want, because that's all you know how to do any more. "

A brief shrug and a nonchalant look were all the acknowledgement Squall gave to his words. "If it's what you want, go ahead and do it. So I won't have to be on edge waiting for it."

Seifer moved closer to Squall quickly, almost threateningly. Instead of grabbing Squall, or striking him, which had been his first impulses, Seifer simply leant in close, until he was eye to eye with the broken brunette. His lips curled into a familiar sneer, just like the one he'd worn the morning of the SeeD exam, four years before. "I wouldn't fuck you if you begged me, Leonhart."

An almost smirk curled Squall's lips painfully. Though little of what he was feeling surfaced on his beautiful features, his eyes were a turmoil of emotion, his anger, his pain, his sorrow showing in the dark irises in a way he'd never be able to express. "You're a terrible liar, Almasy."

"You think so? Newsflash sweetheart. You just compared me to a drug-dealing rapist. I love you, that won't ever change but you just killed whatever shred of respect I had left for you. Congratulations."

It's about fucking time." Squall muttered and started for the door, already planning on how to escape the apartment and get a fix.

He was stopped when the blonde darted around the island in the centre of the kitchen, grabbing Squall around the waist and turning him back into the kitchen. "Nope."

"Let me go!" The younger man hissed, striking Seifer on the back with his good arm. He was still as weak as a kitten and the blow barely even caused his lover any pain, let alone do anything to convince Seifer to drop him.

"No." Seifer set Squall on his feet and stood in the kitchen doorway, blocking the younger man's only real option of escape.

The rage showed on Squall's features briefly and he backed into the corner of the counter again, his hand scratching through his hair in an attempt to hide himself from his lover. His too dark hair tumbled into his eyes, blocking Seifer from his view and allowing him a brief reprieve from the smug anger of the blonde's green gaze. Cursing at himself softly and trembling violently, Squall attempted to regain some measure of control.

"Go ahead. Lose it. Fight me, Leonhart."

"Why the fuck should I?"

"Because I know you want to." Seifer smirked. "Take it out on me if it'll make you whole again. I can take it."

"I don't think you can." Squall shot back. The anger was starting to leave him now, a cold, empty feeling left in its wake.

"Prove me wrong." It felt just like one of their duels, goading the younger man into a reaction, pushing and pulling and teasing until he reacted, just because he loved to see the passion in Squall's eyes.

Squall's hand lifted to the block of knives, curling around the handle of one and lifting it out of the wood slowly. The blade glistened in the harsh light of the kitchen. He balanced the blade in his hand, his eyes tracing the smooth line of steel set against the harsh background of black plastic. "I tried to finish it once, but they wouldn't let me die." He smiled coldly at the weapon in his hand, remembering the relief that the rush of hot blood that had bought with it when he'd cut into his wrist in an attempt to escape the pain, the loneliness once and for all. "Zell hated me for weeks because I called out for you when they healed me."

As far as Seifer was concerned, Zell could take a long walk off a short cliff backwards. However, this was one thought that he didn't vocalise. "Then you might as well get ready to go to war squirt, because I'm not going to let you die either."

"I've been to war with you before Almasy. I've seen you nearly dead... what... three times?" That cold smile turned on Seifer. It was a frightening expression; one that made him want to flinch but his pride and his arrogance wouldn't let him. Squall looked almost feral, the too thin body suddenly seeming lean and dangerous. "This is nothing. You just think you're in control..., was it like that then, too?"

Seifer was nothing like the caring, loving Seifer Almasy of the previous days. He was back to being the old, dangerous, quietly callous Seifer, at least on the outside. "I don't need to pretend I'm in control. I've got your number, Squall Leonhart, and my will is stronger than yours."

"So strong you play lapdog."

"I'm not the boy I used to be, Squall. You can't bait me with that. I'm not that person anymore. You, however, are exactly the same weak, pathetic, scared little boy you were back then." A cold, cruel smirk curled Seifer's lips in a horrific parody of a smile.

"Then you should be proud, because I'm everything you made me." Squall set the knife down, holding out his good hand to Seifer as though he were displaying himself to his lover. He seemed to be showing off how weak and small he looked as well as his injuries, his pain. "Congratulations, Almasy. You won."

"I would've been proud once. But now?" Seifer shook his head in exasperation. "Now it makes me sick. You think I don't know that everything you've been through is because of me? I haven't won shit." No matter how much he wanted to hold Squall and make it all go away, he couldn't. He couldn't stop the pain in a heart beat like he needed to; he couldn't be a hero for the only person who had ever mattered to him any more than he could take every single effect of that horrible, horrible drug that was consuming his lover's body and life. He hated himself for being so weak, for being so human and unable to save the one person who meant the world to him.

"Just managed to break one more toy. What's one more life to you anyway?" Squall hissed, his hand falling to rest by his side weakly, tears welling up in his eyes that he finally found the strength to push back and hide away from the only one who made him feel so weak and vulnerable. He wanted to take the knife and make Seifer pay for what he'd pushed him into. He wanted revenge. He wanted to die.

"When it's your life?" At last Seifer looked hurt, weakened by Squall's words as he gave into his guilt and remorse. "Everything, you stubborn little fuck. Your life is everything to me. I'd have given up my own for yours.

Squall turned his head away, unable to look at Seifer a moment longer. His voice gave away the need to cry like a child that was welling up inside him, despite the fact he could withhold his tears for a little longer. "You always broke your toys. Bastard." He murmured weakly, his hands shaking at the force and weight of his emotions.

"Squall..." The taller man felt as though Squall had taken that knife and buried it right in his heart. The pain was more intense than anything he could remember. More intense than that pulse ammunition powered gunblade cleaving his body. "Don't..."

"Don't what?" Squall hissed angrily.

"Don't do this to us." Seifer pleaded softly. "Don't push me away."

There was a silence that followed between them. So loud that Seifer could swear that he heard the pounding of Squall's heart, the trembling of his limbs even from so far away. It was killing him to watch the teetering figure only a few steps away from him and yet be completely unable to help him, unable to bridge that gap between them that could have been a chasm filled with the fiercest monsters for how wide and dangerous it felt.

"You... you never listened. No matter how hard I pushed you were there... I thought you always would be." Squall sagged suddenly, swaying like a sapling in the harshest of winter winds. His legs gave way and suddenly he was falling...

Seifer caught Squall, swept the younger man into his arms, holding him close and kissing his hair. He whispered into the too dark locks, his voice thick with the force of his emotions. "I hate myself for letting you down, Squall. You're the only regret I've ever had in my life."

Weakly, Squall beat against his lover's back, trying to transmit the rage he felt for the desertion. He sobbed, a horribly needy and defenceless sound though he managed to keep back the tears. Eventually the brunette gave in, slumping against Seifer and hiding against his body, as though he could crawl into Seifer's clothes and never have to face the real world again. "I wish you'd hate me. It'll be easier when I let you down."

Placing a weak kiss on his lover's forehead, Seifer smiled softly. "Aww, Squall. Don't you get it yet, dumbass? I'm going to keep at it, keep at you until we get it right."

"Is that supposed to cheer me up or fill me with dread?"

No matter how hard Seifer tried to smile, he couldn't. It felt like he'd forgotten how to. "Whatever."

Slowly, shaking more violently than ever, Squall lifted his head to look at his lover. "I'm scared." He whispered.

"So am I. It's okay to be scared." The blonde man kissed his lover's cheek softly, keeping his voice as soft and reassuring as he possibly could, afraid of scaring or hurting the wounded lion any more. "It's not okay to run away. Trust me, Squall. Take what you need from me. Please."

"Can't I run away with you?"

Finally, that gave Seifer the strength to smile once more. The request was so young, so utterly needy that he couldn't help but smile in response to how adorable he found it. "We don't need to run away. We can beat this, baby."

"If you mean it..., about taking what I need. I think I need this." Squall looped his good arm around Seifer's neck and kissed him. A slow, intense, needy kiss, filled with the love he held for the arrogant blonde. Using the opportunity efficiently, Seifer slid his arms around Squall's hips and lifted him in order to take the weight off his back, letting Squall kiss him however he wanted, allowing the smaller man's tongue to steal into his mouth.

When the kiss was over, Squall rested his forehead to Seifer's weakly. Soft hitches in his breath and trembles that spread through his entire body betrayed just how close he really was to tears once more. "Don't make me go back in the bedroom Seifer. Not yet. If I have to look at those walls again already I'll go nuts. More nuts. Whatever."

"You want to go outside then? I'll swing you in the hammock, what do you say?"

"No." Squall shook his head, and hid his face against the soft skin of Seifer' throat. "Sofa. With you."

Bending, Seifer scooped his lover gently, and carried him to the sofa carefully. "Requests? Popcorn?"

"Just you." Squall replied softly.

As he tucked Squall against the soft cushions of the couch, Seifer smiled and kissed him gently. "You got me, dumbass."

Squall made himself comfortable, allowing Seifer to stretch out along the couch with his head in Squall's lap after he'd collected the book he'd left on the kitchen counter. He distracted himself by playing with the soft blonde waves of his lover's hair while Seifer read, almost dozing as he let his slender fingers trail through the golden locks.

When he'd finished reading, Seifer set the book down and turned to the side, pressing a kiss to Squall's belly beneath the flannel of the pyjamas and whispered, "I love you."

"I always loved you." Squall responded softly, not looking down even as a smile curled his lips attractively. "Even when you ripped the head off my damn chocobo at the orphanage."

"Irvine dared me." The blonde snickered. He'd been so horribly jealous of that toy that Squall had carried everywhere until he'd decapitated the poor bird.

"Whatever." The brunette replied with a knowing smile.

When the following day dawned, Seifer tugged Squall out of bed a little before ten a.m. He had to remind the younger man just why they were up and where they were going before the sullen brunette had decided to start cooperating. He'd fed Squall, helped him wash and brushed his hair before stripping him and beginning the search for clothes that Squall could borrow in order to venture outdoors.

"Tee-shirt, check. Panties, check. Jeans, check." He muttered to himself as he searched through his dresser, handing his lover articles of clothing.

Squall eyed the clothes as Seifer pushed them into his arms with a reluctant air. "Hyne's balls, I'm in love with a trendie." He muttered before pausing and rewinding the conversation to rehash it in his mind, blinking at his lover in surprise. "Hold on, panties?"

Laughing, the blonde stole a kiss. "Just making sure you're paying attention. And you should be glad for my good fashion sense."

"Whatever." Squall muttered, running his fingers over the rough blue denim of the jeans he'd been handed. He couldn't remember the last time he'd worn blue jeans. Leather was easier to clean, blood, semen, monster ichor... anything wiped off with little effort.

Seifer caught his lover looking at the item of clothing and frowned. "Pants are gonna be too big, but I have a belt." He tried to judge the way Squall was holding himself, to gauge how much pain the quiet man was in. He could see no outward signs of how much his injuries were hurting him. "You've been standing a while, how's it feel?"

"Not hurting, but I am getting tired." A small smile passed over Squall's pretty mouth as he tapped against the back brace that covered part of his abdomen, a hollow rap accompanying the movements. "This makes me feel like the tin man."

"Well, it sure as hell turns me on. I got a back brace fetish guess I never got the chance to tell you that."

The blue grey eyes widened as they watched him, and Seifer realised that Squall wasn't sure whether he was joking or telling the truth. "...You scare me, Almasy."

Laughing softly, Seifer guided his injured lion to the edge of the bed, helping him into the jeans carefully. The denim hung from one hip, the opposite side sliding down to reveal more of that pale tender flesh that was still marked with scars and burns and cuts until he slid the belt around the too narrow waist and fastened it. Seifer moved back to admire the image presented to him, the pant legs were almost long enough to cover Squall's feet, he was practically buried in the clothing and it was hard not to chuckle. "Sit down and I'll get your shoes."

Squall sat as he'd been ordered to with no argument, and Seifer thanked Hyne for small miracles. He moved away, watching the brunette unfasten the protective sling from his right shoulder out of the corner of his eye and straighten his arm slowly. He'd bought the shoes when he'd gotten the pyjamas, just simple black training shoes that would be easy for Squall to walk in. kneeling in front of his lover, Seifer lifted Squall's feet one by one to roll a sock onto the pale foot and then slide it into a shoe. "You haven't been fully dressed in a few days. Doing okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine." Squall struggled with the tee-shirt briefly before managing to slide into it. He winced as the material touched the sore muscle of his shoulder, pain shooting through his body, burning as hotly as a firaga spell. "My back aches, but I can take that. My shoulder is as sore as fuck."

"I'll kiss it later." With a smile, the blonde man stood and offered a hand to his lover. "Come on squirt."

The brunette rose to his feet slowly, with his lover's help. The tee shirt, emblazoned with the logo of some expensive clothing manufacturer, would have been baggy on him four years before but now, in his injured state, it threatened to bury him. "Stop calling me that." Squall half hissed, half growled.

"Aww, why?"

"Because if I try to hit you I'll probably fall over."

Seifer couldn't still a snicker as he helped Squall into a too big jacket, careful with the injured shoulder. Finally he stood back to admire his handiwork. "Hyne, you look cute."

"I feel like we're playing dress up." Squall muttered, almost pouting with the annoyance he felt.

The words evoked a memory of years before, when they'd been children. The mental image of Selphie making a five-year-old Squall dress up in Edea's clothes and shuffle around in her shoes caused a smile to blossom on Seifer's lips. "Nah, I don't have any high heels." He grinned and handed his lover a pair of shades. "Okay. Let's go."

As soon as Squall had slid into the glasses, Seifer led him outside, keeping an arm around the brunette to support him. He strapped Squall carefully in the front seat, taking care of the belt for him, and making sure he was okay before shutting the door and slipping around to his own seat.

Squall tried to suppress a snicker as Seifer searched for a decent radio station, earning himself a glare.

"What's that look about?"

"Nothing." Squall shook his head lightly. He'd been thinking about how like Quistis his lover could be at times, too fussy, too easy to worry and so quick to jump to conclusions. He reached out with his good hand to touch Seifer's hair gently, pushing an errant strand behind his ear fondly.

"You talked in your sleep last night." Seifer smiled, happy that Squall seemed to be in a good mood, even if it was just the prospect of getting the back brace off and being healed again.

The brunette had to tip his head to make his bangs fall from his eyes, his curiosity getting the better of him. "What did I say?"

"Oh, something about how much you loved me and how wonderful I was. You were mumbling, I couldn't hear much more than that."

"Are you sure you weren't dreaming? The safe house is on Davies road, the building that lies back behind the trees."

Seifer pulled out into traffic. The address was a little over a mile away, nothing really for the sprawling Deling city. He was surprised it had been so close in fact, he'd been a mile away from Squall, from the man he loved for a month and he could have saved him at any time if he'd only known. The thought angered him foolishly, reminding him that no matter what, he was still human. He was fallible. "Of course I wasn't dreaming. I paid close attention to you all night.

"Right. You were snoring most of the times I woke up."

"I can watch you with my eyes closed." He grinned.

"It's a physical impossibility." Squall shot back, watching his lover. He couldn't place why he felt so possessive of the blonde already; just the handsome profile was enough to send him into a fit of selfish and overprotective feelings. He wanted to curl up in Seifer's arms and remind Seifer whom he belonged to now. The thought scared him.

The car pulled into a parking spot in front of the house Squall had mentioned. It was an unassuming building, a house just like every other one along the street, low red brick homes, wooden framed windows forming sightless eyes onto the world. There were three safe rooms in the building, each with its own entrance. The trees prevented anyone seeing it from the road or the neighbouring houses, as well as sheltering the house from snipers and others who would have cause to hurt one of the SeeDs inside.

Seifer helped Squall out of the car, glancing around constantly for threats. He felt awkward, exposed despite the cover provided by the leaves and he didn't like it. Seemingly unaffected or completely trusting of the location, Squall brushed a kiss over his jaw and limped around to the side of the house. He slid back a brick and pressed his eye to the opening left exposed. Thirty seconds later a door hidden right in the brickwork popped open and Squall slipped inside, Seifer close behind.

The room was pleasant. Soft light spilled from the overhead bulb, illuminating the room in a mellow fashion rather than the glaring obviousness of normal bulbs. A double bed sat against one wall, neatly made with military corners. A dresser sat in one corner, with a corkboard nailed over the top of it, scattered with pictures of Priest and Brent, and a pretty Goth girl in a leather dress. Beside it stood a normal wardrobe. Through the only door off the room, Seifer could see a bathroom.

"Let me heal up first."

Seifer nodded, hovering nervously. "I'll be here."

Pausing to collect a small kit bag from beneath the bed, Squall slipped into the bathroom.

A glance in the mirror told him why Seifer was being so protective. He was so pale he seemed almost ghostly; the skin beneath his tired eyes was dark with illness and interrupted sleep, which made his pallor all the more striking. He sighed, pulling a remedy from the bag, watching the magic potion glow blue as it sloshed inside the glass vial. He almost poured it away, he knew it would alleviate his symptoms but he didn't deserve it. The consequences of his actions should have been dealt with as they occurred.

Squall sighed, and drank deeply. The threat to his lover was too great. He needed any help he could get, in case he lashed out again because he feared if he lost control again, Seifer wouldn't survive it, let alone himself. A healing potion followed, the magic sending a shiver down his spine as it began to heal him, forcing the fracture closed and beginning to knit it back together. The burns and cuts were easy to heal and melted away leaving pale scars in their wake, the broken bones were harder.

His shoulder felt a little less tender as he pulled off the tee-shirt, and began to unfasten the back brace. It was still painful but he could lift it, he could move the limb more freely.

Tossing the brace aside and lifting the kit bag, he frowned. Only one potion left, it wouldn't be enough to heal him completely. His back was more important he supposed, reluctantly, than his arm. What was the point in being able to lift a gunblade if you couldn't stand?

The gun-blader side of him countered with 'what's the point of standing if you can't lift a gunblade?'

With the remaining potion in hand, he slipped out of the bathroom to face Seifer. "Would you pour this on my back?" He asked softly, offering the vial.

Seifer nodded just once, taking the bottle from Squall and turning him in place gently. "Be still." He cautioned as he poured the liquid onto the pale skin, covering it with a hand and watching it absorb into his lover. The effect was, as always, amazing.

"Much better." Squall murmured, either to himself of Seifer, which he wasn't sure. "My shoulder's still sore but that's all I have."

"We can get some more." Seifer smiled, rubbing Squall's back gently, in a soothing manner. He tried not to pity his poor lover too much; Squall wouldn't want to be pitied. He wouldn't want to be worried over.

"I'll throw what I need in a bag." The blue-grey eyes slid closed as Squall almost purred in pleasure in response to the feelings Seifer's touch evoked. The comfort, the reassurance that his fingers could stir in the brunette stole his breath away. "Are you really into braces or should I leave it here?"

"Leave it. A little token if you will." Seifer laughed.

Squall turned to Seifer, leaning against him briefly to feel the warmth of the taller man's body against his bare chest. The comfort that provided him, even in such a short space of time was amazing. He could forget the world in his time in Seifer's embrace. Too quickly he was moving away with a stolen kiss still tingling on his lips. He hauled a bag out from the wardrobe and started gathering his clothing.

Seifer watched his lover. He couldn't help a love struck smile hovering on his lips as he watched his lion moving through the room with ease that would have been impossible only minutes before. He thanked Hyne for healing potions silently and found his eyes drawn to a piece of clothing in Squall's wardrobe, left exposed by the open door.

It was a leather mini dress.

Snapping to attention, the mental image of Squall in that particular piece of clothing making his blood rush south, he tried to keep his voice from cracking. "Uh, Squall?"

"Mm?" Squall looked up from digging in one of the drawers, his hair tumbling messily into his eyes.

"...Is that a dress in your closet?"

Leaning back on his heels in order to see around the door, Squall nodded. "Yes. And?"

Seifer blinked at the easy admission and glanced from the stimulating piece of clothing to Squall and back several times. "Can you confirm or deny that this was, at one point, a part of your wardrobe."

Standing slowly, leaning against the wood as he played his fingers over the soft, supple leather that draped over the coat hanger. He'd worn it several times, not that he particularly enjoyed dressing as a woman. "...I've worn it a couple of times."

The blonde man looked as though he might swallow his tongue at any given moment. "You...have..."

"Mmm." Tipping his head until the dark bangs fell into his eyes, Squall looked decidedly smug. "It's very good for getting attention." As Seifer was at that moment proving.

Seifer couldn't help but imagine Squall in the dress, those long, slender legs bared, the curve of his perfect ass under the short skirt, the cling of the leather to every perfect arc and line of his body. The thought made his cock harder than ever, aching already. "Fortunately, the only attention you'll need to be getting is mine."

Unhooking the hanger from the rail, Squall held the item against his body, his eyes dark with amusement as he watched Seifer's reactions. His gaze flickering down to the telltale tent in Seifer's increasingly snug jeans, he smiled wickedly. "I think I already have it."

"Oh you do." The husky voice of the taller man was nothing more than a purr.

"I could... show you. Now... it wouldn't take long." The brunette offered tentatively, sliding a hand over the leather where it draped over his stomach.

"Show me." Seifer licked his lips absently, his voice husky with a need that surprised even him.

Squall grabbed something else from the cupboard before slipping off to the bathroom once more.

When he returned, Seifer felt his legs threaten to give way and his cock jerked in appreciation of the sight that he was presented with. The dress, a halter neck style with a collar, wasn't meant to make him look like a girl even though with just a little padding and a touch of lipstick he'd probably pass for the prettiest of women. It showed how much weight he'd lost over the previous four years, his muscles now lean and compact with regular use but nothing to what they'd once been in order to lift the Lion Heart gunblade and every one of its predecessors.

The skirt stopped at the top of Squall's thighs, barely covering his modesty. It flared a little, so when he moved, Seifer caught a tantalising flash of black lace panties. Squall turned slowly on the spot, allowing his lover to get the full benefit of the outfit. "It was quite effective."

"I can see why. Gods, you're gorgeous."

The compliment seemed to please the brunette. He slipped over, a small smile playing on his lips. Watching Seifer through dark lashes, Squall slid his hands over the strong muscles of Seifer's chest, down over his belly and finally, he allowed one to slip down and cup the blonde through his jeans.

"How much time do we have?" Seifer asked, a hitch to his voice the only other sign of how much he wanted Squall.

"They won't come here. They won't know about this place, and it doesn't' signal to SeeD that the room is in use."

"Good." Sliding his hands down over Squall's ass, the taller man squeezed firmly, pressing their bodies tightly together. "'Cause I want to fuck you in this slutty little dress."

"Remind me of how good you feel." Squall husked, brushing his lips over Seifer's lightly. He'd been waiting for it for what felt like an age, the hard length of his cock rubbing against the rough lace that kept him covered. Even as the warmth of Seifer's hand slid under his dress, palming his ass roughly, he could barely believe it was finally happening. Any moment he'd awaken from this dream.

"Gonna fuck you slow, Squall... go bend over the bed."

When Seifer reluctantly released him, Squall did as his lover had asked, bending over the bed to place his hands on the mattress, glancing back over his shoulder. There was a gleam of mischief in his eyes, a small smile curling his lips wickedly. "Like this?"

"Yeah..." Seifer nodded, moving behind him, pushing the dress up to bare his lover's ass. He traced his fingers over the lace that contrasted so beautifully against Squall's pale skin. "Spread your legs." It finally dawned on Seifer, as his lover shuffled until his legs were a little wider apart, that the pretty Goth girl in the pictures was not a girl at all but the figure he was now exploring with his hands. The thought made him want to claim Squall right there, to fuck him and show him who he truly belonged to, and to wipe any memory of Priest and Brent away from the man's mind.

There was no shame to Squall's movements, which surprised him. As Seifer trailed his fingers along the cleft of Squall's ass, rubbing him through the lace, the brunette pressed against his hands, urging him harder, the wantonness to the soft keening noise Squall made as he brushed against the hidden hardness of his cock almost enough to make him take the brunette right there. "This outfit's coming home with us.

"You sound so sure." The brunette almost purred as Seifer eased the lace underwear down, baring the soft skin slowly.

"Fuck, just looking at you drives me nuts."

Throwing a smirk back at Seifer over his shoulder, Squall whispered "You like this change."

"I'd have to be dead not to like this." The blonde replied. Kneeling down behind Squall, he rolled the material down, circling the tight knot of Squall's opening with his thumb. "I want to taste you. I want to lick you."

"I want you."

Seifer smiled briefly, the admission like music to his ears. He spread Squall carefully, lapping at his opening and sliding his fingers over Squall's balls. He took his time over teasing Squall, now he could finally touch him again he was determined to make it last.

"Fuck, Seifer..." Squall tossed his head restlessly, shuddering at the pleasure the touch evoked.

"What's that, lover?" Seifer lifted his head, sliding first one, then two wet fingers into the constrictive heat of his lover's ass, rocking them slowly, short, even thrusts that brushed against Squall's prostate briefly. Every touch of the fingers made a soft whimper of need spill from his lover's lips, the body tightening around his fingers. "Did you want something?"

The brunette's soft voice lowered so quickly it sounded as though it were a growl, barely human, full of lust and need. "Seiferrrr...."

"Ohhhh, you want Seiferrrr..."

"Just fuck me." Squall panted. "Please."

Seifer smirked as he unfastened his pants one handed, easing his cock out and stroking himself almost absently. He couldn't stop teasing Squall, the brunette reacted as beautifully as ever, rolling his hips and squirming, desperate for something more. Just as he had been four years before, the quiet little brunette became a slut readily at the prospect of being filled and stretched by a cock. "I don't have anything... No lube.

"Bedside table." Squall breathed, his voice cracking at the pleasurable assault Seifer was submitting him to. "Something in there."

Brushing his lips over Squall's lower back in a gentle kiss, Seifer slid his fingers out of the other man's body. "Don't move. I want you just like that." He ordered, standing and moving to retrieve the lube.

In the drawer he found a scattering of condoms, a bottle of lubricant just as Squall had said, and a battered photograph. It was one of himself, taken before the war, before the scar he bore from the final duel with Squall. He couldn't have been much older than sixteen, posing for the camera with a goofy smile that Seifer had completely forgotten he could even wear. The old student uniform had looked good on him, he decided, touching the picture gently because it was so dog eared and battered he feared he'd tear it just by looking at it.

It must have gone everywhere with Squall...

Snagging the bottle of lubricant, he returned to Squall's side, wrapping his arms around his lover's waist and bending over him to nuzzle at his neck and kiss his earlobe. "I love you, you know." He said, aware of the wistful smile that curled his mouth but unable to do anything about it.

"I know." Squall closed his eyes and smiled his own secret smile. "I love you."

Seifer pushed the lace down and helped his lover to step out of them before turning Squall to face him with just his hands at Squall's hips. The brunette looked a little confused and suddenly shy, a faint blush rising on his cheeks as he lifted his eyes to watch his lover. "Kiss me." And he did. The shyest of soft kisses, a gentle brush of lips at first that deepened as Squall nibbled at his lips and slid his tongue into the waiting mouth. A romance of a kiss that made Seifer tighten his arms around Squall and pull him close, unable to ignore the protective and loving feelings the shorter man aroused in him. "I want you in my lap. I want to look at your face while you ride me."

"I think I can be convinced." Squall replied with a knowing smile. His hands slid through Seifer's hair gently, down over his cheekbones to trace along his jaw, a wistful smile curling his lips. He seemed to be memorising every line of Seifer's face, his eyes darkened with lust.

"Somehow, I thought you might be." He slid out of his shirt quickly, letting Squall's hands play over the bare skin of his chest with the same reverential sense of wonder that the brunette had displayed as he'd worn as his fingers had explored Seifer's face. It was a look that made Seifer feel... owned somehow. It was a feeling he liked. He kicked off his boots and wiggled out of his jeans as quickly as he could, trying to stay in contact with the smaller man at all times. "I hated to take those panties off you, Leonhart."

"If you're good, I'll wear them for you some other time." Squall chuckled softly, a melodious sound of amusement that took Seifer's breath away. He'd changed so much, and yet he was still the same beautiful creature he'd been four years before. "Maybe."

Just in different clothing, and with a definite kinky streak.

"Does that mean I get to keep you for a while?"

"I thought you wanted forever?" The brunette asked hopefully, the beginnings of a pout beginning to take form on his lips. He looked unconsciously sexy, a perfectly corruptible figure.

Seifer smiled a content and knowing smile. He wanted forever and a day, just so long as the brunette kept looking like that, kept looking so adorably beautiful and perfect. "Just making sure you were paying attention." He helped the shorter man to lie back on the bed, crawling over him, pressing against his body so just the thin layer of leather kept their skin from touching.

Squall allowed Seifer to lift his leg, draping it over his shoulder. One arm arced over his head; his dark hair draped over his eyes, the younger man looked more beautiful than any pin up Seifer had seen. He wanted the hair to remain like that, a way of hiding from the world that seemed to scare him, a way for Squall to protect himself, almost as much as he wanted to brush away the bangs and kiss the stunning boy. He wanted to be let in, to see all those nightmares that haunted his lover, to see the pain of the beautiful young man so he'd know how to take it all away.

"I was out of it..." Squall smiled softly, teeth worrying at his lower lip in a brief admittance to his nervousness. "That doesn't mean I wasn't listening."

"You always hear me. Even when you're pretending not to."

The younger man hadn't known he'd been so obvious. He'd tried to ignore Seifer hundreds, maybe even thousands of times over the years and Seifer had always managed to wheedle his way behind Squall's defences, make himself wanted, make himself loved even though the brunette had tried to remain as cold and unfeeling as the ice his preferred guardian force created. "Can't help it, you speak so loudly." He grumbled.

"But you love me." Pouring more than enough lube into the palm of his hand, Seifer slipped two fingers into the smaller man, touching him carefully. "Say it again."

"I love you, Seifer." Squall moaned softly, rolling his hips eagerly.

Seifer prepared his lover roughly, sliding the fingers out to slick himself before pressing the head of his cock against Squall's opening. "I love you so much. I can't believe I found you again, Squall." And then he was sliding into his lover, pushing into the tight heat of Squall's body, almost trembling at the tightness, the familiar ecstasy burning in his veins.

"Don't let me go..." Squall whispered.

"Never." The blonde seated himself completely inside his lover, ducking his head to kiss Squall softly. Seifer lifted the smaller boy carefully; keeping himself buried within his lover's body and rolled over, pulling Squall on top of him. "This is what I want..."

Sitting up, a faint smile still shy despite the intimate contact between them graced Squall's mouth. "I have what I want." He slid his hands over Seifer's bare chest, rolling his hips as though he needed to let Seifer know what he meant.

There were so many things Seifer wanted to say to his quiet lover, so many ways he wanted to express the intensity of his feelings but he couldn't find the words. He contented himself with watching Squall move, sliding his hands around the smaller man's hips to help him. The leather rustled softly with each movement, a soft accompaniment to their lovemaking.

Squall barely moved at first, reminding himself just how good gentle sex could feel as he watched his lover from beneath dark, trembling lashes. His body felt weak after days in bed and without the effects of Rapture or its withdrawal.

Seifer gave shallow little thrusts into the body above him, his lips a dark bruise from the hot kisses he'd shared. "Gods, Squall... Been too long, baby..."

"Just... fuck me. We have forever."

Letting Squall ride him just a little longer, Seifer pulled Squall down against himself, returning to the previous position, Squall on his back with Seifer kneeling before him, his ass neatly pressed against Seifer's crotch. "I think you'd rather have it this way, wouldn't you?" he husked softly as he ground against his lover.

"Don't...ah! Don't care." Squall's voice was little more than a breathless whimper as he arched up off the bed, hooking his legs over Seifer's shoulders. "Just you."

Just watching Squall move, all pale skin and perfect beauty trying desperately to impale himself on Seifer's cock further, was almost enough to make him come. "Hyne, you're so fucking pretty." He murmured as he rocked into his lover with slow, circular movements of his hips.

"Fuck, harder!" The brunette begged, his hand sliding down to stroke himself but Seifer caught it before the fingers reached the hard length, playing the palm over Squall's belly and wrapping his own long golden fingers around the throbbing arc of Squall's cock.

"Mmm, but I like this so much."

"Bastard." Squall growled.

Angling Squall's hips up, Seifer began to fuck him in shallow little thrusts, just a little harder, just as Squall had pleaded, his own orgasm so very close. Blood pooled in his cheeks, making him flush hot and red, his body screaming at him to fuck the writhing brunette as hard as he could until he came, but the need was denied. "That's not very nice, Leonhart. You'll make me think you don't like me anymore..."

"Gods, Seifer." Squall's head tossed against the pillows, his hair a sweat dampened dark halo around his face as he moved. His body moved in time with Seifer's thrusts, falling into the old, familiar rhythm that was as comfortable between the sheets as it was on the battlefield.

"That's it, baby. Move with me..." The blonde groaned, shifting just one last time to lean forward, almost pinning Squall's knees to his shoulder as he fucked him in short, hard thrusts, claiming him with every stab of his hips. Squall's cock rubbed wetly against his belly, slick with lube and precome, his whole body tightening around Seifer like a vice. "Ahh, gods, Squall... I'm close... Come baby..."

Squall almost screamed as he found his release, his seed spilling over his own belly.

Seifer followed quickly, pulling Squall tight against himself, burying his face in the curve of his lover's neck even as Squall's trembling legs slid down Seifer's sides weakly. He came, moaning: "Squall..." weakly.

They clung to one another, shuddering and shivering with the aftershocks of pleasure, their sweat dampened bodies tangled together. Seifer regretted not allowing Squall to strip out of the leather dress before he'd taken him, he wanted to feel Squall's skin, all of him, but had to content himself with stealing a hand beneath the pliant second skin. "Nobody but you can do this to me, Squall. Only you." Seifer's voice had become a hoarse whisper, the exertion making his limbs feel like lead weights.

It took a while before Seifer could ease them over, letting Squall's body drape, rag doll limp, over his own, his hands finding the warm skin of Squall's ass beneath the teasingly short leather skirt.

"Damn."

"Mm?"

"Just can't believe all this, that's all." The blonde smiled softly.

"I'm real. I promise." Squall murmured against the salty skin of Seifer's throat, his lips brushing against Seifer's flesh lightly.

"Love you so much." Seifer brushed his lips over Squall's temple. "And I haven't had sex that good in..." He laughed, unable to remember a time in the previous four years that had felt so good, so right, so beautiful. "A long time."

Shifting carefully until he was at eye level, Squall presented Seifer with a small, still shy smile. His pale, slender fingers tangled in the slick blonde locks, holding Seifer there so he could watch him lazily, his dark eyes sleepy. "I missed you." He admitted again. He'd said as much before, but that had been another Squall, and he had to say it again, as himself, just so Seifer would know it really was true.

"I missed you too, Squall. Thought about you every damned day." He rubbed his nose to Squall's gently. It was a silly gesture; one Seifer had never thought he'd be allowed to perform.

"Mmm.... Should I keep this outfit?"

"Definitely." Seifer responded with a low, wicked sounding chuckle. He didn't even have to hear the 'Whatever' to know it would be spoken, the word could mean anything and everything from Squall, in this particular instance, it was either 'I think you're a pervert and I like it', or 'I knew you'd say that'. The latter was the most likely, of course. "So, what d'ya say? Coming home with me?"

"I never said I wouldn't." The brunette smiled.

Squeezing his lover possessively, Seifer was reluctant to let Squall go. No matter how much the quiet man would be up for sexual acrobatics when they returned to his apartment, he didn't want to move, he didn't want to have to let Squall go. "Come on, Leonhart. Let's bag all your shit up and get the hell out of dodge."

"You're going to have to let me up you know." Squall smiled, releasing his grip from the blonde sweat dampened hair. When Seifer groaned, in an annoyed tone, and released him, he sat up, stretching slowly and kissed his lover's hand before rising again and returning to his packing. "You're getting, old Almasy."

"You just did me in."

"You're the one who did me." The younger man chuckled softly, finally changing back into the clothes he'd worn on the way over, tucking the dress into the bag and zipping it up.

"Damn, no kidding." Seifer lifted his head to look at his lover as the shorter man sat on the end of the bed, his hand falling lightly to rest on Seifer's ankle. "Can't wait to get the hell away from here." The blonde groaned as he reached for his shirt.

"...Why did you stop that night?"

The words made Seifer freeze; his gaze turning warily to the man perched at the end of the bed. "When?"

"The alley." Squall's emotions were hidden, his face a mask that gave away none of his feelings.

"I didn't know it was you." With a groan of exertion, Seifer rolled to the edge of the bed to pull his jeans on, making a point of not looking at his lover. "I saw some pathetic kid getting' worked over and..." He shrugged, letting his jade gaze rake Squall's slender form just once more. "Something about that pathetic kid reminded me of you."

"The pathetic part." The brunette muttered.

"No..." Seifer shrugged into his shirt and sat beside his lover, letting his hand rest on Squall's. "The lines of your body. I could see your silhouette. For just a minute, I wanted it to be you so bad that..." Seifer's voice died in his throat, his words thick with shame.

Squall edged closer, brushing his fingers over his lover's cheek gently. "That what?" He couldn't imagine Seifer feeling ashamed of his emotions, the concept completely alien.

"That I could almost deal with what I was seeing. Just thinking that you might be that close." He hung his head sadly. "I'm sorry, Squall. It was selfish. And then I wanted to kill them for touching you.

Offering Seifer one arm for a hug, Squall let that be his peace offering. He didn't care, nor did he blame Seifer, though he'd never be able to put into words how much he'd wished some of the blonde men over the years had been his old lover, the one who made him feel more effectively than anyone else ever had. When Seifer tugged him close, he closed his eyes, relaxing against his lover.

He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so comfortable, so needed.

"Things are going to be different now." Though Seifer was just trying to reassure himself more than Squall, the words bought a sense of peace to the silent brunette.

After listening to Seifer's heartbeat, the younger man lifted his head to gaze at his lover. "I want to apologise, for saying you were like him."

"Don't. It's forgotten."

"I've lived up to pissy bitch, haven't I?"

Seifer chuckled, ruffling Squall's too dark locks affectionately. "Hey. That's my bitch you're talking about."

"No accounting for taste."

With gentle fingers placed beneath Squall's chin, Seifer tipped his head up to watch his face. His eyes explored the pale flesh, focusing on the old silver scar that carved down between Squall's storm cloud eyes. Tracing the mark with his fingertip, he smiled wistfully. "I haven't been a prize, babe, remember? You and me deserve each other."

The trust in those beautiful green eyes that felt like fire on his skin whenever they looked at him made a pang of guilt shoot through Squall. His thoughts turned to the final three vials of rapture he had stashed in the bathroom, something he'd kept "just in case". He sighed and brushed his lips over Seifer's wrist. "The remedy... it'll help with the withdrawal, but would you do one last thing for me?"

"You know I will." The blonde nodded emphatically.

"There are three doses of rapture in the bathroom cabinet. Pour them down the drain or something," Squall closed his eyes tight shut, unsure of whether he should let Seifer see how hard that had been for him.

Seifer nodded, pulling away from his lover gently, stepping back into his boots before he slipped into the bathroom. He checked around while hidden by the bathroom door, pleased that aside from the three vials of the awful drug, there was very little in the way of drugs or anything that could indicate his addition in the room. When he returned to Squall, the items disposed of, he found his lover tucking that dog-eared photo in his pocket, along with a packet of cigarettes. "You ready?"

Pausing, Squall cast one last look around the room before nodding and tugging a remedy out of his bag. "Take this. In case."

The vial felt warm in Seifer's hand as he tucked it into his pocket, alive with magic. "Come on. Let's go home." He grinned, in an attempt to lighten the mood. "I'll make you dinner." The very prospect was enough to make the younger man flinch. "Hey, I make a great bowl of cereal."

"Whatever." The brunette smiled and shouldered his bag.

That night, after Seifer had fallen asleep, Squall climbed out of the bed, dropping a brief kiss on his lover's cheek. "One night away." He whispered, padding out of the room and curling up on the sofa. Closing his eyes, allowing himself to drift off, he didn't hear Seifer's muttering as the taller man rolled out of bed when the lack of a warm body beside him disturbed him. He didn't hear the soft footsteps on the thick carpet. He didn't even realise someone was there until Seifer curled up on the sofa beside him, pulling Squall close in a manner that didn't leave any room for argument.

As he curled against the warmth of his lover's body, letting the sound of Seifer's breathing sooth him and lull him into a deep, dreamless sleep, Squall murmured "puppy."

 

 

 

I hope you've enjoyed this chapter, and continue to enjoy the remainder of the fic. Please leave me a review if you have the time.

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