There are odd noises from the shower, and a moan that sounds almost like Seifer. Maybe he fell down. Cautiously I peek into the tiled area. Despite the steam of a couple showerheads giving off hot water, I can see two figures. In the far corner, a brown haired boy (Micah, was it?) is leaning heavily against the wall. And there was the blonde figure I knew all too well. Seifer. He is over the other boy, moving forward and back. Blood rushes to my cheeks and ears as I realize they are having sex. I should move before Seifer sees me, but I'm entranced.
His moans are timed with his thrusts he sounded so happy. I want to give him that pleasure, but I don't know how. It's too easy to get trapped in that shell of mine. Seifer is the only one who can open it for me. Let me breathe fresh air. But he only wants to fight with me, not this. Maybe, he didn't want me since I am too weak and not worthy. He would be right.
Suddenly Seifer cries out louder than before, startling me from my frozen spot and getting me to move back into the locker room and out the door before he can find me. As I run away, I decide that I'll have to try harder. Maybe if I can beat him, he'll want me, too. Then, I could make him happy. Then, I wouldn't be lost in my shell.
For the second time in as many days, I wake in a strange room. This is beginning to be a bad habit. Turning my head, I see a room that was in a state of a clean mess. You could see the floor, but everything was in piles of a 'filing system' that only the owner knew. Looking further down the room, there was a figure slumped uncomfortably in a chair. Seifer.
As if hearing my thoughts, he jolts awake and looks at me. Seeing me awake, he walks to the side of the bed. He doesn't speak, though, an unusual expression of guilt is on his face.
Wanting to break the uncomfortable silence, I say the first thing that comes to mind. "Don't see the trenchcoat."
He starts a little. "Oh, I burned it the first chance I got." After running a hand nervously through his hair, he asks, "Um, Squall, are you okay?"
I close my eyes, trying to remember what happened. There was fighting in the training center, but I can't remember sparring Seifer. No, I promised Rinoa that I wouldn't. But he did show up and Ah, that's right. He told me to tell him I loved him and then kiss him. I had decided to play his game if it meant getting rid of the curse, but once I started to say it, my head felt like a sledgehammer smacked into it. With every step, it got worse until, well, guess I passed out.
"I'm really sorry. I didn't know "
I open my eyes to look at the blonde. He is staring at his hands, looking oddly timid.
"I did find a possible cure to your curse. It's for you to openly say you love someone else, thus denying your love of the sorceress. The thing is, it really does have to be someone you love. And well, you could say, I was playing around last night. After you did it to me, I was planning to tell you to do it to someone you actually cared for, only at that time at that time, be prepared for the pain."
Just awakened from sleep, it takes a moment to sink in. If there was pain, that meant I and he now knows. Heh, actually he knew before me. Son of a bitch.
"Really, I didn't know. I thought you hated me. These days I felt like we were connecting a bit, but not really friends. I "
I can't breathe. I jump out of the bed, surprising Seifer who thus far had refused to look at me directly. I don't care. I just need out of here and now. With as little coherent thought as I had after leaving his room, I make a beeline to the elevator and to the headmaster's office. Once in the room, I deactivate the elevator to this floor to ensure my privacy.
Pressing my forehead against the cold window, I try to slow my thoughts. I can feel the breaking point in me and it is far too close. If only I could breathe. Focusing on the coldness on my skin and forcing deep breaths, I avoid a complete breakdown. With a cynical smile, I tell myself that it would be much more fun in front of an audience, anyway. Rinoa will definitely have to be there to see her knight in shiny armor drop off the deep end.
One thing at a time. First, to break the curse, I have to confess my love to someone that isn't Rinoa. If someone asked me a few days ago if I loved anyone, I wouldn't have been able to name a single person, well except I would have said Rinoa due to the spell. Curse aside, she had been the closest person to someone I could love, but she wasn't even in the ballpark. Now, I find out that I have feelings for a certain blonde. Not only that, but before I realize this, he finds out. It's not supposed to work that way.
At some point I had started banging my head on the sturdy glass. After noticing this, I hit it a couple more times and then go to sit at the desk. Laying my head on the desktop, I look at the clock. Five in the morning on a lovely Friday. Closing my eyes, I let my logical side takeover and come up with the answer. It was going to probably kill me, but I had to end this.
Thank Hyne Seifer arrived first that afternoon. He didn't say anything to me as we waited. Just sat in the sofa chair and examined his hands. I could have said something to him then, but I had to help myself first. Only when the elevator started to move does he stir. He hadn't expected company.
I walk around the desk and motion him to stand. "Be ready to catch me."
He does have a cute expression when he is confused, but there wasn't time to focus on that. I walk towards the elevator, relieved to hear the footsteps behind me. The doors open and Rinoa walks in with a perky step. I don't call her in much, so she was probably expecting something special. Perhaps a proposal. Poor girl.
She stops when she sees Seifer, eyes squinting in confusion. It was cuter than Seifer's, but who can beat a princess's face?
"Let me do this quickly." I resist moving my hand to press against the pounding in my head. It wouldn't help, and my stubborn side wants me to look strong. "Rinoa, I " Say it and the pain will leave. " I love Seifer ." I force my vision into some kind of focus. I have to finish this. "I don't love you ."
Not even realizing things went dark, the light comes back to my eyes. The warmth on my arm suggests that I had lost my balance and Seifer is supporting me. Just tell me that I said it all out loud. I don't think I could again.
Rinoa stares at me with big doe eyes. "What do you mean, Squall? Of course you love me. You say so all the time. Seifer he must have made you confused. Let go of him." She moves a step forward.
"No, Rinoa." The word was heaven on my lips, though the pain was still throbbing in my head. "I never loved you. You accidentally spelled me. I'm sorry."
"I would never put a spell on you. Let's talk this out, Squall."
The pain won't go away. Damn it, she must be unconsciously trying to repair it. I can't keep fighting like this.
Seifer moves me so we stand face to face, well as much as we can be given the height difference. He gently grabs my chin and then he is kissing me. How could he even think of this right now, or so I should be saying. Instead, I respond to the kiss, letting a questing tongue enter. Some of the pain fades from my head, some is covered by pleasure, but I'm still hurting.
"You aren't gay, Squall! We've slept together. He is the one putting some spell on you. I can help you, Squall."
We pull apart from the kiss and I have to place my head on his chest. I can't find the energy to speak anymore.
"Haven't you heard of bisexuals, Rinoa darling? You're looking at two right now. As for bewitching Squall, although I know I'm good looking, it takes more than a flutter of eyelids to get this man. You are the one with the sorceress power. He won't blame you for it, but it's because of those powers and your damn desires that Squall was spelled to act like he loved you."
"That's not true We were destined for each other. Right, Squall?"
"Oh, you little dimwit. Ever notice that fairy tales always end just before the beautiful girl and her prince get married? That's because it never works out. While I don't deserve him, at least my love for him has a realistic basis."
Through the pounding in my skull, I barely hear his words. He loves me? But he never wanted me before.
"Why aren't you letting Squall answer for himself? Squall!"
"Since you seem to be outdoing your normal denseness, I will tell you why. He can't talk. You are torturing him right now because you won't fucking let him go!"
Rinoa takes a step back. Whether from Seifer's harsh words or because she actually noticed my body shaking from the pain, I don't care.
"Rinoa " My voice is strained to my own ears. Maybe this was going to kill me after all. "Please I don't love you. Seifer is perhaps the only one I have ever loved. You couldn't be happy knowing that. Let me go "
Tears start falling heavily from her deep brown eyes. She smiles shakily. "Heh I I guess it was sudden that you loved me, but I thought it was because we were destined as a knight and his sorceress. I didn't mean I'm sorry But we ." She turns and runs to the open elevator. I can hear her sobs until the doors close.
The pain starts to ebb away, but I'm too tired to really focus on that. I just want to sleep.
Why couldn't I have been that strong? To force myself to fight. To will myself free. But he had always been better than I was. It had always frustrated him to lose to me, but I had almost a year difference on him. When I was that age, I couldn't wield the gunblade with such skill.
Once again, he is lying on my bed recovering from intense pain. I don't want Rinoa to get her claws into him again, even if it was accidental. She was probably crying to Quistis and Selphie right now, blaming me for everything. Let her. As long as Squall gets some rest.
Instead of waiting across the room like last night, I sit as close as I can. I can't help myself. Some where inside of him, there was the feeling of love for me. I need to touch him, to make it more real. Of course my fingers go straight to the scar I gave him. I touch it lightly, careful of the signs that Im disturbing his sleep. My hand travels downward to the lips I tasted just an hour ago. They were so soft and warm. I hope I can taste them again.
With a sigh, I remove my hand. Squall isn't ready for these emotions. I remember when I was about 15 and my hormones were on full blast. I was fucking some guy in the shower. Can't remember his name. He had somewhat short, brown hair and that's all that had mattered at the time. While thrusting, I saw a familiar figure out the corner of my eye. The thought of Squall watching made me come. Even with my heavy breathing, I could hear the boy running away and out the door. I was too tired to follow. From that day on, our fights were more aggressive because of Squall. I assumed he was a homophobe and was thus disgusted with me. After this whole Ultimecia mess, I assumed he hated me even more.
But instead, somewhere inside of him, he loves me. With that new tidbit, events could be looked at differently. Maybe he fought harder because he was mad at me for fucking someone else. Maybe he was afraid of his own sexuality and blamed me. As for my time spent as the Sorceress' Knight, I had attacked Squall, looking for blood. While the brunette fought back, he never allowed the finishing blow, even though he had the chance and not killing me put him at risk. He had called to me a couple times, trying to reason with me. He cared about my existence.
My thoughts stop when Squall's eyelids flutter open. He must be getting sick of waking from unconsciousness by now. He turns and looks at me with stormy eyes. His parents gave him the perfect name.
"Did I "
"Guess the best way to tell is for you to say it. Do you still love Rinoa?"
He hesitated, afraid to hear his own answer. "I I don't love her. I never loved Rinoa." His eyes closed as if in bliss. He fought himself free.
"Congratulations. You are officially single."
Unthinking, I raise a hand to caress a cheek. He flinches away and sits up in the bed. I sure know how to ruin a moment.
"Thank you for your help but "
I smile the best I can. "But you aren't ready. I understand. I've gotten good at waiting." I stand up and go to pick up my backpack of books. "Well, no time like the present to get work done. See ya." And I'm out the door.
So, I'm a coward. Everyone knows that by now. I couldn't stand it anymore, looking at someone I wanted who was currently lying in my bed but untouchable. And I could tell he needed a way out, too. Leaving was the best thing for the moment. We know where to find each other when it matters.
I leave a message for my secretary that I will be out for a few days. The Garden can survive that long without me and my signature. She alone will know where I am going just incase hell breaks loose and I need to be contacted. Actually, anyone with a decent brain could figure out where I am going. A place where I can think things through.
I take the late train to Esthar, which is not so surprisingly crowded. It's not too late on a Friday night, so of course people are going out to party. Except for me. I just want to get to Esthar and to my father. His ramblings should help to at least let me relax. Too bad I'll probably have to wait until tomorrow morning. The train arrives in the city at little before midnight.
I didn't bother to take luggage since Laguna insisted that I have a permanent room at the President's place. There is extra clothing and such already waiting for me in the room. Kind of handy after all. I take my time walking there, thinking of nothing but how interesting my shoes are as I watch my feet. I get to the building and wave at a guard who immediately lets me through.
I look to the side of the lobby to see Laguna getting up from a sofa. What is he doing there?
When he hugs me, it is oddly gentle. "I heard from your secretary how something happened this afternoon. She didn't have the details, but I was hoping you would come here if you needed anything. I knew the last train just got in a while ago, so I thought it wouldnt hurt to wait down here."
For the first time I can remember, I rest my head on his shoulder as he continues to hold me. It feels good to be held by a father. And I am so tired.
"Come on, let's go to my study. We can sit and talk." Still with a hand around my shoulder, he leads me to one of those odd Estharian elevators. My unusual actions must bother him since he limps a little as we walk.
In his personal study, there is a couch and two sofa chairs. He directs me to the couch and then sits down on the chair closest to me. I always found the room amusing. There were floor to ceiling bookshelves at every wall, all filled with books plus some more piled in front of the shelves. Never considered Laguna the scholarly type, but many of the books were serious in nature with subjects like history, biology, and a few physics books. The ones on the floor were mainly science fiction novels he loved. Never enjoyed the things myself.
"So, what do you want to do?"
He wasn't stupid. He just gets easily excited at times. Well, maybe he was partially an idiot, but when the moment called for it, he knew what to do. Why else would he become President? He knows I probably don't want to talk about anything right now.
I lean back and place an arm over my eyes. "Talk about my mother."
"I can do that." I can hear the smile when he talks. He could never get tired talking about her, and right now I just want to hear his voice telling me about happy times.
I wake up in complete darkness, which was unnerving. I sit up quickly and the motion detectors of the room turn on the light. Laguna's study. I pull off the blanket covering me. Guess I fell asleep while Laguna was talking to me and he left me on the couch. According to a clock on a small desk in the middle of the room, it was a little after seven in the morning. Amazing, I got more than a few hours of sleep.
Running a hand through my hair, I walk out of the study and head towards Laguna's office. I don't think I am ready to talk yet, but I never bothered asking him last night if he had plans for this weekend. In the hallway, I nearly run into him.
"Squall, my boy. I was just going to check in on you. How do you feel about getting some breakfast with me?" He looks so cheery and he didn't even get as much sleep as I did. He must have a caffeine hormone in his body some where.
"I haven't showered yet."
"Then we'll stay in."
I shrug. I hadn't eaten in over a day, my nerves too high on edge. The sound of food awakens some hunger in me. "Are you sure I'm not interrupting anything?"
Laguna smacks me on the shoulder. "Why would I want to do anything else when my son is here? Let's go eat."
The large table in the dinning room is comical with just the two of us sitting at one corner of it. Kiros and Ward aren't around since it is the weekend. It is nice how empty the place is at this time of the week. The breakfast was delicious, which was expected considering the high-ranking chef in the kitchen. Currently I sip at a cup of black coffee, letting Laguna ramble.
" And just listen to me, going on like that. Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Un, it would be nice if no one knew I was here."
"Oh? I think that can be arranged. Any exceptions?"
He is thinking of Rinoa. Why not when to him we are a major item, practically engaged? I look into the half empty cup of coffee in my hands as if there were answers to all of my problems.
"Can we talk?" The words are strange in my mouth.
Laguna's eyebrows rise a little and then he pushes back his chair. "Shall we go to the study?"
It's almost déjà vu as I sit on the couch and he in the same chair from the night before. Focusing on a nonexistent spot on the carpet, I begin to talk. I start with the moment Rinoa received the sorceress powers and end with the evening yesterday. Nothing flowery, and only sticking to the main details.
"And so I came here." Throughout the whole thing, my eyes didn't move. For some reason I don't understand I can't bring myself to look at my father.
I hear a creek as he moves in the chair. "Squall, I'm very sorry you faced it all alone for so long. If I had known--"
"Don't. There was no way for you to know." I was under the spell when he first met me. He wouldn't have recognized an attitude change.
"So, what are your feelings for this Seifer?"
Inside, I flinch. It was what I came here to figure out, but I would rather avoid the subject. "I don't know. I "
A warm hand squeezes my shoulder. "No matter what you decide, I support you."
I turn my head to face him. "You dont mind? That "
"That you may love another man? Not in the least."
The knot building in my stomach suddenly unwinds. I realize that unconsciously I feared that he wouldn't accept a gay son. That the father I had had for only a short time would desert me again. But he doesn't care. He isn't leaving me.
He sits back in his chair. "So surprised, are you? You've seen Kiros, especially when he was younger. That exotic beauty and feline grace. I've had numerous fantasies about him since we met. In fact, there was this one with him on the beach. He had this popsicle--"
I hold up a hand to stop him. That was one direction I did not feel like going in.
He smiles embarrassed. "Well, I never acted on them, though. The point being, you are my son no matter."
"I appreciate it, Dad."
His eyes go wide and lips part in surprise. It was the first time I called him 'Dad'. Normally, I'd be surprised at myself, too, or the word would be awkward, but it just seems natural at this moment. I doubt I'll say it again anytime soon, though.
Once the initial shock passes, he jumps on me with one of his killer hugs. Why did he need a weapon when he could do this? Surprisingly though, he doesn't say anything and just rocks me a little.
He lets go as he stands up. A hand wipes away some tears. "Sorry, it's just that I don't really deserve it after all these years, and ." He takes a deep breath to calm himself. "I'm sure you want to go clean up after all you've been through. Why don't you go to your room, take a shower and relax. I better go to the office and finish some things up, that way we can have the whole day tomorrow. If you need me, just come up the path I showed you. That way no one has to see you. Otherwise, see you at dinner."
And with that, he limps quickly out the door. Amazing how that one little word put him so out of sorts.
In my room, I take a long, steaming shower. Tense muscles relax only slightly, but then again I'm always tense. After drying myself off, I put on a robe and lie down on the bed to think. Just yesterday I had decided to face my worst problem -- Rinoa. Despite not expecting that extent of pain, I am free of her. She must be taking it hard, but she is beautiful enough to easily find herself another knight to leech off of. Right now I have to face my next problem.
He kissed me. I didn't ask him to, but he did it probably when I needed it most. And I enjoyed it. My mind screams out that I shouldn't love him, and that everything I love just ends up leaving. But I trust Laguna enough now to stay. When I said 'Dad', I was also saying 'I love you'. Why can't I trust Seifer like that? Oh, wait, it's because I have been fighting him all my life, not writing him love notes.
Frustrated after several hours of pointless thinking, I get out of the bed. Not wanting to squeak with every step, I put on normal jeans and a loose white shirt with my silver necklace hanging out. With nothing better to do, I go up the hidden hallway to Laguna's office. He showed it to me a month ago when we sneaked out of his office to grab lunch. I've thought about having one built at the Garden.
Before I even reach the door, I can hear a high-pitched voice through the wall.
"Where is he, Laguna? I know from the men outside that Squall came here last night!"
"Rinoa, please calm yourself. No reason to make the guards think we're under attack here. For your information, yes, Squall did come here last night. I'm not sure where he is now, though."
"Then let me check his room. The guards wouldn't let me without your okay first. Why is that?"
"Because that is Squall's room back there. Only those accompanied with Squall or with his permission can go into his room."
"I'm his girlfriend! Of course I have permission to go to his room. I've been there numerous times."
Laguna sighs. "Rinoa dear, I know about your break up."
"We didn't break up! He is just confused. Once I talk to him without Seifer around, I can clear things up."
"Why do you love him?"
"I we're destined to be together. He will always protect me as my knight. And he loves me, too."
"Um, I see. Well, as I said earlier, I am not sure where he is right now. Perhaps at the orphanage."
"But the guards said--"
"The guards are not there to keep track of Squall. And he is skilled enough to leave unnoticed."
I can imagine the pout she must be directing at Laguna. I'm impressed at how well he has handled this so far.
"Now, if you don't mind, I do have work to do. Presidential stuff and all."
There is a 'hmph' and a sound of heavy footfalls towards the entrance.
Startling me a little, the secret door opens and Laguna smiles down at me. "Enjoy the show?"
"You knew I was here?"
He shrugs exactly like I do. "I was a soldier, and you do give off quite the aura."
I sit down at a chair near a window while he returns to his spot at the desk.
"My, that girl certainly doesn't take rejection well. Personally, I'd advise you to choose Seifer over her."
"You don't know Seifer."
"Actually, he called earlier while you were in your room."
What? Why would he
"He found out from your secretary that you left for vacation somewhere. After calling a couple other places, he tried me here. He didn't care where you were, just wanted to make sure you were okay. Interesting that Rinoa didn't ask once about how you were feeling, especially considering you almost fell unconscious right in front of her."
I stare out the window towards where the Garden should be. During this whole thing, I never considered Seifer's welfare or feelings. Maybe Rinoa and I have something in common.
"I asked him, too, you know."
Confused, I look at Laguna. "Asked what?"
"Why he loved you. Can you guess his answer?"
I shrug. "My nice ass?"
Laguna bursts out laughing. "I can't believe it. You hit it right on."
Figured. Seifer wouldn't be able to answer a question like that seriously.
Once he got his laughter under control, he continues, "Well, he didn't say much after that. But overall, I like him more than Rinoa. The three of us will have to have dinner sometime."
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