Author's Notes: the sequel to `Never Mine`.

Disclaimer: All the characters, places etc., are the property of Square, not me (::sniffs::). I'm just borrowing them for my own nefarious purposes. I promise they'll be tidied up, and sent home all clean an' sparkling.

Feedback: YES PLEASE!! I'd really appreciate your thoughts on my work. Read and Review (I'll give you chocolate!). Flame if you feel the need, I can always do with a good laugh.


Actions Speak Louder

By Seshat


I sat up, the sweat-soaked sheet tangled hopelessly around me.

Across the darkened room, I could see him silhouetted against the small window, striking profile softened by moonlight on one side, and the glow of a cigarette on the other.

Gods, I wish he'd quit that.

He didn't answer me, just exhaled a forceful breath of smoke against the glass, his eyes narrowing. If I didn't know better, I'd swear he was actually thinking. He was altogether too quiet, and it was beginning to unnerve me. Almost like...

Hyne, this must be the ordeal everyone else faces when they're trying to talk to me. I didn't realise how fucking irritating it is...

He glanced over at me, an eyebrow arched in question at my soft laugh. I just shrugged, and shook my head. He watched me for a moment longer before turning back to stare out of the window. Long, elegant fingers brought the cigarette back up to his lips for one last drag, before he stubbed it out on a plate on the windowsill, a typically determined look on his face.


I had a sudden insight into how that crushed and extinguished cigarette butt felt.

"But I..."

"It wouldn't work." He interrupted. "We both know that."

"And you won't even try? It's not like you to quit." I snapped, suddenly worried by the lack of emotion in his voice. I'd known this wouldn't be easy, but...he was making it a hell of a lot harder than it had to be.

"Fuck you..."

Been there, done that.

"At least tell me why…?"

He walked slowly over to me, and sat on the edge of the bed. My breath caught in my throat as he reached out to touch my face. I'd seen a thousand things in those expressive eyes in the past; passion, arrogance, pride, lust.

But all I could see now was a defeated sadness, and hell if that didn't frighten me.

The possibility that I'd gone a long way to putting it there, wasn't something I wanted to think about. I was already stunned that he didn't hate me for the way I'd treated him.

It would have been so terribly easy to blame Rinoa, but my guilt went back a lot further than that.

His fingers stroked down my cheek, along my jaw, hooking beneath my chin as his thumb brushed across my bottom lip. He leant forward, and I shivered as our foreheads touched.

"I'm scared." He whispered, each syllable a soft, warm breath against my lips.

I blinked.

"Not for me." He went on. "I'm a worthless piece of shit, and I don't really give a fuck what they do to me. Hell, it can't be worse than what my own mind's doing to me." He laughed weakly, humourlessly. "But you...they look up to you, they admire you. If you lost their respect, if they turned on you because of me...I won't let anything happen to you, not while I've got the power to help it."

"You're not worthless. And nothing is going to happen to me." I frowned, secretly touched and outwardly pissed off at his concern. "Besides, I can take care of myself."

"Oh, I don't doubt that you can." He grinned, a faint parody of his old self flickering in the smirk. "But the fact is you shouldn't have to, especially not in your own home. And we both know it's a place where I'm not welcome...I never was."

"That isn't true..."

"C'mon, you don't have to spare my feelings. You don't deserve all the shit they'll give you for bringing the Sorceress Knight back to Garden."

No, he wasn't making this easy at all.

From the moment I left Rinoa standing on the Garden balcony, my anxiety had been running on overdrive. The temporary relief I'd felt at her unexpected encouragement dissolved before I even made it through the party. I must have looked even more intimidating than usual, stalking through the room. Even though I could feel all their stares burning into me, not even Selphie and her goddamned video camera approached me.

I was glad. The way I was feeling, I could very easily have burst into tears, and run out screaming. And that just wouldn't do my image any good.

I received some more strange looks when I demanded that Nida take Garden back to Balamb. The fact that my voice wasn't its usual deadpan didn't help me any, but I'm the goddamned Commander and if I wanted to take Garden to the goddamned moon, then that's precisely what would happen goddamnit!!

Someone must have cast Triple on my doubts when we finally arrived in the town, and I realised that I had no idea where he was. I had no intention of walking around town, and risk being hounded by well-meaning locals. But the other option, enquiring as to his whereabouts, was as good an idea as asking Ifrit if he'd like a nice long vacation in Trabia.

But I knew him, knew his haunts, knew the places he was likely to be.

The hotel bar wasn't one of those places, which was precisely why he was there, and why I checked there first.

After all, there's no better place to hide than in public.

I should know.

It was late, and the bar was almost deserted. He was sitting in the corner, hunched over a glass of whiskey, that I doubted was his first. The few other patrons had positioned themselves on the furthest table away from him, and were whispering conspiratorially when I walked in.

The hush that fell over the room forced me to bite back a laugh.

He didn't look up as I approached, but I could see the body language changing as he sensed someone standing by the table, muscles tensing beneath the grey trenchcoat. He was preparing himself for a fight, just as my conscience gave my heart a vicious little kick.

Hell, I was still getting over the fact that someone turned its thermostat down to defrost. Seeing him again, with my mind clearer than it had been in a long time...I could almost feel the slush dribbling out of my chest.

"Can I help you?" His tone was uninterested, but held an edgy note of defensiveness.

I wondered how many times he'd already had to `defend` himself, while the woman who had originally put him in this position was ingratiating herself back at Garden. I doubted that Irvine and Quistis would be quite so charming and congenial if they were standing in my place.

I struggled to keep the sudden fury from my face, in case he caught the look and thought it was for him.

When I still didn't reply, he sighed quietly before looking up.

In the split second before he did, I saw him reach discreetly for his gunblade.

Then he realised it was me. For a moment, that strong jaw fell slack, and emerald eyes briefly glazed over. He blinked a couple of times, as if he assumed I was a figment of his imagination, and he was just waiting for me to disappear.

Sorry, not this time.

We didn't speak. We never really had to, which suited me fine. There were a hundred different things he could call me on, and I could have countered every one, but neither of us did. We just stared at each other for a couple of minutes, before I turned and walked out.

I knew he'd follow me.

He caught up with me outside. I stood on the cobbled, curved street gazing out across the flat, sparkling harbour at the massive structure, almost iridescent with lights, hovering in the distance.

'It was your love for him. And his love for you...he needs you now.'

Ironic, really, that it was Rinoa's words echoing in my mind when I pulled Seifer close and kissed him.

We didn't let go for a long time.

It turned out he was renting a room on one of Balamb's few rundown side streets. It was a tip, but at least the landlord cared more about the colour of gil than someone's reputation.

He held my hand as we walked. I let him, a glare at the ready should we encounter anyone. Fortunately the streets of town were empty, and soothingly silent.

He met my gaze with an expectant look, after the door of his room shut safely behind us. Even if I'd known what to say, or even where to begin, I didn't think I could rely on my voice.

So I didn't.

With every touch I let him know how sorry I was, how much I regretted the things I'd done to him. Looking back, nothing made much sense. Seifer came to Timber to help us, and wound up being abducted and brainwashed by Edea. And what did I do? Fought him, treated him as though the whole thing was his fault, when I should have fought like hell to get him back. Abandoned him to be her scapegoat. Edea might have been the one to dig her claws into him, but I practically handed him over, tied and bound, with a note saying `go ahead, keep him, I don't mind`.

With every caress, I pleaded for forgiveness. I should have been there for him. It should never have mattered what we were going through, but I knew it had. I'd been so the argument, the fight, the mess he'd made of the exam simply because he was trying to prove something to me. Angry at myself for making him feel he had to. I hated myself for doubting him, and in the heat of that moment, I'd hated him for giving me a reason to.

With every gaze we didn't break, I made it clear that hating him was the last thing I ever wanted to do. If he was waiting for me to grant him forgiveness, he'd be waiting a hell of a long time. In my mind, he hadn't done anything that needed forgiving. I stared into those beautiful, haunted eyes and promised that I'd never let him go again. I hadn't been there for him when he needed someone...needed me. From that moment on, I'd be there for him forever.

With every kiss, I handed him the keys to my soul, and proceeded to show him the part of me that needed him more than anything else in the world. Told him that he was the one person who could get to me that way...the only one who had ever succeeded in chipping through the ice. I had a feeling the smug bastard already knew that, but I'd never owned up to it before.

And when we came - intense, blinding and a fraction of a second apart - I told him that I loved him.

Out loud. There were some things that even I wouldn't leave to guesswork.

He held me tight enough that breathing was getting to be a problem, kissed away my tears, and told me he loved me too.

I guess I was just so relieved that the hollow pain had gone from his eyes, I got carried away. But the moment I mentioned reinstating him at Garden, the barriers slammed up again.

"I don't care what anyone else thinks, or says, or does." I frowned. "Ultimately, it's my decision and they'll have to respect it."

"Gettin' addicted to the power, Leonhart?" He smirked.

"I never asked for it. But since I've got it, might as well put it to good use." I shrugged. "But that's not the point. So there'll be people there who resent you for what happened..."

"That's an understatement..."

"Okay, there'll be people who'll absolutely hate you for what happened," I said bluntly. "Is that any better?"

"Whatever..." He grinned.

"But you're going to get that kind of reaction where ever you go."

"Yeah, I guess that's a drawback in trying to destroy the world, there really aren't many people who don't know about it."

"You didn't try to destroy the world. She did. And she's been welcomed back with open arms," I muttered. "Okay, so you don't come back. What the hell else are you going to do?" The threat to his ego was such a cheap shot, but I was running out of ideas.

We'd both spent the vast majority of our lives at Garden, and for better or worse it was all we knew. There had been times during the war when I'd have given anything for the courage to walk away. Quit, let someone else deal with it. The others got it into their heads that the reason I didn't was because of my sense of duty, of honour. I wondered what they'd think of me if they knew I only stayed because I was terrified of leaving. I'd rather have battled a thousand Ultimecias' than try and find out who, and what Squall Leonhart was, outside the only world he'd ever known.

I knew Seifer felt the same way.

We just deal with it differently.

I cope with the world by closing myself off from it, pretending that if I don't care, then I can't get hurt. He copes with the world by taking the whole thing on just to prove he can, pretending that it won't hurt him if he hurts it first.

But I do care. And he's just learnt that when the world fights back, it tends to fight dirty.

"I haven't decided yet." He glared at me. "But that doesn't mean I have to go running back, like it's my last resort."

"What about the fact that I want you there...doesn't that mean a thing to you?"

The truth was, that while we both knew he'd never find anywhere completely willing to forgive and forget and let's be best friends, at least if he was back at Garden with me, I could make sure none of it got out of hand...I could keep him safe. Make up for all the times I hadn't. I couldn't protect him if he was out of my reach.

I knew what his reaction to that would be.

"You want me back?"

'You need to be together now.'

"Yes..." Back at Garden, back in my life...whatever.

"What about the rest of them...what about Rinoa?"

I smiled at the tiny flash of jealously in his eyes. He'd been under the spell of a sorceress himself, surely he knew what she'd done to me. I still couldn't quite believe what she'd done to me, but if I was still a little angry it was only because of the way it must have made him feel.

"What about her? She's the one that sent me here tonight."

Thank Hyne he was already sitting down, I was certain he'd have keeled over if he wasn't. After a couple of attempts at speaking, he finally managed;

"...the hell?"

"Oh, yeah. Actually, she seemed to know a hell of a lot more about  it than I ever told her." I raised  an  eyebrow. "You...didn't happen to mention me to her, did you Seifer?" I asked innocently. "You remember, that summer...I mean, even you wouldn't stoop so low as to tell her about me in an attempt to make her leave you alone...would you?"

Well, at least he had the good grace to blush.

"I should have known better..." He shook his head. "That girl's as dense as a fricking post..."

"Not anymore."

Thinking about it, I wondered if she ever had been. I guess she was just too optimistic for her own good. I felt a little pang of guilt at the thought that her experiences with all of us had tarnished that hope. We'd all seen too much. We'd learnt to expect the worst. If fate delivered, at least we'd be prepared. And if it didn't, it was a nice surprise.

Maybe that explained the air of restlessness I'd felt at the party. Fate hadn't delivered. After weeks of living for the fight, waking up each morning wondering if we'd see the next one, it was suddenly over. We were left staring vacantly at the latest nice surprise, wondering what the hell to do with ourselves.

I wasn't complaining. That same restlessness had brought me here tonight.

Maybe the others were right. Maybe she had actually changed me, because hell if I wasn't going to take a lesson from her, and go into this hopeful, heart wide open and fully expecting the best.

I only hoped he realised what I was putting on the line.

"I just want you to tell me one thing...and I want an honest to Gods, yes or no answer."


"Do you want to come back?"

"Squall, it's not about what I..."

"Hey..." I shook my head, placed a finger against his lips. "I said, yes or no."

I gasped slightly, when he caught my finger delicately between his teeth, and nibbled it playfully.

"What part of `yes or no` don't you understand, Seifer?" I breathed.

"As I recall, you're the one who's a little hazy on the `no` part." He grinned wickedly, releasing my finger, and capturing my lips instead. As usual, the kiss immediately flared right out of control, and I'd long given up denying that I liked it that way.

I was totally aware that he was avoiding the question, but if this was his idea of side-tracking me, well...I could deal with that.

It felt too damn good being in his arms again.

And it gave me another chance to...persuade him.

He cursed under his breath as he tried to disentangle me from the rumpled sheet.

"What the fuck is it with you and the whole belt fixation, huh?" He grumbled. "You're just not happy unless you've got something tied around you, are you?"

I giggled. He stared at me as though I'd just lost my mind.

"It laughs!" He rolled his eyes dramatically, shaking his head. "Well fuck me..."

I shrugged.

"Yeah, okay."

His eyes widened momentarily, then narrowed. In the second in between I saw both desire and hesitation.

"You think you can take me, Leonhart?"

"Try me."

He seemed to consider that, a serious look on his handsome face.

The next thing I knew, he'd flipped us over, and I was staring down into the most open, vulnerable expression I'd ever seen.

"No..." He shook his head, his whisper shaky. "I don't want you to fuck me..." He pulled me down into a soft kiss. "I want you to make love to me..."

I simply nodded, a little taken aback.

There had been a time when I was terrified I'd never hear those words coming from him.

I leant down, pressed my lips to his scar, letting my kisses trail slowly down the side of his face, along his strong jawline, down his neck.

His fingers tangled in my hair as I shifted lower, licking and nibbling along his shoulder, his collarbone, his chest. I let my tongue linger teasingly, first on one nipple, then the other. He sucked in a sharp breath when I let my teeth graze one sensitive nub.

The breaths turned into moans as I slid wet, open-mouthed kisses closer to the hardness that had been poking me in the chest, demanding my attention. I obliged, capturing it gently between my lips. Seifer let out a loud whimper, head thrown back, spine arched gracefully, hips bucking reflexively. Ignoring the almost painful grip he had on my hair, I rested my hands on his thighs, carefully keeping him still while my mouth went to work.

I lavished long, slow licks along his entire length, velvet soft and granite hard beneath my lips, every touch earning another sigh, another gasp. Sweet little sounds that drove me crazy, drove me on, until my nose was tickling against downy golden hair.

It took me a while to notice, but Seifer had suddenly become silent. Not breaking the rhythm, I glanced up. He had raised himself on his elbows, and was watching me intently, a flush across those fine cheekbones, his mouth slightly parted, his breathing ragged.

I hadn't realised this was a visual performance as well.

I could pinpoint the exact second when our eyes met. A soft moan hitched in his throat, his whole body tensing before he came, hard.

From somewhere in the sea of mussed sheets, he produced a small, familiar bottle of sweet-scented oil. I found his lips with my own, gasping against the kiss as cool, wet fingers closed around my aching shaft.

He wrapped those impossibly long legs around my waist, as I slid my hands under him, lifting his hips into my lap. Beyond the thumping of my heart, I distantly heard a low groan as I positioned myself.

I wasn't entirely sure if it came from him or me.

All I did know was the mind-shattering thrill that went through me as I held his gaze, and slowly thrust into him.


A hand of steel in a velvet glove. That's how it felt to be inside him. Inconceivably tight, a heat I knew I was hooked on. For an agonising second, I just stayed still, eyes shut, revelling in the sensation, feeling all the tiny tremors running though the beautiful body around me.

Almost of its own accord, my own body began to move. As my thrusts became faster, deeper, my name became a chant from his parted lips. My name, interspersed with 'oh', 'fuck', 'Gods' and 'yes'. I gazed at his face, amazed at the disarming trust I saw there.

I barely deserved it, after the things I'd done. I barely deserved him.

But no-one else could make me feel like this...

I could feel that crackling electricity building at the base of my spine, shooting out little arcs of pleasure through every nerve, making multicoloured sparks dance in my vision. Before I lost all sense to my onrushing climax, I reached between us, grasped his erection, stroking it firmly.

He came against my hand, still crying my name.

I came inside him, the same way I had before.

"I love you, Seifer..."

I loved him, more than I ever thought I could love anyone.

I loved him, and for the first time in my life, it didn't frighten me.

I loved him, and if he wasn't going to come back to Garden with me, then I'd just have to go with him.

I rested my head on his chest for a moment, just listening to his heartbeat. This was different. I'd always pushed myself, done my best to give him pleasure, prided myself on knowing all the ways to drive him crazy. But I couldn't ever remember wanting so desperately to make him happy. When he pulled me back up into a bruisingly intense kiss, I realised he was right.

This was making love.

He smiled at me, as he broke the kiss.

"I guess after that, I owe you an answer."

"Which is…?"

He stared at me for a long moment, wariness and hope vying for dominance in his eyes.


"Then that's all that matters to me." I wrapped my arms loosely around his neck. "Hell, I don't care if it pisses everyone off to the extent that we're the only ones left."

"Oh, now that has possibilities." He murmured, kissing my neck. "In the elevator, on the front steps, on a table in the cafeteria, on a bench in the quad, in the fountain..."

"Does that mean you'll come back with me?"

"Only if you agree to one of the aforementioned conditions." He grinned. "You're the Commander, you gotta be able to pull some strings, right?"


"Okay, okay..." He sighed. "I love you, I want to be with you. I still don't think it's a good idea, but if you do, then I'll take the risk…Yeah, I'll go back with you. Satisfied?"

Pulling him down for another tender kiss, I growled;

"Not even close."


Author's Notes:

First of all, HUGE thanks to everyone who reviewed `Never Mine`. It was a real honour to have my work read, and appreciated by some of (what I consider) the best FF8 writers out there. I thought the line about the Garden turning back towards Balamb gave the pairing away, since the others were actually AT the party. Sorry if anyone's disappointed. BTW, Darksquall, sorry it wasn't a SquallXZell, but I'm not sure I could do your versions justice. (Thanks to you, Robbie Williams' `Eternity` always makes me cry now.)

Second, now you're all suitably flattered, ;) please tell me what you thought of this, especially in terms of characterisation. It's my first real attempt at graphic yaoi, so I'd appreciate your views.

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