WARNING: boylove, shouen-ai, yaoi, explicit smut, swearing and pink carpeting.

Final Fantasy VIII belongs to Squaresoft. Bollocks.

Feedback very welcome, here or by e-mail (fanfic @ scribblemoose.co.uk)

Second story in the Magic series.

This series, for Gwen, with love.

Blood and Sand

Chapter 7 - Follow

By scribblemoose

On the nineteenth morning that Irvine woke up next to Squall, it felt as if he'd hardly slept at all. Mostly because he hadn't, much. It felt like a long time since they'd camped out in the field, and his back and hip bones were complaining loudly.

To add insult to injury, they weren't even alone - as the loud, buzz-saw style snoring coming from Zell's bedroll testified. Irvine pulled the covers firmly over his ears. It didn't help much.

"He hasn't got any quieter," came Squall's gruff voice through the thin layer of Balamb-issue blanket.

"No. And hey." Irvine peeked out to find Squall watching him, fully dressed and kneeling on his unused bedroll. "Morning, beautiful."

Squall grunted, but a smile crept onto his face and he moved closer, dropping down, hands planted firmly each side of Irvine's head. "Time to get up, Sniper."

"The sun's not even up yet." Irvine tugged Squall's head down further so he could kiss him, a brief brush of lips, but Squall took it long, his fingers burying themselves in Irvine's sleep-tangled hair to cradle his skull. He pulled Irvine up to sitting, not breaking their kiss for an instant, and Irvine wound his arms around Squall's neck, groaning, not caring if the others heard.

He was convinced there was a twinkle of mischief in Squall's eyes as he pulled away. "I made coffee," he said. "Come outside now and we can have some before everyone else wakes up."

Irvine nodded, plucked his thick shirt and duster from his disorderly pile of clothes, and followed Squall out into the cold, grey morning. His jeans felt uncomfortable, slept in and twisted the wrong way - much like his body - and he really would have loved to drag Squall into a nice hot shower and molest him until they were both fully awake. But there was no chance of a shower today, or tomorrow if they didn't find Seifer. As if Irvine needed any more of an incentive to seek out the bastard and put him through ten kinds of hell.

He found his lover kneeling by a low fire, pouring water from a freshly boiled kettle. His breath steamed in the air; the ground crunched under his boots as he stomped across their makeshift campsite in the Nortes mountains.

"Here." Squall handed him a steaming mug of coffee, and Irvine's grumpiness fell away. Here was Squall, who had the weight of the world on his shoulders, who looked tired and worried and anxious as hell, making him coffee and asking to spend time with him. Suddenly the sex didn't seem so important any more. He accepted the mug gratefully, and when Squall settled beside him he took his hand and threaded their fingers together.

"Did you get any sleep at all, babe?"

Squall shrugged. "Too much going on."

"Any news?"

"Not for a while now. The recon parties should be back within the hour, then we can get moving. Seifer chose the right place to hide."

Irvine surveyed the horizon; the snow-dusted ridges of the mountains suffused with pink as the sun climbed up behind them. "Definitely the right place to hide. Not like Seifer at all. He's usually more for a 'bring-it-on' style of approach."

"Maybe it was Cass' idea."

"Maybe." Irvine remembered the last time they'd seen Cass, wild with magic, starkly beautiful. Dangerous.

He watched the mountains, cradling his coffee to take the chill out of his hands and trying to imagine Cass as a sorceress. It seemed impossible.

"What'll happen to her?" he asked quietly.


"Yeah. When we find her. Can we cure her? Make her like she was?"

Squall shook his head. "It doesn't work like that, babe, you know it doesn't. Once she's had the sorceress' power she'll always be dangerous. Another sorceress could possess her, or her own power could consume her... that's why we need to find her and... well, do whatever we have to do."

"You're not saying... Squall, we can't kill her!"

Squall frowned, concerned, as if he was surprised that Irvine hadn't realised this before. "We may have to. Of course we'll try not to, but if she's a threat... Irvine, we're SeeD. It's what we're here for."

"But there must be a way to stop her, to help her deal with her power, to-"

"We'll try," said Squall, but he didn't sound very reassuring. Probably because he was worried himself; Squall wasn't good at putting on a front for other people. "Cid had an idea," he added, cautiously.

"What kind of idea?"

"He seems to think Cass would be okay if we found her a knight."

"Would she?"

"I don't know. They say that's why Adel was so dangerous, because she didn't have a knight."

"Right. So who?"

"That's just it. I don't know. We don't understand how it works, not really. That's one of the reasons Rinoa felt she had to go."

Squall was watching the fire, prodding it with a twig to make sparks, and Irvine didn't miss the sadness in his eyes as he spoke about Rinoa. Irvine stared into the fire himself, swallowing his jealousy as best he could. "There seems to be something romantic about it," he observed, as casually as he could manage. "I mean, Cid and Edea are married, and you... when you first met Rinoa, it was like something out of a novel. All the rescuing from space and all, and the way she-"

"She was the first person who wouldn't give up on me," said Squall. "Maybe because of the link between us. However much I tried to push her away, she'd always come right back. And it felt... even though I hated it, I felt something there, all the time."

Irvine swallowed hard, and curled his fingers possessively around Squall's hand.

"You loved her."

"Yes. But." Squall darted a look at him, a slight smile on his lips. "Not that kind. It's totally different."

"But you still miss her."

Squall nodded. "Like Cid misses Edea, and Seifer misses Ultimecia."

Irvine snorted, sending little ripples across the surface of his coffee. "As if Seifer would know what love feels like."

Squall didn't say anything. He drained his mug and shook out the last few drops, then his eyes were drawn back to the mountainous horizon.

"I hope it's soon," said Irvine. "No amount of thinking about this is going to make it any better."

"No," Squall agreed. "It isn't."

It was another four hours before a recon party met them with news of a positive sighting. Not surprising, really; Squall wanted badly to be able to surprise their quarry, which meant that flying low over the terrain would have been counterproductive as well as dangerous. So he'd despatched squads of three, each one a mixture of SeeDs and Estharian soldiers, to search on the ground.

And they'd found something. Not much, just what looked like an abandoned camp, but it showed signs of recent habitation and that was enough for Squall to decide to investigate in person, with the rest of the orphanage gang plus Laguna and Kiros for company.

They trudged through the snow for several long miles before they reached the site; the mountains made for heavy going, and it was early afternoon by the time they arrived at a small clearing. Sure enough there was evidence of tents and fires. Lots of fires. Several of the surrounding trees showed signs of fire damage too, and Quistis and Kiros went to take a closer look.

"Magical fire damage," said Quistis. "I'd say she's been practising. Doesn't look as though she's found too much control yet, though." She wrinkled her nose. "Unless she really hates squirrels."

Selphie giggled. "Handy to have around at a barbeque, these sorceresses."

"Man, Seffie, sometimes you frighten me," said Zell. Selphie just shrugged.

Squall sent Kiros off to the edge of the clearing to check for tracks, while Quistis prodded the remains of the campfire. "About two, maybe three hours," she said. "They got quite a head start."

"Especially as we have no idea what form of transport they're using," said Selphie.

"Must be on foot," said Zell. "You'd never get a vehicle through here and a choc won't hack it at this altitude."

"Ah," said Selphie. "Except for the lesser known mountain-ranging chocobo." Irvine hid his smile as a puzzled expression crossed Zell's face.

"I don't remember..." He frowned. "Mountain-ranging?"

"Mmm." Selphie nodded eagerly. "They have fur, of course, instead of feathers. And big flat feet like snow shoes."

"Really?" Zell was all wide-eyed wonder for an instant, before Selphie erupted in giggles.

She thumped him affectionately on the shoulder. "Dincht, you are such an easy wind-up!"

Zell opened his mouth to protest, but before any sound came out their attention was summoned by Squall's barked command for them to join himself, Laguna and Kiros at the edge of the clearing.

"Why only two sets of prints?" Laguna was asking Kiros as they approached. "Who's missing?"

"Odine," said Kiros. "I think Seifer's carrying him: see, those prints are deeper, more distinct than Cass', even if you take into account the weight differential. Shorter stride than you'd expect if he was unencumbered."

"So Odine's injured?" said Squall.

"I don't think so," said Kiros. "See, over there around the camp there's three sets of prints, and no sign of any injury."

"Then he's carrying him to keep him under control," suggested Laguna. "You know what Odine's like, he'd be forever wandering off and bustling about here and there. He'd hold them up."

"Exactly," said Kiros.

"But they haven't dumped him," Squall observed. "So they must still have a use for him. We can't let them get any further ahead. Kiros, lead the way, follow the tracks as best you can. Everyone else fall in, usual formation, and keep your wits about you."

With a swish of long leather coat, Squall swept out of the clearing, hot on Kiros' heels as he scanned the ground ahead. Irvine ran to catch Squall up, as the others obediently fell in line.

"Squall, what? What do they need Odine for? They gave Cass the kick-ass power, what else do they want? You know something, don't you? What is it?"

Squall didn't look at him, his mouth set in a grim line. "I know Seifer."


"Put it this way," said Squall, picking up the pace as he led them away from the clearing. "I don't think we're the only ones who think the sorceress needs a knight."

The forest gave way to scrub as they climbed higher in the mountains, and the air got thinner. Squall had banished Irvine back to his place in the line, bringing up the rear with Selphie, and he hated it. He wanted to be at Squall's side, to be sure he was okay and to face whatever they were going to face together. But there was no point wishing; he respected Squall's command as much as he always had, and of course it made sense this way, strategically. Just not emotionally, Irvine thought glumly.

"So let me get this straight," Selphie was saying. She gave her nunchaka an absentminded crack, sudden enough that Irvine jumped. "Seifer's goal in all of this is to replace Ultimecia as his own personal sorceress."

"Squall thinks so," said Irvine.

"Has the boy no brains at all?!"

"I never thought so," Quistis murmured from just ahead of them.

"He's an idiot," Selphie said. "Why can't he find a nice ordinary girl and settle down? You know I always thought him and Fujin..."

"They had a thing going at one time," said Quistis.

Something stirred in the back of Irvine's mind, something Squall had told him.

"Let me guess," said Selphie. "She dumped him."

That was it. The girl Seifer had fallen for, the one he wanted Squall to help him get over. The bastard.

"Yes. She caught him two timing her. With Squall."

"No," Irvine leapt in to correct her before it dawned on him that Squall had told him about this in confidence. "I mean, um, I don't think he meant to two-time her, probably. I don't think. Or, maybe. Um."

He tailed off; Quistis looked curiously at him over her shoulder.

"Squall told you?" she said.

"About Seifer? Sure. Why wouldn't he?"

Quistis laughed. "Because he's Squall, of course. It's not like he generally makes broadcasts about his social life."

Irvine was about to say that it was more of a confidence than a broadcast, but Selphie leapt into the pause in conversation with: "I'm sorry, did you say Seifer and Squall?!"

"Yep," said Quistis and Irvine in smug unison.

"Fuck me gently with a gunblade!" gasped Selphie.

"It's no secret," said Quistis. "But since Rinoa and Ultimecia, it faded into the background. And it's not the kind of thing he'd like us to be gossiping about," she added, as if it hadn't been her who'd brought it up in the first place.

Zell, silent up until now at Quistis' side, grunted his agreement.

Selphie pondered the revelation for a moment.

"It makes perfect sense," she decided. "They were always fighting, weren't they, even when we were kids, and yet they never really fell out. Opposites attract and all that. There's definitely chemistry. And glowering." She chuckled, swinging her nunchaka back and forth, almost but not quite catching Zell on the butt every time. "I bet they were savage in bed."

"Selphie!" yelped Irvine. "That's my boyfriend you're talking about!"

"Oops, sorry." Selphie hugged his arm and beamed up at him, but her smile barely took the edge off the sharp twist of jealousy in his gut.

"Anyway, that's all history," said Quistis briskly. "Squall's happy with Irvy now and Seifer's lurching around with any sorceress who'll have him."

"He needs neutering," muttered Irvine.

"That's a little harsh," said Quistis.

"Seems fair to me," said Irvine. "Take away his knight magic thing, like you cut the balls off dogs when they're humping the furniture all the fucking time."

"Oh, I'm not sure that's necessary," said Selphie, a gleam of mischief in her eyes that instantly told Irvine he was falling into a trap.


"After all." She smiled sweetly at him. "We let you keep yours, and that worked out just fine."

Squall was dimly aware of a slap and a squeak and an outburst of giggling behind him, but he let it recede to the back of his mind with an ease which at once shocked and pleased him. He needed to concentrate, to pull himself out of ordinary life and all its distractions. How else could he lead and protect the others, when they so clearly didn't have the maturity do it for themselves?

"So, have you thought about that vacation, son?"

Squall stared at Laguna in total disbelief. "What?"

Laguna appeared oblivious to his son's irritated tone, however. "Seems to me you'll all need a break after this."

"I can't think about that now!" Squall snapped.

"Ah. No, of course not. Sorry."

"This is serious, you know. If we don't get this right there won't be any afterwards, or at least not one worth living in."

"Oh, I'm sure it won't come to that." Laguna grinned at him. "I have every confidence in you, son."

"Thanks," said Squall, drily.

They walked for a few moments in silence, as Squall tried to think of an appropriate way to ask Laguna to return to his place in the formation. He didn't technically have any authority over the man, even if it had been Laguna who'd put him in charge of the mission. Besides, he was his father. How did you give orders to your-

"I hope you'll still bring Irvine to the music festival, when it's been rearranged. Real pisser that we had to postpone it like that."

Squall said nothing, and counted slowly to twenty.

"That is, if you're still together, after this."

"What?" The world fell away, just like that, and suddenly Squall was choking down panic.

"I heard what Cid was saying yesterday," said Laguna, gently. "She needs a knight. A link to the world. Someone to ground her. See, I know a bit about sorceresses, and knights. There was a lot of the same talk when Adel was around."

Squall's heart was pounding; he licked suddenly-dry lips and swallowed hard, eyes fixed on the ground.

"Would it be fair on him, what you're planning to do?" Laguna asked in his softest tone, the one that made Squall feel raw and vulnerable inside. Wishing he'd heard it earlier, when he was young, when he needed a father to guide him. Love him. Not now. Too late now, and dangerous. But Laguna carried on. "It's one thing for him to cope with your bond with Rinoa when she's the other side of the galaxy. But this... she'd be around all the time, you'd be helping her train, calming her, taming her..."

"She's not a fucking wild animal," Squall spat, latching on to the first chance he got to channel the feelings welling inside of him into something that was nothing to do with Irvine.

"No, but... listen, all I'm saying is, before you rush into this, isn't there another way? One that doesn't threaten your own happiness? Think about it. How much can the world ask you to give up, Squall?"

Squall squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, squashing the emotions he daren't feel far, far down inside himself.

"Whatever it damn well pleases," he ground out. "Just the same as always."

And with that he lengthened his stride, almost-ran until he'd left Laguna behind and caught up with Kiros, who was focused only on patterns in the dirt and leaves, and could be trusted not to say anything at all.

Irvine pulled the fur collar of his duster up to his ears, and blinked snow off his eyelashes. The road was getting harder, the trail fainter, and even Selphie had fallen into a subdued silence.

Squall's hand went up; they came to a stop.

"There's nothing." Kiros' rich voice drifted back with another flurry of snow. "The visibility's too bad. Maybe when the light's better-"

"We can't wait that long," snapped Squall.

"We won't catch up if we go off in the wrong direction because we can't see where we're going," Quistis pointed out.

"Besides, they have to rest too," added Laguna.

Squall lifted his eyes to the pale glow of the sun, which was already dipping behind the ridge of the mountain ahead. Irvine could sense his anger and frustration. Quistis was right of course, and so was Laguna. But it didn't change the fact that Seifer had an undeniable advantage, and that was eating Squall up inside.

"There's a cave up ahead," said Kiros. "We could rest there until the storm passes."

The snow was getting thicker, the wind harsher, and Squall knew he had no choice. His shoulders slumped. "Alright then. We'll rest for a couple of hours, see if it blows over."

"Thank fuck for that," muttered Selphie. "I'm turning blue here."

"I'm not surprised, in that skirt," said Quistis.

"I grew up in Trabia. We're used to the cold. Usually." She slung her nunchaka over her shoulder and tried to rub some feeling back into her legs.

They found the cave a few yards further along, and Kiros led them inside to bustle about with supplies and fire spells. Squall stayed outside, staring ahead at what should have been a path, but was now just more snow. Irvine stepped up behind him and wrapped his arms around his middle, ignoring the initial resistance Squall offered and hugging him anyway.

"Off duty," Irvine whispered. "You're mine now."

And then Squall leaned back and let himself be held, folded his arms over Irvine's and sighed. "Sorry. It's just..."

"... you have to be leader. I know, babe. But not right now. Take a few minutes, eh?"

Squall grunted, and relaxed a bit more, rubbing his cold cheek against Irvine's. It was quiet, absolute snow-quiet, even the chatter from the cave receding to a whisper, and Irvine nuzzled into the warmth of Squall's neck, willing him to feel the peace of it.

"Whatever happens," Squall said softly, "whatever I have to do, I love you."

A chill that was nothing to do with the weather shot up Irvine's spine. He did his best to hide it. "I know, love," he said. "Me too."

"If we don't find a way to stop Cass, the whole world could be in danger. If it weren't for that..."

"You have to do what you think is right. Whatever that might be."

Squall sighed.

"You're freezing," said Irvine. "Let's go join the others, okay?"

And with a last kiss to Squall's snow-chilled skin, Irvine let him go.

The others were huddled around a fire in the middle of the cave, but the delicious warmth of the blaze wasn't the main focus of attention. Instead all eyes were on Laguna, who sat cross-legged with a huge white moomba on his lap. He was tickling the creature's tummy, while it waggled its ears and made delighted little noises.

"Look, Irvy, it's a mountain moomba!" Selphie squealed delightedly. "Isn't it adorable?"

"In the name of Hyne," Squall muttered, staring at the creature as if it had absolutely no place in his current grim reality.

"This is it's home," Laguna explained. "But it's very generously agreed to let us share."

"Laguna!" the creature chirruped excitedly. "Laguna! Laguna!"

"My father," murmured Squall. "Hero of all moombas."

"Don't be so grumpy." Selphie smacked Squall's arm. "Sir Laguna saved their leader and set up the rest home and everything! He deserves to be famous!"

Squall scowled at his arm, which smarted despite the layer of leather between it and Selphie's slap. "Rest home?"

"It's nothing," said Laguna, modestly.

"Rubbish," said Selphie. "It's this huge luxury retirement home for all the moombas who were abused under the old regime. They never turn a moomba away, do they, Sir Laguna?"

"I've always had a soft spot for the little guys," Laguna confessed. The creature in his lap crooned happily, wiggling its furry feet.

"They saved our necks more than once," said Zell. "All power to the little dudes."

Irvine sat down by Selphie, tugging Squall down with him, slipping a hand into one of his. "It's sure nice to see a friendly face up here," he said.

Squall didn't look convinced. But he squeezed Irvine's hand, and pulled it into his lap, and Irvine thought he felt him relax a bit.

Quistis produced rations in the form of welcome mugs of soup; the warmth from the fire seeped into Irvine's weary bones as they ate, and he started to feel drowsy. Before he knew it his head was dropping onto Squall's shoulder, and to his delight a strong arm curled around him, holding him there; Squall's cheek rubbed against his head.

Irvine wanted, more than anything, to curl up in Squall's lap and start purring. But Squall was arguing with Quistis.

"It's dark," she said. "We can't possibly track them in the dark, even if the snow stops."

"Yes, we can," said Squall. "We'll have to take it slow, but slow is better than nothing." He stifled a yawn. "We have no time to waste."

"I don't think-"

But Quistis' voice tailed off; she knew as well as the rest of them that there was no point arguing with Squall. They'd all been here before, living on GF power instead of sleep for days on end. If that's what Squall said, they'd do it.

Squall sighed.

Irvine was starting to realise that such loyalty and trust wasn't the gift he'd supposed it would be. The closer he got to Squall, the more clearly he saw just how hard he found it to be a leader.

"Let's get some sleep while we can, then," said Laguna.

"I'll take first watch," said Squall, much to Irvine's disappointment.

"I'm with you," he said, earning a grateful squeeze to his shoulder. It might mean no sleep at all, if the snow eased off. But somehow Irvine didn't think he could sleep anyway, knowing Squall was denying himself the same pleasure. So they stood together at the cave mouth while the others wrapped themselves in coats and skins the moomba gave them, and got what rest they could.

The snow showed no signs of stopping. It just got thicker, and the wind harsher, and the air colder, until even Squall seemed to have given up hope of the storm blowing over. He uttered no resistance when Laguna and Kiros came to take watch, and let Irvine usher him back to the fire where the others slept.

"Lie down," Irvine whispered.

"It's okay, I-"

"Lie down."

Squall gave Irvine a sullen glare, but he obediently lowered himself down to lie in the space Laguna had just vacated. Irvine snuggled up behind him, dragging the furs around them. Laguna seemed to have been given plenty of them, Irvine noticed. Ever the moomba's favourite. The creature was even joining him and Kiros on watch.

Irvine burrowed through furs and clothing until his hand came to rest against Squall's firm belly. A forming habit, he realised, going to sleep touching him like this. It felt safe, familiar.

Squall reached down to adjust his stiffening cock in his pants, but he didn't brush Irvine's hand away.

Irvine brushed his lips over Squall's ear. "You want I should help you out with that?" he whispered.

There was a pause; very brief, but enough that Irvine knew Squall had at least considered his offer, however fleetingly.

"We're not alone," Squall said.

Irvine ran his tongue over Squall's earlobe, sucked it between his teeth and nibbled. "We'll be quiet as mice. It'll be okay."


Irvine's hand ventured lower, closed over the ridge of flesh and squeezed. "Just take the pressure off some. Gods, you're hard."

Squall stifled a moan, and thrust forwards to rub against Irvine's hand. Irvine smiled to himself, kissed Squall's neck and slowly, carefully, unzipped his fly, popped the button and dipped inside. Murmured appreciatively as he freed Squall's cock from pants and underwear, and curled his fingers around it.

"Hyne," Squall breathed. "Oh Hyne..."

"Good, huh?"


Irvine shifted a bit so he could reach his own erection with his other hand. Found just enough room to give himself something to thrust against. It had been so long, his balls were so full, full to aching, and he knew it wouldn't take much. The difficult part was stopping himself from stripping Squall naked and nailing him there and then, soft fur on bare skin... he buried his face in Squall's neck to hide a groan.

Squall's hips were rocking now, in a tight, muted version of his usual rhythm, and Irvine's fingers were slick with his precome as they skirted over the head of Squall's cock, barely resisting the urge to take a taste. He started stroking a little harder, thrusting a little harder into his own hand, breath coming short.

There was a rustling noise; they both froze, still as stone, and waited.

Zell began to snore.

For a moment Irvine thought Squall was about to change his mind; he didn't move again at first. Irvine squeezed his cock, long fingers reaching down to tease his balls. Squall buried his face in the furs, and Irvine felt rather than heard the groan that escaped from him, vibrations rippling through every muscle, accompanied by a twitch of his cock in Irvine's hand.

"Faster," Squall whispered, so faint that Irvine barely heard him.

Irvine obediently sped up, his hand flying up and down Squall's shaft. Felt Squall's body start to tense, his belly pulled taut and fluttering, legs straining with the effort of staying almost-still. Irvine listened to his ragged breathing, took his cues from it, stole its rhythm and kept stroking, fast and firm, hand twisting over the head, thumb rubbing the tiny wet slit as he closed his lips over Squall's neck and started to suck.

"Oh fuck, 'vine, fuck," and Squall came in a rush all over Irvine's hand, and again, and again, his body convulsing almost-silently, his own fingers closing over Irvine's to keep it there, wringing out the last few shocks of pleasure.

Irvine licked his fingers lean; licked the bruise on Squall's neck; licked his ear. Tucked Squall's cock carefully back inside his pants and zipped him up. Dug a handkerchief out of his duster pocket and plunged his hand inside his own pants, shoving denim and cotton out of the way and jerked off, fast and expert, emptying himself into the handkerchief in moments, relief so sharp and tight it almost hurt.

He felt his body begin to relax, properly, really relax, muscles easing one by one. Squall smiled at him as he finished cleaning himself up, adjusted his clothing. Twisted around to kiss him, soft and warm, before they settled down again, Irvine's hand on Squall's belly, under his t-shirt, Squall's hand over Irvine's, fingers meshed together.

Irvine burrowed his nose into the fresh, squeaky leather of Squall's duster, and fell into a doze.

"I wish Rin was here."

In an instant, Irvine was wide awake again, his heart thudding as he grappled for something to say. "I'm sorry," was all he could stammer out. Sorry I'm not her. Sorry I'm not good enough. Sorry I-

"She could do that trick with a light spell, remember?"

Irvine blinked at Squall's back.

"You know," Squall continued. "Where she cast it on your feet so it stayed real low and couldn't be seen. Much better than a flashlight. Too risky, a flashlight, and it would attract monsters. Hard enough to keep an enclosure up as it is..."

Squall yawned and wriggled his ass into Irvine's groin. "Mmm. You feel," and another yawn, "good."

Irvine tugged Squall closer, his mind racing. "You mean, you miss her magic," he said, at the same time cursing himself for sounding so needy.

"Yeah. Selphie's very good, but for some things you need the extra power of a sorceress."

The magic. Just the magic.

There was a pause, and Irvine listened to the deepening rhythm of Squall's breath until he began to doze again himself.

"I'd miss you more."

Irvine fell asleep with a smile on his lips, even though he wasn't quite sure if the words had been a dream.

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