DISCLAIMER: Final Fantasy VIII and the characters therein are owned by Squaresoft, not by me. This story was written for purposes of entertainment only, not for profit. Don't sue me. It's not worth it. I'm broke anyway.

WARNING: yaoi lemon, which means fiction that contains graphic male/male sex and sexual references. If you are underage or find homosexuality offensive, do not read any further.

Author's Notes: This is complete; a longer sequel is in progress.

Clouded Night

By Persephone

Tap, tap, scrape. Little sounds, caused by something dragging along the ground. I vaguely realised it was the tip of my own gunblade.

I wasn't merely too tired to walk in a straight line, I was too tired to think. If I tried to remember the keycode for my bedroom door there was no way I would get it. Thank Hyne for muscle memory. I closed my eyes and let my fingers play over the panel.

INCORRECT CODE, flashed the display. That was all I needed. Hmm. Might as well go to sleep in the corridor, then -

The door slid open. "Where the fuck have you been?" he demanded, dragging me in. I couldn't answer. He looked closer at me, and stopped asking questions. "We were worried," he said instead, steering me to the couch. "I was worried. You owe me for that. Any idea what it did to my reputation, yelling at Quisty to tell me what you'd done in front of the whole Garden?" I didn't answer, just tugged on his hand until he sat next to me so I could lay my head on his shoulder. I didn't care about his fragile ego anymore. Just about him.

He grumbled a little without saying anything coherent. Then he slid an arm round me and held me closer. "You're crazy," he muttered. "I bet you're hurt. Anyone'd think you went off on some quest to prove your manhood."

"I had something to think about."

"Hey, it talks." He smiled a little, as if to tell me he was teasing. I'd never liked that, but it was the way he was and I couldn't change him. "You going to open up on me, or do I go get the thumbscrews?"

"I've decided I'm going to resign."

That surprised him. He started breathing again after a few seconds, and said, "Why?"

Hard question. How could I explain my feelings unless I talked all night and told him about things he wouldn't want to hear? Things I didn't want to tell him, because they were so private? Even if he was my missing piece, I had secrets. I had my personal nightmares.

He shook my shoulder. "Don't do that. Talk out loud."

"Whatever, Seifer."

He laughed. "Seriously. If you're going to - I don't know what's got into you, Squall. I never will unless you tell me."

I stared up at the ceiling. "I used to be the perfect mercenary. No ties, no feelings, nothing to stop me working for the highest bidder. I changed. I can't live like that anymore. So I'm going to resign."

"If it's the Galbadian Protectorates thing -"

"In part."

"Garden can't attack Esthar. We get too much funding from there. The Protectorates'll see that. They can't have expected we'd take the job."

"Xu thought about taking one job they gave us."


"They wanted someone to assassinate my father."

Seifer whistled. "Shit. That's bad."

"You didn't hear the way she told me, like there was a chance it might have gone ahead - without me hearing anything about it till too late."

I had wanted to kill her, when she first said that to me, standing there with such a smug look on her face. You're not an orphan like the rest of us. But you might become one again. And it would be your own doing. I'd wanted to take out the Lion Heart right there and stab her over and over again, till it was her blood that flooded the Garden's fountains and not Laguna Loire's. I'd had to leave Garden and go killing monsters until I was too tired to try attacking her. The anger didn't fade. I should never have expected it to.

Seifer sighed. "Xu's a heartless bitch. We all know that. If she bothers you, sack her."

"I can't. Because, in a way, she's right. When Garden starts making what are, frankly, biased and illogical decisions over what missions to take, it stops being a mercenary organisation and starts being a private army. An Estharian private army. That kills our credibility elsewhere."

"That's bullshit. If Esthar did anything wrong we'd step in."

"We'd make damn sure we negotiated first. We wouldn't do that for anyone else. We either go apolitical or stay impartial. And I - can't - do - that. Not when my family's involved."

"So instead you're quitting."


And I was getting tempted before all this business with Esthar came up. Another mission I couldn't consider accepting had been put forward. And someone had cleared it. If I got assigned to it I had a choice: resign, jump off a cliff, deliberately give myself a serious injury, or admit things I didn't want to admit and bring back memories of one of my few failures. Memories I couldn't handle.

I didn't want to take time off with post-traumatic-stress-disorder. I didn't want sympathy, or consideration. I just wanted to forget. Preferably to forget everything.

When he was here, with his arms around me, albeit in a brotherly way more than anything, that wasn't an option.

He squeezed me against him. "Don't make a final decision tonight. You're tired and hungry. Eat something. I saved you a sandwich."

"I can't."

"You will anyway," and he gave a patented Almasy intimidating scowl. I pretended to be frightened; he smiled. He always did when I showed I had a sense of humour hiding somewhere underneath the leather and the scars. He fetched me a tray of food and a glass of water, and stood over me while I ate. Guarding me. Protecting me. Something of the knight had always stuck.

"Good. Now come and take a bath."

"Seifer, will you lay off? I want to sleep."

"You're thinking too much to sleep. You need to stop thinking for a while. Come on. I'll scrub your back, if you like."

Too close to the mark. Far too close. I tried not to look like a rabbit caught in headlights, and brushed off his suggestion like it meant nothing at all.

Seifer swore under his breath, pulled me up by the collar and dragged me bodily into the bathroom. He locked the door behind him, leant on it and pointed to the oversized bathtub some Shumi engineer had installed specially to please the SeeD Commander. "Squall. Strip."

"Make me." I tried to glare at him, and failed. I was right that I wasn't cut out to be a mercenary anymore. I couldn't keep up the heartless pose under all circumstances.

"I'll make you if I have to. I'm bigger than you are." He leant over and turned on the bath tap without moving away from the door. As steam gushed around me, I started feeling warm for the first time in days. Reluctantly, I slid my jacket off and started undoing my sword belt. For some stupid reason I was ecstatically happy that the lighting in here was subdued. If he couldn't see me properly he couldn't be a threat.

Seifer? My best friend? Threatening?

My hands stopped moving when I smelt a musky perfume. I focussed on Seifer again. He was uncorking a little bottle and tipping something into my bath water. "What are you doing?" I asked suspiciously.

"Nothing! It'll help you relax!"

"No, it won't. It smells ridiculous."

"Too late. You going to get in like that, or you going to finish undressing?" The glare came easily this time, and I tried to cut out his laughter as I finally kicked off my boots and removed my shirt and trousers. I hesitated over the boxers. He noticed. "Hurry up, or it'll go cold. And don't give me that shit about liking cold baths."

I shook my head, exasperated. "Seifer, will you just go away and let me be?"

"No." The worst thing was he meant it. And I didn't have a good excuse for suddenly needing privacy after years of communal showers as a cadet. I scowled at him as hard as I could, trying to make him feel as uncomfortable as I did, before finally stripping and getting in. Unfortunately, after nearly twenty years of squabbles between us he was almost immune to my displeasure. The bastard.

I should be grateful we were so close. I shouldn't be trying to push him away. He was, after all, being unusually considerate. Normally I would have crawled into bed half-starved after a session like the one I'd had. Instead I was clean and full and starting to unwind.

It was almost enough. The memory of a muddy foxhole and a broken ankle began to float away on the steam.

Seifer stuck his hands into the water, resting them on my shoulders, starting to massage me and wash off the blood and dirt. I didn't move away. Part of me was too afraid, and part wanted him to stay with me. "That's better. Even you've got to admit it, yeah?"

"A lot better," I said, trying to keep my voice distant, trying to deny the sensual pleasure he was - probably unwittingly - giving me.

He purred. Just a little. A tiny hum in the back of his throat, right down my ear, like he knew how good he was making me feel and was enjoying every moment of it. I wanted to switch off my mind and pull him into the tub, to tell him where and how I liked to be touched. But I knew that if he didn't freak out, I would.

This is real life. Fairytale endings don't happen. There is always something there to part the lovers - convention, or rivalry, or the past.


"Yes?" I whispered.

His hands drifted over my shoulders to rub at my chest. They lingered on my nipples. I bit my tongue and told my growing erection to settle back down and behave. "You remember once when we were seven or eight, I dared you to sneak out of Garden after hours with me? We went to the beach to swim. It wasn't long after sundown. The water was still warm."

I - I remembered - vaguely...

He went on like I'd spoken aloud. "We had fun."

"I guess every boy enjoys himself sometimes, Seifer. Even one as antisocial as I was or as emotionally needy as you were."

He was smiling. "I remember because of you. I watched you the whole time to see if you would freak out or run back to tell on me. I just ended up seeing how beautiful you were. I envied you because you were good-looking." He was being so gentle, acting so unlike the fiery spirit-man that he became in combat. "You've always been beautiful in shadow, Squall."

I didn't say anything, trying to explore my emotions instead. It was like piloting the Garden through the endlessly changing volcanic islands round Centra. When had I started wanting him to be more than a friend to me? I couldn't remember.

It was too easy to remember what had made me pull back from my feelings towards him.

I silently cursed the Guardian Forces for not letting me choose which memories they wiped. "Hyne damn it, Seifer, if you're trying to seduce me will you just come out and say so?"

Oops. People teased me about thinking too much before I spoke, but this time I hadn't thought at all and I could see myself trying to juggle the consequences. I shouldn't have said that. Now he really would freak out.

He didn't. A lazy smile flitted across his face. "I don't know about trying, baby," and he ran a hand all the way down me, lingering over my groin. He stroked my hardening length from base to tip with a single finger. I closed my eyes, willing away the heat and the rightness of it all. No use. Even the Lion of Balamb is prey to his own sexuality. I couldn't deny the rush of pleasure his touch produced.

He was cupping my chin. I stopped breathing when he turned my head round and started kissing me.

His tongue slid into my mouth. He tasted of brandy and raspberries and childlike innocence. Something prickled at my whole body, peaking where he touched me, at face and chest and groin. His hand tightened round me. It asked a question. It wanted one answer.

I whimpered, made a tiny moan in the back of my throat. He smiled into my mouth, breaking off the kiss to move round and lick my chin, my neck, my earlobes. I reached up to him, touched bare skin, grasped it. His strokes grew lazier, more confident of me. He bent over me, leant over the tub. Sometime while he'd been massaging me he'd stripped to his T-shirt and boxers. Now he swung a leg over the side and slid in beside me, heedless of wet clothing, covering me with his body and his soul.

Hyne, I want him / no you don't, you're a fool / he wants me / he only befriended you because he wanted sex / that's not true / why would anyone hold back from just using you / what if he really loves me / someone as unlovable as you? Don't make me laugh / I could gain so much from this / you'll ruin what you have with him, you whore / STOP IT!


My eyes snapped open in blind panic. He stopped what he was doing, looking firstly surprised, then hurt, then concerned.

"What's up?"

"I - I don't know." Liar.

The hurt was creeping back into his eyes. He thought I didn't want him. "I'm sorry," I gasped. "I - I only meant - I -" I wanted to cry. The thought of sex hadn't pushed him away, but the thought of rejection would. Seifer couldn't stand rejection. I didn't want to hurt him. I cared about him.

Maybe he saw my eyes start to fill. "It's OK," he whispered, lying right down next to me and pulling me into a tight embrace, acting almost like our hard cocks weren't touching. "Want to talk it through, pretty-boy?"

I pressed my lips together for a second. "Yeah. But don't call me that."

He was silent for a change, no clever words, no teasing. He wanted me to talk. He might even be prepared to wait for a few minutes while I worked out what I was really thinking. I looked at him without catching his eyes. He was, indeed, indescribably handsome. Tanned skin, bright golden hair, well-defined features, sexy lips, perfect muscles, endlessly long legs. I didn't think about what the bulge in his boxers said about him. Or maybe I thought about it too much.

Why the hell couldn't I ignore my mind and just fuck him? Why couldn't my body get what it wanted for a change?

Mainly because the mind demanded too much payback for my body's downtime.

"I'm scared," I whispered.

"Hmm. It's a start. Scared about what?"

"I - this'll take time. Don't say anything. Please?" He nodded. I could feel him staring at me. I didn't look back. If I had, I wouldn't have been able to speak.

"I like you. Not just as a friend. I mean, I want to have sex. Or most of me does. I - I'm just frightened - I - we'll still be friends, right?"

He snorted incredulously. "If you think I just want your body, I'm out of here."

"Wait," I pleaded, catching his wrist before he could run away. He dropped back next to me with a grunt, sloshing water out of the bathtub and probably soaking our clothes. "This is so stupid," I whispered, hiding my face in his shoulder.

"What's stupid?" he sighed like he was too used to me.

"I'm scared you'll hurt me by mistake and I'll never want to speak to you again."

He laughed a little, then stopped abruptly like he saw where I was coming from. "I'm not going to hurt you. I won't do anything you don't want me to do." I felt him smile. "You want to be on top?"

I shook my head. "I'd be too scared of hurting you."

He traced a heart on my stomach. "You got this little obsession, love."

"Say that again?"

"Hmm?" He laughed, low down in his throat. "What, love?" His hand crept lower again.

"I like - oh, Seifer -" My breath caught in my throat. He closed his hand round my sex and circled the head with his thumb. I was on fire. Waves of pleasure stronger than anything I'd ever felt washed up my stomach. I thrust my hips into his hand; he held me down teasingly. I stuck a hand out blindly, catching his boxers, trying to work them off him. With what was left of my conscious mind I decided I couldn't let him do this to me and not attempt to reciprocate.

Seifer's lips locked down on my own with enough force to raise bruises. With his free hand, he helped me remove his underclothes. Our wet skin touched; our hips rubbed against each other, trapped our hands in place. His fingers still worked up and down my hardness. I stroked him back. He hissed aloud. I'd found a sensitive spot. I rubbed at the same place and his back arched. I moved my legs back so he wasn't kneeling right on my thighs. He was heavy enough to hurt me if he stayed where he was for long.

He broke off our kiss and knelt up so he could see what he was doing. Our eyes met for the first time in five minutes. He smiled at me. He looked - tender? Loving? I tried to tell him I wasn't going to last much longer but my voice box wouldn't work. He got the message and smirked, looking more like himself. "You got no - no stamina," he panted. I narrowed my eyes and started jerking him harder, tickling his balls and pressing into him more roughly. He moaned. His hand tightened round me. I pushed myself halfway upright. I wanted to be closer to him.

One of us had kicked the plug out and the only thing stopping all the water going down the drain was Seifer's discarded boxers. Now that we were no longer horizontal our erect cocks were sticking out of the water. He was still smirking at me. I leant in to kiss him; he blew out into my mouth and pulled away again. This time he bent down. His head covered my view of my own erection. My train of thought derailed itself. Seifer - you're not going to - that's - oh, don't...

Oh, Hyne!

As his mouth closed round my head and enveloped me in its tight warmth, I completely lost control. I bucked up, driving my length into his throat. He held my hips down and sucked hard. I was in heaven, lost in the whirl of ecstatic sensation. I couldn't hold back. I came right into his mouth, crying out wordlessly. He didn't get off me like I expected him to, but kept on sucking until he'd swallowed every last drop. As he straightened up I collapsed against him with my hand still wrapped round his sex, stroking weakly. Seifer - you didn't have to do that...

He laughed quietly. "Should I tell you what you look like right now?"


He kissed me. I could taste myself on his lips. "You're beautiful. And you're acting like you've got concussion."

"You kind of - kind of surprised me." The room was moving up and down. I clutched at him to stay upright. Then I remembered what my right hand was supposed to be doing and started to rub at him again.

He grabbed my wrist. "That's not where I want to finish," he whispered into my ear. "You OK with this?"

I wanted to be. I had to be. To cement our relationship and to exorcise my ghosts, this had to happen. I nodded, silently giving my permission. Do it. Make me forget.

"Lie down on your stomach," he advised me, squeezing some of my shower gel onto his hand. I obeyed without speaking. His hand brushed against my opening and I tensed up automatically. "Relax," he ordered, slapping my ass lightly. I froze. I could do nothing else.

If he knew something was wrong, he didn't know what was wrong, for which I was eternally grateful. He stroked my bottom, rubbing around my crack in wide figures of eight. Little by little I relaxed my tense muscles and spread my legs apart. This time, when his lubricated fingers approached my entrance I didn't try to pull away. I forced my hips down to the bottom of the bathtub as he slid a finger into me. It didn't hurt. It just felt strange.

The finger pushed further up inside me - and brushed against my spot. I cried out and pushed into his hand, wanting more. "Feel good?" Seifer enquired, drawing his hand back and adding another finger to the gentle invasion - so different, it can't be the same thing - that destroyed my defences and left me helpless, my soul naked and shivering as surely as my body was. He stretched at me, came close to filling me.

Wonder of wonders. I was rock-hard again. This time, he hadn't touched my dick once.

"I want - I -" I panted.

"What?" he teased. "What do you want me to do?"

"Oh, Hyne, I - I -" He doesn't know what he's saying - "I want you to fuck me. Please?"

He bent over me and kissed my neck, sucking the white skin, nibbling me slightly. I arched up into his body, waiting for him to take me. "Not like this," he whispered, and turned me over beneath him. He smeared a handful of gel over his erection, then spread my legs apart and settled down between them. I felt his head pressing against me and was afraid again. "Relax," he murmured again, his mouth hovering between my nipples like he couldn't decide which one to suck. Somehow I managed to obey him. Then he eased his tip past my muscle ring.

I caught my breath and tightened around him. Breathing hard now, he pushed himself further into me. I squirmed and clenched my teeth. It hurt. Thank Hyne it felt nothing like last time. He was taking it ever so slowly, inching his way inside, kissing me on the lips as he went. Then he hit my prostate again. With something more than a finger up me.

In that instant I forgot everything. Forgot why I'd been frightened, forgot to worry that he would ask when I'd done it before, forgot the pain because he'd shown me the pleasure. I was floating on pure clouds of bliss. I moaned into his mouth and drove my hips up, impaling myself on him.

"Squall," he gasped as his balls settled against my ass, "you -"

"Do it," I managed. He drew out a little way and thrust back in, touching the sweet spot again. "Seifer!" I cried, shuddering under him. The only answer was a groan.

This was why men made love. For the throbbing, pulsing touch of sex against skin. Not to dominate. Domination was perversion.

I realised I was chanting his name with every stroke of his body against mine. I started to trip out, drugged by my own adrenaline and Seifer's pheromones. The present and the past collided until I could not tell the difference between agony and ecstasy. There was only sweet sensation.

Need him right there / wouldn't kill the injured enemy scout, oh no / on top of me / need me to bargain with / inside me / just hit me a couple of times / his hand round my cock / but now I can't stand / I can tighten myself round him / holding me down / he's calling my name / touching me / needing me / hurting me / oh, Seifer...

"I love you," I whimpered hoarsely as I came.

The sensation of my come landing on my stomach brought me back to reality. As my sight returned I stared up into the contorted face hanging over me. He drove into me harder, faster, nearing his own release. One thrust, two, three - and he was there, exploding inside me hot and hard. The only part of this encounter that mirrored the last. But he had called my name.

After a few breathless moments he slid out of me. He opened his eyes and looked down at me. I felt a silly smile cross my face. He grinned back, and kissed the corner of my mouth. "You going to let me scrub your back now?" he murmured, his voice still husky with the desire he felt for me. I let my kisses answer him.

"I wish I'd been a virgin," he whispered.

"So do I."

No questions. No more comments. "I love you," he told me like it was the biggest secret in the world. I felt at home. I felt complete.

And the completion stayed with me while we washed, exploring every square inch of soft scarred skin, discovering little details and exclaiming over them like they were wonders of the world. It stayed while we rubbed each other over with fluffy towels and while we staggered into my bedroom arm in arm, leaving our clothes behind. It stayed while we cuddled up against each other and whispered secrets in the dark.

It was still there when I woke from a nightmare, as I had every night for almost a year, and found him still holding me, reassuring me while he slept. And it soothed me back to sleep like it would help me face the morning.

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