Disclaimer: Characters don't belong to me. *sighs* Wish they could. Could use a pick-me-up right about now. ^^
Warnings: Shounen-ai, blah, blah, blah . . . . Minor songfic indignities. OOC-ness, although I'll be going through it before I post it up to try to fix that. *yawns* Tired Neko, which is a pretty durn big warning.
Dreams Are Made of This
By Balinese no Neko
He drifted through the packed streets, almost as if he were a leaf and the crowd the current that moved him without rhyme or reason. He knew someone was looking for him, knew it with an ache made all the more unbearable by the very inevitableness of it. Inevitable because the person didn't even know what he was looking for. And without knowing, how could it be found?
"You're looking for me." Seifer is standing by the window, just out of reach of the curtains blowing softly in the wind. He looks over at me for a moment and I'm surprised at the expression on his face. I struggle to name it, even as I rise out of the chair I've been sleeping in.
"I am?" Somehow, I've moved closer to him.
"You are," he affirms. He looks out the window again. "But you don't want to find me."
"Why not?" I consider the half-shadows on his face, the slight movement brought on by his breathing and the wind. I consider them, refusing to think about what he is saying.
I think he sighs. "That would be why. Do yourself a favour. Don't look for me right now. Take some time out of your life to sit down and think things through."
I'm even closer to him now. I shake my head, trying to remember when I moved enough to be able to touch him if I just move the slightest bit . . . . His warmth counteracts the cool breeze and I find myself reaching a hand forward. I hesitate just before touching his hair, torn between wanting to smooth it into order again and wanting . . . wanting . . . something. I swallow. "When?"
He laughs, a curiously relaxed sound, and turns his head that slightest bit, brushing my fingers. He looks straight into my eyes and says, "Try again in twenty or so years. Find me and ask me then." His form wavers and vanishes, leaving me staring at the curtain as it billows in a stronger gust.
Squall lurched forward out of sleep, almost falling out of the chair. He caught himself and covered his face with one hand, taking in a deep breath. He held it for a moment before relaxing back into the chair, tilting his head so it rested on the back of the chair. Almost hesitantly, he turned to look at the window of his hotel room. The curtains were still and the window itself was closed. He closed his eyes in what might have been relief. If it had been open . . . . He snorted. If it had been open, he would be stalking around the room with Lionheart in a bout of paranoia. He clearly remembered shutting it before sitting down to read a book Zell had given him.
He stood up, shuddering absently as if to shake the too-vivid dream from his memory. That was all he needed, obsessing over something a dream Seifer had said.
He was being followed. He could only catch brief glimpses of his pursuer, but it was more than enough to send him slipping back into the shadows. To his consternation, he was followed even there. It confused him, how he could be tracked so reliably and yet unknowingly. Similarity of taste only went so far and he had deliberately directed his path through areas of . . . less than enthusiastic interest to him. He eyed the merchandise surrounding him. Perhaps it had been a mistake to come this way . . . .
He turned casually, checking up on the progress of his tail. His heart at once sank and was exhilarated. He froze as distant eyes met his and could only breathe once they'd left him, apparently without a trace of recognition. It hurt, but better to hurt now, with this small pain, then to be found and hurt later, with the larger pain he had walled away in his heart. He turned again and moved even deeper into the crowd, both relieved and disappointed that it was coincidence that had them following the same path.
Seifer shakes his head at me and clucks. "What did I tell you, Squall?"
I blink, confused, and don't answer his question. I stare at the room around us, noticing anew the moonlight, the open window, and the cool breeze. I return my gaze to Seifer's face.
"You think I didn't see you today?" Today? My forehead wrinkles. Today, I went out to get a better look at the massive festival for something or other the president of this country had done. Knowing Laguna, probably by accident. "Honestly, could you be a bit more obvious next time? I don't think everyone knows quite yet."
I stare at him, still confused. "Knows what?"
Seifer shakes his head gently and sighs. "Squall, you were following me."
I am even more confused. "You're here?"
He turns to face me fully. "What were you doing today?"
"I was looking around. Seeing if there was anything good for sale."
"And what did you look at?"
I glare at the overly patient tone he's adopted. "Gunblade equipment, mostly. Ammo, cleaning kits."
He raises an eyebrow. "And the lingerie section? What drew you there?"
I flush and mutter, "I got lost."
"You got 'lost' halfway across the festival, then. Those two sections are completely opposite each other. What were you doing?"
I glare at him. "I was thinking." I bite the words off with more force than is strictly necessary.
There's a snort of laughter. "There's a surprise. So what were you thinking about this time?" As if I spend all of my time thinking.
"You," I reply honestly. His eyes widen most satisfactorily. There's a reaction I'll savour for some time. Catching Seifer Almasy off-guard is like catching Laguna not being a moron. Few and far between, but well worth the wait.
"You don't want that," he says suddenly, firmly.
I frown. I think I'm well able to make my own decisions by now. Hell, I make the decisions for half of Garden on a daily basis. "How do you know that?"
He shakes his head. "I just do. Trust me, Squall, you're better off if you leave me alone."
I move forward before he can turn away. "Why?" I ask insistently, staring up at him. "You come and invade my sleep and you want me to leave you alone?"
I can see him considering my questions before he nods. Frustrated, I turn away from him sharply. However, I don't get more than a long step or two away before his hand grabs my arm and pulls me back.
"C'mon, Squall, it's not like that." And neither is him pleading.
"Then how is it?" Childishly, I refuse to look at him, both angry at him and afraid that he'll disappear again once I see him.
"You can't be thinking of me more than I'm thinking of you."
"And why would that be?"
He hesitates again. "Don't ask me that, Squall. You don't want to know." I whip my head around to glare at him and he smiles weakly at me. "And I don't want to tell you."
"Why not?" Too soon, I feel wakefulness creeping up on me. I fight it stubbornly, determined to hear his answer before I surrender to the inevitable shattering of the dream.
His smile fades a bit. "Because I'm afraid." His voice is beginning to recede from my hearing as the room has already faded into nothing.
"What are you afraid of?" I strain to catch his reply, although it's more like the whisper of wind than the confident voice of my rival.
"That you don't think of me for the same reason . . . ." And then it's too late, my consciousness pulling itself free of the unreality of the dream and heading towards the confusion that waits for me on the other side of waking.
Squall was catapulted into awareness, staring wild-eyed around the room before collapsing back onto his bed with a groan. He covered his eyes with an arm and thought about bashing his head against a hard surface. The dreams of Seifer were starting to invade every moment he took to rest, and they always ended up with him starting awake, as if he thought if he woke fast enough, the dream Seifer would still be there. His expression soured even further at that thought. If only he knew what Seifer was thinking . . . . And where he was. He lifted his head and thumped it back onto the pillow, finding it unsatisfactorily soft and fluffy. If he thought for a moment that the dream Seifer was telling the truth, he'd be out there right now, tearing the fair apart with his bare hands, trying to find the blond. But dreams were only products of his mind and there was a difference between wanting to know where Seifer was and knowing.
Why had he ventured into the lingerie, anyway? He flushed, remembering again the teasing light in Seifer's eyes when he had asked that question. He had given up on finding anything interesting and had just been wandering, following the path his feet took.
He shook his head. Why was he in Esthar, for that matter? Matters had been . . . stiff between him and Laguna ever since the moron had decided to reveal he was Squall's father. Truth to be told, Squall had rather been expecting something like that—never let it be said that he didn't know how to put two and two together when said numbers hit him with the force of a tidal wave—but it had still been rather unpleasant being forced to acknowledge the clumsy oaf as his father.
He watched. He had decided to turn the tables on his pursuer when they next found each other and had followed him out to a high lookout, where the object of his attention stood facing into the wind. He reached out to it, as if he could catch it, hold it for a moment to examine it. But his eyes remained closed, thoughts moving too swiftly across his face to be deciphered.
He swallowed and began backing away uneasily, alarm thrilling deep in his soul. This was too risky, a foolish chance he should never have taken. He didn't want to be found.
His erstwhile prey turned around suddenly, snapping his eyes open. Grey met green with an almost audible snap and he gave up all pretenses and fled.
. . . did he?
"Stop running away from me!" I snap the moment I recognize the dream. Seifer stares back at me, obviously surprised at my glare. I advance on him and have to watch as he retreats before me. "Why did you run away?"
He swallows. "Don't ask me that!" He tries to be forceful, but the slight tremor in his voice gives it all away.
"Why the hell not? What in Hyne's name do I have to do to get some straight answers out of you?"
He mutters something I'm obviously not supposed to hear and my eyes narrow. "That's all?" His head whips up to look me straight in the eye and he pales, much as he had earlier this afternoon. I know he would run if there was any place for him to run to. But this is my dream and I won't let him escape me again. "I'm here for a reason, Seifer!" Irritably, I pull myself out of the dream, determined to end this one way or another.
Squall wiped a rough hand across his eyes, clearing the sleep out of them. Throwing off the blankets, he slid out of bed with a grim sense of purpose. It was time to end it for once and for all.
It was his turn to stand behind a railing, leaning into the wind, hoping it would scour his thoughts clean. He figured he was safe here; Squall, even if he was searching for him, wouldn't think he would return to the place he had run from. And it was a good place to regain his composure. There were never very many people this high up and the wind was very . . . soothing. He began to work out what he was going to do now that Squall knew he was around. Staying in Esthar was not a viable solution; he wouldn't be able to evade Squall forever here. Going back to Balamb to lay low for a while, that thought had merit. Running straight into the lion's den appealed to him, a sense of foolhardy courage combined with a sensible feeling of good strategy. Going where the enemy least expected you to was always good.
"I didn't think we were enemies, Seifer," a quiet voice murmured behind him. He stiffened, but refused to turn around.
"I didn't think we were anything else," he returned. Damn and double damn. He hadn't thought Squall would be able to predict what he'd do. He'd obviously forgotten just what had made their rivalry so potent.
There was a quiet laugh, something he hadn't expected to hear. "I've been doing some thinking of my own," the brunet said, moving to stand beside him at the rail. He studiously kept his eyes to himself. One moment of distraction would be all it took to make him look the fool.
He forced a laugh. "There's a surprise," he said dryly. "What were you thinking about this time?"
There was another low laugh and he almost looked over, sure somehow that Squall's expression would be rueful and not mocking. "You know, you asked me the exact same thing in my dreams."
He had to quell a sudden lump of fear. "Your dreams?" he asked, his mouth almost painfully dry.
"Only been having them since I got to this city in the middle of nowhere. It's like I see you every time I close my eyes . . . ." Squall trailed off and he had to tighten his grip on the rail to remind himself of just who they both were. "Funny thing is, they aren't even the dreams I'd expect." He made a disgusted sound. "We both stay decorously clad in them."
He could only blink, unable to quite grasp what the other man was saying. Squall dreamt of him and didn't . . . mind? Or he minded because they didn't get naked? Or maybe he was just being strung along in hopes he would follow the pretty bait into the trap. Either way, there was nothing he could say that would make up a good response.
"Your dream self told me something," Squall said when the silence had gone on for a little too long. "He told me to take some time out of my life to sit down and think some things through."
"And why would that be?" he asked harshly, trying to use the tone to convey, once again, the differences between them.
Squall snorted. "Because he didn't want to tell me what I wanted to know. Some crap about how I didn't really want to know it."
"Didn't want to know . . . what?" His voice was hesitant. He sensed more than saw the shrug.
"Didn't want to know where you were, even though I was looking for you. Didn't want to know why you didn't want me to find you. Didn't want to know why you thought the way I thought of you and the way you thought of me might be different." He shook his head, another gesture not quite seen, but most certainly felt. "For a piece of my subconscious, he certainly wasn't all that knowledgeable about me."
He was frozen. Or dead. Or, worse yet, simply dreaming this, dreaming of what Squall was implying. Fear paralyzed him. Fear of what he felt. Fear of what Squall might feel. Fear of everything and anything that had ever come between them.
The other man sighed, the sound audible even over the brisk wind. "When you make your choice, you'll know where to find me," he said simply before a startling warmth sneaked underneath his coat and filled his back pocket for a moment. And Squall walked away from him.
Dazed for several long moments, he eventually reached back and pulled from his pocket what Squall had dropped in it. Something heavy and unwieldy for its small size wrapped in a makeshift envelope. He opened it cautiously and spilled out a silver chain into his ready hand. He stared at it for a moment, watching the swinging head of Griever catch the thin sunlight.
He brought his attention back to the envelope, seeing the note scrawled inside.
I figure you're wondering why I gave you my necklace. Well, a moment's thought should be enough to give you the right answer, but maybe it's better if I try to say it, too. Griever is only a symbol of something much, much larger and it's the only thing I can give right now to try to keep you warm on these cold desert nights. Until you make your choice, of course. When you're ready, I'll be waiting.
The bed dips slightly as someone sits beside me. I almost don't want to open my eyes into this dream. On second thought, however, I have a lot of time to get through and if I can't spend it with the real Seifer, I might as well spend it with the next best thing. I open my eyes slowly to see that it is, indeed, the blond sitting on my bed. He's holding something in his hands, smoothing his fingers over it again and again.
"Hey," I say, sitting up slowly. He raises his eyes to my face and gives a half-smile.
"Hey, yourself." He shifts slightly, moving his body more to face mine. "How's sleeping beauty?"
I shrug. "Could be better," I say honestly. He raises an eyebrow and I have to smile, just a little bit. "I could have you in here with me."
He laughs softly and shakes his head, glancing down at what he's holding. I catch a glimpse of it before he hides it in a fist. His choker? I frown. Why did he take it off? "You really are the utter limit, Squall," he says. "You confuse me."
Now it's my turn to raise an eyebrow. "How so?"
He leans backwards and stares up at the ceiling instead of looking at me to answer. "You weren't supposed to come after me. I was supposed to stay alone for the rest of my life, pining for what I could have had and lost through my foolish pride." He glances sideways at me. "You kinda ruined that."
My eyes narrow. Seifer and his overly dramatic imagination can just kiss my ass. He laughs again.
"I'd love to," he tells me teasingly. "But you told me yourself that your dreams weren't those kind of dreams." My face burns.
"I don't suppose," I start carefully, "that you know when you're going to make a decision?" It's as much to change the subject as a genuine desire to know.
He snorts. "Sorry, Squall, but as you so eloquently put it, I'm part of your subconscious." He looks thoughtful. "Although I have to say your knowledge of me tends to be rather accurate. Right down to the irritating 'I know something you don't know' air." He smirks at me then. "Besides, even if I could, I wouldn't tell you. Where would the fun be in that?" I groan and fall backwards, hitting my pillow with a thump.
"Go away, then," I mumble, closing my eyes. "If I have to wait for you, then maybe I'd rather wait alone."
The bed shifts again and warmth hovers over me. Opening my eyes to mere slits, I can see warm aqua eyes staring into mine. "I do love you, you know," he murmurs.
I nod fractionally. "I know." Love you, too, is what I couldn't—yet—say aloud.
"Even if I don't say it out loud," he continues, echoing my thoughts back to me. I lift my hand and run it gently through his hair, the same way I wanted to in that first dream I had of this curiously realistic Seifer. I change my mind; I don't want him to leave me. Maybe he isn't the real Seifer, but it's much, much better to have him with me while I sleep than to not have him at all. "I could never leave you," he tells me, "not when I know you want me with you." He draws back and looks down at me. "Get some sleep, Squall." A trace of a mischievous grin dances across his face. "I'll still be here. I promise."
Reluctant to obey him right away, I watch as he walks over to the open window. He's never looked so perfect, with the moonlight shining down on him and the soft breeze ruffling his hair just that little bit. I don't want to leave him. I don't want to be alone again.
Squall shifted sleepily, turning over onto his side. He opened his eyes slightly, staring at the scene before him. Seifer stood in front of the open window, staring out of it. Wind moved the curtains back and forth gently, but never enough to obscure the blond. Squall sighed and stretched out.
"You're still here," he murmured, curling an arm up under his head. He saw Seifer start, then slowly, so slowly, turn to face him. He frowned. Did he have soemthing on his face? He rubbed a lazy hand over it, just to make sure, then peeked at Seifer over it. For a piece of his subconscious, Seifer sure was being quiet.
"I . . . thought you'd be asleep a while longer," the blond said hesitantly, neither moving towards him nor away.
Squall's hand dropped and he shot into a more upright position. "You're really . . . here?" he asked, passing his hand over his face once more, this time to chase away any sleep that was left.
Seifer frowned. "Shouldn't I be?" he asked a trifle belligerently. He waved a piece of paper at Squall. "You said to find you, so I did." Moonlight shone for a moment on something around Seifer's neck. Squall felt his breath catch just the tiniest bit as he recognized Griever. He raised his eyes only to see that the blond's precious choker was missing. But before he could ask . . . .
"Didn't seem right," Seifer muttered, waving a hand at him as his eyes looked practically everywhere but. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Didn't seem . . . right to just take him from you like that."
Soundlessly, Squall slipped out of bed and padded over to Seifer, who was now watching him cautiously. He raised his hand and gently brushed his fingers against his own throat, now able to feel the shape of it, the weight it carried. Slowly, he reached forward to do the same to Griever. He tilted his head to be able to look the taller man in the eye. "You didn't take anything that wasn't already yours." Seifer seemed to relax at that, no longer looking like he would run at a moment's notice.
He grasped Seifer's arm gently and tugged on it, pulling the blond after him. "It's late," he said, answering the question the aqua eyes asked him. "We need to rest." He let go once they'd reached the bed, turning around to better be able to crawl under the blankets himself. Somehow, when Seifer silently joined him, there was no awkwardness as they wrapped themselves around each other and . . . .
And dreamt together.
*streeeeeetches* And there goes the fic that wouldn't die. I'm serious *makes sad, sad eyes* I couldn't do anything but write it. *makes a face* Which was a bit of a pain while I was at work, not having a computer with which to access it. xx
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