By Scarlet Fever

I stared at the mess of papers stacked on my desk. I still didn’t even really think of it as my desk. It was the Headmaster’s desk. I didn’t see myself as the Headmaster. Why did I take this job?


I was oh-so-dutiful. I took the job because I was supposed to, did it with determination because it was what was expected of me. I did so much that was expected of me. I looked over when my intercom buzzed. I knew it was the intercom, even if I couldn’t see it. It was buried. I really needed a secretary.

“What?” I finally asked, after rummaging for the intercom, knocking papers on the floor as I did.

“Hey, Squall...It’s Rinoa...”

“Come in...” I muttered wearily. Rinoa. Duty. Hand in hand. It’s not like I hated her, or didn’t care. I just found it hard to get excited to see her. After Ultimecia had been defeated, I thought I would dote on her until the end of time, but she was a social butterfly, and I was chained to my desk, chained to my duty. I think she’s getting bored with me. I’m kind of bored, too. But, I’m also a coward. I don’t want to end it with her because she’s comfortable. It’s easy to be with Rinoa, because it’s expected of me. Well, I guess my choice of rut could be worse, but that’s what it was. A rut. There wasn’t any excitement anymore. Since the Sorceresses had gone into hibernation, since there were no wars, life in the Garden was boring. Everything was boring. I felt trapped, asleep.

“Squall? Is this a bad time?” Rinoa asked, stepping into my office. She had her hands meekly clasped in front of her mauve cashmere sweater. She asked that everyday.

“No, no...” I stood, kissing her on the cheek. How friendly, how noble, how boring. When was the last time I had wanted to ravage her lips with my own, wanted to throw her down on my messy, messy desk and fuck her until she couldn’t walk? I couldn’t remember. Looking into her coffee eyes, I could tell that she was thinking the same thing. When was the last time she ever wanted to lock the door because she couldn’t handle not sucking my dick, or when was the last time she came to me not wearing underwear, straddling me and fucking me? I’m sure she couldn’t remember. Actually, I could never see Rinoa doing that. She was a good girl, and meek about her body, and sharing it with me. She wasn’t really a prude. Just Rinoa.

“What do you want to do for dinner?” She asked me, sitting in the chair that was usually reserved for Garden visitors.

“I had planned on working.” I sat back down, rolling my eyes at the paperwork. “Why?”

“Well, Selphie and Zell are going to Dollet for some fun. They asked if we wanted to go, and I definitely do...” She trailed off. “And, you don’t.”

“I’m not really in the mood, Rinoa.”

“I’m not surprised.” Her voice sounded tired, but not angry. “Well, I guess I’ll have fun without you, then...”

“Like you always do,” I smirked. “I would just bring the mood down. Go... Have fun... I’ll be here when you get back.”

“Sure, Squall?” She asked, rising from her seat. “Because, I could stay here with you if you want...”

“But, then you would be thinking about Dollet, wouldn’t you?”

She laughed sheepishly. “I’ll see you later, then.”

I nodded as she left. After a few minutes of filing things in my already stuffed cabinets, I realized that I hadn’t told Rinoa I loved her before she left. She hadn’t told me that she loved me. It seemed that we were beyond it. I did love Rinoa. Loved her like I would love no other. But, it was a love that had matured. I almost loved her like a sister, except not. I still found her attractive, but it was an attractiveness that I was used to. It didn’t cause my heart to curl anymore. She was my friend. Friend...... Girlfriend? Friend just seemed to sound more fitting. Friend. This is my friend, Rinoa. We just happen to sleep in the same bed. We just share the bed. We don’t sleep together. We just roll over on our side of this empty bed we share and go to sleep. I could be sleeping beside Zell and it would be the same thing. I could be sleeping beside a plant and it would be the same thing. Weren’t couples supposed to sleep together? And, not just sex. Sleep together, fall asleep in each other’s arms?

I picked up a stack of folders, putting them away as I contemplated this. Was I just holding Rinoa back because I couldn’t jump headfirst into society like she could? I liked hanging back, she liked being at the forefront. I’d tried to be what she wanted of me, but failed. I couldn’t change who I was. Not even for Rinoa. Sudden anger overcame me. Why should I? I sighed. What was the point of getting angry? Rinoa didn’t mean to assimilate me. It was that fucking sense of duty that made me feel I should change for her. Duty, now and forever. I was such a fucking Girl Scout. I may as well have been going door to door selling those cookies.

At the thought of Girl Scout cookies, my stomach grumbled. Maybe it would have been prudent to take Rinoa up on her offer. Looking at the clock, I realized that an hour had passed since Rinoa had left. An hour? Actually, I wasn’t surprised. I got lost in my head all the time. Contemplating my relationship with Rinoa could have taken weeks, and I wouldn’t have really noticed until I shit my pants. That thought made me feel very pathetic. I sighed. Rather than try to deal with the crowds in the cafeteria, I decided to walk to Balamb. I needed the fresh air, and the time to myself. Which was an odd thought because I spent most of my time in my own company.

I walked along the quiet streets, as if I were the only person in existence. I never really paid attention to my surroundings, or the people that populated it. I was like a robot programmed to sense danger, and that was the only thing that could rouse me from my electronic stupor. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat as I walked along the pier towards the harbour. I could still remember the day we all went to Dollet for our SeeD exam like it was yesterday. The day that myself, Zell and Seifer found out about the Galbadian Army’s plan to resurrect Timber’s communications. The day my world changed. I think we all changed that day. Seifer especially.

I now pondered my former rival as I had pondered Rinoa only moments earlier. I called him my former rival because I didn’t feel a need to be his enemy any longer. He had been troubled. I wondered what happened to him. After Time Compression, he... vanished. Was he still alive? As I neared the end of the harbour, I noticed another person ahead of me. Given that it was supper time, there weren’t that many people around this area. It surprised me that I even noticed, but it was kind of funny that I did, considering what I had been thinking of.

He was facing the ocean, away from me, the small of his back pressed against one of the wooden posts that held the dock together. He seemed deep in thought, and his body language seemed sad, or tired. His broad shoulders were slumped in a way that I had never really connected with him. He wasn’t wearing his long grey coat, but rather, a high necked black jacket, almost like an army uniform. The coat was black wool, and had long bell sleeves that covered his hands, only his gloved fingers poking out. The jacket reached to his knees, and fit him nicely. His black pants had a yellow stripe down the side, and his boots were polished. I would have said he was in uniform, but I didn’t know any organization that had dress like that.

“Speak of the devil...” I muttered, approaching him. “Seifer?”

He looked over his shoulder, surprise causing his slender, pale eyebrows to be arched. When he saw that it was a familiar face. He turned his whole body to face me. His hair was a little longer than when I had seen him last, but not as long as mine. It was just long enough to be unruly and jagged, like he hadn’t brushed it when he woke up. His aquamarine eyes just looked at me, regarding me.

“I was just thinking about you, actually,” I stated, shoving my hands in the pockets of my bomber coat. “Maybe you sensed it.”

He said nothing, but tilted his head to look at me.

“Where have you been? I haven’t seen you since after Time compression...” I asked, frowning slightly.

His eyes became sad, waves of regret passing over them, looking like the expanse of ocean behind him

“I guess that was thoughtless of me.”

He still remained silent, still staring at me. He crossed his arms over his chest, but not in a smug way. It looked more like an act of shame. I frowned deeper. Why wasn’t he saying anything?

“I guess you’re not used to me being so chatty, huh? I’m not really used to it, either. When I only have Rinoa to talk to, I guess I look for outlets where I can get them....”

He smiled slightly, the sadness leaving his eyes. But, he still wouldn’t say anything.

“Seifer, what’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you fucking saying anything?” I asked, confused and slightly angry. “I’m surprised you haven’t at least insulted me yet....”

He sighed, opening his mouth, but closing it again, distress coming across his face. He looked down at the wooden planks of the dock instead.

“Fine, be a fucking prick... I’m trying to be nice, you know...” I trailed off, some of my old heated feelings toward the blonde coming back.

His scarred brow knit together, but he still wouldn’t fucking say anything. I just shook my head, rolling my eyes. I turned on my heel, stalking away. I could have sworn that I heard him whisper my name, but I was too far away to be sure. I forgot about my food and walked back towards the Garden.

“How was Dollet?” I asked as Rinoa came into my room. I still had my room, and she still had hers. It worked better that way. She didn’t like the way I kept things, and she was too messy for me. We would sleep together, though. I had a feeling tonight wouldn’t be one of those nights.

“It was great. You really should have come. You could have gotten out of that stuffy office.”

“I did get out of that stuffy office. I went for a walk...” I trailed off, wondering how to breach this subject of Rinoa. I ran my palm over the comforter.

“What is it?” Rinoa asked, smoothing her long black silk skirt as she sat beside me on the bed. I never thought of it as our bed. It was my bed. She had her bed. We were going through the motions. My damn duty. I’m a Girl Scout. “Is something wrong?”

“Not really...” I frowned. “Guess who I saw in Balamb?”

Rinoa’s eyes lit up. She liked guessing games. Maybe that said a lot about our relationship. One big guessing game. Is that why she liked it? She couldn’t have liked it. She may have been innocent, but even she couldn’t have been that innocent. “Who? Was it Zell’s mom?”


“Seifer?!” She exclaimed. “Seifer Almasy??!”

I shut my eyes. “You don’t have to scream in my ear. Yes, Seifer Almasy. Your ex-boyfriend, my ex-rival, the ex-Sorceress’s Knight....”

“You sound bitter...” She stretched her legs in front of her. “Still angry with him?”

I shook my head, tucking some hair behind my ears. “Not really... Well, not for those reasons. He wouldn’t fucking talk to me!”

“What? Did he ignore you or something?”

I sighed angrily. “No, he just stared at me, and smiled sort of when I started being surprisingly talkative, but he wouldn’t say anything. What a prick.” I grumbled to myself, flopping down on the mattress.

“That’s kind of odd. Look, I’m going to let you rest, okay? Besides, I noticed that stack of files on your desk...” She looked over, where the files were making a tower in the center of my desk, surrounded by CDs and video games.

“Sure....” I watched her head to the door. “Rinoa?” I asked, feeling like I should stop her. Again, duty won out.


I shook my head. “Goodnight.”

She smiled, her heart-shaped mouth turning up at the corners. “You too.”

Why wouldn’t Seifer say anything to me? This was probably his intent all along, to make me go insane with anger and curiosity. He still hadn’t grown out of his mind games. Why was I giving him the time of day? Because I hadn’t seen him in over two years, after seeing him everyday for my entire life, or rather, the entire life that I could remember. The GF use hadn’t totally worn off, so there were small scenes that I couldn’t remember when someone like Zell or Selphie would bring them up.

If Seifer was being malicious with me, why did he look so sad and lost when I talked to him. He looked like he was almost.. angry with himself, and under distress. What’s going on with you, Seifer? Are you in the military somewhere? Are you a student at a University? Are you happy, sad, in love? Or, have you just been plotting against us again?

I had to laugh at that thought. Seifer wouldn’t plot against us. He was the sort of man that just came out and said what he wanted, what he was thinking. For a moment, my brain contemplated my own use of the word ‘man’. Seifer was a man now. I was a man now. We were still children when I saw him last. Had we changed, or were we just older in body, our shells catching up with our minds. We had actually been men a long time ago. We were never children.

I thought of what Seifer must have gone through. Rinoa had told me what it had been like to be used by the Sorceress as a shell, to be controlled and possessed, and she had experienced it for a far shorter amount of time than Seifer had. Had it affected him in some way? Would he ever be the same Seifer again? I had a feeling the answer to that was a big, fat no. Anyone, even Seifer Almasy, would have been changed after something like that, to be used totally, completely, to have all your dreams and aspirations mocked, then dashed right in front of your eyes while you smiled like an idiot. I suddenly felt very bad that I had stormed off.

What if Seifer had been traumatized? I shook my head. He looked even better than he had before the Ultimecia thing had began. He looked great, amazing, the way I wanted to look. He was so masculine, but not oozing testosterone. I actually thought about it. Seifer had always been the sort of pillar or masculine when he’d been a student in the Garden. Even though the students always didn’t like him, they respected him, and many of the Junior students modeled themselves after him. I had modeled myself after him. He had always been so strong, so confident, so smug and frank.

I pictured his face in my mind, surrounded by ocean behind him. He actually wasn’t that masculine in the face. I pictured him entirely. His body was the sort that an Olympic swimmer would have. Lean, full of muscles, but each muscle would be useable. It was the perfect example of the male body, but his face was almost pretty. I guess I hadn’t noticed because I had never really paid attention, and had been self-conscious of my own effeminate features, something I had come to accept. I was pretty. End of story. He was also strangely pretty, his features almost delicate.

This was the first time in a long time he hadn’t had a sneer pasted on his face, so I had really got to see it, relaxed and natural. His eyes were large and so blue, framed by lashes that were thicker than Rinoa’s. His nose and cheekbones made him look like a prince, or Lord from some romantic country. His mouth was small, almost sprightly. I shook my head. Seifer had succeeded in whatever mind game he’d started. I smacked my forehead in stupidity. I was following the duty of letting things worry me. Always worried, always gullible, always prepared.

It had been three days since I’d seen Seifer in Balamb. During that period of time, I kept thinking of his stupid silent smile, and his regal eyes. It sort of disturbed me that I was thinking of him so often. I should have been thinking of Rinoa that often. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with us. Does Rinoa fantasize about other men more than she does about me? Does she fantasize about Zell, Irvine? Or, what about Quistis, Selphie, Matron? Hell, I guess it was okay for her to think about other women since I was thinking about another man.

I’d also been thinking a lot about my relationship with Rinoa. What were we doing? We were just going through the motions. It reminded me of my father. Laguna, being the impetuous moron that he is, married some girl rather hastily, instead of listening to his heart and being with Kiros like everyone knew he should have done. Now, he was married. Unhappily ever after. It’s pretty weird having a Homosexual Father. Well, Bisexual, I guess. He did bang at least one chick. That’s why I’m here. My thoughts make it sound like I hate my father. I don’t. I love him, that’s why I can call him a moron. Because he is one.

I also thought about my thoughts of Seifer. Was I following in my father’s footsteps, both in the unhappy, boring union with a woman you’re dutifully settling for, but pining after a shining god? Was I as gay as my dad?

I laughed out loud. What a strange thought. The mail carrier came into my office, giving me a raised eyebrow, but nothing more. I guess since I was the Headmaster, I was above insults. I frowned at the Garden bills that were scattered on my desk. There were also some letters from both Trabia and Galbadia Gardens. One letter caught my attention, because it didn’t have letterheads and watermarks all over it. It was outlandish in its ordinary state. I was immediately curious, and opened it. It merely said my name on the envelope in writing I didn’t recognize.


I apologize for not greeting you properly the other day. True, I was surprised to see you, but that is no excuse for my rudeness. I was actually glad to see you, after the surprise wore off. I had also been thinking of you. Not just you, but Balamb Garden as a whole. I assume that you are doing well, seeing as how you are still with Rinoa. She must be happy with you, being Headmaster and all. I read about it in the newspaper. Congratulations. I’m sure you’ll make Garden better than it was. Is Matron well? I saw her a little while ago, and she seemed to be doing better, her guilt over what Ultimecia did ebbing a little. More than mine is.

I always wanted to apologize to you, Squall, but I’m afraid that any verbal apology I had planned over the years can never come to light. I could not speak with you at the harbour because I cannot speak.

It was good to see you, and I hope your life turns out the way you wanted it.


I stared at the writing, a little shocked. Seifer couldn’t speak? And, I had been so hard on him. I frowned at myself. Way to be a jackass. I sighed, looking at the envelope. There was a postmark from Balamb on it. When I heard my intercom, I swore under my breath.

“What?” I demanded tersely.

“Jesus Christ! It’s only Zell!”

“Oh, sorry. Come in.”

The petite martial artist smiled brightly. “What’s up? You sound angry.”

“I’m just frazzled, I guess....” I leaned my hip against my desk, Seifer’s letter still in my hand.

“You need to get out. Want to come to town with me? I have to see my mom.”

I was about to protest, but the letter in my hand told me not to. “Yes. Let’s go....” I followed him to the elevator, letter still in my gloved hand.

“What’s that?” Zell asked lazily, running his hand through his standing blonde locks.

“I owe someone an apology.”

“Oh? Is it me?”

I shook my head. “Why would I have to apologize to you?”

“Because of all the times you’ve made fun of me.”

“You deserved it.”

He scoffed. “So, who do you have to apologize to?”


Zell was quiet for a few moments, disbelief written all over his face. “What?”

“I saw Seifer in Balamb the other day, and got mad at him when he wouldn’t talk to me...”

“That bastard wouldn’t talk to you?”

I sighed deeply. “He can’t talk, Zell. He wrote me a letter. I feel like such a motherfucker.”

“He can’t talk? Why not?”

“I don’t know, Zell. He didn’t exactly tell me.”

He glared at me. “Shut up, Squall.” He then became lost in thought. He must have been thinking of the past, much like I had when Seifer’s name had come up again. We walked to Balamb, mostly in silence.

“What do you think Seifer’s been doing?” Zell asked.

“I don’t know...”

“How are you going to ask him? He can’t answer you...”

“There are mute people in the world. They must communicate, Zell.”

He flipped me off. “I’m just pointing out a valid question.”

I sighed as we entered Balamb. I decided to go in with him to see Zell’s mother. If anyone would know where to find Seifer in Balamb, it would be Mrs. Dincht.

“Hey, Ma!” Zell bellowed.

“Zell!” She came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. “Oh, Squall, hello.”

“Hello, Mrs. Dincht,” I greeted. “Actually, I can’t stay long, but I wanted to ask you a question. Do you know if someone named Seifer Almasy? Does he live in Balamb?”

She paused. “You mean the Sorceress’s Knight?”

Zell snorted. “Yeah...”

“Poor thing. Nobody talks to him. He lost his voice. He can still whisper, and knows sign language, but he doesn’t really use it. I’ve invited him over a few times. I just feel so sorry for him. He’s so alone.”

“Seifer Almasy’s been here?!” Zell screeched.

“Yes...” She gave Zell a disapproving look. “He’s not the same person he was when that awful Sorceress had control of him.

“Do you know where I can find him?” I asked.

“Probably on the pier. That’s where he always goes.”

I nodded thanks, and quickly went towards the ocean. I almost ran to the docks, hoping he would be there. He wasn’t. I sighed, slumping against a wall. I felt terrible about being such a bastard about his voice, and I really wanted to apologize. If I didn’t get a chance, I knew I would obsess over it forever.

“Dammit,” I muttered, balling my fists, one of which still had Seifer’s letter in it. I gasped when I felt someone tap me on the shoulder.

I turned slowly, looking into a familiar steel collar. I raised my eyes to meet Seifer’s.

“Seifer...” I muttered, pushing my weight off the wall.

He looked down at my hand, noticing his letter. His eyes narrowed in sad recognition.

“Look, Seifer....” I began. “I just wanted to... I wanted to apologize. I’m really sorry about being so rude the other day....”

You didn‘t know...” He whispered. “But, I’m glad you took the effort to tell me.”

I sighed in relief. I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. “How did you lose it?”

Seifer pursed his lips. He didn’t have to say a word. I could see in his eyes that it had been Ultimecia who had stolen his voice from him.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.

I don’t want your pity.....”

I chuckled quietly. “Still haven’t changed...” I paused. “Actually, I know that’s not true. I can see in your eyes that you’ve changed.”

He smiled sadly, sighing and biting his lip. “Squall... I’m so sorry....”

“Please don’t apologize to me, Seifer. Actually, I’m not doing much today. Do you want to get lunch or something?”

He looked down at the ground. “I’d rather not... The people in town don’t make me feel comfortable.”

I found that I had to lean closer to be able to hear him. “Well, where do you live? I’m sorry...I guess I just want to catch up with you. I’m very curious about what you’ve been doing.”

“You want to spend time with me?” His eyes looked as if I had asked him to kill a baby.

“Yes, yes I do. What, can’t old classmates have lunch together.”

“We could order in, I guess....”

I smirked. “There you go. Say, where are Raijin and Fujin?”

His face darkened. “I wouldn’t know. I don’t speak with them anymore. I don’t speak with anyone.”

I raised my eyebrows. “What happened?”

He sighed deeply, an extremely sad look coming over his graceful features. “They didn’t like being social pariahs, I guess.”

I found that Seifer was leading me to a rather quiet part of Balamb that I’d never visited before. I also noticed that more than a few people were staring at us. I was pretty famous for being Headmaster of Balamb Garden, and Seifer was Edea’s former Knight. When he led me into his apartment, I nodded in appreciation. It was somewhat small, but very clean and minimalistic. Something that I wished my room at the Garden looked like.

He looked at the phone. “You’re going to have to use it...”

“Why do you have a phone if you can’t talk?”

For emergencies...”

I nodded, and pulled a phone book from off the glass table. I found that I watched his every move when he removed his coat. His body was still the epitome of masculine grace. I found my eyes lingering longer than they should have.

After I ordered the food, we sat on his couch, and I blabbered on about Rinoa, and my job at the Garden, and how both were trying my patience. He sat, watching me. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell that he was listening. Now that his voice was rendered useless, his eyes seemed all the more expressive. It was almost hypnotic, and I found myself being drawn somewhere else if I looked in them for too long. When the food came, I also babbled on about the rest of the Garden, and movies and television, and every boring subject that could tumble out of my mouth. I couldn’t understand why I was being so talkative with Seifer. Maybe because he was listening with rapture, or because I didn’t feel like I had to talk to him, but rather, I wanted to talk to him. With Rinoa, my sense of duty made chatting a chore, so I rarely did it. With Seifer, I just felt like talking.

“I don’t know. I care about Rinoa, I really do... But, I don’t have the same heat in my body for her that I once had. Do you know what I mean? You used to date her.”

“I never felt fire for Rinoa....”

“Why?” I asked. “Because you guys were too different? Because you’d rather have a woman like Fujin?”

“Because I’d rather have a man.”

I remained silent, feeling like I was the mute one. “A man? You’re gay?”

He looked at me, and I knew it was true. He also looked at me like he expected me to scurry away to the other side of the couch, to make a lame excuse about work and run away as fast as I could.

“Well, good for you...” I murmured. “At least you’re not stuck in a loveless marriage like another gay man I know...”

He raised a quizzical eyebrow. It made him look very... Attractive.

“My father.”

The other eyebrow shot up. “Your father?!” His whisper came out like a hacking wheeze.

“Yeah, my dad’s gay. I wonder if I’m gay....”

Seifer just watched me, and for a split second, I wanted him to test me, to kiss me and fuck me and test my heterosexuality. We just looked at each other. I could tell in his eyes that his thoughts were travelling on a similar path.

I cleared my throat. “I should probably go....”

He nodded. “Rinoa’s probably wondering where you are....”

I’ll come back to hang out with you some other time. You know, since I talked so much today, I think you should tell me things.” I smirked. “It’s only fair.”

“Why do you care?” He asked, his voice sad and almost angry. “I tried to kill you.”

“And?” I asked. “Look, Seifer, that wasn’t you.. That was Ultimecia. It happened a long time ago, so forget about it. I want to make peace with you, and my life is so mired by duty right now, that I need an outlet.”

“One that can’t speak?”

“That doesn’t matter...” I muttered. I put on my coat. “Look, I can just drop by, or I can call or something....”

He nodded, looking pleased. “I’d like that.”

I nodded, leaving, a smile on my face.

Two weeks later, and I had gone to Seifer’s almost every day. We were getting very close, and he had actually told me things about his life of the past two years. He spent a lot of time at the harbour, or reading. He was actually writing a book. That impressed me. It was something that I had never envisioned Seifer doing, but it didn’t really surprise me. He had always been in the library when he was a student at the Garden. He also told me how he thought the world of Zell’s mother. She was one of the only people who seemed to give a damn whether he was alive or dead. When he’d told me that, I’d told him that I cared. I did care. I do care. He’d told me about when Raijin and Fujin had abandoned him with barely a word. It had made me sad and angry.

I remembered when he told me. He’d started crying, shame swimming in his eyes for breaking down in front of me. I didn’t think less of him for crying. I thought more of him for it. It showed that he still cared for them, for he wouldn’t have shed tears for someone he hated. It showed strength in his character. When he’d broken down, I took him in my arms, and held him. I could still feel his warm tears falling against my chest.

That was also the day that a lot of things changed for me. I realized that part of the reason I went to see Seifer was because I was growing sexually attracted to him. He seemed to grow more beautiful, more elegant, more heavenly with each passing day, his isolation making him all the more radiant. How could people glare at such an angel when they passed him in the streets.

I sighed, slumping at my desk. The job of Headmaster was trying. I also found that lately, I was getting terribly distracted at work, my thoughts of Seifer plaguing me. I didn’t feel so prepared, so mired by duty anymore. I would think of Seifer’s eyes, and the workload on my desk wouldn’t seem so great. I didn’t want to work on any of that stuff that seemed so desperately important only weeks ago. I stood, leaving my office.

As I made my trip down to the lower levels of the school, I considered what I was doing. Shouldn’t I have been rushing away from work in order to spend more time with Rinoa? That would seem the prudent thing, but things with here were complicated in a simple way. Our relationship was simple. That’s what was wrong with it. Once the elevator landed, I went straight for the parking garage. I didn’t want to walk to Balamb, because it took too long.

While I drove, I put on the music that I never normally could. Most of the time when I drove, I had to have no music, or music that I hated. I would usually be in a vehicle with important people from other countries, or my father, or Rinoa. When I was in a car with Laguna, he always liked to listen to uptempo poppy music that he could sing along with, and bother everyone else in the car with. I would just stare out the window, while the other people, usually Ward and Kiros, would just shake their heads. I thought of Ward for a moment. He was mute. Seifer was mute. Maybe I could take Seifer to Esthar to talk with him. I inwardly cringed at my bad choice of words. Rinoa liked to listen to Jpop, something that I detested. She would always play some song called “Eyes On Me”, and claim that it was our song. If I were to pick a song for me and Rinoa, I think I would choose something that I could actually stand listening to. But, I was dutiful. Painfully dutiful.

When I arrived at Seifer’s apartment building, I was in a great mood. And, when he opened the door to greet me with his hypnotic eyes, my mood shot up a thousand fold.

“Hey!” I greeted.

He cocked his head, and I could tell that he was at a loss as to the reason for my visit.

“What, can’t I just visit you? You don’t have to be so suspicious.” I removed my chocolate brown wool coat and flopped down on the couch.

He slowly lowered his long body to sit beside me. “What about Rinoa? You seem to be spending more time with me than with her.....”

I shrugged. “Neither of us seems to mind.”

He narrowed his eyes. I knew that he thought I was throwing away a perfectly good chance of happiness. Seifer liked happiness. The Seifer that had been my rival only had cared about himself, and his progression in career and rank, but this Seifer wanted to be happy, but it seemed to elude him. He was an outcast in society, because the useless lambs that made up most of society couldn’t see past the fact that he’d served Edea, who in turn had served Ultimecia. Maybe this was the real Seifer after all. Maybe the other one had been a macho exterior, a front to hide the fragile truth beneath the beautiful surface.

“Don’t give me that look...” I muttered. “Rinoa and I have gone beyond a relationship. I don’t know why we both don’t just end it... Do you think it’s because we’re too comfortable?” I sighed, running my hands through my hair. “I’m so fucking dutiful. I do whatever people expect of me. I do what the Garden expects, what Cid expects, what Matron expects, what my father expects, what Rinoa expects. I’m such a fucking Girl Scout.”

I turned to look at Seifer, who was staring at me with those eyes. However, there was a different look on his face this time. It sent shivers down my spine, and blood to my groin. Even if Seifer didn’t have use of his voice, he could say more to me than hours of conversation with anyone else could. We just stared at each other, gaze locked on gaze. In that simple gaze, I could see a million things. I could see myself, see that I was just fucking kidding myself, letting my own feelings fall to my duty. Where was my duty to myself.

Seifer sighed, looking away. I blinked a few times, knowing that he saw how I felt, that I was getting sexual feelings for him. More than getting. I was consumed by sexual feelings for him. I had crossed a line without saying a word.

I stood, feeling so out of place, yet more comfortable than I ever had. “I was thinking on the way over here that you should come to Esthar with me.”

He raised an eyebrow, questioning me.

“Ward, one of Laguna’s friends, is mute, too. Maybe you could.... talk.... to him.... I’m sorry, I can’t think of a better word to go there. Plus, a change of scenery would maybe help you...” I sighed, knowing that Seifer was more than a little depressed. It wasn’t surprising, seeing as how me and Zell’s mother were the only people who seemed to care about his existence.

“I don’t know....”

I could see the apprehension in his eyes. He was afraid that Esthar would be worse, that the repercussions of his actions as the Sorceress’s Knight would be greater in the city of the Sorceress.

“I’m going next week, and you’re coming.” I put on my jacket. “You can do that thing with your eyes all you want, but I’m taking you.”

His brow knitted together, asking me ‘what thing with my eyes?’

“You know, that wide eyed hypnotic thing where I’ll do anything you’ll ask.”

He sighed sadly. I could tell that he wanted to tell me a million things. I wanted him to tell me, whisper me a million things about the way he felt. Even if I had come to see him every day for the past two weeks, I was still in the dark about some of Seifer’s thoughts and feelings. When I had my coat on, I stood in the doorway.

“Ask me to stay,” I whispered, turning to face him. I looked directly in his eyes. “Ask me to stay, and tell me what you’ve wanted to really tell me since you first saw me again....”

All it took was a second, and I knew what he wanted to say. He wanted to apologize for a lifetime of grief he had caused me when we were children. He wanted to apologize for scarring me, for being such an asshole, for falling for Ultimecia’s brainwashing. He wanted to apologize for every bad thing he’d ever said to me, wanted to apologize for lying to himself, for letting his true self become buried in lies. He wanted to tell me he was cruel to me because he was trying to kill the feelings he had for me, that he thought I was the most beautiful thing on the face of the earth, and for his entire life, he had wanted to be just like me, wanted to be with me, wanted to be loved and admired by me. He wanted to tell me that he had been in love with me for his entire life, but hadn’t said anything because he was a coward, too afraid to admit his feelings for another man, something he could do only now, but could never vocalize them. He wanted to be able to tell me he was sorry, to tell me he loved me, to shout it, scream it. Just a microsecond of looking in his eyes told me a lifetime of feelings between us. He had been in love with me the entire time, and I hadn’t even noticed.

I had never felt so blind, so stupid. Seifer had loved me, and I had thought nothing but bad feelings, had agreed and made fun of him along with Zell and the others, had ignored him when he’d tried to be kind to me. Now, I wouldn’t ignore the look in his endless eyes. I closed the gap between us with two quick steps, and captured his lips with mine. His mouth was still as I took his lower lip between mine, kissing it and licking it. When he responded to my kiss, I wound my fingers into his hair, my body arching towards him. His mouth was so soft and warm, and tasted like Heaven. He was Heaven. When his arms wound around my waist, and his tongue moved into my mouth, I moaned against him, my tendons about to snap as I arched my body further. As I kissed my tarnished angel, I wondered what things would have been like if I had noticed Seifer’s feelings for me earlier. Would I have been happier, as happy as I was now? When out tongues tangled together, tasting each other, I moved my hands out of his honey hair, and swept them down his chest, nimbly letting my fingers caress his nipples. He exhaled into my mouth, and I suddenly felt sad. I would never hear him moan. As I gently bit at his tongue and lips, he crushed my body against his own, and I felt his arousal pressed against me, and I was sure he could feel my arousal, because I had never been harder in my entire life. This was so different from kissing Rinoa. Kissing Rinoa was soft and cuddly. This was hard and passionate. Passionate... Something I hadn’t really felt in a long time.

His mouth moved away from mine, and I began kissing his cheeks, chin, nose, earlobe, anywhere my lips could fall. His mouth was trailing towards my ear, and he whispered, “Rinoa’s probably wondering where you are....”

I moaned in disappointment when he pulled away. “Who gives a shit if she’s looking for me?!” I demanded, reaching for him again. I stopped when I saw the look in his eyes.

“She’s your girlfriend.”

I sighed deeply. “Seifer..... I.....”

He just shook his head. “You‘re with Rinoa.”

I bit my lip, sadness and apprehension washing over me. I frowned. “Fine.... I thought I could read you, but I guess I was wrong....” I turned and left, not wanting to look back at him.

“Squall? Where did you go this afternoon?”

Rinoa was standing in my room, her hands on her hips, but not in an angry way. “I looked for you... I wanted to talk....”

I stared up at the ceiling, laying on my bed. “Huh?”

“You’ve become very distant...” She sighed, sitting on the bed beside me. “Squall.... I know you’ve been visiting Seifer almost every day.”

I shrugged. “So? Nobody else will talk to him.” I frowned deeply, remembering the Heaven I had experienced when his lips touched mine.

She sighed. “Squall... I like to think I know you... Are you falling for Seifer?”

I sat up, about to protest, but she held up a hand. “I’m not stupid. I know that you care about me, and I care about you, but it’s not the same anymore. I don’t want a boyfriend who’s only with me for duty reasons.” She stood. “You’ll always be one of my closest friends, right?”

I was happy. I should have been sad that Rinoa was dumping me, but I was happy. I was already planning my trip to Balamb to see Seifer. “Right,” I echoed.

“Besides, I think I have another boyfriend lined up...” She smirked. “I think we both have boyfriends lined up.” She leaned in, kissing me on the cheek, breaking the shackles of our relationship. “You are released of your duty to me, my Knight.” She left.

As soon as she had gone, I jumped off my bed, running to the parking garage. I was already planning the things I would say to Seifer, already feeling him touching and kissing me, his hands and mouth moving over my body. When I drove, at an almost dangerous speed, I found myself singing along with the song that was playing. I felt like Laguna, but didn’t care. I felt like singing at the top of my lungs, screaming from every rooftop. I wasn’t in love with Seifer, but I sure as hell was in like with him. It could lead to love. I would make it lead to love.

When I screeching into the parking lot, a few people walking around looked over at my car. So what? They could go to hell. I had Seifer. I was happy. I was in Heaven. When I made my way to the door, a man stopped me. He was a little older than me.

“You’re going to see that Sorceress’s Knight, aren’t you?”

I narrowed my eyes. “He isn’t the Sorceress’s Knight anymore.”

“Whatever he is... He’s gone. Good riddance.”

My heart leapt into my throat. “Gone...?” My voice sounded small and distant.

“Yeah, he left earlier. Had some bags with him. He went to the train station. Hopefully he threw himself in front of one of the trains.”

My eyes narrowed to dangerous slits, and before I knew it, my fist was clenched, and I punched that motherfucker in the face. I knew it would be a black mark for Garden to have their Headmaster punching people in the face, but I didn’t care. Without even seeing if he was okay, I ran to the train station, weaving through the crowd, and bumping into people. Since the only train out of Balamb went to Timber, I immediately purchased a ticket to Rinoa’s hometown. I felt relieved that the train was leaving in fifteen minutes. For that entire time, I paced and paced.

Why did you leave?! I thought you loved me... Is that why you left? Because you think I’m still with Rinoa, and it hurts too much? I’m not with Rinoa, Seifer! I want you. Maybe I’ve always wanted you. Maybe that’s why our rivalry was always so heated, because I wanted you, and you loved me. I wanted to be you, and you wanted to be me.

I pushed my way onto the train, taking the first available seat. I sighed sadly, slumping in my seat. This train would never move fast enough for my tastes. All I could think about was Seifer’s endless blue eyes, his long, hard body, the way his lips tasted, the way he smelled, the way it felt to have him against me, our erections pressed together. I pressed my fingers to my temples, as if trying to press the memories into my brain forever.

I wandered around Timber like a madman, searching for him. It was raining heavily, so my clothes felt like they weighed a ton, and my shaggy hair was dripping into my eyes. Since Timber was a hub of transit, I was afraid that he could have gotten on a train to anywhere, or walked to somewhere.

“Seifer.....” I whispered to myself. I stopped yet another person. “Excuse me, have you seen a tall blonde man with a scar on his face....?” I pointed to my own scar.

“Yeah!” The woman exclaimed. “He looked really sad, and wouldn’t say anything when I asked him what was wrong.”

“Where did he go?!” I demanded, desperation in my voice.

“To the train that goes over the Fisherman’s Horizon bridge. To Esthar.”

I nodded, running in the direction of the newly erected train station. I remembered going to it when it had opened, along with Laguna. He’d been so pleased that Esthar was finally opening its doors to the rest of the world. Esthar? Why was Seifer going to Esthar? To see Ward, to take my advice? Or, to escape into the fathomless crowd? Since there was only one train to Esthar a day, I was hoping I hadn’t missed it. My heart palpitated in joy when I saw they were still loading passengers. I shoved some gil at the ticket mistress, and boarded the train. I shook myself out a little, but I was badly waterlogged. I scanned all the faces in the train, finding the shining, angelic one I was looking for. Seifer was staring out the window at the rain streaking down, lost in the world of his headphones. I shook out my wet hair once more, wiping a drop of water off the tip of my nose. He was sitting alone, which made me glad.

I tapped him on the shoulder. He slowly looked over, his eyes wide with surprise when he looked me in the eye. He slowly removed his headphones. I heard the strains of the song he was listening to. It was the same song that I’d listened to, driving to Balamb after Rinoa had dumped me. At least we had the same taste in music.

“Why did you leave Balamb?” I asked, shivering slightly in my wet clothes.

His eyes told me that he thought it would be better this way.

“How could you think it would be better? I want to be with you. Is that so hard to understand?”

He opened his mouth, but I interrupted him. “I’m not with Rinoa anymore. She dumped me. Well, it was a mutual dumping. She noticed that I’ve developed feelings for you. I guess she’s not as naive as I thought she was.”

Slight hope seemed to enter his gaze. I smiled, shrugging out of my coat. I must have looked like hell, and smelled like a wet dog, but I didn’t care. “Why are you going to Esthar?”

“To get away....”

“I would have found you wherever you had gone....”

Seifer slowly smiled. I could tell that he was grateful I would care enough about him to put in the effort. Nobody else would. I raised my eyebrow in a seductive manner. “Come on.”

He looked at me with curiosity. I just stared at him, rising to my feet. I went to the back of the car, Seifer slowly walking with me. When we got to the end, a conductor was standing in front of the door. When he saw me, he sized me up. “Authorized Personnel only. This is the special car.”

I flashed my SeeD identification, which also stated that I was Headmaster of the Garden.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Sir. Please, enter...” He stepped out of the way, allowing us passage.

Seifer tilted his head when we were allowed to enter the VIP compartment, a sly look in his eyes.

“This way, we can have some privacy...” I muttered, using my SeeD card key to enter the room.

Before the door was even closed, I was attacking him with my tongue and hands. He dropped the bag he was carrying on the floor, his hands practically ripping at my clothes. We tried to make our way to the couch, but ended up on the floor instead. I didn’t care. I just wanted him. He quickly removed my wet clothes, which were making him wet as well. My damp skin was cold, but his warm hands smoothed away the goosebumps that were rising on my arms. He pulled my shirt off, then rammed his tongue into my mouth. I kissed him with equal force, grinding my hips against his. I tried to remove his button up shirt with care, but some of the buttons popped off, so I just tore at the rest. He didn’t seem to mind as his palms ran over my bare chest, stopping over my hardened nipples. I breathed into his mouth, letting out a low moan of supplication. His mouth pulled away from mine, and he smiled at me through kiss-bruised lips. He then lowered his head, covering one of my nipples with his mouth. A choked noise escaped my throat as his hot tongue lavished the hardened peak. I writhed in ecstasy beneath him, his mouth causing my body to react more than it ever had. Rinoa couldn’t have known how to touch me as Seifer did. He was a man, he knew what it was like to be a man, he knew what was pleasurable to the male body.

“Seifer....” I whimpered, gripping his shoulders, pulling the flesh with my fingers, which were digging into his shoulders hard enough to bruise. “Fuck me...”

When he pulled off my nipple, I used the chance to pull of the rest of my clothing, until I was naked under him. I closed my eyes and arched up to him, begging him to fuck me senseless without saying a word. Sure, I wanted him to tell me he loved me a million times over. Sure, I just wanted to feel his lips against mine, to feel him hold me. But, I was too fucking horny for any of that shit. I wanted to be fucked, to have hard, pounding sex that would take its toll on my body. I didn’t want the feminine sex that I had always experienced with Rinoa. I wanted masculine fucking that was anything but gentle. I laughed slightly as I heard rustling of fabric, then moaned incoherently as I felt his nude body slide over top of mine. His mouth covered mine in a way that meant business. Our teeth banged together as our mouths ravaged the other’s. He parted my legs in a firm way, a way that made me claw my nails up his back. When I felt his hard cock press against my scrotum, my mouth slid off Seifer’s and I moaned deeply, purring as I opened my eyes.

For endless moments, Seifer and I just looked at each other. We were about to cross a line that couldn’t be backed over again. His eyes seemed to ask me if I was sure, because he sure as hell was sure, and he didn’t want to be hurt. I responded by lifting my hips off the ground, pressing the head of his shaft to my opening, not losing eye contact with him once. I was too busy staring in his eyes to notice when he moved his hand to between my legs, probing me gently with one long finger. I couldn’t keep a loud cry from escaping my lips. Was this compartment soundproof? Who cared? I sure as hell didn’t. I felt a second finger enter me, and the ends of both his digits brushed my prostate. I had always wanted Rinoa to finger me, but she’d only wrinkle her nose at the idea. The lighting seemed to dim as he stroked me from the inside. I saw stars as he pulled his fingers away.

“Please...” I begged. My voice almost sounded pathetic. I didn’t care. I was about to beg him to fuck me, when all words were stolen from my mouth as he entered me. I had never experienced anything like this before. It hurt. I wasn’t going to say it didn’t, because it shot waves of hot pain up my spine, but it wasn’t the type of pain that was awful. It was a cathartic pain, that burned, but it was a burn I enjoyed. I found myself mewling like a cat in heat when Seifer began to slowly thrust into me, his muscular body bowed over mine as we tangled together carnally on the floor. I tried to muffle loud moans by biting into the side of his neck. As he rhythmically thrust into me, he moved his lips to my ear, whispering my name as he panted. His panting was delicate and soft sounding, and my heart curled to know that he was getting pleasure from my body.

Had he fantasized about this moment for a long time? About the moment when he would finally get to be inside me? Had he fantasized about me entering him? At that moment, as his hard cock banged against my prostate, I would have fulfilled any fantasy he wished. I would have worn a dress for him, cut my body to pieces, even fucked an animal if he wanted it.

My fingers clawed desperately at the floor as Seifer fucked me, the force of his thrusts moving my body along the floor. I moaned and whimpered and purred and cried out, my body reacting totally to him. I didn’t know how long I was going to hold out. I wanted to last longer, wanted this to go on forever. He pulled out of me momentarily, which left me feeling totally empty and cold. When he filled me in one motion, the level of wholeness, completeness was staggering. I knew I was whimpering and moaning like a total bitch, but my body was reacting, and my vocal chords were only following suit. He wrapped his arms around my body, practically lifting me off the ground so he could pull me closer to him, so our chests were pressed together, so we were as close as humanly possible.

“Squall....” He repeatedly whispered, like my name was the name of God. His whispers, and the seemingly simple gesture of holding me while we had sex caused tears to prick my lashes. I wound my arms around his body as he’d done with me, and we held each other, our fucking turning into lovemaking. It only took a few more thrusts, and both of us were pushed into the black chasm of orgasm. All my senses stopped working. I couldn’t see, my voice was as mute as Seifer’s, all I could feel was tingling in my fingertips and in the area stretched around Seifer’s cock.

His breathing in my ear caused my flesh to tingle. Our bodies, joined as one, lowered to the ground, but he didn’t make a move to pull out, which I was grateful for.

Seifer rested his weight on his forearms, and looked down at me. With gentle fingers, he brushed some of my hair out of my face. “I love you.”

I murmured my pleasure. “Tell me again.”

“I love you...” He leaned in, kissing me more gently than anyone ever had. I felt so beautiful in his arms, like I was the only important thing in the world, like I was his world.

For hours, we just lay like that, arms wrapped around each other, kissing gently, and whispering to each other. He’d pulled out a while ago, but I had his body next to me, so the feel of loss was minimal.

“Attention passengers. We will be arriving in Esthar shortly. Please check to see that you have all carry on luggage. Attention passengers....”

I sighed, sitting up slowly. We were in Esthar. Seifer sat up as well, looking at me with his expressive eyes. I could see slight apprehension there.

I ran my hand over his cheek. “Don’t be nervous.” I stood, clumsily retrieving my clothes. My legs felt shaky underneath me. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do a great deal of walking. Actually, I had no fucking clue where I was supposed to be going and what I was supposed to be doing. I had only come to stop Seifer from leaving. I figured this would be a good chance to visit Laguna. Hell, I had to tell him that I was now with Seifer. When we’d both finished dressing, I felt Seifer wrap his arms around me from behind, his breath washing over the nape of my neck.

“Seifer....” I murmured. “You know, I wish you had said something to me before....”

He stiffened slightly around me, and I felt like kicking myself. “Sorry.”

“That’s okay,” he mused into my ear. “Ultimecia may have stolen my voice, but you’ve always stolen my heart.” He chuckled slightly into my hair. It wasn’t really a laugh, but a shunting of air resembling a laugh. “That was lame.”

I smiled, leaning my head back to kiss him. When we broke apart, I cocked my head. “Maybe.... But, it was nice to hear. I’m falling in love with you, Seifer.”

He showed his appreciation of my declaration by kissing me again. I wondered if my father would be jealous. As we walked out of the compartment, I felt like something had been lifted off my shoulders, left behind. It was my duty. I left my duty behind. I left my Girl Scout uniform behind.


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