By Scarlet Fever
I sighed, sitting up. The room had gotten dark, the sun setting into the sea in the distance. We had just laid together, casually talking about things, letting our hands roam across each other’s bodies. He made a disappointed noise as I stood, pulling away from him.
"What time is it?" Seifer asked, reaching for my hand, grasping just my thumb and index finger. He rubbed his eyes as I turned on the light. "Bah, natural light….."
"We should probably start getting ready." I couldn’t help but smiling at him. He looked so cute when he was tousled and disoriented. I stroked his cheekbone with the flat part of my fingernails, smiling as he blushed.
"I don’t want to…" Seifer trailed off, sounding like a little boy. "Can’t we just stay here?" He had a hopeful look in his eyes.
"I figured you’d want to ham it up at your own graduation ceremony. It has taken you longer than any other known human being to pass…."
"Ha, ha, ha. Very funny." He stood, running his palm across his hair. "I’d rather spend the time with you."
"I’ll be there too, you know…"
"Yeah, but I can’t really touch you, now can I?"
"You can touch me now."
Seifer smiled, kissing me. "I could, couldn’t I?"
"Besides. I want to see you in your uniform. And we’ll get to see Zell getting plastered."
"Now that’s something I can’t refuse." He stood, picking up the uniform from the chair it was draped over. It had been delivered while Seifer was in Cid’s office. He unbuttoned his shirt, which sent chills up my spine. However, I refrained from touching him, content in just being a voyeur, just looking, admiring.
When he was done, he turned around fully so I could admire him further. "How do I look?"
"Beautiful. Now, take it off."
He scoffed. "How do I really look?"
"Beautiful," I repeated, sincerely.
"I think you’re seeing things through the eyes of love, Squall." He sounded cynical as he wandered into the bathroom to brush his teeth.
"I don’t think so. Well, I guess Zell, and Rinoa at one point, had the same eyes as I do."
Seifer looked at my reflection. "Zell isn’t in love with me."
I wrapped my arms around him from behind. "I think he is, sort of."
He just shrugged against my cheek. I was beginning to think that Seifer had the right idea earlier: that we should just skip the ball altogether, stay here, and fuck like mad. I breathed against the nape of his neck. "Maybe we could leave early….?"
"Sounds good." His voice sounded calm, but I could tell that he was trying to relax himself, not get aroused. "Do you have to go change or something?"
I sighed. "Yes. Will you still be here?"
"I’ll come with you."
"Will you let me get dressed?"
He just raised an eyebrow, not answering. Since my room was close to his, and there was nobody around, he took my hand during the short walk. I couldn’t help but blush at the gesture. I dressed in my SeeD uniform, which hadn’t been getting any use lately. It felt kind of funny to be dressed in the exact same outfit as Seifer. Like we had planned it that way or something.
"Why do you look better than I do when we’re wearing the exact same outfit?" Seifer asked lazily as I tried to fix my collar in the mirror. He moved his hands across my back, breathing into my ear in a sultry manner.
"Well, I won’t look so good if I’m pitching a fucking tent!" I exclaimed, pulling away from him. "Besides, you look better."
Seifer sighed. "No, I don’t."
"Look, let’s not get in a battle of inadequacy. Let’s just say we both look good."
Seifer folded his arms across his chest, saying nothing. He did smile at me, bending slightly at the waist to kiss my cheek. I closed my eyes, blushing again.
"Why are you blushing?" Seifer pulled me closer, wrapping all his limbs around me. I curled up in the makeshift cocoon that he had made around me.
"I can’t help it…." I trailed off, now not wanting to go anywhere. The SeeD ball seemed like such a bad idea.
"Do I make you nervous or something?" He held me tighter, pressing his entire face to my shoulder, trying to get the most out of our embrace, the same as I was.
"No…. You make me happy."
"I’m glad. I figured I would only make you angry and resentful." His voice sounded so sad.
"Stop it," I chided. "You always used to be so confident. What happened?"
"I never was confident. It was all an act."
I closed my eyes, feeling so sad, sad for Seifer. Hearing him belittle himself caused a pain in my chest. "Please don’t say things like that…."
He remained silent.
"Yes. Promise me that you will never belittle yourself in front of me ever again. Promise?"
He was silent for a few moments. "I promise, Squall."
"Good." I smiled, cupping his face, tilting it upwards. "I love you." I pressed my lips to his, taking is bottom lip into my mouth.
"I love you, too, La Mer." He rested his forehead against my chin. "I’m beneath you."
"I thought that you promised!" I gave him a stern look. "Why do you think you’re so much better than I am? I don’t deserve you….."
"We both have a lot of self loathing."
"I think you more so."
He sighed, looking at his watch. "We should probably go…"
I nodded, breaking away from him. We walked to the ballroom in silence, both not wanting to be here. Seifer frowned further when we walked through the door. Irvine was in the center of the dance floor with Rinoa, basically crawling all over her. My eye wandered to the corner of the room, where Selphie and Zell were standing with Quistis, displeasure written all over the small brunette’s face. It looked almost amusing when she took a swig from her martini glass. Like a James Bond movie or something. We made our way through the crowd to them. Seifer sighed, leaning against a wall.
"Welcome to the anti-social corner." Selphie made a flourishing gesture with her arm. "God, what a skank." She shot another look to Irvine.
"Ignore him." Seifer gave her a look, which caused Selphie to become quiet.
"Well, congratulations are in order, I guess." Quistis patted Seifer’s shoulder. "You finally passed."
He rolled his eyes. "Thank you. You make it sound like I’m a total fucking idiot rather than just someone who can’t follow orders, which I guess actually does sort of make me a fucking idiot."
"Do you want a drink or something?" Zell asked.
Seifer just raised an eyebrow. "Sure, if I want to have a heart attack….."
Zell furrowed his brow. "Huh?"
"I can’t drink. It’ll mix with my medication….."
"Oh, yeah. That."
My lover smirked. "At least I’m not alone in that fucking idiot category."
Zell scoffed. "I’m not an idiot. More of a retard."
"Ah, a stupidity connoisseur, I see." Quistis winked at him.
"How frightfully rude." Zell stuck his nose in the air. He went over beside Seifer. "Aren’t you happy? You did it…" He wrapped his arms around Seifer’s waist, giving him a big hug. "I’ll congratulate you properly later…." Zell looked over at me, smiling broadly, teasingly.
I just glared at him, which caused the smaller blonde to laugh uproariously. I frowned further, realized that he still hadn’t released Seifer from his embrace.
"I think Squall’s gonna fuck you up, Zell…" Selphie muttered. Her voice sounded a bit slurred.
"Promise?" Zell winked at me.
"How much have you had?" I asked, giving Selphie a look.
"You’re such a harlot…." Seifer trailed off, addressing Zell.
"I’m fine. It’s a party. Don’t be so uptight!"
"Fine." I shook my head. "If you want to wake up in a pool of vomit, it’s not my problem."
She laughed, but it died as she spied something over my shoulder. I turned, seeing Rinoa approaching us. She had a sheepish look on her heart shaped face. She was wringing her hands in front of her long, purple velvet dress. Selphie glared at her, shooting emerald lasers.
"Hi…." Rinoa trailed off. She seemed so nervous. "Look, I know that all of you hate me right now……. Uh, shit. Look, I just wanted to……." She paused again, trying to find words.
"Spit it out, whore." Selphie took another drink.
"Selphie…." Seifer’s tone was stern.
Rinoa sighed deeply. "Seifer….. I just wanted to congratulate you….. I know you tried really hard." Her dark eyes kept darting back and forth between our faces.
I did the same. Selphie’s was covered with pure rage. Zell was in between anger and sadness, Quistis looked sad, understanding, and Seifer had a blank expression on his face. I knew that I was staring at her with pity. It was almost painful to see her so uncomfortable, and Selphie wasn’t helping matters any.
"Well….." Rinoa trailed off again. "That’s all I wanted to say." She turned to leave.
She turned when she heard Seifer say her name. She raised her eyebrows.
She smiled, going back out on the dance floor.
"Why’d you thank her?!" Selphie cried.
"Don’t be such a bitch, Selphie. She’s trying, you know…."
"I agree." Quistis gave Selphie a stern look. "I guess we aren’t helping matters any."
"Oh, so now it’s okay that she porked my boyfriend?"
"It was Irvine’s fault, too." Seifer sounded almost angry. "We haven’t really given her a chance to fully explain herself."
"What’s to explain?" Selphie downed another glass.
Seifer groaned, walking away, heading to the balcony.
"I think you should give the drinking a rest, Selphie," Zell sighed, following Seifer.
"So what if I’m fucking pissed!" Selphie cried.
"Okay, okay." Quistis grabbed her elbow. "Come on, let’s take a break."
I turned, giving a look to Rinoa, whose back was to me. I then went out to the balcony, the same way that both Seifer and Zell had gone. When I stepped out into the cool, clean night air, I was met by silence from both blondes. Zell was standing beside my lover, his face tilted towards him, just watching. Seifer was staring out at the distant ocean, his wrists resting on the steel railing. I walked over, standing beside him, so both Zell and I now flanked him.
"What’s going on?" I asked, concerned. "Why did you storm off?"
"I didn’t storm off. I walked away."
I reached over, opening his hand from the tight fisted position it was in, covering his palm with my own. "Okay, so why did you walk off?"
"Just a little pissed at Selphie, I guess. She isn’t making the situation any better."
"Well, Rinoa and Irvine did hurt her, Seifer," Zell replied blandly.
"I know. But she’s letting all of it manifest itself. She isn’t letting go…. Rinoa’s trying, and she’s not helping. I know you care about Sefie, but you can’t actually think this kind of anger is healthy….?"
Zell flushed, looking at me.
"I already know how you feel about Selphie.." I trailed off, putting him at ease. I studied Seifer’s profile. It was tense, set. "There’s more…"
Seifer remained silent.
"You’re seeing a little of yourself in Rinoa, aren’t you?" Zell asked. "That Rinoa did something really wrong, but she’s sorry, and trying to make it up to people whom she cares about, and she’s totally getting shafted. Flashbacks?"
Seifer turned slightly, so he was looking at Zell. "Yeah. It just reminds me of how I felt after the whole Ultimecia thing. Her expression……." He then became distant.
Zell sighed. "I’ll talk to Selphie."
"I don’t think it will do any good." Seifer continued to stare at the ocean.
"No harm in trying. But I think I’ll wait until she’s a little more sober." He ran his palm down Seifer’s spine, stopping at the small of his back. "I think I’ll go be a third wheel elsewhere." He planted a gentle kiss on Seifer’s cheek. He smiled sadly at me before disappearing back into the ballroom.
"Squall, how can you forgive me, but not Rinoa?"
I sighed. "Okay, I was less than impressed with Rinoa, but I’ve already forgiven her. What’s with you?"
"I don’t know. I just don’t see the point anymore of harboring so much anger towards one person…"
"What about Irvine?"
"I may truly dislike him, but I’m not going to let it consume my every waking hour. I let that happen with my jealousy towards you, and look where it got me." He turned his head to totally face me. "I guess I’ve just reached an emotional epiphany. Now that I’m finally truly and completely happy, I don’t want anything to mess it up, including and especially myself, my fucked up emotions."
I groaned. "You’re being too hard on yourself. Look, people forgave you in time. Selphie will get over it."
"Yes," I answered simply, silencing anything else he might have said by capturing his lips with my own. It hadn’t been that long since we had last kissed, but to me, a minute seemed like an eternity. Seifer’s hand gripped mine tightly as we kissed, stroking the back of my hand with his thumb. He opened his mouth against mine, deepening our embrace. I slowly pushed my tongue into his mouth, going at a slow, slow pace. Seifer’s free hand reached into my hair, stroking it, tangling his fingers in it. He pulled away slowly, smiling happily at me. I tilted my head, kissing him again. I wanted nothing more than to be anywhere but here, to just be alone with him, to feel like we were the only people in the world. I gasped slightly as I heard footsteps against the stone surface of the balcony. We broke apart quickly, turning to see who had interrupted us.
"Oh, I’m sorry," The woman apologized, smiling slightly. I had never seen her before, and I was sure I would have remembered her. She was about Rinoa’s height, with long, long dark brown hair, which was tied loosely near the bottom, at the small of her back, with a black ribbon. She had shaggy bangs that fell across her pale forehead, slightly obscuring her eyes from my view. Her eyes were a warm brown, but looked so strange. They were large and watery looking, like a deer. Despite their friendly, warm feel, there was something wrong, off. For a moment, I got a flashback of the small boy in the hallway near the elevator. That strange, alien look. Her small mouth, painted a deep burgundy, curled up into a friendly smile, which made me feel at ease. I couldn’t help but stare at her body. I may have been sleeping with another man, but I appreciated her figure. Her ample cleavage was visible above the bodice of her black satin gown, which was simple, elegant. I found my eyes fixated on her breasts for a moment, then traveling across the curve of her hips, along her legs, her arms. I noticed that she was very toned for a woman, and that she had some scarring on her knuckles, much like Zell had. I guessed that she was a martial artist. I looked back up to her face, my eyes stopping again at her chest, but this time looking at a gem that hung from a pendant around her neck. It was about the size of a small tangerine, and was a deep, deep red. It was almost glowing. I fixed my attention back to her eyes, which were so warm, inviting. I looked over to Seifer, breaking her almost hypnotic gaze. He was staring at her, too, in the same appreciative manner I had been.
"I apologize for interrupting you." She smiled again, leaving.
We both just of remained silent. Seifer was the first to speak. "Well, at least it wasn’t the Headmaster or something."
I nodded, thinking of her strange eyes again.
Seifer quickly gave me another kiss. "We should go back in before we’re missed."
I nodded again, dully. The last thing I wanted to do was go back in that room, with all those people. I wanted to be out of this building entirely, I wanted to go far away, just me and Seifer, and I wanted to forget everything, everyone, have everyone forget about us. Seifer squeezed my hand before going in. When I entered the room, I noticed the woman from the balcony, standing with the Headmaster and another man that I didn’t know. He was tall, about Seifer’s height, and thin, with long steel coloured hair that reached to his waist. He was dressed in a black suit, with a jacket that brushed his knees. It looked very old, antique. I couldn’t see his face, because his back was to me. The Headmaster looked up, his eyes locking on Seifer. He motioned my lover over. I wandered over to where the drinks were, feeling so lonely for a moment, wanting Seifer badly. For a moment, the smell of burning flesh and dripping blood assaulted me, accompanying the sight of Seifer pinned to a cross. I blinked a couple of times to rid myself of the memory of that awful dream.
"Excuse me…" I felt a tap on my shoulder as I heard someone talking to me.
I turned, meeting the doe-like eyes of the woman from the balcony.
"Hi. Would you like to dance?" She smiled warmly, the voice that escaped her lips as warm as her smile, her eyes.
I opened my mouth to protest, to say I wasn’t in the mood, that I was gay, but she held up a strong looking hand.
"Please? You look very bored, and I just want someone to talk to."
"What about your companion?" I shifted my gaze to the tall man in black.
"He will be a while, and he won’t mind. It’s not like we’re lovers. Speaking of lovers, yours is buys at the moment…" She trailed off, smiling knowingly.
I looked over, seeing Seifer conversing with the Headmaster and this woman’s partner.
"Don’t worry." She winked one of her large eyes. "I didn’t reveal you to your Headmaster." She held out her hand. "There’s nothing wrong with a friendly dance, is there?"
"Sure." I led her to the dance floor, placing a hand on her thin waist. "So, what’s your name?"
She smiled, almost sadly. "Tifa. Tifa Lockheart. Yours?"
"Ah, Squall. It’s nice to meet you."
"I’ve never seen you around before. What are you doing here?"
"I accompanied my friend over there." She almost spit out the word ‘friend’. I didn’t want to pry, but was curious as to why she would come here with a man that she seemed to have disdain for. "We are looking for SeeD assistance, but I can’t talk about it now."
"I understand." I smiled at her, but found that my attention was drifting back to Seifer. I looked over at him, blushing as our gaze met for a moment. He raised an eyebrow at me, looking at Tifa.
"You must be in love."
I snapped back to Tifa. She was grinning, knowingly.
"It’s highly obvious that you’re in love."
I couldn’t help but blush at the fact that a complete stranger could read my emotions. I must have really changed, for before, I wouldn’t have even let my closest friends know what I was feeling. "Yeah, I’m not good at hiding it." I looked down, smiling.
"He’s very handsome." She looked over. Something passed in her strange eyes, like she was seeing Seifer for the first time, like there was some sort of recognition. It passed quickly. "There must be a lot of ladies who are disappointed that the two most attractive men here are with one another."
"You’re quite the flatterer, aren’t you, Tifa?"
She smiled at me, frowning slightly as she looked at her companion. I looked over, gasping as I saw his face. He was identical to the boy from that morning. The only difference was the age. This man was probably in his early thirties, but the large aqua eyes were the same. So strange, like lasers, cutting through everything they saw. This man must have been the boy’s father. The resemblance was so great. He noticed me looking at him, which caused him to narrow his eyes slightly. He nodded in acknowledgement before returning to the conversation he was having with Cid and Seifer. I couldn’t help but gape. There was an aura around Tifa’s companion that was so powerful, so commanding. He was also very physically attractive, with a dark beauty that seemed so alien. He wasn’t as beautiful as Seifer, but maybe that was my own opinion. I blinked a few times and returned my view to Tifa.
"What is it?" She asked, furrowing her brow slightly.
"Nothing, nothing. He just looks very much like a boy that I saw this morning."
I shook my head. "Never mind." We continued to dance to the soft piano music. My eyes drifted to the strange red gem around her neck. "That’s a very unusual gem. I’ve never seen anything like it."
She looked down at her chest. "Oh, this. It’s called Materia. It’s the only thing left from… the past, I guess."
"It looks like it’s glowing."
"Where I come from, it was believed to have powers." She laughed. "It probably sounds somewhat strange to you…"
"Not at all." I almost felt disappointed when the music stopped. I was having a good time talking with Tifa. She was like a refreshing breeze, and I found her company agreeable.
"Well, that was nice, Squall." She looked over to her companion, who was beckoning her over. She rolled her large, coffee eyes, waving to me as she sauntered off. "I’m sure I’ll see you again, sometime."
I sighed, lighting up as I noticed Seifer standing by himself near the entrance. I walked over to him, using a lot of self-control to prevent myself from pawing him.
"Did you enjoy yourself?" He was smiling at me.
"Huh? Oh, Tifa. She’s nice."
"She sure is." He smiled wider. "So, her name is Tifa, eh?"
"Stop that!" I teased. "Wanna go?"
Seifer nodded eagerly. I could see a lustful glint in his eyes, which made my stomach flutter. As we walked down the hall towards the dorms, I thought of the uncanny resemblance between Tifa’s friend and the boy from the elevator. "Seifer?"
"Yes, La Mer?"
"Who was the man that you and the Headmaster were talking to?"
"His name was Sephiroth. He’s looking for SeeD assistance….." Seifer trailed off. His mind seemed to travel elsewhere. "Why?"
"He looked a lot like that boy from this morning. Didn’t you notice?"
Seifer thought for a second. "Yeah, I guess he did. Probably his son or something. The strange thing is that he asked for me specifically."
Seifer snorted. "I’m glad to see that you have so much confidence in me."
"I didn’t mean it like that, and you know it."
"I know. I was just teasing. I think he remembered my Edea and Ultimecia days. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a bit of a reputation…."
We stopped in front of Seifer’s door. I became almost impatient as he fumbled in his pockets for the keys. Since there was nobody else around, I rested my head on his shoulder, wrapping my arms around him tightly. I closed my eyes, feeling a sudden chill. For some reason, I felt like we were being watched. I shook it off as Seifer led me into his room. I sank down on the bed, loosening the tie around my neck. I watched Seifer remove his jacket, the butterflies returning to my stomach. I smiled at him when his eyes met mine, curling my body, resting my chin on my knees. My smile faded as I got a brief flash of Seifer impaled, pikes jarred into the delicate flesh of his palms. Seifer noticed, because he stopped smiling as well.
"What is it?"
"Nothing, sweetie, nothing."
Seifer sat beside me, removing his tie. "Are you sure?"
I nodded, those strange aqua eyes continuing to haunt me.
"Tell me, La Mer."
"I don’t know…. That Sephiroth guy…. His eyes…."
"He seemed friendly enough. Maybe they’re contact lenses. Anyway, I think we’ll be going on assignment for him and Tifa."
"Technically, I’m still new, and both me and the Headmaster mentioned you as being a squad leader."
"Well, I’m honored," I replied dryly, laying back on the bed. "I don’t know. I just have a bad feeling….."
"Don’t. You worry too much."
"So what if I do?" I asked, sighing as he straddled my waist. I let myself fall back so I was laying flat on my back. He ran his hands up my abdomen, pushing my shirt up as he went. I closed my eyes. "That Sephiroth guy creeps me out."
Seifer just shrugged. "Why are you so engaged with this?"
"I can’t help it. It’s not like I want to constantly be pestered with worrisome images…." I trailed off as Seifer kissed a path down the side of my face. I opened my mouth to say something further, but Seifer’s lips covered mine, silencing me. I felt his fingers roughly pull on my belt loops, causing my pants to move around my hips. I raised them off the bed, kicking off the obtrusive garment. Seifer ran his hands down my now bare sides, which caused me to laugh, for it tickled. He pulled his mouth away from mine, moving it down my body.
"…Seifer…." I murmured, knowing it was the last thing I would be saying that night.
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