Chapter Three - Unintentional Confessions
"…And so you see, boys, a ‘No Vacancy’ sign isn’t always a good thing!" Laguna went on, expounding on the virtues of a bed with no bloodstains on the mattress.
Squall could feel the familiar flood of embarrassment as Laguna continued to regale them with tales of his days during the war. Trials and Tribulations of Laguna Loire.
The really annoying thing was that Seifer appeared positively riveted. Squall didn’t know if his uncharacteristic interest was due to his being deprived of human contact or if he were merely trying to push Squall’s buttons. He had a sinking feeling that it was definitely the latter.
"Uh…Laguna?" Squall prompted. Laguna halted mid-sentence and turned his expectant eyes to his son.
"Yes, Son?" The words were out before he could call them back and Laguna’s mouth snapped shut.
Squall’s eyes widened and whatever he’d been about to say was lost in the uncomfortable silence that had suddenly descended upon them. While Squall knew of his origins and who his parents had been, coming to grips with the fact that he wasn’t really as alone in the world as he’d thought was a little too much for him to handle. He just wasn’t ready to welcome Laguna into his life with open arms. Quite honestly, the feeling of abandonment had never gone away and he continued to harbor feelings of resentment against his Father. He couldn’t say that those feelings would never go away, he just didn’t know.
Laguna looked away quickly, quite aware of Squall’s discomfort and not for the first time he silently cursed his own idiot tongue.
"Well, I’ll just let you boys get settled in…if you need anything, just push the green button beside the bed and someone will come up to help you."
Laguna looked so miserable that Seifer actually began to feel sorry for him. He’d heard the citizens of Esthar joke about the President’s many idiosyncrasies, but never in a malicious way. Laguna Loire was well loved by all and Seifer couldn’t quite understand what Squall had against him. He understood Squall’s apprehension toward the whole ‘getting to know you’ routine, but he really couldn’t find a single thing to dislike about the guy.
"Thanks, Laguna." Seifer muttered, not wanting to earn another hard look from the Commander. He sure was acting pissy all of a sudden. Moody little bastard.
Laguna cast a hurt look in Squall’s direction and offered Seifer a weak smile before turning and making his way back down the winding staircase toward his own wing.
Squall caught the look Seifer shot him and his countenance darkened even more.
"Don’t say a word, Almasy." He warned as he stalked down the corridor toward the suite of rooms that Laguna had motioned them to. Seifer watched the Lion have his tantrum and smirked to himself when Squall slammed the door closed behind him. And people thought he had a bad temper. They’d never seen Leonhart lose his cool, that’s all.
Seifer sighed, amusement keeping his steps light as he entered the suite from a door on the far end of the hallway. Squall looked up as he entered the room, his sable brows drawn together in aggravation.
"What are you doing in here?" He asked in an unfriendly tone.
Seifer gave him a cool, appraising look and said nothing as he wandered around the large room, giving everything a cursory glance.
Squall stood up, his boots flopping open where he’d unlaced them but had yet to take them off.
"Don’t you have your own room?" He demanded.
Seifer shrugged and lowered himself onto Squall’s bed, crossing his ankles casually as he folded his arms over his chest and simply watched Squall, purposefully keeping his expression bland.
"Yep. It’s on the other side of that door." He nodded toward the door on the east side of the room.
"You mean to tell me we’re sharing a room? We’re in the fucking Presidential Palace and he’s got us sharing a room? Why not just give us bunk beds?"
Squall’s petulant tone was doing wonders for Seifer’s mood. He’d never seen him acting like such a brat since Irvine broke his toy train when they were about six years old.
"Why not, indeed? That would certainly be something we could write home about." Seifer added.
Squall just stood there, staring at Seifer, who had the audacity to flop himself down onto his bed and was at that very moment mocking him right to his face.
"Oh…whatever." He finally spat out and Seifer laughed that time. His loud, rich laugh that had always made the hair on the back of Squall’s neck stand up. And then Squall realized what an ass he was being and he lowered himself into a provincial style chair near the bed and began pulling off his boots. He ducked his head to hide his embarrassment but Seifer was having none of it.
"Come on, Squall. You didn’t come all this way to find me just to lock me out of your room and not speak to me at all, did you?"
Squall looked up, his silky bangs obscuring one eye. "I suppose not." He admitted.
Seifer rolled over to one side and the light glinted off his choker. Squall stared at it as though mesmerized, determined to focus on something other than the sight of Seifer sprawled out on his bed like a big, lazy cat.
"Why do you give Laguna such a hard time?" He asked him, all teasing gone from his voice.
Squall shrugged, not really wanting Seifer delving into his psyche tonight.
"Sure you know. What is it?" He pressed.
Squall averted his eyes and focused his attention on removing his belts. He didn’t notice the subtle shift in Seifer’s breathing as he watched him silently. Oh, please, Hyne don’t tell me he’s going to strip right here.
"It’s just weird." He finally muttered, hoping he didn’t have to elaborate. He didn’t. Seifer knew exactly what he meant.
"I can imagine."
Squall looked up, hands stilling on the buckle of the last belt. "Can you?" He asked.
Seifer sat up, resting one elbow on his raised knee.
"Sure I can. Someone you barely know turns up with some sort of claim on you and you never expected anything like it? You bet your ass I can imagine."
Squall frowned. "It’s different with you and me. And we’ve known each other forever, no one knows us better than we know ourselves."
Seifer cocked his head, considering him. "Who said I was talking about you and me?" He asked.
Squall reddened. "Well, I just assumed…" He trailed off, unsure of what to say to that. Seifer took pity on him and smiled easily.
"I was speaking hypothetically. I know it must be difficult to accept that someone cares about you in such an unconditional way. It’s a hell of a thing to get used to when you’ve went your whole life without that kind of love."
"Love?" Squall scoffed.
Seifer narrowed his eyes at him.
"Yes, love. Laguna would like nothing more than to hear you claim him as your father. No ulterior motives, no hidden agendas, just…love. The purest kind of love. He knows you’re his son."
Squall didn’t reply, he didn’t like contemplating Laguna’s feelings this way. It forced him to face his own uncertainties and the apathetic way he’d treated Laguna all this time. Seifer continued, knowing that Squall was drawing further into himself.
"And what’s worse, he knows that you know about your relationship. He doesn’t want to risk pushing you away and so he waits."
Squall turned to face him; his eyes alit with indignation.
"What would you have me do? Rush into his arms and call him daddy?"
Squall’s scornful tone irritated Seifer, it insulted his intelligence.
"You’ve forgotten who you’re talking to here, Leonhart. You might be able to gloss over this stuff with everybody else but I know what’s going on behind those vacant eyes of yours. You’re afraid, plain and simple and don’t try to argue because I recognize fear when I see it."
"Oh, you’d know all about fear, right?" Squall advanced on him angrily, ignoring the way his heart beat wildly when Seifer moved to the edge of the bed to meet him in combat. "You, who has spent your life intimidating and instilling fear into everyone you come into contact with. You, who would rather kill the people who care about you rather than risk having your pride damaged! Don’t talk to me about fear, Seifer, because this situation is something you know nothing about. I’ll handle this in my own way, is that clear?"
He stood, chest heaving with the effort of controlling his anger. His anger and that prickly, uneasy feeling he got whenever he locked eyes with Seifer Almasy. Damn it, why couldn’t he learn not to let Seifer push him into arguments like this. They always ended the same way, with Squall wanting to push him down and kiss him senseless. He stood his ground, however, and watched the strange light in Seifer’s eyes envelop him. Even sitting down, Seifer could meet his eyes equally without having to rise. And so they stood, green eyes locked with cobalt ones, the air between them heavy with conflict and unspoken emotions.
They were so close that Squall could smell the scent of pine on Seifer’s skin and he felt his knees grow weak. Thinking of Seifer sleeping alone in the woods had yet another wave of pity and longing rushing through his chest in waves.
Seifer blinked and it seemed to Squall like time stood still as he watched those long sooty lashes brush against his beautifully molded cheekbones, sweeping like gossamer against his skin. Why did he have to be so very perfect?
"Seifer…" He murmured, eyes on Seifer’s lips.
Seifer said nothing, only breathed deep and evenly, watching Squall struggle with his own conflicting emotions. Was he doubting his decision to go looking for a defeated knight? Doubting his own intentions even now, as he continued to insist he was sincere?
And then his thoughts were wiped completely from his mind when he noticed Squall moving ever closer to him. He bent down slightly, resting his palms on Seifer’s knees, so close that he knew there was only thing on his mind because he could see the need in his eyes.
Confusion gave way to shock, which was slowly being replaced with a slow, spreading elation as realization set in. Squall Leonhart was about to kiss him. Squall Leonhart, who as far as Seifer could tell, was struggling with his own desires, and losing badly. Seifer didn’t back away, didn’t move a muscle as Squall tentatively tested the silence between them. Sensing Seifer’s acquiescence somehow, he gently joined their lips in a sweet, light kiss. A simple meeting of mouths to convey such a tumultuous need, it took Seifer’s breath away.
After all this time, Squall was kissing him, finally. Seifer angled his head to allow Squall better access, hardly daring to breathe so as not to frighten him away. Squall froze briefly as he realized that he not only had Seifer’s permission, but his wholehearted participation as well and then he dove into the kiss with more passion than Seifer had ever imagined him capable.
When their tongues met, Squall felt the shock throughout his entire body and he knew there was no going back from here. He’d made some sort of declaration, and apparently, Seifer had decided to answer him with a quiet sort of acceptance.
Squall tasted him gingerly, moving his head to one side and then angling it to the other, never moving his hands or leaning any closer into Seifer’s body. The innocent exploration of that kiss spoke to Seifer in a way that words never could. The sweet longing that came through in his kiss was a proclamation of Squall’s innocence and hesitation. And then he pulled back, taking Seifer’s own private Heaven with him.
They stared for a few seconds as Squall realized what had just taken place between them. They’d kissed. And he’d initiated it. It would have been better if Seifer had kissed him out of spite, or if he’d held him down and tried to taunt him with his own need, but he’d done none of that. Seifer had allowed him an intimacy he’d never expected to partake of and it left him hollow inside. Why he’d let him kiss him like that, Squall couldn’t guess, but he knew it could go no further if they were to mend their fences they way he’d planned. Too much was at stake here, and he wouldn’t risk Seifer’s security that way.
"I’m sorry…" Squall stammered. " I…I don’t know…" He stumbled over his words and Seifer watched him warily.
"Don’t." He said, and his tone brooked no argument.
Squall backed away, his fingers rising to touch his mouth in fascination. He’d actually kissed Seifer Almasy. Seifer held him still with just a stare.
"Don’t say anything." He told him. Squall looked away.
"Wait. I take that back." He remanded.
Squall looked to him expectantly, his heart still hammering inside his chest, the echo rushing in his ears.
"Is that what you brought me back for?" He asked in a low tone. Squall’s eyes widened.
"No." He told him honestly.
Seifer rose then, and made his way toward the door that separated their rooms.
Squall stopped him before he could leave.
"Why does that matter, anyway?" He asked him, his tone gruff.
Seifer paused, not looking at him, as he seemed to consider his question. Finally he turned, glancing at Squall over his shoulder.
"That’s all that matters." He said matter-of-factly. And then he was gone and the door closed softly behind him.
Squall sank down onto the bed where just seconds before Seifer had lain and he covered his face with his hands and stifled a groan.
Every time his conscience scored a point in the grand scheme of things, it seemed that his heart showed up to blow it all to hell and back. Great, he thought. Just fucking great.
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