Chapter Five - Good, old-fashioned Denial…
Despite his exhaustion, despite the long journey that lay ahead, despite that fact that in the next few minutes he was going to have to open his eyes and face the reality of where he’d spent the night, despite it all, Squall lay, eyes closed tightly. He distinctly remembered climbing into bed with Seifer, Seifer’s strong arms winding easily around his body, but he couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment he’d fallen asleep. A first for Squall Leonhart. It didn’t bode well for him at all.
Feeling the heaving sigh but not quite giving voice to it, Squall opened his eyes drowsily. Judging from the angle of the sunlight falling across the white bedcovers, it was well after 0900 hours. He’d never lain in bed this long, regardless of the late night he’d kept. Bleary at first, his vision soon began to sharpen, and the sight that greeted him was about as welcome as a bed full of rattlesnakes.
Seifer lay on his back, one arm stretched casually over his head; his fingers curled loosely, barely brushing his hair. His skin was smooth and golden in the morning sunlight, bronzed and supple. Gone was his former ivory pallor, a testament to the time he’d spent out of doors. Seifer had always been unnaturally pale, as blondes so often were. Now he gleamed with vitality, sunlight. In repose, his brows weren’t constantly drawn in irritation; his mouth wasn’t tight with restraint. He looked so peaceful. It was an illusion, Squall knew, but that didn’t make it any less breathtaking. He turned slightly, wanting to see him better. He only hoped he remained asleep until Squall could sneak back to his own room.
His lips were full and pink, relaxed and…tempting. Squall swallowed tightly, he’d never known Seifer to be this unaware. While they’d never slept together before, Seifer was the kind of guy who could feel someone’s eyes on him in a roomful of people and so his uncharacteristic incognizance was a bit unsettling. It made Squall wonder just how much he had changed. Thinking about it made him a little sad. As though he were saying goodbye to a vital part of his childhood. But what could he have lost, really, when Seifer was lying beside him, trusting him enough to let him sleep in his bed.
Green eyes shuttered, his long inky lashes contrasting with the tone of his skin, making him look even less menacing. Seeing him like this, so sweet looking, made it hard to recall the angry young man who’d tried to tear a world apart.
And yet there he was, one and the same.
His neck, the graceful line of it, was becoming more of a temptation than Squall had anticipated. He wanted to bury his face in the curve of it and just inhale. His shoulders, always so broad and powerful, were even more so since Squall had seen him last. It made him wonder, again, exactly what Seifer had been doing with his time during his self-imposed exile.
Seifer stirred, sighing softly as he turned fully onto his side, facing Squall. His tongue darted out to lick his lips before he grew still again, his hands curled beguilingly near to his face, as a small child’s would. Squall felt his chest constrict painfully. He would have to tread carefully for the next few weeks, for both their sakes. The last thing he needed was to wake up one morning and be forced to admit that there was something between them, something that hadn’t been there before.
He was disgusted with himself for even considering the possibility of taking this fleeting attraction, for that’s all it was – fleeting, to the next level. It was simply not a good idea and could be disastrous to the both of them. Most likely the feelings he was having were simply the culmination of several months of worry and guilt. And now that they were together again, things could be different. Would be different. Squall reached a hand out tentatively and paused a few inches from Seifer’s cheek. He hesitated then, refusing to risk screwing it all up as a result of some romantic fantasy. Or whatever it was. No good could come of further intimacy between them, they were bound tightly enough as it was. Any closer and Squall might lose himself entirely. And so he pulled his hand back, no matter how much of an empty ache it induced, and he told himself that it was for the best.
Seifer felt him sliding silently out of the bed, taking special care not to disrupt the blankets as he went. He didn’t open his eyes for a final glance of Squall’s back; he’d opened his eyes enough times in the night to sneak glances at him. Finding himself hoping, in the impersonal silence of the room, that Squall would open his eyes just once and give him something to hope for. Those darkly fringed eyes that sometimes looked like glass. Seifer had always been afraid to look too deeply into them for fear he’d see nothing. Not even his own reflection.
But his unspoken longings remained locked within him as Squall slept on, through the night, completely unaware of the state Seifer was in. This went well beyond frustration. This could easily be the beginning of a most unhealthy obsession. How was he going to get past this…insanity when Squall was so obviously fighting the same demons that he fought himself. He’d let Squall pretend, as long as he was able, that there was nothing between them that couldn’t die a quiet death. He’d felt Squall’s fingers hovering indecisively near his face, and had known immediately that he was fighting it and would continue to fight it until he just couldn’t take it anymore. The unfortunate thing about that, however, was that Seifer had never known anything to beat Squall down. And so when he felt Squall taking his warmth away, he’d kept his eyes closed and his breathing steady and he’d simply let him go. It was the only way…for now.
"Where’s your boy this morning?" Kiros asked in his quiet, cultured way. Laguna smiled at him wanly, the sparkle just not visible in his eyes. Laguna shrugged and reached for his coffee mug.
"He’s not up yet, I suppose. Although I expected he and Seifer would be long gone by now." He sounded hurt and not for the first time. Kiros had the sudden urge to pop the little brat in the back of his head. Laguna agonized over Squall at least once a day and it seemed that Squall just didn’t care. Or maybe he wasn’t being fair to Squall. Laguna was practically a stranger to him; perhaps he simply didn’t know the extent of Laguna’s love.
"Give him time, Laguna. He’s not like you, you know."
Laguna chuckled. "No argument there, buddy."
Kiros grinned, his braids swinging against his cheek as he sat opposite the President, lifting his glass of juice to his lips.
"Not a bad way to start my morning after all, though." Laguna told his friend. " I mean, he has to come down sometime, right?"
Kiros set his glass down and templed his fingers beneath his chin.
"What makes you so sure he hasn’t gone already?" He couldn’t help asking.
"I went to his room this morning." Laguna said as he bit into a roll.
"And he was still sleeping?"
Laguna grinned. "Like a baby." And then he paused, unsure of whether to share what he’d witnessed. "Except…"
Kiros tilted his head to the side and waited. "Except?" He prompted.
"Hey, you want a bagel?" Laguna offered, bright eyed and innocent.
Kiros frowned, the expression doing nothing to mar his almost feminine beauty.
"Don’t change the subject on me, Laguna. Come on, spill it." He ordered Laguna crossly. As dear as his friend was, sometimes Kiros felt his patience being tried royally.
"Sorry…it’s just that…" Laguna paused, getting that adorable little crinkle between his eyes that he got when he was perplexed. Which was quite often, actually. Kiros had to bite his lip to rein in his grin. Laguna was a piece of work, all right.
"What is it?" Kiros prompted him again. Something he was used to doing.
"He wasn’t in his bed…exactly." He told him in a low voice.
Kiros raised an eyebrow. Well…this is quite a development, isn’t it?
"What do you mean…exactly?" Kiros asked, his tone bordering on amusement.
"Well," Laguna looked toward the stairs, afraid Squall would be standing there listening to his Father shoot his mouth off. "Well, he was sort of…in Seifer’s bed."
There, he’d said it. Kiros raised the other eyebrow, both of them practically meeting his hairline by that time.
"Sort of in Seifer’s bed?" Kiros said, his voice a tad high. Laguna grinned at the expression on his face.
Kiros glanced toward the stairs as well. "Were they…?" He didn’t know quite what to ask. Well, he did, but decency prevented it.
"Were they what? They were sleeping." Laguna told him.
"Well, well." Kiros murmured, apparently having decided that he’d said quite enough on the subject. It was none of his business what those boys did when they were alone. Although, he had to admit to himself, the thought gave him a reason to smile.
"What should I do?" Laguna asked, uncertain.
Kiros snagged a bagel off of Laguna’s plate and regarded him silently for a minute.
"Do? You don’t do anything. It’s none of your business." Kiros told him firmly, biting into the bagel. Mmm…cinnamon raisin. His favorite.
"Squall’s a big boy, Laguna. You’d do better to stay out of it." Kiros advised him.
"I just want him to confide in me." Laguna complained.
Kiros snickered. "He doesn’t even tell you when he’s in the area, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one."
Laguna scowled at him.
"Oh, what do you know?" He said, annoyed.
Kiros grew solemn once more as he began to flip through the day’s paper, more out of a need to keep his amusement a secret than from any real desire to catch up on current affairs. He lived in the Presidential Palace, for Hyne’s sake, you didn’t get any more current than that.
"More than you, apparently." He returned under his breath. He’d always wondered about those two. They fought too damn much for there to be nothing between them. In order to hate, you needed passion, and that was one thing Seifer Almasy had in spades. Perhaps Laguna’s little boy was in for one hell of a thawing. He chuckled, pretending he didn’t see Laguna’s questioning glance. Won’t be nearly soon enough…
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