No Matter How Long

Part 1

By Sukunami


Eyelids heavy while opening, I'm unable to focus on anything but the vague darkness of my surroundings.  Shifting slightly, I'm quickly reminded of the pain that had driven me into unconsciousness in the first place.  Willing my body to be still, I try harder to focus on my surroundings to understand my situation.  With my hands shackled and chained high above me, my range of sight is limited to the area directly in front of me.  There's no way to be certain, but it appears I'm alone for the first time since I was dragged out from my latest sleeping hole.

Briefly looking around, I notice that I'm in the same room as always, or rather a cavern of oddly colored walls which glow a faint blue that pushes some of the darkness away.  I've already decided that I have been bound to some kind of pillar, the stone behind me too smooth to be natural.  Something about this room bothers me, though, an odd energy causing a chill sensation along the back of my neck.

But that is the least of my worries, the ache of my body easily overwhelming most of my attempts at logical thought.  At one point I had struggled against the assholes who captured me, but that had only earned me plenty of bruises and some deeper wounds that have been left untreated.  Smirking weakly, even that small action causing a flare of pain, I try to assure myself that I have to save my energy for when a chance at escape makes itself apparent.  Of course, death could be the best option at this point.  Though I have the sickening feeling that my captors don't want me dead for some reason.  Frankly I'm clueless why anyone would want a defeated Sorceress' Knight, which was over a year past anyway; and with me on the run since that war, I'm fairly certain that I haven't had the chance to piss anyone else off.  At least not to the extent of kidnapping and torturing me.

Abruptly an odd thundering sounds from the hallway beyond the open end of the cavern, the noise gradually taking on the clearer sound of running footsteps.  At the sight of numerous men hurrying into view, I frown at their unusual state of readiness with guns held at the ready.  Only one of those men is familiar to me, that apparent leader of this group moving closer with an odd gleam to his eyes.

"That man is harder to kill than I had believed, but even his skill can't save him here."

I stare at the darkly clothed man, not having a clue whom this guy is talking about.  Perhaps Raijin and Fu have managed to track me down, but I thought I had convinced them to forget about me, that my mistakes weren't theirs to handle.  And no offense to the big guy, but 'skill' and 'Raijin' aren't typically stated within the same sentence.  Power is his specialty.

Before I can think further about it, there's a sharp cry of 'he's coming!' which is quickly followed by a pained scream.

All eyes focus on the entrance of the cavern, guns clicking as the soldiers take aim of that opening.  Figuring that the coming idiot should already know about the waiting ambush, I don't bother calling out a warning.  A blade then pressed against my throat suggests that staying silent would be an excellent idea.

With unhurried footsteps, someone finally appears at the entrance.  For first reactions, I never before have experienced denial at seeing something that is so plainly standing before me.  Blinking, I half-expect the image of a fight battered Squall to disappear into the shadows, but if anything, the sight of him becomes only clearer.  Well, shit.  At least he won't waste time with torture once he gets his hands on me.

Blue-gray eyes glance up at me, his gaze as cold as ever, and yet it somehow manages to make my body burn.  Hyne, even now I have the urge to fight the man, needing to push him to the point where his icy front shatters apart to reveal the true warrior he has the potential to become.

"Set down your blade, Leonhart, or I will kill him," the leader says while pressing the knife harder against my neck, skin slicing open from the sharpened edge.

Despite that, I have to laugh.  "Him?  Care about my life?  He'd rather you kill me so that my blood wouldn't ruin his clothes."

"Shut up," the man hisses at me.

Wisely taking advantage of the small diversion, Squall already has his blade in hand as he calls upon a guardian force to handle the large number of soldiers within the cavern.  A faint blue mist encircles the man as he calmly focuses on his summons, ignoring the approximately twenty guns aimed at him.  No one fires at the sitting duck, the soldiers apparently well trained to wait for their leader's command to fire.  They'll soon be killed for such foolish loyalty to obey their orders.

However, that faint sense of victory is abruptly crushed when I glance at the knife wielding man and see his smug expression.  Confusion and worry overwhelm me as I return my attention to Squall, who has nearly finished the summoning.  The last word is quickly followed by his eyes snapping open, those stormy orbs briefly settling on me before a scream erupts from the man.  The master gunblade is dropped carelessly to the ground as Squall presses gloved hands against his head, the echoes of his scream still ringing in the cavern as he falls to his knees.

"Hmm, perhaps we should've warned him that he shouldn't attempt to summon within this room.  It tends to kill people."

Growling, I pull against my bonds in the ridiculous attempt to attack the overly smug man.  How dare he defeat Balamb's lion with such a cheap move.  Squall deserves more than that.

With the knife still in hand, the leader punches me hard in the stomach to stun me into motionlessness.  "I said, shut up.  Your time will come after the other three find you."

"I'll warn them," I say with an unsteady voice.

He grins.  "Gunfire will be good enough for them.  Leonhart was the only one we were concerned about.  He doesn't die ea--"

Wide-eyed, I stare as the man is abruptly quieted by a thick icicle piercing through his throat, him then falling to the floor with an oddly slow descent.  Cautiously I look back to Squall, but the brunette is still on his knees in a limp pose.  Before I begin to wonder if another SeeD had made it inside the cavern without being noticed, the dark-haired man slowly looks up from the floor to meet my gaze.  Instantly I'm entrapped by the softly glowing eyes of a paler blue than normal for Squall.  He exhales deeply, a fine mist forming in front of full lips that almost appear blue, something I try to attribute to the lighting of the cavern.

Without warning, an ice attack erupts from Squall in all directions, unprepared soldiers frozen and shattered by the strike that I recognize clearly as 'Diamond Dust', but stronger than it should be.  Unable to do much else, I stare as the lean man reaches out for his fallen gunblade and gracefully lifts up from his kneeling position.  Walking with his typical stride, he approaches me while holding our eye contact and not stopping until mere inches in front of me.

"Missed you," he whispers before ice-cold lips unexpectedly press against mine.

Jerking back in shock, a small gasp of pain escapes me at the rough movement.

Squall looks at me with hurt and sadness clear in the oddly colored eyes, but he says nothing more as he steps back to then swing Lion Heart in a strong arc.  The blade slices through the chains holding up my arms, the sudden loss of that support making me drop into a painful kneeling position.  Two loud clangs later, the chains connected to the shackles around my ankles are easily severed.

I chuckle hoarsely.  "If you're done rescuing me, you can cut off my head now."

"Never changing, are you?"

Smirking, I look up at the man with the intent of making a sarcastic retort, but I'm easily quieted when Squall falls on top of me.  My arms not wanting to cooperate, it takes some painful effort to move the body onto the cavern floor.  I try to wake Squall, but he seems truly out of it this time.  With nothing better in mind to do, I sit there and wait for the other kiddies to make their appearance.  They never have been ones to leave me disappointed.


Glancing over to the entrance, I watch as the messenger girl and Chicken jog over to us while the cowboy approaches at a slower pace from behind.

"Almasy, you bastard!  What did you do--"


Amazingly, the energetic blonde halts at the quiet order by Kinneas, but the baby blues continue to glare at me as if I were a demon from the underworld.  I'm tempted to mention that he looks adorable with such a fierce glare, but I'm not in the mood to deal with his pointless fuming.

"What's wrong with Squall?" the petite brunette asks, her green eyes filled with unhidden worry.  Killers don't deserve to have such innocent and caring eyes like hers.

Despite myself, I decide to answer the girl.  "Something about this room makes summoning dangerous.  It was a trap for you kiddies.  Which leads to the question - what the fuck is all of this about?"

Before Tilmitt can answer, the long-haired sniper interrupts her.  "We need to get out of here.  Can you move, Almasy?"


"Listen, blondie.  Squall has put a lot of energy into hunting your ass down.  I don't give a shit what you end up doing with yourself, but you will be around when the Commander wakes up.  Clear?"

Looking directly into the violet eyes, I easily mask my interest in wanting to know more about Squall and his plans.  "Can you spare me an elixir?"

The cowboy frowns before reaching into his pocket to retrieve a vial, then tossing the hi-potion to me.  "Deal with that.  Zell, get our lion off the ground so we can get out of here."

The blonde does as ordered, his nose scrunching.  "Fuck, man.  You're foul."

"A-aw, don't love me anymore, Chickie?  I'm heartbroken."

He scowls at me, but with his arms full of the ice princess, Dincht can't do much more than that.

Downing the hi-potion, my body heals just enough to make movement possible without need of support, but as the cowboy probably had planned, I doubt I can easily escape the kiddies in this state.  Getting to my feet, I trail behind the group of teens as we walk out of the cavern and into the maze of tunnels that will eventually lead us out of here.  It surprises me some when the little lady asks several times for Kinneas to let her heal me further, but with an increasingly weary shake of the head, he lets me stumble my way forward.  Laughing inwardly, I have to hand it to the cowboy - he seems to be the only one willing to see my strength beneath the wounds.  I'll have to watch my steps around this guy.

Sitting in a stiff plastic chair, I absentmindedly stroke the metal shackle on my left wrist, the only one remaining of the four that had encircled my arms and legs.  What can I say, I just can't get over my melodramatic side, needing to show these kiddies that I think myself still a prisoner despite their claim that I'm 'home'.  As if Garden was ever my home.

"You know, cowboy, you don't have to be so damn literal about your demand that I should be here when Sleeping Beauty wakes up."

Leaning against the wall on the opposite side of Squall's infirmary bed, Kinneas looks at me from beneath the rim of his hat.  "Afraid of what the Commander will do to you, Almasy?"

I breathe a chuckle.  "Commander?  Give me a break.  There was no such thing as a 'commander' before the war.  Nice that they made a new rank for our little hero.  Oh, wait, weren't the whole lot of you in the business of saving the world?  What did you get out of the deal?  The rank of 'quasi-commander', or is it just 'ass-watcher'?"

He smirks.  "Do you have a death wish?  'Cause you always seem to be asking for a bullet through your skull."

I smirk back.  "I seem to remember you already trying that one."

"It's been a year."

"Heh, if you think that would make a difference."  Bored with taunting this man when he obviously refuses to take the bait to lose his cool, I look to the unconscious lion instead.  "Are you going to tell me why this prick was hunting me down?"

"He was worried about you."

Scowling, I glare at the long-haired man.  "He has no business worrying about me."

"Says the man who hasn't slept in one place longer than a week because he has bounty hunters all over him."

"And yet I've managed to stay alive just fine by myself," I point out sharply.

Kinneas doesn't comment on that, letting his skeptical gaze say everything needed to be said.  So what if I'm leaner than I used to be, and who cares that I only had a few sets of clothing to my name, those clothes now lost since my kidnapping.  I'm alive on my own power and that's all that matters.  I don't need these kids taking care of me.

The moment of staring between us ends when a quiet moan sounds from the bed, Squall then moving his arm to press a hand against his forehead.  Kinneas pushes up from the wall to lean over the bed, his violet eyes soft with worry.

"Hey, Squall.  Can you hear me?"

The brunette groans when he moves his head slightly to look at the cowboy through barely open eyes.  "Irvine..."

"Yeah.  How do you feel?"

And the true skill of the ice princess shines through as the bed-ridden man manages to glare threateningly at Kinneas with the clear message that he hadn't been unconscious without reason.  I nearly laugh when the cowboy slips a foot back in retreat, my attempt at covering up my amusement with coughs attracting Squall's attention.  Man, I forgot how those pale blue eyes could make someone feel like they've been tossed into a frozen lake.

"Kinneas.  Leave us."

The cowboy shows the shock Ifeel at the order.  "Uh, Squall, you do realize that you aren't in the best condition to--"

"Seifer won't do anything."

Violet eyes glance up at me, disbelief clear in his gaze.  "Fine, but I'll be right outside."

The brunette shakes his head.  "You aren't needed.  Go to bed, get food, do something.  But don't wait here."

"But Squall--"


Sighing, Irvine tips his hat in surrender.  "Dr Kadowaki will be back in the morning.  I'll let you deal with her by yourself if she finds either of you injured or missing."

Squall smiles vaguely in reply, earning him another huff of annoyance from the cowboy.  Thus, sooner than I'm ready for, it's just me and puberty boy in the overly quiet infirmary.  Despite the fact that it was the ice princess who demanded for alone time with me, he doesn't say anything while simply lying on his back and massaging his temple.

When I can't handle the silence any longer, I growl out, "So why the fuck were you hunting me down?"

He shrugs.  "You belong here."

"No, I don't.  You know how much I hate Garden," I say while fingering the shackle on my wrist.

"I didn't mean Garden."

Confused, I glare at the prone man.  "Are you certain you're awake?  We're in Blah-lamb Garden right now, not some fantasy land of yours."

He closes his eyes for a moment of thought before looking at me.  "Sorry.  It was my fault you were taken hostage."

A harsh "What?" leaves my lips, myself too bewildered to manage more given both my surprise that Squall is taking credit for this and my disbelief that the brunette does know how to apologize.

"My father refused to submit to their threats, thus they meant to kill me in retribution.  You were bait."

"Wait.  Since when do you have a father?"

"Since the war.  Unbelievably, I share DNA with Laguna Loire."

I laugh.  "Is this the Loire of Esthar?  That bumbling king of theirs?  Come on.  It must be a mistake."

He shakes his head with a sigh, the tiredness in his expression telling me that he must have confirmed the DNA results at least three times before believing it.  Hyne, but Loire blood in this lion?  I can't even begin to imagine it.

"Okay, but I still don't see where they got the idea to use me."

"The SeeD within their ranks knew I've been searching for information about your whereabouts."

"Which brings us back to why the fucking hell should you care about me?"

Squall removes his hand from his forehead and looks at me, the stormy eyes grayer than normal.

"Hn, tired to the kiddies already?"

He smiles vaguely.  "And that's why I've missed you."

Frowning, I remember him saying he missed me just before... "Why did you kiss me?"

The blue-gray eyes widen.  "I... what?"

"In the cavern, you fucking kissed me."

He looks to the ceiling, his brow crinkled in thought.  "I don't remember anything since falling unconscious."

"Don't give me that, Leonhart."

His mouth opens to argue, but he abruptly hisses in pain as he then replaces the hand to his forehead and rolls over onto his side with his back to me.

Knowing Squall isn't the type to show minor pain, I quickly stand up from my chair.  "Leonhart?  Do I need to get Dr K?"

He doesn't reply immediately as he breathes deeply and curls tighter on the bed.  It bothers me to see him like this, as I still remember the words of my kidnapper that people tend to die when summoning within that cavern.  I just wish I knew what was wrong with him.  Dr Kadowaki couldn't determine why Squall had fallen unconscious, which means she doesn't know what to 'cure'.  I don't like this.  Leonhart is supposed to die by my blade or in battle, not from something that would be listed 'unknown' on his death certificate.

Suddenly the brunette goes slack as if unconscious or...  Biting my lip, I reach out to shake the man, but he moves before I touch him.  Rolling onto his back, Squall looks up at me, the sight of vaguely glowing blue eyes stunning me.  I had thought the change in his eyes earlier today was an odd glare of the cavern or a figment of my imagination, but seeing the crystalline blue eyes again, I feel cold while trapped within their gaze.

Breaking the eye contact, Squall sits up smoothly and then moves to stand up from the bed.  His back to me, he steps forward to the exit without a single word in explanation.  My thoughts a mere jumble now from the confusion I've received in the past few hours, I only watch as he walks away.  The hissing of the door awakens me to the realization that he's escaping, but again I'm quieted when he stops at the open doorway and glances back at me, his look a silent request that I should follow.

Of course I trail the silent man when he leaves, and even attempt to stop him several times with words and by force, but he shrugs off everything with barely any effort.  Granted, I don't try too hard since I don't need to get into trouble for maiming the lion, but knowing Dr K, I'm going to be given the riot act anyway for letting Squall waltz out of the infirmary.  Given it must be near midnight by now, the hallways are empty as Squall heads for the front gates.  Though I should assume the kiddies have all gone to bed, I still glance around that first floor in hope of seeing cowboy or even Chicken.  There's no such luck as Squall leads the way out of Garden.

It doesn't surprise me when he heads directly for the entrance to the caverns, the mobile Garden making its temporary home here while they can attempt to figure out the properties of the caverns which make summoning so dangerous.  If the secret was simple enough, it could prove an excellent form of defense.  Though I have the suspicion that we'll never be able to understand such ancient magics.

Considering Squall's unusual manners, I follow at a high state of alert for trouble, but nothing even approaches us in the passageways, let alone attack.  After he tears down the pathetic rope boundaries, we then enter the section of the caverns that had been my 'home' for who knows how many days or perhaps weeks.  Midway into the room-like area, Squall stops and then turns to face me.

"Summon Ifrit."

After a stunned moment, I laugh.  "Excuse me?  If you want to kill me, princess, you should've done it when you had the chance.  I won't go down so easy now, and certainly not by suicide."

"You won't die."

"And how do you know that little jewel of information?  Just because you summoned and lived..."  My words halt as I finally realize what should have been obvious.  "Who are you?"

Glowing eyes narrow slightly, but no words are spoken.

"Squall knows I don't junction with any of those demons.  I don't need them and I don't want them."

Slowly with a natural grace, the brunette kneels down before me, his eyes downcast.  "I have nothing to offer but my word that you won't be harmed.  I beg of you, summon him."

Confused by the desperate tone coming from someone typically too proud to be reduced to a 'please', I take a step back in retreat.  "Even if I felt like trusting you, I'm not junctured to that demon."

"You can call upon him."

I sneer down at possessed man, the urge to laugh at this ridiculousness barely held back.  "Oh, come on.  What am I supposed to do?  Just whistle and say, 'Here boy.  Come on, Ifrit.  Come to Papa Seifer,' and he'll--"

All of the sudden I can't breathe, a heat like hell's fire building within my chest.  My last sight is of Squall smiling softly at me before I close my eyes in pain.  A cry sounds in the caverns, the sound ringing in my ears until the roar of a fire blaze steals away my hearing.  And then after those long painful moments of heat, blessed darkness overwhelms me and I fall.


It's hard to wake up, it being too warm and comfortable along one side of my body.  Of course the coldness and rock hard ground beneath me does wonders to force me awake, even if it just leads to me pressing closer to the source of nearby heat.  When that warmth groans, however, my eyes snap open as I become fully alert.  I immediately try to sit up, but unrealized soreness forces me to lie back down with my head resting on the cushion of a muscled arm.  Even so, I got a good enough look at the body next to me.


The man hums out his argument, promptly trying to go back to sleep while using me as some kind of pillow or stuffed animal.

"Seifer.  Wake up, you idiot."

Though it takes another few moments of incoherent grumblings, it's easy to tell when the blonde finally wakes up.  "Holy shit, why are we--"

"Don't you dare sit up," I growl out when he tries to move.

He shifts to glare at me.  "What, you enjoying this?"

Right, I just love it when my body feels too sore to move.  "Just give me a moment.  Meanwhile, you can tell me why we're back in the caverns."

"The caverns...?  Ah shit, don't tell me I actually summoned Ifrit like that.  That's cheating."

Eyes closed, I try to remember the past night, something about Ifrit sparking some memories.  Vague images of Seifer come to mind, the man unconscious while I rested his head on my lap.  And then he woke, something about his eyes striking me as wrong.  After that...  my eyes open wide as hazy memories return in full force.

Interrupting his continued ramblings, I say, "Uh, Seifer, do you remember anything about last night?"

"As I was just telling you, head case, I fell unconscious.  Of course I don't remember anything."

"Just try to think about it.  About what we did."

Sighing annoyed, he quiets for several moments.  "I don't--"

"Try, Seifer."

Mumbling that I don't have to get so 'snippy' with him, he apparently tries harder this time since he stiffens beneath me.  "Um, is that my own fucked up imagination playing with me?"

I sigh.  "If it involves us having intercourse, I wish it was only you."

He laughs.  "Such big words, Squally-boy."

"Fine.  We fucked... I count three times."

"Hn, I don't know.  That first time could count as twice."  His voice is surprisingly smug.  "Well, now it's no wonder you don't feel like moving."

I growl under my breath.

He chuckles.  "Should I take that as a sign this bothers you?"

"I don't like being controlled."

Humming his understanding, he unexpectedly moves the arm beneath me to lightly stroke my bare back with his fingertips.  "At least these demons aren't as demanding as our mistresses."

Ignoring the chill he causes with his touch, I ask, "Demons?  What demons?"

"You know, those damn GFs.  Do you think Shiva and Ifrit left once they finished their fun?"

My eyes narrowed, I scold myself for not thinking of that before this idiot so easily figured it out.  What else would have possessed me except the guardian force that I had been calling for.  But if he knew that, it surprises me that Seifer would dare to summon Ifrit within this cavern, especially given the possibility of death.  ... No, I doubt he did on purpose.  Unfortunately, while I can see the vague images of what had happened, I can't understand the words that had been said before he fell unconscious.  Could Shiva have attacked him?

"Hey, Squall.  I asked you a question.  Think they stuck around?"

I shrug.  I don't feel Shiva within me, but that means nothing.  "There's no way to be certain."

"Hn.  Well, we had better get going before Kinneas decides to kill me on sight for kidnapping you.  What the hell is his problem anyway?"

With an unavoidable wince of soreness, I manage to sit up.  "Don't know."

He huffs.  "Oh, I think you do know, Leonhart.  What is he to you?"

I glare down at him, getting across the message that it is none of Seifer's damn business to ask about Irvine.  The blonde smirks at the threatening glare, never one to be daunted by me.  I have yet to decide if that's a good or bad thing, but it's a relief to have someone around who can actually understand my wordless statements.

With a loud groan, the large blonde is easily standing in all his male glory before me.  Glaring up at him, I'm annoyed by the fact that getting to my feet should take more effort than that, and I don't even want to think about walking.  Seifer just smiles, and then moves toward the trail of clothing a short distance away.  Well, at least it's somewhat amusing to watch him walking around in one sock, but I don't like how much thinner the blonde has gotten over the past year.

"My, my.  I think our little demons were a tad over zealous last night," Seifer says while holding up what used to be a new pair of pants and a favorite shirt of mine.

Pressing a hand to my face, I shake my head as I congratulate myself for a perfect beginning to a painful day.  The sulking moment is ruined, however, when his trench coat is thrown on top of me.  Moving it from draping over my face, I slip on the heavy coat with a quiet word of 'thanks' to the blonde.

"No prob."  He hesitates before saying, "Listen, you really okay with this?  I mean, I'm kind of used to drunken nights with the ladies, but I doubt that this is your thing."

I shrug.  "It's not your fault."

Amused, he shakes his head.  "You always were ice.  Well, it looks like that I'll have to stick around Garden after all, or at least until we figure out how to get this fucker out of me.  Deal?"

"... If that's what you want."

Leaning against the front of my desk, I try to hold onto my calm while I eye the seated people before me.  Selphie and Quistis try vainly to keep their faces straight, the regal blonde doing a far better job of a serious expression than the energetic brunette.  Zell is paler than usual, the fighter still uncomfortable with anything that threatens his straight life.  Irvine's expression is one of mixed emotions, him unable to catch me alone since finding Seifer and me this morning.  How embarrassing to walk through Garden with only Seifer's trench coat for covering and with the shirtless blonde striding unashamed by my side.  Hyne help me if someone dared to take a photo of the event.

Clearing my throat to gain their attention, I begin the impromptu meeting.  "I'm going to keep the explanations short, but somehow by summoning within the caverns, Seifer and I have been, for lack of a better word, possessed by Ifrit and Shiva."

Multi-colored sets of eyes widen at the announcement while Seifer merely stares at me, his smile too amused and satisfied for my liking.

"Whoa, are you possessed now?" Zell asks, the smaller man looking about ready to fight us.

I shrug.  "Last night they took control of our bodies, but it doesn't appear a permanent occurrence.  However, there is no way to tell when it may happen again.  For that reason, Quistis, I need you to take over for me until this is figured out."

She nods.  "Though this explains something that I was going to bring up today.  Yesterday, SeeDs and cadets were suddenly unable to summon Shiva, and then this morning, Ifrit refused to respond to any summons.  I guess it's safe to assume these GFs are trapped within you both."

I sigh, her news taking away any hope that the two guardians had left us during the night.

"So how do we know that you're, you know, you?" Zell questions, still poised to attack.

"Chill it, chickie.  These demons may be annoying, but I doubt they want to cause any problems."

An eyebrow raised, I look at him questioningly.

Seifer smirks.  "Come on, if they wanted to cause mayhem, do you really think they'd spend the night fucking?"

As the others gasp and cough in shock, I merely scold myself silently.  Ask a stupid question...  "Even so, our actions should be regarded as questionable at all times."

The large blonde laughs.  "And how is that different than normal with me?"

Ignoring him, I look to Quistis.  "Any questions?"

"No, Commander," she says with a casual salute.

I nod, signaling the end of the meeting.  Even so, no one looks eager to leave without getting the details that I know they want to hear.  Whatever.  As if I'm ever going to lay out the specifics for their enjoyment.

Irvine is the first to move, standing up from his sprawl in the chair.  "So, you okay?" he asks while stepping close.

Before I can think of an answer, a low growl sounds as Seifer stands up and approaches with his fists balled up tightly at his sides.  Noticing the golden red gleam to his eyes, I step in front of larger man and place my hands at his chest to force him to a halt.  He doesn't seem to notice me, his strangely colored eyes focused on Irvine as his lips pulled back in a sneer which exposes a lengthy fang.

"Control him, Seifer," I say with a hopefully calming tone.

After harsh intakes of air, there's a final threatening growl before he closes his eyes and shakes his head.  The reopened eyes are free of the heated color of before, Seifer appearing confused as he takes a step back.

Turning, I find Selphie already standing at Irvine's side, her ready to protect her lover with a ferociousness that would suit her energetic nature.  Smiling vaguely, I motion for her to stand down.  The surprise of the long-haired man gradually evaporates into amusement as he wraps an arm around Selphie's narrow waist and kisses her temple with a quiet, 'thanks, sweet pea'.

"Well," Quistis starts, her also relaxing out of a fighting stance, "I think that's a point proven.  Perhaps you both should go to your rooms to relax."

Despite being bothered by the suggestion that I should get rest in the middle of the day, I nod and motion for the still dazed Seifer to follow me out of the office and to the elevator.  Talk renews in the office before the doors close completely after our exit, but it's better to not hear their plans in the case Shiva or Ifrit can understand what is said around us.  At least I hope those friends of mine are planning on ways to defend everyone against us, and not reducing themselves to gossip instead.

"Uh, Squall...?"

Guessing his question, I say, "I arranged a room for you some time back.  I'll lead you there."

"Hn?  Oh, yeah.  That's fine, but I was going to ask something else.  Cowboy... he's with Tilmitt?"

After pressing the down button for the elevator, I glance back at him.  "What does that matter?"

He laughs a touch nervously.  "Well, call me crazy, but I thought that you and him kind of had something."

I say nothing, waiting until we step in the elevator and the doors close behind us.  "We sort of did."

Green eyes narrow, a flicker of redness appearing before Seifer controls himself.  "Hn, well, I always knew you leaned that way.  And he's an idiot to not keep you on a short leash."

"It's not what you think," I say, leaving it at that when the bell sounds for the first floor and the doors open to give me an escape.  A shame that Seifer is supposed to continue following me to his room.

Surprisingly, he remains quiet as we walk to the dorm area, us then taking another elevator to the level that holds rooms for high-ranking SeeDs.  After walking most of the length of the hallway, I stop in front of a door and punch in the code to deactivate the alarm.  I then step back to face Seifer.

"You know the drill about changing the code.  If you have questions, I'm two doors down on the left."

The blonde smirks, suggesting what questions he'd like to ask, but I turn sharply and walk to my own room before he takes that chance.  Once the door to my private room closes, I feel momentarily at peace, that nothing can touch me within this room.  It's a silly way to feel, but I need this place to escape to when I can't handle the demands of being a 'commander'.  What a stupid title.  It should be something more along the lines of 'stand-in for the Headmaster when he wants vacation time'.

Sighing, I move to the bed and lie down in the attempt to think my way through the events of the past couple days.  It's strange having Seifer back, it almost feeling like he never left considering the ease with which he has returned to taunting everyone and striding about like he owns the place.  But then there is the shackle he still has on his wrist, his sign that he doesn't want to be here.  Why does that pain me so much?  Maybe because I'm a fool for listening to Irvine and Selphie, letting them convince me that I missed the arrogant bastard, which then let me hope he might have as well...  Whatever.  I'm just a idiot.

Light knocking wakes me from my half dosing state, and I glare at the door for several seconds before deciding to answer it.  It's no surprise to find Seifer blocking most of the open doorway, but when he looks up, the golden red eyes momentarily stun me.

"May I enter?" he asks, the voice rougher than typical for the man.

Ignoring the stirring coldness within me, I straighten while glaring at him.  "That isn't your body to control."

The man smiles softly, guilt clear in his expression.  "I know.  We both know that, but it's too hard to resist the opportunity."

With a sigh at my own stupidity for what I'm about to do, I step aside and motion the possessed blonde inside.  Though at first surprised, he nods his thanks before walking forward, and then sitting at the edge of my bed given the lack of seating otherwise.  I may be the 'Commander' of Balamb Garden but I still only have a standard SeeD room.

He then looks at me, a fond smile appearing.  "You are worthy of her spirit, young lion, if you can continue to resist her so simply."

I frown.  "I don't like being used."

"That is understandable, but... we won't be here for long."  He smiles weakly, "Forgive me.  Shiva is better with words and explanations."

"What do you want from us?"

His eyes narrowed in thought, he looks at his hand.  "To touch without harming each other.  It's been so long..."

Coldness flares within me, it taking more effort on my part to stay in control of my body.  She wants him.  I can clearly feel that desperate need mixed with sorrow, but I'm not ready yet to surrender to her whims.

He loosely fists his hand.  "I know this isn't to your liking, but I, we, still beg of you to allow us this time together."

"... How long?"

A hopeful smile forms.  "Only for short periods, and perhaps over a week or two?  We aren't allowed in your bodies much longer than that."

Something about his tone convinces me that they mean no harm, and frankly, the sense of desperateness from both guardians is too pathetic to resist.  "Don't show yourselves to others."

The possessed man is immediately standing, obviously trying to stop himself from moving closer.  He bows his head and whispers, "Thank you, young lion."

"Whatever," and then I'm taken from the conscious world.

An annoying buzz sounds at my ear, trying to pull me away from blissful darkness.  Childishly, I refuse to wake and move a hand to pull the covers over my head.  Instead, with the sheets apparently out of reach, I end up groping the naked body next to me.

A deep laugh rumbles under me.  "Didn't get enough last night, Leonhart?"

"Seifer?  Wha..."

"Don't blame me.  You were the one who invited the demon to come in and play."

Frowning, I can clearly hear the difference between this idiot and Ifrit, the fire demon oddly tame in personality than I would have believed.  Or maybe defeated would be the better word.

"Hey, ice princess, you going to let me go anytime soon?"

Startled by the fact that I'm holding onto the larger man like one would a lover, I move back with a quickness that must show my unease of having Seifer within my bed.  In the cavern, it was a spontaneous event that neither of us could control, but this...  this I practically asked for. 

Despite being freed from my hold, Seifer doesn't move out of the narrow bed, blocking me from the most convenient route of escape.  He says nothing for several moments as he stretches his long, barely covered body in a shameless manner, and then he glances over at me with bright green eyes.

"So, why did you let him in?  I can see everything, but no clue what you said."

I pause before responding.  "He only wants to be with her.  Seemed rather pitiful, actually."

"Hn.  Sounds like Shiva.  You know, she got onto her knees and begged me to summon Ifrit.  They don't really seem much like the demons I thought them to be."

"... ..."

"Well, what's the plan?"

"He said they can't stay within us for long..."

Seifer chuckles.  "Damn, when did you become an old softy?  Should we have candles and rose petals waiting for them next time?"

"It bothers you," I state while resisting to comment that a tube of lubrication might not be a bad thing to leave out in the open for the couple.

"Hell, yeah.  I enjoy being controlled as much as you do.  But, if you don't mind any of this, I guess I can suffer as well.  Though I bet this fucker wasn't going to give me much of a choice, anyway."

Relieved by his cooperation in this, I close my eyes and begin to list out questions to ask the fire demon when given another chance to speak with him.  I tempted to asks Seifer to speak with Shiva, but he doesn't have the same kind of control that I do.  That, and he probably isn't as curious about this couple as I am.

"Hey, since you seem talkative this morning, how about explaining Irvine?"

I growl under my breath before saying, "Why does it matter?"

"'Cause I want to know."

And when he wants to know something, he'll do anything to draw it out of me.  "It's nothing.  He and Selphie helped me figure out something a long time back."

"And what would that something be?"

Opening my eyes, I look directly into interested green eyes.  "I'm gay," I say softly.

There's a stunned moment before Seifer bursts out laughing.  "Damn, Squall-boy, I've been telling you that for years."

"I'm serious."

Grinning, he rolls over such that he ends up straddling over me.  "So am I, princess."

Confused, I only stare up into heated eyes.

"I was wondering when you'd finally admit it.  But, I guess you trust cowboy more than you could ever trust me."


"He broke in your ass, didn't he?"

"That is none of your business," I hiss at him, furious that he'd refer to an important point in my life in such a vulgar manner.

The heat of his eyes abruptly vanishes as he avoids my gaze.  "Hn, guess that's true enough.  I'm not a part of your life anymore."

The sudden change in attitude bewilders me.  "Seifer, what is this about?"

He sighs and unexpectedly lowers his body on top of mine such that his head rests on my chest.  "It's just, I thought it'd be me, you know."


"Yes, me.  You were supposed to ask me, you stupid tight ass."

Eyes wide, I stare down into blonde hair.  "Why?"

"Because, you always came to me."  He reaches out a hand and strokes his fingers along the inside of my wrist.  "When you needed more help with learning to fight, you let me train you.  When you weren't certain you could kill a man, you let me talk you through it.  When you were afraid of dying yourself, you let me show you how strong you are."

Listening to him, I'm not certain what surprises me more - the truth of his words or that I never realized how often I went to him for help with the more difficult phases in my life.

"That's why I just assumed you'd come to me when you were questioning your sexuality.  It should've been me who showed you that ladies aren't your thing."

"... You weren't here," I say, now curious about what might have happened if Seifer had been around when the fiasco with Rinoa occurred.

He huffs.  "And that's the one thing that kills me about siding with Edea."

Smiling softly, I place a hand at his back.  "I said before that you belong here."

"And just where is that?"

"Right where you are."

Slowly, he moves up onto his elbows to look down into my eyes.  "Don't tease me, Leonhart."

My smile widens slightly.

A pale eyebrow arches in disbelief.  "Kind of sudden, isn't this?"

"It's been a year."

"Hn.  So it has.  A very long year," he says before drawing me into a kiss.  I've been kissed plenty of times before by different people, and yet this first kiss with Seifer ranks higher than most others.  He knows how to handle me, that I don't want to be invaded without plenty of coaxing.  Even his hands seem to known the proper boundaries, expertly skimming the line of what would be too much for me this soon.  Hyne, I missed this man who knows more than he should about me.

Seifer pulls back with a quiet curse.  "This sucks."

Despite myself, I frown at his sudden disappointment.

He smirks.  "Not you, lovely.  Or rather, I hope you do, but I'm talking about that bastard of a guardian force.  He wore out my body last night, and I don't even want to think about how sore you must be after two nights of all out sex."

Chuckling lightly, I rake fingers back into golden blonde hair.  "Patience," I whisper before initiating my own kiss.

Though I can imagine Seifer being upset about it, this is actually a good situation for me.  While I've thought about the blonde for most of the last year, I haven't be able to consider my feelings with the man close by.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I only remember the good aspects of Seifer, so I still need to figure out if I could love his worse traits and thus all of him.

"So," he starts while kissing down my chin and to my neck, "do you suck?"

And oddly enough, I remembered this mouth of his when I decided that I wanted this man back in my life.  Then and now, it doesn't bother me that much.  I think I've come to expect it and maybe even need to hear his damn cockiness.  ... Hyne, there must be something wrong with me.




Author's Whining -- And thus this belated request fic has begun.  Sorry for taking so long, Silverwolf, and I hope you enjoy it.  Btw, for those interested, the request was simply for a 'non-AU mpreg'.

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