*Random Disclaimer: Not mine, Squaresoft's. I'm borrowing... and I'm gunna keep them!!! XD

One Moment, And A Year

Chapter 17 - May Day

By Akare

Friday, 1st May


Squall scowled appropriately as festival balloons were put up. Sometimes he hated being Commander; sometimes he loved it. This was not one of those times. He was frustrated. He was Commander, he *should* be able to tell Selphie that NO!! she was not allowed to decorate the Ballroom, the Quad, the Cafeteria, the Front Hall, the Bridge, the Dorm Halls, even *his* damn office with streamers and balloons. Unfortunately they all over ruled him and now he was surrounded with green and yellow things.

"You're not enjoying this, are you?"

Squall scowled. "No."

Quistis smiled. "Poor Commander Squally."

After emitting a deep and angry sigh the gunblader stalked off down the corridor, with luck the irritating blonde instructor would not follow. But today was not his lucky day. He was halfway to the sanctuary of his room when he was accosted by another blond instructor. Zell.

"Heya Squally!"

He cringed. "Zell, please..."

"Sorry," the little martial artist lowered his voice to almost a whisper. "You not havin' a good day?"

"Do I *look* like--"

"Oh Squall don't be such a spoil sport." Rinoa appeared and beamed cheerily at her boyfriend, linking her arm with his. "You *know* this is exciting. And *fun*!!"

Zell grinned behind his hand. Seifer was an idiot for missing this. Admittedly the decorations were awful but he would have had a field day since Squall was being so... sulky. Poor Squall all he wanted was to be left alone and everyone insisted on talking to him. Zell almost felt like petting the Commander's hair and telling him it would be OK.

After the war it surprised him that Squall seemed to consider him a friend. It wasn't like they spent much time together or even talked that much... well, Zell talked, Squall just *sat* there and looked irritated. To the martial artist's surprise though Squall had actually admitted (in a severely inebriated state) to liking and even *treasuring* Zell's friendship, to appreciating his ability to make light of even the direst situations, and he, in turn, considered Squall a good friend despite his aloofness.

"I'll tell you what," Rinoa continued. "You go and get some rest and leave all this organising to me."

"I was leaving it to Selphie."

"Well, she's not as good at this sort of thing as I am--"

"Just what sort of thing do you mean?" Squall demanded, getting a little suspicious. Something told him this Sorceress of his was not referring to the May Day celebrations anymore.

"Ahh nothing," Rinoa smiled cheekily.

Commander Sulky rolled his eyes and headed back to his room. Sometimes his life sucked.

Zell watched him walk away, aware that Rinoa was now watching him, giving him that stupid vapid expression she reserved for when she knew something no one else did. Her hands were clenched behind her back as she swung forward on her toes. "So..."

The little blond debated rolling his eyes and leaving too, as much as he loved Rinoa he also knew her moods and this one was no fun. She'd spend the whole time teasing him obtusely because she *knew* something. And there was nothing so annoying as a teasing Sorceress... except maybe a teasing Sorceress' Knight...

"Where's Seifer this weekend?"

Zell almost replied truthfully before he caught himself. Zell Dincht would never know or care where that bully was. He shrugged. "Dunno. Don't care."

Rinoa grinned. "Oh... OK. Well, I'd better go get Irvy. See you later." She waved at him and left.

A moment later the thought struck him. Why the hell would Rinoa want to talk to Irvine? He only flirted the whole time. She *was* up to something. The martial artist debated for a moment finding out what but then realised he really didn't care. He left in search of hotdogs.

Seifer scowled at the ticket collector. She didn't seem particularly worried though, more amused, or possibly flirtatious. Seifer wasn't sure; he'd fallen out of social circles a long time ago and was now completely inept in the art of flirting. He assumed adults did it differently to teenagers but since he'd never really bothered flirting while he was an adult he didn't know in what sense. Surely they'd be more subtle... So was she or wasn't she?

"Your ticket seems to be fine, sir," she fluttered her eyelashes. "Can I get you anything?"

She *was* flirting. She hadn't paid this much attention to the other passengers. "No, thanks. I'm fine." 'Now piss off you daft bint, I'm taken.' Oh... Seifer frowned at himself. Taken? He shrugged. So what? Slip of the tongue... Freudian slip? No! Shut up, stupid brain.

Timber was as boring and useless as it always was. Seifer scowled at it too. Stupid Timber. *Still* hadn't got its independence had it? Couldn't even manage that, despite all Raijin and Fujin's best efforts. He scowled at a Galbadian soldier as he passed but the kid seemed to recognise him. The soldier was halfway to a salute before he remembered that Galbadia was essentially denying the War and therefore Seifer was a liability in Galbadian territory... At least, according to his warped Private logic. As he raised his gun Seifer rolled his eyes and walked away.

"If you're gunna shoot me, kid, it'll have to be in the back. I'm not stopping for the likes of you."

Private Trigger-Happy paused for the first time in his career and frowned. He couldn't really shoot an unarmed man in the back. Even if it was the Sorceress' Lap Dog. He lowered his rifle. Seifer saw him in the reflection in a shop window and grinned. Hiding Hyperion under his coat was *always* a good thing.

So the gunblader went on his way with a spring in his step. Seifer Almasy with regained confidence was not something anyone in Timber wanted to cross, though if he'd taken that march anywhere people would have cleared a wide path for him. For some reason that Seifer was unaware of he was in a really good mood. Everything seemed to be working out and heading back to normal. Sometimes he loved his life.

Raijin and Fujin lived in a little slum near the Aphrora Pub and the T.V. Station. Seifer knew his path there well, he'd had to learn to walk it with his head down so people wouldn't recognise him. Now, though, the neighbours knew him and smiled at him in the street... Funny how people are so fickle. Had they really forgotten all about the war? Or where they just being nice because the Ex-Sorceress' Knight had friends who were helping them gain their independence? Still it made things easier for him, he supposed.

Fujin had the door open and was glaring at him with her one eye before he even managed to knock. He got the impression she'd taken the legend of Medusa to heart.

"Can't turn me to stone with a look, Fu."

"EXPLAIN," she snapped.

"Two words: Commander and Sulky," he smiled at her. "K?"

"NO," she grabbed his arm, tugging him violently inside and into a bear hug from Raijin.

"We wondered when you'd show up, ya know?"

Seifer extracted himself from the arms of his friend and smiled at them both. "Sorry, but you know what the Ice Princess is like. Everyone at that damn place is working at least two jobs."

"He sending you on missions yet?"

"Nope, got me researching Sorceress powers... Yay." The gunblader threw himself onto the couch, wincing as it creaked loudly in protest. As if he wanted to sleep on this thing. "You guys need some new furniture."

"We will do if you keep doing that," Fujin replied softly.

Seifer just grinned. The superb mood heightened all of a sudden. It was probably the posse; they always managed to lighten him up. "So..." Only one thing could make him feel better, well, two if you including Zell kneeling between his legs, lips pouted in that beautiful and downright arousing way, slick tongue licking along... You get the idea. "Any chance of a cup of tea for our weary traveller?"

"No," Fujin kicked his feet off the coffee table and sat down beside him. After Raijin had left to attend to Seifer's tea, the one-eyed girl turned her glare on him again. "You've got a girl, haven't you?"

Seifer scoffed despite himself. "No, Fujin, I assure you, I have *not* got a girl."

Fujin scowled. "You don't like girls anymore?"

Now he *could* look outraged at that but Fu knew him too well -she could even tell when he needed to go to the bathroom. Raijin reckoned it was because she was a girl but Seifer had the sneaking suspicion that his friend was a little empathetic. She knew his emotions and knew right now that he did *not* want to talk about this. She pressed anyway.

"Seifer... I know you--"

"I know," Seifer turned the full force of his charm on her. Even Fujin couldn't withstand that; he was her first crush after all. "I'm just a little tired Fu. I've been working so hard for Commander Ice Bitch, it's very tiring..."

Fujin always fell for that one; she couldn't help herself. Even when she knew he was making it all up to get out of something (like now) she just couldn't resist. "Do you want some food? Or you could take a nap on our bed if you like."

"No, I don't want to put you guys out at all." Seifer grinned as Raijin appeared with tea and biscuits. "I guess I'll just have an early night."

His room was dark and cool and quiet. That was the best part. He didn't have to think about horrid cadets or balloons or celebrations he could just sit and think. But it wasn't to be. The moment he was inside the door and his jacket was draped over the back of the couch, he felt an arm snake around his waist and a voice purr in his ear.

"Hello Commander."

Squall smiled slightly despite himself. Irvine always managed to coax the stupidest expressions from him; actually Zell could too, just not in quite the same way. As the cowboy tightened his arms around the Commander's waist Squall found himself wondering just what the hell he had got himself into.

It had started at Irvine's party and neither of them had thought to just stop, it was too... addictive. The way Irvine touched him was so totally different to Rinoa. Both were so beautiful to him, and he needed both the way he'd never needed anyone before. Being a loner had been good for him, but it had also made sure he had no idea about relationships or where his preferences really lay. Sometimes Irvine joked that he was helping Squall out with that- just making sure he wasn't gay before letting Rinoa have her wicked way with him. But really it was just delayed experimentation. He should have frolicked around with boys when he was a teenager but he hadn't and now he was in a relationship with a woman he adored but he didn't know about that sort of thing. Rinoa understood; she knew he would always come back to her.

"Rin told me you were feeling down," the cowboy smirked against his ear. "She thought I should come cheer you up."

"Did she?" Squall sighed and rested his head against the taller boy's shoulder.

"Uh-huh," Irvine bit softly on the lobe of his ear. "She gave me this." One hand held up a small tube for Squall's appraisal. "Great girl you got there, Squally."

The Commander let out a soft laugh, and the cowboy grinned. That was a good reaction; actually any reaction from Squall was a good one. Especially those whispering little moans that he only let out when he was *really* gone. Irvine tugged Squall's t-shirt out from the waist of his trousers, all ready for business, but the gunblader's hand stopped him.

"Irvine... are we getting too...?" he bit his lip and for a second Irvine wanted to bundle him up in his arms and cuddle him, like he use to cuddle Zell.

"Too?" he asked, chin resting on Squall's bony shoulder.

"Too serious?" The Commander looked him in the eye and the cowboy could have sworn he saw genuine fear in their steel grey depths.

"Us?" Irvine scoffed. "Naw. No way, no how darlin'." He offered a reassuring grin but Squall wasn't biting. He wasn't convinced either. Unlike Squall, he had experimented as a teenager and knew while men satisfied him women were much better... or more to the point Selphie was much better. As far as Irvine was concerned there was nothing in the world like making love to the woman he loved. Squall was a side dish. For some reason while with Selphie it felt important and unique, the Commander made it seem perfectly natural to be fucking a friend. Irvine didn't understand it; he didn't try to. But there was a little part of him that knew forever like this would lose its appeal.

"I know Rin and Selphie *say* they don't mind but..." Squall murmured.

Ahh, that's where this was heading. In the beginning they hadn't wanted to define anything but now it felt almost like it needed it. Or maybe whatever they had had run its course. They weren't lovers; they weren't Romeo and Juliet, not least because they'd argue over who had to be Juliet, and because they each loved their girlfriends.

Irvine nodded slowly. "I'm with Selphie, you're with Rin. This was an experiment only."

"Fun experiment," Squall replied with tiny smile. Both silently and suddenly realising this had to end.

Irvine, to his surprise, blushed. "Yeah, it was huh?"

The Commander took a deep breath and tightened his grip on Irvine's arm around his waist. "One last time?"

"Unless one cold night, Selph and Rin are away..."

"And we're lonely..."

"And I miss you."

Squall let out his small genuine smile. The little one that curled around your heart and warmed it, no matter who you were. Sometimes Irvine thought even Seifer could be charmed by that look, but then Squall would never smile at Seifer.

"So," the cowboy smiled. "Your bed or mine?"

For some reason no one could get Fujin to laugh like Seifer and Raijin, sometimes they had the stupidest conversations. She shook her head as they argued in the car around her.

"No way," Seifer shook his head emphatically. "It was a fucking Grat Raijin."

"It was *not*, ya know? Don't you remember the song?" The taller man began singing raucously. "He's energizing, paralysing, annnnnnd surpriiiiiiiiising. Oh, Rupert! You're the messsssMERising Mesmerize!" His big finish included throwing his arms out wide as his daft grin threatened to split his face in two. The trouble was he was in the front next to Fujin and his hand almost smacked her in the face.

"Dammit, Jin!!" The ruby-eyed girl snapped, batting his arm away. "I'm trying to drive here."

Seifer grinned. "I can't believe you still remember the words... Or does Fujin let you watch 'Rupert in Space' on Saturday mornings?"

Raijin grinned back in the rear vision mirror. "Aw shut up, ya know?"

"Are you sure it's not a Gayla?"

OK, sometimes their conversations were funny and amusing and sometimes they were just annoying. "Rupert was a fucking Malboro!! For Hyne's sake!! What the fuck is a Gayla anyway?!!"

Raijin shrugged. "Aren't they those spinny things that came after the Lunar Cry? You know, they'd close up so your physical attacks wouldn't do nothing?"

"No, Raijin, that's a Turtapod."

"Yeah?... Oh..."

"A Gayla is from Trabia." Seifer grinned triumphantly. "They were the first animals Esthar sent into space."

"You're shitting me?!" Raijin twisted in his seat to look at his oldest friend. "That's awesome!!"

Fujin spun the wheel hard in irritation as she parked, tossing Raijin and Seifer around. Sometimes the gunblader wondered if she should be allowed to drive when she had no depth perception. "Will you two *shut* *UP*?! Thank Hyne we're here." She glared out at the sun-drenched beach and muttered quietly, "I hate water."

Raijin grinned as they exited the car. "There, there, Fu," he curled an arm around his girlfriend's shoulders. "You can hide out in the shade while Seif and I go swimmin'."

"I'm not swimming," Seifer screwed up his nose. "You know I only immerse myself in water when I'm nude, and you don't want that." He smirked at Fujin. "You wouldn't be able to keep your hands off me."

"Ha." The small woman rolled her eye at him. "You wish."

"Yeah, you haven't brought any cute girls home in ages, ya know?" Raijin smiled.

"Well," Seifer held his arms out at his sides. "What sane girl'd want to take me home?" Even though he grinned, there was something in his look that made them both wince in sympathy. Sadly it was true.

The boys set their belongings down on the beach as Fujin unpacked the umbrella to curl under. With her pale skin she burnt easily so shade was always an essential especially since she knew Raijin would take five hours fishing. Sometimes she swore he was obsessive compulsive. As the tall man wandered off down to the water Seifer plonked himself beside her on the picnic blanket.

The gunblader looked around the deserted beach and wondered how it had come to this. Without Her he would have expected to be the best gunblader around by now, or at least a highly respected soldier in some big important country. With Her he expected to be hated and shunned by everyone, yet here he was, on a beach with his friends enjoying the summer while back home... Well, having a home at all was a bit of a feat.

"You've been thinking a lot," Fujin commented quietly. "Are you OK?"

"Yeah," Seifer nodded and smiled at her. "I'm fine, really."

"You don't look it."

The gunblader scowled at his friend. "Just what are you saying, Fu? That I look awful?" He grinned. "I could say the same about you... but I'm such a polite gentleman--"

"Ha!" Fujin smiled back. But the look faded swiftly. "Is it about a girl?"

"Huh?" Seifer twisted to look at her. Sometimes Fu surprised him, she shouldn't after all these years but how could she possibly know what he was thinking before he did? "What do you mean?"

"You're worried about your future. You think no one loves, that no one ever will love you. But you're wrong." Fujin caught his eye and glared forcefully at him. "You're *wrong*."

The gunblader took her hand gently in his. "Thanks Fu, but that's not what I'm thinking... I was just considering how lucky I am."

Fujin scoffed and looked away from him, tugging back her hand. Seifer knew it wasn't anger that moved her but embarrassment. She never knew what to say to people when they were nice to her, or complimented her. She hated it, that was why she put on a show of being mean, and unpredictable, because that way no one would come near her. Except an arrogant gunblade specialist and his dopey best friend.

They lingered in silence for a little while, both knowing that they were in the company of a true friend, one that would never let them down. One who would do what was best for them, and be right about it too.

When Raijin stomped back fishless through the sand and threw himself down beside them Fujin turned back to Seifer. There was still a question she needed the answer for.

"So who is he, Seifer? Who's made you so relaxed and happy?"

Seifer snorted. "Ahh, Fu," he sighed melodramatically as he extracted two beers from their picnic basket and passed one to Raijin. "Do I need someone else to make me happy?"

The small girl rolled her eyes. "Hyne Seifer, just answer the question. We're worried about you, you know that."

Beside her Raijin nodded silently. It unnerved Seifer; Raijin being quiet was almost as unsettling as Zell doing so. Both of them always had something to say.

"It's nothing really. Just sex," he glared at Fujin. "And he hasn't made me happy. It's just stress relief."

Raijin chuckled lowly. "Aha, so it *is* a he..."

The gunblader rolled his eyes. 'Good one, Seifer. Why don't you just tell them everything?' Then again why shouldn't he?

"Someone we know perhaps?" Fujin smiled at Raijin. "What do you think, Jin?"

"Hmm," the man stroked his chin delicately. "Well, he did talk about Squall a lot. He seemed specifically 'cross' with him..."

Seifer almost choked on his beer. "That is not something you even joke about Raijin." He shuddered. "Squall? I'd rather dip my cock in liquid nitrogen."

Fujin laughed softly. "Not Squall then... What about... Sally?"

"Sally?" Seifer frowned. "Oh you mean Salisbury? The guy who studied mechanics with us? Ahh... No. Definitely not. Far too obsessed with cards... and ugly as well. I'm insulted you think I would lower my standards to that level, Fujin."

The small woman laughed. "I see nothing affects your ego like a nice bout of sex then."

Seifer grinned. "That's something you will never know, my dear."

"I should hope not," Raijin muttered.

Fujin chuckled gently. "What about the cowboy?"

"Irvine?" Seifer shook his head. "Again with the liquid nitrogen."


"Pfft," he swigged his beer. "No, he's just a meeker version of Squall."


Seifer glared at his friends as they began giggling. "Cid?! What kind of sexually depraved pervert do you think I am?!"

"Well who then?" Raijin demanded.

The gunblader folded his arms smugly. "You work it out."

There was a moment of silence between them as Seifer listened for the sound of the cogs in their brains turning. But he got distracted by the storm clouds that hurried to them over the choppy sea. Soon the breeze would cool, and the winds would pick up, blowing down to them from the colder north. Soon the rain would fall. They would have to get moving to avoid the storm.

Suddenly Fujin spoke. "Not," she looked up at him, one eye wide. "Not Chicken Wuss."

Seifer grinned. "Would you believe not such a Chicken and *definitely* not a Wuss?"

Raijin almost leapt from the sand. "Are you SERIOUS?!! Chicken?!"

"He's surprisingly... athletic," Seifer smirked softly at them both. "Lot of stamina too."

Fujin wrinkled her nose. "Seifer, there are some things I do not need to know, no matter what the circumstances. Zell Dincht's sexual prowess is one of them, thank you very much." She frowned worriedly at him. "Are you sure...? I mean, Chicken?"

Seifer shrugged. "Well, he's alright with it and so am I at the moment so where's the harm?"

"He might get... attached."

The statement hit the gunblader like a ton of bricks. Yeah, he might, and so might Seifer. He might get used to having Zell there or Zell might get used to him, and when they went their separate ways it would be ugly. The martial artist might spill the secret. Seifer would be expelled for sure, Squall would find some way to make it seem like Seifer had tainted Zell, that it hadn't been consensual or something. Never mind that it had been going on for months and... But then again, maybe they'd fall out of each other's beds the same way they fell in: with nothing at stake but their stress relief.

"Can't say I ever really thought about it..."

"Seifer," Fujin reprimanded. "You can't just go around getting into relationships with people as emotionally unstable as Chicken. It'll end badly."

"Who said it would end?"

Seifer and Fujin both turned slowly to the dark skinned man, now lying back on his towel.

"I mean, you might find the sex is enough."

"It's never enough, Raijin. Don't be stupid," Fujin snapped. "And besides, as if Zell would stay with Seifer, as if Chicken could give him what he needs."

"And what do I need?"

Fujin scowled. "Someone who'll look after you. Someone you can respect, and love, and fuck. Same as the rest of us."

"Who's to say Chicken can't give him that?" Raijin propped himself up on his elbows. "I mean, how much do you or I really know about the guy, Fu?"

"Why are you supporting this?" Fujin demanded. "Chicken is *not* good for Seifer--"

"But he's making him happy. You said so yourself."

The small girl blinked at him, and turned to Seifer. When she spoke her voice was soft. "He is, isn't he?"

Seifer shrugged. "I dunno..." This was something he didn't want to think about. Something he didn't *need* to think about, at least not yet. "We should get back, it's going to rain."

He couldn't help it. For some strange and stupid reason he felt like smirking. Maybe it was all that time he spent hassling Seifer just to make him squirm in that cute little way he did. Maybe it was something daft in the air. But it did make him want to grin at the naked body sprawled over the bed.

"Y'know somethin', darlin'?" Irvine purred, crawling over the Commander. "You are fucking gorgeous."

"And *you* are a slut," Squall smirked back. "Now get over here, ya damn cowboy."

Letting go his little half-smile Irvine gently brushed his lips against the other youth. After kissing him softly and teasingly the cowboy pulled back. "And I am not a slut. I only sleep with you and Selphie." He pouted at his Commander.

"Fine, whatever," Squall trailed one hand up Irvine's arm. "You're a flirt then." He smiled slightly and pulled his cowboy back down for a kiss.

"I don't flirt per se," Irvine replied, between tender pecks and licks. "I just charm. I can't help it if I like people."

Squall shook his head. He really didn't care. They were at a point now, all naked and skin sliding together, that boring thoughts like Irvine's sex life were irrelevant. Whatever Irvine was Commander Sulky wanted to fuck him and wanted to do it now. "Hurry up."

Irvine smirked again and saluted. "Yes *sir*!!"

As the soft green of the Lanker Plains rolled past Seifer glared out the window and considered. He hated thinking. He didn't want to do it, and he certainly didn't want to do it on the weekend when he was supposed to be holidaying. It was Chicken's fault, most things were. He got the gunblader all curious and self-analytical. Why was he with the smaller blond? What did Zell want from him? Was there a possibility that this could go further than he wanted it to? Bah, it was all shit. They were taking and giving only what they wanted to. It was that simple.

Except it wasn't. Now Raijin and Fujin knew he wouldn't be at all surprised if they started expecting him to tell them how his 'relationship' was going. There was no fucking relationship. No matter what they said. Sure, Zell might make him relaxed and happy but it wasn't like a good cup of tea and a long, hot bath couldn't do the same.

Jin and Fu had got the little punk wrong, he wasn't emotionally unstable, in fact he was very fucking far from it. He was a source of stability for Seifer. The tall blond scratched his head. A source of stability? Interesting. He never stayed in one spot longer than it took Seifer to fuck him so how could he represent anything permanent? But he had after Her. Zell had acted as though none of it had happened. The two of them had gone back to normal while everyone else was all nervous around him. On top of that Zell knew his own mind, once he made a decision he did stick to it, he just had trouble making *up* his mind sometimes.

Zell was stability. He might have been a bolt of lightening or a raging fire, but he was one that never went out. That was why the sight of him so cold when Seifer had hit him had unnerved the gunblader so much. Even then though Zell had sprung back from his anger and everything was sorted out. He couldn't be kept down for long, that's what made him so damn chipper and annoying.

He snarled softly at the flock of Thrustaevis out on the plains. Stupid fucking Chicken. Everything *had* to be his fault. He was just way too hyperactive.

In the front Fujin exchanged a worried glance with Raijin, not that she wanted to take her eyes off the road for too long but Seifer growling and muttering to himself was not a good thing. Maybe she ought to talk to Chicken... Would he actually know anything? Maybe he and Seifer just spent half an hour or so together and never said anything. But Seifer needed someone who loved him and paid attention to him instead of frolicking around after that stupid Leonhart wanker. What sort of a name was that anyway?

It was insulting to Seifer that the stupid shit that was Chicken Wuss was the only one who got into bed with him. Who knew, maybe Chicken was the only one since Her. Fujin knew better but she preferred not to think of the horrid mistakes Seifer had made with men when he'd lived in Timber with them. There were so many idiots in the world. She smiled gently and glanced over at Raijin again. Yeah, maybe he was a bit dopey but he was kind, loyal and loving and that was what mattered. Besides, Fujin smiled wickedly. She had him wrapped around her finger.

Raijin was biting his thumbnail again. He always did that when he was thinking. It had surprised him as well as the other two that he'd actually come up with something clever today. But Zell did seem to making Seifer happy. He'd always been a source of amusement before the war so nothing had really changed that much. While it did irk Raijin a little to think of Seifer and Zell together he figured if he was OK with Seifer preferring men in the first place he shouldn't care that he was currently engaged in an illicit affair with a Chicken... though he did put a line between being gay and bestiality. That was going way too far into things he did not understand. Homosexuality was fine by him, his older brother was gay, and damn proud of it too, he was the biggest Queen in Deling City and that wasn't because he'd inherited the family height. In fact, it had been Raijin who'd first considered maybe Seifer was gay, or at least bi. But *Chicken*? Then again, maybe the submissive little blond gave Seifer everything he needed. He'd been looking for someone to boss around since the war ended. And then again maybe Zell wasn't such a push over.

Raijin shrugged. He didn't know and didn't want to know and that was the end of it. So long as Seifer didn't get hurt he was fine by whatever his friend decided to do. Fujin, however, was a totally different matter. She would get her hands dirty if she thought Seifer's fling was not good enough for him and by the look on the girl's face it seemed like Chicken should expect a visit from Her Red Eyed Hell Beast rather soonish.

Squall settled himself against the headboard and frowned at Irvine. The cowboy was lighting up a cigarette.

"Do you *have* to do that?" he demanded.

Irvine smirked, for a second reminding him of Seifer. Squall shuddered. That was something he did *not* want to think about. He looked over the cowboy's naked body; he was reclining beside him in the best imitation of a smug cat as he could manage.

"Cat that got the cream," Squall muttered.

Irvine laughed and trailed his hand up his Commander's naked thigh again. "What 'cream' would that be, baby?" He raised one eyebrow and stroked Squall's ivory skin with one gentle finger.

The gunblader rolled his eyes again and tried not to react. "You're hopeless, you know that?"

"But I'm fun," Irvine drew on his cigarette then stubbed it out in his ashtray-plate beside the bed. It was only half finished but he knew Squall was opposed to all that nicotine. Actually most of the SeeD's were. He only did it because he liked to de-stress in as many ways as possible; sex, alcohol, nicotine... Zell said it was indulging himself not de-stressing but now the martial artist had Seifer Irvine didn't pay attention to his moral high ground speeches. Sleeping with your childhood enemy just because he's a good fuck was not the work of an angel. Although the two of them did belong together. Any idiot could see that.

"What *are* you thinking about?" Squall asked suddenly.

Irvine smirked again- spending time with Seifer was good for something. "Sex and moral issues."

"You're wondering where this puts us, considering you're got Selphie and I've got Rin."

"Yeah, kinda," Irvine smiled and sat up. His hair sprawled across his naked back like tendrils of fire. Squall almost smiled when he found himself being poetic.

"I don't think it should change things between any of us... I hope it doesn't." He looked to the cowboy for support.

"No, it won't." Irvine sat up beside the gunblader, slinging an arm about his slim shoulders. "Rin and Selphie... they know, they're..."


"Yeah," the cowboy chuckled. "Ain't they just?" He smiled at his little lion, hugging him closer for a second before leaving his side completely. "But I'll always love Selphie. I waited for her for so long after the Orphanage. I ain't gunna lose her 'cause I wanted to experience a guy."

Squall nodded, watching the gunslinger tie back his hair and feeling for once that maybe he was completely understood. There was no way he would leave Rin, no way. And there was no way he wanted to lose Irvine's friendship either. "So we go back and tell them we've had our..."


"Yeah," he frowned at the cowboy. "Is it freaking you out that we're finishing each other's sentences?"


Sunday, 3rd May

Seifer watched as the train pulled in. Yay for SeeD private compartments. Boo sucks for 1st Year SeeDs. He snarled at the few that mingled at Timber station. Was he going to have to kill people before the journey had even started?

"That's one thing I don't miss, ya know?" Raijin placed a heavy hand on his friend's shoulder. "You just take a hold of this and make sure Hyperion is packed firmly away. OK?"

Seifer took the offered stress ball and stuffed it in the pocket of his trench coat. He could deal with teenagers. It wasn't that hard, surely. Through clenched teeth, he drew a deep breath and turned back to his friends. Although they had been smiling cheekily at him as soon as he looked all expressions of mirth vanished.

"Don't leave it so long this time between visits, ya know?"

"INSULTED," Fujin added.

Seifer grinned. She did have a reputation to uphold after all and could not be seen talking normally in public, the Galbadian Army might cease to be so petrified of her then. Over her shoulder he could see three Corporals hiding behind the platform, there was no way they were getting into a confrontation with ex-SeeDs and an Ex-Sorceress' Knight.

"I'll see if I can come back sooner, but I can't promise anything," Seifer pulled Fujin into a hug. "I'm sorry it took so long this time."

"FORGIVEN," Fujin muttered against his chest. "NEXT TIME..." She fixed him with her stern scowl again.

"It won't happen again, I promise."

"And she says *I'm* wrapped around her finger." Raijin grinned at his friend. He practically squashed all the air from Seifer's lungs just as the whistle blew. "Better run, ya know?"

Seifer grinned. It was a damn shame he couldn't have these friends with him every step of the way back home. But they'd all had to grow up and that meant leaving security blankets behind... even if that was each other. He stepped into the train and turned to wave goodbye when Fujin grabbed his arm.

"If you need us, anytime, we'll come. You know that, don't you?"

"Of course I do, Fu. And you know I'm here for you."

"If that Chicken tries anything I'll--"

"I know. I know," Seifer grinned. "I'll see you later."


"See ya 'round, ya know?!"

Selphie tried not to squeal when Irvine pinched her bottom but she failed. She knew he was in the kitchen but wasn't expecting such a blatant show of... sleaziness. "Mr. Kinneas, if you will kindly keep your hands to yourself--"

"No way, darlin'. Why would I wanna do that when I could 'ave 'em all over you?"

Selphie spun around and folded her arms crossly. "Irvine!"

The cowboy laughed and poured her another drink. "Darlin', you are beautiful when you're angry."

"I'm not angry," Selphie poked her tongue out at him.

"But you're makin' a damn fine show, little lady."

Selphie laughed and took the vodka and lime. "You look very... happy. Suspiciously so... What have you done now?"

"Nothing," Irvine held up his empty hands in a show of innocence. His expression softened. "The other day... you were busy planning stuff 'n'... I didn't want to disturb you but... Squall and I called off our little... thing."

"Oh?" Selphie looked serious again. It was an unnerving sight but Irvine did his best to keep his hands to himself. He desperately wanted to make her squeal again now she looked thoughtful. "Why?"

"It was gettin' comfortable," Irvine kept going quickly when Selphie opened her mouth to argue. "N' I know you and Rin were all... happy with it 'n' stuff but... I love you, Selph. You're my little Princess. Squall's got his own. So we don't need each other."

"I thought you liked 'experimenting'," Selphie pouted softly as Irvine wrapped his arms around her waist.

"Anyone'd think you were upset, darlin'."

"Well, I am a little. I don't want to force you to do something, or to *not* do something that would make you happy."

Irvine chuckled. "Baby, nothin' makes me 'appier than you. Sure Squall's awesome in bed but... you're the one I love."

"Really?" Selphie's eyes looked wide and innocent. She reminded him of a child for a second. "How awesome?"

The cowboy laughed and carried her gently into the sitting room. Placing her carefully on the couch and making sure not to spill her drink as he settled himself on the floor, taking her feet into his hands. "Well... he does this lovely little squealing thing I would never expect to come out of his mouth." He pinched Selphie's middle toe lightly. When she shrieked he shook his head sadly. "No, a little higher." Then he pinched her little toe, grinning when she squealed at almost the right pitch.

"Stop that you big bully," she wriggled playfully in his grasp. She eventually freed her poor feet and curled up, combing Irvine's hair through her fingers as he sat with his back against the couch. "Are you sure you're happy?"

"As a pig in the mud..." Irvine looked over his shoulder at her. Although he loved her deeply, he had one last request. "Would you mind if I gave him the occasional little kiss?"

"Not at all." Selphie grinned. "Would you mind if I took photos?"

"Not at all." Irvine smiled and turned to wrap his arms around her. "I waited a long time for you, darlin'."

Rinoa closed her eyes and rubbed at her temples. It wasn't that she had a headache; it was that she was picking up on the sudden mood swing of another magically inclined individual somewhere in the vicinity. In the two years that they'd both been at Garden, in fact in the three years since Her and inheriting the powers Rinoa had become aware of something else lingering in her mind... someone else.

Edea had said it was probably just left over Ultimecia or Adel or her that would fade eventually. Or it could be a dormant GF Ultimecia had once had, but Rinoa now knew exactly what or who it was. She just didn't know how to broach the subject with anyone else.


The Sorceress looked up. "I'm fine, honey." She dedicated her bestest grin to Squall. "Really... I'm sorry we couldn't go out tonight but the magic still mucks up sometimes. I'm sorry."

"Don't be silly." Squall took his seat at her side, cuddling up before he rested his head on her shoulder. "Thanks for being so understanding about the whole Irvine thing."

Rinoa grinned. "That's OK, Selphie and I had fun gossiping about you two anyway. Did you have fun?"

"Yeah," Squall snuggled a little closer into her neck, happy he had this beautiful little witch by his side for always.

Although Rinoa was used to Squall's long silences and one word sentences sometimes she still felt the need to fill them in with other things. Stupid, nonsensical, unimportant facts. "Did you hear about Quistis and Nida?"

"No," Squall sat up slightly and looked at her.

"Apparently they're together now. Who'd've thought, huh?" Rinoa smiled as Squall snuggled back down with his head in her lap. Sometimes he did remind her of a cat. A big, cuddly lion. She laughed softly despite herself.

"Only Zell left single..." Squall sighed. "Sometimes I worry about Zell." Sometimes he couldn't help himself. His friends were important to him; Zell especially didn't know how to look after himself. He was probably doing something supremely stupid at this very moment.

"You worry about him being alone?" Rinoa tried to stop the grin that threatened to emerge and thanked Hyne that Squall couldn't see her face. Though she was mildly amused that her lover made no mention of the 'single' Seifer.

"Kind of. He needs someone who understands him... the way I have you." Squall frowned. He was no good at relationships, he knew that, but he wanted to help Zell. "What happened to the library girl?"

"Elda. They went out for a while ages ago," Rinoa replied. "They're still friends. I see them having lunch together sometimes."

"Hmm," Squall closed his eyes. "Do you think we should do something? One girl in two years? Maybe... Oh, I don't know..."

"Let him find his feet himself, Squall," Rinoa advised. "Has he ever said he's lonely or anything?"

"He'd be more likely to tell Irvine something like that, not me." Squall felt a pout coming on. He didn't pout and wouldn't, but sometimes it did hurt his feelings that Zell only talked to him about work.

"Well, Irvine is the reputed expert on the issue."

Squall smiled softly. "Are you calling him a slut?"

"No," Rinoa smiled back. "Just an expert... And now you've experienced the 'master' you might have learnt a few new things." She grinned wickedly. "Hmm?"

Squall narrowed his eyes playfully as he sat up. "Well, if you're going to be like that..." He cocked his head to one side and smiled. "Did you want me to show you?"

Seifer arrived back at Garden at 2 am pissed off and tired. The train hadn't just decided to take a detour but it had stalled for over an hour while it waited for a light to change colour. Now Seifer understood why he liked green over red. Red was a stupid colour. He ditched his black trench coat by the door and tugged off his boots. He hadn't bothered to do them up when he woke up on the train; what was the point when he only needed them to walk from Balamb to Garden?

The gunblader stripped off his vest as well, and considered taking a shower. It was cold in his room and he was very tired maybe he ought to leave it until the morning... and yet something lured him. The bathroom was flooded with soft yellow light as he flicked the switch. He took off the remainder of his clothes and stepped into the stall. A hot, steamy, hard shower would scrub away the travel ache.

He turned the water on as hot and hard as he could, damn did it feel good. Beautiful, in fact, like standing in one of the boiling springs in Trabia National Park. Not that he had been there in a very long while. He'd gone once when Quistis had dragged them up there to learn about Ice Magic... That felt like years ago now. In fact it had been. Seifer frowned; it felt weird to think that it had been three and a half years since he'd been a final year cadet under Quistis' tutorage. Four years then since he and Raijin had stood under a boiling waterfall while Fujin guarded their clothes and scowled. They were supposed to be hunting down a Mesmerize but none of them could be bothered. Seifer grinned at the memory. Yeah, back when they were young and foolish. What he'd give to have those days back again.

Taking the soap from its container Seifer lathered himself up then quickly washed his hair. There was something about travelling on public transport that always made his hair feel oily and dirty. Maybe it was the seat covers. The gunblader left off his pondering to relax and just not think about anything. He preferred it that way. Emptying his thoughts made him feel like he was spring-cleaning. Taking everything out and only putting back in the things he wanted to.

He ran a hand over his skin, feeling its texture, still surprised that his body felt so alive even when so often he felt cold. But his hand lingered at the top of his thighs, slowly stroking the base of his cock with his thumb. He leant forward against the wall, holding himself up on one forearm. Maybe he was becoming a sex addict, he thought idly. Two nights without fucking and he wanted it, badly. Just two nights away from Zell and he was back to jerking off in the shower like he didn't know just where there was a familiar body to fuck. But Zell would be asleep by now and he didn't want to wake him, didn't want... He stroked harder, faster, tightening his grip and when he closed his eyes the image that came to him was not a movie star, was not his dream lover. It was Zell, eyes half-closed, and mouth wrapped deliciously around him. Seifer groaned softly and smiled. Yeah, Chickie, on his knees and in Seifer's shower with him. Just where the little bitch belonged. The gunblader let out a few short, sharp pants and came.

"Mmm," he murmured softly. Now that was nice. He smiled softly and quickly washed himself clean. He had work to do tomorrow so he should probably get to bed, and think of happy things, hopefully. After quickly towelling himself off, he wrapped the fabric around his waist and headed into the bedroom. Silently thanking the central heating that ensured he stayed warm even at this time of the morning.

His bed, up against the wall like all Garden regulation furnishings, looked lumpy and a mess. He flipped on the little lamp on his bedside table and set about straightening the covers. He could have sworn he made his bed before he left... And hadn't left a big, warm lump in the middle of it. For a second Seifer wondered if he'd got the wrong room, but then remembered his key code had worked so someone was in his damn bed. If Squall had leased out his room...

The gunblader crawled onto the large bed and peered over the shoulder of the sleeping figure. The first thing he caught, still in shadow, facing the wall, was a black streak down the side of his face. Seifer grinned. So Chickie had missed him. He chuckled softly, as he ditched the towel and flicked off the light. Then he climbed in with the smaller boy, spooning behind him.

"Babe?" he whispered gently.

"Nh," Zell wriggled backwards until he was up tight against the gunblader. "Hey... yer back."

"Yeah," Seifer buried his cold nose in the crook of Zell's neck. "Not that I don't like the reception but... what are you doing here?"

"Couldn't sleep." Zell rolled over and cuddled up against his chest. "Missed you." He sniffed and drew a deep breath. "It smells like you here."

Seifer could barely contain the grin that spread across his face. "Stupid Chicken." He hugged the smaller boy tighter and closed his eyes. Maybe Zell was in love with him after all.





Author's Note

I wrote a long Author's Note for this one so I thought if you want further explanation as to Irvine and Squall and possible hints as to upcoming chapters you should go here: http://www.livejournal.com/users/akare_kay

This may explain why the beginning of Squall and Irvine's relationship was a sub-plot and their break up seemed to be centre stage.

Also, thank you for the reviews and apologies for lack of Zell. Personally I think him being super cute at the end makes up for it. If you don't think so let me know and I'll see what I can do :)

And, shameless pleading. Reviews? I'll be nice and give you... presents. Ahh, here have this it's... last weeks newspaper. And I also have a plastic bag, which is free to a good home. :D

Next chapter = Chapter 18: To Wish Impossible Things

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