Chapter 15 - Chimamirareta Kajitsu
Shame burned his face and his mind had ceased to think logically. There was no way Squall didn't know now. Seifer had felt it, had seen the look in Squall's eyes. Those ice blue eyes had widened and dilated, staring in horror at him. Squall's mouth had been agape in shock. He felt sick as he burst up the last flight of stairs toward the deck, seeking to leave the ship, but it was too late. They had pulled up the ramps and were floating away from the pier. Seifer clutched in vain at the railing, his breath coming in heaving gasps as he sank down to the wooden floor, unaware of the passengers who looked at him in bewilderment and fear.
Squall stared at the door as it rebounded off the wall and started to close again. He'd somehow made Seifer run. He couldn't believe that he'd forgotten to keep his guard up, to be cautious. It was just that his mind had ceased to function normally when he'd finally realized that he and Seifer had been so close. Close enough to… Seifer must have seen straight through him, down into that part of his heart that he'd kept a tight seal on all these months. Seifer had to know undeniably that Squall was attracted to him now, that Squall saw him as more than someone he wanted as a friend. Squall buried his face in his hands. He'd done it. What little friendship they'd salvaged and built over the past seven months was utterly and irrevocably gone. All because Squall wanted more. Squall brushed the tears from his eyes and stood up, heading for the door. He had to find Seifer.
Out on the deck it began to grow dark. Shadows moved across the deck, silent ghosts shrouded in half light, moving from side to side. Seifer had found the most desolate corner of the deck to wedge into, sitting down with his knees drawn to his chest and his head resting on his knees. A wraithlike figure stepped hesitantly from the shadows, taking on solid form the closer it came. Seifer didn't have to turn his head to know who it was. He deliberately turned his head the opposite direction. Hesitant steps moved in Seifer's direction, and then a light touch was at his shoulder. He jerked away as if repulsed. Seifer didn't want Squall's pity. What he wanted was to simply be at home in the comforting embrace of misery. He wanted to awaken in his own bed, alone, to the knowledge that this was all some nightmare.
"I'm sorry," whispered that soft voice in Seifer's ear.
Squall's apology was greeted with silence.
"I didn't mean to… well," Squall's voice sounded hurt, rejected, confused.
"I don't care," Seifer said bitterly, "I don't need pity, Squall."
"This isn't about pity dammit!" Squall's voice was breaking.
"You think I didn't see how you looked at me?"
"I… I can explain!" Squall was nervous, agitated.
"Explain what? That look of total horror on your face? That doesn't need explanation. It explains itself rather well," Seifer spat.
Squall's voice grew quiet and Seifer had to strain to hear him. "Maybe I knew I had crossed a line with you. I can't expect you to think like I do."
Seifer turned his head to look at Squall. Seifer could barely make out Squall's profile against the horizon. Squall was crying.
"Crying. Why?" Seifer thought. He hated to see Squall cry. It broke his heart to know that he was the cause of those tears.
Seifer lifted a hand to Squall's face and wiped the tears away from his cheek. Squall raised his hand to cover Seifer's and held it against his face.
"Seifer I don't want to lose a friendship over this. Just because I'm an idiot and I put you in such an awful position. I'll understand if… if you're going to be too uncomfortable around me."
"Maybe I'm too comfortable around you, did you ever think of that?" Seifer swallowed hard. "Around you, I feel normal. I can't expect you to make everything okay for me."
"And you can't protect me from everything. Seifer, I don't need someone who's going to try to fix my life for me. I had that once and it doesn't work. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable with my attentions…"
Seifer interrupted Squall abruptly. "Your attentions? Your attentions?" Seifer was utterly confused.
"Let me finish, please. If I don't say it now, I'm not ever going to say it." Squall saw Seifer's nod of consent and continued. "What happened tonight is the real reason I left Iba. I tried my best to keep everything normal but I can't. So I stayed away. It was better to have you as a friend, and I didn't want to risk losing that friendship. Look at me… I'm twenty-six and where the hell is my life going? Only one thing has ever made sense to me, there's only one thing that I've grown to understand truly and that's you. The only way I could make up for all the shit we've been through was to make sure that things stayed normal. I don't want to screw things up like I've done in the past with my selfishness. Just because I want to be more to you than what I am, I won't risk your friendship over that. Whatever you decide is for the best that's what I'm content with."
Seifer's face was a model of stoicism. His brow furrowed briefly in thought while Squall simply looked at him, every emotion shown naked on his expressive face. His heart pounded. Seifer would have sworn that Squall had just said what Seifer had only imagined hearing in those moments when he had indulged himself in hoping for the impossible. Seifer had to know for sure what Squall wanted. He was tired of the game, tired of running, and tired of lying to Squall.
"So if I tell you that's it, then you'll go," Seifer said harshly, watching to gauge Squall's reaction.
Squall paled, then swallowed as if he was choking back more tears. In the merest whisper he replied, "Yes."
"And if I tell you it's just friends, it doesn't go any further."
A bit more hopeful, Squall replied, "Yes."
Placing his hand around the back of Squall's neck, Seifer drew Squall toward him in the darkness and placed his lips on Squall's. Murmuring as his mouth traced the gentle curves of Squall's lips he asked, "And if I want more?"
Squall's confusion gave way to the sensation of Seifer's lips upon his and he found himself returning the kiss. It wasn't passionate, or sensual, or demanding. It was, simply put, the most comforting thing Squall had felt in his entire life.
Seifer's heart had seemed frozen in fear until he had felt the gentle pressure when Squall returned his kiss. He pulled away from Squall gently, still somewhat afraid that Squall had simply been acting on impulse.
When Squall's fingers tangled in his and he leaned forward to taste Seifer's lips again, and he heard Squall say to him, "That's what I was hoping for," Seifer knew that he was done running.
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