Chapter 17 - Sakai no Chi to Bara

<growing uncertainty>

By YuriNigasa

Seifer awoke with both the sheets and Squall tangled about his body. They'd fallen asleep while talking late into the previous evening. Seifer stretched his arms above his head, pressing his hands back against the wall. Squall stirred beside him then buried his head into the pillow, snoring softly. After gently disentangling himself from the sheets, Seifer picked a pair of black denim jeans and a royal blue, long sleeved, silk button down shirt out of the closet and headed to the bathroom for a shower. They'd be arriving in Balamb Harbor just after lunch, and he wanted to make sure he would be presentable, even if they were only meeting Zell. Seifer turned the water on and stepped into the pounding spray of the shower.

It was the running water that woke Squall fully. Brushing his hair from his eyes, he looked around to make sure he hadn't been imagining things again. Seifer's things were still tossed about the room, and the spare bed was still made. A warm blush crept up Squall's face and he smiled to himself, thinking how amazing the entire situation had become. A slight twinge of hesitancy worked its way through his system, an old reflex that reminded him that things never remained content for long. He brushed it aside, refusing to think of anything that might damage his friendship and tentative relationship with Seifer. Squall's mind wandered to the sound of the shower and he grinned, thinking devious thoughts about just what Seifer was doing.

Turning the handles, Seifer shut the shower off and stepped out, dripping water onto the tile floor as he made a grab for a thick towel. He briskly dried off, then ran a comb through his hair, wishing he'd gotten a trim before he'd left. Donning the jeans and shirt he double-checked his reflection in the mirror, and approving as much as he was ever going to, opened the bathroom door and entered the room. Squall was awake and sitting up on the bed. Seifer momentarily looked down, unsure of what to do, then looked up and caught Squall's rakish grin.

"Morning," Seifer said, leaning over to give Squall a kiss.

"Wow. You're going to make me look bad, dressing like that," Squall said, "Not that I object."

"Just wanted to make a good impression."

"It does." Squall smirked. "All that just to impress Zell? He'll be flattered."

Seifer laughed. "Yeah, all for the chicken-wuss. I called him that in the message I sent before I left. You should have read the reply. I swear I could see him standing there just shaking his fists." Seifer flopped down on his back beside Squall.

"Oh I read it."

"You what?"

"He sent me a copy."

"He did?"


"And you didn't tell me?"

"I just told you."

"Smartass. Why do I think I'm going to hear it from him when we land? How much longer do we have anyway?"

Squall checked his watch, furrowing his brow as he mentally adjusted for the time difference. "An hour or so. I'm going to get ready. You going to wait, or...?"

Seifer nodded, reassured by the tentative way that Squall was feeling out things. "I'll pack my things up. Might as well just wait until we get in to eat."

"Okay." Squall stood up, paused, then looked down at Seifer.

The look in Squall's eyes told Seifer everything he'd ever wanted to hear.

Seifer packed while he thought. About Squall. About Squall getting ready. Seifer then decided not to think about that. It produced reactions he'd rather not deal with right now. It wasn't that he didn't want to... well... Seifer felt his cheeks grow warm as he blushed. That was just not a topic to tackle at present time. He turned his mind to the reunion. He was worried about seeing everyone, scared almost, despite the fact that he could tell himself that everything would go well. He grew disgusted at his weakness, warring with his feelings of inadequacy that were never far off. Seifer was so absorbed in his thoughts that when he felt a hand on his shoulder, he turned without even thinking, a scowl on his face and his eyes flickering with hatred. Straight into the face of Squall.

"I said are you all right?" Squall's face was etched in concern.

"Fine, fine. I just..." Seifer sighed.

Squall ran his hand across the back of Seifer's neck. "I know. It's going to be okay."

"I keep telling myself that, but the truth is the last time I saw anyone..."

"You've changed, we've changed, they've changed."

Seifer's shoulders hunched over and he swallowed hard. He felt so defeated.

"I'll be here," Squall whispered. Not so long ago Squall never imagined saying anything like this to anyone again, let alone to Seifer. It hurt him to see Seifer like this. Squall cared so much, more than even he wanted to admit to such vulnerability.

The horn blast echoed through the ship as it pulled into harbor. Seifer took a deep breath and looked down at Squall, eyes locked on Squall's, drawing reassurance from him. They stood together as sounds of disembarking filled the hallway. Seifer squared his shoulders and fixed his gaze on the door. Picking up his bag and shouldering it he uttered one word.


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