sense of fear

By llamajoy

i could just pretend that you loved me
the night would lose all sense of fear
but why do i need you to love me
when you can’t hold what i hold dear
oh god, could it be the weather
oh god, why am i here
if love isn’t forever
and it’s not the weather
hand me my leather
--tori amos

What a DAY.

Uneasiness sat in the pit of Squall’s stomach as if he’d drunk too much of that Winhill vintage bubbly at the SeeD reception. But the only buzz in his skull was that numb slowspell-- tingling still as it allowed his forehead to heal-- that Doc Kadowaki had given him that morning. Before calling his Instructor--

Instructor Trepe. Squall rubbed wearily at his eyes. He thought he’d been deceiving himself, in the Fire Cavern, his nerves up and affecting his judgment. But tonight, after the party, it couldn’t have been just his imagination. Her eyes had been entirely too bright, and he’d been acutely and uncomfortably aware of how young she was. The note of her silence as she’d waited for him to speak...

What in hell did people want from him? It did seem distantly unfair that she’d been demoted from Instructor status. But not enough to merit the grieving undisguised on her face. What was he supposed to do? Hold her hand?

Who said he couldn’t get by on his own?

He’d become a SeeD. That almost seemed an afterthought, in the wake of this whole throbbing day. And Seifer had applauded him-- and Fuujin too, even with that hot rage in her wind-blown eyes.

Filled with a selfish sweet triumph, Squall had smiled tightly as his rival acknowledged him publicly, his lover deferring to him at last. But equally he’d recognized the fear seeping into him-- what would Seifer do, volatile as he was?

Finally reaching the corridor that led to his room, Squall wished for nothing more than sleep. Of course, it wasn’t meant to be; through the dusky hall-lights he could make out the shape of someone waiting for him.

"Finally! There you are!"


The hothouse tang of the Training Center rushed through his mind, memory making his lips tingle. Fuck.

Well, yes. They had. Someplace terrifically impractical and dangerous that not even Seifer had thought of.

Squall touched a hand to the bridge of his nose, the habitual gesture of aggravation only reminding him that his new scar was starting to itch. What the hell had that been all about? And why did it suddenly matter so much that he figure it out?

It was hard to make out the smaller student’s face, but, surprisingly, Zell didn’t seem inclined to act as if anything had happened.

And, not surprisingly, he was talking, his rapidfire words like so many punches in the gut. "Squall!! Where the hell were you? I was lookin’ all over the place." He crossed his legs, looking sharp in his new dress uniform, one hand running unconsciously through his hair.

Squall could only think of how uncharacteristically still he had been, caught between his hands, and how unexpectedly vulnerable. Not something he could ever forget, high on the raised adrenaline of shared battle, and shared victory; the fine savor of sex in the steamy greenhouse air of the Training Center.

And that look on Zell’s face when he hadn’t been able to say anything at all.

Zell, unaware of this train of thought, elbowed him conspiratorially. "We’re both new members of SeeD, right? Well, guess what?! We got our own rooms, baby!"

At the touch of Zell’s hyperactive hand on his shoulder, Squall wanted that small lithe warrior body pinned, unable even to squirm; wanted to kiss him so hard he forgot how to talk. God. He swallowed hard. And wondered, with a lazy kind of dread, what kind of monster had been created, there in the creature-infested Training Center.

He kept his face normal, or at least he tried to and Zell didn’t seem to notice.

"That’s what I was supposed to tell you! Man, it took me forever. Your new room’s across the hall from your old one. Shouldn’t be too hard to find, nee?" Zell flashed him a wink, and Squall blinked-- just who did Zell think was going to seek his room?

Zell didn’t manage to catch the yawn before it escaped. He grinned sheepishly. "Hell of a long day. Night, baby."

And he walked away.

Rather desperately, Squall punched the keylock to his room and fled inside. No more. The day had to end; too much, too fast. Just let me sleep.

Barely out of his jacket and shirt, he couldn’t find it in himself to be surprised when there came an unsubtle knock at his door. He yanked his shirt the rest of the way off, running both hands through his hair in exasperation. Fine. Just fine. He tried to steady his breathing, pretending he didn’t know who it was. At 0200 hours. Fuck fuck fuck.

Squall had not seen him since the graduates were announced-- hadn’t really wanted to. What to say to him?

Seifer had been right about the Tower.

That ached. He’d been right; but because he was Seifer, he’d been wrong.

He’d never really doubted that Seifer would do his best-- no matter how unorthodox that best may have been. Cid must have known it too, and perhaps even Instructor Trepe.

But the rest of his Squad B had made SeeD without him.

At dinner, the Disciplinary Committee’s table had been nearly deserted: Raijin, looking confused, eating his meal alone. Squall hadn’t even seen him that evening, and he knew how Seifer loved the attention at public functions--

Oh. The dance.

He must have been unconsciously trying to forget the party, because now that images were returning, he felt distinctly unstable, like riding a tsunami on a leaky boat, just learning that he didn’t know how to swim. The girl--

The knock came again, more insistent this time. Squall swore under his breath. Was he trying to wake the whole floor? He sighed. This was Seifer; maybe he was.

"What’s the matter, Leonhart? Too high and mighty to associate with the undergrads?"

He wouldn’t give in; he didn’t have to. He wouldn’t want to, either; somehow he’d bury that so deep that even Seifer couldn’t dig for it.

Shirtless, he took a shaky breath, tried to look as casual as if it were Zell asking him for company at the cafeteria. Wait, that wasn’t normal anymore. As casual as if it were just Instructor Trepe come to-- no, that was almost worse.

Maybe Seifer was the most normal thing about his life.

Clinging to his rapidly dissipating resistance, Squall opened his door.

Seifer looked even more tired than Squall felt, the shadows on his face more pronounced than the darkness in his eyes . And there was his scar, mirror-opposite of Squall’s own. It wasn’t pride that Squall felt, seeing his handwriting on that otherwise flawless face. But it was pretty damn close.

There was a long moment, Seifer just looking at him, never quite speaking, never quite meeting his eyes.

Squall raised an eyebrow.

"I-- thought you were asleep," Seifer said at last, and Squall didn’t even want to think about that catch he heard in his voice. Call it the rustiness of sleep, the hoarseness of shouting too much in battle. Anything.

"So you thought you’d bang on my door and make sure I wasn’t?" It was spoken dryly, but he couldn’t quite disguise the curiosity.

Then Seifer was Seifer again, haughtiness laid gently on his sharp features. "Come to wish you fair play, Leonhart. You’ve had a spectacular day."

Squall was abruptly aware that he was half-naked; but just as conscious that somehow he had gotten Seifer at a disadvantage. Wryly, he did what he had been trained to do. He pressed it, eyes flashing steel as sure as his gunblade. "Don’t try anything, Seifer. I want to go to sleep."

Seifer raised a hand, tracing a teasing line up the center of Squall’s chest. "I saw you dancing, Leonhart. And I just thought you deserved to be paid a... compliment." At Squall’s look, his finger stilled, but his eyes did not change. "Though what less to expect of a cadet of your caliber? Everything you do stops them in their tracks."

Everything? Against his will, Squall bitterly remembered the dark-haired girl-- the one he had actually danced with-- danced with!-- walking away. After all that, and she hadn’t even said goodbye. Not that he cared. Too late, he smoothed his face back to its normal scowl, but Seifer had seen the change, and the balance shifted.

"But I saw your eyes, Leonhart. You didn’t know I was watching? There was an unguarded moment when your dance partner glanced beyond you and moved on." He smiled predatorily. "Unstunned."

Squall shifted his weight, leaning away as Seifer moved half a step closer. "Maybe now you know how it feels to be left behind."

He wished for his boots, even those few inches to bring him closer to Seifer’s suddenly impressive height. He wished that, now that he was a SeeD, he had forgotten how to be intimidated. "Is that what this is all about?" Squall narrowed his eyes. "Because I don’t need your--"

"I should tell you," Seifer’s voice was smooth as glacial ice, sliding through Squall’s protest, "that she was coming for me. It was my name written across her seeking eyes."

Squall blinked, and Seifer moved closer still, to trap him against the wall, his body radiating smug content. "Mine, Leonhart."

"What do you need her for?" Squall shot back, more on the defensive than he would have liked. "Raijin worships you. And Fuujin would try to kill Hyne if you told her to. You’ve got those two already who hang on your every fucking word. And you had-- you have-- you--"

Seifer’s smile turned frightening, catching his slip. "I had you? When did I lose you?"

Squall wanted to throw up a hand in exasperation. He spoke tightly. "After this morning, you have to ask?!" But they both knew that wasn’t it. That fight had only scarred their faces. Seifer lifted an eyebrow, tauntingly--

And just as simply as that, Squall knew. Just a few minutes in the afternoon. All it took.

More than that furtive shared glance to turn the familiar grassy clearing into something fragile and secret.

More than just the sweet bloodsong of sex, though it had been damn fine.

The moment that he’d been given something without a single thought of repayment.

Such a fucking gift. So huge, hovering there over his heart, he didn’t know what to do with it. He’d known little enough of generosity from this one.

Seifer saw it, knowing him well enough to scent the shivering fire washing through him. And he misunderstood. "Lust? Oh, Leonhart," he purred, "I didn’t think you had it in you." He shifted his leg to press between Squall’s thighs, feigning shocked surprise at what he found there. "Or maybe-- something more?"

"Shut up," Squall whispered, more harshly than he meant. He would lay no odds on Zell’s safety if Seifer were to guess--

But Seifer thought he meant someone else entirely. "In love with a girl you just met? Not your style, is it?"

It wasn’t hard to hide his relief, so mingled with surprise and sudden apprehension.

"But she will be mine, for a time." Seifer considered it, looking thoughtfully at the fingers of his gloves. "I have a plan or two up my sleeve, to catch her attention and help her out, back home. But after I have left her, will you mend those frail wings of hers--"

"No," Squall murmured, without thinking. "Don’t hurt her. Whoever she is." She deserves more than your contempt, he did not say, More than you have given me.

Seifer raised a golden eyebrow. "Oh? What if she follows you, after I am gone from her? Will you be the man of her dreams? Could you be?"

"I don’t give a shit about her," Squall tried to say. "That’s not the point--"

But Seifer was still talking. "Would you even try, I wonder. The only hero she ever dreamed of, strong and sure." He caught one of Squall’s hands, leather against leather, sure fingers twining around his so he could not easily escape. "Enough pressure for you?" His face inches from Squall’s, his breath was hot and seductive, like a greenhouse full of black roses-- or a training-garden full of beasts. He spoke lovingly against his hair. "Be upright to her forever, Leonhart, if she chooses you. That is the price you pay for your righteousness."

"If you’re in love with her," Squall spoke into Seifer’s collar, fighting to keep his voice level, "why do you assume that I must want her, too?"

So swiftly Squall didn’t see it coming, Seifer twisted Squall’s wrist behind him, eyes flashing angry, but dangerously in control. "Why do you assume," he mimicked, "that I am in love with her?"

"If you’ve got such a plan to help her," Squall was realizing it even as he spoke, ignoring the dull ache in his arm, "and you get so mad with me for just dancing with her-- You won’t leave her."

His rival’s lips thinned, a parody of a smile. "Your first fault, Leonhart, the one thing you never learned from me. How to fight dirty."

There were so many responses for that that Squall said not a word. So which one of us is going somewhere, Seifer? And which one of us will be taking SeeD exams until he’s too old even to try anymore?

But he could tell that he must have hit a chord, just by the vulnerable angle of Seifer’s eyebrows. What was so important to him, that he would keep up such a façade, fight for a girl he barely knew?

Seifer roughly released his hand, glaring down at him. "Well, Leonhart? Consider this my challenge. Will you be a SeeD? Or," his eyelids lowered mockingly, "Will you be a man?"

Squall opened his mouth for an angry retort-- but it crossed his mind then, what might keep Seifer ticking. In some darkened corner of his psyche, Squall had a moment of absolute clarity, everything making sense. The two of them had always been fighting, one way or another. Even casting his thoughts back further than he could remember, there was Seifer, waiting for him, taunting.

Tune and counterpoint in some ancient song, they had always been matched against each other. Without that, what would Seifer--

He refused to think about it too closely.

But one undertone remained. Seifer-- blood-hungry bastard that he was-- Seifer needed him.

Perversely enough, that made more sense than anything else in the whole fucked-up day. Heady stuff.

Squall had never really considered himself clever-- merely good with a blade and trained to be quick in a fight-- but he surprised himself with his answer. He’d found leverage and he put his full weight on it; leaning into Seifer’s suddenly still form, tilting his head up those few inches and speaking close enough to Seifer’s face that his lips brushed warm skin. "Neither," he breathed. "I will be a lion." He drank Seifer’s startled expression like hard-earned high-potion, gaining his strength from the other in a way he’d never thought to before.

Seifer’s soft exhalation-- of anger? surprise? Squall couldn’t tell-- ghosted chilly against his open lips, and Squall bridged the distance between them with a searing kiss.

And like a lion, his eyes were heavy-lidded and hungry, arms twining around Seifer's hips to capture him in the kiss, in the moment.

"A l-lion?" Seifer tried to sound mocking, but he was off-balance with those nimble fingers aimed expertly at the fastenings of his pants. "What the fuck is that supposed to-- mmmean..."

He couldn't very well talk with Squall's mouth closing hotly on his own, taciturn tongue proving it had its own magic that had nothing to do with speech. "Shut up," Squall murmured against his lips, breathing silent promises too warm and insistent to be ignored.

He couldn't read the look on Seifer's face, only knowing that he wasn't protesting-- well, not reaching for a weapon, at least. Not yet.

But he wouldn’t give him the time. For the first time Squall didn't give a flying fuck what Seifer wanted. He wanted it; finally acknowledging his unease, that his blood was up and his body was aching-- and that flicker of uncertainty that crossed Seifer's face just then was making his heartbeat thunder.

"The hell has gotten into you, Leonhart?" Seifer started to say, but he found his hands were braced against the wall to keep himself upright-- and Leonhart, pinned between him and the door, seducing him. Relentless, Squall trailed fiery kisses like well-aimed missiles, plundering the vulnerable hollow of his ear, the curve of his throat, down the sensitive lines of muscle across his chest.

He felt Seifer wavering, steel-firm resolve quivering like so much ice about to melt. Smiling without moving his mouth, Squall thought, Aa, serves you right. You let me learn you too well. Have what you want, but you may not always have me.

And I have had someone else, he didn’t dare to say aloud, Though you think yourself the only one. The thought was more intoxicating than all the wine he’d had that night. You think you know. You know nothing at all.

Seifer liked to be touched with leather gloves still on, stiff warm animal-skin rough against his slickening sex. But Squall wanted skin, his hands hungry for it. Impatiently, he tugged his gloves off with his teeth, running naked fingers up under Seifer’s shirt, along the toned expanse of his abdomen... and dipping beneath his high-waisted beltbuckle, finding the aching hard length of him, the familiar feeling oddly new to his ungloved palm.

Seifer was swaying into it, eyes half-closed, knees unsteady. And, oddly enough, almost completely silent, save his shuddering breath and the pulse hammering beneath his skin.

Does everyone turn quiet when I touch them? he thought, removed enough to be almost amused. Zell shut up when I--

Zell. He’d barely touched the smaller student, just enough to ease the pressure, give him some release. Somehow he didn’t doubt that it had been good-- but now in retrospect he felt belated curiosity seeping in. What would the rest of him feel like? His chest would be slimmer, but more strongly muscled, so much strength in his arms. And his hands would be more sensitive, finely honed weapons that they were-- probably devastating in other ways, too--

Seifer’s breath caught, and he struggled to regain his balance, stand straighter. He grabbed a fistful of Squall’s necklace, bringing them face to face. Squall met his eyes, surprised, realizing that Seifer was standing there with his shirt disheveled to his shoulders, and his pants loosely around his ankles, his boots still fastened. And he wanted it. He hadn’t touched Squall at all-- Allowing him the field.

His whole body tightened, twin-looped belts a sweet agony, far too snug against his groin. What a beautiful field it was.

For a moment Seifer looked-- but no, Seifer wouldn’t look concerned, and certainly not worried. "Fuck you," Seifer managed, between clenched teeth.

Not what he’d expected-- angry. So this was to be combat? Squall wondered briefly if this counted as fighting dirty. "No thanks," his lips twitched, thinking it might be inappropriate to smile. "Not me."

He would not give in, like he’d told himself.

He would take.

Seifer actually leaned into his sudden movement, not fighting it at all as Squall moved behind him, pressing impatiently against him-- letting him feel the heat of his desire, even through the confines of his clothes.

It was short work to shimmy out of his pants, but it felt too long. He wrapped himself around Seifer from behind, too greedy to savor, needing someplace tight and hot to sheathe himself before he lost his mind with it. He’d earned it.

And all the while Seifer facing the wall, as if this were a punishment to be borne.

Of all the twisted-- Maybe it was. Submission to a student who now outranked him. Or maybe it had been his kink all along, and something he would never ever ask for. Being taken by his archnemesis, something beyond helplessness--

"Nnn, Leonhart, fuck yeah. If you stop now I swear I’ll kill you."

Squall was no longer sure who was calling the shots, but-- high on the power-rush and the scent of shared sweat-- nor did he care. So be it. He was almost smiling as he slid all the way inside, kissing at the fine gold hair at the back of Seifer’s neck.

"That’s right," Seifer murmured, breathing shallow, "pretend you know what you’re doing, brat, show me that I’ve taught you--" But his words were belied by his voice, entirely too unsteady. Squall wasn’t listening, imagining what another body would feel like, thus spread and willing--


As he found a rhythm, learning how to be swallowed whole, Seifer made the tiniest stifled noise, too proud but to swallow it. Squall felt oddly benevolent, rewarding his lover by sliding his hand around to touch, to squeeze, to work his needy sex.

Seifer, never one to lower his guard, let his eyes slide closed.

Squall had thought, a few times, what it might be like to do to Seifer what Seifer did to him. Always, it had been something grand and unattainable, a battle too large for his means-- a concession that his rival would not make. But that night, he felt strange and wild, full of possibility.

He’d made SeeD, after all. And more than that. He’d danced, and well. He’d-- he’d made Zell Dincht come in the middle of the Training Center, a full three minutes utterly speechless. A lover who hadn’t even asked for it. He wanted to laugh. Funny how priorities change.

And damn but Seifer was as haughty and fine on the inside, so muscled and taut that Squall thought he might die before he came.

But then Seifer shifted his hips just slightly, turning his head to whisper like a confession, "S-squall--" and Squall felt the warm defenseless rush of him coming into his hand.

Squall, deep within him, had sensed the impending supernova, but it was so much more than he expected-- the universe shifted, and pulled him along behind it, like screaming comet trails.

When he could think again, he found himself leaning on Seifer, arms wound tight around the other’s naked waist. Of course Seifer had recovered first, but he hadn’t moved, allowing Squall his support.

Squall couldn’t see, Seifer’s forehead resting against the wall, but he thought he might be laughing. He straightened hastily, finding his feet and backing away-- the last touch of their joined bodies sending aftershocks through him like shooting stars. A smiling Seifer was usually a dangerous one.

But Seifer was not laughing, as he turned toward him slowly, straightening his shoulders. He wiped sweat from his eyes, reaching to fix his clothing. Nothing out of the ordinary, no worlds pivoting on their axes. Squall found his sleeping-clothes, thinking idly of how much had changed since last time he’d worn them.

He looked up to see Seifer staring at him, holding his gaze for what seemed like a long time, but was probably no more than a few seconds.

"You’ll... be a man," Seifer nodded, with only the barest breathlessness in his voice.

Squall bristled at the condescending satisfaction in his tone. As if this whole night were nothing more than an experiment, testing his challenge. As if that hadn’t been a surrender, spreadeagled against the wall, breathing Squall’s name.

The flare of anger died, and Squall found he knew better. There had been a victory there, though neither of them would ever speak of it. But both of them knew. So he did not dip his head as once he would have, but looked directly at Seifer, memorizing those icepale blue irises. "Thank you," he said, and opened the door for him to go.

Seifer, pants still only half-buckled, shirt in disarray, left without turning back.

And Squall, triumphantly alone with his bed, lay and stared at the ceiling for an hour, wondering what he was grieving for.


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