Notes: Not too weird yet, but it'll get there. *smile* For those of you who have never read my work before I must warn you that I am a huge Sci-fi writer. Therefore none of my stories are innocent. There is always some conspiracy, or .. other such thing in the works after a seemingly normal beginning. Thank you to everyone who has submitted reviews. I appreciate it more than words could ever tell. Arigato minna.

Please forgive the glaring OOCness... I try hard to make them as in character as possible. Also please forgive the little mistakes you may find here and there. I do my best but I've never been much of an editor.

Slipping Away

Chapter Two

By Sniffles

"Mother?" Rinoa Heartily stopped, stepping back and pushing the door to her mother's room further open. "Mother!" Her mother was slumped on her bed, sobbing harshly.

Rinoa hurried into the room to her mother's side. She sat on the edge of the bed and placed her hand on her mother's back. "Mama.. What's wrong?"

Julia couldn't speak. Her sorrow was too great. She continued to sob until she had no tears left, then she just lay there, dimly hearing her daughter's voice. Too numb to feel her daughter rubbing her back.

/I'm a sinner../

/Such a horrible sinner./

/Laguna? Can you ever forgive me?/

//Laguna... He's beautiful. Just like you.//

Squall pulled his gunblade out of it's sheath and held it out so Irvine could inspect it. "Can I hold it?" Irvine asked, he was eager to see how it felt.

Squall shrugged and let Irvine take the gunblade's handle. Their fingers brushed as the gunblade switched hands.

//Are you listening to me? It's been years since we last met. I remember the last time I saw you, you were unsteady and chubby. An adorable child, and you've grown into a stunning young man.//

The voice was different this time, but he paid little attention to it. As long as it was loud in his head he was fine. But when it started to fade... that's when he was in trouble. He was a little disturbed to have the voice returning so early. He'd never had more than one 'seizure' in a week before. Now he was going to have two within two days.

Squall watched as Irvine gripped the gunblade tightly with both hands. "Christ! This thing is a beast." Irvine growled, his shoulders were screaming already from trying to hold the gunblade up.

Squall moved to Irvine's side. He reached over and moved Irvine's hands so they were gripping the gunblade properly. Then he moved behind Irvine, slipped his arms around the cowboy's thin waist and placed his hands over Irvine's. He pushed one of his legs between Irvine's and hooked his foot with Irvine's then with a jerk forced Irvine's right leg back. "Move your legs, balance on them." He murmured as he kicked Irvine's other foot to get it into the proper position.

//He's cute. I bet he feels real nice too.//

He raised his arms which forced Irvine to also move his. He brought the gunblade up and to the right. "Brace the weight with your shoulders, not your wrists." He adjusted Irvine's arms, placing them in a position so that Irvine could hold the gunblade up comfortably. Then he released Irvine and tried to step back.

Before he could move Irvine suddenly dropped the gunblade and grabbed Squall's hands. He whirled around, tugging Squall even closer as he did. They were nose to nose, and Irvine was smiling.

/Oh .. shit./ Squall realized what he'd been doing.

For a moment he'd lost himself in the instruction and forgotten just how that little.. show must have seemed to Irvine.

/What have I started now?/

Laguna leaned heavily on the balcony railing and stared out at the night sky. /Beautiful./ He sighed and lowered his head. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the photo. He stared at it, running his thumb over the small face of his son. /Will I finally find you?/

"He was a cute kid."

Laguna jerked and whirled around, but as he did the photo slipped out of his fingers. He glanced down and watched with horror as it glided on the air, floating down to the street below. "No!" He moved to jump off the balcony but a hard hand on his arm stopped him.

"Let me." Seifer smiled at Laguna then jumped over the railing.

/Shit!/ Laguna gasped, eyes widening as Seifer fell the four stories down. The boy landed easily, picked up the photo, waved it at Laguna then walked back into the building. A few minutes later Seifer walked back onto the balcony. He leaned on the rail beside Laguna and held out the photo, "It's pretty important to you."

Laguna took the photo and carefully tucked it away, "You're insane." He said softly.

"You were about to do the same." Was the amused response.

"I.. wasn't thinking." Laguna admitted, he'd seen the photo falling and had known only that it was the last link to his family.

"I think you were." Seifer murmured. He smirked and looked out at the horizon.

Laguna gripped the railing with one hand, clenching so hard his knuckles faded from pale pink to white. "Are you," He cleared his throat, shifting uncomfortably as Seifer turned pale blue eyes on him, "all right?"

Seifer's smirk evolved, lifting to show his teeth. It wasn't a real smile, but it was as close as Seifer normally got. "I was trained to be a SeeD."

"Ah." Laguna nodded. He looked down, then back up. Taking a deep breath he held out his hand. "Thank you."

Seifer's hand moved and gripped Laguna's. It wasn't a hand shake. It was something more. Laguna shivered, meeting that pale gaze and feeling.. something stirring inside of him. "My pleasure, Mr. Loire." Seifer sounded amused.


Squall tugged on his hands, but Irvine refused to let go of them. "Yeah.." He frowned, his body starting to tremble in a mixture of fear and excitement.

"You're quite passionate about that gunblade." Irvine moved his legs, one foot moving behind Squall's so that Squall couldn't move, the other moving beside Squall's so that their legs were pressed together. The tall cowboy had just enough grace and balance to pull that position off and still look completely in control.

Squall nodded, not knowing what else to do.

//Oh my. I do believe the boy has a crush on you darling. Look at the way he's looking at you. As if you're a precious jewel he's been seeking for years, and now he finally has that jewel in his hands.//

He couldn't meet Irvine's gaze. He looked down, which meant he was staring at Irvine's chest instead. Irvine finally released one of his hands, but it was only so he could cup Squall's cheek. "You have soft skin." Irvine's breath warmed Squall's lips.

Which made Squall shiver as he realized just how close their faces were. "What are you doing?" He whispered, surprised to hear the words spoken aloud. He hadn't meant to actually speak.

"I should think, that's obvious." Irvine moved his head and pressed his cheek against Squall's.

"Let me go." Squall used his free hand to push Irvine. He realized just where he was pushing and blushed. Irvine's stomach was nicely shaped, and his hand was now pressing against it. He quickly jerked his hand back.

"You started this little game Leonhart."

"Do you want to be my friend?" Squall found that it was hard to speak. His throat felt thick.

"I'm not sure anymore." Irvine admitted with a little sigh.

His next words were so soft Squall was sure he must have heard them wrong.

"I think I'd rather have you as a lover."

Whatever Irvine had said, he moved away after speaking. He released Squall's hand and cheek and stepped back twice. Squall raised his eyes and for a moment they just stared at each other.

//So sweet. I do so adore young love.//

The voice snapped Squall out of whatever little spell Irvine had put him under. He shook his head once and walked around Irvine. He knelt and picked up his gunblade. As he stood he felt a presence quite near to him. He glanced back, immediately standing and moving away from Irvine who was standing a bit too close.

"Let's get started, shall we?" Irvine's smile was bright and a little forced.

Squall nodded and together the two walked into the training center.

"Do you believe in magic?" Seifer asked suddenly, breaking the comanionable silence that had surrounded the two.

Laguna glanced at Seifer, then shrugged and looked away. "It used to exist. I'm sure of that. But I don't believe it exists any longer. It died with the last sorceress."

"And she died when there were no women who could take her place." Seifer reached into his pocket and pulled out a thin, white stick. "Have a match?"

Laguna nodded and handed Seifer his lighter. Seifer lit the cigarette and handed the lighter back. He placed the cigarette between his lips and just let it sit there. "I gave up my life to kill the sorceress. I gave up my family." Laguna said softly.

"That was, what, thirteen years ago?" Seifer chewed on the end of the cigarette in his mouth.


"Right. And he was.. four when you gave him to the orphanage?"

"I didn't give him!" Laguna said sharply, "His mother died. I had no way of caring for him! Not while I had a duty to kill the sorceress. The orphanage was just supposed to watch him until I could care for him again. But when I went back after the sorceress... he wasn't there. The orphanage was gone."

Seifer nodded, "A year after his mother died, the sorceress was finally defeated. And he was gone. You lost your life to kill magic."

"Not to kill magic.. to kill the sorceress'." Laguna corrected, "I have no quarrel with magic itself, only evil hands that would use it wrongly."

"I wonder.." Seifer leaned his arms on the railing and looked down at the street below. "How did your wife die?"

"She became ill. The doctors had never seen any illness like it before and no amount of healing magic would cure her." Laguna's voice was soft, but Seifer noted that when he spoke of his wife there was only regret in his voice, not the pain you would expect from a man who had lost a loved one.

"Hm." Seifer took the cigarette out of his mouth and flicked it over the balcony. It flew through the air, riding the currents and landing gently on the hard ground below. "Tomorrow you see your son again for the first time in thirteen years." He straightened, an unkind smirk on his lips, "I doubt he'll remember you Loire. And if he does, he'll only remember that you abandoned him."

"To save the-"

Seifer waved his hand, "A child doesn't remember the why, he just remembers that he was abandoned. You might be able to reason with him, but knowing him... it's not likely. Enjoy your last night of peace Loir. You won't be having another night like this for awhile."

//Why are you ignoring me?//

Squall shivered, uncomfortable suddenly with the voice. It almost seemed as if the voice was speaking directly to him. This had never happened before, and it was making him feel unnerved. "T-Rex tracks." Irvine was staring down at the ground, he was holding his rifle in one hand. He looked up at Squall and smiled, "Let's go this way." He nodded in the opposite direction the T-Rex tracks went.

Squall nodded and followed a little ways behind Irvine. They moved quietly, eyes and ears open. They were both teenagers, true, but teenagers who had been trained to be soldiers. So they knew not to speak as they moved through the simulated forest.

//Are you upset with me for leaving you?//

Squall tried to block the voice out, but it wouldn't be ignored. He started to shiver, feeling an odd sensation in the back of his head. "Sh." Irvine raised his hand and stopped moving. Immediately Squall stopped also, listening intently and looking around.

"Bite bugs. Do you hear them?" Irvine asked softly.

Squall nodded and together they moved towards the chattering sounds that Squall could hear now.

//Should I leave? Should I talk to you later? Please darling, don't pretend you can't hear me.//

Squall gripped the gunblade tightly in his right hand as they came to around a bend in the path. Sure enough, three bite bugs were chewing on trees just a few feet up the path. The bite bugs noticed them, just as they noticed the bugs. Irvine raised his rifle, firing almost as soon as it was up to his shoulder. The first bite bug went down, dead from a bullet through the brain.

//All right. I'll come back later love. Until then... farewell.//

Squall rushed the second bug. His blade sliced through the air as he raised it. He stopped just before the bug, bracing his feet and bringing the blade down. Just as the blade cut into the creature's scaly hide, he pulled the trigger.

The bug was dead before the blade finished cutting.

"Look out!"

Squall whirled, the last bite bug was right behind him. It lashed out, catching the side of his face with it's wings. Before he could raise his gunblade a shot rang out. And the bite bug fell.

Squall looked up at Irvine who's rifle was still smoking.

The voice had faded.

"Shit." Irvine lowered his rifle and ran the short distance between him and Squall. He knelt beside Squall's fallen body. The boy had passed out. "It wasn't that bad kid, I'm an expert marksman. I wouldn't have missed." he put his rifle down and took Squall by the shoulders. He rolled the boy over, then felt his heart stop when he saw Squall's eyes were open.

/Just like when he had his seizure. Out cold, but eyes open. Did he have another seizure? Shit./ "C'mon Leonhart. Wake up." Irvine pulled Squall's head onto his lap, he shook the boy lightly.

But no amount of shaking would snap Squall out of the unrestful sleep he'd fallen into. With a sigh Irvine brushed his hand over Squall's eyes to close those saphire eyes. "Gotta' lug you and that damn gunblade.." Irvine grumbled as he pulled Squall's gunblade over and with some difficulty sheathed it in the sheath attached to Squall's back.

He placed one arm under Squall's knees, the other bebeath Squall's back and then stood. It was no light burden, but Irvine gritted his teeth and began to walk out of the training center.


He was dreaming. He'd never dreamed before during the seizures. /What's happening? Where am I?/ He opened his eyes but all he could see was white.


Suddenly the white began to clear and Squall found himself staring out of eyes that were not his own.

It was a brief burning behind his eyes, but Laguna thought little of it. He rubbed his eye absently and laid back. He stared at the roof. Part of him knew that he should sleep but he was too excited and nervous. So he just lay there, thinking of his son, of his son's mother and of her... Julia.

A gentle smile tilted his lips as he thought of Julia. He loved her. He had always loved her. And now, after all these years, they were finally together again. His smile faded. But she was married and what they were doing was... morally wrong.

He closed his eyes tightly and groaned.

/Oh Julia... I know it's wrong, but I've loved you for so long, and you've been gone... I just can't resist. I need to be with you. Even if you are married./


Julia pushed herself up, having finally calmed herself down. She smiled weakly at her daughter, "I'm sorry darling. I.."

"It's all right mother." Rinoa said, looking at her mother fondly. "We all have our problems."

Julia nodded, biting her lower lip. /I need him... but I know it's wrong./

She closed her eyes, /I have to give him up. I -have- to. It's just... not right to continue with this./

"Would you like me to stay with you?" Rinoa asked softly.

Julia nodded, moving so that Rinoa could lay beside her. The two embraced and Julia smiled. Her daughter's presence reminding her who her family was now. She stroked Rinoa's hair and sighed, "Mother?"

"Yes, darling?"

"Remember the last time we did this?"

"You were just a baby." Julia said softly with a little nod.

Rinoa tilted her head to smile at her mother, "I missed this. I always felt safe in your arms."

Julia smiled back, /I can't betray my family anymore. He's the one I love, but he hasn't been there for me. Not in over sixteen years. I have to stop this before it goes too far. Before someone finds out./

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