*standard I don't own FFVIII, Squaresoft, characters, etc. applies from now until whenever I decide I'm done*

Stealth

Chapter V

By Yuri Nigasa

[Squall

Seifer pushed me back against the ground.  The afternoon sun warmed the rock, and I felt its heat on my back even as I felt Seifer's heat above me.  I couldn't believe I'd said that.  I couldn't believe I was thinking about that while he was running his hands through my hair and his teeth were nipping at my neck.  I silently damned my own thought patterns until Seifer's hands were unbuttoning my pants then pulling them lower, and the next thing I knew his mouth had moved... down.  Somewhere between Point A and Point B my thoughts short-circuited.  I groaned involuntarily as I felt his mouth enclose the tip of my shaft.  He was sucking gently, teeth running against the sensitive tip as he bit light enough not to hurt, but hard enough to make me shiver.  His tongue spiraled down, taking me further in until I felt him gag.  He sucked in; raising his head so slowly it was nothing short of torment.  I grabbed his hair; forcing him back down and pulling him back up.  He let me have my way and then suddenly stopped, forcing a cry of protest from me.  I tried to push him back down, but he resisted.

"Dammit Seifer," I growled.

He lifted his head, green eyes glinting with sensuality.  I felt him chuckle, the vibrations sending chills up my spine in a trail of electricity.  I lay back down against the rock, unable to even lean back anymore.  I felt the blood pounding in my body, felt it pulsing through my member as Seifer pressed his tongue against it, his hand moving down to press gently on my balls.  His tongue trailed down the underside of my shaft, past the junction and then his hand had moved up, pumping me fiercely as he ran his tongue over and around and finally sucked on my balls.  My breath was ragged, my words the unintelligible language of pleasure.  I arched my back, bucking my hips up to match the rhythm of his strokes.  He licked his way back up and when I felt the heat of his mouth again, I couldn't contain myself.  Every muscle in my body tightened and then it was nothing but the flood of release as I cried out his name in a litany, his mouth swallowing again and again as I lost myself in orgasm.

I could only whimper as the tremors subsided in my body and then I felt the solid weight of Seifer on top of me, felt his tongue probing my mouth, the lingering taste of my fluid filling my mouth.  As he withdrew from the kiss, I opened my eyes.  The light gave his hair a surreal golden glow and he lowered his head to nuzzle my neck.  Slowly, my breathing returned to normal.  Seifer laid his head on my chest, resting his full weight against my body.  I lifted my hand and ran it through his hair, feeling the silky texture against my fingers.

"Your heart's still pounding," he said softly.

"I know."  I lay quietly, running my hand through his hair.

"New use for an old place.  I think I like it better this way."

"You're just saying that because I knocked you on your ass first."

"Does that mean next time if I knock you on your ass first...?" he trailed off, chuckling.

"So is that how it is then?"

"I didn't hear a single word of complaint."

I couldn't help but laugh.  I think it startled him a little, because he gave this twitch, like he was shocked.  So maybe I didn't laugh much, I didn't think it was that surprising.  We just lay there, and for once my mind was still, fixed only on the feel of Seifer's hair between my fingers and his weight on me.  I closed my eyes, reveling in the uncertain intoxication of just letting go.  I could get used to this and that was a scary thought.  Later, as the sun began to drop closer to the horizon we headed back to Garden.  As we walked, Seifer took my hand in his in a surprisingly gentle gesture of familiarity.

[Seifer]

Squall let go of my hand some time before we walked in the gates.  I wasn't shocked.  Even more amazing, I didn't mind.  This afternoon he had been more open than I had ever seen him in my life.  I was acutely aware of every pair of eyes we passed.  They followed us as if drawn by an invisible thread.  I suppose the site of the Commander and the Knight, both armed, and in apparently good spirits was something to note.  Maybe they were just waiting for a fight.  I remember how there had always been cadets who had congregated every single time Squall and I had words, just waiting for blows.

As we neared the directory, I began to head for the elevator.  Squall tsked softly, and angled his head to the left, indicating I should follow.  We walked into the dorm area, heading for the area occupied by Senior Staff only.  He stopped in front of a door, punching in a code.  The door chimed and opened.  We headed down a hallway and turned right, stopping in front of another door.  Another code, chime, and the door opened.  I was shocked to see a spacious suite of rooms.

"Umm, Squall?" I asked.

"Hmm?"

"Shouldn't I head back downstairs?  I mean, my keepers must be concerned and all."

"No hurry.  It's already all over Garden, you know," he said as he set Lionheart against the wall in the corner.

"Eh?  I placed Hyperion next to his gunblade.

"Last night."

"How do you know that?" 

"Quistis knows.  If it's made it to the Infirmary, everyone knows.  She had enough sense not to come right out and ask me though.  Don't be surprised if they show up here tonight."

That explained a lot about his behavior, if I stopped to apply bizarre logic to it.  Maybe, in his own way, staying the night had been Squall's way of showing his commitment.

"What about the guards downstairs?"

"If they hadn't opened their mouths in the first place, nobody would know.  Might as well make them guard anyway."

I laughed.  "That's positively perverse."

He quirked an eyebrow at me and shrugged.  I sat down on the arm of the couch and flopped backward, my knees hanging over side.

"Want a drink?"

"Sounds good.  Whatever you've got is fine."  I heard him opening the door to a small refrigerator and a sound as something hit the couch behind my head.  I reached up and brought the bottle to rest on my chest.  Juice.  I unscrewed the cap and tilted my head upward, drinking deeply.  A chime at the door startled me.  I put the lid back on the bottle and sat up, swinging my legs around to the front of the couch.

Squall walked over to the door.  I tried to scrunch back against the couch, making myself less conspicuous.

"I was expecting you," he said as soon as the door opened.  Great, great.  I was wishing I had gone back down to my little cave.  "Come on in."

The sound of multiple pairs of feet crossing the floor stopped suddenly as the owners of said feet realized that there was someone sitting on the couch.  Then, almost collectively, it dawned on them just who it was exactly that sat on Squall's couch.  I raised my arm and waved backhandedly, not turning around to face them.

"Hello," I said.  I had to admit, the awkwardness was extremely amusing.  I had to bite my tongue to stay quiet.  Squall walked around to the couch and sat down beside me.  The three of them shuffled around to the chairs like a group of junior classmen at a museum field trip, quiet and extremely self-conscious.

Their eyes darted between the two of us punctuated by the occasional glance between each other.  Eventually, Quistis took the initiative and spoke up.

"Squall, what's going on?"

Figures she wouldn't address me.  He just arched one of his eyebrows, answering in 'whatever do you mean?' silence.

"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about."

"Maybe."

I resisted the urge to wave my hand in front of her face and grab her attention.  This was one time I was more than willing to let Squall do it his way.  If I so much as blinked funny I'd probably find a whip around my arms, nunchaku up my ass, and a shotgun to my head.  So, I just sat really still.  Besides, I was more than content to see that maddening closed-mouth tendency used on someone else for a change.

I got the feeling that Quistis was the only one of the three who saw this as a major problem.  Selphie looked like she'd just as soon make this a social event.  Cowboy...  Irvine, I corrected myself, just looked like he'd gotten dragged into this by the ponytail.

"Squall, it's all over Garden.  Do you know what's being said?"

"Why don't you enlighten me?  I've been a little busy."

"Squall!" Selphie chirped, "Come on.  It's not like we want traumatic gut-spilling here.  It's just one day things are one way and the next it's like boom!" she gestured wildly with her arms.  "We just want to hear the truth from you rather than getting half-assed rumors from bored SeeD members with too much imagination and time on their hands!"

Squall sighed resignedly.  "Fine, ask away."

"Ooh, me first then!  What's up with this," she gestured between me and Squall, "and Sir Laguna coming to visit?"

Squall looked at me, his expression telling me to answer.

"What do I get if I tell you?" I snorted.

"Erm... appreciation?"

"Hrm, there really is no market for information these days I guess.  Laguna Loire is coming here to discuss my involvement in the Sorceress Conflict."  That was met with three expressions that clearly stated duh in no uncertain terms.  "Two days ago Squall intercepted and decoded a report he was never intended to get.  That report happened to be from the Presidential Office of Esthar.  It was an Operative report for a CI/U mission.  My CI/U mission."  Fuck it, might as well just broadcast the entire story over the bulletin board system.  It'd be quicker and it'd save me the stupefied looks of the masses.  I launched into a shortened version of what I had told Squall.

By the time I finished the silence was palpable.  Selphie's jaw was hanging, Irvine wore a look of perplexity, and Quistis opened her mouth to speak.

"Squall, is this true?"

Squall nodded.  "President Loire is on his way because he believes I'm convening a War Crimes Tribunal to call for Seifer's execution."

"So you mean that entire time..." Selphie began.

"Yes," I responded.  By the time the last sound had left my mouth I was being launched into the back of the couch by a blinding yellow blur.

"Booyaka!  This rocks, you know!"  Selphie was squeezing me around the neck.  "We never really lost our Seifer at all!"  I slowly put my arms around her and hugged back.

I had to admit, that hadn't been the reaction I had planned on.  Then again, before the Conflict, our entire history of life together as children had been obliterated.  I guess that changed things a little.  Selphie wedged herself in the space between the couch arm and myself, pushing me closer to Squall.  Quistis wore a small smile, tinged with confusion while Irvine just shrugged and slid back in the chair.

"So, what about the rumors I've been hearing, huh?" Selphie asked.  "You know, being up in the office and everything, I hear a lot."

"And that would mean what?" I asked.

"Well, I tried to get Quisty to ask Squall today but she just chickened out."

"Why not just ask Squall yourself?"

"Well, now I can just ask you, but you know, I don't think he'd tell me if I did.  He'd give me that freaky silent death glare thing, walk back in the office, and mute the com."

"Has anyone ever told you that you're incredibly nosy?" Quistis said.

"I prefer innately curious," said Selphie.

"Either way, same thing," retorted Quistis.

"So...?" prompted Selphie.

"So people talk too much," said Squall, "and apparently on-duty SeeD have too much time on their hands."

So he didn't mind the rumors around Garden, but he didn't want to come out and tell them.  That was fine by me.  Less hassle that way.  I'll admit it wasn't easy to sit there for the next several hours and keep my hands to myself.  Eventually, it grew late and they decided to leave.  It had been a pleasant evening though, all things considered.  I found that I had genuinely enjoyed the company.  A little time does strange things, I guess.

I found myself yawning even though it was still fairly early by my standards.  A day of keeping Squall's hours had worn me out.  Well, that and other things.  Maybe I was just a little eager to lie down beside him and just sleep.  I had stretched out on the couch, my feet dangling over the edge.  I felt a fingertip trace the scar between my eyes and I opened my eyes to see a serene pair of eyes staring down at me.  I smiled, just a little upturn at the corners of my mouth.

"Bedtime," Squall said, reaching out a hand to me.

"This mean you're going to tuck me in?  I yawned, covering my mouth with my other hand.

He snorted.  "Sure."

"What about Moggle is he on the bed?  Is the nightlight on so I don't get scared?  Can I have a glass of water before I go to sleep?"

His eyes got wide as he just looked at me.  "You remember that?"

"You used to never shut up.  I'm just surprised with all the mucking about you guys did with the brainsuckers you remember anything."

"You didn't remember either, you know."  He started getting ready for bed, hanging his clothes up in the closet.

"Yeah, but I only had limited exposure to them and I was unjunctioned the entire time I was with Ultimecia.  You guys though, I've never seen anyone latch onto so many at once.  What did you guys have, three or four apiece?"  I stripped down, tossing my clothes on a chair in the corner before pulling back the covers and sliding into bed.

"Something like that."  He began ticking off a list on his fingers, "Shiva, Diablos, Bahamut, Eden, and I used to share Cerebus with Quisty, although he always did like her better.  I don't think that he and Diablos got along all that well."  He laid down beside me, flicking off the light on the bedside stand.  The room was that imperfect blackness of a room with windows.

"Five?  I was incredulous.  It was a wonder I was still alive to experience this moment.  Talk about a stacked deck.  It was no wonder I had never gotten the upper hand against them.

I wrapped my arm around Squall's waist, feeling the toned muscles of his abdomen move as he settled against me.  "Five," he yawned, falling asleep with not another word.  I closed my eyes and buried my head against the back of his neck, the soft strands of his hair tickling my skin.  I kissed the nape of his neck, then slowly drifted off to sleep.

I woke up to find that Squall was no longer in bed.  I pulled on my pants and got up.  The apartment was empty, but I did find a note on the table.

-------------------

Had a lot of catch-up work to do today.

Some breakfast in the mini-fridge, lunch should show up around one.

My terminal in the study is up, feel free to message me.  Just try to avoid crashing the system again, okay?

Don't be surprised if you get company.

S.

-------------------

I smiled and tucked the note in the pocket of my pants.  It was around ten, so I went and rummaged around in the fridge to see what breakfast would be.  I found a plate of cheese pastries a bottle of iced cappuccino.  That would work.  I took two of the pastries and the drink with me into the study.  I flicked the switch and the terminal screen came to life.  I grinned at the thought of having Commander's level access to everything.  I created a new identity in the messaging system, calling myself 'Stealth.'  I pulled up Squall's identification and fired off a message.

-------------------

Stealth:  You know just what I can do with all this access?

SLHart:  I should have never told you about it.  What's with the name?

Stealth:  I thought "Secret Agent Man" was too conspicuous.  So were S.Almasy and GunbladeGod.

SLHart:  I see.  Selphie says hello.

Stealth:  I was only kidding.  Tell her hi.

SLHart:  She says she's going to message you later.  She has something she wants you to do.

Stealth:  Do I have to?

SLHart:  She says yes.  I have to go.  I've got an appointment on an aid request.  I'll see you later tonight?

Stealth:  I'll be here.

-------------------

I found Squall's occasional moments of insecurity endearing now that I knew what they were.  Only he would ask if I would still be here when he knew full well I really couldn't leave.  I started running through the bulletin board system, reading all the notices and rumors for lack of anything more interesting to do.  I noticed a conspicuous absence of certain messages, almost as if the SysOp had pulled them.  Someone had been busy keeping one particular subject off the board it seemed.  I was midway through someone's dissertation on the lack of variety in the Training Center monsters when a message popped up.

-------------------

Booyaka:  *pounces*  hi!!!

Stealth:  Morning, Sefie.

Booyaka:  awww, how'd you know?

Stealth:  Keen powers of the obvious.

Booyaka:  i need to ask you something.

Stealth:  So I heard.  What is it?

Booyaka:  it's irvy.  you know he's not SeeD, right?

Stealth:  Neither am I, what's your point?

Booyaka:  i'm getting there if you'll just give me a minute.  he's taking the exam.  the written one.

Stealth:  They're making him take the exam, after all that?

Booyaka:  just the written part, and well, squall he says that you're all mr. expert on that.

Stealth:  As many times as I've taken it, yes.

Booyaka:  well, he needs a tutor.  will you do it?

Stealth:  It's going to cost you.

Booyaka:  can you put it on my tab?  I don't get paid this week.  *begs* pleeeeeeeeese?  he'll be nice i swear!

Stealth:  It's not like I've got anything else to do.  When does he want to start?

Booyaka:  as soon as i tell him he's going to.  how about after lunch?

Stealth:  Okay.  I'll expect him then.

Booyaka:  right on!  he'll be there.  tytytytytytyty!!!  bleh, i gotta go cause some people just walked in.  bye!

-------------------

First paper pusher and now tutor.  I should be getting paid for all this.  I returned myself to the rant on training monsters and decided to just kill time until lunch.

[Squall]

"Good morning," I nodded curtly to the woman that had just entered my office.

"Commander Leonhart, I'm Alisa Case." a cordial nod in return from the woman I took to be in charge.  She appeared to be no-nonsense, very calm, even tempered.  I always preferred dealing with that type.  She was tall, at least five-ten, with deep burgundy hair and fair skin.  I could see she had green eyes behind her small oval-framed glasses.  She wore distinctive clothing, a style I'd never seen outside of a history book.  Her short jacket had a wide collar and lapels that hung neatly down across her shoulders and chest.  There was embroidery and beading in an elaborate archaic design across the edges.  The fine emerald green gauze shirt she wore enhanced it.  Her skirt was black and a smooth fabric I couldn't identify.  Hanging nearly to the floor, it was slit on both sides to mid-thigh.  It was hemmed with the same design as the jacket.  I could hear the soft chime of metal on metal as she walked across the floor and stood before the desk.

"Please, have a seat," I gestured to a chair to my left.

"Thank you," she sat down, crossing her legs and arranging her skirt modestly.

"I've reviewed your application for SeeD assistance, and I wanted to talk to you before I present it for consideration."

"Of course.  We normally wouldn't consider asking for outside assistance with such a matter, but I'm afraid we are at a loss."

"These types of... incursions are normal?"

"We are used to occasional incursions by stray monsters, occasional threat of a rogue Dragon type, and things of that nature.  Something is wrong though.  The attacks recently bespeak of an intelligence behind them, not the random destruction of instinct."

"What type of monster is it?  I knew some monsters exhibited a startlingly intelligent pack-mentality, formulating attacks based on generations of honing the predatory drive.

"We are unsure.  Tracks indicate it stands upright, like a human, but even when there have been instances where death of one of these creatures was assured, there have never been any corpses.  They protect their dead.  So far, we've lost forty-seven people to these attacks, and it's getting worse.  Each time they attack, our body count rises.  First there was one victim, then four, then nine, then thirteen - you see the pattern."

I nodded.  "What do they take when they attack?"

"Life.  Nothing else.  No provisions, no weapons, no destruction of property.  They only kill."

It was deserving of being looked into.  At the very least we could send a dozen or so SeeD with a Field Commander to do reconnaissance, take Scans, provide escort, and handle any incursions until a more permanent solution was made evident.

"I will put forward your application for consideration.  If your request is approved you will be contacted as to the number of SeeD we can dispatch, the rate of pay, and length of the potential contract.  If that is acceptable, a formal contract will be drawn up and the exact terms of the mission will be established."

"How long will this take?"  For the first time, a look of urgency crossed her features.

"A week, possibly less.  If you would like, we can arrange for you and your associates to be housed nearby in Balamb.  I apologize, but we can't offer lodging on the grounds of Garden."

"That will be acceptable.  Thank you for your assistance, Commander."

"You're welcome, Ms. Case."  I scribbled some notes to the bottom of the application for Selphie to add to the file.  "If you would please, hand this to Ms. Tilmett outside.  Let her know that you will need arrangements at the Balamb Hotel and she will handle it for you."

"Of course.  Thank you again."

I nodded and she stood, the soft chimes of her clothing ringing in the silence of my office.  The sound moved into a rhythmic pattern of dissonance as she left the room.  For some reason the sound sparked a vague haze of memory in my mind.  I shook it off and picked up the next application for intervention.  I needed to get all this paperwork out of the way.  President Loire was due in the day after tomorrow and I wanted my calendar as clear as possible.

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