Disclaimer: This is the second fic in my 'Daifu Soshite Aisoku' arc, a post-game series which features Squall, Seifer and Laguna. I don't own these characters, except the child. All others owned by Squaresoft. This one is a Seifer/Laguna pairing, which obviously means yaoi. If you don't like, turn back now. Anyone continuing, enjoy.

The Great I Am

By almasy

A long sigh passes through my lips as I stand, in preparation to leave you, my mini-Squall. You're sleeping peacefully now, below the silent curling of the dreamcatcher, as your soft snuffles testify. I feel comfortable enough to leave you to it, albeit checking the small monitor beside your cradle a few more times than is probably neccessary. For a moment, I cannot help wondering if my son and your father did the same. In actual fact, I believe that he never left your side. I know he suffers terribly from insomnia, but in addition, paranoia is implicit in his nature. It breeds from his pathological obsession with accuracy, his obsessive attention to detail and his intense fear of change. They have given birth to an insecurity in his mind, a great insecurity that encompasses everything. So afraid is he of alteration, or of the idea that something might befall you should he leave, that he cannot tear himself away. The anxiety has weakened him greatly; his mind not strong enough to fight against these illogical fears. No, I do not believe that he left you to sleep alone, no matter how much his bizarre actions angered Rinoa at first. Still...not to worry, little one. He has had to leave you now, sweetheart, so that he can get some rest. I suspect neither of you are happy about it, but I am the top of our genetic chain and this means I can take control. Your father will be okay, I promise you. I will make sure of that. And with this whispered promise, I leave you to your youthful dreaming.

When I have left the room, I find the house in a slightly disturbed state. Elements are not quite as I remember them being some 2 hours or so ago, and a slow smile crosses my face. This part of the story, little one, I did not give to you. To protect you, perhaps, but I don't know. My confession of my love for my own son may have been too much for your young ears as it is. No, this tale is for another night. It is too similar a vein, too shocking, for me to bear burdening you with tonight. Not that I'd call him a burden, by any means. Plenty of other words, but no burden on my shoulders. I trek down the stairs, only to find the telltale sign of his jacket through over the head of the banister. It lies in a lengthy black trail as I place my hand on it, imagining it to be still warm from his body heat. His coat so different from the grey of before. Everything so very different from before. Of course, it is cold with disuse and I imagine he has made his entrance some time ago. Temporarily, I scold myself for not hearing him. I should be on my guard, or at least, people should not be able to enter this house without my knowledge. Not when I am protecting you. Still, he has a key. He must have slipped in quietly, and I am sure I would have heard a forced entrance. It's not as if he is a intruder. This analysis comforts me, yet I make a mental vow to work on my intuition and listening skills. I do not want you to be in danger because of your dozy grandad, sweetheart.

All of this would mean he's gone straight to bed, I presume. The lights are off in the living room and kitchen, and indeed there is no sign of life in these vacant rooms. It would make sense for him to have headed to the bedroom as soon as he got in, also. He is probably tired, and he knows my priority right now is you. He probably would not wish to intrude on us, maybe he heard my whispered words from outside the door and decided it was best to wait for me elsewhere rather than disturb my flow of thoughts. Such consideration is not unusual for him, and he has been a blessing during this situation with Squall and you; although I love looking after you, and having the chance to help Squall, memories have returned to me which are painful. Of not being there for my son, and when I was, of breaking his heart. Of making a mess of a man already so frail and broken from his difficult childhood. Of being suddenly unable to return his carnal passion for me, merely because I had helped to create him. Of rejecting him and losing both my lover and my son in one fell swoop. Oh, so many regrets, sweetheart. But everything will be okay. You'll see.

Yes, he has been nothing short of a miracle. He is aware of my relationship with Squall, and how it all fell apart. It is his opinion that I meant no harm, and that it was a sorry situation with which there was no easy way of dealing. Maybe I did the wrong thing, he said, but I had to try and work my way up from that, and not indulge in it too much. I still had time to work through it, he said. I just had to reach out and try.

And oh, but he would know about regrets, little one. He was barely 19 and already a lifetime of black clouds followed in his path. As I ascend the stairs once more to track him down, I muse on it. People still blame him, of course. It's easy to kick the lapdog of the fallen one. Had Ultimecia won, he'd have been a hero, most likely. He knows, as Squall does, that their roles would be easily switched had the outcome of the War been its reverse. Such is the fickle nature of the people, and as it happens, my lover is the scapegoat for it all. His Sorceress is gone, after all, and it's just no fun to blame someone who can't be hurt from it. That's right, everyone, let's see some pain, here! It's not okay until we've witnessed a few tears! It makes me sick to my stomach. Don't think I underestimate the circumstances. I lived through the first Sorceress War, and I know that Ultimecia posed a very grave threat to every person on this planet. I'm not saying that because the SeeDs won, it's all alright and nobody need be blamed for everything that happened in that year. I just contest the identity of the person the world points its finger at.

"Brainwashing, that old chestnut..." I remember the sarcastic tones of this woman I lost my temper with, not 18 months ago. The suggestion she'd made was to renew old trials against him, execute him "just to be on the safe side". She'd stood there, snide as anything, as I let her have it. People don't like the explanation of mind control, I've noticed. It's too convenient, perhaps. Hyne, they just won't tolerate anything that prevents them throwing tomatoes at the person they hold responsible, and in a way I understand their desire for revenge. But I will fight until I'm on my deathbed to prove this man innocent. If that means listening to a thousand people shrug off my argument that his mind was not his own, so be it. I know it's the truth, and I will fight for it. Even he says it's a pointless exercise. He resigned himself to world-hatred long ago, and whilst he knows he was pretty much a puppet in Ultimecia's plans, he doesn't see the point in wasting breath arguing with those who weren't there. I suspect it aggravates him as much as it does me, but he's slower to temper than I. It angers me greatly, provokes my protective instinct, to hear them accuse him of being the evil leader in Ultimecia's operations. He served her, yes, but not through his own will. She caught him like a child in a butterfly net, and snapped his mind; only to shape it once more with her witchcraft. From that point on, he was doomed until her death to follow her in whatever horrific dreams she thought up to inflict upon an unexpectant world.

I have reached the upper landing, and a very last glance into your room confirms your still steady sleep. One day, I will explain this talk of Sorceresses and so forth, little one. When you're ready enough for such horror stories, you shall have them if you wish. Right now, I will leave your sleep innocent and see to my somewhat neglected lover. Entering our bedroom, my suspicions are proven correct. I dare not put on the light and wake him, but I can see by the vague lines in the darkness that he inhabits our large bed. Opening the door a little wider from its near-closed position, I throw light upon his sleeping form and am, -not for the first time-, taken quite by surprise by him. His is a masculine beauty that is difficult to grow accustomed to. The sharp features of his face; strong nose and sharp jaw are complimented beautifully by his wild, green eyes. They remain closed in his sleep just now, but I know when they open, they will be hot and full of the determination that stirs in his soul. A passion takes them frequently, and they remain my favourite of his features. This decision was difficult to come to, admittedly. I love equally the curve of his smirk, predatory and wicked, red lips often a tempting taunt. He has full lips, wonderful to kiss and even more so to be kissed by. His mouth on the whole is explorative and hungry, and coupled with the unquenchable thirst of his desire, he is a difficult man to refuse. When he is not scowling, he is skilled in turning on the charm; an open face with his expressive eyes usually leads to his getting what he wants. Or, more accurately, what we both want and which only he is brave enough to voice. Yes, his is an expressive face. He cannot hide his emotions in the least, and this is something I relish. I love reading his thoughts through the look in his eyes or the way he wrinkles his nose. Wild moods rule his soul, and their translation I pick up in the flash of his eyes or the gentle smile on his lips.

There is much to him; some discovered but much to be uncovered. In sleep, sometimes I like him best. I can observe without making him suspicious, and he is somehow most honest whilst unconscious. Though he can never hide his emotions, he can disguise the more shameful of them as more acceptable ones. I have found that when he most wants to cry, he angers. As he is not angry by nature, really, this has been difficult for him but it has had the desired result and he does not know how to cry. Where tears should come, often it is shouts and taunts and I know this well enough now to see him in a truthful light. However, he is best when he cannot exercise such defense mechanisms, and when he is true to his real self. As he is tonight, he seems quite agitated. I let enough light into the room to gaze over him without disturbing his sleep and I have to admit, as always, to liking the body that I see. He lies on his front, one arm uncomfortably extended over the pillow on which his head rests, to hang through the bars of our headboard. The other lies flat, hand supporting the side of his face as his head is turned towards me. He has a certain neatness in sleep, and I am amused to see that his feet are crossed over underneath the thin sheet that covers him. He has, for some reason, chosen to leave the duvet in a heap at the foot of the bed, and from the shadows under his eyes I can only assume it is tiredness. The red t-shirt he was wearing today still remains, albeit in a messy tangle somewhere around his ribcage, and he doesn't look in the least bit comfortable. I am sure now that he was probably waiting up for me, as he cannot sleep with a t-shirt on lest it work its way up, as it is doing now. Even though he has succumbed to his own sleepiness, he shifts restlessly in his tormenting position and frowns in his sleep. I have had enough of his discomfort, and climb onto the bed carefully with the aim of relieving him of the offensive garment without awakening him. Of course, given the tumble of limbs he lies in, this proves somewhat difficult, and despite my efforts to move slowly and silently, I soon find a pair of bemused green eyes staring right at me.

There is a sleepy expression in them, and I realise that he has not quite woken up but is still wondering if this is a dream. My hands, around his middle, stall and I look back at him so that he knows this is real. Slowly, he comes to and turns fully over, rubbing his eyes with one hand and muttering curses as he pulls himself out of his aching position.

"Been home long?" I whisper gently, feeling that a higher volume would not be welcome on sleep-fuzzy ears.

"'Bit." He murmurs back, eyelids already dropping a little with exhaustion. "Was trying to stay 'wake for you, but I think I..."

"It's okay." I assure him hurriedly. "Was just...you know. Talking to him. Sorry."

"Don't be. If it helps you sort the past out in your head, that's good." His voice is serious and sincere as he looks down his body at the t-shirt that has ensnared him. "Fucking thing!" He says accusingly, trying to feel for the location of the knot with a glare in his eyes.

"Ssh, stop." His efforts are in vain because of sleep-addled limbs and a blurry brain, and I am better equipped to free him. "Let me."

He lies back with a relieved, sleepy sigh and blinks a few times. Taking this to be agreement, -you never quite know with him-, I crawl my way up his body and settle myself delicately in his lap, delighted at the low purr my contact brings forth. He observes me through half-lidded eyes as I straighten the garment downwards, smoothing it, before motioning to him to sit up so that I can remove it. That he does it a graceful arc, and I pull the shirt over his head with glee as his groin and torso are revealed; smooth, muscles softened with sleep, and toasty warm. His hair is ruffled from the fabric brushing over it and as he lowers himself back down, I am compelled to follow him. He shows no objection, and slips his hands into the small of my back, now positioned above his groin. I lean my nose against his and feel his entire body relax. He is very close to sleep, and it would almost be cruel to demand any sexual activity from him. He is usually extremely welcoming of such an event, but night is not his best time, and the lines under his eyes tell me that more than anything else he needs sleep right now. Indeed, when I draw my head back, he is almost in slumber, eyes open only in slits and breath evening. I kiss his lips softly, stroking disobedient hair from his face and clamber off of him.

After a shower taken more to kill time than anything else, I return to the bedroom with slightly damp hair and a comfortingly warm body. Without a second thought, I carefully dive into my side of the bed, -the left- and lie still facing him. He has curled up on his right side -how he usually sleeps-, and seems far more peaceful than before. I listen for a while to the gentle sound of his even breathing, the occasional snuffle betraying some animated dream he is having. Momentarily alarmed, I study him carefully for any signs that a nightmare is about to trap his unconscious, vulnerable mind. He's had a lot of those in the time we've been together, understandably. Life has not been easy for him these past few years. Even aside from Ultimecia, there's been other pains he'd had to suffer, other weights upon still young shoulders. I sigh, feeling the uneasy trickle of the memories coming back.

We first met properly after the War had ended. It was some time after Ultimecia had been destroyed, because as I remember, I had been with Squall for some months. Squall and I had become an item very soon after the conclusion of conflict, and it would be some time before I made the horrific discovery of our blood tie. About a month after that happened, I came into contact with my current lover. It had taken time, evidently, for those in power to decide what to do with him, how he might best be punished. He'd been drifting about on bided time for 8 months or so, awaiting an untold punishment and expecting the end of his life. His determination was as great as ever, and he was desperate to survive. Despite the fact that the world had no place for him, he did not want to leave it when he saw so much still to do. He has a hunger for life, my lover, and it's insatiable. The idea that he was to be put to death was immensely painful for him because he wanted dearly to stay alive, to experience, to grow. No soulless victim was he. A fire still burned inside him despite his hurts, and he was prepared to do anything to escape what seemed his inevitable fate. The fact that he succeeded disgusts some people, I know. They say that justice was robbed of them, that he was unfairly spared from bearing the consequences of his actions. Not what I believe. Having his mind invaded and shaken about, being forced to come to terms with what he'd done to everyone he'd ever cared for, knowing he had to exist in a world that wanted him dead...that's too much punishment for someone who didn't *know* what he was doing. No, he hasn't been let off lightly in the least. Death would probably have been a far kinder fate for him, if anything. None of them understand what he went through just to stay alive, nobody understands how much it hurt him just fighting for a chance to stay alive. Ironically, the people don't blame Ultimecia, and they've never thought for a second that she might be getting off lightly. Because she's dead, it doesn't matter. They forgot all about her and turned on him with enough rage to drown even the SeeD forces.

The important thing, though, is that he did it. He knew what he wanted, he slogged his guts out for it, and he got it. With a little help from me, yes, but it was his drive that brought him to where he is now; breathing the air, living his life. Galbadia brought him to me, those years ago. Their hatred surpassed the other continents, because of what the Sorceresses had done to their reputation. Everyone at that time held a refreshed suspicion of Galbadian, and as a native, it hurt me to see it. Galbadia, in another irony, had suffered the same fate as my lover; people hated it because it had unconsciously been used by a Sorceress. So, I understood their rage and was quite prepared to do all I could to rebuild the shattered persona of the country. As a President, as a politician, and as a Galbadian. But, no. That wasn't what they wanted. Pig-headed, they refused my offer because they had A Better Idea. Rather than aim towards the simple, effective way of coaxing the world back round into embracing Galbadia, they decided to make a show of their greatness by having the villain executed. Hey, people!, they were saying, How bad can we really be if we're going to rid you all of this traitor? In theory, I couldn't fault the argument. It would change their global position, killing the very person with whom the people tied them with so negatively. The people probably would have sat up and taken notice, perhaps changed their opinions of a very frail country. It would have worked, most likely.

I never did understand truly why they couldn't execute him in Galbadia, though. I've had many a politician attempt to explain it to me, and it seems to be embedded in a vast tangle of loopholes in the law. It's always had slightly wacky rules, has Galbadia, and it appeared they were suffering for it when they couldn't have the war criminal killed for his crimes. I think his brainwashing may have been an obstacle in their plan, and they were forced to regroup and come up with some new dastardly intentions. The one they finally plumped for was to highlight clearly that the Galbadian government was the force pushing for his death, but that the event itself would have to take place elsewhere because of legal issues. Still Galbadia, though. They made sure everyone knew that it was Galbadia behind it, even if they had to take their prisoner to Esthar to complete it.

Yes, Esthar.


When I think about it, I understand this logic as well. They'd just found out that I was Squall's father, after all. Squall; the war hero, nearly killed many a time by the villain. Squall; whose home, whose livelihood had been jeapordised by the villain. Squall; whose very existence had been challenged by the villain. Surely I'd have him executed like a shot, because of my paternal instincts. It would be as easy as anything. They'd get their press, having been responsible for the killing of the world's baddie, and with my influence, the event would be undertaken and completed quickly. No problem.

Or so they thought.

At first, I'll admit I was nothing but submissive. Throw him in the cells, I said. I was still suffering from the shock revelation of barely a month before, and human kindness was not at the forefront of my mind. All I wanted was for the officials from Galbadia to stop referring to me as Squall's father, when I had imprinted quite different images onto my own brain. Images of Squall naked and writhing. His lips opening as he gasped. Eyes wide and smoky with lust. These were not the thoughts of a father, and it caused me great pain to hear everyone refer to me as such. I'd just destroyed this boy's life, how in the world could I be given such a title? It felt sorely unjust and very painful, and I am ashamed to admit that I took it out on Seifer somewhat badly. He'd been awaiting his trial in Esthar, for Galbadia thought it would prolong the agony. They were worried that there might be some support still left for Seifer, support that might be angered significantly by an unfair, immediate execution. He was entitled to basic human rights after all; a chance to prove his innocence. Everyone knew he didn't have a hope in Hell. So, everyone seemed quite happy to trial him. We all thought it'd end in his death, either way.

I think he must have been in there about a month or so; barely fed, never spoken to. I went in there one day, no extraordinary day but one in which I felt especially lonely and miserable about Squall, and also sensing Seifer was nearing the end of his time. His voice was throaty with not speaking. His eyes were a kind of dark, desperate green. He looked like no man I've ever seen before. Like a man who wanted more than anything to be free again, but didn't know how to do it. Like a caged bird. A trapped animal with no means of escape. I remember looking through those jailbars initially, watching the way he stood by the window. Side on, I could see the look in one of his eyes and the sorrow made my heart wrench. Who was I to complain about something I'd done, when here was a man so utterly wronged and yet paying for it every day of his fast-escaping life? With an instant, I suddenly saw how wrong I'd been to let Galbadia do it. I should have put my foot down. The old Laguna would have. How could I have allowed myself to get so distracted? How could I have allowed this to happen, such an injustice happening under my very eyes?

No, this was not right for Esthar. Whatever Seifer had done, he had done it under the influence of another. His mind had not been of his own keeping, and even now, he struggles to come to terms with what he has done. The nightmares haunt him still, memories flooding back of a year he can only painfully remember. And then, about to die for sins that were not his own, I could not imagine a man more broken inside? There was a fighter's fire yet in those jade eyes, a certain heat beyond the devastating pain. Had he half a chance, he'd escape if it meant breaking every bone in his body. I knew that just by looking at him. He hadn't given up yet. I admired the spirit. His heart was broken, but his mind fought on. Something in his shattered body kept fighting onwards and onwards, looking for a solution, trying, hoping, praying. According to the guards, he'd spent every day of his imprisonment trying a new way to unlock the doors, or break the bars over the window. They only refrained from stopping him because they knew his efforts were in vain and they were amused at the injuries he amassed from trying to flee. When I went into the cell, indeed I found his right hand broken and the wrist badly sprained. His other was bruised all over, and his ankles and calves were covered in scratches and cuts. He was a mass of broken skin and dried blood, yet every day, he found another way to try. He could not be contained. He would look at the city through the window of his cell and keep fighting; ignoring blood, sweat, hunger or agony.

I stood for a while and watched him. I'd managed to open and close the door soundlessly, knowing that in a flash he'd attempt to escape. It was only when the guards rebolted the outside lock -at my request-, that he turned to me with a shocked look.

"This may not be a pretty piece of accomodation," He snapped, "but it's mine. It's all I fucking have left now. Get out."

I understood his rage. I hadn't asked to enter, and he had no respect for me. I'd ordered him into the prison in the first place, and he knew I'd probably have to sign his death certificate as well, after I'd given Galbadia permission to hang him. It was no wonder he didn't want to speak to me, much less see me. He probably thought there was no point in buttering me up, either, my being Squall's father and all. Ass-kissing isn't his style, anyway, but at that point in time I would have believed him capable of it. When his personal space wasn't being invaded, at any rate.

"I'm sorry." I said. "I should have asked."

"Too fucking right. If you want to stare, at least have the decency to do it where I can't see you." His tone was cold, wounded, yet accepting. He was used to this. It didn't shock him anymore.

"Almasy, I'm not into gawping." Always call the prisoner by a surname; less personal and painful. "I wanted to talk to you." I wasn't sure that this was what I'd wanted at all, but I had to think of some excuse, given that I'd invaded his cell.

"Fuck off."

"Almasy, please. You've not exactly got your hands full, have you? All I want is 5 minutes."

"Just because I don't have anything to do, it doesn't mean I want to talk to you, Laguna. Just fucking go away."

Laguna? Nobody called me Laguna then. It was President this, President that. Only Squall had called me Laguna in the previous year or so. I guess Seifer didn't have enough respect for me right then to call me by title. Fair dos. I sat down wearily, and he turned around fully with his eyes flashing hot green.

"Didn't you hear me?" His face contorted with pain. "I want you to *leave*. Now!"

I looked up at him tiredly, my own steely eyes more than a match for his. "Just hear me out. You've wasted two of my minutes already."

"Then you only have another 3." He retorted matter-of-factly. "So make it quick." A sudden change of tune, but I wasn't about to press the matter just then. Perhaps he just decided that it was quicker to let me say my piece and leave than spend even more time arguing about it. He didn't want me in his cell, but as he could do nothing about it, he'd humour me or freeze me out until I left. As far as I was concerned, I'd make sure I made my three minutes into hours, at least.

And if there's one thing Presidents are good at, it's getting their own way.

As if humouring him, I started first on my own sob story. It certainly got his attention in an ironic sort of way; here he was, about to meet death square in the face, and I was harping on about a failed relationship. There was a certain element of hysterical tragedy about it, and I knew even as he pretended not to that he was listening intently. I even saw a wistful look of familiarity on his face as I spoke of holding Squall in my arms as he fell asleep. He'd loved before, and wanted to love again. That much was clear from the pained nostalgia that temporarily flashed in his eyes and betrayed his softer heart. I've since found out that when the mood takes him, he can be very romantic, and he has a much more fragile soul than most realise. Indeed, he has a soft inner core and it was then that I first encountered it.

"So what broke you two up? I heard he was living in La-La Land with you." He inquired somewhat brusquely, trying to hide his own discomfort. I was fairly sure he already knew what I was about to say, but was so desperate to direct attention from his own hurting that he was prepared to act dumb.

"Found out he's my son." I murmured in reply, feeling the cold shock of the words hit me full on.

"Always difficult." He commented lightly. "Not irreversible, though."

I looked up sharply. "What on earth do you mean? I've broken his *heart*, Seifer. It's not a game. I destroyed the life of an 18 year old boy who just happens to be my only child. How in Hyne can that be erased?"

"Time." Was his simple reply. "Something you have and I don't. It's on your side. Just let the dust settle and then see what you can make of it. It's not impossible to make amends. In time, he'll understand why you did what you did."

"Time." I replied smartly, narrowing my eyes. "That simple, is it?" I didn't even know why I was angry, though I suppose with hindsight I saw him as disregarding the extent of my hurts. I didn't think he understood one bit.

"Let him cool down and think about it. He'll come to see your point of view. Just trust me, I've known him all my life. And yes, it's that simple. Don't fucking sniff at time, Laguna. You'll never know how much it'd mean to me if I had more of it."

I looked at him silently. He was probably right, on both counts. He'd know Squall better than I would, having grown up with him, and no, I couldn't put myself in his position. I tried at that very moment to do so, and didn't like it. The idea of not ever being able to see those I loved again, of not being able to feel the wind on my face or taste my favourite foods, travel to exotic locations or kick back in my own home...it left a great hollow in my heart, and I suddenly felt a great deal of heartache for Seifer.

"I'm sorry." I said bluntly. "You're right, you're right."

He didn't respond, angrily brushing at his right eye and looking away. I felt something tugging at my chest, and I found myself searching for solutions. I couldn't let this happen. It wasn't just, of course, and I'd never forgive myself. Then there was the fact that he was Squall's childhood companion. I know they fought against one another in the War, and damn near killed each other, but I know my son's feelings about Seifer. He'd forgiven him early after the end of the fighting, and he missed him terribly. They always were close, in a confrontational sort of way. How could I allow this man to die? It simply wasn't possible. So I fought. Myself and Seifer, we both fought. To heal his injuries, to prevent any further ones being done to him. I left that cell that day full of determination that I would not let him down. I would give him his freedom back, give him fresh air to breathe and a new hope for his life.

I never thought for a second that in a year, I'd be sharing my bed with him.

That didn't happen all that naturally, if I'm being honest. After weeks of working out the legal shenanigans and pouring over all the documentation I could find that related to human rights and war crime trials in the Estharian government files, we had finally prepared ourselves enough to stand a chance of winning the case. That's not to say that it wasn't hard. He'd had to learn most of it for the first time. I was a President, well used to the kind of law jargon that was commonplace in a courtroom, but he didn't have a clue. He's a very fast learner, and has endless stores of determination, but he was sweating blood by the end of it all. I guess now he'd say it was worth it. We won. It helped that I was the authority figure in Esthar, of course, but Galbadia was a vicious and persistent beast to slay and he was utterly amazing throughout; keeping his cool intact and answering questions perfectly. I couldn't have faulted him, and neither, it seemed, could the verdict. It was an uphill, terrifying slog but we came out the victors. Seifer had his freedom, I my justice. I felt alive again.

It had kept me going; the idea that I was doing something good for Squall. At his feet, my motivation lay. I wanted him to forgive me, to see that I had his best interests at heart, to know that I was thinking of him. It helped me feel a little stronger about him, and I hoped it would lay down somewhat of a bridge between us. I had Squall on my mind a lot at the time, and I don't know exactly when I started feeling something for Seifer. Perhaps I'd felt it all along; absorbing his beautiful determined spirit and relishing in the maverick he can be when he's free and happy. His is an intoxicating nature that I couldn't help but be drawn in by, and I believe it was a little while after the trial that I first posed the question to him. I wanted to be with him. I didn't like being without him anymore, I'd gotten used to his company and fallen very much in love with it. The idea of letting it go was horribly painful and I wanted to explore it some more, if he'd let me. As I remember, he initially did turn me down. He felt too much indebted to me for saving his life, and he didn't want that. He didn't want to have a relationship with me out of gratitude. That was not a balance that suited his ambitions at all, and it wouldn't be fair on either of us. He didn't want me to start playing 'The Great I Am' with him, and he didn't think I'd be able to resist lourding power over him, having saved his life. All he wanted was equality, was balance.

Fair enough.

What he did say was that he had been attracted to me for a while, and that he wanted to stick around to see how that progressed. He wanted to wait. If this was going to happen, it would happen for the right reason or not at all. And eventually, it did. We became firm friends, moved on from our position as damsel and White Knight, and found each other. We've been together ever since. I find that it's a very good match, all in all. The cynicism of my older years is complimented by his youthful pessimism and acidic tongue, yet my softer side appeals to his calm, gentle nature. Yes, he is prone to temper. So am I. He carries on with me as he probably did with Squall, I think. Lots of aggression, but underneath, a bond lies so deep that it feels almost unreachable. So he is with me, too. I am similar to Squall, I think. We have the same touch of innocence, lying under a tough shell of spirit. The same beliefs in justice run through our veins, and we can both be provoked into violent fits of temper. Yet I am somehow more tainted, and that is exactly what he desires in me. I am not as untouched, as pure, as Squall. He feels safer with me. I am not perfect. I am far more capable of damaging myself than Seifer is, and I think he fears hurting Squall now.

That's one thing we both have in common.

I guess what it is is that Squall is somewhat like porcelain. He must be treated with care and tenderness. Seifer is too afraid of his dark demons to trust himself with Squall, though I know he was very much attracted to him in his adolescent years. With me, it is different, and I am glad of it. He has grown up, has Seifer, and desires different qualities. I am a mucky angel, he says, and he adores me for it. It suits me just fine.

The Great I Am?

Then the Greater He Is.

Yes, lying beside him at night suits me almost more than I am comfortable with. In my distracting cloudy musings, I have not noticed his gradual inching towards me. It is a trait of his; in his slumber unconsciously seeking out and moving towards warmth. I look down to find him lazily draped against me, head nuzzling under my chin and arms around my shoulders. I smile in the darkness and cradle him close. A sigh escapes his lips as his sleep deepens and I find myself waiting for something to spoil this perfection.

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