Notes: Of course I had to write a fiction for Seifer's birthday! This is actually a companion piece for "In the Shadows" that I've been thinking about doing for a while. I hope you enjoy... and Seify, happy birthday!!! [Please note: This is written BEFORE Raine's birth... well, some of it... I think you'll be able to tell.]

To This Night

By Kursed SeeD

Love... can be the bitterest poison of all.

Seifer sighed to himself, drawing his knees up to his chest and hugging them tightly. The world around him seemed to have stopped ages ago, the sky would forever be a pinkish haze. Perhaps at another time he could have marveled in it, but now he was too far gone. There was no meaning anymore. A blank, empty expression meant to fend off the world from a death colder than ice.

Seifer lowered his gaze to the cerulean waters below him. They were so calm, so collected... he wished he could be like that... hell, he wished he could be like anything anymore. He had turned into a wasted mess and he wasn't sure how to get out of it. He just kept falling, deeper and deeper, never hitting bottom, never resting. It was an endless cycle, a dance Seifer couldn't stop following. It caused him more pain than anything, but still...

The water was pretty, though... the color reminded Seifer of Squall's eyes... when he was happy, when the storms had been driven from sight... At one point, Seifer had been able to cause such happiness within Squall... now all he gave him was agony... The pain of wanting, but never having. Seifer vividly remembered Squall's words last night.

"Seifer... we shouldn't have done this... it... it was wrong of us... I'm... I'm married to Rinoa now... I promised to cherish and keep her, to forever be faithful... there can't be a you and me now, Seifer... it was just... I was... I was stupid, forgive me... I really... I really have to go now... I'm sorry, Seifer..."

Seifer considered just jumping into the waters and letting it carry him where it willed, but dismissed the idea quickly. As much as it hurt him to admit it, and as pathetic as it sounded, Seifer couldn't give up the hope that one day Squall would be his... that one day they could just be together, without any worries, without any damn obligations stopping them... just him, Squall... him and Squall, yes... paradise, right there...

Where had everything gone wrong? What had they done that had landed them in this situation? If only Seifer could pinpoint the exact reason for everything, then maybe... maybe he could have dealt with it. But no matter how many times Seifer replayed the events in his mind, he couldn't come up with anything. He couldn't find a mistake, a place where they had went wrong. Maybe it had been in Timber, when the whole mess had begun... or hell, maybe it had started to go wrong the day they were born. Every path he thought of still led Squall to Rinoa....... and left him alone. Squall would still be the hero, with hero duties and hero obligations... and Seifer would still be the villain, there'd be no 'pretty princess' for him.

But, a part of that wasn't true... Seifer wasn't alone. There were plenty of people still willing to call him 'friend', even after everything he had done... plenty of people he could have run to if he wanted to, but... he only wanted one person... the one person he couldn't have... the one person who belonged to someone else... someone who didn't deserve him... then again, Seifer doubted he deserved Squall, either...

The blonde smiled sadly as a tear escaped down his face, splashing onto the water. He knew it would be only the first of many to come. They always came, and he always fought against them, always lost. He wondered idly what Quistis would say, if she were there. Seifer wasn't stupid, nor was he blind. The pain was evident in the instructors' face every time he looked at her. He knew she knew and somehow... that brought a strange comfort to him. Someone besides him and Squall knew the fated legacy and mourned along side them...

Seifer stared out at the waters, hypnotised by their depths. If he tried hard enough, he could see Squall within them. After all, wasn't it the truth? Squall was away from him, this barrier stuck between them. Squall would always be under the water, and Seifer would forever be trying to bring him out to land; a home just for the two of them. A home that would forever be a figment of his imagination, a dream played out when his eyes were closed and he was carried off into another realm.

Yes, he could definitely see Squall in the waters... his precious Squall... his... no, not his... never his... that was the problem, wasn't it? He had had his chance, and he had lost... but honestly... had he ever had a chance at all?

"I thought I'd find you here."

Seifer blinked several times, his head spinning. This was it; he had finally gone crazy. Now the water was speaking to him. The water, whose voice was as soft and silky as the man he loved, was in fact trying to converse with him.

"Behind you."

Seifer turned around, slowly, afraid that the voice would indeed be in his head if he moved too quickly; a dream to fade.

Squall tilted his head to the side, a slight look of amusement on his face. "What are you doing out here?"

Seifer could not find the words he wanted so desperately to speak; instead he reached up, grabbing the younger man and pulling him down. Seifer wrapped his arms tightly around him, never wanting to let go. "I thought you had left." He whispered.

Squall smiled softly. "I thought I had too... but... I was at the train station, about to get on the train... and I thought to myself, 'What am I doing?'... I'm sorry, Seifer... I don't want to leave yet... I know I have to... but..."

Seifer looked down at Squall, his expression unsure. Surely this was just another mirage, a trick his mind was playing on him. Squall wouldn't have come back, would he? He opened his mouth to say something, but Squall raised a finger to his lips, stopping him.

Squall bit his lip, trying to keep up the courage to say what he had planned to say all along. "Seifer... I know that you and I will never be together... fate has decided otherwise for us... but... I can't help it... I don't want it to be just last night... I know it never should have happened, but it did... and I... I just ran out like that, and I didn't want it to be that way... I wanted it to be special... to... I don't know... I just want... one night... and I know it's wrong of me... but... just, one night... one night without restrictions, without fears... without having to be apart... one night, just for you and me... because... even if it's only one night... I know... I will be able to go on... I'll always have our memories of that one night... and that will be enough... and I know... that's very unfair of me to ask... but I can't help it, Seifer... last night can't be my only memory of us... it was... a night filled with worry and regret... I don't want to carry that within me... I want... something... true." A small blush rose to Squall's cheeks. He hadn't meant to say so much, but it had just come pouring out of him, like a broken dam.

Seifer began to laugh, quietly at first, and then louder, until the streets of Dollet were filled with the melodic sound. One night... it was more than Seifer had even begun to hope for... a goal out of his reach, a destiny he couldn't fulfill... and then... Squall had just offered it to him... he knew it had taken all of his courage to say it, and for that, he loved him more than he could ever say. Yes, last night had been a mistake... but tonight... no, tonight would not be... Hyne be damned....

"Can I take that as a yes?" Squall asked, smiling slightly, happy to see Seifer laughing for once. The most pain Squall received was in seeing Seifer so unhappy, and to see him smile so, well it truly made Squall feel the most at peace as he had in years.

Seifer held Squall tighter, brushing his lips across his forehead. "Yes... dear gods, yes..."

A night. 12 hours at most. Love explained, love denied. Taken gently and locked deep within the crevices of the mind, to be brought out on lonely nights and rainy days. A cherished memory that serves only the person containing it; it's a pleasure that can be told to no one.

There were so many emotions in that night; I couldn't tell if the tears were mine or his. In the end, I don't think it mattered. For one night, we had each other; and all though there'd be many more nights to come, none would ever come close to being as cherished as that one was.

Death... is a funny thing. Especially when you know it's coming, because you find yourself lost in the past. Today doesn't exist, nor does tomorrow. Just yesterday... yesterday's all that counts...

There are... so many things I want to tell everyone... things I never had the chance to, things I might never be able to...

That night was filled with whispered words, unspoken dreams. A melting of bodies and souls. It was then that I was sure of it, no matter what was said, what was done.... I was his. I've always wondered if he knew that, if he knew how much I cared for him... if he understood...

I started this... wanting to share that memory with everyone, but... I find myself unable to... I've given you the instances that led up to it, the words, the feelings, but... I can't give up the actions... it's almost sacred... I didn't realise it... I'm sorry... it hurts too much... it's like a piece of me now... a piece I can't part with...

But, I do want to say this... that night, I was free... as free as I have ever been, as free as I will soon be. I know our actions that night would have caused a lot of people pain if they ever found out, and I know it was wrong of us, but that was our one night... our night without discretion... and I'm sorry, but that is mine and no one will ever take it.

If you all are reading this... then I want to apologise to you. For the pain I've caused you. For living a life I was meant to live, but never wanted to. For pretending to be something I'm not, something I never was.

I didn't want to hurt you.

I'm not much of the speaking type... hell, I guess you already knew that... but still, there are some things I want to say to you all... and if I cannot say them out loud, then I will say them here...

First off, Rinoa... I was never your Knight... but I want you to know, I tried to be... I know I messed up in a lot of ways, and I could have done better... but I honestly tried... even if you never realised it, you were one of my best friends... maybe you didn't understand everything, and maybe you didn't do the best that you could have at times either, but... when I needed someone, you were always there. I'm just sorry for not being what you deserved... because trust me, you deserved a whole lot more...

Irvine, Selphie and Zell... you three went up and beyond the call of duty to make me smile... to brighten my day just a little... you never gave up hope, even after I had... you were always there, whispering to me of rainbows and happy endings... you guys never let me give up, and for that I cannot begin to express my gratitude...

Quistis... heh... I have asked Seifer to do something for me... and since you're reading this, I'm assuming he already has... I thought you deserved to know... because of you, it wasn't so bad... we weren't alone in our struggle, in our loss... in a world where we thought no one knew, no one understood, there was you... a light among the darkness, indeed... I want you to know that I have thought a lot of you in these past few months. Watched you, watching me.... you were always there when I needed support... and even when I didn't...

I want you guys to do me something... I want you... please... every day... for me... tell Raine I love her... tell her that I'm watching over her, I'm with her all the way... I know it sounds dumb, but I want her to feel safe... I want her to know that I'd never leave her... that I'll always be... here... for her...

My eyes are beginning to hurt... I need to go lay down now... I'm sorry I didn't say it much, if at all, before, but I really do appreciate and love you all....

Squall Leonhart

There was another small piece of paper, one that no one else had noticed, save the person holding the letter. The piece was put into a pocket, sealed away until the time was right.

And, when it was, it was taken out. Placed in strong hands, given with a sad smile and a slight nod.

Those strong hands unfolded the paper like it was a baby bird, careful not to break. Emerald eyes read over the page, committing everything to memory; knowing that it would be read time and time again.

"It's late, I'm not even sure what time it is... I'm sitting here, watching you sleep... you're beautiful, you know? I'm not sure if I ever told you that, but you really are... especially when you're sleeping... you look so small and so innocent, and I can't help but want to wrap my arms around you and never leave again... there are so many things I want to say to you, Seifer, but I don't have the nerve... I'm afraid I'd just hurt you worse... I want to tell you of how hard I wish that I could just say 'Yes' for once and run away with you... of how I dream of you and wake up, crying, because it's not you I wake up to... of how much I love you...

I know we'll keep meeting like this... and I know it will hurt us both every time... but I don't want you to feel bad for it... promise me... you won't feel bad for it... I know something is wrong with me... I know I should go to the doctor, like you and others have urged me to, but honestly... I'm too scared... I know something's seriously wrong... but I don't want to have it confirmed... not just yet...

I want to tell you... I've never regretted any night since that night... they were wrong, but they were ours... we... we suffered enough... we deserved some release... or so I like to think...

But, I don't blame you... I don't blame you, and I don't blame myself... in the days to come, those will be the memories I cherish... I want you to cherish them too... I don't want you to look back and feel bad about it, or cry over it... I want you to look back and... smile. Smile and think of what we had at that exact moment. I told you before, and I'll tell you again... that moment... it was enough...

I guess I should end this now... I want to lie next to you for as long as I can... just remember... one thing... if you dream of me, I'll dream of you... and we won't miss each other...



"Uncle Seifer! I have someone I want you to meet!"

Seifer slipped the paper, now worn and faded with age, back into his pocket. He smiled to himself and turned around.

"This is Steve." Raine said, smiling brightly.

Seifer looked over the boy. He seemed to be about seventeen, cocky and yet unsure.

"Hey." The boy said after a moment.

"Hey." Seifer echoed.

"So... you guys got any good fighters here? Or all they all pansies, like Galbadia-G?"

"Steve thinks he's the best of the best." Raine said, chucking softly.

Steve smirked, an arrogant smirk Seifer had once held himself. "Yeah, well... it's true."

Seifer laughed. "I'm sure we'll have plenty of challenges for you here... who knows, you might even be good enough to fight me."

"Ahh, you're old now. It wouldn't be a fair fight anymore."

"You'd be surprised, kiddo."

Raine rolled her eyes at the men's antics and looked at her watch, "It's already seven-thirty, we better get going!" She leaned over and gave Seifer a quick kiss on the cheek. "Bye Uncle Seifer!" She cried out as she dragged the young man away.

"Bye, Raine! Nice to meet you Steve!"

"You too!" The boy called out in reply.

"So what do you think?"

"Seems like a good kid, but he definitely needs to be lowered down a peg or two." Seifer replied honestly as Quistis walked up beside him.

"If you think about it... you can see history repeating itself..."

Seifer chuckled. "True, but Raine's more friendly than Squall ever hoped to be."

"Give her time." Quistis said lightly, linking arms with the older man. "She'll become a regular ice princess herself."

Seifer's laughter danced among the wind.

'But unlike us... maybe they'll have their happy ending...' he mused to himself as they continued down the corridors.

'Of course they will...' a voice echoed throughout his mind. 'And so will we...'

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