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Part 18 - Only You...
I spent most of the day watching the digital clock on my desk. I know I shouldn't have accepted Seifer's date, but I couldn't say no after he kissed me. I want to be with him, but I don't want to get hurt again. Nothing lasts forever. I admit that when I'm alone, I feel a bit lonely. But if you're in a relationship, and it doesn't work out, you feel not only loneliness, but heartache as well. What's the point of adding to your misery? You're going to be lonely anyway. Why set yourself up for heartbreak?
I ran a hand through my disheveled brown hair and sighed. Why did Seifer have to make everything so complicated? Why can't he be the insensitive jerk that he always was? Life would be so much easier.
There was a short knock on my door, and then Rinoa's heart-shaped face appeared in the doorway.
When she noticed I wasn't busy, she stepped into the room and stood in front of my desk. For a long time, she just stood there watching me. I could feel annoyance blossom inside of me from her scrutiny, and I said, in irritation, "What?"
She giggled and shook her head. "Nothing," she said. "How did you like the picture of Nida?"
I frowned a little, remembering the tied up photo of Nida on the Garden Newsletter. What did Seifer call it? Bondage? I shook my head. "It was irresponsible of him."
Rinoa shrugged and sat down in the chair. "Mr. K said Nida has been hiding in his room all day. I think he's thinking about leaving."
My frown increased. I felt betrayed that Nida would manipulate me like he did, but I wouldn't want him to leave the Garden.
"You're so sweet," Rinoa said suddenly. I looked up and gave her a confused expression. She smiled and placed her hand on her cheek, tilting her head to the side. "Even if Nida manipulated your emotions, you still don't hold a grudge against him." Then, she sat up straight and her expression became serious. "So why do you still hold a grudge against Seifer?"
I could feel my eyebrows draw together. "Didn't you tell me to forget about him?"
"Well, I didn't hear the whole story," she said. "Seifer fucked up, but Nida twisted everything around."
I bit on my lower lip and turned my head away. Things were different. Nida couldn't hurt me the way Seifer could hurt me.
"Life is about learning new things and moving on from them," Rinoa said. "There's no use dwelling on anything, sweetie. Everyone gets hurt. People just have different ways of dealing with things."
Why add to the misery? I thought.
"Listen, Squall. Seifer cares about you. If he didn't, I wouldn't be encouraging you to give him a second chance." She stood up and placed her hands on my desk. "All relationships come with sadness and heartache, but it also comes with happiness and love. Every relationship has its ups and downs. Your relationship with Seifer is at one of its down points. Are you willing to risk everything when you know you can bring it back up?" There was something about Rinoa's expression that made me think twice about what she said. It was almost as if she were challenging me, or daring me. "Life is about risks, Squall. Wouldn't you want to take a chance at happiness and love? Or are you perfectly fine with your world full of misery?"
I looked down at my lap and twiddled my thumbs.
It hurts to be hurt.
What if Seifer hurts me again?
"What if he doesn't?" Rinoa said. "Being without him is making you miserable."
I hadn't realized I'd spoken out loud.
"I'll get over it," I said.
Rinoa sighed and shook her head. "Just think about it, ok, sweetie?"
I frowned, but reluctantly nodded my head.
"I'm heading back to Timber tonight," she said. "Zone is throwing a hissy fit." She shook her head. "Don't you men know how to take care of yourselves?"
I raised an eyebrow. "How many times did I save you during Ultimecia?"
She stuck out her tongue. "I'll call you later on this week, ok?"
I nodded and watched her leave the office.
I wouldn't admit it out loud, but even though I'd saved Rinoa's life numerous times, Rinoa managed to save me from myself.
I whispered my thanks and looked at the digital clock.
I sighed before I stood up to head out of my office. Maybe I should give Seifer another chance...Rinoa is the person I trust most in this world. If she's right, maybe Seifer could become someone I could depend on. I'd just have to take everything day by day. I nodded my head and turned off the lights.
This would be Seifer's last chance.
At 8:05pm, there was a knock on my door, indicating that Seifer was here. I straightened out my shirt nervously, before opening the door to see Seifer's handsome face.
"Ready?" He asked, offering me his hand.
When I had returned to my room after work, I found a white envelope that Seifer had left under my door. He told me he was taking me to a restaurant that was also a nightclub, so I needed to get dressed up. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to wear, so I searched for Ryuichi and he helped me pick out an outfit. I felt...slutty wearing what I was wearing. Ryuichi had loaned me a tight black tank top that exposed a thick strip of my stomach, including my bellybutton. And he also loaned me fitted leather pants that hung low on my hips. Ryuichi even placed body glitter on my body. I waited for Seifer's laugh to come, but when no sound came forth, I looked up at his face.
Seifer was dressed in a white silk shirt, which he left partially unbuttoned, and loose gray slacks. His emerald green eyes raked up and down the length of my body, taking in my outfit with a look of...astonishment? I wasn't quite sure. But...he was looking at me...strangely...
Why does he always look at me like that? It's as though I'm fresh meat and Seifer is a starving man.
"God," he said with his eyes lingering on my stomach. "Have you ever considered getting a belly ring?"
I shook my head 'no', feeling exposed under his gaze.
The last time I had dressed indecently was on the night of the SeeD Ball. Rinoa and Ryuichi had insisted upon it. Most of the night, I hid myself in the corner. But once I caught sight of Seifer, something snapped and I was determined to get even. I knew that he seemed to like it when I touched myself, so when I danced with Ryuichi, I guess I was trying to seduce him. Then, when he pulled me away from Ryuichi, I wanted to make him feel the way I felt. Now, I felt guilty for what I've said to him, but do I really need to apologize for that?
I blinked. Seifer was waving his hand back and forth in front of my face.
"Sorry," I mumbled, looking down at the ground, blushing for some reason. He leaned forward and kissed the top of my head. Then he wrapped a strong arm around my shoulders.
"I was asking if you wanted to get your bellybutton pierced tonight," he said, murmuring the words against my hair.
I looked up at him, horrified.
He laughed. "It would look so sexy on you."
I could only stare at him in disbelief. Why would someone want to pierce their bellybutton?
"Just think about it, baby." He pulled me out into the hallway and held me close. "But no matter what, you're still sexy."
Another blush quickly tinted my pale cheeks.
"Where are we going?" I asked after a moment.
"Still don't eat meat?" He sounded almost hopeful.
"Yes," I growled.
He chuckled. "I'm not taking you to the slaughter house, baby. There's a restaurant-type bar in Balamb. I called before hand and they serve pasta over there," he said.
"You can ask for no cheese or butter on your noodles," he said. Then he shook his head, "How do you do it, Squall? There aren't a lot of vegetarian restaurants around."
I frowned a little, feeling defensive. "That doesn't mean you should eat meat."
"The animals are going to die anyway," he muttered.
"Seifer," I said, warningly; he was already skating on thin ice.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said, holding up his hands. "You know I didn't mean it like that. I think it's great that you appreciate life."
I calmed down a little and allowed Seifer to drape his arm around me again.
We walked the short distance to Balamb. Most of the walk was spent in comfortable silence. When we arrived in town, Seifer took me towards the pier, where a small restaurant sat next to the water. A long line had been formed outside, but Seifer guided me to the front and told me to wait. I stood near the doorway, glancing around nervously. Loud music poured out of the double doors, and the people waiting outside were dressed more scandalous than me. But, feeling self-conscious, I wrapped my arms around my waist, trying to hide my exposed skin.
"Lets go, sweetie." Seifer appeared suddenly, causing me to jump. He smiled, warmly, and took my hand. As he guided me into the restaurant, I could feel eyes on me from all directions.
I felt really uncomfortable.
"Relax," Seifer said against my ear. His warm breath sent tingles down my spine, and I tightened my hold around Seifer's hand.
I allowed Seifer to pull me through the ocean of bodies that crowded around the packed dance floor. I noticed a staircase that led up to the second floor, where a bunch of round tables had been set up. It wasn't as crowded as downstairs, and it seemed to be a lot quieter. I felt relieved when Seifer guided me up the staircase, and I let out a breath I hadn't known I'd been holding.
"I wouldn't bring you somewhere that wasn't safe," Seifer commented as he pulled out my chair.
I scowled a little when he sat down across from me.
"I'm not scared," I growled.
Seifer smirked. "Why so defensive, Squall?"
I glared at him.
Why do you have to be such an asshole?
I hadn't realized I'd spoken out loud until a hurt expression crossed his handsome face.
"I guess I need to work on that," he sighed. He smiled sheepishly. "Old habits die hard."
I softened my expression and leaned back in my chair. "I'm not scared," I said again, lightly. "I just feel uncomfortable being here."
I shrugged. "I've never been to a place like this before."
"There's nothing to be nervous about, sweetie." He leaned forward and entwined his fingers with mine. "Just relax. The only thing you need to worry about is the guys who are ogling you over there." Seifer nodded his head towards a table that was located in back of me. I turned around to look, and saw several guys drinking champagne and grinning at me. I flushed a little and turned back to look at Seifer.
"It's because of this outfit, isn't it?" I asked. "Ryuichi went overboard, I think."
Seifer shook his head vigorously. "Hell no! You look so hot!" he exclaimed.
I found myself blushing again.
Our waitress came around and Seifer ordered us a few drinks. I have never drunken alcohol before, so Seifer ordered me something called "Strawberry Hill". It wasn't too bad, though I could taste the hint of alcohol on my tongue. Seifer was drinking a Heineken and munching on a bowl of sautéed mushrooms. I had a few, after Seifer reassured me that no butter had been used.
When our meal came, we ate quietly for a moment. Then Seifer began asking me questions he had never asked before.
"How long are you planning on staying at Garden?" he asked in between a forkful of mashed potatoes.
My eyes widened slightly in surprise. "I-I'm not sure," I said, caught off guard. I was surprised because this conversation had taken on an intimate turn, something that had never happened before.
"You're not planning on staying there your whole life, are you?" Seifer raised an eyebrow.
That had been my exact plan.
"I...don't understand life outside of Garden," I replied. "Being a SeeD is the only thing I know how to do."
I frowned a little and played with my noodles. Not only did I not know how to be anything else, I was afraid to venture out into the world alone. At least at Garden solid walls protected me - both mentally and physically. If I left the Garden, I would feel vulnerable.
"Hmmm," Seifer said thoughtfully. "That's not necessarily true, you know, sweetie. You could protect villages from monsters, or become a personal bodyguard. You could even become a blacksmith or work inside of a Weapons Shop." He took a long gulp of his beer. "You're not confined to just one place, Squall."
I studied him for a long moment, seeing how his emerald eyes seemed to take on a slightly darker shade. Then I realized what he was trying to say. He didn't have a choice in where he could and couldn't go. Garden was the only place that accepted the ex-sorceress knight.
"Seifer," I said quietly. I looked down at the table, unable to meet his eyes. "I'm sorry," I mumbled. "I should've helped you during Ultimecia."
Something clasped my hand tightly, and I looked up to see Seifer smiling at me with warm emerald eyes. I realized it was his hand, and he squeezed mine reassuringly.
"Ultimecia manipulated me and used me as a puppet," he said. "But the only thing she manipulated was my emotions. By using my emotions, she was able to control me. So, technically, I was acting on my own. It was my anger that drove me to do things I wouldn't normally do," he said. "Nothing could've stopped me." He leaned back in his chair and gave a deep sigh. "Besides, you _did_ try to stop me." He chuckled. "You saw where that got you."
I frowned and nibbled on my lower lip. "I should've tried harder," I said.
Seifer shook his head. "It was my 'romantic dream', remember?" he snorted in disgust. "I deserve to be shunned by society." There was no self-pity inside of his voice. "You, however, have a choice to leave the Garden. Why don't you take it?"
I watched him for a long time, taking in his honey-blond hair which he had slicked back with gel. The thin curl of blond hair resting against his forehead touched the top of his scar, giving way to glittering emerald eyes. In those eyes, I could see remorse, regret, sorrow, and love. For the first time, Seifer Almasy let down his shields and allowed me to see his true self. He cared for me enough to do that.
I sucked in a deep breath and said, "Because I don't want to leave you."
The smile that broke over his face was so warm, I felt an answering smile tug at my lips.
To be continued...
AN: I know everything seems too easy for Seifer, but I think one of Squall's faults is he loves Seifer with all his heart. Not only that, but I think Squall trusts too easily. (From the way I had his character develop, anyway. ^^;;) Anyway, the next part will have a lemon scene, I think. It depends on how Squally responds to Seifer. ^^;;; I'm sorry this took so long to get out. I had two exams this week and I didn't have any time to write. ^^;; I'm so sorry! Now that they're over, I will try to write faster!
~ Rain ~
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