Disclaimer: If I owned Seifer . . . . *sighs dreamily* Imagine yourself what I would do if I owned him. *grins*

Warnings: Shounen-ai, mean characters, very slight angst, and the first-person POV (two POVs, actually, with a fairly clear switch ^^) in the present tense. This fic picks up pretty much right when "The Moment I Saw You Cry" leaves off. ^^'

When You Are With Me

By Balinese no Neko

I'm not even close to feeling sleepy right now. Nor cold, either, despite the wind that is blowing. All that matters, right here and now, are Seifer's arms around me and knowing just why they're there. He loves me. He loves me enough to come running after me and then to let me go if I wanted to. He's not angry at me and he's going to tell me what made him so angry. He was so afraid of losing me, I could see it in his face, and he still told me I could leave if I thought I had to, all because he had hurt me. Not even close to cold, sleepy, or anything else. What I am is happy. Deliriously so. Ecstatic. He still loves me and he still wants me around; is there anything else I could ask for?

A highly annoying cell phone begins ringing out its disgustingly hyperactive song. Ah, something I can ask for. I want that cell phone inside a T-Rexuar's stomach yesterday.

I feel Seifer start and look up at him as he pulls reluctantly away. I feel like being stubborn however, and hug him closer to myself. He laughs softly.

"I can't stop that damn song unless I can get at the phone, Squall," he tells me gently. I burrow my head into his chest for a moment longer before slowly stepping back just enough to give him the space he needs and not one inch more. Hyne, I never knew I was so . . . clingy.

"Since when do you have a cell phone?" I ask softly as he fishes something entirely too yellow out of a pocket. My eyes narrow suspiciously. It looks awfully familiar to me.

He laughs again even as he flips it open and answers it. "I don't," he tells me. "Yo. Ah, hey, Irvine." Funny, I don't hear raised voices on the other end. Maybe Irvine knows Seifer has Selphie's cell phone. Doesn't explain why he has it, of course. "No, no, I found him. He's with me right now." Another pause. "I was going to call you! I just hadn't gotten around to it yet." Now he's sounding a slightly defensive. What in the world . . . ? Maybe Selphie lent him her cell so he could get in touch with other people who were helping him search? "Yes, we're heading back to our rooms soon. Why?" I look up just in time to see him turn bright, bright red. "We are not making out!" And what a pity that is, too. With the moonlight shining down into the Training Center like it is, a person, even someone as unromantic as me, could hardly ask for anything more suited to "making out". "No! We're going to go back to our rooms to sleep. And then we're going to talk. And then, if Squall feels like it, we'll be doing much, much more than making out." I choke and my eyes widen.

"Seifer!" I whisper harshly. My face feels entirely too hot as he smirks down at him. He covers the small mouthpiece.

"Hush, it shut him up," he murmurs before turning his attention back to the conversation on the cell. "No, I won't forget to call in an excuse tomorrow. Yes, I'll make sure Selphie gets her phone back. No, I won't talk to any strangers, Mommy." He pauses, presumably to hear what Irvine has to say, and laughs. "Well, then don't act like one!" Another small pause. "Yeah, I'll let you know all the gory details; least I can do for your help." What the—? Is it only Irvine who was helping him? Or maybe the "you" is plural. Idiotic language. "Yeah. Same to you. 'Night." And he hangs up and slips the phone back into his pocket before hugging me tight to him. "So," he says, staring down at me with what I can see is perfect happiness seasoned with a touch of mischief, "you ready to go to bed yet or shall we take Irvine up on his suggestion?"

I frown, just a little. "Why do you have Selphie's cell phone?" I ask, completely ignoring his question for the moment.

He shrugs. "Irvine gave it to me so we could get in touch with the other, whoever found you first," he tells me. "He was holding down the fort in the garage while I got to fight my way through the Training Center with just Shiva and some lame magic."

"Where's Hyperion?" I demand, instantly concerned. I begin checking him out for any injuries. He laughs and pulls me closer, ignoring my efforts to continue my examination.

"Relax, I was perfectly all right," he tells me. "I just forgot Hyperion in our rooms. I've made it through the Training Center before without it before." I subside reluctantly, knowing perfectly well that each SeeD candidate must show that he or she is still able to fight without his or her weapon of choice. Hell, I'd been in Seifer's squad the first time I'd gone through the course. It doesn't really stop me from worrying, but it does stop me from running my hands all over Seifer. Sadly enough, it's less the worry that makes that hard to do than the very real need to, well, run my hands all over Seifer.

Hmmm, maybe we should get back to our rooms.

I'm woken up once again by Squall sliding out of the bed. And what a not nice way to wake up. All I can think of is he's leaving me again. I sort of jump out of bed after him, bringing both of us crashing to the floor. We both just lay there for a moment and breath heavily. Panic is still visible in my eyes, I'm sure, when he brushes his hand through my hair and smiles ruefully at me.

"I was just getting the phone," he tells me. Bemused, I take a moment to listen. Sure enough, the phone's ringing off it's hook. A glance at the time tells me who it must be; I've never been this late to Quistis' class before.

"'S'probably Quistis," I mumble, dragging myself to my feet. "I'll answer it." I swear he's laughing at me.

"Just how do you think you're going to get out of class today?" he asks the back of his hand as I shuffle my way over to the phone. I squint at the number displayed there. Yep, it's Quistis all right.

"Plan to tell her I'm sick." I hear a moderately muffled snort of laughter and roll my eyes. He could at least have a little faith in me. I mean, I know Quistis is just a little fanatical about getting sick notes before she'll excuse you from class, but does he think I have no brain at all? "Think you're so smart, smartass?" I growl at him. "Hundred gil she takes my excuse without a note from the doc." He's inspecting the back of his hand again.

"Easiest hundred I've ever made," he murmurs. I snort.

"Just you be quiet while I'm on the phone." I pick up the receiver and growl into it. "Whaddya want?"

"You weren't in my class at the bell, Seifer." Quistis' voice sounds disapproving. And tinny, but that's more the phone's fault than her's. "I play no favourites here. Either you come up with a suitable excuse for your . . . lateness or I'll be forced to note it down." I scowl into the phone and stand up a bit straighter. If she was standing in front of me right now, I'd be looming over her. Pity there's no visual.

I clear my throat a bit. Now to call in some of my questionable acting skills. "I have a cold," I tell her, trying to let her hear the weariness that comes from far too much emotional expenditure in less than five hours. Hmmm, maybe it's a good thing there's no visual. Squall's come up and wrapped his arms around me from behind. I lean back into him slightly and watch, amused, as he jots down something on the pad of paper beside the phone.

She won't buy it. I barely stop myself from chuckling. Like hell she won't. The grapevine's sure to've been . . . busy concerning the events of the previous night, especially since Selphie's had something to do with it. Quistis'll be more than happy to be gracious enough to let me have the day off after "losing" Squall. I turn my head towards his and mouth, "Sure she will," before grinning.

"Hmmm . . . ." Quistis is not quite good enough to hide the small shreds of satisfaction she's feeling. "You do sound rather sick." Of course I do. Trying not to bawl my eyes out has given me a stuffed head like you wouldn't believe. "I'll let it go just this once, but don't let it become a habit."

"Of course, Instructor," I mutter before firmly hanging up. I turn to Squall with a satisfied smirk and hold out my hand. "Pay up." His jaw drops in a most gratifying fashion. I burst out laughing and pull him towards me for another hug.

"Hey! Wait a minute!" He squirms to get free, but I only let him get so far before reeling him back in to me. He glares up at me. "How did you do that?"

I smirk. "Carefully applied tactics and superior planning," is my reply, spouting off the beginning of one of the blonde Instructor's better known lectures. "Know thy enemy, know what information they have, and it will all fall into place." His eyes narrow.

"What sort of information?" In a "if you have been hacking Garden again, you will be sorry than a Grat on fire" tone of voice. I raise my hands.

"Nothing like that!" I protest before lowering my hands to his waist again. "I'm sure she's found out from Selphie what happened last night and has decided to be . . . gracious about it now that she's won." I wince. Okay, so maybe that wasn't the most diplomatic way of telling him that his friends have been working behind his back to try to split up us.

Sqaull just looks bewildered. "Selphie? What does she have to with this? She's won what?" I rest my forehead against his and sigh. I don't want to do this, I really don't. But . . . I promised.

"Why don't you choose a place to sit?" I finally say softly. "I'll get us some milk or coffee or something and I'll explain everything." He still looks pretty puzzled, but he nods obediently and wanders off to find someplace he feels comfortable while I head out into the poor excuse for a kitchen and put together a small plate of nibbles for us to munch on, should our stomachs protest their emptiness. "Squall?" I call, picking up the plate in one hand and two glasses, carefully, in the other.

"In the bedroom!" he calls back and I smile reluctantly. The bedroom, huh? Last place of defence, that is. Looks like he feels he's going to need some really comfortable surroundings. Can't say that I blame him, however. Asking him to choose between me and his friends is not going to be the least stressful of activities.

I follow his voice into the room just in time to see him getting all cozy with the blankets. "Room for two?" I ask, gesturing towards the bed with one full hand. Thankfully, the cookies don't slide off the plate. I'd never hear the end of it if I got unnecessary crumbs into the bed.

He blinks at my choice of refreshments. "Seifer, cookies don't constitute a breakfast," he protests.

"Shows how much you know," I grunt and hand him the plate and one of the glasses before I climb into bed myself. I lean back against the headboard with a sigh and welcome his weight against my body as he leans into my arms. I'd like to be able to see his face when I start hashing through all of this, but beggars can't be choosers, and anyway, holding Squall like this would be my second favourite way to go through this, should I ever be unlucky enough to have to do this more than once. "So, where should I start?"

"I'm guessing this has something to do with what you didn't want to tell me last night," he says, reaching for a cookie—one of my own chocolate chip ones—to munch on. "So why don't you just start at the beginning?"

I bury my face in his hair for a long moment, trying to sort all of my feelings into some sort of order before I start. "Well, the beginning is: Your friends don't like me." I just know he wants to say something right then and there, but he lets me explain things in my own time. "I don't mean, they don't like me because they think I'm an asshole who needs a good whipping to be worth anything or because I did a lot of horrible things with . . . with Ultimecia." Even now, it's hard for me to even think about all of that without choking. Squall, thank goodness, understands, and doesn't press me while I control myself again. "They don't like me because I like you." There. I've said it. I look at it and even now think of how . . . trivial it all sounds. How . . . playground-ish. I'm not going to be your friend because you're not nice to us and you're nice to one of my friends. Very mature. Although I'm sure I don't come off as an absolute angel, either.

"You're not . . . exaggerating, are you?' he asks slowly, not really questioning me so much as making sure he didn't mishear me.

"No." I wish, for his sake, that I was. It can't be nice to find out that the people he's saved the world with aren't broadminded enough to keep their noses out of his business should he want to get together with the person they, in part, saved the world from.

He sighs and picks up another cookie. "What do they do?"

I shrug, not an easy task with an armful of Squall and breakfast. "Little things, mostly. Zell doesn't spend one second longer in the same room as me than he has to and shoots me dirty looks every five seconds. Quistis comes down hard and heavy on me in class whenever I so much as look like I might be contemplating anything but her lectures. I don't get detentions, but I do get a lot of extra homework from her for that. Selphie, well, she's almost always somewhere around me unless I'm with you and she's always got these nasty little comments about how nice it must be to not have to work at anything because of certain connections, all said in the nicest tone of voice imaginable. Irvine . . . ." Actually, Irvine was never that bad. Aside from that . . . incident in the library, all he's really done is stay as neutral as he can be. "Irvine just never really said anything one way or another. He hasn't said anything nasty about me, but then again, he hasn't stopped anyone from saying it, either." Besides, even if he had said anything, I owed him for last night.

"Last night?"

"Last night, I'm guessing Selphie saw you on your way out. I may not like the girl, but she knows how to put two and two together. Near as I can figure, she and Irvine had a fight over what to do about it and she drove off in a huff. I kinda got down to the garage just in time to see her peel out of there. I mistook her for you, acted like the lovesick fool that I am, and Irvine came over to offer me his help."

"This morning?"

"This morning, well, Quistis isn't totally heartless, I guess. She just doesn't want me with you. She was probably feeling generous and maybe even a little bad over how bad I was supposedly feeling; I figure Selphie didn't let her lack of a cell phone stop her from spreading the news as far as she could. The only reason no one's come knocking at the door to offer you congratulations disguised as condolences for finally getting rid of me is because you're not supposed to be here anymore." I fall into silence and he seems inclined to let it continue.

"What I don't understand," he says at last, and I tense up just the slightest bit, "is how you could mistake me for Selphie." He turns his head up to catch my expression with that damned impish look on his face. And what an expression he catches. My mouth is gaping wide open and surprise and relief are waging an all-out way for control of my face. He takes a cookie and places it neatly in my mouth and I finally find I can move again, even if it's only to choke. "Hey, are you okay?" he asks, concerned. "Here, drink some milk." I take my glass and sip at it carefully, not feeling like coughing milk all over the bed to go with the cookie crumbs.

"Fine thing to ask me," I croak out at last, glaring at him. "Surprise me like that again and you'll have a need to be concerned."

"I'm sorry," he says contritely. "I just . . . couldn't resist." I sigh and relax again, bringing him back into my arms. Of all the times for him to exercise his bloody sense of humour . . . . Then again, I suppose I should be grateful he feels like laughing after that bombshell I dropped on him. "That was why you were so angry?"

"Yeah. It's not much, really, to be so angry about, is it." He snorts, surprising me.

"Not much? I'm surprised there hasn't been a massacre yet!" Correctly attributing my lack of response to surprise, he continues, "Seifer, I know you, better than I know them, better than I know myself, even. I would have bet good money that this much constant stress would have had you blowing up a good three months ago." He cranes his head to look at me again. "I'm assuming all this started about when we finally got together, right?" I nod. He turns over and spreads himself over my chest, trying to cover as much of it as possible. "Then I guess I don't know you as well as I thought," he says a bit sadly. "I never even noticed . . . ."

"It's not your fault, Squall," I say gently, trying to get it through his thick, thick skull that none of this is his fault. Most of that can be attributed to the idiots who've been trying to pry us apart and the rest is all mine.

"Did you mean what you said?" he asks after a pleasant interlude of absolutely nothing happening.

"'Course I did. Which particular instance were you thinking about?"

He doodles on my chest. "The lovesick part." I swear, if he lowered his voice any more, I'd have to dig to be able to hear it.

I smile and hug him closer. "'Course I meant that. I've been a lovesick fool for longer than I thought I was."

He carefully moves the glasses in our hands and the mostly empty plate of cookies to the bedside table before straddling me with an evil little grin. "Then maybe we should get a note from Dr Kadowaki so we don't have to worry about any more classes taking you away from me."

I'm startled into a laugh. "Are you saying you're my cure?" I ask lazily, running my hands down his body. I shake my head in mock sadness. "You're more like the cause." I catch his lips with my own. "Good thing I like being sick," I breathe against them.


Author's Note:
        Uh, yeah, as you can see, I've not yet gotten up my courage to try out an actual sex scene. ^^' Not in this fic, at least. I have great plans for another of my on-the-drawing-board ones, though. ^^
        *gives the fic a dirty look* This thing seems to be sprouting sequels like there's no tomorrow. There should be exactly one more to resolve everything that needs to be resolved and then I can get back to working on the prequel. Which had better not spawn any more of its type. xx

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