Into Esthar

BY : Chemotaxis
Category: Final Fantasy VIII > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 999
Disclaimer: We do not own Final Fantasy or any of the characters in this story, nor do we profit from writing this story.

Title: Into Esthar

Written by: Wolkje & Chemotaxis

Betaed by: Aerawyn (thank you!)

Disclaimer: We do not own Final Fantasy or any of the characters in this story, nor do we profit from writing this story.

Warnings: Language, Sex, Drugs, Yaoi (male x male). Do not read this if you are not allowed to do so according to the laws of your country (explicit sexual behavior, homosexuality).

Summary: Set two and a half years after the Second Sorceress War. Squall and Seifer have moved on with their lives, but a chance encounter in Esthar confronts them with their past.

Notes: First of all, apologies to anyone who might have read Easily Frozen or Arcane Crisis and has been waiting for an update. This is what happened instead and it seems it has taken over our lives. It's a story based on a role play that is still on-going. Since we're both into stories that pay attention to detail and slow building relationships, this includes both. And to showcase that we're in this for the long run:

February 6th, 2010 - chat log:

Wolkje: Hmmm, you know what I've been wanting to try out? Us, writing something together!

Chemotaxis: That'd be fun - I'd love to do that :) I think it might have to wait for the summer holidays from my side though :/ Unless we try a roleplay and then write a story from that.

February 7th, 2010:

The fated day "Ficzilla" was born! (Yes, that's our nickname for this story, in case anyone was fooled by the professional looking info above into believing that we're not absolutely mad.) And we haven't spent a day not thinking/writing/brainstorming since. Seriously. We're really hoping you guys will get just as hooked and will be in it for the long run as well!

Now on to the story...

~ Chapter One - Esthar Mornings ~

[Rinoa Heartilly and Squall Leonhart's Apartment, Layon Tower, Wednesday, 15th of October, 5:00 am]

Pulled from a deep, dreamless sleep by the unforgiving blare of his alarm clock, Squall immediately started into awareness, alert eyes opening to complete darkness. With a quick move he silenced the obtrusive sound before it could travel through the apartment and wake Rinoa. Letting his mind float along the intimate bond tying them together, he immediately brushed upon the familiar presence of his sorceress. Reassured the raven haired woman was still sound asleep, he languidly rolled onto his back and allowed himself a few more minutes under the soft duvet before the inevitable start of a long day. His schedule for the day was a busy one; he most likely wouldn't see his bed again until very late that evening.

After a last stretch of long limbs and a reluctant glance in the direction of glowing red digits signaling yet another minute had passed, Squall pushed up from the mattress with a soft groan. Padding to the large floor-to-ceiling window taking up the entire south wall, he drew back heavy curtains, ignoring the switch located just above the bedside table that would do the easy task for him. He would never get used to such unnecessary luxuries, but the large apartment Rinoa had picked some six months ago was littered with them. Though apartment was hardly an accurate term. Somehow she'd managed to find a two-story penthouse in what she called a 'prime location' between Odine's lab, the presidential palace, and the bustling shopping district at the heart of Esthar: three places Squall would rather avoid. But there was no denying the convenience of being less than a twenty-five minute drive away from Odine's lab. Rinoa's deteriorating condition had become too alarming and exceeded Kadowaki's abilities to treat. As a result they had moved to seek the assistance of the eccentric doctor.

In spite of the steep rent and the overly spacious interior, he had indulged Rinoa when she'd set her eyes on the place. He had wanted to make the move away from Balamb Garden as relaxed and void of stress as possible for her. If the ridiculously lavish penthouse could offer her some distraction, then the price tag attached to it didn't matter much. Besides, ever since they moved to Esthar he rarely stayed for longer than a week at a time anyway, his position as commander often keeping him away from the high-tech capital for long periods. Most of his nights were still spent in standard SeeD quarters, nondescript hotel rooms, or field beds if his mission allowed for even such comfort.

In reality, Rinoa's choice in apartment was of little consequence to him, save for some mild annoyance whenever he came back from a longer mission and had to readjust to such fanciful things as needlessly large walk-in closets or toilet seats cleaning themselves with an automated whir. Some Estharian technology was just absurdly excessive. He had been told by his friends that Rinoa had managed a tasteful job of decorating the place, but he could care less about interior design, practicality always being foremost on his mind. He was happy enough that Rinoa hadn't resorted to the color scheme of her quarters in the Forest Owls' former base.

With the curtains drawn back completely, cold neon light fell into the guest room and cast odd shadows across the bare walls. Outside a soft haze of light pollution lay over the city, the darkness of night never really claiming the brightly lit metropolis. There were no stars visible, even though sunrise was still more than an hour away. Letting his eyes wander the pristine walkways below and the gleaming horizon of glass and metal skyscrapers, their shapes too odd and irregular, Squall let a sigh escape as he rested his forehead against cool glass. He'd only been back for a few days and already he felt out of place. He doubted Esthar would ever feel like home, the quiet and thinly populated town of Balamb suiting him far better. When they had first moved to Esthar, he'd been surprised to find that he missed the salty air and temperate sea breeze. For as long as he could remember, he'd always lived by the sea, while Esthar lay in the middle of a vast desert.

Starting from his reverie, he dragged a slow hand through brown bangs and turned his back to the panoramic view of the sleepless city. He had to start getting ready, if he still intended to go over the documents for work and not be late. Closing the door of the guest room behind him, careful not to make any noise, he walked into the hallway. As he quietly passed Rinoa's bedroom, he could practically feel her, the image of long black hair draped on a pillow and soft features innocent with sleep easily materializing in his mind's eye. Her aura seemed peaceful, undisturbed. Hopeful that her frustration with him had dwindled somewhat over the past two days spent together, he didn't linger and made his way to the kitchen downstairs.

With his usual meals consisting of a quick visit to the cafeteria or vacuum wrapped rations, he was hardly a mastermind in the kitchen. A simple breakfast of coffee and toast would suffice though, especially keeping in mind the formal banquet he was supposed to attend later that day, along with the dignitaries that would be present at the morning's meeting. He inwardly groaned at the unappealing prospect, but Quistis had pressed him into agreeing, maintaining it was crucial for Garden and SeeD to showcase their good intentions. Considering the sensitive nature of the matter that would be discussed, Squall knew the strict woman was right, but it didn't make him any more eager to start the day. Diplomacy wasn't in his nature, the necessity to keep his blunt opinions to himself when faced with incompetent officials a taxing one. He'd been awake fewer than fifteen minutes and already a scowl had found its way onto his face.

Steering clear of the more complicated kitchen appliances, Squall went about the simple tasks of starting the coffee machine and popping two slices of bread into the toaster. Procuring some jam from the fridge and a large mug from the cupboards, his unimaginative breakfast sat ready on the kitchen table next to his laptop a few minutes later.

Woken by the brunet's early morning activities, Angelo came padding into the kitchen with a lazy trot, dark eyes peering at the source of soft noises and appetizing scents with a hopeful gleam of curiosity. Well aware that the large dog would be staring at him with pleading eyes for the better part of his breakfast, Squall gave dark fur a thorough ruffle before he walked up to the leftmost lower cupboard. This earned him a happily wagging tail as Angelo followed him across the kitchen, the dog fully knowledgeable about the scrumptious treats residing in said cupboard. Having set out a bowl of water and a tray filled with slippery, meaty chunks, Squall sat himself down for his own morning ritual.

As he absentmindedly ate his bland meal, he worked his way through some mails and confirmed the rendezvous point where he'd be meeting up with two SeeD officers. Opening the files Quistis had sent him for some last minute revision, focused eyes skimmed over the list of people who would be present at the meeting one last time, absorbing the information listed under each name and the accompanying pictures. Some of them were politicians he'd already met in the course of his career, but there were still quite a few new faces; mainly key figures from the Estharian government, military and SCTA.

Having plowed through all the necessary documentation and certain all details of the day's meeting were imprinted in his mind, Squall finally closed his laptop and cleared the kitchen table. Moving to put his plate and mug in the dishwasher, he halted in his footsteps when his eyes caught the calendar hanging nearby. Roused from her post-binge nap, a silent huff sounded as Angelo pushed up and trotted after him, the dog hoping for some pats that didn't come.

Rinoa's flowing and rounded handwriting was scribbled all over, the young woman clearly keeping busy whenever he wasn't home. Everything from plans with friends and birthdays of people he didn't know to the date her library books were due was featured on the brightly colored calendar. Struck by the fact that their lives couldn't be any more different, his eyes traveled to the bold red writing adorning October the fifth.

The enthusiastically underlined words "pick up Squall" caused a familiar twinge of guilt to well up in his chest. He had thought he'd be able to make it to Esthar by the fifth, but his mission had lasted well until the twelfth. The circumstances forcing him to stay in the field longer than anticipated had been beyond his control, but that mattered little to Rinoa when it meant his time in Esthar had been shortened by seven days. His periods of absence had long been a sore point between them and were part of the reason their relationship had ended.

Staring at the bright red letters for a few seconds longer, Squall's gaze was drawn to the neatly written "2:00 pm, Odine" next to October the fifteenth. As usual, Rinoa had asked him to come along to her appointment, the young woman not at all comfortable in the presence of the harebrained scientist turned doctor. Wanting nothing more than to help relieve her anxiety, he had instantly agreed. Even if they weren't a couple anymore, he would always be her knight. As long as Rinoa needed him, he'd always come back to their apartment in Esthar. In a way they both still needed each other. After the war his sorceress had dulled his nightmares and anxieties for him one by one and made him numb to the wound left by the Second Sorceress War. Thanks to her soothing presence at the back of his mind, he had remained functional, his thoughts mercifully empty whenever he needed them to be.

Besides, in reality not that much had changed. There hadn't really been any intimacy for a long time by the time Rinoa had ended things. His relocation to the guest room had been the only noteworthy change, a merely formal one at that. And just as before, he was more absent than present. Not much had changed at all, his life still pretty much the same as it had been before their breakup. Squall couldn't help but wonder what that said about their failed relationship. If he was completely honest with himself, he didn't understand much of it. But then again, he'd never exactly been boyfriend material to begin with. Perhaps he was just missing the glaringly obvious.

At the soft press of a wet nose against his hand and a questioning whine, he tore his eyes away from the calendar and his mind from darkening thoughts. Meeting Angelo's confused gaze and squatting down to rub and scratch behind keen ears, Squall wished his own worries could be dispelled so easily. With a last soft pat and a firmly spoken command to "stay," he directed his thoughts back onto the right track, before he got up and headed towards the bathroom attached to the guest room upstairs. Stripping down and letting his drawstring pants drop to the floor, he stepped into the shower and let cool water run down his limbs in order to clear his mind. With a soft sigh, he briefly focused on the sound of the hard spray drumming onto his shoulders and back, before he started to methodically wash himself down and prepare mentally for the coming day.

Towel wrapped around his waist, he emerged from the bathroom moments later and made for the "closet" he shared with Rinoa across the hallway. One glance in the mirror had told him he didn't need to shave just yet, so halfheartedly combing his fingers through rebellious wet locks and a quick spray of deodorant was all the grooming he would conform to. All that was left was locating his uniform, which was easier said than done.

Several minutes later, after having examined rotating racks, drawers and shelves containing clothes Rinoa had picked out for him, he still hadn't found what he needed. Grumbling a silent complaint about owning more crap than he'd ever get around to wearing, he eyed the tidily stacked abundance of plain clothing with a scowl. Though he understood the logic of dressing more inconspicuously when amongst civilians in order not to stand out too much and protect his identity, he definitely preferred his battle-worn gear. He'd choose the feel of leather softened with use over starkly pressed dress shirts any day.

"Looking for this?"

Startled by the soft voice coming from behind him, Squall turned around to regard the sleep mussed woman with a raised eyebrow. Only wearing one of his larger t-shirts and the jewelry that made up her magic inhibitors, Rinoa stood in the doorway and teasingly dangled his SeeD uniform in front of him, neatly arranged on a hanger. "I picked it up from the drycleaner yesterday. I told you I left it in the laundry room."

"Did I wake you up?" he asked evasively, not commenting on her implication he hadn't been listening again.

"No," she replied simply, brown eyes studying his undressed state for a few seconds, before she walked in farther and handed Squall his uniform. Small hand resting on his arm and gaze unreadable, the raven haired woman lingered close enough for him to smell the lavender scent clinging to her hair and skin. "Want me to make you some breakfast?" she offered in a soft tone of voice, tendrils of her consciousness softly snaking and weaving into his in the kind of morning greeting he hadn't received in a long while.

Puzzled at the kind treatment he was receiving, but wise enough not to question it, Squall allowed for the warmth coursing through their bond to soothe his nerves. If anything, he was glad Rinoa's mood seemed to have picked up considerably in comparison to the night before. He felt himself relax as their minds softly intertwined, the touch frail but comforting. "I already ate," he answered after a moment's delay.

An approving hum was all the answer he got, as Rinoa cocked her head to the side and eyed him curiously, able to feel his restlessness through their bond. "It's rare for you to be this worked up over a meeting," she pointed out neutrally, fingertips brushing along his lower arm a second longer before reluctantly breaking contact.

"I'm not," he replied curtly, a frown betraying his annoyance with himself. Distancing himself from his sorceress and turning his back to her scrutinizing gaze, Squall pulled his uniform from its hanger with a little bit more force than necessary. He didn't like the thought of having to disclose his identity to yet a few more possibly backstabbing politicians and military figures, especially considering the fact that Garden's proposition that day wouldn't inspire much goodwill in any of them. Dropping his towel, he selected a black pair of boxer briefs and started to dress with brisk movements, his mood souring once more. He wasn't very good at first impressions, disbelief and mockery always amongst the first responses he received upon revealing himself as Commander Leonhart. Not that he cared about what anyone thought. He could just do without the waste of time it took for others to take him seriously.

"They always do in the end," Rinoa's voice sounded firmly in response to his thoughts. Stopping mid-movement of buttoning up his pants, Squall glanced over his shoulder with a slight frown in place. Rinoa just stood leaning against the door frame, eyeing him intently.

"Don't do that," he muttered, returning his attention to his uniform and slipping on the uncomfortably stiff shirt. If his sorceress's calming effect was a perk of sharing a bond with her, then having his head peered into was an undeniable down side. She hadn't done so in ages, which left him confused, but apparently this morning was different in several ways.

"What? Look at you?" Rinoa questioned irritably, clearly irked by his dismissal. "Come here," she ordered immediately after, brown eyes taking in the brunet's too rushed movements and the sloppy result. Receiving only a warning look in response to her prompt, she sighed in exasperation. "Come here, so I can help you with that," she explained, pointing a finger at the careless arrangement of his uniform.

"I don't n--" he started, but quickly reconsidered at the growing touch of dejection to Rinoa's expression. He could feel it rather than see it, but it was there. Not wanting to ruin her mood or remind her of her anger with him the past few days, he decided it would be best to humor her this time. Walking up to the young woman, he let her fuss with the buttons and pressed collar, relieved at the small upward curl of rosy lips.

"You don't care half as much about appearances as you should," she reprimanded with a playful tug at his collar. Slender fingers traveled down unhurriedly, before they moved to tuck his shirt into black pants with slow deliberate moves. "You don't do things their way, yet you're successful. That's what confuses them, you know. More than your age..." She paused briefly to inspect her work from a slight distance. Looking up to meet Squall's gaze, she continued softly, "...or your face."

Increasingly uncomfortable, dark eyebrows drew together in confusion at his sorceress' behavior and words. Usually she avoided close proximity like this. "Rino-"

"Now the jacket," she immediately interrupted, pulling away before he had the chance to. Retrieving the black uniform jacket and pushing it into his hands, the young woman watched with an inspecting gaze as he put it on. Apparently she was pleased enough with the outcome, since no corrections ensued. Compliantly, he let her add the touches that would distinguish his uniform as that of the Commander and quelled his annoyance.

"Relax, Squall," she admonished as she arranged the more elaborately embroidered shoulder pieces, their gold and red threading gleaming under the soft overhead light. "Hand me the chains," came Rinoa's next order, her one hand held out whilst the other was still making minute adjustments to his shoulder pieces. No choice but to comply, he stood still as ornamental chains and dark red belts were attached to hold the contraption that was his rigid uniform together, the clasps fashioned to resemble his Griever necklace.

Twisting out of her reach, he gave a few testing shrugs of his shoulders and groaned inwardly at discovering the uniform felt just as uncomfortable as the last time he had worn it.

Eyes sparkling in amusement at the brunet's obvious dislike of the uniform, Rinoa supplied as sweetly as possible, "Ah. I forgot the cuff links."

"Having fun?" he muttered darkly, but immediately felt his annoyance dwindle at the sight of the smile playing on those lips. It was good to see her smile like that after two days of being ignored.

"Yes," she teased, closing in on him with feigned evil intent, before she pinned the silver cuff links in place. Humming her approval at the final result, she said quietly, "To think you worry about first impressions."

The statement made Squall frown in puzzlement. "Even you didn't like me much at first," he pointed out evenly. Which was an understatement. To his surprise, Rinoa laughed in response.

"Oh, but that was my second impression," she replied in a conspiring sort of way. When no understanding dawned in gray-blue eyes, the girl sighed. Deciding to take pity on the clueless man, she let the issue rest. "When do you have to leave?" she asked, as she turned around and left the room.

"Seven o'clock," he replied, his answer coming somewhat late as he followed her downstairs. Rinoa's comment hadn't been very comforting, nor had it made much sense.

In the hallway, Angelo skidded across slippery tiles as she raced to meet her mistress. Not allowed to go upstairs, she had been waiting impatiently at the bottom of the stairs and now her tail swooshed back and forth in barely contained excitement as she cozied up against Rinoa's legs. "That's in ten minutes," the girl thought out loud, before stooping down and giving Angelo a few greeting pets. "Not now, smelly breath. I'll take you for a walk later," she apologized to the frolicking dog, before ushering Squall into the living room and closing the hallway door behind them.

"Did you give her that tuna thing again?" Rinoa questioned with a slight curl of her nose, as she turned to meet Squall's gaze. Greeted by total indifference, she dismissed the issue with a soft sigh. "Never mind. I'll go get your coat," she offered whilst ignoring the whines that came from the door behind her. Not waiting for an answer, she headed for the laundry room without another glance his way.

Starting into action, Squall went about arranging the most important files and his laptop into a leather workbag. By the time he had managed to fit it all inside, soft footsteps signaled Rinoa's return. "Here," she said simply, one hand holding out a black trench coat that would cover his uniform, the other a shoulder holster carrying two semi-automatic handguns. "Your favorites."

Taking the items from his sorceress unblinkingly, knowing what the addition of the holster implied, Squall asked curiously, "I just came back from clearing out entire monster nests and you're worried now?"

A noncommittal shrug was followed by Rinoa's softly berating voice. "Put the damned things on, Squall. I understand you can't go around carrying a gunblade in broad daylight, so just use these instead."

"I always have Lionheart nearby for emergencies. You know that," Squall reassured, but still slipped the holster belts over his shoulders in order to appease her. "It's just a meeting. Like you said."

"The hidden agendas of men are much more dangerous than any monster nest," she replied simply.

Unable to deny the truth to her statement, his life targeted on numerous occasions in the past and not by wild monsters, he swung his bag over a shoulder. "I need to go."

Nodding softly in understanding, Rinoa followed him back into the hallway, warding off a happily bouncing Angelo in the process. "Don't forget about the appointment," she reminded him, when they reached the elevator.

"I know. 2:00 pm. I'll be there," he supplied quickly, before she could express any doubt. Turning around for some last parting words as the elevator doors opened with a muted ding, he was caught off guard by a chaste kiss pressed to his lips and the distinctive scent that was a mix of lavender and Rinoa.

Too surprised to string together a response, he was pushed backwards into the elevator by two insistent hands. "Be safe," his sorceress said quietly with a small wave, before she disappeared behind two metal doors sliding shut, leaving her knight utterly confused.

[Seifer Almasy's Apartment, Zayin House, Wednesday, 15th of October, 5:23 am]

Placing his key in the old lock, Seifer pushed open the door to his apartment. The living room was cast in darkness, and the faint smells of gunblade oil and metal greeted him, marking the place invariably as his. Despite the apartment's placement in one of the cheapest neighborhoods in Esthar and the building being about a hair away from falling apart, it had been his home for just over one and a half years and had grown to instill in him a sense of belonging. His apartment wasn't much, but it was his. He had earned everything in it the hard way.

It had been weeks since he had last set foot in it and all he could think of was collapsing on his comfy bed. Weeks on the road had left his body tired and battered and his limbs exhausted to the point of aching at his every move. For the briefest of moments he switched on the lights and scanned the apartment to make sure everything was as he'd left it.

Sliding his worn bag off his shoulder, he passed a hand through his hair and turned the lights back off. Unable to think straight any longer, he headed directly for his bedroom where he collapsed on top of the bed, his weary body smelly and covered in grime. He knew his bed would be caked in dirt by the time he had to get up, but he couldn't care any less. He let his body mold against the soft sheets and let his head sink deeper into the pillows as his mind drew a complete blank.

A low grunt left him mere hours later as he subconsciously moved a pillow to shield himself from the obtrusive light that spilled in through the window. Ignoring the sun's relentless attempts at stirring him awake, he turned in his bed and groaned in annoyance. As more hours passed and the heat in the room slowly became too much, he was finally pulled from his deep slumber and opened his eyes to take in the world around him. Bringing his fingers to his furrowed brow, he kneaded firmly in an effort to ease away the tiredness still all too present. With a groan, he pushed himself out of the bed and took uncoordinated steps towards the bathroom as he clumsily removed his dirty clothes.

Spotting himself in the mirror, he couldn't help a low chuckle at his own appearance. Long unkempt locks were matted with dirt, as was his tanned skin. A full grown beard framed his cheeks. "Fucking sexy, Almasy," he greeted himself, shaking his head in disbelief at his rough appearance.

Entering the shower moments later and twisting the setting to scalding hot, he enjoyed the feeling of steaming water flowing against his body. It had been weeks since he'd felt such luxury. Sighing, he began lathering himself up, his mind already moving on to plan the day ahead. He would have to pay the SCTA a visit to inform them of his return. He'd worked at the local Specialist Combat Training Academy for just over a year as a gunblade instructor. Even though he was still on the lowest instructor wage and only worked there two nights a week, he enjoyed it nonetheless. If he was lucky, he would be able to return to his usual teaching hours the following week. He couldn't wait to see if the brats had improved any since he'd been away. If not, then he would definitely take sadistic pleasure in making them painfully aware of their lack of progress. Shaking his head as he thought of the substitute instructor they always used when he was away, he couldn't help a self-satisfied smirk. The Tiamat SCTA had been damned lucky to find him.

After his stop at the SCTA, he planned on visiting his other employer, Arc Balios. Knowing the man would be impatient to get started on the weapons Seifer had just been out gathering materials for, he easily predicted a fair amount of hours spent slaving away at the forge. Even though the trips out where boring and tedious as hell, their sole content consisting of buying materials off far away strangers and digging for ore, they earned him just enough extra gil to keep him from going into the negative. When Arc had reluctantly offered that Seifer become the man's apprentice, it had been under the condition of low wages in return of hard labor for as many years as Arc deemed necessary for Seifer to prove his worth. In reality, the blond knew it was the man's way of testing his sincerity and determination, nothing more, yet it didn't really matter as he had no need for anything else.

Thoughts returning to the tasks ahead of him, he remembered some shopping would be in order as well. Anything left in his fridge would have grown a life of its own since he'd been away. From his quick glance in the mirror earlier, he also knew he'd have to fit in time for a haircut. No one would be able to recognize him if he didn't. And with the rather thoughtless abuse of his bed linen, he had to take care of that too. Unable to suppress a sigh at his growing list of menial chores, he groaned inwardly. Trained as a fighter, he had never expected his life to take such a turn for the mundane.

Drying off whilst brushing his teeth, he was pleased at the image that greeted him in the mirror. The tan he'd worked up over his weeks on the road went well with his blond hair and green eyes. Getting out his razor and shaving cream, he was almost back to his old self, his blond locks the only thing still in need of fixing. Fishing out his hair trimmer from the back of the rather cluttered cabinet under the sink, he plugged it in and began the tedious process. Zoning out, it wasn't long until he finished his task, smirking in satisfaction at the result. There was no way he wasn't getting laid that evening. He was simply too irresistible. Switching off the lights in the small bathroom, he turned around and left the room in search of clean clothes.

Donning a pair of well worn jeans and a black t-shirt, he decided he might as well get started on his long list of chores. Only managing to change the bedding, he was almost immediately distracted. Making plans for the night suddenly seemed much more interesting. Picking up his cell phone, he sat down on the clean bed and punched in the familiar number. Enjoying the cool breeze that filtered through the open window, he smiled ever so slightly as he waited for the other person to pick up.

"Calder," a male voice greeted.

"It's me," Seifer spoke, not giving away his identity, wanting to see how long it'd take for the other man to catch on. Whenever he was out on one of his trips, he never stayed in touch. He had never been one for texts, hating the act. If he wanted to talk to someone, he'd do just that. Spending ages on typing something he could easily say within seconds just seemed absurd. And distractions whilst on the road never led to anything good.

"Seifer?" the man asked, his voice easily betraying his excitement.

Seifer chuckled softly as he gave his reply. "Indeed." He couldn't help but gain satisfaction from how eager Calder sounded. Three weeks without sex was far too long. "So, you got time to meet up tonight?" he asked, never one to mince words.

"Sure," Calder replied almost instantaneously, needing no time to ponder the question. "We sparring as usual?"

Quickly running through the list of things he had to deal with before he could indulge in some much needed physical relief, Seifer grimaced, annoyance sneaking into his voice. "I still have a lot to take care of today. I don't think I can meet up until late." He paused briefly to turn his mood back around. "How about we go out to celebrate my return tonight?"

A low chuckle sounded from the other end of the line. "You're insufferable," the man commented.

Smirking in reply, Seifer got up from the bed. "Now, I know that's not what you think," he retorted.

There was another bout of soft laugher before the other man spoke again. "Where are we going then?"

"You decide. Some decent music is all I need." It wasn't like Seifer was planning on staying out for long anyways.

"Sure, how about going to the Nexus then?"

"Sounds good. I'll pick up some Avalanche on the way," Seifer agreed.

More laughter filtered through the line at the added information. Calder knew exactly what Seifer meant by those words. "Well, at least I know what mood you're in," he said, knowing full well Avalanche was a favored drug of the blond's for a night of sex.

"It's been three fucking weeks," Seifer replied gruffly.

"I know. I'm not complaining," Calder commented. "Promise to get us a good supply, huh? I'm all out at the moment."

This caused a blond eyebrow to rise. "Yeah? You been busy whilst I've been away?"

"Only a couple of times..." was Calder's measured reply as he downplayed what he'd been up to whilst Seifer had been away.

Somewhat annoyed that Calder had sugarcoated his words when jealousy had never been a factor in the relaxed thing they had going, Seifer decided to ignore it and tease the guy instead. "Anyone good?" he asked with a smirk on his lips, certain the other would answer in his favor.

"You know no one is a match for you," Calder spoke smoothly, speaking the exact words he knew Seifer wanted to hear.

Smirk growing bolder, Seifer did nothing to hide his smugness at the words. "Don't you forget it." Standing up from the bed, he reluctantly resigned himself to getting on with his program for the day. "Well... I'll see you tonight then. Around one?"

"Sounds good," Calder agreed, not needing much time to ponder his reply. After a moment's pause, Seifer hung up.

Walking over to the window, Seifer closed it as he eyed the busy street below, a playful smile tugging at his lips. After he had moved to Esthar he had stayed on his own and kept to himself for a long time. He'd had it rough after the war and had led a strangely solitary lifestyle, far removed from the attention seeking teenager he'd grown up as. Calder had been the one to change that. A gunblader as well, they spent most nights together when Seifer was in Esthar.

Distracting himself from his pointless thoughts, he walked into the living room. After grabbing some food, he began emptying the bag he'd brought upstairs the night before onto his work table. He always kept some materials for himself to experiment with. Eyeing the pieces, he was suddenly eager to go to Arc's and get started on the weapons they had prepared for.

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