Into Esthar

BY : Chemotaxis
Category: Final Fantasy VIII > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1011
Disclaimer: We do not own Final Fantasy or any of the characters in this story, nor do we profit from writing this story.

~ Chapter Twelve - Facing Reality ~

[Calder Madar's Apartment, Vascaroon Building, Sunday, 19th of October, 7:13 pm]

"Cut the onions already," Seifer said, noticing the chopping board he'd gotten out for Nolan earlier remained untouched. Grumbling under his breath, he sent the boy a firm look.

From atop the kitchen counter, Nolan returned the blond's gaze, his legs swinging back and forth idly. "No way, you're the freeloader. You do it."

Seifer raised an eyebrow. "And you're not?"

"No, I'm Family. It's different," Nolan shrugged halfheartedly.

Repressing a snort, Seifer placed a dirty knife in the sink, adding it to the steadily increasing pile of cooking utensils he'd already abandoned. "So all those times you happened to pop by at Arc's or my place around dinnertime?"

"I was bored." Nolan's eyes fell to where Seifer was chopping mushrooms.

"But you weren't freeloading?" Seifer quirked his eyebrow farther.

A smirk appeared on Nolan's lips. "Definitely not."

Huffing, Seifer shook his head slightly. "And the materials that keep disappearing--I guess that's because you've been bored as well?" It hadn't taken long for him to make the connection between his disappearing materials and the longfingered brat.

"You said I could have them," Nolan supplied, referring to the first time he'd gotten his hands on some materials Seifer had brought back. The idea of making little trinkets--weapon accessories--had fascinated him, and when the opportunity presented itself he'd been unable to pass up. Seifer had relented in no time. "You would have given them to me anyway."

Seifer knew Nolan was right; that's why he hadn't said anything in the first place. It didn't mean Nolan got out of chopping onions though. Placing some onions on the chopping board, he pushed it closer to the boy.

"Get to work," he ordered, watching Nolan closely.

Rolling his eyes, Nolan jumped off the counter and began slicing the onions.

"What're you two talking about?" Calder asked as he entered the kitchen, looking from Nolan to Seifer.

"Pumpkin here tried to get out of onion duty," Seifer said, emphasizing "pumpkin" with faux affection. He smirked broadly when the boy's jaws clenched.

"You're a dick, you know that?" Nolan said, his fingers tightening their hold on the chopping knife in his hand.

Calder sent Nolan a pointed look. "Language," he warned. The way his brother spoke when he wasn't around Seifer was bad enough, but when the two of them were together any sophistication to Nolan's language went straight out the window.

"And you're a straight up Prince Charming, right?" Seifer retorted, holding Nolan's gaze, smirking openly.

Catching on to Seifer's intent, Nolan rolled his eyes and turned around to focus on his task instead.

"I see you guys missed each other," Calder commented from the sidelines, walking over to the sink.

"Like I'd miss this prick," Nolan muttered under his breath.

About to retort that Nolan had been quick to drop by his place after his return to Esthar, Seifer instead grabbed some more mushrooms and placed them on the chopping board in front of him. Mentioning Nolan's visit could easily lead to Nolan bringing up Squall--something he could do without.

"So, when's Trevor's brother doing the tryouts for Garden?" Calder asked as he started to clean the dirty pile of kitchen utensils that had amassed in the sink.

"Sometime next month," Nolan answered, not looking up from the chopping board.

"Did they tell him what kind of tests he had to do?" Calder asked. No one really knew much about the mercenary training schools. Beyond SeeDs being elite fighters, weapon specialists with extensive knowledge on para-magic, everything concerning Garden was wrapped in mystique. Even the entry requirements beyond the age limit were unknown. He'd never met anyone that had gotten as far as tryouts until now.

"No, they only gave him a time and place to show up at," Nolan answered blandly, taking his time with slicing the onions in his own disorganized way.

Calder dried a pan in his hand, facing Nolan. "He must be excited."

"He can't talk about anything else; it's annoying as hell." Nolan replied, using a bit more force as he cut into another onion. Trevor and his brother Conner had already talked his ears off about it--Calder didn't need to start as well.

"I'm sure you would've been the same," Calder said, knowing how badly Nolan wanted to be a SeeD. Ever since his kid brother heard about the mercenaries and witnessed one of them in action using para-magic, the boy didn't speak about anything but Garden this, Garden that; Squall Leonhart this, the commander's latest mission that. Nothing else filled his brother's mind.

"If Garden had known about Esthar when I was young enough to join, then they would've begged me to join, not the other way around," Nolan pointed out with a raise of his eyebrows, ignoring Seifer's snort. "They would have put me on missions with the Commander himself the moment I graduated."

Calder smiled softly at his brother's hero worship. Everything always came back to the man in charge of the SeeDs, to the mysterious commander without a face to go with the name. Sometimes he wondered if it was all just a big sham; a big publicity stunt to get boys like Nolan to sign up and try out for Garden with the promise that they too could become a hero some day. At the stretching silence, he turned to look at his brother and at the pensive expression that greeted him, he stilled his cleaning.

"I heard he got injured during his last mission." A crease appeared between Nolan's brows.

"The one with the big snake?" Calder asked, having already heard the story a million times over.

"I heard it managed to get its fangs into him good and throw him high up into the air." Nolan's gaze grew increasingly unfocused.

Calder almost snorted at the look, realizing the account only made Nolan admire the man more, the grim reality of battle more tangible with the added details.

"Man, I would've loved to see the fight," Nolan said, snapping back to reality from the battlefield where he'd just watched a hardened warrior take down a dangerous monster. "You know, I took down a Mesmerize last week," he added, unable to help himself from showing off even when he knew his brother would have a heart attack at his words.

"You did what?" Calder demanded, immediately lowering the plate he'd just grabbed back into the sink. He'd never liked Nolan's decision to become a fighter in the first place and had advised their parents against it when his brother had first talked about it. He knew he was a hypocrite, having chosen that line of work himself, but he couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to his brother. And Nolan was different from him, always had been. He was reckless. Calder knew right away that the boy wouldn't stick to his schedule at the SCTA, that something like this would happen.

"Yeah, Trevor and I went out to the plains and killed one. It was awesome," Nolan said with a big smile and a puffed out chest.

Seifer was grinning too, thinking back on how he and Squall had snuck off to fight their first real T-Rexaur. The thrill of fighting something that didn't just freeze and dematerialize if they got badly injured like the fake ones at Garden had lured them outside. He knew neither of them had ever regretted the instance nor the ones that followed. He could still recall the rush he'd felt when the large creature finally hit the ground; how the earth vibrated and dust was thrown up in a large circle around the creature.

"Well shit, kiddo, color me impressed," he said, glad to see Nolan showing some of the guts the little brat always bragged about.

"Don't encourage him," Calder admonished as he considered the proud look in his brother's eyes. He was still only coming to terms with Nolan learning how to fight. Imagining the boy out there, risking actual injury made him want to lock the boy up and throw away the key.

"He wants to learn how to fight--that's the way to do it," Seifer stated, a firm proponent of learning by doing. He'd tried persuading the board at the SCTA a couple of times already, but they would hear none of his suggestions of excursions. In their opinion, fighting monsters was the task of the elite forces within the Estharian army--not teenagers just learning the trade. In Seifer's opinion it wasn't anything a couple of Potions, Elixirs, and perhaps a Phoenix Down couldn't take care of.

Walking over to where Nolan had finished dicing the onions, Seifer grabbed the chopping board. "Bring back the horn next time," he said, planning on making Nolan a dagger out of it as a trophy.

"Sure," Nolan said, smiling broadly at the order. When Seifer walked away again, Nolan hoisted himself back onto the kitchen counter.

Watching the exchange with crossed arms, Calder sent them both a narrow-eyed glare.

"What?" Seifer asked, his smile waning as he met Calder's gaze. He knew Nolan was the guy's brother and all, but surely Calder could identify with the sweet satisfaction of having landed your first kill. "You remember what it was like."

"What what was like?" Calder returned, his expression not easing in the slightest.

"Taking down your first monster," Seifer supplied as he turned to add some vegetables to a pan on top of the stove.

"I do," Calder said, pausing briefly as he recalled the way the Torama had collapsed, lifeless, in front of him, its blood permeating the desert sand as its magic slowly relinquished its hold on him. He had been told what magic would feel like and thought he'd been prepared for it, but the sting and burns had ensnared his mind; in the end his instructor had been the one to finish the creature off for him, a creature that had done nothing wrong, a creature they had hunted down.

"It was after I'd been accepted into my current unit. We went out on a training mission. We had supervisors, Seifer--we didn't just go out there and experiment with monsters that could possibly use magic against us--we didn't just go out there on our own."

Seifer shook his head in disbelief, his smile long gone. He couldn't believe Calder would give him this kind of crap. Fucking Estharians--don't know fuck all about the world. "You guys are too fucking sheltered," he said, rolling his eyes.

"You're saying you used to go off fighting monsters on your own?" Calder raised his eyebrows.

"All the time," Seifer replied without hesitation, the corner of his lips curving upwards. When he hadn't been sparring with Squall, he'd been out hunting monsters. Either that or they'd been out hunting monsters together. "It was great."

When he glanced in Nolan's direction, he saw his own passion mirrored in the boy's eyes. "I'll take you out to a good spot soon and we'll take down something bigger."

Before Calder could protest, Seifer held out a hand to silence the man and returned his attention to the meal he was preparing. "If you want to play mommy, you can join us, but we're doing this."

Sighing loudly, Calder walked over and gave Seifer a light whack to the head, only managing to earn himself a lopsided smirk for the effort. He always lost when Nolan and Seifer teamed up against him. And he had to concede that them going out with Nolan had some merit: at least Nolan would learn how to fight monsters and deal with magic attacks in a relatively safe way. He wasn't looking forward to it, but he'd deal.

Nolan and Seifer shared a triumphant look and Seifer began pondering where to take the boy. Nolan wondered just what Seifer considered "big."

Behind them, Calder groaned--he didn't know how he'd ended up surrounded by such reckless idiots.

[Calder Madar's Apartment, Vascaroon Building, Sunday, 19th of October, 8:38 pm]

Apart from the bright colors that flickered across the TV screen, darkness filled the living room. Nolan was lounging comfortably in the armchair, his legs dangling over the armrest, while Seifer lay sprawled along the couch. Victim of his brother's and friend's self-indulgence, Calder was evicted to the far end of the couch as the three of them watched one of the many new movies filmed after the war.

Seifer shifted on the couch. He rarely watched movies, never really had time for them, nor the inclination. The poorly-acted instructional videos forced upon them at Garden had made him gag. The low-budget movies back then had never appealed to him either. Laughable get-ups and cardboard sets just weren't worth his time. Not even the porn he confiscated as part of the DC had held his attention long; after a couple, he'd had his fill.

Refocusing on the film before him, he grabbed some popcorn. A flood of shitty movies like this one had been released after Adel's tomb fell from the sky and radio wave transmission became possible again. Old movie reels found new life beyond the local cinema theater and were broadcast along with new productions as more and more people got TVs in their homes. The Estharian government had even put up large screens all around the city to easily communicate with the public. When public announcements lacked, live news coverage appeared on the screens instead. At least at home Seifer could escape the medium. He didn't plan on buying a TV anytime soon.

"Moron," Nolan commented from his position in the armchair, talking to one of the people on the screen. "Even an idiot could see that coming a mile off," he added, shifting slightly in his seat.

The opening was too easy for Seifer to overlook. "Well observed." The glare sent his way was as predictable as the boy's retort.

"Fuck off."

Calder sighed and leaned forward in his seat. "Nolan," he said, his voice firm.

"What?" Nolan demanded in return. "Seifer swears ten times more than me." It wasn't a lie. If anything, the blond had taught him almost every swear word he knew.

Holding back a sigh, Calder pointed out the obvious. "He's not my brother."

Nolan returned his gaze to the TV. "Thank Hyne for that," he added under his breath.

Seifer chuckled lightly from his position on the couch. "Don't worry Sweet-Pea, I know you love me."

"Whatever," Nolan said, looking briefly at Seifer as he said it, his eyes narrowed.

Reminded of Squall by the grumpy expression and annoyed dismissal, Seifer grinned. "Ah, sweet puberty," he said with mock delight.

"What the hell's that supposed to mean?" Nolan demanded, his eyes immediately back on Seifer.

"Just congratulating you on reaching puberty," Seifer replied. "You're now officially an annoying teenager."

"Well congratulations on being an asshole," Nolan retorted, wishing imminent death upon the blond.

"Guys," Calder interjected. He'd listened to Seifer and Nolan bicker all day--there was only so much he could take.

Appearing as if the movie had recaptured his attention, Nolan instead contemplated how to get the blond back. As he tuned out the movie completely, the answer came to him easily. He knew what had happened the week before, how Seifer had been supposed to meet up with Calder but never showed. He also knew a man opened the door to Seifer's apartment the morning after, only half dressed. It reeked of one of Seifer's one night stands. "Hey Seif... Who was that guy at your apartment last Thursday?"

The casual way Nolan asked the question didn't fool Seifer. "None of your business, kiddo." Two could play at the game of nonchalance.

Narrowing his eyes, Nolan considered Seifer's tactic. Either the blond really didn't care about him bringing up the topic, or he'd hit the jackpot. Seifer only kept himself under enough control to appear unaffected when he truly had something to hide. Time to up the ante. But what would rile Seifer up the most: insulting the blond's choice in men or spilling Seifer's secret? Unable to choose, he decided to do both.

"Weren't you supposed to meet Calder last Wednesday eve?" he started out, keeping an innocent facade even though he knew the question was anything but. Yet it failed to illicit a reaction from the blond. Interesting.

"You know, it's kinda incriminating to have a half naked guy answer your door the morning after you're supposed to meet someone else," he said, foregoing subtlety.

That finally caught the blond's attention. Watching as Seifer moved from his slouched position to stare at him, Nolan had to suppress a grin.

"You might want to shut up right about now," Seifer supplied darkly. If the boy had any wits about him he would do just that.

"Why?" Nolan asked, a slight upwards tug at the corner of his lips giving away his true game. "Feeling cornered?"

Seifer all but growled. "Feeling just about ready to wring your neck."

Borderline managing to keep a straight face, Nolan pressed on. "Oh, so you did stand Calder up then?" he asked, not missing the way Seifer's jaw clenched. He knew he was almost there. The eruption would be spectacular. "For that arrogant ladyboy?" he added, the taste of revenge sweet on his tongue.

Clenching his fists, Seifer barely restrained the urge to deck Nolan. The little shit could be such an unbelievable pain in the ass. Not only did he now have to deal with explaining the whole thing to Calder, but Nolan had actually referred to Squall as a--

His fingers twitched, his mouth went dry--he saw his fist impacting with Nolan's stomach, the boy doubling over in pain--yet he hadn't moved an inch.

At the murderous expression on Seifer's face, Calder stood from the couch. He had to intervene. Either that or he'd end up with a severely injured or dead brother. But just before he figured out what to say, Nolan cut him off, the smirk on the boy's face warning him things were just about to get worse.

"I thought you liked guys, not femme-bo--" As he jumped out of his chair, Nolan forgot the rest of his sentence. Placing more space between himself and Seifer seemed vitally important the moment the blond rose from the couch. He'd expected things to turn physical--some horseplay--but the way Seifer looked at him didn't have much playfulness about it. Neither did the way the blond stalked closer.

"Okay, guys, relax," Calder said in a rush, moving closer.

Seifer caught the quick dart to Nolan's eyes that betrayed the boy's intention to make a break for it. By the time Nolan set off into a sprint, Seifer had already moved to intercept him and seized hold of the boy. Placing Nolan in a hammerlock, he made sure the boy couldn't move without inflicting pain on himself.

"First of all," he said in a low voice, his mouth placed behind Nolan's ear, "he's a friend." He applied a fraction more pressure, stopping when a slight crease appeared between Nolan's brows. "Second of all," he paused for emphasis, "no one talks about him like that. Got it?"

A couple of seconds passed before Nolan nodded. Feeling Seifer release his hold, he moved forward a step and took a deep breath. He didn't dare meet the blond's gaze.

Somewhat calmer, Seifer cursed inwardly as he moved towards the kitchen. "I'm going to get a drink." He didn't spare either of the Madar brothers another glance before leaving the room.

He placed the bottle of Penderyn on the counter harshly and got out two tumblers. Pouring himself a full glass of the golden whiskey, he immediately brought it to his lips. The first three swigs went down quickly. Telling Calder about Squall was unavoidable now. Even though they could both sleep with whoever they liked, standing Calder up had been another bad consequence of everything that happened that night. He probably should have come clean from the start. He just didn't want to talk about Squall or any of what had happened.

Empty glass in hand, Seifer gathered the second glass and the bottle in his other hand and returned to the living room. No background sound greeted him; the TV had been turned off. Calder looked over at him from where the man had resumed his seat at the end of the couch. He couldn't see Nolan.

"Don't tell me I actually managed to scare the little shit off." Seifer placed the glasses and whiskey on the coffee table.

Watching as Seifer sat down and put his feet up on the table, Calder raised an eyebrow. "You did put on quite a show."

"Hn." Seifer still mostly blamed Nolan. Granted, the boy didn't know how strongly he would react, but he'd been out of line nonetheless.

Pouring himself a glass of Penderyn, Calder leaned back in his seat. Seifer's expression was blank, but the blond had brought along a glass for him. Maybe he would finally find out what had happened. He hadn't seen Seifer much since the man turned up on his doorstep Thursday night. Apart from the time they'd spent together since their spar that very afternoon, he'd only seen Seifer in the mornings when he'd gotten out of bed and at those times the blond had been fast asleep. He'd vaguely registered the blond joining him in bed in the early hours of the morning, but they hadn't spoken then either. He assumed Seifer had spent his time at Arc's from the faint smell of soot clinging to the blond.

The atypical behavior he'd witnessed the last couple of days coincided suspiciously with what Nolan had divulged. The timing fit perfectly. Seifer must've met the guy Nolan had mentioned Wednesday night and brought him home, and that's when things had gone downhill. Seifer's mood was already off when he'd met the blond at the SCTA Thursday evening. Something else must have happened after their spar, something that caused the blond to come stay at his apartment. From what he could deduce, Seifer hadn't been back to his own apartment since.

Studying Seifer closely, he leaned over and filled up both their glasses. The blond remained silent, green eyes studying the golden liquid. Calder tapped his glass softly. "What happened?"

A slight crease took shape between Seifer's brow for a few seconds but quickly disappeared again.

"He used to be my sparring partner." Seifer knocked back another healthy swig of the whiskey. "He was at Pulse."

Calder's eyes rose from Seifer's drink at "sparring partner." He didn't know much about Seifer's past, only a few names of friends and sweethearts that were mentioned in passing. Seifer always avoided talking about his training, about where he came from. He figured if the past was a sore point for Seifer, then why delve into it. What mattered was the fun they had in each other's company.

"I offered him Avalanche."

Pulled from his thoughts, Calder recognized the true meaning behind the words. "You slept with him?"

The way green eyes stayed locked on the whiskey in his glass as he took another large gulp of the golden liquid was the only answer Calder needed.

"So?" Most guys would give their right arm for a night of Avalanche and sex with Seifer.

"He's not fucking gay. I gave him Avalanche and seduced him," Seifer bit out as he placed his empty glass firmly on the coffee table. He grabbed hold of the bottle of Penderyn and poured himself another glass. "He's too fucking sexy for his own good."

Silence fell as Calder watched Seifer sip on his drink with a grim expression. He didn't know what to make of Seifer's words. There'd been instances where he'd slept with someone he wouldn't have if it hadn't been for Avalanche. He'd done things that left him disgusted the morning after. But as far as changing your sexual orientation, he remained skeptical. "You're sure he's straight?"

A loud "yes" resounded in Seifer's mind. After he'd realized which way he swung himself, he'd toyed with the idea of Squall being gay and the guy wearing the clothes he had when they were younger just to entice him--to show him how fucking irresistible he was.

But he knew better than that. Squall just happened to have an unfortunate proclivity for dark leather and belts--a style that had the accidental side effect of turning the brunet into just about any gay guy's walking wet dream. He'd wager Squall was entirely clueless when it came to his effect on guys; he could easily imagine how Squall would react if he ever found out, how gloved fingers would reach to pinch the bridge of his nose in instant vexation.

The fact that Rinoa and Squall had been in a long term relationship was the main clue. And he had to admit, when he'd found out about them he hadn't been surprised by Squall's sexuality; what had surprised him had been the brunet entering a relationship in the first place. He'd always assumed Squall to be a frigid bastard incapable of getting intimate with anyone, male or female.

"I take that as a no," Calder supplied at the stretching silence.

"He's straight alright," Seifer replied grimly. "If it hadn't been for the drugs, he would never have let me touch him."

The amount of self-reproach behind Seifer's words temporarily stilled Calder's tongue. Why Seifer was taking it all upon himself eluded him. "Unless you forced the pill down his throat, this isn't your fault."

Seifer snorted in reply, before gulping down more of the whisky. At the end of the couch, Calder slouched back into a more comfortable position. A warm buzz from the alcohol was settling throughout him, adding to his confusion. He still had no clue why Seifer was staying with him.

"If he was so averse to your company, then why did he stay? I mean, he was still there when Nolan dropped by," he said, voicing the glaring flaw in what he'd been told so far.

Seifer narrowed his eyes and took another sip of whiskey. "We had unfinished business."

Shaking his head slightly at the blond's grim demeanor and evasive reply, Calder went on. "This guy..." he began, hinting at Seifer to give him a name so he wouldn't have to continue to refer to him as "the guy" or "he," but when the blond didn't catch on or plain stubbornly refused to humor him, he continued, "... he's the reason you're staying here?"

It was a while before Seifer relented to an answer, his words measured. "I told him he could stay at my apartment."

"Why?" Calder immediately asked. It didn't make sense for Seifer to make such an offer nor did it make sense for the guy to stay unless he wanted to stay.

"I made the fucking mess," Seifer let out hotly, unable to restrain himself. Trying to curb his emotions, he grit his teeth. "His girlfriend found out," he let out under his breath.

Everything suddenly fell into place for Calder. Seifer's behavior, what had happened, why Seifer was staying there. Seifer liked the guy and the guy had a girlfriend. It probably didn't help that Seifer'd had a taste of something he wanted more of, something that was off limits. Almost amused at the pure simplicity of it all, Calder just shook his head softly. Sometimes Seifer could be such a baby. He'd never witnessed it taken to such an extent before, but he'd certainly dealt with the man's more outward bouts of grumpiness at not getting his way. Feeling the urge to knock some sense into the man, he instead got up from the couch.

"You can stay as long as you want," he said, regarding the blond firmly. When fierce green eyes met his, he suppressed the urge to roll his own and instead turned and left the room. He knew the anger wasn't directed at him-that it was just an outward reflection of Seifer's inner turmoil. It meant the best thing to do was to just leave the blond alone.

As Calder left the room, Seifer emptied his fourth glass of whiskey. First Calder hadn't been able to get enough answers and then all of a sudden the brunet had just up and left, as if what he'd said had been stupid. Pouring another healthy helping of the Penderyn sloppily into his glass, he took another greedy gulp and relished the bitter sting that caressed the back of his throat. Calder could go fuck himself... along with his stupid questions.

In the end none of it mattered. He'd fucked up, again, yes, but it would all be over soon. In fact, it probably already was. Tomorrow, after he finished his work at the SCTA, he'd go home and see if Squall was still there. At the off-chance the brunet was, he'd just grab some stuff and return to Calder's. And if he wasn't, well, then that would be the end of it.

Placing his empty glass on the coffee table, he rose from the couch and headed for the bedroom as well. For now he'd keep the past out of his mind, something he'd become quite skilled at.

[Zayin House, Chimera District, Monday, 20th of October, 11:54 pm]

Reminding himself that he'd just go in there, pack some stuff and assure Squall that he could stay there for as long as he wanted without any disturbances, Seifer straightened from his slouched position. As long as the brunet didn't push any of hisbuttons, they'd be fine.

Stepping into the hallway, he started the short trek to his apartment. He tried to empty his mind, but the thoughts wouldn't disappear. As he slid his key into the lock of his front door, he stopped, his hand resting on the handle.

Taking a deep breath, he pushed the door open, standing absolutely still.

Only darkness greeted him.

You'll never see Squall again.

He didn't enter.

Until that moment he'd been too busy ignoring everything to consider what would happen if Squall decided to leave. He'd thought he never wanted to see the brunet again plenty of times, but upon facing the prospect of never actually seeing him again and having no way of contacting him, he felt his chest tighten. His heart pounded against his chest.

Forcing himself to enter the apartment, he switched on the light. Upon seeing everything in its right place, he almost switched the light off again just to avoid the empty room.

Just a week ago he'd all but forgotten about Squall apart from when others would bring up the man's name. Nothing had happened since then to change things. They weren't even friends.

His eyes traveled to the small plastic bag with brightly colored pills lying on the kitchen counter.

Slamming the door behind him, he strode over to the counter and grabbed hold of the bag only to throw it into one of the drawers. This wasn't right. He'd learnt how to deal with what life had thrown his way and had moved on, but of course Squall had to mess with that. He shoved the drawer shut, but felt no calmer for the abuse.

Continuing into the bedroom, he only made it past the threshold before stopping abruptly into place--he didn't need to turn on the lights to know what would greet him: mussed sheets and an almost empty bottle of lube. Dried come.

Fisting his hands and clenching his jaw, he walked over to grab a pillow. Within seconds he was back in the living room. Switching off the lights, he made for the couch, not wanting to think at all any longer. Yanking hold of a blanket, he flopped onto the couch and closed his eyes.

But all he could think of was Squall; all he could see were gray-blue eyes watching him in a way he'd never thought possible. All he could feel were the touch of cool fingers seeking him out and pulling him closer.

Pulling him in for a kiss.

A/N: Thanks to Aera for her wonderful edits and merry Christmas to everyone!


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