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.




~ Chapter Six - Grim Rouse ~



[Seifer Almasy's Apartment, Zayin House, Thursday, 16th of October, 6:56 am]

The heavy scent of old sweat settling against skin punctured the perfect darkness that was Squall's shelter. It wandered into his dreamless sleep undetected, a vague presence, prickling and familiar, but not enough to distract him from his mental inertia. Wrapped in indifference, he simply drifted on the sound of a steady, slow drum echoing beneath his ear, each beat weaving into his mind soothingly, for what seemed like an eternity.

Unfamiliar. The vague notion materialized unannounced, consciousness prodding at his brain, but he didn't care about "unfamiliar" when there was also warmth. Burying his head a little deeper into the new sensation joining his disassembled sensory awareness, he hid from encroaching thought. For long moments nothing else existed. Sweat, a heartbeat--he realized--and warmth. Not an extension of his own body. He couldn't feel his own body.

Wrapping himself around the external source of comfort, not with arms but with an increasingly hollow kind of hunger, Squall kept quiet. For long moments he didn't stir, afraid that movement would break the spell. Eyelids twitched against his will. A nervous chill crawled through his veins and sent slight tremors through numb limbs, desensitized extremities suddenly registering as part of his body again. Trembling fingers. An arm he couldn't move. His legs were heavy, phantom bugs itching between muscle and bone. Cataloging each unpleasant sensation with detachment, he reluctantly remembered himself as boundaries formed and enclosed him, placing shape and skin between him and the body he was pressed close to.

A burning exhale of air escaped him as his heart jolted into a fast, erratic pace, hammering against his ribs. His mind was pulled tightly into his throbbing skull, every nerve end shocking awake. Distant discomfort became real, unavoidable, as he abruptly jerked from his semi-wakeful state. His eyes immediately blinked in protest as he opened them, the world a blur of blue shapes and lights moving too fast. He quickly closed them again as he greedily sucked in deep breaths, the excess oxygen making him lightheaded and doing nothing to alleviate the pins and needles that erupted throughout his body.

The form beneath him remained still, unaffected and constant. Slowly he flexed his fingers in a searching move, the feel of warm skin filtering through and offering a source of distraction from his discomfort. He wasn't alone. Slowing his breathing and isolating the strong heartbeat beneath him as a point of focus, he waited until the worst passed, the slight tremor that had taken hold of him receding. He still felt boneless, his skin covered in cold sweat and his pulse restless, but he no longer felt like he'd been dropped into a lifeless body coaxed back from death.

With small testing moves he tried to chase the residual numbness from his muscles, fingers and toes first. Feeling a warm weight tilt against his head in response, steady breaths ghosting his face, he cautiously cracked open one eye, then the other. Grateful for the soft blue glow that set the room alight instead of the blaring light from mere moments ago, he stared at a muscular chest, and beyond that, a wall.

He'd never woken up like this before, his left arm draped across a firm stomach and his head tucked safely under someone's chin. A strong arm was cradling him close, a large hand pressing against his lower back. It was a ridiculous position to wake up in, but the thought failed to alarm him when a single name drifted to the forefront of his mind.

Seifer.

Eyes traveling up to take in angular features and rebellious strands of gold, he was greeted with the deceivingly serene sight of the blond fast asleep. The man's mouth was slack with sleep, his expression utterly unguarded, compelling Squall to watch, spellbound, as he relaxed against the slow rise and fall of Seifer's chest. Somehow he felt relieved at finding himself in the exact same position he'd fallen asleep in. With the blond pressed close and still there, he didn't stop to ponder the strange sentiment, satisfied enough with studying the sleeping man's peaceful expression for long minutes.

It felt strange, as if he was trespassing, witnessing something that wasn't meant for him. It wasn't that he'd never seen the blond asleep before--Seifer and he had bunked together a rare few times as cadets, shared a tent or room on training camps--but the last time he could recall Seifer letting his guard down around him like this was at the orphanage when Matron had allowed them a room separate from all the younger boys. Seifer had blown a fuse at having to put up with bawling, bedwetting toddlers at night and had enlisted Squall in the cause for their own bedroom whether he had wanted to join or not.

Feeling a painful tug in his chest at the remembered loneliness, all the other children their age already long gone to new homes except for the two of them, unwanted, Squall scrunched his eyes closed and burrowed his face against the blond's chest. Inhaling a scent he knew well from spars and fights long ago, he held his breath until lack of oxygen sent his head buzzing, hoping to chase away stray thoughts. What are you doing? The sound of Seifer's voice, much younger and hiding surprise behind haughty annoyance, echoed through his mind as he remembered how the boy had walked in on him pressing his face into a pillow much the same way.

Just like he had then, Squall refused to look up, to breathe, but the firm grip that had yanked him up didn't come this time. Losing against the burning sensation in his lungs, he succumbed and took in deep gulps of air, his lips ghosting warm skin. Opening his eyes to regard the sleeping blond, his chest felt more restricted with every breath. He wasn't a child anymore; he didn't ever want to feel that pathetic again. He didn't need anyone, but he still couldn't help himself from looking at Seifer the way he had back then. He had trusted Seifer then, if only by merit of the blond's stubborn refusals to leave him alone. It had been the only constant in his young life.

He wanted it back. He wanted the constant of Seifer's presence back.

At the thought, a shiver traveled along his naked back, the sheen of perspiration that clung to his skin causing him to feel the cold of a passing draft all the better. The heavy and sweet tang that had settled against the back of his tongue was quickly becoming unpleasant. Swallowing thickly, his mouth too dry to dispel the lingering sweetness, he ignored his body's continued signals that something was wrong. He didn't want to focus on the thoughts starting to stir in his mind and instead kept staring at the taller man beneath him.

Slowly he slid the hand that was resting against Seifer's stomach upwards, only by a careful inch, wanting to coax some kind of reaction out of the blond without actually waking him, but no reaction followed. Increasingly restless, he propped himself up and inched closer to the blond's face, watching how his breath blew soft tendrils of hair back, how lips twitched slightly in response.

What are you doing?

A frown tugged at his brow when he hesitated, unsure whether or not to close the distance and feel the warmth of those lips again. He'd wake Seifer, but he couldn't break his gaze away from slack lips all the same. The chill of the breeze stinging his back contrasted too highly with the heat of skin pressing against his front. Moving skin and muscle, hot and slick and deep. The feel was imprinted onto his body, inadvertently drawing his attention to how every inch of them was pressed together intimately.

Swallowing thickly once again, this time not because of the sweet tang invading his mouth, he dipped down and placed a ghost of a kiss against unresponsive lips, the simple contact kindling a need for so much more than just touch, but he couldn't reclaim the rightness he had felt earlier that night. Fingers itching and his heart tight in his chest, he knew anything more would wake Seifer, an increasingly disquieting thought. What if the blond woke and it still felt... wrong?

The realization that Seifer easily could have left while he was sleeping, but hadn't, no longer made him feel relief when the thought emerged that maybe the blond had fallen asleep before he'd had a chance to. Squall couldn't recall falling asleep himself. He only remembered the paralyzing exhaustion that had taken hold of him. All too easily he had assumed Seifer had chosen to stay, a thought that left him feeling colder and colder by the second.

He couldn't bring himself to stay in Seifer's bed a moment longer, unable to shake his growing apprehension. Pushing away from the sleeping form, he carefully slipped out of the man's hold and forced himself into an upright position in spite of the sudden rush of dizziness the move earned him. Head reeling and jaws locked in nausea, he swung his feet over the bed slowly, his hands gripping the edge of the bed tightly. At the slow dip of the mattress, the blond behind him moving and brushing an arm against his lower back, he fled from the bed.

Uncoordinated steps carrying him to the window, he clumsily steadied himself against the sill and wrenched his eyes closed. His premature escape from the bed had sent the room spinning wildly, his stomach turning as up became down and vertigo screwed with his sense of balance. Barely able to keep himself standing, he slowly leaned down to rest his arms and head against the cool window sill, his whole body slumping forward as he waited for the world to come to a still.

As the floor stopped moving beneath his feet, his disorientation ebbing away into faint lightheadedness, his mind was drawn to other sources of discomfort. The lack of Seifer's heat gave the chill night air free reign to seep into his muscles, goose bumps lining his naked form as the wind chased all warmth from his body. Only sparing a moment's thought to the astoundingly different feel of the soft breeze against his skin to earlier that night, its touch no longer soothing or refreshing, the dull ache that radiated through his lower back when he tried to straighten himself demanded his attention next. It wasn't a sharp pain, but it was unpleasant enough to keep him bent over against the window sill, frozen in place at the painful throb each move caused him.

Shifting an arm from its steadying position to assess the damage, he touched his lower back testingly, kneading tender muscles with slow moves. Carefully he brought tentative fingers farther down, brushing against sore flesh and dry crust caked against his inner thighs. Unable to suppress a soft hiss, he quickly retracted the exploring touch, his arm falling limp to his side. Motionless, he suppressed the urge to curl in on himself and instead let the night steal whatever body heat he had left. The cold didn't register anymore when he finally pushed himself upright long moments later, his aching muscles complaining at the movement.

He didn't want to look back yet, anxiety stirring at the mere thought, so he stared out of the window. It was still dark, but the street below was already coming to life, the occasional pedestrian and car passing by signaling dawn was on its way. With a deep sigh he closed his eyes to a view that no longer captivated him, the connection he had felt to the outside world lost. Shutting out the dark sky and stark buildings in front of him along with the room behind him, Squall breathed in and out deeply to calm himself, but the scent of sex still clung to the air, to his own skin, drowning out the smells of the waking city that floated into the bedroom.

Opening his eyes, his heart thundering in his chest, he closed the window and cut off the flow of cold air. The room was plunged into sudden silence, the sounds of the metropolis loud in his mind now that he could no longer hear them. Involuntarily, his gaze fell to the reflection of light against glass, the mirror image showing the room and the naked blond behind him. Unable to deny the situation any longer at the onset of damning clarity, he slowly turned around.

Seifer lay sprawled on his back, his arm stretched out to where Squall had moved from the bed. Any sheets that could have covered the blond's naked form were lying in a crumpled heap at the foot of the bed, dirtied testimony to what they had done. The bottle of lube and his t-shirt were lying on the bedside table, the rest of his clothing strewn randomly on the floor along with Seifer's. Taken off eagerly, he remembered. Watching the scene from a distance, no longer a part of it, unable to return to it no matter how badly he wanted to, dread seized him.

They would never be able to take this back. He'd never have Seifer back, not after this. Even if it was something he had resigned himself to long ago, he wouldn't be able to accept it anymore. The moment Seifer woke up and asked him to make himself scarce would be the moment he'd crack. He knew he had to leave before that happened.

Needing to move and get dressed, he slowly inched toward what he thought to be his discarded underwear. Ignoring the harsh sting that accompanied his every step, his ass getting sorer with the minute, he fought down the coiling mess of emotions that was burning its way up to his throat. Grateful that the blond wasn't awake to witness the state he was in, he bent down to pick up his black boxer briefs, only to immediately drop them to the floor again, the thing covered in dried come. His own, his memory provided with glorious detail. Recoiling from the images that were far too vivid, he forced his mind back on track. Get dressed. Get out. A brief glance in the direction of his t-shirt was enough to remind him that the piece of clothing was just as stained, if not more so.

Freezing in place at the sudden sound of the bed creaking, his eyes immediately darted to the heavy blond who was shifting slightly and moving his outstretched arm to rest on his stomach. Feeling increasingly exposed, he couldn't bear to remain naked in Seifer's presence and willed himself to keep moving. With all else ruined, pants would have to suffice. Fingers incapable of the finer motor skills required to buckle up a belt, he quickly stopped trying, glad enough to have managed the one button and zipper of his jeans. Taking in the discouraging sight of heavy boots and the long shoe laces they sported, he figured if he was going to leave shirtless, then shoeless to top it off didn't matter much.

The pins and needles returning to his arms told him he was probably breathing too fast again, his mouth and throat uncomfortably dry. The longer he stayed upright, the dizzier he felt. If he didn't leave now, Seifer would find him passed out on his floor come morning. Without another look back, he carefully padded across the room towards the door and stepped into the living area, slumping back against the door the moment he closed it behind him.

The sudden warm air enveloping him stung his eyes and sent an involuntary shiver along chilled flesh. His lips and mouth were getting drier with each ragged inhale and his tongue felt much as if it'd been replaced with a piece of cardboard. Thirst temporarily overruling everything else, he pushed away from the door and made for the kitchen sink. Addled depth perception toying with his line of sight, the water tap slunk away from his reaching hand whilst the wall behind it crept impossibly forward, his fingers closing around thin air.

Cursing inwardly, he stilled his moves momentarily and blinked until the sink and tap fell into their proper places. Trying again after a deep breath, this time advancing his hand more steadily, numb fingers found the tap and twisted it open. Careful not to aggravate his dizziness any further, he bent over slowly and drank with greedy gulps, the feel of water sliding down his parched throat soothing, but soon forming an unpleasant and cold weight in his stomach. With an unsteady hand he wiped at his mouth, before turning off the water again. Carefully, he turned around and steadied himself against the sink, his eyes scrunched closed.

He wouldn't get far like this. He could hardly walk straight, let alone drive a car. His entire body ached, his vision and sense of balance impaired. He wasn't even wearing shoes. Sick amusement built within his chest at the absurdity of his situation, at how utterly weak and pathetic he was, but it never manifested, his face turning expressionless when he opened his eyes and his gaze landed on the small bag of pills still lying on the kitchen counter.

Thoughts frozen, he stood still for long minutes. It wasn't that he'd forgotten. It just hadn't seemed important, other things having demanded his attention before. Suspicion threatened to unbalance what remained of his composure. Images of Seifer holding him close, the feel of the man's every single touch committed to memory, clashed with the dawning realization that none of it had been real, the evidence sitting in plain sight. But knowing it was nothing but chemicals causing the sharp jolt of pain he felt, didn't help to stop him from feeling it all the same. Fingers clenching into fists, he tried to quell the panic surging through him. Maybe he was just being paranoid; he'd heard drugs could have that effect. Seifer wouldn't. He would never--

Seifer would never hold you like that.

The truth hit him like a brick wall. Refusing to acknowledge the hurt he knew wasn't his, he forced his mind into a blank. He just had to wait until the drug had run its course, then it would be over. Reaching into his pockets, he took a moment to will the tremble of his fingers away before fishing out his cell phone and flipping it open to check the time. 7:23 am. He couldn't recall when exactly he'd taken the Avalanche, his sense of time jumbled, but it should have been a few hours already.

Pocketing his cell phone, he stayed where he was, the edge of the sink pressing uncomfortably into his lower back. Sitting down or making himself more comfortable would end in him falling asleep, moving around too much and exerting himself in passing out; two outcomes he had to avoid. He couldn't be here when Seifer woke up. The moment he felt confident enough he could walk without getting dizzy or nauseated, he'd grab his stuff and go. So he waited.

The fridge was humming quietly in the background as the seconds ticked by, the occasional muted noise coming from different parts of the building the only other sound interrupting the otherwise complete silence. Alone with his thoughts, his gaze strayed to the bedroom door. At first he just watched while listening out for any sign of the man on the other side. The image of the blond's features relaxed in sleep came to mind easily, but tanned skin and well defined muscle materialized before his mind's eye just as effortlessly. His thoughts traveling lower on their own accord, to shapely cut hips and a straining erection; dread struck him the moment he caught himself.

With a rough move he quickly regretted, he turned around and grabbed the faucet, the metal cold in his tight grip and the clatter of running water loud in his ears. White flecks swarmed around the edge of his vision as he leaned over and splashed water in his face to stun himself out of his train of thought. I let Seifer-- Another splash of cold water immediately followed, his bangs sopping wet and clinging to his face, but to no avail. No matter how sober he'd get, no matter the fact he'd soon feel revulsion instead of arousal, it wouldn't change a thing about what had already happened. What he had let happen.

His cell's ringtone snapped him from his daze, the sound piercing and demanding, but he didn't move to pick up. He already knew who it was, the insistent ringing accompanied by the sudden reappearance of his sorceress' aura, circling just outside his own, refusing to come any closer. The moment she knew he was aware of her, she almost felt brittle as she sought him out more fiercely, the echoing pinpricks of hurt intensifying with each second he left the ringtone unanswered.

He couldn't pick up. Not now. Wiping his hands dry on his pants, he took out his cell phone and placed it on the kitchen counter. Taking a step back, he locked his eyes on the buzzing piece of plastic, but the ringtone simply died and he found himself alone again, no longer able to feel her. A short beep signaled he'd received a new voice mail, silence returning to the room.

Heart beating fast, he glanced at the bedroom door, but he couldn't hear any movement on the other side. At least the call hadn't woken the blond. Gaze moving back to his cell phone, he hesitated, afraid to hear what Rinoa had left to say after everything that had happened at the club. Most likely arrangements for the breaking of their bond, the last thing he wanted to face right now. He wasn't foolish enough to hope that maybe she had reconsidered, but he couldn't bear hearing out the final verdict either.

It was all happening too fast. He couldn't believe how horribly wrong things had gone in the span of a single night. Feeling thick emotion settle at the back of his throat, he smothered the useless feeling and reached for his phone. The sooner he got it over with, the better. Flipping his cell phone open, he navigated through the menu and brought it to his ear, bracing himself for whatever message Rinoa had left.

As the voice mail started playing, Rinoa's voice was hoarse and quivering, making it obvious she had been crying.

"...Squall... You... I-I always thought you weren't capable of... of feeling like that. That it wasn't my fault. That something... your childhood maybe... had caused you to be the way you are... But now... I know I've been horrible, but... You're too cruel... At least I had the decency to cloud our bond, so you wouldn't have to... have to know... Would you believe me if I said I never cared about anybody but you? ... I guess you wouldn't... You're breaking my heart, Squall. I love you. So much. Why... Wh-who did..."

A long pause filled with nothing but sobs disrupted the message, before she managed to collect herself again and continued, the fake accepting tone forcing her voice to the point of almost breaking.

"...I guess we're really over then, huh? Let's meet... the day after tomorrow, 9 am, Odine's lab..."

After only a small moment of hesitance, the line went dead.

For a while Squall just stood there, phone still pressed to his ear. He had stopped taking in anything Rinoa was saying the moment she mentioned she at least had clouded their bond. The brief tug of anger he had felt at what Rinoa considered "decent" had instantly been replaced with overwhelming humiliation, the realization that she had witnessed what he had been reduced to at Seifer's hands making him almost physically ill. Intentional or not, she had felt the most intimate, most wretched experience he'd ever had, stealing from him the only comfort he had left in the process: denial.

But the tone to Rinoa's voice echoed through his mind, making it impossible to feel true anger. He never could whenever she cried because of him. All he felt was defeat at the final blow to whatever was left of their relationship and he'd been the one to deliver it. Bringing his phone down, only to confirm the replay option, he forced himself to listen to the message in its entirety, needing to hear everything no matter how condemning. He could only cringe at hearing her first words again, now realizing Rinoa didn't know whatever she thought he'd felt hadn't been real. But before he could draw any relief from hearing someone else state that he shouldn't be capable of such feelings, confirming the Avalanche was just toying with his emotions, the rest of Rinoa's message registered with him.

And that's when everything became clear, painfully so. The rift between them had always been there, but he only recognized it now for the first time. The distance he'd never be able to cross with her, yet so easily had forgotten about with another. Who didn't matter. Even if what he'd experienced was only an abomination of what Rinoa likened to love; if what he'd felt under the influence of Avalanche was anything near what she wanted from him, what she felt for him, then there was no way for him to return such feelings. Suddenly the dissatisfaction he'd always detected in those hazel eyes meant something, his affection for Rinoa a far cry from what the drug had made him do with Seifer. He hadn't understood before, such a hopeless greed for another person, consuming and burning and vulnerable all at once. It wasn't something he wanted to understand.

Clutching the cell phone in his grasp, it all became too much. His world caved in under the weight of truths upended and the hurt he'd inflicted on Rinoa, resonating deeply with his own desperation for someone he couldn't have. Real or fake ceased to exist as a torrent of emotion broke through the dam he had carefully constructed, the harsh thud of his phone impacting against a wall registering before the urge to throw the thing away could. His heart thundered loudly in his ears as sheer willpower was the only thing keeping him from going back to the bedroom and seeking oblivion in Seifer's touch. One pill was all that stood between misery and bliss. Eyes landing on the next best thing, the blue whisky he barely had had a taste of before, he took the bottle in hand and opted for the lesser evil.



[Seifer Almasy's Apartment, Zayin House, Thursday, 16th of October, 10:44 am]

Seifer tossed and turned in an outward reflection of the disturbing dreams that filled his mind. Fighting three imaginary Bombs that were repeatedly throwing Meltdowns his way back at the Fire Cavern, barely fourteen years old, he yelled for Fujin to hurry the hell up and cast Cure and Esuna on him. As another Meltdown set in, he groaned and brought up his hands to clutch at his head, clenching his eyes shut in an effort to shield himself from the pain.

Noticing the tangy sweet taste that clung to the back of his mouth, he reopened his eyes to take in his surroundings. Lava no longer hissed all around him, the stifling heat of the humid cave gone. Instead he was greeted by pleasant warmth and sunlight spilling in through the window. Another stab of pain shot through him, causing him to bring up a hand to knead at his furrowed brow, his eyes shutting again in reflex. The taste in his mouth told him he'd been playing with Avalanche again.

Unable to focus because of his piercing headache, he only managed to collect his thoughts long enough to realize he'd been a complete idiot; he'd left his Antidotes in his pickup truck. Groaning, he searched his mind for an Esuna before he belatedly realized he didn't have any. He hadn't bothered to draw any for ages, the process too troublesome compared to the ease of just carrying some Antidotes around.

Slowly, the pain settled down to a more manageable level. Feeling confident he could deal with the added sensory input, he reopened his eyes, his gaze landing on the closed window. Taking in the temperature of the room, he guessed the day was well on its way to noon.

An image of taking a guy roughly from behind suddenly flashed before his eyes, bringing with it disturbing clarity.

Remembering the identity of said man, a man he realized had been in his arms mere hours earlier, his eyes went wide. In a quick move, he sat up in his bed, his eyes darting around the room and spotting pieces of the brunet's clothing strewn haphazardly on the floor. Wincing in pain, he cursed the reckless move. He knew better than to move like that after a night of Avalanche. With a grimace he tried to ignore the pain that pulsated relentlessly against the inside of his skull.

Forcing down the urge to vomit, he focused all his thought on slowing down his breathing. Cautiously, almost in slow motion, he leaned forward whilst keeping his eyes closed, one of his hands pulling firmly at his hair in an effort to ease the pain. As it subsided slightly, he let out a soft sigh. Once more, he attempted to open his eyes, this time able to take in the world around him without another onset of mind rendering pain. As his eyes traveled back to where Squall's shirt was lying on the bedside table, he slowly prepared himself for the memories to reform in his mind. Running a thumb absentmindedly against his lower lip, he could almost feel Squall's lips still pressed to his own; he could almost hear the man's breathless pleas for more.

Even with his headache stealing most of his attention, an insistent throb settled heavily between his legs. Fisting the sheets his temper rapidly reached the levels of a scalding boil. His whole body tensed up. He felt like breaking something. Hitting something. Destroying something. He couldn't believe what a fucking idiot he had been. Fucking imbecile. What the fuck had he thought would happen, offering Squall Avalanche like that? Ridiculous. Fuck.

It had been amazing.

Annoyed, he ignored the thought and tried to make his way to the side of the bed. As his headache soared to dangerous levels, he had to still all movement. Drawing in rushed breaths, he squeezed his eyes shut. He had fucking seduced Squall of all people. Unable to believe it, he grabbed hold of the bedding with crushing force. If that wasn't the biggest fuck up of all time, then he didn't know what was.

"Fuck," he cursed again, this time out loud as his resentment for himself reached new heights. But then a fine thread of embarrassment began pulling at the farther reaches of his mind. More intimate memories of the night began replaying in his mind, images of him just holding and kissing Squall. Being sickeningly tender. He couldn't help but feel a strange disconnect to the memories.

Well there goes any pride I had left. He snorted out loud at the bitter thought. He couldn't believe he had acted like such a... pussy, for lack of a better word. At least if he had seduced Squall and given the guy the fuck of his life without having acted like he'd left his goddamn balls somewhere maybe he could have stayed proud. Or somewhat at least. But he'd ended up fucking Squall as if he was the guy's lover or something stupid like that.

Groaning loudly, he knew without a shadow of a doubt he'd never be able to face Squall again. Hopefully he wouldn't have to. Even with Squall's clothes strewn all around the room, he stubbornly held on to the unlikely hope that the man had left, not wanting to linger. Maybe Squall had grabbed one of his shirts in trade for the cum-crusted one. Grimacing once more, he decided to push all disturbing thoughts to the back of his mind until he'd dealt with his roaring headache.

Tiredly, he stood up from the bed, a heavy weight settling in his chest. Deciding not to think of last night was one thing, actually managing the feat another. Calm focus eluded him, his mind jumping from thought to thought. He couldn't help but wonder if he would ever see Squall again. Not that he really wanted to, not after what had happened between them.

As if on cue, another memory surfaced to embarrass him even further. Shaking his head softly in disbelief, just as quickly regretting the move, he couldn't believe he had come so quickly after entering Squall. Nothing like that had ever happened before. Never. Not even when strung out on Avalanche or fucked up beyond any semblance of cognition from drinking too much alcohol, nor when he'd first had sex. Especially not then. He cringed in chagrin. Of course something like that had to happen to him; Hyne and his buddies were probably laughing their asses off.

Finally able to string the way too lucid memories together into one coherent night spent with Squall in his bed, he narrowed his eyes. He still couldn't believe what they'd done; what Squall had let him do. How he'd fucked the guy like it was the last thing he'd ever do. The one guy he was more indebted to than anyone else and the one that made him feel the most regret over a past he couldn't change.

"Fucking drugs," he muttered under his breath as he slowly worked his way over to the dresser and got out a pair of baggy dark green trousers, once more trying hard to push the disturbing thoughts away. He needed painkillers and water. Only after that would he attempt to pay his pickup truck an overdue visit. Those antidotes would work wonders. Kneading at his forehead once more, he finally managed to empty his mind, outright refusing to pay his rampant thoughts any more attention.

Entering the living room, his eyes travelled around the room unhurriedly. Vaguely noticing Squall lying sprawled out on his couch, he ignored the sight. Head feeling much as if a Blobra had taken up residence inside it, he turned his back to the man and headed for the kitchen. He figured the brunet could just stay passed out on the couch as he determined how the hell to disappear off the face of the planet. But first thing first, he needed relief.

Opening a cupboard above the kitchen counter, he got out a glass. Greedily, he downed most of the water he'd poured into it before he pulled open a drawer and located the painkillers. As his headache gave his brain another tight squeeze, he couldn't suppress a deep scowl and quickly swallowed two tablets along with the rest of the water. Exhaling slowly, he closed his eyes and waited.

Remaining still for long moments, he kept trying to ignore the other presence in the room. He wasn't ready to deal with what had happened the night before. But as his headache slowly subsided and his mind cleared little by little, he could no longer suppress his morbid curiosity and turned to regard the brunet.

Squall was lying on his couch, half dressed. The unbidden image of what lay beneath coarse fabric easily popped into Seifer's mind as he took in the sight of the man's dark grey jeans riding dangerously low, leaving the top of the man's crack exposed. With a narrowing of his eyes, he forced his thoughts back on track and instead took in the way Squall was draped across the cushioning of his couch rather inelegantly, the man's back turned to the room. Eyes trailing to the bottle of liquor that lay empty on its side on the coffee table, he realized the phrase "passed out cold" would probably be a more accurate description.

Narrowing his eyes further, half in distaste and half in confusion, he couldn't really believe the sight. Surely the ice prince of Balamb Garden hadn't downed a bottle of liquor? Scowl intensifying, he walked over to the coffee table to further inspect the odd scene.

Taking the discarded bottle in hand, he looked at it in contemplation. He knew he couldn't really blame Squall for having sought escape in alcohol, well in the knowledge he wasn't one to judge. He just hadn't expected such a thing from the normally above and beyond self-composed and in-control brunet.

Eyes traveling back to the man lying uncomfortably on his couch, he couldn't figure out what to do. He wasn't sure what to expect of the man lying dead to the world. The only thing he was fairly certain of was that Squall would probably be down for the count for at least several more hours and was going to wake up with aching joints, freezing to his bones, if he didn't move him into the bedroom. Watching the brunet warily, he noticed that the man's features were tensed up in an expression of distress. In fact Squall's whole body seemed to be twisted into an unnatural position.

"Fuck," he cursed under his breath, knowing there was no way he could get out of relocating Squall, his conscience not letting him. Moving to sit down on the coffee table, facing Squall, he leaned in over the man. At the heavy smell of stale alcohol that greeted him, his nostrils flared in distaste.

Watching the man for long moments, he realized that at least there was one potential benefit to Squall's presence. Surely the commander would have Esunas on him, the man way too anal-retentive to not be fully stocked up on everything. The only unknown was whether or not Squall would be able to junction in such a state. Seifer had never been able to himself when drunk; not after the war, at least. But surely the wonder child of para-magic would be able to pull something like that off.

"Squall," he demanded harshly, eager to get rid of his headache.

Not budging at all at the blond's command, Squall huddled his arms a bit closer to himself, fine eyebrows and pale lips only twitching ever so slightly at the sound of Seifer's voice.

Realizing it'd take a bit more force to get through to the brunet, Seifer got up to study the man a bit more closely. He didn't really want to be rough with the guy, certain the massive hangover and the come down from Avalanche would be nasty enough on its own, but he didn't have much choice. Grabbing Squall's chin roughly, he angled it in his direction.

"Squall," he repeated loudly, his attention fixed on the man's eyes.

Grey-blue eyes finally fluttered open reluctantly, the brunet's clouded gaze not entirely rooted in reality as he peered at his assailant in temporary confusion. Blinking a few times, he finally brought up a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose, frowning deeply whilst groaning in displeasure at the rather rough wake up call.

Without wasting a second, Seifer got straight to the point. "Junction," he demanded harshly whilst retracting his hand from Squall's chin.

Slowly moving to rest on his back, Squall draped a hand across his eyes to block out any visual input, his features even paler than usual as he swallowed thickly before even attempting an answer.

"...Can't," was all he managed, his voice gravelly.

Rubbing his eyes in exhaustion, Seifer let out a deep sigh. They'd both just have to survive with massive headaches until he got the Antidotes then. Not that getting the Antidotes would make things much better. If anything, they'd just clear the way for a whole other kind of headache, the prospect of actually dealing with what had happened not the least bit appealing. Not wanting to linger on such thoughts, he decided to let auto pilot work its magic and forget about everything for the time being.

"Come on, Squall," he said as he bent down to take hold of the brunet. Sneaking an arm under the smaller man, he pulled the brunet up from the couch and steadied him. "Let's get you to bed."

Far too incapacitated to protest the sudden relocation, Squall let himself be hauled off the couch and guided in the direction of the bedroom, most of his weight supported by the taller blond.

Having helped the younger man into bed, Seifer headed back into the kitchen to get some water and painkillers. As he walked through the door leading to the living room, his eyes came to rest on a discarded cell phone lying on the floor. Squall's, no doubt. Vaguely wondering how it had ended up on the floor, he picked up the phone and placed it on the kitchen counter, before he set about getting out the pills and pouring a glass of water.

When he returned to the bedroom short moments later, he sat down next to where he had helped Squall into the bed.

"Drink this," he said as he held out the large glass of water. Wearing a prominent scowl, he couldn't help but feel concerned for the younger man. He hated seeing Squall in such a condition. Especially knowing he was the cause. He had really fucked up for Squall to seek refuge in alcohol. Unable to believe for even a moment that it was a regular occurrence for the strong-willed SeeD, he felt his resentment for himself grow.

Awkwardly propped up in Seifer's bed, Squall slowly took the glass out of the blond's hand with trembling hands, the cool water almost sloshing over the edge as he sloppily took a sip. Brows drawing together in a frown at his appalling eye-hand coordination, he didn't look Seifer's way as he barely managed to set the glass down on the bedside table, his eyes unusually dull and weary. But when a hand cradling precious aspirin entered his peripheral vision, he gratefully took the pills and brought them to his mouth, swallowing them dry.

Seifer tensed up as he watched Squall. It was easy to tell that the brunet was uncomfortable in his presence. Not that he could blame the guy.

"Get some sleep," he said in a tired voice, sensing he needed to give the man some space. As his eyes landed on pale lips, a flash of holding Squall close and kissing him formed in his mind. Bringing his eyes back up to peer at grey-blues, he fought to suppress similar thoughts and instead got up from the bed to turn and walk away.

Leaving the room, closing the door softly in his wake, he realized the distraction caused by the younger man's presence had temporarily managed to trump his headache, but it was still there, at the back of his mind, demanding his attention. He really needed those Antidotes. Heading to pick up his jacket lying at the end of the kitchen counter, his eyes were instead drawn to the cell phone he had found on the floor earlier. Stopping in his tracks, curiosity growing, the same question as before arose in his thoughts. There must have been a good reason for Squall's phone to have ended up where it had. Maybe it had been thrown? Or maybe it had just been dropped accidentally by a drunken Squall.

Torn, he walked over to where the phone was lying and took it into his hand. Turning it over a couple of times, he regarded it in thought. Eyes flitting back to the door leading to the bedroom, he could easily conjure up the image of Squall lying passed out on his bed. It would only take a couple of minutes for him to look through the phone. It wasn't like anyone would ever know. But it would be wrong. And if Squall ever did find out, he'd be a dead man.

He flipped the phone open regardless, revealing an electric blue display. As he stared at the device he knew he should stop himself, but it was far too tempting. There was no way Squall would ever find out. More likely, he'd be able to find out why the phone had been discarded so thoughtlessly in the first place.

Easily navigating the standard phone layout, Seifer quickly located Squall's messaging inbox, no longer hampered by his easily persuaded conscience. Hyne knew he had broken much worse rules in the past, so why develop any qualms about it now? Skimming through the list of messages, he frowned. All of the most recent texts were from Rinoa, the majority of the brunet's entire inbox swamped with messages from the girl.

He could only reach the conclusion that he'd been right in his original assumption. Rinoa and Squall were still a couple, regardless of what he had witnessed at the club. Annoyed at the stab of hurt the thought caused, he immediately suppressed it, very well in the knowledge that he had absolutely no reason for feeling that way. He had been the one to use Squall, not the other way around. And so what if Rinoa and Squall were still a couple? What difference did it make? Headache back full force, he had to press his eyes firmly shut as he tried to calm his breathing.

What the fuck have I done?

Stilling his mind, he focused on the task at hand instead of his renewed headache and zeroed in on his original purpose. Opening the first message Rinoa had sent the previous day, he couldn't help but snort.

- Message from Rinoa / 14:43 pm / You're late. Where are you? -

How lovely. Just one message and already he knew much more about Squall and Rinoa's relationship than he cared to. There was no mistaking the abrupt "You're late" as anything other than one of Rinoa's more disgruntled jabs. Idly wondering just how Squall would react to such a message, vaguely amused at the scowl he could imagine as the only real response, he navigated to the next message.

- Message from Rinoa / 16:12 pm / You know how much I hate going in alone. I needed you to be here, Squall. -

His expression changed to one of confusion as he wondered where Rinoa had needed Squall to be. Quickly opening the next message, sent roughly an hour later, he skimmed over the words.

- Message from Rinoa / 17:32 pm / Don't bother. I'm going out for dinner with a friend. -

At the message that hadn't even been meant for him, his anger stirred, the words reminding him of one of the reasons why he'd never enjoyed female companionship much in the first place. All that passive aggressive shit didn't make the loose sloppy fuck worth the time or the effort. Why the hell would Squall stand for something like that?

- Message from Rinoa / 22:57 pm / So now you care? How convenient. Don't wait up. -

Squall cared? After that? Surely he had read that wrong. Unable to believe the words displayed on the screen, he could feel nothing but bafflement. He couldn't fathom any other response to Rinoa's earlier messages than Squall ignoring them. Frown deepening, he had to know just what Squall had written to inspire such a reply from Rinoa.

- Message to Rinoa / 16:49 pm / My meeting took longer than I thought. I'll try and be home before six. Sorry. -

He reread the message a couple of times, unable to connect the word "sorry" with Squall at all. Not only was he certain the word didn't exist in the man's vocabulary, he also couldn't believe Squall had actually used it to apologize after the snappy and blaming messages Rinoa had sent him. Feeling his esteem for his one-time rival falter, put off by the man's behavior, he continued on to the next message.

- Message to Rinoa / 22:53 pm / When will you be home? It's getting late. -

Ah, so that was what Squall "caring" had meant. Not really what he would have classified as caring, but he guessed it worked as far as the brunet went. Narrowing his eyes, he felt annoyed at Squall seemingly tolerating Rinoa's behavior. The man he remembered from his past would never have allowed anyone to treat him in such a way, the rival from his teenage years much too prideful and strong-willed; not pussy-whipped. Squall sounded almost like a scorned housewife. Either the guy had changed radically or Seifer had interpreted things the wrong way. He was seriously hoping for the latter. Sighing, he navigated back to Rinoa's messages and quickly found the one that followed the last one he'd read.

- Message from Rinoa / 12:36 am / I'm not feeling good. Come pick me up. -

All that resounded in his mind was a great, big "seriously?" He couldn't believe the audacity of the girl. Even more unbelievable was the fact that he knew Squall had done just as she'd asked. He couldn't comprehend it. It was just too farfetched for his brain to wrap itself around the idea that Squall had changed that much. Groaning, he couldn't believe he'd become part of this mess.

- Message from Rinoa / 12:53 am / I'm at some club. Somewhere in the Tiamat District. Hurry. -

He had to roll his eyes. Priceless. Rinoa had been high maintenance even back when he'd shared a summer fling with her, but it had never been that bad.

With no more messages from her in the inbox, he returned to read the rest of Squall's messages.

- Message to Rinoa / 12:38 am / Where are you? -

Still unable to believe Squall had just followed her order to come pick her up without any complaint, he shook his head. Why had Squall bothered? She was a spoiled little daddy's girl. If she was grown up enough to go out and get fuck-faced, then surely she could deal with the consequences herself without needing the damned SeeD Commander to come rescue her.

- Message to Rinoa / 12:45 am / You have to tell me where you are. Are you alright? Do I need to bring the pills? -

Confused, he had to reread the message a couple of times. Maybe he had been misunderstanding things. But... Rinoa had been at the club and it had been obvious she had been drunk. Why was Squall mentioning pills?

- Message to Rinoa / 12:55 am / What club? Is everything okay? -

Rereading the message one last time, knowing it was the last one, he sighed, no closer to knowing what had happened while he'd been fast asleep in the bedroom. He could only assume Squall had called Rinoa after that last message and had gotten the name of the club from her. It wasn't hard to figure out that she had been the one at the other end of the line when Squall had dismissed him back at the club.

Just about to return the phone to the counter, navigating back out through the menus, he spotted the icon for voice mails on the blue display. Not expecting to find anything, he straightened up and mentally prepared himself to leave the apartment and head out to get the Antidotes, when he spotted a voice mail registered as received just that morning. Frowning, he thought he might as well give it a listen, already in way over his head in knowledge he wasn't supposed to have. Fingers momentarily stilling, he realized he might just have hit the jackpot: it looked like the message had already been listened to. Pressing the button to access the message, he brought the cell to his ear.

As he listened to Rinoa's message, he was stunned into place. Standing stock still for long moments after it had finished, he couldn't even begin to comprehend what he'd just heard.

And then it hit home.

Placing the cell on the kitchen counter, he walked to sit on his couch, his green eyes empty and dull.

I love you, he heard Rinoa's voice repeat in his mind, the pain in her voice cutting right through to the bone. She'd felt it. She'd felt what had happened. Witnessed it.

His eyes jumped to the closed door leading to the bedroom where Squall was lying unconscious. Dread began to worm its way through him. Squall had emptied the bottle because he'd hurt Rinoa. It was that simple. And that horrible. Squall really cared for her. That was why he had acted the way he had. Squall really had changed. For her.

I fucked up.

Cursing inwardly at what a giant piece of shit he'd been, he could almost feel the pain he imagined Squall to have felt as the words 'you're too cruel' played back in his mind. He'd never meant for things to go that way. He'd never meant to hurt Squall. Or Rinoa. He'd only meant to ease Squall's mind for a short while. Not sexually assault the guy. He couldn't believe Rinoa had felt what had happened through the bond she shared with Squall.

Not knowing what to do, he ran an unsteady hand through his hair and sat still for long moments. New ideas slowly began taking form at the back of his mind, his thoughts starting to clear. He knew how to make things better. He could make things right. Determination taking over, he rose from the couch and headed for the bedroom. Hesitantly, he pushed open the door and glanced inside, relieved to find Squall still lying on the bed fast asleep.

As he walked farther into the room, his eyes were involuntarily drawn to the unruly mop of dark bangs splayed messily against a white pillow. Tearing his gaze away, he got out a piece of paper from one of the drawers and quickly scribbled down a short note in case the younger man were to wake up while he was out. "I'll be back soon," was all it said.

Placing the note next to the sleeping brunet on the bed, he stopped in his tracks to regard the man once more. He knew what he was planning to do wasn't going to be easy; he didn't look forward to it one bit. He could only hope it would help Squall. That was all he cared about. Hyne knew he had caused the man nothing but trouble throughout their lives. He couldn't undo what had happened, but if there was any way he could help fix the mess he'd created, then he'd do just that.

Closing the bedroom door softly as he left the room, he walked over to the kitchen counter and slid Squall's cell phone into one of his pockets. With a deep sigh, he exited his apartment and set a fast pace as he walked in the direction of his car.



A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed! Hope you enjoyed your cigarette Madisuzy ;) and wow, those are flattering words William--thanks! :D And to 'ur new fangirl--glad we could make you 'squee' :D Mission accomplished! Hopefully you all enjoyed the aftermath as well. Oh, and anyone who likes doujinshi, hit me up with a pm or e-mail me here: chemotaxino at gmail dot com and I'll share my collection of scanned doujinshi (just stumbled across it on an old harddrive the other week--I used to collect FF8 doujinshi). Gotta share the SxS love, so yeah, just let me know if you want to read 'em. And remember to tell us what you thought of this chapter! :)



 



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