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Squall was trying to keep an ear out for Seifer coming back, because no way was the other man going to be thrilled to find Squall in his room without permission, but it was hard to stay alert when the situation was this surreal. For Seifer to have ended up here, of all places, in this exact room in Winhill... Squall kept seeing the way the room was almost twenty years ago when it was Laguna's, like a translucent and very distracting overlay, even though this was the first time he'd set foot in it in person; he'd avoided this room the one time they passed through Winhill in the flesh. Squall checked for the hidden Curaga draw point, wondering if his memories of someone else's life were accurate enough to... yeah. There it was. Empty, but there. Was it why Seifer ended up in this house, instead of taking one of the much bigger rooms in the inn like the previous monster hunters had? Or had it been Laguna's idea to put Seifer up here? It seemed like a Laguna-ish thing to do.

And sure enough, Squall was distracted enough by those musings to miss Seifer's approach. Not, on the other hand, distracted enough to let the thrown book actually hit him in the head. He caught it one-handed, managing not to wince at the sting of it hitting the palm. "The fuck are you doing here, Commander Leonhart?"

"Just making sure you're not busting up my old family home." Which was not even remotely what Squall had come here to say, but as soon as Seifer opened his annoying damn mouth, Squall fell right back into old patterns. The fact that Seifer actually shut up for a second to process the statement, though, made the slip-up kind of worth it. "What, Laguna didn't tell you when he hired you?" Okay, so it wasn't completely true, anyway. Laguna had lived here before he married Raine, and Squall had never lived here at all.

"Ugh. I knew there was a reason I didn't like the guy. Your old man, huh?" Seifer shoved his hands in his pockets and glared down at Squall, like he was trying to find some resemblance to Laguna in Squall's face.

"Something like that." It was Squall's own fault for getting on the topic of Laguna in the first place, and he'd basically given Seifer the key to one of his biggest sore spots. Two years had healed some of the tension between him and Laguna, but it wasn't anywhere close to enough to make their relationship a comfortable one. But maybe two years had done something for Seifer, too, because he didn't make any cracks about why Squall ended up at an orphanage.

In fact, without another word Seifer turned and left the room again. He was halfway down the stairs before he finally said, "You want the place to not get busted up, probably the two of us being in the same small room for much longer is a bad idea." Squall followed him down the stairs and out into the town square, where Seifer stopped and turned to face Squall again.

"So what are you really doing here? Seems like you should have a lot of shit occupying your time, running Garden and all." Seifer had his hands in his coat pockets still, but he stood braced and ready for a fight. Squall wasn't terribly surprised to realise he'd taken up the same ready stance, himself, without thinking about it. They set each other on edge, then and now. Maybe always.

Squall shook his head, "I'm just the Field Commander. Cid and Matron are back in charge of the day-to-day stuff. Which you'd know, if you'd come by even once." Squall had flat-out refused to stay in charge of combat operations unless someone else took control of the actual running of the Garden, and it hadn't taken long for everyone to agree that he was right--he might be better than he once was at dealing with people but he wasn't any kind of teacher, and he was definitely not a paper-pusher.

"Oh, is that it? Begging me to come back and be one of your good little soldiers?" Seifer sneered, but now Squall recognised that the disgust was aimed at himself as much as at Squall.

"Not a chance." As good as he was in a fight, Seifer's recklessness and contempt for orders would probably never change, now. After what Ultimecia did to him, Squall couldn't see Seifer taking orders ever again. He'd be a liability in the field. "I'm telling you to visit. People worry. Even Fujin and Raijin have been back now and then, since you left Balamb." And why Seifer had left his posse behind was a question Squall wanted to ask, but knew it was way too soon for. One issue at a time.

"You think I care what any of you little dweebs think?" But from the way Seifer turned his back, shoulders tight with some emotion, he obviously did care. Seifer had to know how obvious it was, so Squall let silence be his answer. "... Time hasn't made you any less of a pain in the ass, Leonhart. I'm done with Garden, and I'm done with you. You'd think it'd be obvious, after two years."

Truthfully, Rinoa had wanted Squall to come after Seifer a long time ago. But as long as he'd been with Fujin and Raijin, as long as he'd been in Balamb, it had been easy to think Seifer was okay, that he was handling things his own way and would show up at the Garden's gate at the least convenient possible time, shit-eating grin on his face. But then he'd left Balamb, alone, and ended up in Winhill, as isolated from everyone he'd known as it was possible to be.

"Let's cut the shit. You can't face Matron, and you can't face Rinoa. You're just running scared."

Squall would have thought that fighting monsters in sleepy Winhill would make a man's combat skills go a bit soft--it hadn't seemed like a tough job when Laguna did it, anyway--but even though he'd been expecting it from the moment the words were out of his mouth, Seifer's punch still managed to catch Squall square in the jaw. He staggered back half a step and got his own fists up to block the next one, but it never came. The townspeople had stopped to stare, and a couple were looking like they were about to come try to back Seifer up. "This is my place of work, Leonhart." Seifer jerked his chin towards the town gate. "I'll talk to these guys, and then we'll deal with this properly. Outside of town."

There was nothing Squall could say to that, so he just nodded and left Seifer to it. He was ashamed that he'd forgotten where they were, even for a moment; their business didn't belong in a town square, and he'd always meant to move things somewhere quiet before they came to the inevitable fight. Seifer just got under his skin so very easily, even after all this time.

Seifer didn't take long to sort things out with the townspeople, but even the few minutes that Squall stood alone in a field outside of town were enough to cool his head a bit. Waiting in a field for Seifer to come and fight him--a little too familiar, this feeling. Squall wondered if Seifer had a GF junctioned. If he did, Squall was going to be at a distinct disadvantage because he'd stopped using them outside of major operations. There was enough good in his life now that he wasn't willing to forget, not if he could manage without.

When Seifer arrived, Squall actually felt a brief little twinge in his scar, like his body was remembering that day, too. When he turned to face Seifer he caught the other man touching a gloved finger to his own scar, though as soon as he saw Squall looking Seifer tried to disguise the movement by using that hand to brush his hair out of his eyes. "No blades, no magic." Seifer thumped his fists together, a hint of his old smirk twitching at his lips. "Not that I need them to pound you into mulch."

"No blades, no magic," Squall agreed, putting his sheated gunblade aside. Seifer still had the advantage in reach and physical strength, though. Squall hadn't caught up to Seifer in height or bulk, and he blamed Laguna's genes for that indignity.

Neither of them needed a signal to start the fight, and their first strikes were all but simultaneous. Seifer was a hair faster--and how was that fair, at his size--but Squall had figured on that after the lightning-fast punch from earlier, so he'd ducked low and hoped Seifer went for another straightforward right cross. Squall's luck held and he slipped inside Seifer's guard, straightening up into an uppercut powered as much by his legs as his arm. Seifer went back the same half-step Squall had lost earlier, wiping the blood from his nose. "One all."

"Sucker punches don't count."

"Still a sore loser, Leonhart?" Seifer laughed and spit off to the side, an all-too-familiar smirk on his face.

"And you still fight dirty." Squall pulled off his jacket and tossed it at Seifer's head, obscuring his opponent's sight for a moment. Seifer batted the jacket aside and jumped back just enough that Squall's kick grazed his chin instead of connecting solidly. "Of course, turns out it's a pretty valid tactic."

Seifer's laugh, then, was one of genuine pleasure, not bitter mockery. "Getting slippery now that you're a big shot, Squall?" Hearing Seifer slip into calling him by his first name sealed the deal, in Squall's mind--the fight was doing what words never could have, for them.

And with the parting shots over with there was no breath left for words, anyway. Squall lost track of the times Seifer caught him with a fist or an elbow, and all he could taste after a while was blood. One of his teeth was loose--he was actually shocked that it was only one--and there was a ringing in his ears that didn't bode well. But Seifer was looking little better, one eye already swelling shut, his nose streaming blood and very probably broken by a second solid hit. They were both moving like they had bruised ribs, if not outright cracked ribs, and Seifer was limping enough to slow him down. Squall's left arm, meanwhile, was numb all the way to the fingertips. Doctor Kadowaki was going to have his head if he showed up like this.

Once the fight degenerated to grappling on the ground, Squall knew he was about done--he was tired enough that there wasn't much he could do to counter Seifer's advantage in weight once they were down and in close quarters. Not that he was about to give up, but it came as no surprise when Seifer finally got him pinned, his right arm twisted up behind his back. With his left arm still just barely starting to regain feeling, Squall was hard pressed to even tap out. "Done. I'm done."

"The hell you are." Seifer's breath was hot in Squall's ear, and for a moment he worried that he'd judged the situation all wrong, that Seifer had only gotten angrier during the fight, but then Seifer's hand was under his hips, fumbling for the buckles on his belts, and Squall slumped a little in relief. The fight that scarred him had been the first time they'd fought and not ended up fucking, but part of Squall had wondered if it really was possible to come back from the level of anger there'd been between them, by the end.

Seifer jerked Squall's pants down just enough to bare his ass, squeezing hard enough to bruise, his other hand still locked around Squall's wrist. Squall lifted his hips, pushing back against Seifer's weight just enough to let Seifer pull his pants down further. Seifer left his pants around his knees, and Squall heard the hiss of his belts being pulled free. Seifer's grip on his wrist loosened for a moment, only to be replaced by one of the belts; Seifer pulled Squall's half-numb left arm behind his back, too, and tightened the belt around both wrists, wrapping the leather around his forearms until there was no slack left.

With Squall's hands bound, Seifer's hands were both free now, and he pulled Squall's head up by the hair, leaning in close again to growl, "Say it."

And just like that, two years vanished and Squall was 17 again. "Please fuck me, Seifer."

"Yeah? You want it? I'm not sure I believe you. Maybe you should show me you mean it." The dialogue was so, so familiar. Still, this time Squall heard a little hint of sincerity under the script, a little hint of very real uncertainty. Seifer let go of his hair, then, and the weight of him lifted off Squall's back.

Awkwardly, and oh so very slowly, Squall hauled himself up onto his knees and turned to face Seifer. He couldn't quite help but sigh a little in relief to see that Seifer had somehow gotten his own pants open without Squall noticing, because damn if Squall wasn't out of practice--he wasn't sure he could get Seifer's fly open with just his teeth anymore, and it was better that he didn't have to embarrass himself trying.

Some things, though, one apparently never forgot. Carefully, mindful of his balance with his arms pinned behind his back, Squall leaned in and took Seifer's cock into his mouth. Seifer grunted, trying to sound neutral but never quite managing it--then or now--as Squall went to work. One thing that had changed--maybe because it had been so long, maybe just because of how intense the fight had been--was that it took only a few minutes before Seifer grabbed his hair again and started fucking his mouth. Seifer only kept that up for a short while, too, before Squall could feel him getting close, starting to tense up, and then Seifer yanked his hair again and shoved him off and back to the ground.

Squall barely had a moment to catch his breath before Seifer was on him again, and Squall found out what Seifer had been holding onto his other belt for. The leather was tight around Squall's throat in a heartbeat, not quite cutting off his air but restricting it just enough to leave him dizzy and lightheaded. He only distantly heard the little noises he made when Seifer took him dry, pathetic little mewling sounds that he would never admit to making, not ever. When Seifer's gloved hand wrapped around his cock it was all he could do not to come that very instant. Fortunately Seifer was as close to the edge as he was, and he managed to hang on until Seifer whispered into his ear, "Come for me."

The next thing Squall knew, he was on his back on the cool grass and the belt was gone from around his throat. Holy shit, had he passed out? Well, that was embarrassing. Squall sat up gingerly, wincing a bit as the movement set just about every muscle in his body to aching. He was going to need to buy a shit-ton of hi-potions before heading back to the Garden, or he would have some extremely awkward explaining to do to Dr. Kadowaki.

Seifer, meanwhile, was a few feet away, pacing and muttering to himself. It took him a moment to notice that Squall was awake, but once he did he rounded on Squall, his hands balled into fists. "Damn it, Squall! Damn you! Haven't I hurt Rinoa enough already?"

Still a little out of it, it took Squall a second to figure out just what Rinoa had to do with anything. "What? Maybe your brain turns off when you get an erection, but I promise you mine doesn't. I wouldn't have done that if Rinoa wasn't fine with it."

For the second time that day, Squall got the priviledge of seeing Seifer struck entirely mute.

"It's complicated, okay?" What a mess. This had gone entirely according to plan, except in completely the wrong order.

"Complicated." Seifer was calmer now, his arms folded over his chest. "Is that your new '...whatever'?"

"Too tired for this." Which was why at least a little more talking was supposed to come first, or at the very least Squall was supposed to not black out like a virgin. "Later. Just. It's fine, okay. Rinoa knows."

For a second there, Squall wasn't sure Seifer was going to accept that answer, even temporarily. Even though it was the truth. Then, finally, Seifer snorted and shook his head. "Pretty cocky, Squall. Planned ahead, did you? So sure I'd still be interested in your scrawny ass."

"Never seem to have any complaints about my ass while you're using it." Ah, the post-coital bitching. Not a great substitute for actually talking about things, but they'd never been good at communicating. So many memories were still missing, so many things that set their tempers off without either of them knowing why, and maybe fighting and fucking and fighting again was the best they could do. But if Seifer had let go enough to at least get back in contact... one of the others could help with the talky parts. It was a start, anyway. "Help me up, asshole."

"Tch. Out of practice, aren't you? Fainting in my arms, poor fragile flower." Despite the words coming out of his filthy mouth, Seifer moved right away to give Squall a hand up.

They were quiet most of the walk back to town--which seemed to have gotten an awful lot longer thanks to their injuries--but just before they took the turn off to head to the inn and the item shop, Seifer asked oh-so-casually, "So the Garden, going to be staying in the Balamb area for a while, you think?"

"Yeah. Mostly it's better for business if clients know where to find us." Once they'd actually found Ragnarok again it made for much better transport than the Garden, anyway.

"Maybe I'll drop by sometime, then. You know, when I'm not too busy here."

Squall smiled. Definitely a start.