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Keep the Walls from Falling

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I can't believe life's so complex
When I just wanna sit here and watch you undress
-This is love, this is love that I'm feeling
Does it have to be a life full of dread?
I wanna chase you round the table, I wanna touch your head
- This is love that I'm feeling
I can't believe that the axis turns on suffering
When you taste so good
I can't believe that the axis turns on suffering
While my head it burns
- This is love that I'm feeling
Even in the summer, even in the spring
You can never get too much of a wonderful thing

You're the only story that I never told
You're my dirty little secret, wanna keep you so
Come on out, come on over, help me forget
Keep the walls from falling on me, tumbling in
- This is love that I'm feeling

PJ Harvey


Irvine slid his rifle under the bed, and slipped under the warm quilt. He yawned and snuggled down, draping one slender arm over his eyes.

His own bed, at last. Soft, comfortable. Indoors.

This should feel like bliss.

There was a lack of Selphie, of course. That was irksome: Irvine didn't like to sleep alone. But she had been adamant that she and Quistis needed some time with Rinoa, to try and convince her that she could cope with her sorceress powers. Woman to woman. More precisely, woman to woman to woman.

Irvine grunted, his cock twitching at the thought of what form their advice might take. He was fairly certain that it would involve bubble baths and rubbing scented oil into each others' nubile young bodies, and wished for a moment that he had sorceress powers himself.

In a day or two they'd be off to the orphanage, looking for more answers, whether Rinoa was ready or not, just as soon as the Ragnarok was fixed. After that anything could happen, and Irvine was fairly sure it would involve violence and pain, as usual. This was a precious glimpse of peace, and he wanted to make the most of it, even if he was lonely, to enjoy this time at… not at home, exactly, Balamb Garden was too new to him for that. But these were his sheets, his pillows, and his things were gradually populating the anonymous, windowless room. It was the closest to home he had.

He had realised he couldn't sleep by the time the door chime went.

Selphie?

"Come in, Babe," he called. "It's open!"

The door swooshed open to reveal not Selphie, but Squall. Dressed in t-shirt and his customary leather pants, his hair mussed and tumbling in his eyes.

"Oh," he said. "Sorry, I didn't realise you'd gone to bed."

Irvine propped himself up on his elbows. "'S okay. I wasn't asleep. Come in."

Squall took one step inside the room, but didn't come any closer. The door shut behind him, cutting off the light from the corridor and swathing them in mostly-darkness.

"Sorry," he said again.

"What's up?" asked Irvine curiously. Last time he'd seen Squall he looked set for a killer game of cards with Zell. Squall liked cards, Irvine knew, it helped him puzzle things out, like meditation. He was also very good at it, but he shouldn't have taken Zell's entire deck just yet.

"Zell fell asleep," explained Squall. "Or looked like he was going to. I guess everyone's tired."

"It's been a bit of a time, Squall, y'know? But I'll give you a few rounds if you want…" Irvine reached to the panel by the bed and turned the lights up, not too bright, but enough that he could make out Squall's face.

"No, that's okay, I don't want to keep you up." He looked troubled, unhappy.

As usual.

"It's alright. I find it hard to sleep on my own anyhow, and Seffie's having a girl's night with Rin and Quisty." Irvine patted the narrow strip of bed next to him. "Come sit down."

"Are you sure?" Squall looked almost timid in the half-light.

"Yes," grinned Irvine. "I won't bite." Unless you want me to.

Squall moved slowly to the bed and sat down near the end. Irvine pulled his long legs out of the way and sat cross-legged, raking his fingers through his toffee-coloured bangs.

"What's it to be, then?" He pulled open the drawer of the nightstand to find his cards. "Elemental rules? Or have you learned some new and horrific variation to torment me with?"

Squall almost-smiled. "We don't have to play cards," he said. "We could just talk."

Irvine froze in the act of retrieving his deck from the drawer. He surveyed Squall incredulously. "Talk?"

Squall shrugged. "Whatever."

Irvine suppressed a chuckle, before it occurred to him that if Squall really did want to talk it was probably about something important. "Sorry, man. It's just… what d'you want to talk about?"

Squall shifted uncomfortably on the end of Irvine's bed. "Nothing," he mumbled.

"Okaaay." Irvine watched him carefully. "How about we play cards for a bit, and then if the conversation gets too distracting we just stop?"

Squall gave him a sidelong glance, grey eyes flecked with blue. "You really desperate to give me doomtrain then?"

Irvine grinned. "Not as desperate as I am to take siren off you."

"Ha!" said Squall derisively, pulling his cards slowly from his inside pocket.

They played four games, all of which Squall won easily, before he spoke again.

"I wanted to thank you for the other day," he said.

Irvine felt an inexplicable flutter in his stomach.

"The other day?" He carefully laid his adamantoise in the centre slot, hoping to draw out a couple of Squall's more interesting cards.

"When we… went for that walk."

"Oh." Irvine couldn't help grinning. "That day."

Squall stared at the adamantoise card for a moment, before casually slipping a wendigo underneath it.

Ooh. I can beat that.

He put down his ruby dragon, only to see the elemental sign flicker in the corner. One point down all sides.

Fuck.

"You don't have to thank me," he told Squall. "I'm here for you anytime, you know that."

"It really… helped."

It was hard to believe how vulnerable Squall's voice sounded, considering he'd just taken Irvine's ruby dragon with an elnoyle. Another round lost. Irvine wasn't about to gamble doomtrain, and Squall knew it.

"How're things with Rinoa?" he asked carefully.

Squall sighed. "Oh, okay," he said.

"It was looking good there, I thought. With the dramatic rescue and all."

"She says she feels weird round me."

Irvine placed his last card and gestured to Squall to take his pick of the spoils, his heart sinking a little as the ruby dragon was picked up and placed lovingly into the centre of Squall's deck.

"Weird?"

Squall nodded. "Like we're… linked or something. I kinda know what she means, but…" he looked down at the impressive card collection in his hands. "I think it's going to be more complicated than I thought."

"Linked? What, like destined for each other or something?"

"I don't know," said Squall, helplessly. "When she was in space I could… I knew where she was, what she was thinking. Same when she was in Adel's seal. I could feel her."

"It's like that with Seffie, sometimes," said Irvine. "Next thing you know you'll be wearing matching clothes and finishing each other's sentences."

Squall managed a tiny grin. "I don't know what to say to her. It's not the same… It was so easy with you," he said, in a very small voice.

Irvine paused for a moment. "You don't want to play cards, do you?" he said eventually.

Squall looked up at him, and shook his head. "Not especially," he replied, unhappily.

Irvine cleared his throat. He had a feeling he could mess this up badly if he handled it wrong, and he really, really didn't want to do that.

"I'm here for… whatever you want," he offered. "Just say the word, Babe."

There was an unspoken challenge in Squall's eyes. Or a request.

Irvine swallowed. "Anything," he said. He was suddenly very aware that Squall was fully dressed, and he was naked, except for a pair of blue boxers and the quilt draped over his lap. His hair was loose and spilled over one shoulder and down his bare chest, and he realised Squall was looking. Not just idly glancing; he was noticing.

"That's pretty." Squall extended one arm to touch the feathers and beads of Irvine's necklace, nestling on the golden skin just below his collarbone. Little purple and yellow trinkets strung on leather, years old.

"Seffie made it for me," he said. "When we were in the Orphanage."

"Really? I don't… well, you know."

"Hm." You don't remember me. I know.

Squall's fingertips brushed faintly over Irvine's skin before he drew them back.

"I used to creep into your bed at night sometimes," Irvine said softly, keeping his eyes on Squall's troubled face. "After Ellone went."

"Because I was crying? I remember crying a lot." The memory brought the pain in Squall's eyes into sharp focus.

"No, you didn't let us see that very often. I noticed every now and then, when you thought we weren't paying attention. But that wasn't why I came to find you in the middle of the night."

Squall raised an eyebrow. "Why, then?"

"I was lonely," Irvine said, his eyes still on Squall's, half-hoping he might spark some kind of recollection. He realised that it bothered him, a lot, that Squall didn't remember him. "I've always hated to be alone. Ellone used to sneak into our room after the lights were out, remember?" Squall nodded. "After she'd made sure you were asleep, she would come and hold my hand until I was, too. I missed her so bad when she went. I couldn't sleep at all. So one night I figured you must miss her too, and I came over to your bed and said I was cold, and could I come in with you to warm up a bit. You never said anything, but you put your arms around me and held me, so I could go to sleep. After that I'd come to you whenever I felt lonely in the night, and you'd always hold me."

Squall's eyes looked damp, but he remained silent.

"I've never forgotten," said Irvine. "When I went to Galbadia I was devastated. I missed you so much."

"I got used to it," said Squall, eventually. "Being alone. I made myself like it." He was biting his lower lip, so hard Irvine half expected him to draw blood. "And it worked, 'til… It worked."

"You're braver than me," Irvine said. "I did the opposite. Made sure I had plenty of company, one way or the other. Never occurred to me to try and change myself. Even if I could."

Squall shook his head. "No, what I did wasn't brave. It was stupid. I've been alone so long now I don't know how to do things the other way. And it didn't take the pain away, it just twisted in on itself and… It's no wonder Rin feels weird around me, I've spent so much time avoiding that kind of contact, any kind of contact… I don't know what to do with it."

"You'll learn," Irvine said gently. "You're only seventeen, Squall. You're not the first guy to feel awkward with a girl."

"Will I?" Squall clearly wasn't convinced. "A couple of months ago I didn't even care. The only thing that mattered was SeeD. But… I've always known it wasn't right, shutting people out. There was a time a year or so back when I tried screwing around some, there were always girls ready to offer, for some reason… the sex was kind of a pleasant distraction, but afterwards… I'd feel worse than ever, scared, almost disgusted with myself for letting the walls down, just for a couple of hours even, and letting someone close enough to… I was a complete bastard. There was one girl who'd been chasing me for months, and I liked her, although I'd never admit it. She kept asking me out on a date, and I kept saying no, and eventually she just kissed me right in the middle of the training centre. It felt so good, and I thought maybe, just maybe I could change… we made out for a while and eventually I persuaded her to go back to her room and we fucked… and afterwards…" he paused for a moment, picked up his cards and stared at them. "I waited 'til she fell asleep and crawled back to my own bed, without giving a shit how she'd feel when she woke up alone, because I couldn't handle that if I let myself care for her she'd leave and I'd get hurt again… I took her virginity, Irvine, and I never even called her. I ignored her in class, pretended it never even happened, and she left Garden not long after that, gave up her whole career. After that I'd never risk the sleeping part. I'd never do it in a bed, and never, ever with anyone I knew well enough to like. Not until…"

Irvine tried to keep the surprise from his face, and failed, but Squall wasn't looking anyway. He was concentrating on the cards in his hands as he shuffled absently through the deck, unable to meet Irvine's eye. Irvine hesitated, not really knowing what to say in response to such an unexpected confession. Squall didn't seem to notice his silence, and after a while he continued.

"When I realised I wanted men, too, I gave up on sex altogether. It was just too dangerous, too… the only person I spent time with was Seifer. That was safe, because I hated him so much I knew I'd be pleased when he was gone."

He looked up at last, safe with a feeling he knew they shared, and seemed relieved to find that Irvine was smiling kindly at him.

"You're not the first adolescent boy who couldn't handle girls," said Irvine. "Fuck, I've made enough mistakes. I would go all dewy-eyed for anyone who'd speak to me, when I first got to Galbadia. Got me in all sorts of trouble. Still does."

"Better that than cutting yourself off and only letting yourself hate people. I'm completely screwed up, Irvine. I'll never be able to give Rin the kind of relationship she needs."

"Well, we're all screw ups in our own way. Not surprising really, when you look at how we grew up. But it doesn't mean we can't change. Fuck, Squall, you already have changed. Look at you, here, and talking and everything." He was only half-teasing.

"And you," said Squall. "Sleeping alone."

"The night's not over yet, babe." The line fell almost too easily from Irvine's lips; he realised he'd been waiting for the chance to make the offer.

They looked at each other, smoky grey gaze locked on hazy violet.

"Do you want to?" Squall asked, after a long pause. "Sleep alone, I mean?"

Irvine slowly shook his head.

Squall ran his tongue over dry lips. "I could stay," he said.

Irvine waited a beat, then reached for Squall's hand, twining their fingers together. "I should tell you… I'm not sure I'd just want to cuddle. Now we're grown up and all…"

"That's okay," said Squall quietly. "I don't think I could lie next to you all night either and not... after the other day and… but I don't, I can't, I haven't… I…" his voice tailed off in confusion; his unusual eloquence had abandoned him once more.

Irvine raised Squall's hand to his lips and kissed it. "Okay, babe," he said. "We'll just make it up as we go, ok?"

Squall gave him a tiny smile. "OK." Irvine thought he detected a trace of relief in his voice. "So, um…"

"Come here."

Squall put his cards carefully back in his pocket, and scooted up the bed as Irvine rested his deck on top of the night stand. Then he was in Irvine's arms, warm and strong, his eyes flickering shut as Irvine slowly dipped his head to kiss him.

Squall tasted every bit as good as Irvine remembered. Peppermint and the faint tang of beer, his lips soft and willing, his tongue quick and agile. Irvine felt the rush race through his body like a healing spell, bringing every part of him sharply to life. His cock had been hard for a while, but now he felt it acutely, every faint brush of cotton over sensitive skin a caress. By the time they came up for air his heart was pounding in his chest and his lips were tingling.

Squall was pulling his t-shirt over his head in a hurry, his heavy necklace swinging against his chest. He threw his shirt on the floor and was about to claim another kiss when Irvine stopped him.

"Pants too," he said. "I didn't get to see you naked last time."

Squall didn't blush exactly, but he lowered his head enough to hide his face behind his scruffy hair, making Irvine certain that there was a faintly embarrassed expression there. He resisted the urge to sweep back Squall's bangs to prove himself right, and concentrated on the sight of Squall undressing in front of him, a feature of many of his fantasies and something he'd not dared hope he might ever see for real.

He was brisk and efficient about it, unbuckling with deft fingers, toeing off boots and socks, undoing the single belt around his middle with one hand in a fluid movement. He wasn't putting on a show, or teasing; this was probably how he got undressed every night, in the privacy of his own room, but Irvine found it all the more erotic for the intimacy that implied.

That and the pale, sleek body that emerged from denim and leather, just on the thin side of lean, but well covered in toned, working muscles. Irvine pulled back the covers and shuffled over to the wall side of the narrow bed to make room for him.

"Fuck, these beds are small," Squall complained, squashing himself in next to Irvine. "How do you and Selphie manage this all the time?"

Irvine grinned. "Well, she's tiny, for one thing. But we mostly sleep in her bed, when we're not off saving the world. There's advantages to having graduated."

"Oh." Squall looked surprised. "I forgot you haven't…"

"Don't worry," Irvine brushed back a strand of hair that was worrying Squall's nose. "Just as soon as this is all over, I'm going to get those exams out of the way and get a proper bed. Mind you," he grinned as a thought suddenly occurred to him. "That does mean this is technically against regulations, Commander." He nipped gently at Squall's lower lip. "You seducing a poor innocent cadet and all…"

Squall snorted, the closest he usually got to outright laughter. "Innocent? The sniper slut of Galbadia?"

"Rules are rules…" Irvine stroked one hand down the curve of Squall's lower back, rubbing the soft cotton of his boxers over his tight buttocks.

"Let's break some," husked Squall, pulling Irvine even closer and covering his mouth with his own.

Irvine moaned softly, sliding his hand inside Squall's underwear to feel the firm flesh of his behind, fingertips teasing the sensitive fold where legs joined ass. Squall's fingers combed through Irvine's hair, exposing his neck and ear to be kissed and licked, murmuring approval as Irvine's skin responded to him, forming goosebumps of ticklish pleasure under his lips and tongue.

For all that the bed was small, it was more comfortable than the car back in Esthar, and they were both set on taking their time and doing the exploring of each others' bodies that they hadn't really been able to manage then.

"What d'you like?" asked Squall, pressing his tongue along Irvine's shoulder and chasing the wet line with fluttery kisses.

"'Most everything," said Irvine, honestly.

"How about this?" Squall slid down and licked first one and then the other of his nipples, teasing them to stiffness and probing the puckered peaks with a firm tongue.

"Hmng," said Irvine, "that's very good." He brushed his thumbs over Squall's own nipples, broader and flatter than his own but just as hard. "You?"

"Oh yeah."

Squall pulled himself up again for another kiss, before turning his attention back to Irvine's ears and neck.

"I know you like this," he murmured, nuzzling Irvine's ear with his soft nose.

Irvine made a little moaning sound in the back of his throat.

"And this." Squall ran his hand over Irvine's ribs and down to his belly, missing his cock by less than an inch.

"Mmmm…"

Squall was holding Irvine's earlobe between sharp but gentle teeth and worrying at his earring with his tongue.

"Oh, Babe…" Irvine pulled Squall's hips against his, hardness brushing hardness through soft cotton. Squall gasped, hesitating for the barest second before pressing his lower body firmly against Irvine's. They writhed together for a while, breath shortening, tongues and lips pressing together in time with the grinding of their hips.

Squall was pure carnality in Irvine's arms, hard masculine urgency wrapped up in a sensuality that was almost feminine.

"Clothes off," Squall mumbled into Irvine's hair. "Want to feel you."

"You want 'em off, you'd better take 'em off," said Irvine. "I'm having far too much fun here." He slid his hand smoothly inside Squall's underwear to tease the head of his cock with one inquisitive finger, chuckling to himself when it twitched in response.

Squall made a little growling noise, hooking his fingers into the elastic of Irvine's boxers and pushing them down, deliberately skimming the waistband over his sensitive erection. Irvine conceded to kick them down off his feet, sighing happily as Squall's strong grip curled around his cock and squeezed hello.

However good it felt, though, it wasn't enough to distract him from his exploration of Squall's body. He teased Squall's swollen lips with his own, running his tongue along the polished edge of his teeth, Squall's tongue chasing and spiralling around his. He continued to tease Squall's cock with one hand, running the other over the ivory flesh he wanted to spend forever tasting and touching.

"Gods, Squall, you're just so…"

Squall was moving his hand over Irvine's cock in long pulls, palming the head at the end of every stroke, spreading the precome that was leaking prodigiously from his slit.

"I could make you come like this," said Squall, more of an observation than a suggestion. "Hot and sticky, all over my hand. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Of all the people in the world Irvine might have guessed would talk dirty in bed, Squall was probably the last. The man rarely offered so much as a good morning in normal conversation, and here he was making Irvine's cock throb almost unbearably just with his words.

"You know I would, babe. But not before you've come in my mouth." Two can play at that game, Irvine thought to himself as Squall pressed his hips hard against Irvine's, desperate for more contact than Irvine's one finger could offer. "How does that sound?" He pulled back from Squall's grinding hips, working his hand down lower, to cup and tease his balls. "Got a load for me, Squall? Want to fill my belly with your hot…"

Squall gave a strangled cry and covered Irvine's lips with his own.

"I'll take that as a yes," Irvine murmured, rolling Squall over onto his back.

He worked his way down Squall's body, watching his face all the while. Squall was nibbling his lower lip, his eyes on Irvine's as he trailed kisses from breastbone to belly button, soft auburn hair trailing behind him. He licked slowly up Squall's cock, following the big vein that ran from root to tip, pushing his foreskin back with a firm tongue.

He paused for a moment, his fingers snaking across one pale hip to wind around the base of Squall's erection, taking in the flush that had spread across Squall's cheekbones, the way his breath was coming in short gasps, the tight anticipation all over his body. Irvine licked his lips and sank them smoothly and wetly over Squall's length.

Squall's eyes fluttered closed. He tangled his fingers in Irvine's hair, his back arched, thighs clenched, and he abandoned himself. Irvine closed his own eyes too, a sense of satisfaction washing over him. He concentrated on the feel of Squall's cock in his mouth, impossibly hard, twitching slightly every time Irvine ran his tongue over the sensitive spot just under the head. It felt warm and thick, filling Irvine's mouth comfortably with plenty left over for his hand to grip.

"Gods, Irvine… oh…"

He started to move, picking up on the subtle rock of Squall's hips to determine his rhythm. His free hand settled on Squall's thigh for a while, soothing the tense, muscles, and then moved steadily between Squall's legs, cupping his balls briefly before dipping lower, testing Squall's reaction. A faint groan and the twitch of his cock in Irvine's mouth told him all he needed to know. He paused in his attentions for long enough to suck his fingers wet, and the next time he engulfed Squall's cock with his mouth and squeezed its root, he slid one damp finger just a little way up his ass.

Squall whimpered, but he didn't pull away. In fact he pushed towards the invading finger, deepening the penetration a bit. Encouraged, Irvine slid his finger in to the knuckle, crooking it slightly to find Squall's pleasure spot. The sudden yell of "fuckohfuck" from Squall's lust-swollen lips confirmed that Irvine had found exactly the right place; he started to rub it firmly in time with Squall's thrusts into his mouth.

He knew from the start that it wouldn't take long, however slowly he went, however many times he stopped just as Squall was nearing the brink. Squall needed the release as much as he needed the tortuous pleasure leading up to it. So the next time Squall's cock surged in his mouth, his balls clenched tight to his body and fit to burst, Irvine didn't pull away. He opened his throat instead, and gulped down Squall's entire length, breathing hard through his nose and consciously relaxing muscles so he wouldn't gag. His lips clamped around the root of Squall's cock just as his fist had been a few moments before, and Squall's hands clutched the back of his head, trying to hold him still, to stop himself from coming, staring at the sight of Irvine swallowing him whole with pleading eyes. Irvine let him have his way for a moment, but they both knew it was futile. Squall's body overpowered his mind and pulled back from Irvine's hot mouth just once, then he pushed in again with a loud cry, and started to pour come down his throat. Irvine backed off enough that he could swallow properly, gulping down Squall's bittersweet tribute, catching the last few spurts on his tongue so Squall could see him rolling it around his mouth, savouring it before he swallowed.

Squall lay back on the bed, breathing hard, his belly quivering slightly as Irvine finished licking him clean, carefully pulling his foreskin back over the head of his softening cock. Squall's fingers were gentle now, smoothing through Irvine's hair, whispering gratitude and affection.

Irvine crawled back up the bed on all fours, his own cock swinging heavy between his legs, and kissed Squall tenderly, letting him catch the scent and taste of himself on Irvine's tongue.

"Oh gods," Squall murmured.

"Okay, babe?" Irvine found himself yawning, an involuntary stretch of tense jaw muscles, and laughed.

"Not boring you to death, am I?" asked Squall, his eyes glittering amusement.

"No, just recovering from swallowing the prettiest darn cock I ever saw," Irvine replied with a wide grin.

"That's a ridiculous thing to say," observed Squall with what sounded suspiciously like a chuckle.

"Well, yes," admitted Irvine. "It's not my fault. You've got me so worked up here I don't know what I'm at."

"Let me help with that," said Squall, twining a thick strand of Irvine's hair around his hand and pulling him down to be kissed.

Irvine made a little whining noise in the back of his throat as Squall caressed his friction-bruised lips with his own.

"You want some more of this?" Squall took Irvine's straining erection in his hand again, eliciting a long groan. Irvine was having difficulty breathing reliably, never mind talking, but Squall seemed to pick up on his mute approval, teasing and stroking Irvine's sex with clever fingers. Irvine knelt on his hands and knees and quivered under his touch, kissing Squall hungrily, giving himself enough distraction to keep from coming on the spot. He couldn't last long, though. Not with Squall's taste still in his mouth, the memory of his hard cock still on his lips, and the steady milking of Squall's hand robbing him of conscious thought. This was too close to fantasy to resist.

"Tell me when you're close."

"Now… fuck, now, Squall, I'm nearly there, I …"

Then Squall's mouth was engulfing the head of his cock, and the world went white; there was one moment of incredible tightness, of almost-pain, before Irvine's body was overwhelmed with a shockwave of release. He spurted again and again in Squall's mouth; just when he thought he'd done he realised Squall had pulled back to catch the last dribbles on his lips and chin, using the head of Irvine's cock to rub his semen into that pale, beautiful face. Irvine cried out as his balls jerked again, and again, dribbling every last drop he had in him over Squall's waiting lips.

He knelt back on his heels, pulling Squall up to be held and kissed, licking the sticky mess from his skin, babbling incoherently in his ear.

Gradually his senses returned to him; he rested his forehead on Squall's shoulder, felt Squall gently stroking his hair, laying soft kisses on his head.

"Okay?" said Squall, softly. "You alright?"

Irvine nodded. "Oh yeah. Just… that was… you didn't have to do that, you…"

"I wanted to," said Squall. "Feel."

He pulled Irvine's hand to his groin; his cock was hard again, twitching against Irvine's palm as if pleased to see him.

Irvine raised his head and grinned. "That's my trick," he said.

Squall grinned back, a sexy, lopsided grin that made Irvine's heart miss a beat.

"Are we going to cripple each other?" he suggested.

"I can think of worse ways to get through the night," said Irvine. "Give me a minute though, okay Commander? That was a bit… intense." And right now I just want to watch you smile some more.

"Sure," said Squall.

"I need water," said Irvine. "Want some?"

Squall nodded, settling himself comfortably against the wall at the side of the bed, hugging his knees loosely in his arms. His eyes followed Irvine as he went to the tiny refrigerator in the corner of the room and retrieved two bottles of water.

"I love your hair," he said, awkwardly, none of the commander-voice there at all.

"Thanks," said Irvine. "I love your butt."

Squall gave him a little smile, looking adorably shy.

Shy? After all that, he could still look all shy and vulnerable? Irvine's head was spinning trying to keep up with all these hitherto unexplored facets of Squall's personality.

"Girls are better at this kind of thing, huh?" Squall suggested. "The whole compliment part."

"I guess." Irvine handed him a bottle and settled himself back on the bed. "You have to be careful. I mean, if I'd told Selphie I loved her butt, she'd immediately start asking me whether I thought it was too big or too small, or why I didn't love her breasts as much as her butt…"

"Really?" Squall arched a brow in surprise. "Selphie? But she's so… confident."

"Doesn't make any difference," said Irvine, authoritatively. "I think she over-worries about the girlie stuff to make up for all the fighting and the heroic things." He smiled at the thought, contemplating the happy bundle of contradictions that was his Seffie.

"Are you sure she's okay with all this?" Squall wrapped his lips around his bottle of water in a way that made Irvine's cock spring suddenly back to life.

"She's fine," he said, unable to drag his eyes away from the way Squall's mouth was unknowingly caressing the plastic bottle, his tongue dipping just inside the rim.

"Really? She doesn't mind you screwing around?"

Not while she's spending the night having a lesbian love-fest with Quistis and your should-be girlfriend, no. "We're very much alike. We understand each other. It's the honesty that's important."

"Hmm." Squall took a swig of water and considered that for a moment. "So you told her about what happened the other day? Back in Esthar?"

"Well… not yet," Irvine confessed. "I hadn't found the right time, what with us being so busy and all. But I will. That's okay, isn't it? I mean, not details, just…"

"I guess," said Squall, looking faintly uneasy. "So long as she doesn't tell anyone."

"She won't. You can trust Seffie." Especially if you'd be willing to let her share, he thought, with a sudden rush of blood to his cock, but he decided this wasn't the right moment to mention it.

Squall poured the last of his water down his throat, and threw the empty bottle into the wastebasket with perfect aim. He rested his hand casually across Irvine's thigh, stroking the hard muscles with his fingertips in a way that made the hairs on the back of Irvine's neck stand up.

Irvine drained his own bottle and chucked it carelessly over his shoulder, suddenly unable to resist pouncing Squall and pinning him to the bed while he kissed him breathless.

"I take it you've recovered, then," gasped Squall, when Irvine finally let him up.

"Looks like it," grinned Irvine. "You ready to go again?"

The lopsided smile made a reappearance, much to Irvine's delight.

"I think so."

Irvine's grin got wider. "Oh good."

Squall pulled him down on top of him with a growl.

They lay for a long while, just kissing and stroking, pressing their bodies together, exploring responses. Irvine felt the desire build inside him, slow and strong, and from the way Squall was squirming and panting in his arms, it seemed he felt the same. They lay facing each other, their cocks pressed together, glistening and eager, shafts rubbing pleasantly against each other. Squall looked at Irvine with an unmistakable heat in his silver-grey eyes.

"I want you," he said.

Irvine smiled. "You got me, babe."

"I want to fuck you," Squall elucidated.

"Then fuck me," suggested Irvine, reaching between their bodies to squeeze their cocks together. Squall groaned.

"Lube?" he murmured, after a few strokes of Irvine's hand over their combined erections.

"Nightstand drawer."

"Hn." Squall dragged himself away with some reluctance, shaking the hair out of his eyes. He pulled the drawer open and searched through the clutter inside, peering in the low light.

"Condoms?" he observed, curiously.

"Yeah. It's a Galbadian thing. They're not so generous with the contraceptive jabs and the elixir as you Balamb and Trabian types, y'know."

"How odd," said Squall. "Especially when Galbadia Garden has such a… reputation."

"Maybe that's why," said Irvine, crawling after Squall, impatient to resume contact with that pale, silky skin. He grabbed him around the waist, and sank his teeth playfully into his butt. "Maybe it was gettin' too expensive."

"Hn. Another one for the list."

"Huh?"

"Things I want to change, when all this is over. Along with curfew rules and the kind of missions we accept and… "

"You have a list?"

"Yeah. What? Why shouldn't I have a list?"

"No reason," Irvine kissed his way up Squall's spine. "I didn't know you'd ever thought about it."

"It goes with the job. Which I'm not thinking about now. Oh, here it is." Squall looked back over his shoulder at Irvine, and raised an eyebrow. "Strawberry flavoured?"

Irvine grinned. "My favourite," he confessed.

Squall shook his head, smiling indulgently. "You're such a hedonist."

"Yep," said Irvine happily. "Now come here and strawberry me."

"You really are a slut, you know," said Squall, letting Irvine pull him back onto the bed.

"From what you were saying earlier, I'm not the only one," said Irvine.

He regretted it as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Squall's body stiffened in his arms, and he made to move away.

"No," said Irvine. "Gods, I'm sorry. I was just teasing. I don't…" Stupid, stupid, stupid.

"I can't…" said Squall, not struggling, but not relaxing back into Irvine's arms either. "I shouldn't have told you."

"Babe, it's okay. I'm sorry." Irvine kissed the back of Squall's neck, cursing himself for forgetting, just for an instant, how complicated a person Squall was. He could almost see the shutters come down. "You didn't do anything wrong."

Squall didn't say anything. He just sat there on the edge of the bed, turning the tube of strawberry lubricant over in his hand, Irvine draped over his back like a blanket.

"Squall, don't do this. Please. Don't hide from me. Not now."

"I'm not hiding."

"Well, then say something, eh babe? Don't make me guess. What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Irvine knelt back on his heels, resting his forehead on Squall's back, still holding him around his middle. He felt suddenly tired and strangely vulnerable, and knew his patience was wearing thin.

"I'm sorry, okay?"

"Whatever."

"Oh, for fuck's sake, Squall," he hissed in total exasperation, "don't you dare 'whatever' me!" He took a deep breath, and continued more gently. "Is it 'cause I teased you? Shit, people tease me all the time, it's always 'you're such a slut, Irvine' or 'is there anyone in Galbadia you haven't shagged, Irvine'. You know I…"

"It really hurts you, when they say those things?" Squall interrupted.

"Sometimes," Irvine kissed the tight muscles between Squall's shoulder blades, eyes closed, desperate to tell his friend with his body what he couldn't put into words just now.

"I thought it didn't mean anything to you," Squall said.

"What doesn't mean anything?" Irvine was starting to get lost with the twists their conversation was taking. But at least they were having a conversation.

"Sex. I thought it was just… fun," said Squall, stroking Irvine's arm with the end of the plastic tube.

"It can be," said Irvine, carefully. "It can be a lot of things. Why?"

Squall took a deep breath, and paused as if he were about to say something important, but no words came out. Eventually he let the air out of his lungs again as a soft sigh.

"Squall, I'm sorry, but you've got me stumped here. I need a clue, babe."

"It's nothing. Really. Guess I'm tired. Makes me a bit touchy. I…"

"Then come lie down. We can just sleep, if you want." If Squall had been going to tell him that's all this was about, just a bit of fun, Irvine didn't want to hear it.

Squall gave his arm a little squeeze, and nodded. Irvine took the tube from him and shoved it under the pillow, then pulled his lover into his arms, hitching the rumpled covers over their naked bodies.

His lover. Squall, his lover?

That thought felt better than it had a right to.

They lay in silence for a while, Irvine softly stroking Squall's hair, soothed by the warm puffs of Squall's breath on his neck. It wasn't long before his dick noted the more relaxed atmosphere and decided it was time to spring back to life, but Irvine did his best to ignore it. It was enough, more than enough, that Squall was here, that he wasn't alone, that he had the company and affection of his best friend to see him through the night.

See? Now who's a slut? Irvine started to feel a little smug that he could restrain himself so well, in the presence of the specimen of male perfection that was pressing against his body, warm and hard and…

"Irvine?"

"Yes, babe?"

"I still want to fuck you, you know."

Irvine grinned. Thank gods for that. I don't think I'm suited to noble restraint after all. "Any time, man. I'm right here." If Squall's mood swings baffled him, he wasn't about to let it bother him now.

"You're not too tired?"

"No." Irvine took Squall's hand and pulled it onto his straining erection. "See?"

"Oh good. It'll help us sleep, right?"

"Yeah." Irvine sought out Squall's mouth and kissed him. "Eventually."

Squall snorted, and rolled himself on top of Irvine, straddling his thighs and leaning over so his necklace grazed Irvine's sleek chest. Their erections rubbed together, sending a shared thrill through their bodies. He kissed Irvine hungrily, a hand on each shoulder, his hair tickling Irvine's face.

"What d'you need?" he husked. "Tell me what…"

Irvine had forgotten for a minute that this was only the second time Squall had done this. He reached under the pillow and retrieved the lube.

"I'm ready," he said. "Just take it steady to start with, okay?"

Squall nodded, shifting his legs to kneel between Irvine's thighs. He took a moment to stroke the outline of Irvine's cock, to tease his balls and trace a line down the ridge that led to his anus. He stroked up and down a few times, fascinated.

"It looks so small," he said, possibly to himself. "Does it hurt?"

"Not if we do it right," said Irvine, flippantly. And then, more seriously: "you did fine last time, babe. Lots of lube and don't rush. Play some first. I'll tell you if it hurts."

"Did it hurt you the first time? The first time ever, I mean."

Irvine fought to concentrate on answering him, knowing it was an important question. It wasn't easy; Squall's fingers were light and teasing, and he wanted to just lie back and let him have his way with him.

"A little," he managed, trying his best to give an honest reply. "I didn't know what to expect, really, so I was maybe a little… not as relaxed as I should have been… and neither of us knew what we were doing… but it was good, it… it's very intense, and, that… it…" Speech was becoming impossible as Squall's fingers teased his entrance. "Oh, fuck, Squall, you're killing me here."

Squall smiled that lopsided grin. "Feels good, huh?"

"Ngh… yes. But your dick's going to feel better."

Squall took the hint, and flipped the cap of the lubricant at last. Irvine felt something wet and cool at his entrance, then Squall's fingers sliding inside, gently stretching him and drenching him in lube. The smell of strawberry flavouring filled the air, reminding him of champagne and Selphie's bathroom for an instant. Then Squall's fingers were gone, replaced by the firm pressure of his slick cock, and his thoughts fled. Squall slid into him slowly, a bit at a time.

It certainly didn't hurt. It felt good. It felt amazing. It felt right.

"Oh, gods, Squall, that's so…"

"…hot." Squall finished for him on a gasp, sinking the last couple of inches inside and holding it there.

It felt right.

"Fuck, Irvine, oh…"

"I know, babe."

Irvine brushed the hair back from Squall's face, so he could see his eyes.

So what is this, Squall? Is this just fun?

Squall's eyelids slid shut, and all Irvine could see on his face was lust.

He stifled a sudden surge of sadness. But then, he berated himself, what had he expected? Maybe lust was enough, after all. It usually was. Why would this be any different?

He cut off his thoughts before he dared answer that question for himself.

He tilted his hips so Squall could get even deeper inside him, and pulled Squall's face down to kiss. It was easy to lose himself under the command of Squall's hot mouth, in the overwhelming sense of fullness, of being stuffed with thick, hard cock.

Squall started to move, slowly at first. He reached down to make a tunnel of his fist for Irvine to fuck, hugging his cock with his perfect swordsman's grip. He was astoundingly good with his hands, and even the distraction of his own pleasure didn't seem to stop him anticipating exactly how hard and fast Irvine's erection demanded to be stroked. It was overwhelming, the silky movement of palm over foreskin, the occasional flip of a thumb spreading Irvine's own juices over the head of his dick, and all of this upstaged by the steady beat of Squall's cock inside him, filling him over and over, faster and faster…

"Come for me."

Irvine threw his head back and obediently let release overwhelm him, spurting over Squall's hand, his chest, his belly. Before the last spasms had faded he felt Squall tense above him, the hands on his shoulders clenching tight; then there was a flood of warmth as Squall shuddered his semen into Irvine's body.

Irvine forced his eyes open. Squall's head had drooped, and he was fighting trembling muscles to hold his weight off Irvine's chest. Irvine gently pulled him down, buried his face in dark, sweat-soaked hair, and sighed contentment.

"Okay babe?" he whispered.

Squall nodded. "Sleepy," he murmured. "Ver' sleepy."

"Me too, sweetheart. Here. Let me clean us up a bit, eh?"

He rolled Squall gently onto his back, and snagged a towel from cubby hole in the wall by the bed. By the time he'd finished wiping the semen and lube and sweat away, Squall was half asleep; he nestled happily in the crook of Irvine's arm, one thigh across Irvine's hip.

Irvine turned off the light and pulled Squall close, kissed the top of his head, and listened to his breathing, already the shallow breath of sleep, slow and steady.

It felt better than it really had any right to.

* * * * * * *

The first thing Irvine realised when he woke was that it was still dark. He could smell Squall's hair, feel the warmth of his body. For a moment he was taken right back to the orphanage, to waking up just before dawn and scuttling back to his own bed before Matron found them.

The next thing Irvine realised was that Squall had moved. He'd turned onto his side, facing away from Irvine, and although his body was arranged in a way that would have spooned comfortably against Irvine's front, he wasn't touching him at all. There was no room in the single bed, but somehow Squall was keeping at least two inches between them.

And then he realised Squall's shoulders were shaking.

He was crying.

Shocked completely awake, Irvine reached out and turned the lights up.

"Squall… shhh… 's okay. I'm here. Shh…"

This was familiar, too. Irvine had lied. He did remember Squall crying himself to sleep at night, and he remembered hating Ellone for abandoning him and making him cry. He remembered rocking a seven-year old Squall in his arms and telling him it would be okay, without having any idea what he was talking about.

Squall hunched himself into a ball, as if trying to bury his sobs deep in his belly, terrified by their treacherous escape.

"Squall, babe, shhh… I'm here."

Why should that make it better? For all I know I'm the one who's made him cry in the first place.

A hand suddenly clutching his as if it were a lifeline told him different.

"Tell me, sweetheart. Tell me." Irvine fought back his own tears, stroking back the dark bangs he loved so much, whispering reassurance. "I'm here, you're not alone, tell me…"

"F..feelings," Squall stammered. "I can't… stop…"

"It's okay, babe. Just let it out. It'll get better, I promise. Just let it go."

Squall howled, sending a chill down Irvine's spine.

"I can't bear it," he choked out between sobs, "I hate this, I hate it. I can't let myself feel, I can't, it'll kill me, it…"

"It won't," Irvine struggled to keep his voice even. "You can't not feel, Squall. It'll send you crazy. You just have to live through to the other side."

Squall just hunched himself tighter, curling in on himself like a hedgehog, clutching Irvine's hand painfully into his centre.

"Hate it… hate it… hate it…"

"What? What feels so bad? Is it me? Do you wish you hadn't stayed tonight? Is it Rinoa? Ultimecia? Tell me. Tell me and we can make it better. Please."

Squall's sobs were coming slower now, his body limp between shudders.

"It's been so long," he whispered. "I… I can't stop it, and I can't... This is your fault. You made me this way. Just tell me, how in the name of Hyne do I make it stop? Because I sure as fuck can't save the world like this."

Irvine stared at the back of Squall's neck, stunned.

"I can make it better, babe," he whispered. "If you let me, I can make it…"

"No. You can't. Sex is fine, and you're certainly very good at it, but it can't …"

"I didn't mean that," said Irvine. "I meant I can help. Talk to me, Squall. Tell me how scared you are of Ultimecia, how you have no idea how to relate to Rinoa, how damn hard it is when everyone relies on you because you're their leader. Let me listen. Let me share it with you. Please."

Squall was still, Irvine's fingers still clutched in his fist.

"Squall, you can't deal with this on your own. No-one could. And you can't ignore it, for fuck's sake. It won't go away. Just tell me."

He waited, stroking Squall's soft, chocolate-coloured hair with the other, careful not to invade the precious inches of space his friend had made for himself, however much he wanted to sweep his friend into his arms and hug him.

When Squall finally spoke, his voice was so quiet that Irvine barely heard him.

"I can't," he said. "Not yet. It's too…I'm sorry. I can't… "

There was a long pause, so long that Irvine wondered if Squall had completely forgotten he was saying anything at all.

"… and when I can… will you be there?"

"Yes," said Irvine without hesitation. "I'm here for the duration, Squall. Whatever happens. I'm not going anywhere. I can wait as long as it takes. I promised I'd help you, and I will. Whether you like it or not, in fact."

Squall's body uncurled a fraction, releasing strained muscles. He relaxed his grip on Irvine's hand a bit, but Irvine made no move to take it back. They lay there for a while, still except for Irvine's fingers moving rhythmically through Squall's hair. Irvine ran a hundred things to say through his mind, but none of them felt right, so he settled for silence. Squall relaxed, bit by bit.

"That's nice," he said eventually. "What you're doing to my hair. It feels nice."

Irvine kissed the top of his head. "I love your hair," he whispered.

Squall gave a little snort. "And I love your butt," he said.

He wiggled his body back against Irvine's.

Irvine sighed deeply, sliding his arms around him and holding him tightly, as if he'd just pulled him back from a precipice.

"Irvine?" Squall gasped.

"Hmm?"

"Can't breathe, man. You're crushing me."

"Shit, sorry," Irvine relaxed his hold a little. "I guess you got me a little tense there."

"Hn."

"That better?"

"Mmm. Your dick's digging into me."

"Sorry. It has a mind of it's own, y'know, and it likes you. It'll go down in a bit."

"'S okay. Kinda nice, in fact."

"Sure?"

"Yeah."

They lay in silence for a while; Irvine found himself counting Squall's breaths, and realised he was breathing in time. He tucked his face into Squall's neck, and just breathed with him for the longest time.

He was almost drifting to sleep when he felt the subtle rock of Squall's body. He was pressing his perfect butt against Irvine's groin, ever so gently, almost surreptitiously.

Irvine smiled to himself, and kissed Squall's shoulder, nuzzling under his hair. Squall moaned faintly, and rocked a bit harder; Irvine's erection nestled happily between Squall's buttocks, sliding back and forth.

He slid his hand over Squall's hip and down to his sex, wrapping firm fingers around the hard flesh and stroking gently.

"Help you get t'sleep," he suggested.

Squall murmured agreement.

Irvine caressed Squall's cock with a firm touch, liking the feel of it in his hand, the feel of their bodies nested together, the warmth and the rub of skin on skin.

"You're good at that," said Squall, softly.

"Am I? It's just what feels right, is all."

"Hm."

Irvine found he was thrusting a bit harder; he couldn't help himself.

"This feels right," Squall said.

"This?"

"You, me. Doing this. Feels right."

Irvine stopped moving. "Yes," he whispered. "It does."

"Don't stop."

He started rocking his hips again, a little more firmly this time, his cock sliding easily in the soft valley of flesh.

Squall twisted to kiss him. Irvine could see the flush over his cheeks, from lust or crying, he couldn't be sure which. Maybe a little of both. His eyes were open but glazed, cloudy, his lips parted a little to reveal his tongue, pressing against his teeth. Beautiful. Carnal. Wanting.

He abandoned Squall's cock for a moment, sliding teasing fingers down to cup his balls, noting the little cry of disappointment as Squall realised he wasn't fucking Irvine's hand any more. He lay back a little, pulling Squall back with him, burrowing further between his legs to tease the soft pucker of his anus, brushing against his own balls with the back of his hand in the process.

Squall gasped.

"That good, babe?"

"Yes," whispered Squall, a confession.

"How 'bout this?" He pressed gently against the opening, once, twice, and the third time he felt Squall relax into his touch.

"Yes."

Irvine brought his fingers to his mouth and drenched them in spit.

"Want more, babe?"

"Yes. Please. Yes."

He found the soft pucker again, and this time pressed inside.

"You like that, huh? Want me to find that spot again?" He wriggled his fingers around, missing Squall's prostate on purpose a couple of times until he was writhing under his touch.

"Please…"

Irvine took pity on him, and pressed gently on the magic spot.

"Oh…" Squall groaned, the sound pulled from deep in his chest, and quivered under Irvine's fingers. He reached for his own cock, moaning when Irvine whispered in his ear to leave it alone.

"Not yet, babe. Not yet. Here, lie back. I want to see your face."

He slid out from under Squall's body, letting him lie flat. He kept his fingers buried inside him all the while, teasing and rubbing.

Squall's eyes flickered open, and the breath caught in Irvine's throat. He looked incredibly beautiful, but it was more than that. This was a different Squall: wanton, abandoned, his skin practically glowing with pleasure.

"You know what I want to do to you, babe?"

Squall just looked at him, his eyes glazing over every time Irvine rubbed against his prostate.

"I want to be inside you," said Irvine, his own voice hoarse. "I want to know what it's like to slide my cock in here," he scissored his fingers carefully, stretching him, "and fuck you 'til you scream my name."

Squall's eyes widened a little.

"What d'you think?" asked Irvine. "Would you let me?"

He found himself holding his breath.

"Yes," said Squall, running his tongue over dry lips. "Please. I want… please."

"Okay." Irvine dipped his head and kissed him more gently than he really wanted to. "If you want me to stop, any time… it's okay. Alright?"

"Hn."

Irvine retrieved the lube from the foot of the bed, and knelt between Squall's knees. "You alright like this?" He gently kneaded Squall's thighs, reassuring, keeping the contact going.

Squall nodded. "What d'you want me to do?"

"Whatever you want," said Irvine. "Just relax, okay?"

He spread Squall's legs further apart, and put a hand on one hip to encourage him to tilt his pelvis up a little. He allowed himself a moment to lean over and nuzzle Squall's cock and balls, running his tongue briefly up the shaft and sucking the head for a moment to distract Squall from the shock of the cold lube. He dabbled it thoroughly around his entrance and inside. Then he dipped his head and teased the wet hole with the tip of his tongue, while he slicked his own cock.

Squall sucked his breath in sharply at the feel of Irvine's tongue, which just encouraged Irvine to keep going, to probe deeper and keep on licking, until Squall was squirming like a demon and he had to lube him up all over again.

"Now I know why strawberry flavour," panted Squall.

Irvine laughed. "Feel good?"

Squall treated him to one of those lopsided grins he knew he'd be having wet dreams about for weeks to come. "Don't ask stupid questions, Kinneas."

Irvine grinned. He shuffled a little closer, using one hand to guide the head of his slick cock in little circles around Squall's anus, and the other to stroke down one long, lean leg before hitching it over his shoulder.

"Ready, babe?"

Squall nodded.

Irvine pushed a little, watching him carefully, and the head of his cock popped happily inside Squall's carefully prepared body. Irvine braced himself, though, and sure enough, there was a moment of unbearable pressure as Squall's body tried to repel its invader.

"Relax, babe. Just relax. Let me in."

"I…" there was a trace of panic in Squall's eyes, enough that Irvine was all set to pull out and leave this whole thing for another time.

Then Squall took a deep breath, and his muscles slowly unclenched. Irvine waited a moment before he sank inside, an inch at a time, until he was all the way in. All of him. Completely. Inside. All the way. He realised he was biting his lower lip, his whole body was trembling with the intensity of the feeling of being buried so deep inside Squall's perfect body.

Squall's head was thrown back and he was breathing hard, his fingers clutching at the sheets under him.

"Look at me, Squall. Open your eyes."

His eyelashes fluttered, and his gaze locked Irvine's. There was no fear now, no pain. Just want, and lust, and heat.

"Oh babe. You're beautiful. You feel so good."

"You too."

"Let me know when you've gotten used to it. Tell me when I can move."

"Now," panted Squall, without hesitation. "Want you. Fuck me. Now."

The tone of Squall's voice was like nothing Irvine had heard from his friend before, and he found it irresistible. It was halfway between begging and command, and he loved it. He pulled almost all the way out, and waited until the restless shift of Squall's hips and the delicious suction of his passage drew him back in again.

"Yes," Squall was still looking into Irvine's eyes; he reached out to thread his fingers through Irvine's hair, his soft touch brushing the sensitive outline of Irvine's ear. "Oh, gods, yes…"

Irvine groaned in response; his vocabulary had abandoned him for now.

"Fuck me."

Irvine gave him a few shorter strokes this time, stirring around with his cock to find Squall's prostate. He smiled at the sudden gasp Squall gave when he succeeded.

"Again."

Irvine was only too happy to oblige. He swung his hips steadily, driving his cock into Squall's body over and over, unable to take his eyes off the beautiful creature underneath him, the elegant curve of his throat, the sweat-slick sheen to his skin, hair falling back from his face to reveal perfect bone structure, pale skin flushed pink across the nose, cloudy grey eyes fixed on Irvine, all lust and abandon, complete and utter surrender.

Squall's sex was harder than flesh had any right to be, and leaking prodigiously over Irvine's fingers as he pumped it. And damn, but he was so tight, and hot, and felt so, so good.

"Good," said Squall, echoing his thoughts. "Full. Hot. Good."

That about summed it up.

Squall was still caressing his hair, the delicacy of his touch in complete contrast with the urgent press of his hips to meet Irvine's thrusts. There was no hint of the worry or hurt that usually marked his face, no frown to pucker the scar between his eyes.

This is how he should be.

Irvine's balls were full and tight, and he was holding off his orgasm by sheer force of will. He didn't want this to end. There would never be another first time with Squall, and he wanted to feel it so deep he'd never, ever forget.

"Irvine…"

Squall's body trembled under him, and Irvine could feel the rush of come pulsing up the shaft in his hand. He looked down to see it explode from the head of Squall's cock, with such force that the first shot reached as far as his neck.

"Oh gods, Squall, man… oh gods…"

Irvine managed to hold back long enough for Squall to finish coating their bellies in come, just, before his body finally overwhelmed him. Everything stopped for a second; he could feel the breath filling his lungs, the heat of Squall's quivering body underneath him and all around him, and the air seemed still and silent. He pulled out of Squall, slowly, then flexed his hips and surged back into him for the last time. Then all he knew was that he was coming, filling Squall's body over and over, and he thought for a moment he might never stop.

He slowly became aware that he had stopped, after all, that his cock, while still throbbing, was spent, and that his balls were tingly and just a little sore from coming so hard.

Then he felt the feather touch of Squall's fingers through his hair, easing his head down to bring their mouths together, the softest brush of lips against lips, and realised he was still shaking a little from the intensity and the rush of emotions, and he could barely support himself over Squall's body any more.

Squall pulled him down and held him for the longest time.

* * * * * * *

It wasn't far from dawn by the time they returned to bed, clean and damp from the shower, and curled up naked together under the covers. Irvine lay with his back against the cool plaster of the wall, Squall spooned in front of him again, his arms holding Irvine's in place over his tummy. Irvine was nearly asleep, lost again in the rhythm of Squall's breath, when he heard his voice.

"It's not the leader stuff."

"Hmm? What?" he murmured sleepily.

"It's not the leader stuff that scares me." Squall stroked Irvine's arm slowly, back and forth. "Not giving orders, or Ultimecia, or being in command. It's this."

He kissed Squall's neck. "This?"

"I let you in. You could hurt me, now."

"I know," Irvine whispered, brushing his lips softly over the strong muscle of Squall's right shoulder.

"That's what scares me."

"None of us knows what's going to happen," said Irvine. "But I'll tell you this. What happened here, tonight, meant something. It was good, and important, and now it's part of who we are. No-one can ever take that away from us. And if you hadn't let me in, we would have missed something special."

There was a pause before Squall replied.

"Yes," he said drowsily. "You're right."

Irvine smiled.

In a moment, they were asleep.

* * * * * * *

When Irvine woke in the morning, Squall wasn't there.

He couldn't believe it for a moment. That for all they'd been through, for all they'd said last night, for all they'd done, that Squall would sneak off in the dawn and…

"Morning, man. I made coffee. Want some?"

He blinked.

"You're still here?" his voice was still thick with sleep; he rubbed his eyes as if he really couldn't believe that Squall was standing there, clad in leather pants he'd not bothered to do up, waving a jug of coffee at him.

"Why shouldn't I be?" Then the lopsided smile; Irvine's heart skipped a beat. "You tired of me already?"

"No!" said Irvine, giving away far more than he'd intended. "I.. no. Coffee, yes, please, and come here."

Squall poured coffee into a mug and set it on the nightstand. He'd barely had time to put the jug down when Irvine grabbed him around the middle and pulled him back into bed.

Squall gave a very un-commander-like squeal and let himself be hugged for a minute.

"I've got to go," he said. "Leader stuff and all." He didn't sound very happy about it, which made Irvine feel decidedly smug.

"Okay," he said. "Careful how you leave. We don't want everyone knowing that you've been boning one of your cadets."

Squall shook his hair into his eyes, looking suddenly shy and far younger than anyone responsible for saving the world should. "You'll get me into trouble," he said.

"Probably," Irvine confirmed, happily.

Squall swatted him with the pillow and made his escape from Irvine's arms. He threw on the rest of his clothes, and left him with a soft kiss to his lips and a lingering touch to his hair that made him tingle.

Irvine watched the door swoosh shut behind him, and sighed. He would have to get up soon, strip the sticky sheets off the bed and sneak down to the laundry with them, go to the training centre to meet Zell as promised the previous day, see Selphie for lunch and find out how she and Quistis had gotten along with Rinoa.

Later.

For now, Irvine cupped the steaming mug of coffee in his hands, and let a stupid grin spread across his face.

It felt like bliss.