Actions

Work Header

Live Again

Work Text:

I am a one way motorway
I'm the one that drives away
then follows you back home
I am a street light shining
I'm a wild light blinding bright
burning off alone

* * * * * * *

Squall found himself watching Irvine and Selphie. Again.

Selphie was doing something on the computer, the tip of her little pink tongue sticking out in concentration, while Irvine did his level best to distract her. Ostensibly he was just looking over her shoulder, but Squall noticed his hand, long sensitive fingers tickling the back of Selphie's neck under her hair, and the way he leaned into her. His breath would be caressing her ear, she would be able to feel the heat of his body.

Squall remembered the heat of Irvine's body very clearly. He couldn't understand how Selphie could ignore it, still concentrating on the screen in front of her. Then he noticed her eyelashes fluttering, interrupting her gaze, saw her hand sneak out and squeeze Irvine's thigh.

"Squall? Squall, did you hear a word I said?"

He blinked up at Quistis, pulling his mind out of the warm Irvine/Selphie place and back into his own cold reality.

"No, what?"

Quistis gave an exasperated sigh, tempered with warm smile. "We're nearly at the Orphanage. Nida wants to know if we'll be going back to Garden after we've done here?"

"Eventually. It's up to Rinoa: I don't know how long it'll take her to come to terms with everything."

"OK." Quistis' eyes flashed in Irvine and Selphie's direction. "Gods, those two should get a room," she said.

Irvine had won his battle for Selphie's attention and claimed a kiss for his prize. A long, deep kiss. With sound.

Squall stifled a moan and got up quickly, suddenly not trusting himself to carry on any kind of conversation. "Where's Rinoa?" he managed.

"Up front, with Zell. She's still a bit shaky."

Quistis found herself talking to Squall's fast-disappearing back.

"Mmm, cowboy…"

"Oh for fuck's sake, you two, can't you leave it out just for ten minutes?" Quistis snapped, suddenly irritable for some reason.

"Sorry, Quisty," Selphie jumped up and flung her arms around her friend. "We've really neglected you lately. It's just that we have a special project, you see."

"Special project?"

Selphie pressed a finger to her lips. "Yes. Only it's secret."

"Would it have anything to do with a certain pretty leather-clad hero? At all?"

Selphie giggled. "That would be telling," she said.

"Shh," warned Irvine. "I can hear the squeak of leather returning as we speak."

Squall and Rinoa came in, almost but not quite touching each other. Irvine resisted the urge to capture the two of them and lock them in a cupboard until they were forced to own up to their feelings. For one, glorious moment when Squall released her from the seal, all sword and stance and leather; when he had actually held her in his arms, his eyes closed in bliss; for that one moment Irvine thought his work was done.

But no. Typically Squall-like, by the time they'd got back to the Ragnarok he'd let Rinoa's hand fall from his, the frown was back on his face and whatever warm place in his heart he'd opened for her for that brief moment was closed again. Irvine could feel Rinoa's deep frustration and anguish as if it were his own.

Man, but Squall was hard work.

The Ragnarok lurched into a typical Zell-inspired landing: smooth and gliding one minute, rocky and distinctly dangerous the next. More like snow boarding than flying a space ship. It made walking out onto good, hard ground feel all the sweeter.

Irvine waited with Selphie and the others while Squall and Rinoa talked to Edea. They picked their way through the ruins of their childhood home, sharing little memories as they came back through the GF-riddled fog of their past. It hurt, that they had been so close as children, the closest any of them had known to family, and yet now…

But… a different kind of family, maybe.

Edea was coming towards them, her movement all grace and beauty. Matron.

Target.

Irvine found himself pulling his hat a little further forward, hiding his eyes. He knew, in his heart, that he'd had no choice, that the bullet had been for Ultimecia, not for Matron. But it was still hard to think he could have killed her. The closest thing he'd known to a mother.

Selphie's little hand found its way into his, squeezed gently. It felt good, not just Seffie good, or sexy good, just good. When had that happened? When exactly did he fall in love with Selphie?

"Squall and Rinoa need a little time," Edea explained, "so I thought I'd come and talk with you."

"Is Rinoa OK?" asked Quistis. "She was so scared."

"She'll be fine. There's something you should know, though. About Rinoa and Squall. They have a very special relationship."

"That's what we keep trying to tell him!" exclaimed Selphie. "But he won't believe us!"

Edea smiled affectionately and reached out a hand to stroke Selphie's head as if she were still a five year old. Selphie leaned into the caress automatically, with a happy look on her face that made Irvine's breath catch in his throat.

"It's not just that sort of relationship, little Seffie. It's more than that. Squall is Rinoa's Knight."

"As in shining armour?" asked Quistis, fighting down a chuckle.

"Every sorceress has a knight," Edea explained. "He's her anchor to the world, her stability. Without a knight, or with someone who isn't strong enough to care for her… well, it can be a disaster. As you've seen."

"That's how he saved her, in space," Zell realised.

"Yes, my dear. It's really important that they keep that bond strong, and help each other. They'll need you to help them, too. It won't be easy for either of them."

"We'll take care of them," promised Selphie. "I always knew Squall was a hero," she added. "Deep down. He's always seemed … different, somehow."

"Yes. But not just Squall. You're all heroes. I'm very proud of you. Now, Zell, dear, go and fetch them, would you? You need to be on your way."

"Yes Matron," said Zell, obeying her unthinkingly, as ever.

"Irvine."

He was shocked to hear his name; he'd almost convinced himself he'd made himself invisible. "Yeah?"

"Look at me, Irvine."

He obediently tipped his hat back and forced himself to look her in the eye, trying to hide the guilt gnawing in his belly.

"Irvine… it's alright. I know you weren't trying to kill me. It's what you were trained for. What SeeD trained you for. You did the right thing."

He swallowed hard; he couldn't answer her.

"Squall thinks the world of you. He respects you. He'll listen to you, more than anyone. He always did, even when you were children."

Irvine shook his head. "He doesn't even remember me," he said, struggling to keep his voice even.

Edea smiled gently. "Is that what he told you?" she asked. "He's always been good at hiding his feelings. And that's the danger. That he might hide from Rinoa, try to do all this alone. He's a good hero," she reflected, "but he needs you all, and especially Rinoa. Don't let him forget that."

"I'll take care of him," said Irvine. Always.

"I know you will. Now, here they come. You must go. Just remember, whatever it takes, it's up to you to take care of them, whatever they have to do."

"We will, Matron." Selphie squeezed her hand. "Promise."

Squall and Rinoa joined them; Squall with his customary frown on his face, Rinoa looking pale but a little less frightened.

"Where next, Squall?" asked Quistis.

"Esthar," said Squall. "I need to talk to the President."

* * * * * * *

it's times like these you learn to live again
it's times like these you give and give again
it's times like these you learn to love again
it's times like these time and time again

* * * * * * *

It was late by the time they reached Esthar, and it had been a long day. They made their way to their assigned quarters, even Zell dragging his feet a little with fatigue.

Irvine watched as Rinoa said goodnight to Squall, smiling at him through tired, world-weary eyes, just begging to be comforted and kissed and loved.

Squall just reminded her that they had to be up at eight to see the President, and disappeared into his own room.

"Damn, but you've got to talk to the boy, Irvy," hissed Selphie. "I've never come across such an uptight, repressed, downright selfish…"

"Shhh, Seffie. Not selfish. Just… hurting."

"Well, that's all well and good. He's making Rinoa hurt too, Irvine. That's not fair."

"I know," Irvine cupped her face in his hand and kissed her. "Leave it to me. It's time I had a talk with our commander."

"Now?" Selphie pouted. "But the beds here are so soft, and big, and we've not had any time to ourselves lately…"

"Make up your mind, babe," Irvine's eyes twinkled at her. It wasn't often he had the chance to tease her. "We can be selfish and go fuck 'til dawn, or we can do what Matron told us and make Squall and Rinoa see where their destiny lies. What d'you say?"

"Hmph. Well alright. Only save some for me, Cowboy."

He smiled at her, brushing her cheek with a thumb. "Good girl. I won't be long. Why don't you go cheer up Rinoa? She looked like she could use a hug."

"Okay!" Selphie's face brightened, startling Irvine a little: he suddenly realised that Selphie might interpret the concept of 'hug' a little generously. Nonetheless he let her go with a squeeze to her hand, and turned to press the button for Squall's door chime, even as Selphie turned to Rinoa's.

"Who is it?"

"Hey Squall, it's Irvine. Just wondered if I could have a word with you. Can I come in?"

"Can't it wait? I'm completely knackered."

"Well… no, I don't think it can. Please, man. It won't take long."

"Oh, alright." The door swooshed open.

Squall had flung his jacket over a chair back and was sitting on a large sofa, unbuckling his boots. He looked up as Irvine came in, shook the hair out of his eyes.

"How y'doing?" asked Irvine, slumping down next to him.

"Fine," said Squall, kicking off his boots and socks. "Apart from not knowing what to do, or where to go, or how the fuck we're going to win this."

"You're doing great," Irvine couldn't resist a comforting stroke of Squall's untidy hair. Although he wasn't sure whether it was to comfort himself, or his friend.

"I don't know, Irvine. It just seems… no sooner have I made one impossible decision and saved Rinoa from almost certain death, than I have to do it all over again. And now I'm her knight… Will it ever stop?"

"It might. If you can help her to save herself, maybe. She's a sorceress, Squall, she's stronger than any of us, really. She just needs you to show her how."

"Hmff."

"Isn't that part of this sorceress' knight deal?"

"I don't know," Squall sighed. "I've no idea what I'm supposed to do anymore."

"I think you have," said Irvine, gently. "I think you're just afraid to do it."

Squall grunted. "You're right," he said, shooting Irvine a resigned look, tinged with just a little resentment. "You're getting to know me too well."

"What can I do?" asked Irvine. "How can I make it better?"

The scowl on Squall's face dissolved to something like helplessness. "Hold me?" He had to force the words out, his voice breaking with the effort of expressing something he was so unused to admitting.

Irvine shrugged off his duster and took Squall in his arms.

"You know," he stroked Squall's hair, his pulse racing at the feeling of Squall's warm body snuggling into his; "you should really be doing this with Rinoa."

"I know," Squall said into Irvine's shoulder. "But I can't."

"Squall…" Irvine pulled back to look into his friend's eyes as a sudden thought hit him. "You're not gay, are you? I mean, 100% gay?"

"No. Sometimes I wish I were," Squall traced a finger along Irvine's collarbone. "It would be easier, in some ways. But, no." He gave Irvine a tiny kiss in the hollow at the base of his throat, "just half-gay, I guess."

"Okay," Irvine smiled back recognition, weaving his fingers through glossy hair. "Don't you want Rinoa? Do you just not… fancy her?"

Squall groaned. "If you only knew…"

"Tell me."

"She drives me crazy, Irvine. There's been this … chemistry between us since we first met, it turns my brain to mush and makes me want to do all my thinking with my dick."

"I can relate," Irvine licked Squall's earlobe softly, tasting the bright metal of his earring. "But I don't understand why you've not done anything about it. I think with my dick all the time," he added, with cheerful enthusiasm.

"I can't," whispered Squall. "She's so… innocent."

Irvine stifled a laugh, remembering Rinoa in Selphie's bathroom, all stockings and lipstick… "How d'you mean, innocent?" he asked, carefully.

"Well, I'm fairly sure she's a virgin," he said, "and she's just so… young, somehow. All idealism and …"

"Isn't that kinda cute?" Irvine decided it wasn't up to him to correct Squall on Rinoa's virginal status. For all he knew she might want to lie about it. "I mean, she's devoted to you, right? Surely that's a good thing?"

"I don't know. It's just such a responsibility."

Irvine understood, all of a sudden. "You don't need any more responsibilities, do you, babe?"

Squall shook his head, ever so slightly.

"Oh, Squall," Irvine held him close, whispered in his ear. "She's not like that, you know. You ought to talk to her more. You'd be surprised. She could actually help you."

"How?" mumbled Squall. "She's not trained like us, she's not a SeeD. She's… just a girl."

"You're wrong," said Irvine, confidently. "Trust me. Talk to her. Tell her you're frightened. Let her care for you."

Squall looked at him with cloudy grey eyes, his fingers tracing patterns on Irvine's back under his shirt.

"I'm not ready," he pleaded. "For Rinoa, for any of it… I'm not ready."

Irvine knew he meant it, and suddenly felt achingly sorry for his friend. He was so young, they were all so young. They shouldn't know so much about killing and saving and being responsible.

He comforted Squall the best way he knew how, by pulling him close and kissing him, numbing his mind by stimulating his body. He ran his tongue around inside Squall's mouth, one hand still caressing silky hair while the other squeezed leather clad thigh.

He loved the way Squall responded to him, pushing his body against Irvine's like a cat, wrapping his arms sensuously around him, surrendering hungrily to his own lust. It occurred to Irvine that if things went as they should, this would be the last time he held Squall in his arms like this, kissed him, made love to him. It was a sad thought, just when they were starting to get to know each others' bodies, feel comfortable with each other. He felt a pang of envy for Rinoa, knowing she had all this still ahead of her… for a moment, he considered keeping Squall for himself, and Seffie, maybe, telling Squall that he was right after all, Rinoa was far too innocent for him…

But of course, he couldn't. Without the honesty and friendship between them the sex would be nothing; well, maybe not nothing but not nearly so good. And besides… he had Seffie. It would be greedy to want Squall as well…

Squall was unzipping Irvine's jeans, sliding a hand inside. Irvine gasped at the touch of cool fingers on his hot skin, Squall gently freeing his cock from the confines of denim and underwear. "You're so hard," he whispered in Irvine's ear, "you're always so hard…"

"Who wouldn't be, around you," Irvine rained kisses down Squall's throat, bunching up his T-shirt and pulling it neatly over his head, "all that leather and hair and… fuck, Squall, you have no idea how hot you are, do you?"

Squall shrugged. "Really?" he asked, a faint smile on his lips.

Irvine chuckled to himself. "Nice to see you're learning something," he said, lowering his head to lick the outline of Squall's nipple, gently enough to tickle.

"Oh yeah," Squall threw his head back, abandoning himself completely to Irvine's touch.

And once Squall abandoned himself, his passion was wild and limitless; the complete opposite of his usual calm control. He moved his hand on Irvine's cock with steady, even strokes, at the same time offering up whatever part of his body Irvine wanted to touch or taste with unmitigated enthusiasm. Irvine quite simply wanted it all.

He finally settled on taking Squall with his mouth, kissing down his chest and belly, gently moving Squall's hand from his cock for a while, kneeling on the carpet between Squall's thighs and licking in long sweeps from his balls to the head of his cock, watching Squall arch and writhe for him.

He continued to tease until Squall's fingers were clutched desperately in his hair, and he was whimpering, just a little. Then he took Squall's sex between his lips and sucked him, inch by inch, into his hot, wet mouth.

He waited a moment, lips clamped firmly around the base of Squall's cock, tongue massaging the slightly curved underside, its head deep in Irvine's throat. He needed to make sure Squall felt this, really felt it, before he went any further.

Eventually, he had to breathe; he pulled back slowly, circling the root with firm fingers and licking pre-come from the tip, taking a deep breath before getting down to the business of giving Squall a blow job he'd never, ever forget.

He teased as much as he dared, building a rhythm only to change it at the last minute, alternating intense mouth fucking with slow, lazy washes of his tongue, tickling Squall's butt with mischievous fingertips. Squall pushed Irvine's hair back from his face so he could watch himself being loved and tortured by that skilled, sensitive mouth, lips swollen with lust and friction, eyes darkened to indigo by pure pleasure.

"Can… you… take… it?" Squall asked, his voice more panting than speaking, already knowing the answer.

Irvine smiled with his eyes, seeing as his mouth was fully occupied, and sucked encouragingly for a moment.

Then he stopped, just holding Squall's twitching cock in his mouth, feeling it pulse against his tongue and listening to Squall's groan.

He reached up with one hand, traced the outline of Squall's soft mouth, slipped a finger inside. Squall licked it enthusiastically, watching Irvine through half-closed eyes, chasing the finger a little with nipping teeth when Irvine pulled it away.

Irvine started to move around Squall's cock again, giving him everything at once this time; sucking and licking and fucking… and then, just as Squall started to tense, his balls tight and throbbing, Irvine pushed his wet finger into Squall's tight, hot body, aiming unerringly for the perfect spot and rubbing.

Squall screamed Irvine's name and erupted, flooding his mouth, watching, screaming again, his eyes devouring the movement of Irvine's throat as he swallowed.

Irvine kept Squall's cock in his mouth until it softened, licking it clean, soothing, comforting with his tongue.

"Irvine… tickles…"

Irvine let him go, a little reluctantly, and kissed his way back up Squall's body, across hard, flat stomach, unable to resist tickling one pink nipple with his tongue. Squall flinched and made a sound Irvine eventually recognised as a giggle. That's just irresistible, he thought. Of all his considerable sensual powers, the ability to make Squall giggle was one that Irvine had never dared even aspire to.

He tickled him gently under the ribs.

"Fuck off," Squall squirmed. And giggled.

Irvine grinned broadly and carried on tickling. There was more giggling.

And then, suddenly, he was flat on his back, Squall astride him, pinning his hands over his head. Glowering.

"Ow."

"Serves you right," the glower faded a little, the trace of a teasing smirk around the corners of that sexy mouth. "Tickling like that."

"You liked it," Irvine accused. "I can tell."

"Hmmf." Squall let go of Irvine's wrists and sat back, none too gently, on Irvine's still-hard cock.

"Again, ow," said Irvine.

"Sorry," Squall's expression had gone completely to smirk now. "Only if you ever, ever tell anyone I'm ticklish, you're dead, right?"

Irvine nodded solemnly. "Promise," he said, "SeeD's honour."

"Alright then." Squall leaned over and kissed him, running his fingers softly down the side of Irvine's body. "That's a shame," he murmured, "you not ticklish?"

"Not right now," Irvine purred. "Too turned on," he added.

"What would you like me to do?" Squall asked, his eyes glittering with promise.

Irvine ran through his check list of Things He'd Like Squall To Do To Him in his head. It was extensive, and actually he'd only got about a third of the way through when he remembered he was supposed to be getting Squall and Rinoa together, not stealing him away from her.

He took a deep breath.

"I'd like you to go and tell Rinoa you love her," he said. "Properly," he added. "Without words." The no words part should come naturally to him, at any rate, he thought, fighting down regret, and trying to feel noble for sacrificing certain pleasure in the cause of heroic matchmaking.

"What?"

Damn you, Ultimecia. I can almost forgive you for wanting to take over the Universe to serve your evil purpose, but getting between me and sex with Squall Leonhart is something I promise you'll regret to the end of your stupid, evil, sorceressy days…

"Oh, Squall. I can't believe I'm saying this, but you shouldn't be with me. You should be with Rinoa. Trust me."

"But…"

"Yeah, I know. But this is fate. It's important for what we've got to do. You're her knight, and she needs you."

Squall sat back again, thankfully more gently this time, frowning. "Does it have to be now?"

"I think it does," said Irvine. "We don't know where tomorrow's taking us, and Rinoa's hurting. She needs to know you're not going to desert her."

"But of course I'm not."

"She doesn't know that. You've never actually told her. In fact, you've done your level best to shut her out, haven't you?"

"But… she'll be asleep. I'll go see her in the morning, early… that would give us tonight, and … oh. You'll be wanting to get back to Selphie, I suppose." Squall stood up, reaching for his clothes.

"Eventually. But that's not why I'm doing this. Come on." Irvine raised his hips to fasten his jeans. "I'll come with you. Please." He scrambled to his feet, and turned Squall to look at him. "For me."

Squall's face was set in it's usual expression, all trace of passion and smirk gone. He just frowned.

"Squall, believe me, I would like nothing better than to stay here with you, on this thick carpet, naked, for the rest of the night. Or longer. But this is more important."

Squall held his gaze for a long moment. Then he sighed.

"Alright," he said, and Irvine turned to pick up his duster. "Irvine…"

"Yeah?"

"Thanks. You've helped me to… you've really helped, I just wanted you to know that."

And before Irvine could reply, Squall's lips covered his, his kiss more eloquent, as ever, than his words.

* * * * * * *

I am a new day rising
I'm a brand new sky
to hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
do I stay or run away?
And leave it all behind?

* * * * * * * *


There was something nagging at Irvine's mind as he reached out to the buzzer on Rinoa's door. But whatever it was, he was so busy repressing a desire to drag Squall down the corridor to Selphie's room and live out a good half of his combined Squall/Selphie checklist, that he took no notice.

"Who is it?" came Rinoa's voice.

Irvine looked expectantly at Squall, who just looked panicked. And mute.

"It's Irvine, hon. And Sq…"

"Oh, come right on in, just what we need, some juicy man slut…" Selphie?

Irvine remembered, just as the door slid open and it was far too late. Selphie was going to give Rinoa a hug…

"Oh shit, fuck, sweet mother of Hyne," he cursed.

Squall, just behind him, made a kind of growling noise.

True to her word, Selphie was cheering Rinoa up. Mostly, it would appear, by engaging her in a mutual lick-fest which at some point had obviously involved a banana and a pint of cream.

Irvine was conflicted: on the one hand his every desire suggested he could perfectly reasonably say 'ok, Squall, the next lesson is the gangbang' and just dive in. His brain, however, although mostly still just cursing, was also suggesting that this was all a bit unfortunate and would probably, eventually, lead to the end of Squall and Rinoa and probably, inevitably, the end of the world.

"Don't just stand there," Selphie was saying, her face hidden between Rinoa's thighs, "come in and," she raised her head at last, "… oh, fuck. Squall."

"Squall?!" Rinoa slithered out from under Selphie's body, grabbing a nearby towel. "Oh, Squall… shit… um… I can explain…"

Irvine, close enough to feel Squall's muscles tense in preparation for flight, grabbed his hand. "Wait," he whispered. "Please."

Squall looked horribly confused, and worryingly angry. Irvine pulled him into the room, the door swishing closed behind them.

Rinoa had managed to slip into a robe, somehow, and bequeathed the towel to Selphie.

The four of them looked at each other in silence for a moment.

"OK," said Irvine. "Who's going first?"

Selphie burst out laughing; Rinoa and Squall were just looking at each other.

"No, I didn't mean… Seffie, shh. I meant who's going to talk … dammit!"

Selphie swallowed her laughter, and crossed the room, but not to Irvine. She stood in front of Squall, and took his hand.

"Squall, there's no need to be freaked, you know," she turned his palm to her lips and kissed it, capturing his eyes from Rinoa for a moment. "Let's be honest here, huh?"

He scowled at her; Irvine could see his pulse racing, the tension building in his body.

"Rinoa needed you, Squall. She was lonely. I couldn't let her suffer, all alone. We all have to look after each other, don't you see? It's not just you, or even just you and Rinoa. We're all in this together."

Rinoa whimpered. "Selphie…"

"If Rinoa wants me…" Squall stuttered, "why has she… and you …"

"If you want Rinoa," countered Selphie, "why have you been shagging Irvine?"

"Squall!" shrieked Rinoa.

Oops, thought Irvine.

"Well, I…" Squall tried.

"I could just about handle that you hadn't made a move on me because you were a repressed tight-ass," Rinoa spat, "but really… and Irvine! You slut! I trusted you!"

"Oh, come on, leave Irvine out of it," Selphie said, a rare flicker of annoyance on her face, " don't be such a hypocrite. He was so nice to you, with the champagne and everything, and by the way you still have his shirt!"

"Girls," said Irvine, hastily, "and um, Squall… let's just think this through rationally, shall we?"

Suddenly there were three pairs of eyes staring accusingly at him.

"You surely didn't think I hadn't guessed?" Selphie said, reproachfully. "And you promised to share…"

"You were supposed to get him to seduce me," Rinoa's eyes flared menacingly, "not have him for yourself."

"..."

Squall wrenched his hand out of Selphie's.

"Hang on a minute," said Irvine. "Quistis isn't around here somewhere, is she? Only I know she likes Squall too, she may as well get in line and have a go while it's 'being mean to Irvine' day!"

"Quistis?" Rinoa squealed.

"It's alright," Selphie murmured, "she hasn't gotten to him yet. And I think she lost interest when Irvine… um, when she remembered the orphanage."

"Oh. Uh. Fine. OK. But, hey, still mad at Irvine here!"

"It's not Irvine's fault," came Squall's low, deadly voice. "It's mine. I can't deal with any of this. I'm leaving." He turned towards the door, but Irvine threw himself in the way.

"No, babe, please. Don't go like this. We can sort it out. Please."

"Get out of my way."

"No." Irvine gulped. When it came to physical violence, he knew that enraged heroes tended to win over humble sidekicks, however much of a deadly sniper the sidekick was. And Squall was very enraged. "Squall, Selphie's right. You really don't have the moral high ground here. None of us do."

"Actually," came Selphie's voice, "I do. At least I've been honest."

Irvine shot her a 'shut the fuck up' look; she winced, surprised.

Squall hesitated.

"Squall, this doesn't change anything."

Squall pushed Irvine hard against the door, clutching his shoulder so hard it hurt, and pressed his body hard against Irvine's, his face so close Irvine could only just focus on steel-grey eyes.

"It changes everything. I trusted you."

"I haven't betrayed you," Irvine struggled to keep his voice level.

"Oh, really?"

"I didn't know Selphie would be here."

"No?"

"I certainly didn't know she'd be doing Rinoa."

And then Irvine saw the flicker of lust in Squall's eyes.

Aha. Hope at last.

"If I'd been going to arrange something like that," he gambled, "I'd have at least waited 'til after the end of the world, when we could enjoy it."

He licked his lips, slowly, and gave Squall the most breath-takingly seductive look he could muster.

The faintest growl came from deep in Squall's throat.

"We can take this two ways," said Irvine. "It's up to you. We take it your way and all go to our rooms and angst about this until morning. Or we could, we just could, stay and calm down and comfort each other."

"Comfort?" Squall snarled, but his body relaxed, just the tiniest bit, and he loosened his grip on Irvine's shoulder.

"Isn't that what this has been about, all along?" Irvine persisted. "We're just kids, Squall, and yet we've seen things, done things that would give most sane, normal people nightmares for the rest of their lives. We've been trained to kill. We've butchered, waded in the blood and guts of monsters and people. And we were all damaged to start with, all abandoned, or betrayed one way or another. We all find our own way to survive it; you with your silence, Quistis by taking control of everything she can, Zell by being so hyper he never has to think, Selphie by blocking out the bad stuff as if it didn't even exist, and me… I survive by making damn sure I always have a warm, naked body to cuddle up to so I'm never alone in the dark."

He was breathing hard, tears pricking at the back of his eyes.

The whole room was still for a moment.

"What's it to be, Squall?" Irvine broke the heavy silence. "My way or yours?"

Squall gave a low groan of anguish and recognition, renewed his grip on Irvine's shoulder and pushed him against the door again.

Irvine braced himself for the blow, but it never came. Instead his breath was snatched away by Squall's kiss, hard and desperate and hungry, a sob strangled in his throat, his fingers tangling in Irvine's hair.

Slowly, Irvine slipped his arms around Squall's waist and worked to soften the kiss, sliding his tongue inside Squall's mouth, comfort, comfort, comfort…

* * * * * * *

it's times like these you learn to live again
it's times like these you give and give again
it's times like these you learn to love again
it's times like these time and time again

* * * * * * *

Eventually Squall came up for air, and Irvine held him close, pulling his face into his neck. He looked over Squall's shoulder at Rinoa and Selphie.

"Come here," he mouthed, silently.

Selphie nodded and they both padded over, putting their arms around Squall, making him the centre of a huddle of warm, soft bodies. He moaned and raised his head, just enough for Irvine to renew their kiss.

"Oh, wow," whispered Rinoa, "that's just so hot. Who'd've thought two guys would be so.."

Selphie grinned, knowingly, and reached out towards Rinoa, stroked her hair. "Yeah," she said, "it makes sense, though, if you think about it. Most guys like a little girl-on-girl action, after all. So why wouldn't we…"

"Oh," said Rinoa, "now you're giving me ideas…"

"They're going to be busy there for a while," Selphie pointed at Squall and Irvine, who were still kissing long and deep, "we could finish off what we were doing before we got so rudely interrupted."

"We could. Is that OK with you guys?" Rinoa checked. Irvine grunted, Squall didn't answer at all, but he was grinding his hips into Irvine's in a very promising kind of way, Selphie noticed.

"We'll take that as a yes," she said, and led Rinoa away, "let's go to the bedroom."

"Gnngh," Squall dragged himself away from Irvine's perfect mouth, "together."

"Okay," soothed Irvine, "we'll all go, that's fine."

He took Squall's hand and they followed a giggling Selphie and slightly sheepish Rinoa through to the bedroom.

There was inevitably a little awkwardness then, as the four of them stood next to the enormous bed in the middle of Rinoa's bedroom. Irvine just concentrated on keeping Squall occupied, pulling off his shirt and pushing him gently back onto the bed, kneeling astride him, trusting Selphie and Rinoa to act on their own initiative.

Selphie rose cheerfully to the challenge, divesting Rinoa of her robe and pushing her down next to Squall.

"Here, Selph," Rinoa pulled Selphie down and whispered in her ear.

"OK," Irvine heard Selphie say, "that's sweet, hon. Hey, cowboy," she sat up and they looked at each other. Her emerald eyes sparkled with mischief, but there was something soft there, too, and Irvine's heart leapt in his chest; he felt something no-one else in the world, not even Squall, could make him feel. He glowed under her gaze.

She leaned over and whispered in his ear.

A smile spread across his face.

"Oh yeah," he said.

"What?" Squall looked accusingly at him.

"It's alright, babe," said Irvine. "Just relax. Trust me." He leaned over and kissed Squall, moving a little so Rinoa and Selphie could reach the fastening of Squall's pants. There was a squeak of leather, an unmistakable unzipping sound, and Irvine felt Squall raise his hips as the girls peeled off his clothing. Rinoa gave a little gasp, which Irvine thought was a particularly nice touch.

Irvine rolled back to lie next to Squall, not breaking their kiss: he was enjoying the little fluttery thing Squall was doing with his tongue against his lower lip too much for that; he felt familiar fingers pulling off his own jeans, the kiss of Selphie's hard nipples against his butt as she did so.

Then he felt Squall buck underneath him, and pulled back just in time to see Rinoa wrapping her mouth around Squall's cock, sucking it in bit by bit, cupping his balls in her hand. Irvine put a steady hand on Squall's chest, whispered in his ear, "does that feel good? It sure as hell looks good… just relax, babe, just let it happen… tell us what you want, babe, we're yours to command… all yours…"

The passion came to Squall's eyes then, that moment of acceptance, surrender, the moment his protective wall of icy silence came down and Squall gave himself up to his feelings, like giving yourself up when you called a Guardian, risking everything for that moment of strength and power.

"Oh… Rinoa…"

Irvine smiled, stroking Squall's hair, Selphie looking at the two of them with a mixture of lust and envy. She leaned over and ran the tip of her tongue over Squall's nipple, sliding her hand down his body, just enjoying his skin. Squall's hand reached out and touched Irvine so unexpectedly he jumped, making Selphie giggle at him. Then she all but purred as she watched Squall curl long fingers around Irvine's cock, her eyes widening as she registered the familiarity of the gesture, the ease with which Squall touched him.

"Oh, Irvy, Squall… you're beautiful…"

Rinoa mumbled agreement, making Squall moan a little louder.

Selphie watched, transfixed, one hand stroking Squall's chest, the other gripping Irvine's thigh, as Squall wanked Irvine steadily. There was no other word for it, it was firm and direct, instinctive, and it made Irvine feel so good he just wanted it to go on for ever. He reached out to Selphie, taking one small breast in his hand and flicking her nipple, pulled her closer so he could take it in his mouth, running his hand down her back, giving her a playful slap on her butt that made her arch into him, giggling. He slipped his hand between her thighs, sighed happily as he sank his fingers into her wetness, swirling around the tiny hard nub of her pleasure, kissing her deeply, drowning in her.

Rinoa had shuffled round, still loving Squall's cock with her mouth and fingers, but closer now to Selphie and Irvine. Selphie swept back Rinoa's hair so that Squall and Irvine could watch Squall's cock plunder her mouth, but Irvine found it hard to keep his eyes open; he was fighting an urge to surrender to Squall's touch and come. He looked pleadingly at Squall, who apparently recognised his concern; he paused a moment, squeezed hard, waited while Irvine breathed deeply. Then he released his grip a little and started to move again, a warm, sexy grin on his lips that damn near put Irvine in danger of losing it all over again.

Irvine heard a groan and realised that Selphie had turned her attention to Rinoa, pushing expert fingers inside her, teasing Rinoa's clitoris with her thumb in the same rhythm Irvine was using to caress her…

There was a blur of pleasure for a while; Irvine was lost, so many of his fantasies coming true all at once; he kissed first Squall and then Selphie, then watched as Selphie kissed Squall, his little Seffie, so, so hot; Squall's hand was heaven on his cock, and so was Selphie's tongue, and Rinoa's fingers tickling his balls… then Selphie was trying to attract his attention, make him open his eyes…

Rinoa was leaning over Squall, panting, her eyes dark, intense.

Squall looked back at her with that wanting, cloudy cast to his eyes and the wide, sexy smile Irvine loved so much.

But it wasn't for him. Not this time.

He pulled Selphie back a little, his cock falling out of Squall's hand.

They watched as Squall pulled Rinoa to him, drew her lips down to his; as she captured the head of his cock with her wetness and slid herself down onto him, surrounding him, taking him, possessing him.

Irvine dragged his eyes away from them and quickly turned to Selphie, suddenly desperate to be inside her, to lose himself in her… she rolled onto her back to make it easier for him, wrapping her legs around his hips to pull him deeper. He groaned, suddenly aware that he'd been hard for too long with no release, and was about to come, for certain this time. He looked at Seffie, as if to warn her, but she already knew. She smiled, lifted her head to kiss him as he spurted helplessly inside her, milking him with her internal muscles until he'd done. He collapsed, panting, slightly to one side so as not to crush her, waiting for the feelings to subside. Gradually he became aware of Selphie moving herself around his still-hard cock, and opened his eyes.

Rinoa was riding Squall, slow and hard, raven hair falling in waves over her back, Squall's hands on her hips, guiding her, their eyes locked together.

Just how it should be.

Selphie whimpered slightly, and he pulled his attention back to her, stroking her perfect little breasts, fucking her with long, deep strokes, just how she liked it, licking her ear, telling her he loved her for the first time, touched by the tears in her eyes as she told him she loved him, too; then she came and he kissed her tears away, holding her arching back in one strong arm, his eyes squeezed shut as he came with her.

He held her tight, his face buried in her hair, lost in the moment first of all, and then, later, because he wasn't sure what to do next, and she wasn't either. He realised that Squall and Rinoa were curled up together, wondered if he and Selphie should leave, or if he should say something…

It was Squall, in the end, who pulled the covers over all four of them, turned out the light and settled down with Rinoa cuddled up to him on one side, Irvine's back warm against the other, Selphie nestled into Irvine's front.

"Don't forget, people," his clear voice whispered in the darkness, "8am, we go see the President." He snuggled a little further under the quilt. "Oh, and I'm leader, so," Irvine could hear the smile in his voice, "I get first shower."

Irvine stretched one hand behind him; there was a squeak, and just the faintest giggle.

Content, Irvine fell happily into a deep, dreamless sleep.