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Title: A Home for the Holidays
Fandom: Final Fantasy VIII
Author: Batsutousai
Rating: General
Pairings: Seifer Almasy & Squall Leonhart
Summary: Seifer has spent so long trying to get Squall to spend the winter holidays with him, it really wasn't a surprise to find himself standing outside Garden, despite the certainty that he wouldn't be welcomed.

A/N: Every winter season, I send out cards to anyone willing to give me their address, and I decided this past year to send out winter-themed ficlets to slip in with them, one for each ship that people on tumblr and LJ voted for. I asked if people thought I should post them all in the new year, and most people agreed I should, so this is one of them. Save for one, which is against FFN's rules, all of them will be posted on the major, multi-fandom sites I usually post on; links to those can be found in my profile/about me page of whichever site you're reading this on. ;)

I'd originally thought to post these next month, for my birthday, and then decided I might appreciate the reviews while I'm stuck in video rooms all this weekend, lol. (I staff at Katsucon. If you're attending, feel free to drop me a line! I promise I don't bite, and I've a bag of valentines to hand out. ;)

-0-0-0-

For as long as he could remember – longer than, probably, given how fuzzy his early memories were; thanks, Cid, for making junctioning the GFs a requirement – Seifer had been trying to get Squall to spend the winter holidays with him, despite being turned down at every turn. Not even offering to let him tag along with Seifer and his posse when he followed one of them home for the holidays, so Squall wouldn't be left all alone in Garden, had been accepted.

One would think that Seifer would have learnt his lesson, eventually. But perseverance in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds was something of a trademark of his – exhibit the second: his many failures at making SeeD – and trying to get Squall to spend the holidays with him had become almost as important as his dream of becoming a sorceress' knight.

Which was probably the only explanation for why he was standing at the entrance to Balamb Garden on the first day of the winter holidays, even though he was nearly certain he wouldn't be welcomed back by anyone who lived there, let alone SeeD's first Commander.

Still, Seifer was not a coward, and he'd been acquitted during the Trials, so he took a deep breath and walked up to the security gate. The man sitting behind the glass wasn't familiar, and Seifer put on his most charming smile as he said, "I'm here to see Commander Leonhart."

"Name?" the man replied in a disinterested monotone.

Seifer paused, uncertain if it was wise to give his real name, before deciding he'd rather Squall refuse him from a distance, if he was going to. "Seifer Almasy."

The man's gaze sharpened and he stared at Seifer for a long moment, then turned and picked up the phone, hitting a button. "Seifer Almasy for you, Commander," he said into the receiver. After a moment, he nodded and hung up, then turned back to Seifer and ordered, "You're to wait here."

Seifer nodded and took a couple steps back, uncertain how to take that, especially since the guard's gaze wasn't even a little bit friendly. Was Squall intending to finish what had been interrupted at the Lunatic Pandora? Perhaps let Rinoa have her way with him for the way he'd treated her there? Or would he send security to kick Seifer out in as embarrassing a manner as possible? Or, impossibly, would he welcome Seifer back with open arms?

Seifer resisted the urge to scoff at the last; Squall had never welcomed anything with open arms.

He was so caught up in his thoughts, Seifer didn't realise Squall had stopped on the other side of the turnstiles until the familiar, quiet voice called, "Seifer."

Seifer jerked his head up and found himself looking at the man who'd been his constant companion for longer than he could remember. His chest ached and his eyes burned a bit, and he had to look away. "Leonhart," he managed to get out in a mostly careless tone, though his voice cracking in the middle ruined it a bit.

Squall's sigh should have been annoyed or resigned, but it sounded almost fond to Seifer, and he jerked his head around to stare at the brunet, because the idea of Squall Leonhart feeling fondness for anything, let alone Seifer, was just...mindboggling.

Squall wasn't smiling, or anything obvious, but Seifer had spent nearly his whole life learning to read him, and the gleam of amusement in his eyes was all too obvious. He felt his mouth twisting with an automatic smirk and couldn't quite stop himself from saying, "Keep that up and I won't be able to call you Ice Princess any more."

"Why are you here?" Squall asked, and his tone probably sounded flat and uninterested to most people, but Seifer could hear just a hint of good humour in it, and his eyes were still gleaming with amusement.

In Squall's good humour, Seifer found the courage to say, "I was hoping I could spend the holiday here."

Squall's head tilted just slightly to one side and his brow furrowed, skin bunching up at the edges of his scar. "You hate spending the holidays in Garden. It's too empty."

Seifer crossed his arms over his chest, a little uncertain how to feel about Squall remembering that. It had been years since he'd used that excuse, because it had been years since he'd felt the need to give a reason for wanting to spend the holiday with Squall; eventually, he'd just tried to get to Squall to train with him, insisting his form was off, or some such.

In the end, he just shrugged, because the only other responses he could come up were way too revealing for their current surroundings.

Squall's expression almost seemed to soften, somehow, and he motioned toward the guard.

The gate in front of Seifer popped open with a friendly chime, and he stared at it, disbelieving, for a long moment.

"Come on, Seifer," Squall called, holding out a hand over the open gate.

Seifer reached out for his hand without thinking, feeling a little like he was in a dream. The shock of contact and the hard pull that followed, however, saw him firmly back in the real world, and he stumbled through the gate, then yanked his hand away to glare at Squall.

Squall's eyes were bright with amusement, and his mouth twitched like he might have, for one second, been about to let loose a proper smile.

"Is the world ending?" Seifer heard himself ask a bit disbelievingly.

"It wouldn't be the first time," Squall retorted, and the words probably should have been biting – Seifer had had a hand in those events, after all – but they had a whisper of humour in them. He turned away, motioning for Seifer to follow and saying, "There's an open room in the staff hall we can set you up in."

"Squall," Seifer started, before stopping himself, a little surprised he'd spoken at all.

Squall stopped walking and turned back to look at him, and Seifer got the sense that, for the first time in his memory, Squall actually cared what he had to say.

Seifer's chest felt oddly warm, despite the chill coming in from outside, and it was unexpectedly easy to ask, "Spend the holiday with me?"

Squall tilted his head just slightly to the side again. "I need at least two hours a day for work," he said.

It took a moment, but then Seifer realised that had been a 'yes', so long as he was willing to share Squall with his work. Which was...

"Of course," he agreed in a rush, because no way he was going to turn down Squall finally agreeing to spend time with him over the holiday, even if he had to share him with SeeD.

Squall's mouth twitched again, and the amusement in his eyes had taken on an almost grateful cast. "Come on," he said quietly, turning away. "You can't spar with that bag."

Seifer hurried to catch him up, uncaring that he was grinning for all he was worth.

.

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