By Darksquall and Race Ulfson

Warnings: Eventual Yaoi, teenage boys being teenage boys. This is our epic, guys.
Rating: PG for now. We’ll get it to a mature rating eventuall

Summary: Seventeen, lost and alone, Squall Leonhart is on the run from his father and Esthar - he never expected to run straight into the arms of Seifer Almasy. This chance meeting gives them a chance to bury the hatchet (Seifer/Squall eventual).

Notes: Happy birthday Mangacat. Thank you for listening to me ramble about this fic so much, darksquall.


“Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.”
Dag Hammarskjold

March 17th

I could just about perch on the third rung of the maintenance ladder, if I was careful. There was little light, but even so it was more than enough for me to count the small amount of cash I had left. It did mean, however, that I was away from prying eyes and anyone who'd try to take it from me. Not that they would be able to – I still had my gunblade junction at my hip but with Esthar still out looking for me, it would be better if I didn't draw any attention to myself. Even if it was to teach an opportunistic thief a lesson they deserved.

The evening was already turning cold, but fortunately not as cold as it had been some nights. If I found the right spot, I could probably sleep out in the open with what little supplies I'd picked up along the way and save myself some money. The bus didn't leave until mid morning. Hell, the ticket office didn't even open until the morning, maybe I could curl up in one of the ridiculous plastic chairs and get some rest in the station itself. The sound of them opening up would wake me and I'd be sure to get my ticket and get back on the road.

Two weeks. I'd been on the run for two weeks and I was already rapidly running out of the money I'd been able to withdraw from my bank.

Even when I'd been lost in time, I'd felt less lonely than I did at that very moment.

Back home, in Balamb, it would be a little after lunch. Ma Dincht would have sent a batch of cupcakes up for Zell's birthday and Selphie would be proposing toast after toast, following people around with a camera at an impromptu birthday party – just as she had for Irvine back in November, and Quistis before that. She'd probably be wearing Irvine's hat and making Zell open birthday presents. He'd be laughing and grinning, probably hamming it up for the camera. Choking on a hot dog.

They didn't need me at all.

I folded up my wallet and stuffed it back into my pocket. I was being stupid again – I needed to stop thinking like that. They'd welcome me back eventually, when I was eighteen and there was nothing Loire could do about it. I wasn't sure what I would do when the time came. Going back to SeeD sounded impossible. Especially after what had happened when I'd been marched out of the building like a prisoner, I didn't even know if I'd been discharged permanently or temporarily.

Whichever it was, I wouldn't be finding out for another five months or so anyway.

I was alone. Again. To think, months before I'd wanted it that way. Now all I wanted was to go back to having my friends around me. I was pathetic.

I swung down from the maintenance ladder and picked up my back pack. That was starting to feel worryingly light as well. I should pick up some more rations as soon as I could, there were a couple of larger towns on the next bus route and in a week or so I'd be in Deling city before I moved south to get lost again. It'd be cheaper and safer to pick them up in the larger towns. If I timed it right I wouldn't even have to leave the bus station and risk Esthar's spies seeing me in Deling.

As I pulled the back pack onto my shoulders, I straightened just in time to see Seifer Almasy walk past. I kept to the shadows of course, Seifer and I meeting after some time apart almost always resulted in a news worthy clash and I didn't need that any time soon. Then he was followed three garden kids – not from my garden. Trabians, they must have been down here for a test or AWOL or something.

Hyne, what had he gotten himself into this time?

If I kept out of sight, maybe I could just find out what was going on. I didn't need to interfere unless I had no other choice.

Dragging the maintenance ladder back down, I climbed up it to the roof and edged my away along the bricks behind the steel facing work. Crouching low, I could see the three students, and Seifer. He looked... tired. Different. He wasn't wearing the trench coat any more, not even the tattered one that he'd had in the last days of the war and oddly, he didn't really look like my Seifer.

He looked broken.

I crept as close as I could to listen.
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