Leather and Lace

By Malice Shaw

Is love so fragile...
And the heart so hollow
Shatter with words...
Impossible to follow

I love her. I love her with my whole damned being. We grew up together, I worshiped her, she always played with me, gently tugging on my hair whenever I needed someone to talk to. Her damned instincts always there. For me. For me and only me. At the orpahange she was always around, wanting to play a game or two, hold my hand when I got hurt and patch up my scabby knees. Hyne, I love her. I can't tell you how much I do. We grew up together, and promised one day to be good friends forever, and maybe someday I'll be her knight in shining armor, or something else as cheesy.

So why the heck am I so afraid to tell her? Tell her I love her more than anything I've ever experienced in my life. All I can do for now is just sit here and wonder how on earth I'm gonna bare my soul to her. Not like I really need to. All I do now is just sit here, shirtless, reading a magazine and mentally send signals to her in hopes she'll get them.

She knows me. She's wrapping her arms around me at this moment, she's holding me, cuddling me into her tiny body. I can feel her against me, the beat of her heart against my shoulder blade, her small breasts pressed snug against my back, her tiny elbow against my collar bone. The heat of her skin on mine. Hyne it feels wonderful, wonderful. Everything about her feels incredible, the way her chin is nestled on my shoulder right now, and the light, wispy feel of her hair against my cheek. Just perfect, tiny and petite.

I turn around now and let my eyes gaze upon hers for a few moment, letting myself get lost in those emerald pools. Tentively, she slides a small hand up her arm to her shoulder, really nervous, like she was scared. Why would she be scared of me? Not like she's never been alone with me before. When she starts knawing at her bottom lip with her perfect teeth I know almost immediately why she's so afraid. We always said we'd wait, to see how things went. I guess the waiting's done.

You're saying I'm fragile... I try not to be
I search only... for something I can't see
I have my own life... and I am stronger
Than you know

With one hand she slid down the strap of her yellow dress, pulling it down her shoulder, and then doing the same to her other shoulder, just teasing me a little. The look on her face told me that she may have wanted this, but more for me than herself, and that ain't the way it should be. Standing up I walked over to her and placed my palms on her bare shoulders, whispered in her ear asking if she was alright. She gazed up at me and smiled, nodding her little chin while fumbling around with the zipper front of her dress. gently brushing her hands away I did it for her, sliding the cool metal down, slowly undressing her, giving her time to change her mind about it. I was practiclaly straining in my own pants when she asked me to slow down, so she could rub her tiny hands over my chest. Just those few little touches threaten to push me over the edge. I've never felt this way in my life, so it's got to be love. No, I'm positive it is. I love her, and she loves me.

When she started to rush it, I hushed her gently, telling her with out words that she could stop it at any moment she wanted. Her reply was to simply nod her head and pull her dress off her body, letting it crumple at her feet like a pile of daisies. Standing before me, in her white cotton panties with her arms crossed over her chest, my heart just lept out for her. I don't think I ever felt so indecisive about sex in my life. Maybe this isn't sex, but making love. I should stop this. I really should. It just ain't right, I mean, sure we've been dating for a while, but I wanna take it slow for her sake. Maybe we can just lay in bed together, feel eachother up. I've had sex before, but making love..

...that scares me.

With tiny fingers she starts on my belt buckle now. Still nervous, but I'll stop her, if she wants to. Anytime she can stop. Anytime. Maybe she doesn't wanna stop because I don't wanna stop. I don't wanna stop her feelings for me, so if this is what she wants, I'll give to her my all.

But I carry this feeling
When you walked into my house
That you won't be walking out the door

I guess mind blowin' ain't the perfect word for the moment. Can't say how much I've actually dreamed of this moment, but always with me wanting it more than her. After she left the orphanage for Trabia, I felt so damned lost, like I couldn't find my way through a maze. I could never find what exactly I had with her again, though I made damn sure I had to try. I slept with as many woman as I could with out my body falling apart on me, just so I could capture the love, the innocense she gave me when I was so damned young. Never felt her body until this moment, never had the wonderful pleasure of taking from her something she was so willing to give me, nothing in my life could ever have been as wonderful as this moment with her. Even if we were touching eachother gently, trying to prolong each second into a year, it was still incredible.

With my hands at her hips we met, but it hurt so damned much to see her shed a tear because I was too eager. Kissing her tears away I promised her I'd make it better, and tried my best to make damn sure that promise was kept. Bringing her lips to meet my own, I had to stifle a groan of surpise when she defied any virgin logic and thrust herself upwards to meet me. Beautiful, wonderful, loving as ever we both rode the wave of extacy, barrier free until her body stiffened beneath me and I clutched at her hair, my body growing limp and falling atop hers.

I can't lie when I say that it meant something. It did. It meant more to me than I'll ever know for sure. From that moment on, after our bodies dampended with sweat and how she ran her fingers through my hair, I knew she was the one I was looking for, the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Still I carry this feeling
When you walked into my house
That you won't be walking out the door

Of course, it was just a one time thing. After that night we showed ourselves to be extra careful in our activities, starting to slip in a habit of keeping contreceptives in both of our bedside drawers, just in case. When a month afterwards passed to prove that she wasn't pregnant, we breathed a mixed sigh of relief and awe. Call me crazy all you want, but when she told me that she wasn't gonna be carrying our child just right then and there, I was sorta disappointed. Just a wee bit, but it was still there. I actually started imagining what it would be like to mix genes and create a new life together. Love does that to ya, makes you think absolutely crazy but beautiful thoughts. I knew she was feeling the same magic because she looked at me, those beautiful green eyes on me, and I melted like I was in her soul. Our future danced together infront of our eyes and I saw happy, smily chubby cheeked little children calling me 'Daddy'.

When she leaned down to kiss me, I had barely enough time to respond before I got a ring on my phone extention in my room. Growling while pulling away, I gave her bottom a playful swat, to which she replied with a giggle as I picked up the phone from it's cradle.

"Irvine Kinneas speakin' who's callin' please?"

"Irvine? This is Doctor Kadowaki."

"Oh. Hello doctor."

"The results for your physical came in." The doctor had a real stern voice to her. "Please come to the office, we found a problem."

Setting the phone back on it's cradle, I felt an eerie chill trail down my spine like icicle fingers. You're never called down to pick up a physical, and for a 'small problem' you're told what it is over the phone and told to come pick up your prescription. That ain't right. Something about this just ain't right.

Feigning a smile to Selphie, I told her the doctor had to see me. A worried look crossed her face, but I told her to hold off on the fear, that it's probably just an overdose on stress. It seemed to calm her fears long enough for me to get dressed and opent he door in a slow motion, blowing a kiss back at her. It wasn't until I heard the door click in place did I bolt down that hallway faster than lightening.

Lovers forever... face to face
My city or mountains
Stay with me stay

The doctor looked too pale to be angry at my stress levels. The comfortable chairs in the Infirmary seemed harder than rock as the moments passed by, with her pacing back and forth all nervous about.. what? What on earth could scare the woman of rock hard steel into a blubbering baffoon of ignorance? Doctor Kadowaki was a good woman, but dangit, I wanted to know why exactly I was brought there and then to the infirmary. So I voiced these feelings to her.

"Doctor," I started, shifitng in my seat. "Look, I need to get back to-"

"No, Irvine, not for this." She growled at me, but not in a way that it was supposed to be frightening.

"Doctor, just spit it out to me okay?" I asked her. "Just let me know, alright? Whatever it is, Sephie and I can handle it."

The good doctor nodded then, and sat down. "That's another thing, Irvine. I have to do her test as well, just incase. But please tell me, have you always had safe sex with your partners?"

That was a question I never expected Doctor Kadowaki to ask me. The chair grew even more horrible to me as her questions continued, and she took notes, trying to hdie her falling face each time she wrote down my answers. When she started probing deeper into my past, my personal past, I snapped at her, ranting and raving that she had no right to know with out at least giving me a decent reason as to why on earth she dared to speak to me like this. Coaxing me down, Kadowaki smiled grimly before giving me news I never thought I'd hear.

"Irvine. You have AIDS."

I need you to love me
I need you today
Give to me your leather...
Take from me... my lace

The first words out of my mouth ended up bein' screams. I couldn't believe it, come on, I was careful, most of the time anyways. I couldn't have AIDS, I mean, come on, it happens to other people, dirty people, gay people, not me. So angry I was, I threw my chair away from me and demanded the doctor stop lying to me. My tantrum lasted hours, longer then a grown man should have screamed until I broke down and started crying on the cold tile floor. I couldn't believe it. My body, tainted like this because of.. Damn it.

Through my sobs I could feel Kadowaki wrap her arms around me, holding me like a mother would a son. I couldn't believe how much that one little word hurt so bad. I couldn't begin to think of what I was gonna tell Sefie. How on earth could she love a man like me? I was dirty, tainted now, and I could have given it to her just the way someone gave it to me.



Kadowaki's breath was close to my ear, I guess she was kinda surprised at my sudden cry. "Irvine, what is it? Do you hurt some where?"

"Yeah.." I murmered back to her, going limp in her motherly arms. "S-Selphie.."

Kadowaki told me that her own bloodwork was being tested at the moment, and the results would be in within an hour. More questions, more and more questions from her to me to eb answered. Was Selphie your first? Were you her first? How many times did you have sex? I told her none. Me and Sefie didn't have sex, we made love, there's a difference, right? I told the doctor that. I guess she understood, cause she asked how many times we made love. I hated these questions with a damned passion. It wasn't right. Hyne isn't so cruel enough to poison my love with what I had. She deserved to live, damn it, even if I were to die tomorrow I'd do anything just to let her sunshine brighten the world again, just for a few moments. She's everything I'm not. I love her.

Another nurse came from the back rooms and nodded to Kadowaki, who in turn excused herself to see what she wanted. Of course, I knew it. She had Sefie's tests results, and from the grim look on both the nurses' and Doctor Kadowaki's faces, I knew exactly what they said.

You in the moonlight
With your sleepy eyes
Could you ever love a man like me

"I..I don't believe this.." She whispered, her face ashen and cold.

I wanted to reach out to her, hold her, touch her and wipe the feat away from her features. But each time I got near her she crept away, some how moving her tiny body around, not even looking at me once. Somehow, I thought that if I could just get those healing eyes on me, those beautiful emerald jewels looking into my hazel ones that I'd be cured, that I wouldn't some how be tainted anymore. If she touched me, I'd be fine, she'd be fine, and the world would be happy again. Our world.

"How..How could you do this to me, Irvy?" She asked me. I couldn't think up an answer to that. She didn't yell, she didn't scream like I sorta wanted her to, just eyed me straight faced and asked. Her usually calm, soothing voice was wrought with a faint unknown fear of her future. A single tear shed down her chin, to her throat and dried on her collar bone. No matter how many yelling matches we could ever have in our lives, I think that one moment, that one tiny crystal droplet from her eyes caused me the most pain I could ever feel. I ruined her life. She knew it. I knew it. And Kadowaki knew it.

"Irvy?" I heard her whisper again, except this time with a tinge of bitterness. "Well? How could you do this to me?"

"Sefie, I-"

"Don't! Don't you ever call me that again!" She was nearly shouting now, getting to her feet and stomping around angrily. "Don't! How could you?! How could you do this to me?? I thought you loved me!"

I stood to my own feet now, her anger seemed to be rubbing off on me. "How could I do this to you? You're the one who wanted it!"

Her jaw dropped then, and my heart fell. I guess my leather crushed her lace, but she wanted it, didn't she?

...I should have stopped her.

And you were right
When I walked into your house
I knew I'd never want to leave

When we did finally talk, she said she didn't want to see me anymore. Maybe she was sad when she said it, but I couldn't blame her. I cut her life in half because in the past I was looking for the same thing I had with her when I was barely a pup. Confusing sex with love was the worst mistake I ever could have made, but when I finally could tell the difference between the two..

"Selphie?" I asked her, gingerly, careful not to make any notion that I was coming on to her. Lately she'd been so cold, not touching anyone when she used to be the first perosn to give you a huge hug when ya walk through the garden.

"What." So cold..

"I'm sorry. I can't say it enough..." Apologies are over rated. They've been died down by movies, and television that they just don't mean shit anymore, and she knows it.

"Sorry won't give me back my life, Irvine.."

"Selphie, please.."

"I can't. I can't stay here anymore. I need time to think." She stood up and walked to my door, leaning against it heavily. I could tell she was crying. Couldn't hear her, or see her, but I could just feel her crying. Damn it, I dont wanna be the cause of her pain..

"Selphie..?" Standing up I walked to her, reaching out with my bare fingers to entwine her silken hair around my fingers just once more..

"Don't." She whispered, pulling away. Opening my door she walked out, clicking it shut and stepping down the halls with her head held high, making sure no one saw the tears she tried so hard not to shed. Even now, when she knew it wasn't her fault, she still held her head up high and was bright and cheery.

Damn it, I love her.. I'm in love with her. Not like that'll help anything right now

Sometimes I'm a strong man
Sometimes cold and scared
And sometimes I cry

Looking back, I knew for a fact that I should have gotten tested at least a few times. With all the beds my boots have been under in my life.. damn it.

But it's too late now. Selphie left the Garden for an extended leave on unknown terrains this morning, so I'm alone. I take this time to think on what I am and how I got here. I wonder who gave me this 'gift that keeps on giving' and why I never actually thought about it. Of course, because I always thought it would happen to someone else, i was always clean, didn't use a condom everytime but those times were just a few and far between. Was it Kelcie, from Timber, who kept giving me the roving eye, or maybe Delys, from Deilin, but that was just one night, and I was stressed out from the mission Galbadia Garden sent me on. Didn't matter now, I had it, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Thinking back a few days, I wondered about the dreams I saw in her eyes. I saw dreams of a wedding, her in white and me in black, and a few children down the line. Who knew that I'd go out and screw it up looking for a love I lost when i was too damned young to know what love was? What the hell was I thinking? I dashed all hopes of being a father and husband with and to her because of what? She didnt even have a chance to say no. I should have stopped her, should have said no.

It's all my fault.

I'm too tired to go through any more crap this weep, and probably for the rest of my life. Laying my face in my hands, I finally mourn for the dream we lost.

But that time I saw you
I knew with you to light my nights
Somehow I'd get by

For weeks while she was gone, I kept it hidden from everyone. I did my role, played the missions, acted my part. Told a few jokes here and there. It wasn't hard to be a bastard, just as long as no one asked me what was wrong. Talking and flirting with Quistis, making conversation with Squall, and duking it out with Zell was easy. Being flirty Irvine Kinneas was easy itself, but being Irvine with AIDS wasn't.

So I just went on my merry way.

It wasn't until Rinoa asked me where Selphie was when that particular straw broke. I just broke down and told her everything, how I was infected with AIDS, and how I ruined everything by giving it to Selphie. I bore my heart out to her, this yet another innocent girl, and relaly felt a lot better about myself. Wiping away my tears I looked up at her, expecting to see understanding and pity, but seeing neither. I saw a mixture of shock and fear, with a slight tinge of disgust when she crinkled her nose at me and stepped away.

"Rin..Rinoa?" I asked her, standing to my feet. "What-What's wrong?"


"No Rin, come on, don't treat me like that.."

"You... Gave Selphie..AIDS?" The disgust on her was more evident now, and she backed away father from me. "I have to tell Squall..."

"No! Don't..!"

"He has a right to know!" Rinoa shouted at me, making me crumble. "We all do.. you understand..?"

First time I saw you
I knew with you to light my nights
Somehow I would get by

I can't say I did, understand, with it being my business between Selphie and me. But needless to say they sat me down with the doctor in the Infirmary and I spilled my guts out to them. I won't lie, it made me feel a lot better letting it out in the open like that, and with Kadowaki there explaing that they can't get it by touching me, everyone seemed a bit morroe relaxed and refined. I couldn't help not liking the feeling of them knowing what I had done, and what had happened bwtween Selphie and I though. It's always a personal best that I can keep myself trained to not let anyone get to me, and this, them, and everything was doing just that.

I looked at Zell for a few minutes, unquestioning him as he sat there and wrung his hands. I couldn't tell if his mind was on me, the problem, Selphie, hotdogs, whatever. When his azure gaze finally cought with mine, I saw the pity and sympathy I expected from Rinoa, and looked away.

"Look." I heard Squall start loudly, but then lower his voice a bit. "We're not here to judge you or Selphie. It's happened, and there's nothing we can do about it for now. Irvine, you're on leave until further notice."

That was shocking enough to make my blood boil. "What?! You can't do this Squall!"

"He's right." Kadowaki started in too, now. "Squall, you can't catch AIDS from contact. Didn't you listen to a word I said?"

"All the missions we're getting lately are really brutal, everyone's getting new scars." Squall sounded like he was trying to convince himself more then me. "What if you get cut? And we get in contact with the blood?"

"You'd have to be cut first, Squall!" Standing to my feet, I growled at him angrily. "This is all I need now, your whiny excuses not to get near me. Smart, you bastard."

"Irvine, wait-"

"No, don't fucking wait me." I hissed, walking to the door. "Of all people I expected you to understand. Now that's fucked over, and so am I."

Lovers forever... face to face
My city or mountains
Stay with me stay

That was weeks ago, and I'm still alone, here, in my room. Quistis came up and talked to me yesterday, explaining the course of action they needed to take on their new mission and asked my ideas on it, so I gave them. I had nothing to do anyways, with being paid to loaf around on my ass lately, so it was a welcome change. I was still missing Selphie, but there was nothing I could do about that. Maybe just wait and hope for her to come back to me was more then what I deserved, but it doesn't hurt to dream.

Bored. That's what I am. There just isn't anything for someone like me to do. I'm wondering who spilled, 'cause everyone in Garden is either avoiding me, snarling at me, or talking to me outta pity and that ain't right. I feel like making a drastic change, doing something that'll make it easier to go on, but I can't. I'd cut my pony tail off if my fingers would let the scissors do the cutting. I feel like I'm gonna go crazy in a moment, but each moment that passes I'm still the same.

News around is that Selphie's coming back soon. I hope so. Even if she hates me, it's still a great feeling to know she's alright. I still love her, she knows that, right? I wanna hold her right now, just sit here with her and talk everything over, and maybe she'll lend me a forgiving ear. I always figured all I'd have to do is just explain to her what happened, how I didn't know, but that itself is just a damned pipe dream. No way can she forgive me for doing this to her. If it was just me she could survive, and go on with her life after I died. but instead I'm taking her with me down this road, and there's nothing I can do to fix this mess.

I need you to love me
I need you today
Give to me your leather...
Take from me... my lace

Some rumours are true. She came back today and I can't believe how I feel. Like a ten year old boy, waiting for candy, blow that feeling up twenty times and you've got me. I want her to come to me, instead of me going to her, but try as I might it just won't happen. She'll be in the cafeteria, talking and chatting with Rinoa and Quistis and I'll walk in, and she'll quiet down suddenly, excuse herself and leave. I'll go to the quad and she'll be working on the stage, see me, and call for a break. I hate her avoiding me, but if that's what makes her happy..

So now I'm sitting here, taking notes. Selphie's gotten very quiet lately. She's not her usual, jumpy, happy self anymore. She's much more serious nowadays, never giving out the hugs she always used to adore showering people with, and always brushing someone off who has a trivial problem when she used to be so eager to help. I can't shake the feeling that I did this to her, it was me, and no one else who screwed up her life and took away any future she had. I can no way ever make this up to her than Seifer can for trying to take over the world, and damned near succeeding.

A knock on my door shocks me out of my mind. Growing weary with everyone coming to me and asking what they can do for me, I just shout out "Go away!" and return to my mind. The door knob starts to turn and clicks open, and I turn away, instinct telling me who it is.

"You never used to turn me away, Irvy." She whispers. I turn to her and fall all over again.

"Sefie, I figured you would." I just growl. "That's whatcha been doing ever since you came back.

Her sigh sends a shiver down my spine, but in a good way. "I just needed some time to think, Irvy. For a long time I wasn't so sure I was even coming back."

I waited until she elegantly sat down, and made herself comfortable. try as I might I couldn't stop myself from being just a bit snippy. "So what made you change your mind?"

She took a deep breath before answering me, but I could still hear her whisper. "You."

"You don't get it, do you?" I wanted to be calm, but I felt so damned angry at myself, angry at the world, that I just couldn't keep it down. "I ruined you life! All this time I'm the one who fucked you, hurt you, gave you a disease, and you're still here?" Shaking my head, I turned to look at her, and caught the shock in her eyes. "You're a crazy woman, Sefie. I practically handed you over to death itself, and you came back here to the deliverer. You're nuts."

The shock in her eyes grew to mimick the anger of my own and she stood up and started pacing the room. I called out to her and she turned to me and snapped "How could you say something like that?! After all we shared?"

Lovers forever... face to face
My city or mountains
Stay with me stay

"I love you." Those words from her lips never sounded so sweet and bitter at the same time. "I love you, Irvy. I was so angry at first, but I do, I do love you. That's why I came back, to be here with you."

"You.. You can't be with a corpse, Sefie.." I could feel my damned throat choking up. Damned woman, always has that effect on me.

"I'm not, Irvy, I swear I'm not. I'm here with you." She walked over to me now, to where I was sitting and kneeled down, stroking my forearm with her tiny, soft little fingers. "And we're not dead yet."

I leaned my head against hers, and covered her hands with my own. "Because of me."

"Because of us." One of her hands lifted to stroke my hair. "I could have stopped it. But that doesn't matter now.."

"I-I can't make this up to you, Sefie."

"I don't want you to. I just want you to be here with me, help me through it like I can do for you." Her fingers trailed my chin gently, and pulled my face to hers. "We can get through this, Irvy. As long as we have eachother, right?"

When I looked up, I saw her eyes. Her beautiful, emerald green eyes, the same colour that only the sea could ever mimick. Sighing deeply I caught myself in the moment and kissed her on the lips, just once, then twice before I pulled away. her hands snaked around my neck and pulled me close in for a kiss that would normally bore me if it was from someone else, but instead it touched me. Sweet, tempting yet virginal, that was how she tasted to me. It had been so long, I almost forgot.

Cupping her cheek gently with my hand, I felt her shaking, and I pulled away. When her smile appeared I felt liberated, at peace, for the first time in weeks. Finally, I was free.

I need you to love me
I need you to stay
Give to me your leather
Take from me... my lace

I still love her, and we're still together. It's been about a year since I infected us both, but we're still going strong. We're not allowed on the big, bloody missions, but at least we're allowed outside for a change. The medication we have to use takes up a lot of our time, and sometimes makes us sick to our stomaches, but we're surviving at least.

Everyone's accepted it, and finally so have we. I stopped blaming myself, or so I told Sefie, but I secretly still do. Call it a sick pleasure, but in a way, I'm sorta happy I have the woman I love with me 'til the end. I've got the impression she feels the same way, too. Don't know how either of us would survive with out eachother to comfort, to hold. Looking into her eyes, I see something I wish I didn't have to. I can see lost dreams of children, and a wedding in virginal white, and lilies, and daisies everywhere, surrounding us as I kiss her to be my wife, with everyone crying happy tears, even Squall.

I still took that away from her..

But we're still together, even if we can't live forever. We decided that, since we're both infected with AIDS, that we're going to stay together, either out of lonlieness or love it doesn't matter, because we're connected. More connected than Rinoa and Squall, even. It's true love, with us, with our connection, with our hearts. We're always careful, who we're around, and to make sure nothing happens. We do love eachother, but we both know that there's that air of uncertainty around us. She knows that I still think about it.

...I should have stopped her.

...I think she agrees.

Take from me... my lace

Malice Shaw's Fanfiction