Blind Sight

Part 6

By Sukunami

After quickly washing himself in the heated water of the pool, Squall dried his body while his thoughts flowed without restraint.  Foremost in his mind was unsurprisingly the blond fighter, a man who could annoy the seer even when absent.  But this time there was a frightening new angle to the thoughts and feelings which the man effortlessly stirred up in Squall.  While the lust Seifer held for him was inconvenient, it was the addition of growing fondness which truly worried the seer.  Squall didn't want that pain placed onto him, not when he had already seen that such affection would become their bonds for eternal torment.  The blind man couldn't imagine that such a worthless thing as 'love' being worth that agony.

Shrugging on his robe, Squall stepped to the door and slid it open, then pausing there as clouded eyes looked forward into the room.  "I thought you left."

The bed creaked softly as Seifer stood up.  "I did, but no one answered to my knocks.  They're probably seeing to the other guests.  In any case, I thought it'd be better to wait for you.  You should be starved after days of only soup and oatmeal."

Squall hesitated before nodding and then stepped away from doorway.  "Let's go then."

There was an amused 'yes, sir' before Seifer walked ahead and opened the entry door for the blind man.  After exiting their room, Squall waited in the hallway as the fighter locked the door.  Soon after that, the seer sensed the approach of an arm, and he sharply slapped it away before it could touch his body.

"A-aw, come on, kitten.  You enjoyed some petting just a short while ago."

Teeth clenched, Squall warned the fighter, "Don't touch me."

With an exaggerated sigh, Seifer surrendered.  "Fine.  No touching, not even if you're about to walk smack into wall.  But I still don't understand your sudden change in attitude here.  I thought you were going to try trusting me more."

The seer frowned and waited for the blond to move so that he could follow the man's steps through the hallways.  It wasn't until after several turns when Squall spoke softly, "It was a mistake."

"No.  It wasn't," Seifer countered in a firm voice.  "And I'll prove that to you."

Stormy eyes widened at the determined tone of the fighter.  With an attempt of appearing causal, Squall hugged his arms close to his body and tried to stop the vague shivers that came only in response to Seifer's voice.  He hated feeling this weak, as if he couldn't resist the will of the larger man.  And in a way, it was true.  Only days ago, Squall would have never even considered letting the man touch his body, but because of something he saw in a 'dream'... Because that Seifer told him it was all right to trust him...

"Hey, we're here," the fighter said just before his steps can to a halt and he knocked loudly against wood.

The reply was surprisingly fast as the door swung open wide and a cheery female voice rang out.  "Oh, Seifer.  Horrible timing, hun.  Go ahead and sit... AH!  You finally brought your friend."

Uncomfortable with the pure energy directed at him, Squall slipped his foot back a partial step.

Chuckling, Seifer said, "Selphie, I'd like you to officially meet Squall.  And Squall, this is Irvine's little lady, so don't get any ideas."

While the seer scowled at the blond, the woman laughed happily at the apparent joke.  "You'll never change, Seifer.  Help your friend inside and get comfortable on the couch.  I have to serve seconds to the real guests, and then we can enjoy a quiet meal together."  She turned and started to walk away before calling back, "Oh, and Irvine is just getting freshened up.  He should be out any moment now."

A large hand was then at Squall's arm, the move making him frown in irritation.

"I know, I know - you don't wait to be touched.  But trust me, their suite is a maze of furniture and boxes, especially this time of the year.  Let me help you to a chair, and then I promise to keep my hands to myself."

Reluctantly, the blind man nodded in agreement to the deal and allowed Seifer to guide him through the suite, which did seem to have an odd arrangement of obstacles which would have frustrated the seer.  Eventually Squall took the seat offered to him by the fighter, and he was relieved to discover that it was meant for a single person.  The warm hand was slow to leave his arm, but Seifer did as promised and sat heavily in a seat adjacent to the blind man.

"Now, back to our earlier argument - why are you being difficult?"

After pausing to make certain that no one else would overhear, the seer said, "I was confused after the dreams.  That shouldn't have... Nothing should have happened this morning."

"Is that so.  Then tell me what happened in that dream of yours to make you so... confused," Seifer said, clearly implying the blind man's aroused state upon waking.

Squall glared at nothing, refusing to comment on what bothered him greatly, that he had in fact been highly aroused by the simple touch of the larger man.  But more than that, the seer was irritated that Seifer was now assuming that he had some claim over him after the morning's events.

"Squall, I won't hurt you."

The blind man straightened at the almost pleading voice and looked in the direction of the seated man.  "You will if you continue this."

"I... What do you--"

Interrupting the question, a door opened and then closed loudly as footsteps approached the sitting area.  "Oh, hey, I didn't realized that we had guests."

There was a pause during which Squall felt sharp eyes staring at him, but eventually Seifer let the matter drop as he spoke amusedly to Irvine.  "Well, according to that wife of yours, we aren't real guests, so I guess there was no reason to mention us poor folk invading your home."

Laughing lightly, Irvine sat down somewhere nearby.  "Don't mind Selphie.  With the weather clearing up, we got several new guests last night.  You know, with the festival and all beginning today."

"Whoa, is this the harvest festival you're talking about?" Seifer asked, his voice sounding oddly childlike with excitement.

"What other festival would we have this time of year?  And before you ask, yes, the acting troupe is already in town.  They haven't missed a festival since you used to live here."

"Damn, I haven't seen a good show in ages.  I wonder what plays they'll be performing."

Irvine chuckled.  "Have your fun.  Selphie and I will be too busy here."

"Then I guess it's just the two of us."

Squall shook his head, resisting to comment on the fighter's lack of sensibility.

"Sorry, kitten, but you don't have a choice in the matter.  Even if you can't see the actors, you'll still enjoy the show.  And in any case, I don't feel like going alone," Seifer added in an offhanded manner.

After a moment of weighing the benefit of going outside for the first time in days versus the disadvantage of being trapped with the blond, Squall settled with an indifferent shrug.  It wasn't a surprise when Seifer took the gesture as a sign of agreement.

"Great!  We can go directly after breakfast and get the best seats."

Before Squall had the chance to reconsider his decision, a voice called out from the other side of the room.  "Seifer, come help me with these hotcakes while I serve the others.  I know how picky you are about them.  And if you want orange juice, you'll have to make some yourself."

"Alright, Selph.  I'm coming," he said while standing.

In that way, the seer found himself sitting alone with Irvine.  With no particular interest in small talk, Squall leaned back in his chair while trying to hear what Selphie was scolding the fighter about.  Though muffled, he thought she was defending her hotcakes, that they weren't the rocks Seifer was apparently comparing them to.

"Um... Squall... was it?"

Frowning at the uncertain voice, the seer looked over to where Irvine was sitting.

"I..."  The man forced a laugh.  "This is going to sound bad, but I wanted to apologize..."

Blue-gray eyes narrowed in confusion.

"You know, about... leaving you... in the church five years ago.  You saved Seifer, and I left you there when you obviously needed help..."

"It doesn't matter," Squall said sharply, not pleased with being a source of guilt.

"It does.  You could've died in there--"

"Don't.  It was enough for you to take Seifer to safety."

After a quiet pause, Irvine sighed.  "You're still protecting him, aren't you?"

Squall said nothing in reply, allowing the man to assume whatever he wanted.

"My father...  he had a final message for you.  He wanted me to tell you to go home."

Closing his eyes, the seer shook his head.  "I can't."

With an unsurprised grunt, Irvine said, "He knew you would say that.  If it means anything, he thought Hyne asked too much of you.  He also mentioned that you were an idiot for living up to such expectations."

Frowning, Squall glared in the man's direction.  "What else did he tell you?"

"Nothing that made sense.  Pa was kind of... funny when he got sick.  And he never talked about you until then."

Though curious about how much Irvine really knew, the seer didn't press the issue.  "Don't tell Seifer."

"As I already said, the message was for you."

Squall nodded his thanks, and was then relieved when Seifer called out from the kitchen that breakfast was ready.  Irvine helped the blind man through the mess of boxes, and his guiding hand was quickly replaced by the less awkward lead of the fighter's hand.  Once seated, Seifer helped the seer familiarize himself with the setting of dishes and then served him breakfast.

Leaning over, he spoke softly to the blind man.  "I'm giving you some of my hotcakes.  The ones Selphie made for us would stay in your gut for years to come."

"I heard that Seifer Almasy!" the woman called from behind the table.  "My cooking is just fine.  Isn't that right Irvy?"

The only reply from the man was a string of hardy coughs, then followed by the clinking of glass.

Laughing, Seifer lightly patted the seer's shoulder.  "You can thank me later for saving you from that fate."

"... ..."

A dramatic scream sounded from the stage, soon followed by the ripple of gasps from the surrounding audience members.  But with hardly half of his attention focused on the actors, Seifer barely reacted as he normally would to the flow of the play.  Instead, most of his attention was on the man at his side, their bodies pressed close together such that Seifer could feel the blind man flinch whenever a sharp noise would come from the stage.  While at first unwanted by Squall, the fighter also had his arm tight around the smaller man, which made it easier and more comfortable for Seifer to speak quietly to the seer and not irritate the other people nearby.

"Vahn just dropped dead from the poison meant for his brother.  Their mother was the screamer."

After the whispered explanation, Seifer smiled down at the man in his hold.  Squall was tense as the play was reaching its climatic point, but his expression was amazingly neutral as if he weren't even paying attention.  But Seifer knew otherwise.  He could feel the slight changes in the lithe body with every new emotion the play pulled out of him.  Though of even more interest to the blond were the occasional shivers that his voice would cause when he spoke softly into the sensitive ear.

After three more deaths and a lengthily monologue by the sole remaining brother, the play ended on a both somber and thoughtful note.  In time, the audience began to leave the temporary 'theatre' area, which consisted mostly of the stage, an area to sit on the dirt ground, and then a collection of mismatched benches.  Being one of the first people to arrive, the fighter and blind man were seated on the ground close to the low stage.

"You can move now," Squall said.

Seifer grinned while rubbing his thumb along the tense side.  "I could, but let's wait for everyone else to get out."

The brunet sighed, recognizing that the man was purposefully misunderstanding the implied order to reform space between them.

"So, what did you think?"

"It was better than I thought it would be."  Dark eyebrows then scrunched in thought.  "But I don't understand, why was the father murdered?"

"Because Oria thought he purposefully killed their son, which may have been true enough.  Hard to tell with the way different actors play the part."

"And Anais knew nothing of what happened?"

Seifer smirked.  "I've always wondered that myself.  He sure seems innocent, but he's the one who has all of the motive in the story.  His half-brother is killed, thus guaranteeing his inheritance when his manipulative father is murdered.  That bitch of a fiancée who was fucking his half-brother shouldn't have been on the streets doing a servant's errand.  And while it's suggested that his step mother did everything and that was the reason for her suicide, Oria doesn't seem the type to kill herself, which ironically was by poison."

Turning in the hold, the seer looked up to almost match the blond's gaze.  "You've really thought this through," he said with surprise.

"Well, this is the fifth time I've seen this play.  It's hard to not notice something new every time."

Blue-gray eyes widened.  "The fifth time?"

"Hey, don't act so surprised.  Ever since I lived here, I loved going to every play that I could.  In fact, that's how I decided to become skilled at the sword.  I was really impressed by the staged fights they did, but that was back when I was a kid.  Anymore, I have to ignore everything that they do wrong when it comes to wielding a blade."

In a quiet voice, Squall said, "I've never been to a play before..."

Seifer caught himself before he could ask why not, it being fairly obvious that the brunet had more things to worry about than seeing a play.  "Well, now you have, and I'll certainly take you to more in the future.  It's nice having someone to go with who doesn't have the attention span of a moth."

The seer said nothing in reply, his expression unreadable.

"Come on, let's go see what there is available for lunch."

Seifer helped the man to his feet, but with no good excuse to continue holding onto Squall, he reluctantly released the seer.  The fighter then led the way to the exit, which opened up directly to the rest of the fair where merchants were selling their random items before the coming snow of late autumn.  Seifer barely eyed the collection of clothes, toys, and crafts as they walked passed the stands and blankets of merchandise.  Instead, he was looking for one particular stand, and once seeing it, he increased his speed slightly as Squall followed him close behind.

Reaching the stand, Seifer spoke out to the older woman, "One dish of the cooked pork."

"That will be... Oh my, is that you, Seifer?  You've grow up so... large."

The blond smiled.  "I'm surprised that you remember me, Mrs Dincht."

The woman wagged her finger at him.  "To you, I'm still Ma Dincht.  Just like every other child who grew up in these parts.  But where have you been, son?  It's been at least five years.  Oh, and I'm so sorry, but Stanford passed away last year."

Seifer nodded.  "I already heard.  I've been staying with Irvine and his bride for the past week."

"And you haven't visited me yet, you horrid boy?" the woman asked while readying the order.

"It's been a little crazy lately," the blond said while glancing back at the silent seer.  "So where's chick--  uh, Zell?  Shouldn't he be helping you?"

"Gone away to train or some other foolhardy thing.  He has dreams of becoming some kind of fighter."  Sighing, she added, "I think he got bored of life here without you picking fights with him."

Seifer chuckled.  "Well, good luck to him.  So what do I owe you?"

Handing him a plate of the cooked meat, Ma Dincht shook her head.  "Don't worry about it, son.  You just go ahead and enjoy it, but I want you to visit before you vanish again."

"If I get more of your cooking, wild boars couldn't keep me away.  Thanks, Ma Dincht."  Turning, Seifer placed his hand on the blind man's shoulder.  "Walk that way," he said with a vague push.

Escaping the main fair area, the two men eventually stood under an aged tree which had leaves of bright red fitting for the season.  After getting Squall to face him, Seifer picked up a small piece of meat between his fingers.

"Try this," he said placing the pork lightly at the blind man's lips.

Though reluctant, Squall sampled the piece, his eyes widening slightly as he chewed.  "It's good."

"Isn't it?  Ma Dincht was always incredible in the kitchen.  She's the one who showed me how to make a proper breakfast," Seifer said before taking a couple large pieces for himself.

"It sounds like you had a good life here."

"I did.  It was a lucky thing that I ended up in this town."  Seifer offered another piece of meat to the blind man.  "Did you have anything to do with that?" he asked half-jokingly, knowing that Squall must have been too young to play a role in his life back then.  But Seifer was learning to not underestimate anything about the seer.

After accepting the food, Squall shook his head.  "I was hardly five back then."

"Hn, then you're not even a year younger than me.  Well, since you've heard a lot about my childhood, what about yours?  Where did you grow up?"

"It doesn't matter," the seer replied defensively.

"Oh, come on.  I don't care if it doesn't matter.  I just want to know more about you."

Shaking his head, Squall stepped back.  "Stop this."

"Stop what?"

"Stop trying to form something between us.  Stop pretending that there could be anything."

Seifer smirked amusedly at the brunet.  "I wasn't the one who had the vision that we should be together."

"I'll prevent it."

A blond eyebrow rose in disbelief.  "You'll prevent something that, in your own words, should benefit me?"

While blue-gray eyes were firm, his hand moved to stroke the brand under his left wrist.  "I must have been mistaken."

That made the fighter laugh.  "You'd rather admit to being wrong than be stuck with me?  I'm offended."  After licking some sauce off of his thumb and fingers, Seifer continued to say, "Well, I hate to tell you this, kitten, but it's too late to try and prevent anything.  There is already 'something' between us, whether you want to admit it or not.  And I swear to fight my hardest to protect it."

The seer hesitated before asking in a quiet voice, "Even when you know the pain it'll cause?"

Risking a step forward, Seifer gently placed his hand at the man's cheek and lightly brushed sauce from the corner of the man's lips.  "There can't be love without pain.  The question is if that love is worth the pain it can cause."

Squall closed his eyes in momentary thought, though the fighter found comfort that his touch had yet to be knocked away.  When the sightless eyes opened again, Squall looked about ready to speak, but without warning, his body went limp and started to fall.

Dropping the dish in hand, Seifer quickly wrapped his arms around the lithe body and helped the seer to lower gently to his knees.  As they both knelt on the grassy ground, the blond held Squall loosely while the blind man struggled for breath.  With nothing else he could do until the vision finished its torment, Seifer stroked the man's back in an attempt to soothe the seer.

A sharp inhale of breath signaled Squall's return to awareness, but he didn't attempt to escape the fighter's hold.  Instead, to Seifer's vague amusement, the blind man leaned forward to rest his head on an available shoulder.  As they sat there in silence, noises from the fair were easily heard like whispers and murmurs of a surrounding crowd.  Running up a hand beneath dark hair to caress the long neck, Seifer frowned slightly in thought.

"Have we done this before?"

Squall shifted as if to get more comfortable.  "Forgot the forest already?"

"No, it's not that.  You... were smaller.  And I think there was rain."

The body in his hold tensed slightly.  "Don't."

Closing his eyes, Seifer said, "There were people for some reason..."

"Please.  Don't."

Frustrated, the fighter leaned back and glared into eyes moist with restrained emotions.  "Why won't you let me remember anything?"

"There are more important things than the past."

Frowning in annoyance, Seifer decided to surrender to that reality.  "Then what does the future show you?"

"The young sorceress will find us here.  We should leave."

Green eyes narrowed.  "Why the fuck should we run?  I was the one to defeat her last time."

"She was inexperienced.  She didn't realize that you have a tolerance to magic, and she probably never encountered people before who could resist her manipulations."

"Then if she is so inexperienced, shouldn't she be easy to handle?"

Squall vaguely shook his head.  "The beldame sent her this time.  I think the old witch wants to test your abilities before she comes after you herself."

"But Irvine said that you fought the beldame yourself and forced her to retreat.  Why should her student be any harder?"  Frowning in thought, the blond then asked, "Or is this bitch more powerful than her teacher?  Is that why she was able to capture you?"

"No," the seer replied with some offense.  "I was distracted and I didn't realize that the beldame had taken on students.  But there is no reason to take risks when it's unnecessary."

Putting his emotions under control, Seifer said calmly, "I don't want to run."

"You aren't ready."

"Then make me ready."

"... ..."

"Listen, my life is here in this town.  Irvine, Selphie, the Dincht family...  I'm not going to leave them defenseless while some sorceress strolls into town.  I have to protect my home, especially when I'm the one who placed it into danger."

Squall stared forward as if looking for something with his useless eyes, and then sighed in defeat.  "When is this festival finished?"

Though confused by the question, Seifer answered, "Not until next week sometime.  It depends on the weather mostly, but festivals around here usually last about ten days."

The seer scoffed.  "Ten days.  I doubt I could teach you anything worthwhile in that time."

"Wait, what does--"

Squall stood up suddenly and glared downward.  "She won't arrive until the crowds are gone.  I'll do what I can, but you must do everything I say and don't let yourself get distracted."

Smirking with victory and amusement, the fighter rose to his feet.  "Don't get distracted, huh?  That's going to be hard with you around."

Cloudy eyes narrowed.  "If you can't be serious, then forget this now and don't waste my time."

Still smiling, Seifer reached out to cup his hand around the back of the seer's neck and leaned in to gently kiss chapped lips.  "I am very serious."

Squall shivered slightly in response to the low voice, but his expression hardened in irritation.

Green eyes bright, the fighter grinned wider.  "So, what do I get to learn first?"

Sightless eyes opened slowly as the seer woke the following morning.  Squall felt exhausted from the foreseeing dream which had been a typical dream of the sunset, a dead town, and the ever-annoying voices.  While the aged voice still took on the form of his dead father, the other two demigods had possessed the corpses of a longhaired man and a youthful woman with dead green eyes.  Squall had his suspicions about whom those people were, but he didn't want to ask Seifer.  Anyway, it was what the voices had said which was more important, them and the seer holding a debate during the length of the night about what would benefit the Hero most in the coming fight.  While they argued about most spells, there was one which all three voices agreed had to come first.  It made Squall feel drained to even think of the charm, but he understood the necessity of such protection for the fighter.

Sitting up on the mattress, Squall turned to face the direction of the other bed.  "You could be spending your time better than watching me sleep."

A light chuckle sounded.  "How do you do that?  I know that you couldn't have heard me sitting here."

"You're hard to miss," the blind man said while leaning back against the headboard, highly tempted to go back to sleep.

"Whatever you say, kitten.  In any case, I just woke up a short while ago.  I'm not awake enough to practice those healing spells you showed me yesterday.  I'd end up losing an arm or something."

Not having the energy to further scold the fighter, Squall closed his eyes and rubbed the underside of his wrist.

"So... what did you dream?"

"Not of you," the seer stated icily before he reopened his eyes and asked, "Is there someone you trust who knows how to write?"

Seifer huffed.  "You know, there are nicer ways to ask for favors."

"... ..."

"Stuck-up prick," the fighter muttered before speaking in a clearer voice.  "Yeah, I know a few people in town who write.  In fact, Selphie is probably the first on that list.  Her father was a scribe or something like that."

Squall sighed before standing up from his bed.  "There are ingredients I need if you could fetch them."

"No problem.  I can do that after breakfast."

The blind man shook his head.  "I suggest not eating beforehand."

There was a pause before the large man stood such that his body was close to the seer though didn't touch.  "What exactly are you planning here?"

"A protection charm attached to your body.  But you can refuse it if you wish."

A hand reached out, but Squall didn't knock away the warm touch from his cheek as the thumb carefully wiped away crust from the outer corner of his eye.  Once that task was finished, Seifer moved his hand back into thick hair and massaged the area behind the seer's ear.  Squall resisted leaning into that soothing touch, but momentarily distracted, he was surprised by the press of warm lips against his.  It was a more lasting kiss compared to the other kisses Seifer had stolen over the past couple days, and reluctantly the blind man was intrigued by the unusual caress of sensitive skin.  But before Squall could remember that such a touch was unwanted, Seifer retreated and spoke in a low voice.

"I trust you."

Looking up and wishing that he could see bright green eyes, Squall said, "You trust too simply."

Seifer breathed a laugh.  "Then everything you have done for me has been 'simple'?"

"I could have been lying about my motives."

"You didn't," the fighter replied with complete confidence.  "Though I'll admit to hoping that your motives have changed slightly."

Squall frowned in thought.  "Changed?"

Leaning in close, Seifer explained, "One day, I hope that my death will mean more to you than the potential loss of your father."

The seer stared forward with continued confusion.

"Heh, don't worry yourself over it, kitten.  Now, what do you need for this magic of yours?"

Later that morning, Squall knelt down on a worn rug as he quietly meditated to gather his erratic energy.  To the side of him, there were the scratches of writing as Selphie practiced the lettering he had shown her earlier.  While she had learned the basics of the old language in her youth, it had been several years since she wrote the flowing letters.  Given the importance of preciseness for the charm, she eagerly started to practice writing the string of words in the shape that it would take on Seifer's back.  The woman seemed far too excited by the idea of magic.

"Well, I think that is everything," Seifer said before kneeling directly in front of the seer.  "How do we check it?"

Not opening his eyes, Squall reached out to find the large wooden bowl that had been placed onto the floor.  He then dipped a finger into the relatively thick paste, and once certain the consistency was correct, Squall pulled back his hand to taste the mixture.  But before he could, his wrist was trapped in a firm grip.

"Are you crazy?  You know what's in here.  Hell, I'm not excited about this going on my skin, and you want to fucking taste it?"

"Let go, Seifer."

The strong hand didn't release its grip immediately, but the blond eventually surrendered with a quiet insult directed at the seer.

After smelling and then lightly tasting the mixture, Squall nodded his approval.  "It's fine."

::You are too harsh, lover.  It was made with perfection::

With a shadow of a frown, the seer spoke quietly.  "I won't encourage him, and I'd like to finish this quickly."

::Humans, always in such the rush.  You should take more pleasures out of the life Father blessed you with::

"Blessed..." Squall repeated cynically.  "Enough of that.  Will you allow me the use of your energy or not?"

::No, I'm the one to help you this time, Seer:: the growled voice told him.  ::It'll be stronger with my cooperation::

Squall opened his eyes in vague surprise, not accustomed to the more powerful of the three voices being free with his energy in such a manner.  As many of the legends said about Griever, the growled voice seemed to prefer a watcher role from the background where he could comment on whatever amused him, which unfortunately was quite a bit.

Laughter rang in the seer's head.  ::Let's just say that I enjoy this Hero.  Keeping him alive should lead to more adventures::

Squall scowled at that, recognizing the truth of the statement.

A deep chuckle sounded.  "Shit, what did those parasites of yours say to cause that expression?"

"Nothing worth repeating," the seer replied before holding out his hand palm up.  "May I borrow your dagger?"

"What for?"

Clenching his teeth, Squall asked, "Must you question everything I do?"

"Fine.  Fuck, I'm just curious," Seifer grumbled before slapping the sheathed blade onto the open palm.

Ignoring the blond, Squall reached out for the bowl and pulled it closer to him.  There was no hesitation as he removed the covering of the dagger, and after placing his right hand above the large bowl, he slit his wrist.

"Holy shit, what are you doing?!"  Seifer grabbed the hand, but the blind man resisted the attempt to move his extended arm.

"Don't interfere," Squall hissed out, unable to completely hide the pain he was feeling.

"But you're--"

"It's the essential part of the spell."  After a shaky breath, the seer continued to say, "I know what I'm doing."

The large hand was slow to release its strong grip, and once it did, Seifer pushed himself up to his feet.  "Selph, where are your medical supplies?"

Squall didn't listen for the reply, and instead focused inward to determine when he had given enough of himself.  He was vaguely aware of the large man sitting in front of him once more, but the sensation of lost blood that was filled with his energy and life was too overwhelming.  Just when he felt it had been enough, the growled voice echoed in his head.

::You can give more to him::

Vaguely, Squall shook his head.

::I won't waste my energy on a mediocre protection charm, especially when I know the extent of your abilities::

Closing his eyes in defeat, the seer continued to sacrifice his blood to the mixture.  As he waited for the demigod's signal, Squall had to fight to keep his arm steady, but it was a losing battle given his exhaustion from the night of dreaming, or rather, wandering to future times.  He was almost tempted to ask the fighter for support, but he didn't want to admit his weakness out loud.  Especially not when the man would probably end everything and force the seer to bed.

::Enough::  With a quiet chuckle, the rough voice added, ::I knew you were capable of more::

Ignoring the arrogant tone of the demigod, Squall quickly spoke a healing spell to close up the wound.  Most likely recognizing the spell from the previous day's lesson, Seifer immediately took a hold onto the arm and wiped it down with a cool cloth before he bound up the wrist in bandages.  The blind man didn't resist the treatment, knowing that the wound had the potential to reopen since he couldn't afford to place too much energy into the healing spell.

"Why must you always be hurt like this?" Seifer asked in a quiet voice.

"Because you are the Hero.  You are everything."

The hold on his arm tightened painfully.  "Don't you ever fucking say that again.  Understood?"

Squall sighed at the anger of the man.  "We need to finish this.  Remove your shirt and lie down on your stomach."

The fighter didn't obey the order directly, perhaps waiting for the promise which wasn't coming.  Once realizing that, he released the arm and did as he was told.

Eyes half-lidded, the seer faced the side.  "Selphie.  If you would, first mix this, and then write what I showed you."

"Right.  I can do that," the woman replied, her voice shaky with uncertainty.

Unable to do anything for the meantime, Squall sat silently while stroking the brand on his wrist.  His thoughts, on the other hand, weren't nearly as calm as they rushed through his mind.  He wanted to understand Seifer and his motives for pursuing a ridiculous relationship.  But more frustrating was that those advances were getting harder to resist.  While the blind man fought to prevent anything between them, he still remembered the touches of the same man in the future.  He craved those caresses which gave his dark world a better sense of reality.  But it was the pain he feared.  He was tired of hurting, tired of continuing giving himself to the Hero.  And though Seifer spoke of love being worth that pain, Squall couldn't believe in the romantic nonsense.

"Um, I think that's it," Selphie spoke with some renewed energy.  "What happens now?"

Sighing, Squall moved closer to the prone man and placed his hand above where the charm should have been written.  The dormant energy of the spell could be felt by the blind man, and he nodded in vague approval that all was correct thus far.  That left one final task of the protection charm.

In a quiet but clear voice, Squall spoke the words which where written on the man's back.  In his head, the rough voice echoed those words, and the seer felt his entire body throbbing from the energy of the demigod.  Repeating the short phrase which promised his blood, life, and soul towards the protection of the fighter, Squall slowly lowered his hand.  On contact with skin, it felt like a hot gust of wind flowed through the blind man and into Seifer, the blond gasping loudly and tensing at the unexpected rush of heat and energy.

Too weak and too drained to handle that loss of energy, Squall couldn't stop himself from falling forward onto the man's back.  After a moment of relief when he didn't feel the stickiness of paste, he surrendered to exhaustion and passed out along heated skin.




Author's Whining -- See next chapter. =P

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