Blind Sight

Part 8

By Sukunami

With slow steps through knee-high snow drifts, two men made their way home carrying the product of their hunt between them.  Bound tightly to a thick branch, the large buck swung with the unsteady steps of the carriers, each movement reminding the men of the deer's weight.  The man in back, who held the lighter end of the branch, was whistling happily while the larger man in front tried to concentrate on finding the more shallow drifts of snow to travel through.

Reaching his limit with the random whistling, Seifer asked, "And just what army are we feeding again, killer?"

The man of long auburn hair laughed at the growled question.  "Don't blame me, blondie.  The only other time I've seen big game like this during these winter months was when you used to hunt with Pa and me.  You're a good luck charm."

Seifer scoffed while adjusting the branch propped up on his shoulder.  "Just because you see a huge ass deer, it doesn't mean you have to kill the fucker.  Especially when we're miles from home."

"Who am I to deny the good graces of Hyne?" Irvine asked with amusement.

"Don't give me that.  You're no more religious than I am, and we both know Hyne had nothing to do with this buck wandering in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Humming in thought, the longhaired man said, "Then I take it that your friend hasn't converted you yet."

Seifer glanced back at the man as best he could.  "What are you talking about?"

"I've heard from Selphie that they talk about that book, the Bukre du Hieghen, all the time when we're not around.  She's been reading some of the passages to him, too.  I'm starting to get worried that I'll lose one of my mornings during the week for that church crap, not to mention the money they always want."

Turning his attention back to the snow-covered ground, the blond assured him, "You don't need to worry about that.  Squall has his beliefs, but he doesn't seem to care too much for the churches.  He'd take their food and clothing, but that's all I've heard about.  And you know, he is marked as a lost soul.  I doubt he has much love for priests after being branded like that."

"Hn, so you say.  But if Selphie sets out my good clothing one of these mornings, I'm blaming you."

With a sigh, Seifer asked, "All right, what is really on your mind?"

"Am I that clear?"

"Transparent.  You're not one to bring up Hyne out of nowhere."

After a forced laugh, Irvine spoke in a serious tone.  "Selphie and I, we want to know what exactly you're doing with Squall."

Seifer smirked.  "Well, I'm not fucking him yet if that's what you're asking."

Chuckling, the longhaired man admitted, "That was part of it, though we kind of assumed you were already... intimate considering the amount of touching there is between you two.  There's also the fact that you've been here for over a month now, and I haven't heard any rumors about you defiling the fair ladies of our city."

The blond smirked.  "Are you suggesting that I can't keep my cock in check?"

"Yep.  Even at fourteen, mothers were hiding their daughters from you," Irvine stated with some humor.  "But anyway, we were more curious about Squall with those powers of his.  It's not exactly natural, and while Selph loves seeing him use magic, we're worried about what you're getting yourself into."

The fighter frowned at the suspicion being directed at Squall.  "After what you've seen and heard, you still think that I am the one getting mixed up in his business?  If anything, I'm surprised that he can stand my touch after everything I've put him through."

"Maybe, but still, isn't he the one putting ideas of destiny in your head?  Telling you that you're some important hero of sorts?  It sounds like he might be setting you up for a fall."

Seifer scoffed.  "If you're worried about my ego, Squall makes certain to beat it down every chance he gets.  As for the destiny crap, it doesn't mean anything.  He says I have a destiny, but he hasn't a clue about what that supposed destiny is.  At this point, he's just trying to keep me alive.  Is there something wrong with that?"

"No, and Pa seemed to trust him where that was concerned, but..."  Sighing, Irvine said, "Just keep your eyes open, and don't let your heart take over your mind."

Holding back his first instinct to mock the advice, Seifer nodded his understanding.  "I'll try to remember that."

The rest of the trip to the inn was a quiet one, only interrupted by the occasional curse when the snow slicked ground caused the men to lose their footing.  By the time buildings came into view, Seifer swore that the large buck had managed to gain another fifty pounds to its weight.  But with salvation in sight, the fighter didn't have it in him to complain.  Instead, he thought up some biting comments to give Irvine the moment his body didn't feel like a moving glacier.

Nearing the inn, the backdoor flung open wide as Selphie ran outside without care of her bare feet in snow.  Even before words left her lips, the fighter stopped in place and tensed with the suspicion that something was wrong with his seer.

"Seifer!  Come quick!  Squall collapsed and he... and he..."  Her words faltered with hard sobs and she pressed a hand against her mouth.

Not waiting for the full explanation, Seifer swiftly knelt down to rid himself of the weighted branch.  Launching up from that position, he ran to the opened doorway and quickly scanned the suite before finding the dark-haired man shaking violently on the kitchen floor.  With little grace, the blond stumbled over to Squall and dropped to the ground before cradling the man close to his chest.  Instantly he felt the blood coating the hand he held pressed against the brunet's head, and after scowling at the reddened edge of the nearby fireplace, Seifer whispered words of healing to mend the minor injury.  He then held the shaking form closer and silently demanded the vision to finish its torment on the young man.

At the seer's gasping breath which finally signaled the end of his vision, Seifer allowed himself a sigh of relief, which quickly turned into a loud curse when the seer abruptly vomited on them both.  Even after losing what seemed like every meal in the past couple days, Squall continued to dry heave as pained tears threatened to flow from his tightly shut eyes.

"Oh my..."

Startled by the voice, the fighter looked up to find Selphie staring at them with wide, watery eyes.  Unable to speak to the brunette, Seifer turned his attention back to the seer and gently brushed back sweat dampened hair from the man's closed eyes.

"I'll... I'll get a bucket..."

Though appreciative of the woman's suggestion, Seifer couldn't focus on anything but the man in his arms.  "Squall, what's wrong?  Are you sick?"

Hesitantly, the seer opened his eyes.  "...cold..."

"That can be fixed.  Just give me a moment to clean us up and then I'll help you to the hot spring.  Sound good?"

Squall didn't reply, his unseeing eyes not shifting as they usually would when people spoke and moved around him.  Though the lack of response bothered Seifer, he held back his questions as he helped Selphie with the unpleasant act of cleaning up the vomit from the dazed brunet.  Given he planned on burning their clothes at the first opportunity, Seifer didn't spend much effort with the rag given to him.

"Selph, would you mind--"

"Don't worry about the mess," the shaken woman said, anticipating the request.  "It looks like you'll have your hands full with caring for this one.  If you want, I can bring you some dinner later.  Just soup or something else light for Squall."

"That would be great.  Thanks, Selph."  Standing up with the seer held protectively in his arms, Seifer smiled weakly at the brunette.  "Make certain to knock first, though.  Just in case food is the last thing he'll want to see."

"Of course," Selphie said, showing a touch of offense at the suggestion that she would unthinkingly enter a private room without warning.

The trip to their room was a silent one, the fighter having no desire to bring up something that would unsettle the seer from his position of tiredly resting his head on a broad shoulder.  While Seifer enjoyed any sort of contact with the skittish man, it worried him that there wasn't even a hint of argument from Squall about being carried.  Even when exhausted of all energy, the seer always made certain to have his annoyance known at being babied.

Entering their room, Seifer placed the unresponsive man on the bench and knelt down in front of him.  "Squall..."  He paused, waiting for some reaction from the brunet, but cloudy eyes didn't shift at the sound of his name.  "Hey, are you going to be able to get rid of these clothes or do you need help?"

Without a reply, Squall lifted his hands to undo the ties of his shirt.  The lethargic motions of the seer made Seifer frown, but he set aside his worries to remove his own soiled clothes.  Given the brunet's sluggish state, Seifer was able to soap down his body and rinse away some of the stink before Squall had stripped off all of his clothing.  After placing a bucket of water at the man's feet and a piece of soft soap in his hand, the fighter collected the dropped clothing and hurried over to the fireplace to dump the items.  Upon turning, Seifer paused a moment to watch the seer run the piece of soap over his lightly colored skin.  It was hard for him to see that alluring body within reach, and yet untouchable in so many ways.  But with a secretive smile, he reminded himself that the most worthwhile things in life were those gained from a hard-fought battle.

"Open your mouth."

Still dazed from the lengthy vision filled with too much information, Squall obeyed the softly spoken order.  Something small and hard was placed into his mouth, and at the first taste of the spiced candy, he grimaced.  "What is that?"

With a light laugh, Seifer said, "Welcome back.  And that little treat is the candy you always smell on me.  It takes some getting used to, but it'll get rid of that nauseating taste in your mouth, so don't spit it out."

Squall followed the command, but his deep scowl showed his thought about the matter.

"Now, would you like some help there?"

Placing aside the piece of soap, the seer nodded and let the large man rinse his body with heated water drawn from the hot spring.  It used to be awkward for him to depend on Seifer for such tasks, but he couldn't resist the comfort that he was surprised to find within the strong arms of the fighter.  It was an addiction, a pleasure the seer hated himself for indulging in.  And yet, he couldn't think of a reason beyond the risk of his sanity as to why he shouldn't enjoy the warmth Seifer offered him.

A hand was placed at his upper arm.  "Come on.  I need a good long soak after being forced to carry that damn buck of Irvine's.  I hope you like venison, since I think we'll be eating that for the next month."

Squall had no comment to offer, and instead focused on the heated hand which guided him to the pool.  That touch left him briefly as Seifer jumped into the hot water, and after some splashing by the large man, Squall was helped into the pool.  Once settled such that the water covered his chilled body up to his shoulders, the seer was disturbed that the heated water didn't seem to affect the coldness within him.  Then a foot brushed against his and heat flashed through his body.


Instantly the foot was gone.  "Ah, sorry about that.  I was just stretching out.  So, are you feeling better?"

Hesitating in thought, Squall shook his head.  He then pushed himself up and walked unsteadily through the water until strong hands wrapped around his waist.

"And what's this, kitten?"

Ignoring the humored tone, the brunet pulled aside those hands so that he could press in closer to the sprawled out man.  Once resting almost completely on top of the larger man, Squall knew that he should feel ashamed of his position, but he didn't have the energy for that.  Instead he buried his face against the thick neck as he continued to suck gently at the remaining piece of spiced candy in his mouth.  While the seer didn't care for the flavor, it did amazingly rid his mouth of the acrid taste of vomit.

Seifer sighed quietly as he wrapped an arm around the lean waist and placed his free hand on wet hair.  "Was your vision that bad?"

Feeling numb, the seer spoke in a flat tone.  "There is a tournament this spring which you should fight in.  You need to train and build up you strength."

"How can you say something like that and not make me feel insulted?" the fighter asked with some amusement.

"You grow lax during the winter months," Squall stated, not catching the rhetorical nature of the question.  "And this is the tournament in Correna."

"Correna?  Uh, Squall, that competition is invite only.  While I'm damn good, I'm not very well-known yet."

"When we arrive there, an invitation will be delivered to you."

After a stunned silence, the fighter asked cautiously, "Are you kidding me?  Wait, no, don't answer that.  You don't kid."  His voice brighter, he said, "Shit, I can't believe I'm getting my shot at Correna.  This is incredible."

"It's dangerous, as well, but..."  With a careful touch, Squall ran his hand along a muscled arm.  "But I think you will be ready for that challenge if you train."

With a thoughtful hum, Seifer asked, "And why will this competition be so dangerous as compared to the others I've been in?"

"It won't be a normal tournament.  You will face people tainted by shadows, somehow infused by demon's blood.  They are vicious and no longer sane," the brunet said plainly, though he could still see the blurry images of dark eyed men who literally tore apart their opponents.  But not Seifer.  Of those unclear images, the fighter shone white silver in comparison to the darker shadows of the fallen men.  While a near thing, the seer knew that the Hero would not die by their hands.

"If I can handle that Orein by myself, I doubt those men will be too hard to beat."

Lost in the later images of the vision, Squall didn't have the urge to correct the fighter.  "Once you've won, the beldame will demand a meeting with you."

"Whoa, wait a minute, that's the witch you want me to avoid, isn't she?  I thought her mission in life was to kill me.  What the hell does she want a meeting for?  If it's a trap you're trying to warn me about, I'm not that stupid to fall for something so obvious."

"Such is your choice," the seer said, unconsciously pressing in closer to the heated body.

The arm around brunet's waist tightened as Seifer stated with suspicion, "There's more."

"... ..."

"Squall, if there's more, and I'm guessing that there should be to make you lose it like you did, then I want you to tell me.  I'm getting very tired of your secrets."

The seer moved his hand to stroke the silver pendant of Hyne resting on the broad chest.  "I can't tell you.  It would hinder your instincts."

The resulting actions of the fighter were expected as the blind man was pushed aside by Seifer and he left the heated water.  Wrapping his arms tight around his waist, Squall fought the nausea that was threatening him once more.  As he listened to the sounds of the blond roughly drying his body, the seer wondered if the man would then run off to Selphie and demand for another room.

"I don't want to depend on you," Squall bit out, later surprised that he spoke the words out loud.

"What the hell does that have to do with anything?" Seifer replied with irritation.

"I survived just fine without you before, and I shouldn't... I can't let myself depend on you."  Looking up in the fighter's direction, the seer continued to say, "Just as you shouldn't depend on me.  You are better than that."

There was only silence for a time, the type of silence Squall despised since it made him feel lost in his darkness.  For the sake of noise, he decided to leave the warmth of the hot spring and attempted to find the shelves which held the towels and robes.  After a few steps, dizziness suddenly struck the blind man, but he didn't reach the ground as strong arms wrapped around him.

"Careful, your body is probably still recovering.  That vision of yours seemed longer than usual, and you hit your head on the way down."

"I did...?"  Frowning in thought, Squall asked, "You healed me?"

"Of course, I wasn't going to leave you bleeding like you were.  But if you didn't notice anything, I take it that you aren't hurting?"

The seer shook his head, then realizing just how close he was to the other man as his swaying bangs brushed against the chest in front of him.  At one time, such intimate contact terrified Squall, reminding him of previous encounters with men who weren't ashamed to use their advantage against the blind man.  But that fear was gone, replaced with his current need for warmth.

"I want to feel you again."

Seifer gently pushed the man back, and the seer could easily feel the green eyes glaring at him.  "I'm still upset at you."

"Get used to it."

A light chuckle sounded as the large hands left the brunet, the action shortly followed by a damp but warm towel wrapping around his narrow shoulders.  "When are you going to learn to not walk around when you're wet and naked?  Unless, are you trying to get sick again so that I'll have to take care of you?"

Smiling slightly at the returned humor to the deep voice, Squall turned and walked to the sliding doors.  At the doorway, he let the towel drop to the floor before he continued into the other room.  While delayed, Seifer eventually followed the seer's lead to the bedside.

"What are you up to, kitten?"

"I told you that I wanted to feel you again, so lie down."

While the blond held his tongue, his smug smirk was still felt by the blind man.  With deliberate slowness, Seifer sat down on the mattress and moved onto his back, purposely brushing his leg against the seer's in the process.  At first, Squall made to sit next to the larger man, but changed his mind as he crawled on top of the fighter and sat down on muscular thighs.  A hand settled on his leg and squeezed lightly in a subtle sign of assurance, an action that further proved to the seer that he could trust the man beneath him.

Leaning forward, Squall reached first to touch the damp golden hair which was shorter than the single time he saw the clear image of the Hero.  Slowly his hands trailed downward, sensitive fingertips gliding over the few earrings of the man and then crossed over to skim along the unrestrained smirk.  Not needing to feel the face he could still picture with clarity, Squall moved his hands to the base of the thick neck and followed the light chain which held the pendant of Hyne given to the man by Selphie those weeks ago.  From there, the blind man ran his fingers along the lines of the sculpted chest and let his thumbs brush against nipples taut from the cold.

The hand on his thigh tightened almost painfully as Seifer cursed.  "Uh, kitten, this might not be the best idea after all."

Not pausing in his exploration, Squall leaned down closer to the heated body.  "I know."

A shiver coursed through the fighter.  "No, I don't think you do.  You see it's been quite a few months--"  The argument ended with a loud gasp when the seer tongued the center of the broad chest and proceeded to suck at the tight skin.  "Shit, Squall, I'm only human.  Don't do this to me.  Unless..."

"Unless I'm not teasing?" he asked before moving lower.  "I'm cold, Seifer, and I know that you can make me feel warm again."  As his hands trailed down along the man's waist, Squall pressed intermediate kisses against the abdomen grown vaguely softer over the past month of idleness and good cooking.  "I wanted to avoid this, but I can't.  It's too hard anymore."

A hand cupped Squall's face, forcing him to look up.  "Tell me why you wanted to avoid this."

"I'm tired of being hurt."

"And I won't hurt you.  I already told you that I would protect you."

The brunet shook his head.  "You can't save me from everything, and those wounds would heal anyway.  What you make me feel, it can only lead to pain and suffering."

A calloused thumb stroked his lower lip.  "That's all, huh?  There's nothing good that can come between us?"

"Nothing," Squall replied softly, his voice unintentionally lined with regret.

With a deep sigh, the large body beneath him moved as Seifer put his hands on the lean waist and lifted him.  There was no struggle from Squall as he was placed onto his back and the fighter easily covered the smaller body with his own.  The hardness pressed against the brunet's thigh wasn't surprising to him, but the lack of revulsion for that sign of lust was.  Instead, a sense of calm flowed through the seer as he placed his hand on the broad back and fingered the edge of the protection charm.

"Why do you make things so difficult?" Seifer asked in a hushed voice before nibbling lightly at the scarred ear.  When Squall whimpered at the action, the blond chuckled breathily.  "I guess that hurt if I can only cause you pain, hmm?  I should probably avoid that spot.  So what about here?  Or here?" Seifer asked as he pressed light kisses along the seer's jawbone and moved to parted lips.

The kiss was oddly comfortable in the way their lips fit together, a practiced art after the numerous times Seifer had stolen kisses from the blind man.  When the thick tongue slipped into his mouth, Squall hummed quietly at the joined taste of the fighter with the flavor of spice left from the candy.  He was amazed at the difference it made to the flavor of the rather bitter candy.

But the kiss broke too soon, Seifer leaning back when the brunet tried to reform the joining.  "Uh un, I heard your cry of agony.  I should move on and find something that won't hurt you."

Squall scowled up at the ceiling, but the expression of irritation didn't last for long as the blond moved his whole body lower such that his warmer skin rubbed against the smaller man.  The seer tightened his hold on Seifer as he was overwhelmed by his body providing him the information his eyes couldn't about the well-built man above him.  When warm wetness attacked his collarbone, Squall sighed quietly at the presence of the single touch that he could focus on and drive the other heated sensations away.  But every sound, every shiver from the brunet brought a quick end to the pleasurable touches as Seifer continued to move downward.  So lost in the varying sensations, Squall didn't connect the touches with specific locations on his body as his whole being was affected by each kiss and caress.  But then his fuzzy mind recognized the placement of one gentle kiss and clarity hit the blind man as he shot up into a sitting position and slid back against the headboard.

"Too far?" Seifer asked, concern replacing the previous humor in his voice.

Unable to form an immediate reply, Squall stared forward into the darkness as he reluctantly moved his hand between his legs.  Cupping his erection, he became suddenly aware of that painful hardness which Seifer had kissed without hesitation.  His lips parting in bewilderment, the seer fought back the urge to laugh.

"Is it always this easy for you?"

"No," Seifer answered as he moved to join the brunet at the head of the mattress, and then dropped a hand to cover Squall's.  "You make things nearly impossible," he said before nipping at the damaged ear and squeezing his hand.

The blind man couldn't hold back a whimper at the sensation of masturbating with the fighter's lead.  He hated to masturbate after the times of being humiliated for a price, but in the current situation, he felt sheltered with an arm wrapped around his back and the hard body pressed against his side.  It reinforced the knowledge that it was only Seifer there, someone he could trust.  It was safe, but soon Squall realized that it wasn't enough.

"Make me sweat."

Seifer pulled back, but his hand didn't halt in its movements.  "Make you sweat?"

A quiet growl escaped Squall as he removed his hand from Seifer's and spat on his palm before wrapping the freed hand around the fighter's arousal.  "Make me sweat.  Make me feel hotter than I can stand."  After coating the stiff manhood with his spice-scented spit, the seer moved onto his back and spread his legs open.  "Split me, bite me, hurt me... Do something to make me feel different than I am."

While hesitating, Seifer moved to straddle the lithe man.  One arm wrapped around his waist to lift up the narrow hips, and Squall forced himself to relax at the press of hardness against his anus.  The other hand was then at the blind man's face, brushing aside lengthy bangs before the hand cupped behind his head.

"And how do you feel exactly?"

Squall closed his eyes tightly, wishing that the deeply toned voice couldn't pull these answers from him.  "Cold."

"And...?" Seifer asked, shifting his hips such that the tip of his penis brushed against the sensitive opening.

In a sighed out breath, he whispered, "Worthless."

For a long moment, the seer wondered if Seifer had heard the unintentional admission, but when the loud fighter had nothing to comment as he moved back, Squall decided it had gone unnoticed.  The single arm lifted his hips higher as Seifer better positioned himself before thrusting sharply into the small opening.  The stinging pain was expected given the lack of proper preparation and the fighter's inexperience with men, but it was the way Squall wanted it.

"Hyne, that's more than I was expecting," Seifer murmured before resting his forehead on the bare chest.  After a deep breath, he pulled back a touch before thrusting deeper into tightness.

The seer almost repeated the other man's comment, forgetting what it felt like to have a thick cock driving through his body.  His eyes began to water at the irritating hurt, but the flare of heat was worth that measure of pain.  Even so, the blind man was silently grateful when the full length had worked itself in and Seifer paused in that position to regain his breath.

Leaning forward, the blond brushed his lips against Squall's.  "You're an idiot to think you are worthless," he said before kissing the brunet fully, preventing any possible retorts to the statement.

Then the fucking began.  Squall could imagine no other word for the happening which started with gentle testing thrusts and turned into something almost desperate with rough attempts to impossibly deepen each plunge.  His arms wrapped around broad shoulders, the seer was impressed by the natural rhythm he found with Seifer, their breaths and bodies syncing in a disturbing way.  And it was wrong that he found bliss despite the initial pain, his own erection being unintentionally pleasured against the fighter's body.  Least accustomed to such pleasurable sex, Squall came first with a strained whimper as he buried his face against the thick neck.

Once the lightheadedness evaporated, Squall felt instantly annoyed that Seifer was probably grinning smugly at satisfying him so easily.  Too tired for much else in retaliation, the blind man bit down on the inner part of the shoulder he had been resting against.  The blond cursed quietly in a partial moan, his following thrusts sporadic and hard as he came within the smaller man.

With stiff movements, Seifer lowered the seer to lie flat on the mattress, and Squall reluctantly released his hold on the shoulder, but only after stealing a taste of blood and sweat mixed with the traces of spice in his mouth.  Resting limply as Seifer removed himself with renewed gentleness, the brunet smiled softly at the warmth and sparks of power coursing through his body.  But that smile faded to a slight frown when the larger man flopped down at his side and rested an arm across his chest in a far too familiar fashion.

"Feel better?"

And it was at that moment when Squall knew he was lost, that he could never feel this way again without the ever-annoying Hero.  Worse, he couldn't feel any bitterness at Seifer for the inexcusable situation.


The seer shivered at the hated pet name, but said in that rumbling voice... it was tolerable.  "The coldness is gone."

Seifer hummed at the answer while his thumb stroked at the lengthy scar line on the blind man's chest.  "You aren't worthless, Squall.  You are important to me."

The brunet scoffed.  "For my sight?"

"Well, I won't lie about that, but it's certainly not the ultimate reason why I like keeping you around."

When the blond said nothing further in the purring tone of satisfaction, Squall refused to succumb to his curiosity and waited impatiently for the man to finish his thought.  But there were no more words from Seifer as his breaths evened out into a steady rhythm and were eventually followed by a soft snore.  The seer was tempted to wake up the exasperating man, but he figured that it would be a futile effort since Seifer wouldn't remember what he was talking about moments before falling asleep.

After a deep breath, Squall halfheartedly tried to sit up with the intention of cleaning off, but the arm across his chest felt heavier than it should, not to mention the rest of his body.  Surrendering to the fact that he'd have to survive with the drying mess on his body, the blind man shifted such that the warm breath of the fighter brushed against his cheek.  He hoped by focusing on that breath, he could keep himself from falling to sleep himself, but the strategy backfired on him as his eyelids closed and he felt himself drift off to the soothing rhythm.

On the brink of dropping off to sleep, Squall asked in a whisper, "Will you come for me?"

Opening his eyes with reluctance, Squall stared out at the world before him, blinked, and then rubbed his eyes before daring another look.  It was the city he had seen several times before, but the charcoaled buildings bathed in the red light of the sunset were blurred and streaked in a way the seer had never witnessed before.  An unnatural mist of gray had covered most of the mountain side, but its presence didn't bother the few people lying dead and burnt on the street.

::This took you long enough::

Startled, Squall turned around to face a woman of shoulder length brown hair and deadened green eyes.  Half of the slim body clothed in a ruined dress was lacking skin that had apparently been removed by fire.  Her left side was additionally damaged with deep cuts and her arm hung oddly as if the bone was crushed.  Even so, the woman's smile was intact and oddly warming despite the state of the rest of the body.

"What's wrong with this world?"

::It's a vanishing future, and good riddance, I say::

Glancing over the blurred buildings and vegetation, Squall frowned.  "Why is it vanishing?"

The woman laughed.  ::You are blind in so many ways, young seer.  It's a wonder you have handled the Hero as well as you have::

"I haven't 'handled' him.  He does whatever he wants."

::Perhaps, but he is beginning to understand himself through you::


::These destructive futures exist when the Hero doesn't have you near, or so I believe::

His scowl deepened as he eyed the possessed woman.  "What do you want from me?"

Her smile faltered and disappeared at the question.  ::For now it's a time of rest, and a time for you strengthen the bond you've made with the golden one::

"You saw," Squall stated bitterly.  When the woman had nothing to reply to that, he asked, "Where are the others?"

::Resting.  It is hard to follow you to these times, and with the future you saw, we need to ready ourselves for the beldame::

The seer nodded sharply as he hugged his arms tight around his body.  His blue-gray eyes moved to view upon the approaching mist, the shifting haze a mesmerizing sight as he thought about the ramifications of how many people it would affect to lose that future.

::Do not forget, sweet lover, that while the Hero has the ultimate destiny, you are the one who most affects his decisions::

"No one persuades that arrogant fool."

The possessed woman cocked her head and smiled.  ::Is that so?::

Hiding his shiver at the knowing tone, Squall glared at the woman.  "I won't lead him to death."

::But you will let him lead you to yours?::

Seifer was the first to wake from the unplanned nap as light from the sun filtered just right through the curtains and shone directly on his face.  Grumbling at the bothersome wakeup call, the blond first attempted to roll over, but encountered weak resistance from the arm wrapped around his waist.  As he recognized the scent of sex in the air, Seifer opened his eyes despite the glare of sunlight and viewed upon the sleeping form next to him.  The beginnings of a smile died on his lips as the fighter recognized the disturbingly pale state of the body whose spirit was lost in the future somewhere.

Sighing, Seifer pulled away the arm resting on his waist and lightly kissed the seer's forehead when he softly whined at the action.  Not worried about waking the man, the blond sat up stiffly and swung his legs over the side of the mattress.  With exaggerated steps to stretch out his legs, Seifer walked into the adjoined room to quickly rub down his body.  Wetting a fresh rag in the hot spring, he returned to the bedroom and knelt down on the bed to clean off Squall's body.  After some time, to the point where Seifer could no longer say that he was innocently cleaning off the remains of sex, the blond tossed the rag across the room and laid out next to the man once more.  Wrapping his arms securely around the lithe man, Seifer lightly kissed a bare shoulder before resting his head on that arm.

It was killing him that Squall was hiding even more secrets from him, and yet, Seifer had to admit that the man was right - the fighter couldn't afford to depend on the powers of the seer.  There were no guarantees about those hazy futures, and to plan on anything specific from those visions would leave him wide open for other attacks.  Squall was careful about what he mentioned concerning the future he saw, only giving information that would help Seifer to be prepared for any event.

But this time the fighter had the feeling that the vision involved Squall somehow.  That theory led to many other thoughts in which the vulnerable seer could be endangered.  Seifer sneered at the knowledge that the blind man was once again correct when he had mentioned that the fighter couldn't protect him from everything.  And while the blond momentarily enjoyed the delusion that he could keep Squall locked away somewhere safe, Seifer knew better.  The seer would have him whimpering for mercy within the first day.

"Seifer... you're heavy," the brunet murmured in a sleepily annoyed voice.

Unwilling to move, Seifer pressed closer to the lean body.  "I wasn't expecting you to wake up so soon."

"That future is gone... I came back..." Squall said in the same drowsy tone.

"It's gone?  How?"

"Because I gave up.  I won't leave you."

"Is that so?" Seifer asked while moving back to lean on his elbow, enabling himself to look at the face still relaxed in half-sleep.  Smiling fondly, the fighter used his free hand to brush aside dark hair from the peaceful expression.  Reluctantly, he then moved his hand to a bare shoulder and shook the man gently.  "Wake up, kitten."

The seer jumped at the action, his eyelids snapping open in brief shock before he relaxed and moved his hand to grab tightly onto Seifer's wrist.  "Am I dreaming?"

"No, you just got back."

Clouded eyes narrowed suspiciously.  "Did I say anything?"

Though tempted to keep secrets of his own, Seifer instead pressed his hand against a cool cheek.  "You said that you want me desperately, and that you will never let me go."

Squall frowned.  "Don't lie."

Chuckling, the blond said, "Alright, so you implied that first part, but you did say that you won't leave me."

The scowl faded into an uncertain expression.  "I did?"

"Yes, you did," Seifer said before leaning over to steal a kiss.  There was still the remaining taste of spice, which made the fighter deepen the gentle kiss to further sample the familiar flavor.  Whether unconscious or on purpose, Squall stroked his tongue against the intruder, the touch pulling a deep groan from Seifer before he pulled back to prevent the other stirrings within his body.  Opening his eyes to stare down at the seer, previous thoughts about the man's threatened safety came back to the fighter.  "Will you let me teach you how to use a blade?"

"Where is that coming from?"

"It doesn't matter, so just tell me if you would let me teach you how to use a blade.  Something you can carry, like a dagger or stiletto."

Squall hesitated as sightless eyes shifted with his thought process.

"You know, I still remember that move you pulled on me in Hiels.  Somebody must have taught you basic self-defense in your past, so don't try to tell me that you can't learn any techniques because of your blindness."

"But... I could accidentally wound someone."

"You wouldn't.  And I'd rather you have a knife in your hand than one held against your throat." 

The seer shook his head with continued uncertainty.

"Listen, just train with me.  Afterwards, if you're still worried about lobbing off my head or something, you don't have to carry a blade.  But I think you'll be surprised with what you are capable of."

After a moment of thought, Squall smiled faintly.  "With you as a teacher, I'll be lucky to not cut off my own hand."

"Hey, I'll have you know that I'm an excellent instructor, so it won't be my fault if you lose a limb or two."

The brunet's smile widened with a hint of anticipation to the pale lips.

"This will be fun," Seifer murmured before covering those lips with his own.




Author's Whining -- This story is starting to piss me off.  I swear that this whole chapter was going to be maybe half of a chapter, but no, Squall and Seifer had to be freaking difficult.  I don't know if you other authors have suffered through this, but here I was, setting up what should have been a simple sap scene, but Seifer decided that he didn't want it that easy.  Bastard.  Anyway, I hope this story remains readable as it moves along at this drawn out pace.  If not, ah well, I've been writing this story completely for myself from the beginning, so you all will just have to suffer. *grin*

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