Author's Notes: Still using characters without permission. Still not making a profit.

Many thanks to Xineko for betaing even though she is busier than a cat on a pile of rocks.

More talking heads. A dirty word or two. Eventually we’ll get back to juicy stuff that needs warnings.

Blood Knight

Chapter Three - Right Now You Can’t Tell

By Race Ulfson

The woman leaving Seifer’s room just as Squall arrived wasn’t wearing a palace uniform, so he assumed she must be the psychiatrist. "Doctor? I’m Squall -" nearly undetectable hesitation "-Loire." He held out his hand.

"Oh, the President’s son? How nice to meet you." She shook his hand and dimpled. "Avis Milos."

Her name suits her’, Squall thought, as the petite blonde woman chirped a rill of compliments about the Palace staff and his father, fluttering her plump hands as she talked, fanning them like wings. "How is Seifer?" he asked, when Dr. Milos finally ran out of words.

"Better." She cocked her head and smiled blandly at the arch look Squall gave her. "You know I can’t really say more, doctor-patient privilege."

"I’m not asking for transcripts of your conversations, Doctor. Just your professional opinion."

Avis blinked at the sudden ice in Squall’s tone. So different from his father… much more like what she expected from the President of Esthar, in fact. "There’s a matter of my personal ethics, Mr. Loire - and Mr. Almasy’s privacy."

"Seifer has no privacy. He’s under surveillance 24/7. He’s drugged, restrained, and imprisoned because he’s considered a danger to himself. I’d like to know why."

"That’s what I’m trying to find out, Mr. Loire. I will tell you that I am personally against the drugs and confinement, and it is one of our goals to be able to do away with both completely." Avis pushed her glasses back up her nose. "It’s not safe to do so now. Mr. Almasy is… very clever at acquiring blades and doing great harm to himself."

"That doesn’t tell me why."

"People cut because normal coping mechanisms have failed, are inadequate, or are utterly lacking. It relieves stress." Dr. Milos gave Squall a look that was either clueless or intentionally disingenuous. "I think you will agree Mr. Almasy has been under a lot of stress."

Squall turned away, focusing on the gleaming skyline of spires outside the windows. "It’s out of character for him."

"I admit Mr. Almasy doesn’t fit the classic profile." Avis bobbed her head, tumbling free a lock of pale hair, which she tucked behind her ear, blithely unconcerned as it caught on her earring. "He is a very complex man and I am only beginning to work past his defenses and get to the heart of the matter. I don’t see this issue being resolved quickly… or easily."

Squall clenched his fists until his gloves creaked. "Did you ask Seifer why he cuts?"

"Oh yes." Avis pushed her glasses back up her nose and shivered at intense expression in Squall’s cold gray eyes. "He thinks he’s cursed."

"Hey, Baby. I called to see if you still had an ass, or if Laguna chewed it off."

Half-listening to Zell, Squall kept vigil by Seifer’s bed, watching him sleep. By the time he’d finished talking to Dr. Milos, Seifer was completely under the drugs. Squall was relieved: he had absolutely no idea what to say to his fellow Knight.

"No, he wasn’t mad." Squall added in grudging admiration, "Laguna took care of everything, the media, Galbadian officials, even SeeD."

"Is Seifer ok? …not that I care or anything, but –well, not that I don’t care…"

"Laguna is building him his own little padded room." Squall looked around the modified guest suite. The bolted metal mesh over the light fixtures, the thick layers of Lexan fortifying the windows from within, and the complete absence of mirrors, bric-a-brac or any other potential weapons did nothing for the décor. Even so, it was clearly one of the nicer suites, a bedroom, large sitting room/office and bathroom, all done in ostentatious deep reds and black and gold. Squall hated it. He particularly despised the restraints tucked discretely out of the way but easily accessible at the corners of the large canopied bed.

Zell made a distressed noise. "That bad?"

"I haven’t had a chance to talk to Seifer yet, so I don’t know how much is head games he’s playing and how much is incompetence on the doctor’s part." He sighed. "His doctor is a ditz."

Zell chuckled. "Paging Dr. Ditz… paging Dr. Ditz…" At Squall agreeing silence, he continued, "How bad can he be? I mean, they can’t all be Dr. K, but Esthar is like famous for great doctors."

"She thinks Seifer is suffering from stress and guilt-" Squall silently agreed with Zell’s snort of disbelief- "and he’s delusional."

"Delusional? Delusions of grandeur, maybe." There was a creak and a rustle from Zell’s end of the connection, and Squall vaguely wondered if he was upside-down again. Or returning to right side up.

"Since she also doesn’t believe in magic, I find the delusional part – in fact, all of her diagnosis- suspect."

"Doesn’t believe in magic?" Zell’s voice squeaked in disbelief. "Ok, then who’s Quez? My doting great-aunt? Whoa, Baby, I just had this surreal mental picture of the war being a buncha disturbed teenagers making gestures at each other while the armies stood around and scratched their heads."

The term "disturbed" reminded Squall of something. "Do you think I’m a psychopath?"

Zell spluttered, indignant, "Who called you that?"

"Do you?"

The silence stretched out, long enough for Squall’s lips to curve into one of his rare smiles. He wasn’t sure if he should be grateful Zell took the question so seriously or offended that it was so hard to answer. Amused, he said into the little cell phone, "I can’t remember the difference between psychopath and sociopath, either."

"It’s not like any of us are poster kids for sanity," Zell hedged. Squall recognized the measure of his breath, and knew Zell was sending a flurry of agitated blows at shadows.  "Quistis worries about the sun coming up tomorrow; Irvine flirts so habitually I’ve caught him coming on to a cat, and Selphie threw herself off that cliff…" Zell got serious. "The deal is, what we are, we needed to be, to do what we had to do. If we were all normal, I don’t think there’d be a world left for anybody to be normal in."

"Highly specialized tools, created for a specific job." Squall agreed.  And now the job is done, he thought, and what happens to the tools? He wasn’t at all sure he wanted to be beaten into a plowshare.

"Ultimecia, she was a whackjob for sure, who knows exactly what Seifer went through?"

"He’s not crazy," Squall snapped.

Zell hesitated and lowered his voice, gentle and non-threatening. "You have to least, um...entertained the, like, possibility, right?"

"If Seifer deserves to be locked up and drugged and restrained, then I sure as fuck need to be, too. I’m sure there are people out there who fear us and our abilities and who would be just fine with that solution." Realizing the extent he’d revealed his private paranoia, Squall backed off with a sigh. "Seifer is not crazy," he repeated, his eyes drifting back to the person in question.

"Ok, Baby." Zell said placatingly. "Quis is paging me, I gotta run."

Squall closed the connection slowly, tucking the slim black cell phone away, and repeated, "Not crazy."

Seifer winked at him. "Sure about that, Squirt?"



Gwendolyn_flight That is one of the things that caught me attention about the FF8 world… they put all their trust in a group of teenagers to save them. I can’t imagine SeeD is everyone’s hero…

myeerah Thank you!

Xineko Hey, you draw, I’ll drool. And thank you.

Kursed SeeD Squall certainly intends to help Seifer. The question is, Is Squall sane enough to be any help?

Hellfire2 Ok, ok, Seifer next chapter I promise!

hopemia I think Squall and Seifer are made for each other, too. Now we only have to convince them.

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