By Fyre Byrd

"If we hope for things of which we have not thoroughly considered the value, our disappointment will be greater than our pleasure in the fruition of them."


Squall slashes at me with his gunblade unmercifully. It's rougher than our training sessions, but not by much and the same feelings course beneath each blow. Don't disappoint me now. I watch as Squall cures himself. Edea hasn't bothered to equip me with healing magic and I begin to feel the pain lick at me hungrily even as adrenalin pumps through my body setting my heart to beat a staccato rhythm in my ears. I land another loose limbed strike at Squall's body, but then he draws his blade from my hip to my right shoulder tracing a line of agony across my chest. Clutching the wound which has fortunately not gone too deep I stagger to the ground. It's white hot and paralysing and with the weight of Edea's displeasure crushing me I can only moan and watch the bright figures before my eyes dissolve in green and purple blobs. Am I dying? I claw at the edges of consciousness, but it's like fighting the ocean. I slip beneath the waves still struggling.

We'd been fighting again. Blood is dripping down my face and it's trickling down Squall's cheek as well, sliding down the bridge of his nose. He's just standing there, silhouetted against the darkness as the lightning rends the sky behind him. Rain begins to fall lightly, separating us further from the rest of the world and he moves closer. If Squall wants to get in another blow I'll let him now. All the fight went out of me when he slid his blade across my face and made that fearful slice there. A mirror image to the one I just put on his pretty face moments ago. I'd think that fate had a hand in it, if I believed in such things. Something about it seems wrong, but he catches my head in his hands so suddenly that I freeze in uncertainty.

"What the fuck are you doing, Leonheart?"

He sucks at the blood on my face and then draws his lips down slowly to meet mine. His mouth is full of the metallic tang of my blood and I seek the flavour out hungrily, reflexively. How many times have I bitten my own lip when I was nervous just to keep some part of my mind busy. My tongue would return again and again to the wound I'd created and I'd lick at my own blood. So now I fuse my mouth to Squall's and feel his soft flesh beneath the damp leather jacket he wears and touch his rain soaked hair with reverent fingers.

I wake up on the floor in a strange room made completely of metal. My body is stiff and every inch of my rising from the floor causes a different part of my body to scream with pain. As I finally gain my feet I see that my body is still bleeding sluggishly in places. Edea's in my head again.

"Interrogate the prisoner, make him suffer. Launch missiles at Balamb Garden. They must be made an example of. You shall be rewarded." Edea's voice is the hiss of an angry snake which has coiled in my skull. I grimace, feeling bone grate on bone somewhere and find showers. I clean myself up and gulp down a potion then I follow Edea's rustling orders in my head as she directs me to the cell of the poor sucker I'm about to hurt. This place is hell. I watch as they use some big ass machine to haul out a little bitty cell which contains my prisoner. I have to suppress the thoughts that this could have been me if Edea hadn't adopted me like a little puppy. Lap dog, Squall was so right. I'll never get it out of my head now.

They open the cell. Squall is in there. I guess I should have twigged it right away. What other poor fool would have taken the Sorceress on singlehandedly on orders. He's so fucking noble and now I have to wallow in my depravity in front of him. It must seem so much more disgusting from his eyes. I sneer at him to cover my discomfort.

"Squall you're pitiful."

It's true I hate seeing him like this. I think Edea is testing me, but there's nothing I can do. I watch as Squall struggles dizzily to stand and ends up falling against me, weakly. I grab him by the hair, hold the silky strands in my fingers and throw him against the wall. It's what she expects of me. I don't want this, but she's the only one who can give me my fix and I have to protect her with my life because of it. I'm totally dependent on her now. I think she had me eating out of her hand the instant she planted the first images in my head. It's always so vivid that it feels real. I didn't have a real life at Garden, but the Sorceress gave me one. She gave me everything I wanted. She gave me Squall and now she's exacting the price. If anything ever happens to her, if I fail in protecting her, there will be no chance at redemption now. I'll never have Squall for real, but the odds of that happening before were slimmer than my chances of being struck by lightning. I try to convince myself that this is the dream and the other is reality, that way it doesn't hurt so much when I ask Squall stupid questions and watch him twitch as he's crucified by electrical currents. I use all the old tricks. I bait Squall and insult him, but it's not the same despite my pretending. He can barely lift up his head to look me in the eyes. He certainly doesn't come up with clever replies to my nasty remarks the way he usually does.

"A torturer," Squall manages to rasp out. Then he collapses on the wall and hangs there limp.

"Passed out cold, eh?" I ask loudly, hoping to the gods that it's true. I can't be here if he dies. Let them escape somehow, let them escape. "Don't disappoint me now!"

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