Don't Let Me Wake

Chapter 3 - Roomies?

By Balinese no Neko

Squall was surprised at the emotions playing over Seifer's face. In all the time he had known the other man, he had never seen so many honest expressions show. He had a feeling it was partially because Seifer had, temporarily, he vowed, set him in a 'not dangerous' category. He felt some anger at this, but it was easily overpowered by the curious opportunity he had to observe his rival in a relatively unguarded situation.

He winced inwardly at the bitterness that showed just before the door to his cubicle opened. He could've done without seeing that, another reminder of what he was responsible for. Seifer gracefully stepped away just in time to not fall through. He hadn't really thought about how Seifer would be feeling about being back at Garden after all that had happened. And when have I had the chance to think about it? he asked himself acerbically, struggling to keep his emotions under control. It really wouldn't do anyone much good if he burst into tears. He walks in here and starts stirring things up.

"Instructor," the scarred man drawled, "Chicken-wuss." He acknowledged both of the SeeDs standing in the doorway.

"Seifer." Quistis' tone was almost painfully neutral, while Zell's expressions was verging on the apoplectic.

"Don't call me that!" the martial artist burst out. Seifer snickered and Zell scowled deeply. "You know, I think Squall had the right idea, punching you."

Squall could see the gratitude on Quistis' face as she took Zell's unintentional opening. "Squall, how are you?" she asked, cutting directly across what looked to be the start of another insult match.

He turned his attention on her and dipped his head. Hyne, he just knew it was going to be a long conversation. Yes-and-no sessions always took forever.

Quistis frowned. "So you really can't talk?" she asked. He dipped his head again, fighting the urge to roll his eyes. Since when had Seifer lied? Made bad decisions, yes, but he'd never lied about it. "And you don't know why?" Yet another dip of the head. He really wished someone would just give him something to write with. Just because he couldn't speak didn't mean he couldn't communicate.

She pursed her lips. "Zell, could you go find Dr. Kadowaki for me? And, Seifer, I'd appreciate it if you'd wait outside with Selphie and Irvine; I'm sure you have a lot of questions and they'll be able to answer some of them for you." With ill grace, both blonds headed for the door, with Seifer deliberately causing a bit of a jam. The two of them jockeyed for position for a few moments before Zell's patience snapped and he pulled back far enough to shove the other man through. Seifer stumbled and bit back a curse."Don't push me, Chicken-wuss!"

"Then don't call me that!" The door slid shut on their bickering and Quistis closed her eyes briefly, thankful for the moment of silence, before turning to look at Squall with a serious expression.

"What's wrong with you, Squall?"

Confused, he could only look at her. She needed to either go back to the yes and no questions or get him some paper and a pen before he'd be able to tell her. Not that he would tell her; it was . . . too personal, to close to him still.

She shook her head. "You worried us, Squall," she said softly. "You stop talking to us, you go into the Training Center alone, at night, and one night, you don't come out at all. You could've died." She rested her hand on his shoulder, gripping it tightly. "Why?"

Squall lowered his eyes, uncomfortable beyond all belief at both the rare display of emotion and at the question. I suppose it wouldn't be the best time to say I was feeling guilty about Seifer . . . .

"You know," she continued gently, "if you were having trouble with Rinoa, or anything, really, you should've talked to one of us about it."

His eyes flew up to her face, surprise clear on his features. Did they really think Rinoa leaving him had cut him up to the extent that he would totally cut himself off from everyone else? He'd been hurt, yes, but he'd really been concentrating too hard on his guilt and Seifer to be truly touched by that pain. After she'd left, he'd even felt a weird sort of relief; with her not around, there was one less person to nag him into being more talkative, more open, more . . . not him.

He looked down again, telling himself that he most certainly did not have a lump in his throat at the thought of his friends caring so much for him. Caring more than Rinoa had and showing it by not pushing him, letting him do his things in his way. Luckily for him, Zell came back in then, with Dr. Kadowaki following him. He thankfully turned his attention towards them.

"Glad to see you're up and awake, Squall," the doctor said, smiling at the brunet as she moved to take his wrist in a business-like manner. "Hope you don't mind, but there are a couple of tests you're going to have to help me with, okay? Zell was kind enough to tell me of that problem you seem to have with your voice and I'd like to see if I can fix it for you. And, of course, there's all the usual tests, as well."

If he could have groaned, he would have. The 'usual' tests were nothing short of boring.

"I'll start with an easy one. What's your name?"

Squall glared at her. Nice question to ask him when he couldn't talk . . . . Then he noticed the clipboard she was holding out to him, complete with blank paper and a pen. He took it with an awkward nod and quickly wrote down his name. Dr. Kadowaki took it back for a brief moment, before asking him another question. It went on like that, back and forth, until . . . .

"I'm bored," Zell announced. He walked over to the door and leaned against it, tipping his head back. After a few moments, he began to chuckle. Squall looked over at him, annoyed. The blond caught the look and explained, grinning. "I can hear them outside. Did you know that Selphie's trying to tell Seifer about everything that's happened since he left?" He paused for a moment listening. "Hey, she's telling him about the time Irvine got his hands on Lionheart and he couldn't even lift it and how you almost got shot in the foot with it!" He laughed. "I can still see the look on your face! But really, was it necessary to chase him up onto the gates?"

Squall reddened. He didn't need to think about that. Squall, the quiet, yet determined, hero of the Second Sorceress War, did not have a hissy fit culminating in a shouting match with the other participant ending up high off the ground. Even if Irvine had deserved to be stuck up there. He scribbled something down and handed the clipboard to Quistis. Her eyebrow raised as she read it.

"Zell, Squall would appreciate it if you'd be quiet." Her eyes laughed at Squall, who just glared. That was not what he had written.

The blond flicked his hand dismissively. "T'ch, you're just saying that 'cause you can't hear all the really good stuff."Quistis handed the clipboard to Zell, letting him see for himself what Squall had written and the blond paled at the considerably . . . less than polite wording of Squall's 'request'. Squall carefully kept a smirk off his face; it looked like Zell would be heeding his warnings in the future.

"Well, Squall," Dr Kadowaki began, bringing all eyes back to her. "I think that's all I need to do for now."

"So why can't he talk?" demanded Zell.

The doctor frowned. "There's no physical reason why he shouldn't be able to talk," she admitted.

Quistis opened her mouth, but again Zell beat her to the punch.

"You mean, he just won't talk?" the blond asked incredulously. Squall scowled and Quistis rolled her eyes. Trust Zell to put his foot in his mouth.

"I wouldn't exactly say that, either, the doctor replied. "I just said there was no physical reason; there may very well be a psychological reason why he can't talk."

The martial artist processed this. "So, basically, you're still saying he won't talk," he said finally.

"Almost. It's nearly impossible for Squall to be doing this to himself consciously. Unfortunately, my degree isn't in psychology, so I couldn't even begin to guess why that is."

"What would you suggest?" Quistis said at last.

"Actually, I was hoping to get everyone's input on this," Dr Kadowaki admitted. "I know you've all been keeping the Commander's condition quiet, so it's best to keep that in mind when we're thinking about possible treatments."

Quistis nodded. "Point taken." She glanced at Zell, who was still leaning up against the door. "What are they doing out there now?"

The blond tipped his head back and listened for a moment before starting to grin. "I think Irvine accidentally told Seifer a bit of our masterful plan," he reported. "Mr Ego's being his usual charming self about it."

"It's your plan, Zell, not ours." She jerked her thumb over her shoulder, telling Zell to move out of the way. He complied, chuckling just a little, and she pressed the button to open the door. "If both of you are finished your manly posturing, would you please join us?"

Seifer sat still even as Irvine stood up. "Not until someone tells me what's going on," he said, adamant.

"That's what we're going to do, Seifer," Quistis replied, sounding just as motherly as Matron had. Squall smothered a grin; Matron always could keep Seifer in line. "So if you could just join us?"

Squall could see Seifer was wavering. "Fine," he said abruptly. "But it'd better be good."

Seifer's eyes widened. "No way," he said flatly. "No how. Not on my life. Not on your life. Not on his life. Not on the lives of my future children. Not in a million years. Notó"

"We get the point, Seifer!" Quistis said sharply, gesturing for him to shut up. Seifer, of course, didn't listen.

"Not if he was the last person in the world. Not if it was the last room in the world. I'd rather be stampeded by a flight of angry red dragons. I'd rather I never caught a fish for the rest of my life while Raijin catches one every minute." Of course, most of his complaints by now were just for the sheer annoyance factor. "I'd rather be kicked from morning to night by Fuujin. I'd rather share a room with Chicken-wuss."

"Are you done?"

The blond pretended to consider the question for a moment before nodding once. "Think so. Why?"

"Because it isn't going to change anything. You will be sharing a dorm with Squall."

"Like hell I will!" he burst out. "There's nothing you could ever do to make me go along with this damn fool plan of yours!"

"Re-admittance to the SeeD candidate program."

He paused for a second, but quickly caught himself and snorted rudely. "Yeah, like that'll ever happen. Wouldn't that be good for Garden's little publicity campaign. Sorceress' Knight re-admitted to Garden. Maybe this time he'll take over the world. Good one, Quisty."

"How about a family?" Zell asked, speaking up unexpectedly. Seifer snorted again.

"A family. When have I ever had a family?" It was hard not to see the bitterness poorly hidden under the question. One hand rose to both cover his eyes and support his head.

"Well, I dunno," Irvine said, his drawl just that little bit more pronounced. "I seem to remember you having a pretty big family, Seifer. Y'had a mother and three sisters and three brothers, as I rightly recall. Maybe even a father, once in a while."

"That wasn't a family," Seifer muttered, his eyes suspiciously focussed solely on the floor. "That was . . . . That was . . .

.""Family." Zell shrugged, a simple smile on his face. "Admit it, Seifer, we're family."

"And what if I don't?" Seifer snapped, lifting his head up to glare at the other blond.

"Then it's tough nuts to you, 'cause none of us wanna lose our big brother. You'll find yourself bound and gagged before we let you go, and that's only if we keep Sefie away from you."

Seifer looked away and scowled. He cleared his throat. "Fine," he said grudgingly. "But don't think it's because of all that family shit, got it? It's because . . . because I wanna beat Puberty Boy one more time, okay? And . . . and you lot ain't gonna let me at him for a while. But as soon as I do, I'm outta here!" He glared as Quistis coughed politely, Irvine held a hand up to his face to conceal a smile, and Zell outright sniggered.

Squall just looked from one person to the other, a deep frown on his face. I guess I don't get any say in this matter, do I? Hyne help me, what did I ever do to deserve rooming with the one jerk I've been obsessing over?

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