so don't tell me why he's never been good to you,
don't tell me why he's never been there for you
and I'll tell you that why
is simply not good enough
--"good enough," sarah mclachlan
She tugged unkindly on the bandage, just to watch him wince. Of course, he suspected as much, and didn't give her the satisfaction. For all that he was so tall, his head was at a level with hers, as he sat insolently on the edge of the hospital bed, steel-toed boots propped on what was probably a doctor's very expensive chair. No matter the swift sharp motions of her hands, he wore his smile fluidly, keeping his face still as unbroken water.
Raijin walked in timidly, handing him a cold glass. "I know you asked for more, Seifer, but water's all they've got in the Infirmary, ya know? Doc said I couldn't bring ya nothing else."
Fuujin didn't look up from wrestling with the layers and layers of professional bandaging. Doc Kadowaki had surely done an expert job patching him up, no favoritism there. Damn. It would have been so much easier to be angry at her. Being angry at Seifer only gave her a headache, as she was dancing around her rage and feeling very small and very useless.
Her fingers stumbled. Hells-- even Raijin hadn't wound the bandage so thick, that time he'd cut her arm accidentally, and insisted on wrapping her up and saying he was sorry for days.
Fuujin doubted Leonhart would be apologizing at all.
Seifer sighed a martyred sigh. "I thank you, anyway." Unexpectedly, he lifted his drink in a mock-toast. "Awful nice of you, Fuujin. Didn't know you were the nursemaid type."
"Quiet," Fuujin said through her teeth. She yanked the rest of the bandage from his face, tossed it on the infirmary bunk next to him. She realized he'd been holding his breath, and she had to take that as his admission of pain. However slight.
The wrappings gone, she examined his scar. He'd worn the bandage to class, like a trophy. All morning she'd wanted to rip it off him, to fling cure and cure from her fingers onto his forehead, to erase the mark that was brewing. Dammit, dammit. Too late now, the line between his eyebrows was already a mellowing brown.
"Stupid," she snarled, wondering whom she was referring to. Her duty performed, she might have sat in the chair, but he didn't move his feet, legs in an easy sprawl as he lay back onto the bed.
He rolled his eyes. "Yeah, so what the fuck else is new." He watched the ceiling, apparently fascinated. "So far in the past five minutes I've been--" he ticked them off on gloved fingers, "reckless, careless, stupid, and an idiot. Have you run out of synonyms?"
God but she would have kicked him, had Raijin not interrupted. "You forgot 'moron,'" he offered, helpfully. "And I'm sure she's got more, ya know? If you deserve them." He absently rubbed at a shin, as if remembering.
Seifer grinned. "Deserve them? Ah, no. Such a dramatic battle it was, guys. You should have seen how I made Leonhart fight."
Raijin looked at ease, standing at the foot of the bed like it was the only place he needed to be. "We were worried about you, though, Seifer-sama," he said with a lift of his broad shoulders. His eyes fell. "Fuujin guessed you were off with your new sparring partner--"
Fuujin silenced him with a glare, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other. Naivete was one thing, but she thought she would shatter if she had to listen to such foolishness. Sparring partner. Really.
Seifer grinned up at his subordinate. "Aww, Raijin. A new partner?" He sat up, punched Raijin in the arm. "You're my training partner, Raijin. Fighting with that Leonhart brat is-- another thing entirely."
Raijin, predictably, beamed. "Well, ya know. For one thing I don't have a gunblade, and wouldn't ever do THAT--" he touched a childlike finger to the blossoming scar.
And, for him, Seifer cringed. Immediately Raijin was apologetic, though Seifer shook it off, smirking magnanimously. There was surprisingly little sarcasm in it, and Fuujin blinked at him. Seifer had heard that tiniest note of grieving in Raijin's voice. Had known what Raijin needed to hear, whether or not it was true. He knew too much of politics to disappoint his posse. So why in HELL was he provoking her?
"Test," she interrupted their little moment, not at all regretfully. "SeeD. Prepared?'
"Fuck, Fuujin, you KNOW I am. How many fucking TIMES have I prepared for one of these damn things?"
"Too many." She shot him a glare, and opened her mouth, maybe looking for another synonym. But Seifer interrupted her. "Raijin, I think Fuu needs a glass of--" he sighed at his cup-- "water, too. Hard work unbandaging the master." He spread his hands, winked at her.
I'll take you out of more than just that BANDAGE, she thought, caustically. I'll take you right out of this WEEK. Raijin bobbed his head and left them, and she realized with a dizzying rush that she was alone with him and he was staring at her oddly.
She shrugged, wrapping arms around herself, perturbed. "What?" she snapped. "Need, nurse?"
But he had lay back down again, one finger lifted, pretending to draw patterns on the ceiling. "Well," he said, as if she hadn't spoken, "I tried."
She was surprised out of her temper. "Tried?" she echoed.
"Don't know what else to DO, short of killing the asshole. But I can't do that, too-- messy." He shuddered, and she wished she weren't watching him so closely-- suddenly afraid to see him wince, what she'd so wished before. "So I'm still here. Still fucking here. That sweater-vested fuckhead won't let them expel me, no matter what I do." He smiled a dry angry smile.
Fuujin sat on the mattress next to him. He was beginning to make sense. "Want out?"
"SeeD exam today. Why even BOTHER? No matter how I try I can never pass because I'm ME--
"You," she repeated, grabbing the hand that was still gesticulating uselessly at the ceiling. "Yes, you."
His voice was terribly quiet, as he seemed to consider her fingers in his own. "Seen the world, Fuu. Seen them do their homework and cram for their tests and pass with flying colors, and here I am taking that fucking exam again and again until Iím too old to even try any more."
Wanting only to stop the flow of words, she felt words spilling from her like so much soured tea. "No. No. You shine."
She'd surprised him into a rueful laugh. "Shine, eh? Like a blade in the night."
"Doesnít matter. Shines the same."
"Hn." Seifer let go her hand. "You do realize you have a biased opinion, nee Fuu?" But he was smiling a little, and she wondered if he hadn't needed to hear that. So what was she waiting to hear? Maybe he did just keep her around to stroke his ego. Her mind, unfriendly, prompted-- since he had Leonhart to stroke anything else. She scowled.
He saw her look, misinterpreted it. "Yeah, Raijin's taking his time on that water, isn't he? Maybe he fell in."
She had forgotten all about him. "Seifer," she began, exasperated, but it was as if she wasn't even in the room. Seifer was running one experimental finger along the length of his wound, looking not pained but curious... resigned. "Always," he said, and bitterly, as if he were learning by listening to himself, realizing things for the first time. "I will always have this. And I'll never be able to forget the brat either-- he left his mark on my face." He curled his hand into a fist, shielding his eyes from the light. "Damn him."
Fuujin was utterly at a loss. He'd never really talked about Leonhart to her before, nothing besides his usual bragging. But among all the emotions lacing his voice, she did not hear regret-- and she began to realize why Seifer hadn't hurt him worse. He couldn't.
There was power there, two rivals well-matched and dangerously close to one another, a dynamic that she was no part of. And now they matched, twin scars marring their vision. His eyes were closed beneath his fist, and, rather desperately, she wondered if she could leave without him noticing. She rose, moving noiselessly to the door, suddenly afraid that he would start to talk.
"I should have given him more," Seifer said, "than just that flesh wound." It sounded too much like a confession; Fuujin's fingers ached from being clenched into fists. "He was never good enough for me."
Seifer sat up, and she froze, caught. He looked at her, standing there with one hand on the doorframe, and the room seemed to get chillier. "Leaving, Fuujin?"
There was nothing but arrogance behind his voice, selfishness. I would have stayed if you had asked me to, she did not allow herself to think, You should have told me you were hurting. She gave him her coldest smile. "Not needed," and she managed to shrug as if her chest weren't aching. "Better, alone."
He narrowed his eyes, turned his head toward the wall. "Fine, then." He crossed his arms, and if she hadn't been so angry she would have laughed; he looked like a petulant child. "And don't wish me good luck on my exam, either."
Aggravating bastard! "Wouldn't help," she spat, and left.
Or, tried to. Raijin, exhibiting timing so good it had to be unintentional, bumped into her as she was making her escape. She nearly tripped over him. "Wow, Fuujin! Where're you hurrying off to? I got your drink, ya know? Had to walk all the way around Garden to find a drinking fountain that worked." He tried to push it into her hand, but she looked up at him entreatingly and he paused. He was not that oblivious, and animosity practically sang in the air. "Fuu-sama? You okay?"
Beyond him she could just see Seifer, sitting absolutely still, and most pointedly NOT looking at her.
"Fine," she said, unconvincingly. She jabbed a thumb viciously in the direction of the head of their posse. "Needs... company." Let him be stuck in sickbay with a solicitous Raijin. Would serve him right.
And she maneuvered around him, evading his big hands when he suddenly realized she was going away. The last thing she heard before the Infirmary door hissed shut behind her, was Raijin's wondering, "Whoa. What's the matter with Fuujin-sama? She didn't even kick me!" and Seifer's inscrutable silence.
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