DISCLAIMER: If any of the characters in this fic belonged to me, I'd be happy dancing on the moon. As it is, Squaresoft owns them.
Warnings: Shounen-ai, obviously. This is, in case you missed it in the summary, a silly-fic. Which means that, yes, Seifer can and has been turned into a cat for no reason other than I wanted to do it. ^^ And because a kitty-Seifer would look so cute snuggled with a Squall. ^^ Logic hath no place in this fic.
Here, Kitty, Kitty
By Balinese no Neko
"So why, exactly, won't you come back to Balamb Garden?" Rinoa asked, her tone letting the other person know just how much she was not amused by the answers she was not getting.
Seifer snorted, carefully keeping his attention solely focussed on the fishing rod in front of him. "Why don't you tell me?" he countered. A furtive glance sideways showed the brunette looking like she was ready to start screaming.
"If I knew," she said between gritted teeth, "I wouldn't be asking you. But I don't. So I am. So answer me, please, so that I can know and not have to keep on asking you the same question."
The blond offered half a grin to the water. "I don't much care for being called the Sorceress' Lapdog," he said lightly.
Rinoa relaxed a bit. "You'll get that everywhere," she pointed out carefully.
He shrugged. "I get it here. But it's not as bad."
"So what's the difference between being in Balamb and in Balamb Garden?"
His expression soured. What was the difference? Try the difference between total strangers calling you names and people you used to go to class with calling you names.
"They wouldn't do that, Seifer," she murmured, seeming to be able to follow his thoughts as if she could read them. He sent her a startled glance, touched by more than a bit of fear. The last time a sorceress had read his mind . . . . For a wonder, she interpreted his look correctly and chuckled, shaking her head at him. "I wasn't reading your mind, Seifer," she told him. "I guess I've just gotten a lot of practice filling in Squall's silences. I'm sure you've noticed, but unless you're paying attention, talking to him is like talking to a wall."
His mood soured even further. Reasons number one, two, five, and three hundred forty-six why he was going to stay right where he was. Just to name a few of them.
"You know, he misses you."
"Nobody misses me," he growled, carefully hiding the pang her words brought. Softer, he added, "Nobody should miss me." He had to believe that. He had to, or his guilt would be even greater. If he believed it, if he knew he wasn't wanted, he could have a measure of peace in his life.
"Nonetheless, we do miss you, big bro," she said. He thought her cheerfulness was obscene, considering the topic they were discussing.
"Go away, Rinoa," he sighed. "Go back to your knight and leave this one alone. I've done my time for a sorceress already."
"Will you come with me?" she asked, turning big, innocent eyes on him when he glared at her. "What?"
"What will it take you to leave me alone?" His scowl, he knew, was appropriately intimidating. For some reason, however, it didn't seem to be working. Possibly because she was one of the few who had beat him down and she knew it.
"You to come back to Balamb Garden with me," she said promptly.
"For Hyne's sake, Rinoa!" he roared suddenly, surging to his feet so he could tower over her threateningly. "Leave it alone!" He had a moment to consider the fact that threatening a sorceress, despite all that Squall and his little gang had done, was not the best course of action before the sparkles of magic coalescing around Rinoa shot towards him in a shower of light.
Rinoa looked down at the huddled form on the deck and smiled. "I don't think so, Seifer," she told him. "You see, Squall needs you and you . . . well, there's the matter of that promise." She reached down and picked up the cat by the scruff of the neck. "You see, I wasn't too happy when Squall insisted on staying in the field by the orphanage to look for you. You can call this . . . a bit of payback. You know how my allergies act up." The pale yellow cat looked up at her, aqua eyes wide in surprise. He lashed a paw out at her and snarled. She shook her head. "There, there, Seifer, you won't be a cat forever. Only for as long as it takes for a lesson to be learnt. And speaking of lessons . . . ." She caught his paw as he took another half-hearted swipe. "None of that or I'll have you declawed and dropped in a pen of angry dogs. Cute and fluffy will be your watchwords, understand?"
If he could've paled, he would have.
Seifer's tail twitched unhappily as he watched Rinoa knock on a door from his vantage point in her arms. He had a sinking suspicion whose door this was and contemplated another runaway attempt. Reluctantly, he ruled it out. While his handling of this body was generally, thankfully, instinctive, previous tries had resulted in him tripping over his own feet or jumping into a fence he'd meant to jump over. Clearly, running away would have to wait until he knew this body a bit better.
The door opened and he repressed the urge to cower down and hide from the sleepy Squall standing in the doorway.
"What d'ya want, 'Noa?" he asked, running a hand through his hair tiredly. Seifer looked up to see a frown on the sorceress' face.
"Squall, what were you doing asleep in the middle of the day?" she asked, worry evident in her voice. He shrugged.
"Was just reading something and I fell asleep," he said vaguely. "Why d'you have a cat with you? You know pets aren't allowed in Garden."
Seifer was not reassured when she brightened at that reminder of his existence. He slowly crouched lower and flattened his ears to his skull. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to try to run away again . . . .
"That's right!" Rinoa exclaimed, thrusting the armful of cat at Squall, who reflexively took it. "I brought him here for you, to cheer you up. You know what they say, animals are good for sick people to have around. Isn't he cute and fluffy?" Following those key words was a significant look in Seifer's direction. He flattened his ears even more and halfheartedly tried to meow endearingly. The look sharpened into a glare and he reluctantly braced his paws against Squall's chest—claws carefully absent; Rinoa had read him chapter and verse on what she would do to him if he deliberately scratched the other man—and leaned up to rub his head against the brunet's chin. Dropping back down, he decided that was about as cute and fluffy he was going to get, and too bad for Rinoa if it wasn't enough for her!
Squall sighed, mildly annoyed as he tucked the cat under one of his arms so he could raise the other to rub at his forehead. "Rinoa, I'm not sick. And having a pet is against Garden regulations. If SeeDs want a pet, they can live in Balamb and have a pet there."
"But, Squall . . . Garden moves around now. All active SeeDs live here, remember? You're not going to tell them they can't keep their friends, are you?" Seifer had to admit, when it came to manipulating basically honourable men—he counted himself lucky that he wasn't numbered among those anymore—she did it very, very well.
"I suppose I hadn't thought of that . . . ." Then he lifted Seifer into the air and shook him gently. "But that doesn't mean I want a pet of my own, you hear?" The cat glared. Promise to Rinoa or no, he wasn't going to stand being treated like a martini.
"But, Squall . . . ."
"What?" he asked warily.
"Squall, he hurt his head and the dogs were chasing after him and he looks like he hasn't eaten properly for days and, and . . . ." And big wobbly eyes were her next weapon in this battle of wills.
"If I say he can stay here for a few days, will you leave me alone?" He sounded faintly hopeful.
"Thank you, Squall!" Luckily for Seifer, Squall had lifted him out of the way before the girl flung herself at the brunet and wrapped her arms around his waist. Then she was off and away down the hall, waving gaily over her shoulder. "Don't forget you're going to need to get some stuff for him, Squall!"
"Looks like it's just you and me, cat," Squall grumbled, backing into his rooms again and closing the door. He leaned against it and closed his eyes. "I'm not sick," he repeated to himself. Seifer could have disputed that; anyone stupid enough to hang around a field of flowers looking for an enemy had to be running a fever. "What am I supposed to do with you?"
Seifer squirmed, trying to get the hint across that maybe being put on the ground would be a good idea. He wasn't expecting to just be dropped and turned a glare on the much, much taller Squall. A bite on the ankle sounded good and it certainly wasn't covered by his promise to Rinoa . . . . He eyed the boots covering Squall's feet and decided that a bite could wait. He trotted off after the man, determined to keep him in his sight at all time. Rinoa had used unfair tactics to make him want to stay in the company of his rival, but he wasn't going to let that stop him from doing what had to be done. He shuddered. There were worse things to happen to a cat than declawing.
Seifer surveyed his new possessions with a dubious air. Litter box, that was acceptable. He didn't think he'd be able to operate the toilet in this form, after all. Kitty bed. A nice thought, if a bit demeaning with all the kittens frolicking over it. The scratching post and kitty toys. He wasn't sure about them at all. Yeah, so he was a cat. That didn't mean he was going to lose his dignity over a piece of fluff dangling from a string.
"There, you're all set up, Squall." Seifer looked up from his toys to glare at the blond dusting his hands off. It was all Zell's fault he had kittens on his bed. As the first person Squall had called to find out what he'd need if he wanted to keep a cat, he'd accompanied them to the pet store in Balamb—for some reason, Squall seemed as reluctant to let Seifer out of his sight as Seifer was him—to pick up what they needed. "Say, where'd you get the cat, anyway?"
"Rinoa." Seifer rolled his eyes. If the boy didn't learn to speak in complete sentences, he wasn't going to go far in life. Then again, as the Commander of SeeD, did he really have all that much further to aspire to?
"Yeah, cats are supposed to be good for sick people."
"I'm not sick," Squall snapped, glaring.
"Sure, sure, whatever you say. You're always listless because of something else." The blond made soothing noises. "Anyway, since you're all set here, I'm gone. Ma's having another celebratory dinner tonight." He made a face. "If I have to hear Irvine complain one more time about gaining weight, I'm gonna hit him a good one. No one makes him eat so much." He cocked an eyebrow at Squall. "You coming?"
The brunet waved a hand. "I have some stuff that needs doing. Just remember to be back before oh-six-hundred tomorrow; Garden's beginning another round then."
"Can do, sir. I'll get Ma to make you a plate or something, 'kay?"
"Thought he'd never leave," Squall muttered, making a face after the door had closed behind the martial artist. He snapped his fingers. "Dammit, forgot the cat food." Seifer blinked up at him. "Hope you don't mind sharing my food for tonight, cat."
Not long after, Seifer was contentedly chowing down on the same brand of instant noodles he'd shared with Squall after training sessions. It brought back memories and he paused. As far as he'd known, Squall had never been sick in his life. A miracle, considering his childhood habit of standing in the rain, waiting for a person who would never come back. So why was everyone asking him if he was sick? He gave Squall a careful once-over and wasn't particularly reassured by the hollows in his cheeks and the shadows under his eyes. He felt sick himself; this had nothing to do with him, right?
He sat up, alarmed, when he saw that Squall wasn't even eating the food, just pushing it around in its bowl. He finally pushed the bowl away and sat back in his chair, staring at the noodles as if they held some great secret of life.
Seifer jumped up on the table and stalked towards the bowl. He wasn't too terribly surprised when Squall nudged the bowl closer to him in a silent invitation to have it if he wanted it. The cat sat down in front of it and determinedly nudged it back before fixing the man with a stare.
Squall groaned and covered his eyes. "I can't believe Rinoa found me a nanny cat," he muttered. "I'm not hungry, cat. It's just going to sit there until I get tired of seeing it, so you might as well eat it before it gets garbaged." He lifted his eyes to see something he hadn't really noticed before on the cat's pale fur. A dark splotch covered its right shoulder, shaped almost like . . . . His eyes narrowed and he leaned forward to bring the cat closer to him, ignoring the surprised noise it made. It almost looked like the crosses that adorned Seifer's signature trench coat. He contemplated for a moment the aqua eyes that stared at him before turning the cat to take a look at its other side. He breathed out a sigh of relief when he saw the marking wasn't repeated. He'd been beginning to think that maybe the cat . . . . After all, stranger things had happened than a former rival turning up as a kitty. "I think it's time I went to bed," he said, carefully setting the cat down on the ground before standing up and heading into his room.
Seifer yawned and stretched out. He had to admit, his kitty bed was quite comfortable. Maybe he wouldn't have to rearrange Chicken-wuss' face just yet. He lay still, wondering what had woken him up in the middle of the night. A slight rustling came from Squall's bed and he lifted up his head, as if he could see all the way up there from his vantage point on the ground. Shaking his head, he climbed to his feet, stretching once more for good measure before he carefully judged the distance between the floor and the top of the bed and jumped it. He padded closer to see Squall's face.
Seifer sat down, shocked at the pure anguish he saw reflected there. He looked down the man's body, a depressingly short journey as the body in question was curled up into what looked very much like a protective ball. It was unnerving to see Squall in such vulnerability. Hesitantly, he nudged at Squall's cheek, hoping to wake him up from whatever dream he was having. The only response was a tightening of the position and Seifer bit his lip. That Squall was awake and showing such emotion to him, even if he was thought of as merely a cat was more than unnerving. He tried again, pushing harder this time. He was unprepared when Squall opened up his ball enough to tug the cat inside it. He froze, eyes wide at the other's action, but gradually relaxed when nothing happened other than the totally unexpected embrace.
"You know," Squall said softly, his breath hitting Seifer's ear and causing it to twitch and him to turn his face even closer to Squall's to be rid of the annoyance. "You know, everyone's worried that I'm sick. And I'm not. They don't know what's wrong with me. I do and I can't tell them. Because if I told them, they'd just bring him here and I don't want him to be here if he doesn't want to be. It's . . . it's better this way, really it is." Seifer felt dampness as Squall rubbed his face against his face and his eyes widened even further. A soft hitching breath and then Squall laughed just a little. "Yeah, me confessing to a cat. Doesn't get much weirder than that. Don't know why it feels right that you're here, cat. Don't know why I thought for a moment that he was here. Maybe they're right, maybe it's good for a sick person to have an animal around."
Seifer stayed awake a long time after Squall had sighed his way back to sleep. Ignoring the painful hope in his heart for the moment, he wondered if maybe he had had a hand in Squall's state. Rinoa had mentioned it, but he wouldn't have put it past her to use anything she could to try to make him come back, the forgiving goody two-shoes she was. But Squall himself had repeatedly denied being sick, had, in fact, implied that he knew what was wrong with himself. No, not sick, physically, but maybe heartsick fit the bill better.
Seifer shook his head and carefully shifted in Squall's loosened embrace. It was giving him a headache, too much thinking too late at night. This, clearly, was not something that could be solved in a night.
Author's Note: *shrugs* Strange fic idea that's been ruminating a while and a half in my brain. Probably needs some more editing, but I'll let it rest a bit and see what happens.
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