Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Final Fantasy series. They belong to Squaresoft.
Let Me Make It Alright
Chapter 19: Different, Yet the Same
By Angry Angel
He had spent that evening, the following two days, as well as most of the third day waiting for Seifer to show up at his bedside and boast over his great deed and mock him with the fact that he, the ever magnificent Seifer Almasy, had to bring little puberty boy Leonhart his sword back.
Surprisingly enough though, Seifer never showed up once.
All of his friends had stopped by Squall's room, even Cid, who had been busy getting back into the habit of running Garden, which even with the help of Quistis had apparently proved to be difficult. Seifer, however, had stayed away.
Finally, Squall decided that it was enough. He wasn't much looking forward to being teased and made fun of again, but he did know that he owed Seifer at least something like a thank you. His gunblade meant enough to him to step out of his glacier shell for just a moment and express his gratitude.
Thus, he found himself ringing his buzzer and looking slightly uncomfortable when Doc Kadowaki entered his room and asked what he needed.
"I need to talk to Seifer," he told her, trying to sound as indifferent as possible.
"Oh. Of course, I will go and make someone look for him, dear."
Squall nodded and watched her disappear. He had seen the surprise in her eyes, though she had tried to conceal it. He understood, to a certain degree, since Seifer was the first person he had actually asked to see after stubbornly refusing as many visitors as he could.
'Not that I really want to see him. I owe him a thank you, nothing more.'
His trademark frown deepened, as if glaring at his bedsheet would help make the thought more believable. It didn't. Quistis' words kept crossing his mind, and he couldn't help but feel an unusual warmth inside at their meaning.
:::"All by himself, and he didn't even have a weapon because I took Hyperion from him. He went in there only to find your gunblade, even though it was dangerous.":::
Fact was, he did want to see Seifer. He had jolted every time his door had opened, just to slump back into his pillows when he realized that it hadn't been the self-assured blond he had secretly been waiting for.
His head fell against his raised mattress and he death glared the opposing wall for a change. He loathed himself for having such a soft spot for his old rival. It wasn't even like he could place his finger on the feeling, it was simply there, bugging him.
After the Ultimecia incident, it had been easy to let Seifer go, he had had Rinoa, his friends, his new job. Him and Seifer had always clashed anyway, they were both too headstrong and complete opposites to begin with. Squall knew that they were never meant to get along. Now that he was all alone again though, even if it was all by choice, Seifer had suddenly emerged out of nowhere for no apparent reason and whirled up his will and emotions like it was nothing.
A knock at the door tore Squall out of his grim musings. When his conscience flashed back into reality, his heart jumped in his chest and he felt heat rising to his face.
'Calm the hell down, it's just him. It's nothing.'
He couldn't know that at the other side of the door, someone was telling himself exactly the same. A tall blond wearing long, loose-fitting black pants, which he had tucked into his heavy boots lazily, as well as a much more form-hugging pale ruby colored sweater, pushed into the room gingerly, his glowing emerald gaze snapping itself onto the motionless frame in the bed reluctantly.
For several moments, neither of them spoke. Though their minds worked so surprisingly similarly, they couldn't appear any more different. While one had hair dark as strong coffee and skin pale as milk, the other seemed to glow from the inside with honey blond hair and sun worn skin. The face of the first was flowing like water, feminine and frail, while the latter's features had a distinct edge to them, giving away the man he had grown to be. One was consisting of agility rather than brute strength, the other looked as if he was capable of uprooting small trees. And finally, one was the typical loner, always the first to withdraw and the last to care, while the other enjoyed being the center of attention and never hesitated to speak up for what his heart desired.
Nonetheless, both of them tried equally hard to keep their equally handsome faces as vacuous and distant as they possibly could. Neither of them succeeded exceptionally well.
"You wanted something?" Seifer finally broke the odd silence, shifting uneasily from one foot to the other, his hand still holding the door open.
"Yeah," Squall pressed, voice almost cracking under the sudden strain. "Sit down."
The blond nodded and closed the door in one motion. His firm steps carried him to the chair resting next to the brunet's bed, and his eyes grazed the blue sword resting next to it, which seemed to shift hues from lightest sky blue to deepest cobalt. He ignored it and sat down, facing the boy he had been avoiding for quite a few days already. Stretching his long legs underneath the bed slightly, he allowed himself to marvel over Squall's beautiful face, which had gained a little bit of color since he had last seen him, before he shook the thought off and adjusted his focus to the question of why he had been summoned.
"So what's up?" he asked, sounding purposely careless.
"I wanted to thank you for finding my sword."
Judging by the dragged expression displayed by Squall's features, Seifer knew that it had cost the brunet a lot of effort to choke those words out of his stubborn self. He acknowledged that effort, but he wasn't quite willing to accept it.
"It was nothing," he huffed, waving one hand dismissively.
"The others didn't find it," Squall cut in, "but you did. That's pretty impressive."
"Naw, it was just luck. I found it by accident when I was training."
Caught up in the moment, Seifer didn't even realize the danger of that comment. It didn't even dawn him when one of Squall's eyebrows slowly arched heavenwards.
'What the hell is he lying for?'
"When you were training?"
Squall's steel blue eyes slitted daringly.
"How did you do that, considering your sword is locked away?"
Mentally, Seifer slapped his forehead. His first attempt at being modest, and he had failed miserably. Lying in the presence of Squall Leonhart just wasn't one of his strengths.
"Look, it was no big deal, really."
He flashed the most rogueish and arrogant Seifer-smirk he could muster in the desperate attempt to emphasize his point.
"You've got it back now, so no reason to not get better from now on, snow queen."
Seifer knew how much Squall hated the cornucopia of nicknames the blond had invented for him, but surprisingly enough, this time Squall chose to ignore it.
"Thanks. I... really appreciate it."
"Whoa," Seifer exclaimed in mock surprise, "don't get all mushy on me now, or you'll fool me into believing you have a heart somewhere in there after all."
He jabbed his index finger into Squall's chest as if trying to anger the younger one by all means necessary, but when he saw how Squall's features slanted wryly and he jerked at the contact, Seifer suddenly remembered who he was toying with and what condition the boy was in.
"Ah, shit, I am sorry, did I hurt you?"
The concern in his eyes was sincere, his smirk vanished, and even though Squall was taken aback and moved by Seifer's reaction to his poorly hidden pain, he rather wanted to be damned than show it.
"Don't go all mother hen on me or you'll fool me into believing you care about anyone but yourself after all," he hissed coolly.
Seifer's eyebrow started to twitch dangerously. Even hurt, Squall was nobody to take lightly. A couple hurt bones or not, his tongue was as sharp as ever.
Squall was pleased at Seifer's reaction. He was not going to let that guy toy with him without slamming up some resistance. And if he ended up getting tired of playing, he could always walk away from him, which always ended up frustrating Seifer the most.
Unfortunately, Squall forgot that he was tied to a bed, and there was nowhere to walk away to.
"I forgot that ice feels no pain," Seifer replied lightly, "my bad."
"It takes a brain to remember simple things like that," his rival snapped.
They could have kept going like that all night, hadn't it been for Doc Kadowaki who walked in after a brief knock on the door.
"Ah, you're still here, Seifer. How is your arm doing?"
It wasn't until then that Squall noticed the tiniest speck of white showing underneath Seifer's dark red shirt right above his wrist. His arm had obviously been bandaged.
"What's with your arm?" he asked, before calling himself into mind that he was supposed to act careless and frigid.
"It's nothing," Seifer said waving it through the air in demonstration, "it doesn't even hurt."
"Silly boy," Kadowaki's stern voice cut them short, "you wouldn't acknowledge if someone cut your leg off."
She sighed and stepped closer to the bed, pulling the protesting Seifer's sleeve up and revealing the bandage hidden underneath it. It only covered his lower arm, until just barely below the elbow.
"He walked in here with that huge sword and a cut across his forearm and claimed that he didn't even notice," she snorted.
"I didn't notice," Seifer huffed defiantly.
He wasn't even lying, either. He vaguely recalled a Grat lashing out at him in the training halls, but he was used to more pain than that, so he had just shrugged it off, and nobody but Kadowaki with her schooled eye had noticed the wound covered almost completely by dirty fabric.
"You re-newed the bandage very well," the doctor said with surprise, "I didn't know you were this skilled with your first aids."
Seifer shifted uneasily under her admiring gaze.
"I learned a lot the past year," he said quietly.
Both Squall and Kadowaki looked at him and noticed the faint trace of pain showing through his eyes, but it was gone as quickly as it had appeared and left nothing but a self-assured young blond that pulled his sleeve back down and crossed his arms behind his neck in satisfaction.
"I am good at everything, I suppose," he said with pride.
Squall lowered his head into his hand and shook it desperately. The doctor merely chuckled under her breath, then turned to leave the room again.
"Oh, Seifer," she suddenly paused, "Squall is about to have dinner, do you want to have something, too?"
Immediately, Squall's head shot upwards and he glared at the blond man warningly, but to no avail. Seifer grinned widely.
"Why, sure, what's on the menu?"
"Tomato sauced spaghetti or beef with salad. What do you boys want?"
"I'll have the beef, Leonhart here wants the spaghetti."
Kadowaki laughed at the killing glance that Squall tossed his bold visitor, but she nodded.
"Very well, I'll bring it in a little while."
As soon as she had closed the door, Squall tried to lunge at Seifer with loathing passion, but of course, his paralysis still in full force, he failed miserably and almost fell off the bed. A strong pair of hands grasped his shoulders just in time and pulled him back into the covers, smirking pitifully.
"Careful there, spunky. You'll hurt yourself."
"Shut it, alright?! What was that all about?"
"Oh, the food you mean? I thought the man always orders for the girl?"
Squall let out an angry gasp, but before he could make a new abject attempt at tackling the taller gunblader, Seifer laughed with good humor and patted the furious brunet on the head. The look he was receiving out of dagger sharp slate blue eyes would have made any lesser man cry.
"You are too adorable, Leonhart. I just figured you'd look cuter eating spaghetti than beef. On top of that," he added, "you did want the pasta. You don't eat meat."
The dark haired blader hated his rival's attitude, but more so, he hated the fact that Seifer was right. He would have indeed taken the spaghetti, being a guy that usually didn't care much for dead animals of any sort. Killing so many wild beasts and monsters had squashed his raw appetite for meat distinctly. The only thing non-vegetarian he ate was chicken, but he had never quite realized that Seifer was aware of that habit of his.
"Whatever," he hissed, then returned his head to the pillow harshly and hit the button of his remote control TV.
Seifer chuckled and leaned back in his chair comfortably, watching how Galbadia News flickered over the screen. Even if they fought, he still enjoyed spending time with Squall Leonhart all the same. His tantrums and death glares had a certain cute edge to them that had never before seemed so bodily present.
'Cute? Don't even think about it, Almasy, you know better than to fall for this guy.'
While they quietly watched the news, side by side, never daring to throw a single glance at each other, it never occurred to Seifer that it was already far too late for any counselling concerning his feelings towards Squall Leonhart, no matter how earnest his efforts were.
He had fallen, and had been falling longer and harder than he even came close to realizing.
=To be continued!=
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