Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Final Fantasy series. They belong to Squaresoft.
Let Me Make It Alright
Chapter 25: Standing By
By Angry Angel
Cursing incoherently, Seifer had wolfed down a few pancakes and exchanged his towel for black pants and a sleeveless dark blue shirt that showed off his arms rather nicely. The blond was usually someone who cared quite a bit for his appearance, but this particular time he had more important things on his mind. He knew that whatever Squall was doing with his sword, it was bound to get both of them in trouble.
Still mumbling under his breath, he shoved the apartment key card into his pockets and left for the first place that came to his mind: the training grounds.
'Though he'd have to be pretty dim to train there during class time.'
Indeed, in the entrance hall to the training center he ran right into a group of young students that were obviously under the care of Quistis Trepe, who was holding one of her excessively long speeches that Seifer knew only too well and wasn't the least bit interested in hearing again. Fortunately for him, Quistis cut off as soon as she saw his blond head tower above the crowd of students, who all turned to him whispering in a loud turmoil.
"Now, now, quiet down," she cried over their heads, then pushed through them to address Seifer directly.
"Instructor," he drawled ironically.
"Seifer, what are you doing here? I'm trying to hold a class."
"No need to break out the sweetheart now, Trepe. I am looking for Leonhart."
One brow rising to a perfect arch, she pushed her glasses back on her nose, placed her hands on her hips and gave him a dangerous glare.
"Good grief, nothing happened, alright? I am just wondering where he is, he ran off after breakfast."
"Well, he wasn't here, I would have noticed. We've been standing in this hall for almost an hour."
Seifer glanced at the group of students in what almost seemed like pity before he felt her arm poke him in the shoulder, her face serious as usual.
"Are you sure nothing happened?"
"If you are that worried about his grumpy ass, why didn't you have your dear boyfriend Zell room with him?"
She stared at him dumbfounded for a second, at loss for a response.
"Can't trust him around perky brunets, can ya?"
"S-Seifer! Shut up!"
"Ah, either way, I am off. Enjoy yourself, instructor."
He ignored her angrily flushing face, not bothering to wait for an answer, and jogged back out of the training center to the main hall. His steps slowed momentarily, mind in deep thought over where else Squall Leonhart could possibly be. Quite a bit of time had passed since his regular school days, and even back then he would have had trouble trying to locate the brunet. Seifer Almasy usually wasn't the kind of guy to go looking for other students, or anything for that matter.
Suddenly, he did recall a place that Squall had frequently visited upon their first arrival at Garden. A quiet place out in the green yard by an orchard that the herbs-and-plants class had planted. Nobody ever really went there, because it was quite off the beaten tracks by the fences that separated Balamb Garden from the plains.
It could hardly get any more perfect for a loner such as Squall.
'Might as well give it a shot.'
Shrugging, he walked down the main hallway that lead to the entrance of Garden but split somewhere along the way, one path leading down to the yards that surrounded all of the facility.
Seifer had to admit that he enjoyed the warmth of the sun, the fresh breeze and the smell of flowers and grass in the air. The sky was blue and cloudless, butterflies and birds hopping from shroud to shroud. It reminded him of his travels all across Esthar and Galbadia with Raijin and Fujin. He missed them, somehow.
He left the paved grounds that were scattered with picknick tables and decorative statues to walk down a gently sloping hill that lead to the orchards. His boots treaded the fresh grass, and soon he saw footprints that trailed off into the same direction. Quite pleased with himself, he circled a few apple trees until he could make out a clearing in short distance.
Feeling both glad and angry, Seifer saw the object of his search move about gently in the grass, blade held high in an elegant training ritual. It was oddly fascinating, Squall slicing the air and twirling around his own axis with the grace of a cat and the expression of cold blooded indifference. Brown wisps of hair were whipping into his face and eyes, but Seifer knew that Squall needed his sight as little as the blond himself did. Squall's movements, as much as his own, were born from instincts rather than visual feedback, which could easily be deceiving.
Lost in his thoughts, Seifer leaned against the trunk of a fairly tall tree, arms folded in front of his chest and his gaze glued to the exercising brunet. He truly enjoyed watching the sunlight reflect in Squall's dark hair as he dodged imaginary blows and dealt to a just as imaginary foe. The scene seemed almost surreal. It reminded him of many of their training sessions in which Squall's eyes had burnt into his, oblivious to the effect his ethereal beauty had on the older blond.
'He's always so preoccupied, he doesn't even have the slightest fucking clue how hot he is.'
He had noticed that little detail about his rival plenty of times. Girls and guys alike would drool over the mere sight of Squall Leonhart, but Seifer guessed that the brunet didn't have the roughest idea of what the word "sexual attraction" even meant.
He had been drawn to the younger one for quite a while, he had to admit, but a year ago the idea of approaching Squall in any way other than rivalry would have asked too much of his patience. Now, things weren't necessarily the same anymore. They were both older, feelings and impressions more clear cut. The fact that he would have gladly risked his life for the brunet told him truth enough, anyway.
Images of Squall crying tears of fear and terror flashed before Seifer's inner eye, and his naturally lucid face darkened. It had hurt him that night, and it still was hurting him as he was leaning there against the faintly smelling treebark. Squall always gave the impression that everything just bounced off his ice-barriers without leaving so much as a scratch, but obviously he was just fooling everyone else as well as himself.
'Making him admit to that is a whole different story, though.'
He had just breathed a deep sigh when he registered Squall freezing in his movements and turning his head with a sharp flick of his muscles. Storm blue narrowed immediately in sullenness.
He paid him a smirk.
"How long have you been standing there?"
"Don't worry, I didn't see you beat off behind that bush."
"In your dreams."
Seifer's eyes glinted raptorially at the remark.
'Oh... you don't even know.'
Squall reluctantly stepped closer, the sword hanging loosely from his right hand. Once again, Seifer could see the mysterious blade undergo a change. Lightest cyan blue flickered darker the nearer Squall came to his rival. When they stood mere feet apart, it was glowing in dim indigo.
"I swear, your sword isn't normal."
The smaller brunet glimpsed at his sword in confusion, brows immediately slanting at the sight. Seifer watched his face closely, but his expression was as arcane as ever.
"Hmph. A weird guy needs a weird sword, I guess."
Squall raised his head again, his eyes cutting into Seifer's, but he chose to ignore the bland insult. He almost had the feeling that he was slowly getting used to Seifer's presence and his constant challenges again, and he practically found himself wondering how his life had been without them.
'Do I wish myself back to that time?'
He paused for a moment, his gaze slowly going blank as he drowned in his thoughts.
'I don't think I do. This is strange, but it's easier to bear than the months before he showed up here. I... do remember a time when I missed him. Odd. Just what was I thinking?'
When his eyes slowly phased back into focus, he almost jumped in shock at the face that had lowered to being mere inches from his, green eyes studying him with open interest.
"Don't do that," he hissed, voice dripping with venom, "you creep."
"You are one to talk."
Seifer drew back, chuckling. When he crossed his arms in front of his chest again, he found Squall's eyes glancing at the bandage still slung around his right forearm.
'Look at that. Is that concern I see there?'
Seifer wouldn't have been Seifer if he wouldn't have picked up on the opportunity. He let out a small noise of feigned pain when his arms met, and sure enough, he saw Squall flinch slightly. The brunet's eyes shot upwards to meet Seifer's face, who had to try hard to suppress a grin.
"What?" he asked innocently.
Squall bit his lip, struggling with his own pride and the reputation he was still defending after all.
"Nothing," he finally answered with deliberate nonchalance and typical monotone.
Slightly disappointed but not really surprised, Seifer nodded and leaned against the apple tree again. Squall seemed slightly confused by that gesture, as his lips curled to a disapproving frown.
"What are you doing here, anyway?"
"Knowing your klutzy self you probably won't make it back to our room safely without kissing the concrete somewhere. I figured I better be there to scoop you up again so Kadowaki won't process me to hamburger meat."
"I don't need you to babysit me," Squall bit back harshly.
"I think you do. That aside, this place is starting to bore me."
"You could leave."
"Who would watch over your clumsy ass?"
"Someone with an IQ above room temperature for a change," Squall snapped in astounding sarcasm before he turned around brusquely to resume his training ritual.
Of course, both of them knew that Seifer was not free to go wherever he pleased. Squall wasn't familiar with all the details, but he could figure enough on his own to rest assured that Seifer wasn't watching over him out of his own free will. In some implacable way, that thought bugged him.
Seifer slumped down along the tree trunk lazily, coming to a halt when his butt hit the soft grass. Somehow, the sun and the warm air were making him rather drowsy, and the struggles of the night were paying their toll on him at last. Though he was fighting it, he slowly drifted off into a relaxing slumber.
Squall had ignored the dozing Seifer for most of the following two hours that he had spent attending to his fighting skills, which had suffered during his week of forced absence from training. He knew he had to go easy, though, because Kadowaki had a keen eye and would notice if he had totally overworked himself.
That said, he suddenly remembered his appointment with the Garden physician. It was probably early in the afternoon, and he figured that it was best to drop by her office before she would go into conniptions. Angering Doc Kadowaki was not a good idea at the best of times, and he shuddered just thinking about her paralysis potions and whatever other evil things she'd be able to whip out of her sleeves.
Thus, he made his way back from the orchard clearing, though he couldn't help but stop by the still sound asleep Seifer Almasy. He stood calmly for a moment, his eyes flying across every inch of Seifer's body. The blond looked surprisingly peaceful when sleeping, some wisps of gold blond hair dancing in the wind lazily.
All of a sudden, Squall remembered that day's morning, his own head dangerously close to that gently rising chest and that softly breathing mouth. Immediately, his skin tinted crimson around the cheeks again and he cursed his body for betraying him like that.
Not even a hundred percent sure why, Squall suddenly drew back his leg and brought it forward in a smooth kick into Seifer Almasy's side. The motion wasn't sharp enough to cause serious pain, yet contained enough force to make sure that the blond would wake up.
Indeed, Seifer grunted lazily and peeled eyelids open over radiant green. Still not quite awake, he stared straight ahead for a second, then looked up into Squall's expressionless face.
"The hell? Did you just kick me?"
"I am going back."
Yawning, Seifer scrambled to his feet and stretched languidly. Squall watched him for a moment, before he simply turned around and started to ascend the hill.
"Fuck, wait up already!"
Swearing fairly loudly, Seifer fell into a quick jog to catch up with his stubborn protege.
'At least he woke me up, I suppose. It wouldn't have surprised me if he would have just left me there to rot for the fucking bite bugs.'
They walked back into Garden in silence, Squall having connected his dark blue sword to his belt and Seifer just yawning at his side, when they were called to attention by a familiar voice.
"Squall! Seifer! Wait!"
They flung around to watch director Cid descend the staircase from the main hall's elevator. His old face was wrinkled to a smile, hands locked behind his back in typical Cid-fashion.
"How are you boys?"
They exchanged reluctant glances, then nodded quietly.
"Ah, yes, that's good. Are your wounds feeling any better, Squall?"
"Good, good. Listen, I need to talk to you boys about tomorrow night. We are going to have some important guests, so to say."
Squall's eyebrows lowered immediately at the idea. Important guests weren't anything he really felt up to dealing with.
Cid's smile widened even further.
"Your father, Laguna. He is bringing his friends as well."
Extremely interested in seeing Squall's reaction, Seifer turned his head eagerly and lowered his gaze, but he was disappointed. Squall's face was as blank as ever.
"Why is he coming?"
"To see you, of course. It has been a while since his last visit, hasn't it? He said he isn't exceptionally busy right now, so he wants to come and stay for a while."
The concept of facing his father in his momentary condition didn't appeal to Squall the least bit. For Rinoa's sake, he had tried to communicate and "get along" for a few months, but frankly, having a father was still too new and strange to him, particularly one that was so different from himself. Laguna Loire was so free-spirited and lighthearted that it just didn't seem sane to him. Rinoa however had always raved over the older man, trying to convince Squall that he should feel blessed for having such a wonderful father.
Quickly crushing the memory of Rinoa, he blinked up at Cid and nodded reluctantly.
"How long is he staying?"
"For a couple of days, I suppose. Quistis, Edea and I have planned a big dinner in the ballroom, just for the small circle of companions, of course. Nothing overly dramatic."
Cid winked, and Squall felt like vomitting on his shoes. A "big dinner in the ballroom" was about as close to a living nightmare as it came for him. Then again, he really wasn't fooling himself into having much of a say in the whole situation anyway. Apparently, everything had already been decided.
"I expect to see the two of you in the ballroom by 19:00 tomorrow then, unless of course Laguna wants to pay you a visit first, which I am sure he will."
Luckily enough, Cid was quite talented at reading into Squall's preferred method of talking in monosyllables. He would have favoured fully fledged answers, of course, but when it concerned Squall, a "hn" was quite a lot.
"Very well. I see you boys tomorrow night then. I hope you will feel better, Squall."
Smiling good heartedly, he trudged off towards the elevators again to return to his office. Meanwhile, Squall was looking rather ominous, eyes fathomless and distant. Seifer waited somewhat patiently for the brunet's fit to subside, but he was quickly getting sick of standing in the middle of the hallway for everyone to gape at.
"Knock knock, anyone awake in there?" he growled, nudging Squall so hard in the waist that it almost sent the boy reeling to the side.
The dark haired SeeD commander amortized his blond opposite with a rather fierceful death glare before continuing on to their room. As much as he tried, the thought of his father visiting just wouldn't ease into his mind.
At his side, LionHeart was glowing as eerily as ever.
=To be continued!=
Return to Archive | next | previous