Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Final Fantasy series. They belong to Squaresoft.
Let Me Make It Alright
Chapter 33: Of Knights and Demons
By Angry Angel
For the first time since they had moved together, Seifer had awoken before Squall. Tickled by the early morning rays of sunshine and something soft rubbing against the bottom of his nose, Seifer's golden features scrunched together and he opened his eyes lazily.
At first, he couldn't quite explain the feeling of something warm and bodily pressing against him, but he soon realized that the body next to him and the hair in his face belonged to none other than Squall Leonhart, who was sound asleep at his side. Blinking, Seifer scooted away only far enough to be able to cast a good look at the sleeping brunette's face, and he thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant sight. Squall was beautiful even with bed hair, chafed lips, feeble blue shadows under his eyes and bandaged hands, one of which was actually draped across Seifer's chest.
Smiling, Seifer turned onto his side, facing Squall. He supported his head with his left arm elbowed into the mattress, while his right hand haphazardly smoothed back his ruffled, gold blonde hair to clear his sight. Then he carefully placed it against Squall's forehead, reassuring himself that the brunette was definitely okay. The SeeD's forehead felt quite cool, but Squall immediately stirred at the contact.
With interest, Seifer studied the way that Squall woke up, too fascinated to remember the last time that the dark haired boy had awoken next to him and reacted in plain panic. The way that his ivory lids peeled open and revealed a vortex of blue and grey colors that slowly seemed to materialize, pulled Seifer into a spell that he was unable to escape from. He wasn't exactly trying hard either, of course.
Squall blinked slowly a couple of times, before his gaze connected with Seifer's. The blonde could feel the younger's body jolt ever so slightly underneath the covers, but the SeeD commander said nothing. He didn't jerk away either, he was merely lying motionless, staring into jade green depths that were full of warmth and care and the slightest glint of spunk.
By the way that Squall's throat was moving, Seifer could tell that he was swallowing hard.
"How are ya feeling?"
Squall's eyes were still glued to Seifer's face in poorly hidden confusion and fright, but he did manage to nod slowly. He was still feeling sick, his throat thick and coated and his head heavy, but those feelings seemed so vague and surreal when looking at Seifer.
"What about your hands?"
The brunette raised both of his bandaged hands to his eyes and looked at them as if he had just awoken from an age old dream. Slowly, the memories came seeping back to him, memories of pain and betrayal. As the agony surged through him anew, his frail body started to quiver.
Immediately, Seifer's features darkened and his hand reached out for Squall's. Gently, he folded them together and covered them with his, holding them and steadying them while Squall couldn't tear his gaze away, his inner eye locked onto the sight of Rinoa and his father, an image that had burnt itself into his mind and continuously threatened to destroy him.
"Squall, listen. Listen."
Seifer shook his head and moved his hand to Squall's jaw to tilt the brunette's face towards himself.
"It's gonna be okay. I won't let anybody hurt you again, you understand?"
The brunette's eyes widened noticeably, and he swallowed again.
"Seifer..." Squall managed to choke, his voice still rasp from the sleep.
A smile curled the blonde man's lips, and he nodded.
"You know I keep my word. I'm a knight after all."
Squall's brows slanted, and Seifer couldn't help but laugh.
"You know, your face switches expressions so fucking fast, if I wouldn't know any better I'd say you were a fucking chameleon."
Squall's nose crumpled in disapproval, but he wasn't capable of shooting the other any death glares. Not while they were lying in one bed, underneath the same covers. Not while Seifer was looking at him out of those damned green eyes that were deep enough to drown in. Not while his hand...
The young commander paused. Before then, he hadn't truly realized that Seifer's hand was still cupping the side of his jaw, and that Seifer's thumb was caressing his cheek. His breath jarring in his throat, he wanted to say something, anything, but there was nowhere near enough oxygen in his lungs to press out the smallest of words.
"What, Squall?" Seifer asked softly, all the while continuing to stroke Squall's skin.
For a moment, Squall felt very dizzy. His head was light and spinning like a carousel. Seifer was there, he was... still there. He had held him the night before, Squall could remember that much. He had found him in the woods, when he had been all alone, and he had stayed with him. All that time he hadn't left him once. And his touch felt so good that it scared him.
He couldn't. As much as he wanted to ask what it meant, he couldn't bring himself to do it. He was too afraid to be hurt, too afraid to lose something that he didn't even possess yet. Everything he had ever had, everything that had ever meant something, he had lost at one point or another. He had lost his mother Raine, his sis Ellone, Rinoa, Laguna, LionHeart... Seifer...
He stopped. Yes, he had lost Seifer. Or had he? Suddenly, Seifer was back, and the months that he hadn't been around seemed to have melted into nothingness, their importance so feeble that he couldn't even remember what he had done during that time. And Seifer had returned LionHeart to him, found it somehow, somewhere. For some reason, Seifer was always there and the key to everything... everything that Squall had ever wanted, yet had never dared to ask for, always too afraid to be rejected.
What did he want? A rival? A friend? A lover? He couldn't force himself to admit that maybe, just maybe, there was something that he wanted from Seifer, something that only the blonde was able to give. Something that only the blonde could take.
Squall's features hardened. He didn't want anything that he could lose again any day. He didn't want to be hurt any more. No matter what Seifer possibly had to offer, it wasn't going to last. Sooner or later, it would be gone. And he would be all alone again.
But even so, he was unable to pull away. For the first time in his life, he felt helpless, motionless, directionless. Deep down, he didn't care if Seifer was just going to get up and leave him forever, if only he would look at him again like that just one more time. So full of life, hope and love, his spirit shining from his eyes so bright and warm that Squall was afraid to be burned by the heat.
Seifer's hand had stopped stroking his friend's cheek, and instead, he was running his fingertips from Squall's temple across his jaw line, softly tracing the porcelain skin to the pale red lips where his fingers lingered, touching so lightly, afraid to break the vulnerable soul inside.
Squall's breath was heavy, yet flat at the same time. His eyes were fixed upon Seifer, deepest blue shining through a cloudy net of grey. Pushing his breath past Seifer's fingers, he wondered what the other man's lips felt like, if they were warm or cold, soft or rigid. He wanted to know, but he was too scared to find out. The more he wanted it, the greater his fears grew, demons so dark and strong that they threatened to devour anything that could possibly have a meaning.
Seifer moved his hand away immediately, but he let it rest against the angle of Squall's jaw, close to his ear. At the sight of hurt passing through Squall's eyes, he didn't know what to think anymore. Was Squall hurt because he had moved his hand, or because he was still touching him? Was he ever going to find out? He was starting to have serious doubts.
Before he could say anything else, they were harshly interrupted by a few sharp thuds against their apartment door, which caused both of them to jerk.
"The fuck..." Seifer growled as he retracted his hand and rolled out of bed.
Squall watched how Seifer stumbled to the door, barefooted and more than just slightly dishevelled. One could tell that he had had a rough night. A wave of guilt surged through the brunette, and his cheeks reddened.
'Why am I always such a burden...'
To make matters worse, his nose suddenly tingled uncomfortably, causing him to sneeze loudly. He caught a glimpse of Seifer whirling around, his pair of emerald eyes gluing themselves to his face in concern. Squall waved dismissively and flipped over onto his stomach, burying his face into the pillows. He had no interest in seeing who was at the door, much less to talk with them. Folding his arms over the back of his head, he tried to block out as much of reality as he could.
Seifer watched the younger turn away and respected his wish. He hadn't planned on letting anyone bug Squall in the first place. Whoever was at the door, they'd just have to suck it up and make a swift retreat.
He slipped into a pair of his boots resting next to the door, before he punched the 'open' key, crossed his arms in front of his chest and slanted his face, deliberately trying to look intimidating.
Squall was still burying his conscience in the heap of his arms and his pillows, but nonetheless he could suddenly hear Seifer cursing rather loudly.
"Get the FUCK outta here!!"
Alarmed, the brunette struggled free and rose to his lower arms as quickly as he could, his head whipping around to see what the heck his roommate was doing.
He could not finish his sentence. Towering in the doorway was Seifer, his hands curled to fists as he stood above a thunderstruck heap cowering on the floor. Squall wasn't sure if he could trust his eyes, but if he could, then Seifer had just knocked down the president of Esthar.
"You have no fucking right to be here, get lost before I mould your face to the fucking wall!"
Nausea spread all throughout Squall's body. His father was sitting on the floor, his long indigo black hair in a pony tail that had been jammed out of place, while he was holding one side of his face with a rather pain ridden expression. Seifer was raging, his breath quick-paced and heavy, his stance aggressive, ready to strike again if need be.
"I just wanted to-" Laguna Loire started, but was cut short by Seifer slamming his hand into the doorframe.
"Shove it, nobody gives a fuck! Get out! GET OUT!"
Squall watched in disbelief how his father scrambled to his feet and cast a last wry, almost pleading look at his son.
"I swear I'll break your jaw, Loire! Leave him the fuck alone! You've hurt him enough!"
After a second that seemed like a minute, Laguna finally turned around and disappeared from Squall's field of vision. Instead, the brunette could watch how Seifer tried to regain his composure, panting and swearing under his breath. Using his left hand he punched the lock key to the apartment door, then turned around to Squall.
They stared at each other, quietly and motionless. Squall's eyes were wide in shock, while Seifer's had narrowed dangerously. Very slowly, the blonde relaxed his muscles and the lethal frown on his face smoothed out. Sighing, he dropped his head.
"This just gets better and better..." he snarled bitterly, then approached the bed.
He looked up to find Squall gasping and staring at some point on his body. Tracing his line of sight, Seifer found the cause of his chocolate haired companion's uproar. His right hand, which he had punched into the doorway, was sporting some lovely cuts along the knuckles, oozing blood all over his fingers.
Squall kneeled up on the mattress, biting down the pain that was jabbing inside his head at the unwelcome movement. His body hurt and his mind was still working on processing what had just happened, but the sight of blood on Seifer's hand worried him more than anything else did. The painful image of his father was simply effaced from his mind.
The blonde walked over to him, making sure that he wasn't dribbling onto the floor, before he sat down and grabbed one of the previous night's towels, pressing it against the wounds. It stung, but he was more curious to cast a look at Squall, who had fixed him with eyes blue like the sea, radiating concern and confusion.
"It's nothing, kiddo," he mocked, cracking a smile, "doesn't even hurt."
That was a lie of course, and Squall knew it, too, as he cocked his head aside and frowned. Then he sneezed again, and Seifer broke into a fit of laughter, before the pain in his hand called him back to reality despite Squall's cuteness. Flexing his fingers, he tested carefully for any broken bones, but it seemed alright enough. Next to him, Squall started coughing again.
"You caught a good cold there yesterday," he mused, before he himself sneezed loudly all across the room.
"So did you."
Squall didn't smile, but Seifer thought that he saw something glinting playfully in the depths of his eyes. There was pain, too, though he was trying to hide it.
'Can't let him think about it.'
Chuckling over Squall's murderous expression at the unexpected comment, he peeled the towel from his skin and applied some antiseptics from the first aid case.
"You don't need a gunblade, you could snore people to death."
"Drop dead then!" Squall huffed, while whipping his gaze away defiantly.
Seifer smiled, but said nothing as he was wrapping his hand with a bandage. His expression softened as he looked over to his grouchy bed- and roommate, and he motioned him to move downwards.
"Lay back down," he murmured.
Squall swallowed hard at the gentleness of the order and the unfamiliar glow in Seifer's eyes. He was scared alright, but why couldn't he resist? Why was it all so difficult? He had years of practise in pushing people away, then why did he feel so helpless? He could have gotten up and left easily despite his condition, there was just one problem...
He didn't want to.
Very slowly, he crawled back underneath the blankets, his muscles stiff and his heart aching. He was nervous. His stomach tingled, longing for something that Squall neither understood, nor could really place his finger on.
Seifer toed off his boots before slipping into bed, carefully ensuring to lie close to Squall, touching him gently without jarring him.
"Turn over," he whispered close to Squall's ear.
Again, the brunette had no means of objecting. He was rendered without any apparent will of his own... or maybe Seifer just knew exactly what Squall wanted, but was too intimidated to ask for?
Either way, the younger gunblader turned onto his left side mechanically, afraid and anticipating at the same time. When he felt Seifer's body spooning against his, he let out a shocked hiss of air.
Seifer curled his right arm across Squall's side loosely, grasping the brunette's bandaged right hand with his hurt own and placing both of them against Squall's chest, which was rising at a nervous and far too quick pace.
Smiling, he nuzzled his face into Squall's hair.
"It's just me."
When he finally felt the stiff body go slack in his arms, he tightened his embrace.
"Get some more sleep... Squall."
'I'll be here... watching over you... don't be afraid... because I love you.'
And as Squall eased into the embrace, the memory of his pain was swept away, turning into nothing but a quickly fading dream of the past. He had been given the only true protection against fear and agony and hungry demons, the only thing that had managed to shatter his own useless means of shielding his vulnerable soul. The one thing he had never thought himself worthy of.
The love of a knight.
=To be continued!=
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