Chapter Four - White Lion, Dark Knight
Squall could hear him moving around the room, his inconspicuous noises muffled, but audible nonetheless. Most probably because he was straining his ears to catch the slightest sound coming from Seifer’s room.
He supposed he should just go to sleep and forget trying to analyze the evenings events, but, no matter how tired his body felt, his mind simply wasn’t getting the message.
Because every time Squall closed his eyes, all he could see was a pair of wicked green eyes that held, for the first time, no trace of mockery. Feeling as though a lead weight had been placed squarely on his chest, Squall knew he would find no peace this night.
Fighting against everything he’d always known to be true about Seifer, it was proving to be a greater task to re-evaluate him now than he had imagined. Surely he was deserving of a second chance, but how much of himself could Squall reveal without turning the situation into something he was ill equipped to handle? Already things had progressed to a level that he was uncomfortable with, and it was only nearing the end of the first day. Squall knew he’d have to put things into proper perspective if this mission was going to succeed. It wasn’t his intention to lure Seifer back into the fold for the sole purpose of dulling the ache in his own heart. Although, the thoughts he’d been having since Seifer had left the room made him more than a little ashamed. He wouldn’t be surprised if he woke up to find Seifer gone.
The mere thought was enough to send Squall bolt up in his bed, staring into the void of darkness that was his room. Having seen him, spoken to him, touched him again, he couldn’t begin to contemplate the threat of emptiness that Seifer’s absence would surely deliver.
Squall closed his eyes, determined to beat this weakness that plagued him, had always plagued him. But whenever he closed his eyes, it was Seifer’s green eyes that taunted him. He rested his elbows on his knees, pulling the sheet up around his hips. Bowing his head, he considered his options. He could move into the plane that Seifer seemed to want to inhabit as much as he did or he could be what he was supposed to be: a leader. He could help Seifer achieve his goals, as he’d originally intended, keeping Seifer’s hardship to a minimum.
Squall couldn’t deny the feelings he harbored for his long time nemesis, but he’d always been able to repress any surge of longing that had assaulted him over the years. No longer. That kiss had irrevocably turned the tide between them, forced Squall to confront his heart’s true need. And listening to him move around in the next room was enough to set Squall’s teeth on edge. The kiss they’d shared hadn’t been nearly enough to quell his desire, quite the opposite, in fact. Now he knew how Seifer tasted, how vulnerable he could look at so close a distance, how absolutely satisfying surrender had felt in the whisper of his sigh.
Squall scrubbed at his eyes with the heel of his hand. He couldn’t sleep, yet he was tired unto unconsciousness. If only he could rest, could close his eyes and grab what little comfort he could before the sun rose again. And if he slept, he knew it would not be restful. Seifer’s propinquity was not conducive to tranquillity. Quite the opposite. He’d felt the strength of their bond over hundreds of miles, through time compression. Having him in the next room only exacerbated his restlessness. Dammit.
Sinking back against the mattress once more, Squall pulled at the satiny sheets that covered him. He had to learn to trust Seifer. He needed to know that he could count of Seifer’s seeing something, anything, through to the end. It had to begin right then, at that moment, if he were going to see his plan to its fruition. As his eyes slid closed, wearily, reflexively, he imagined seeing Seifer’s face first thing in the morning. And if he didn’t, he’d simply find him again. He’d follow him to the ends of the Earth if necessary and he’d always bring him back. Time and time again until he finally made Seifer understand that his place was with him, by his side, until the end. How perfectly poetic…he thought snidely, happy that he could at least retain some sense of humor. And then he slept…
When pacing began to lose its therapeutic benefit, he sat. Heavily, petulantly, frustratingly immobile, he sat. Damn his stubborn ass. The look on Squall’s face when Seifer had left the room told him, in no uncertain terms, that he was in for the fight of his life. Seifer was willing to bet the clothes on his back…no big wager there, heh heh…that Squall was at that very minute lying supine on the bed, telling himself precisely how unaffected he’d been by their kiss. Or, if could admit that he’d been affected by it, he was very probably analyzing himself into stuttering depression.
Seifer shook his head, suddenly very weary. The snatches of sleep that had been his lately had done nothing to heal his spirit. The exhaustion that he felt was becoming interminable. What he needed most right now was a full night’s sleep and the bed that sat in the corner of the room was proving to be too much of a temptation to resist.
He should leave. Before he gave Squall the opportunity to breach all of his defenses, hidden though they were. He’d spent the past four years of his life fighting the unnatural need he had for Squall Leonhart. If he gave in, he would be defenseless because Seifer knew that once he let the Lion into his heart, he wouldn’t have the resolve to push him back out again.
Shaking his head, he rose slowly, his innate grace deserting him in the face of his fatigue. Love made a person lazy, it seemed. Love. He almost scoffed at the unspoken word. Somehow, Seifer doubted this head-spinning obsession could be categorized quite so neatly. Oh, well. Further speculation would only lead to yet another bout of soul-searching and Seifer hadn’t the strength for another bout with his inner mystic. He needed rest and lots of it.
Tomorrow would provide the clarity he sought…he hoped. After all, hadn’t everyone always told him that it would all seem brighter tomorrow? Those people had never spent a day as Seifer Almasy, public disgrace and they sure as hell had never gone head to head with the most bull-headed man in existence. Hyne, what a mess.
Laguna stood before the mirror over his sink. Impressed, as he always was, with the ornate gilding that framed the glass. The extra extravagances his Presidency afforded him never failed to amaze him. Imagine, he ruled a country AND he got to live in this exquisite palace. Not bad for an ex-Galbadian Soldier, huh?
He grinned at himself, noticing the fine lines that etched out from the corners of his eyes when he smiled. Time was marching on, away from him it seemed, and it was taking his son with it. His grin faded.
Every time he thought of Squall, only the regrets that he continued to grapple with eclipsed the pride he felt. He’d made so many mistakes. And Squall was not the most forgiving person in the world. He held a grudge longer than anyone Laguna had ever known, and Laguna had known a lot of people.
Looking at Squall was almost painful for Laguna sometimes. He was so like Raine, but Laguna recognized a little of himself in the young mercenary as well. If only he could reach him somehow, make him understand how much having a son meant to him, had always meant to him…
Laguna knew that most of Squall’s iciness was simply a defense mechanism and he could respect that. Hyne only knew the unspeakable things Squall had endured in his young life. Laguna reasoned that whatever Squall used to protect himself was a necessary thing and he wouldn’t attempt to dismantle whatever Squall had constructed around him.
He hadn’t questioned Squall about his presence in Esthar, or the fact that Seifer Almasy was with him. Laguna was as aware of the rest of the world of Seifer’s fall from grace and he was dying to know what had brought the two together, in his house, of all places. He sensed all was well, however, and knew better than to second-guess the Commander of Balamb Garden. He supposed all would be revealed in due time, he only hoped that Squall cared enough about him to fill him in so he wouldn’t worry.
Judging by the tension that radiated from the two men, Laguna couldn’t repress a smile. Two alpha males and only one could truly lead the pack. What a struggle it would turn out to be. He was almost positive that the Lion had met his match in the golden young knight.
Laguna considered Seifer for a moment. It puzzled him how someone who so closely resembled a ray of sunlight could harbor such darkness within him. Laguna saw such things. Seifer Almasy had known despair, for he wore it like a mantle, even after all this time.
Turning out the light and padding quietly to his bed, he wondered if his son was planning to redeem a fallen knight or if he were only digging himself a hole.
It was times like these that he missed Raine the most. Goodnight my love…
He awoke with the sharpness of shattering glass. One minute he was so far under that dreams couldn’t penetrate his subconscious, the next he was staring at the ceiling with perfect cognizance.
As his head cleared, one little word snaked into his thoughts…Seifer…
Was he here still, sleeping soundly in the next room, dreaming peacefully as Squall wished he could?
If he got out of bed, sleep would not return to him, that much he knew. But what could it hurt if he just peeked in, just to ease his mind?
Deciding it would do no good to lie in the darkness arguing with himself, he rose silently, the soft gray pants he wore twisting around his legs with his movements. He couldn’t sleep in clothes, why didn’t he ever remember that?
When his bare feet touched the carpet, he felt himself sink into it by two or three inches. At least it would conceal any noise he would make crossing the room. That’s about all such extravagance was worth to Squall.
When he reached the door that separated him from Seifer, he paused, laying one palm against the heavy barrier. Was Seifer sleeping? Or was he lying in bed fighting the same images that he’d been fighting himself. Or perhaps he’d already gone. That didn’t bear thinking about. It was not an acceptable option.
He leaned his head against the door, listening intently for any hint of Seifer’s state of consciousness. Nothing. Not even the whir of a ceiling fan.
Squall gripped the door handle loosely, loathe to make any sounds. He tightened his grip when his fingers slid away, damp with sweat. He licked his lips, continuing to question his decision to leave his bed.
He turned the handle slowly; swallowing nervously, hardly daring to breathe and he took a deep breath as he began to ease the door open. Closing his eyes, he prayed that, just this once, he could watch him undetected. He wanted to see him, just once, in repose, silent and unaware.
As he prepared to rest his gaze on Seifer tangled amidst blankets and pillows, he was shocked to find himself staring into a pair green eyes that were very much aware.
Squall tipped his head back to meet Seifer’s calm gaze. Neither spoke as they stood silently, each drinking in the sight of the other.
Seifer’s chest was bare and he wore a pair of white drawstring pants that clung to his body as if they’d been made especially for him. Riding low, Squall noticed the prominent bones of his hips and suddenly his mouth went dry.
He wore his choker, a reminder of who he was and from where he’d come. It epitomized Seifer to Squall. Eternal, but slightly tarnished. His Knight.
"What are you doing, Squall?" He asked, his voice seeming to belong to someone else, a stranger.
Squall watched his lips as he spoke, the unholy images springing forth in his mind like sin from barren soil. He wanted to pray for guidance, but whom could he pray to? And who could save him now? Everything that was wrong in his life was his own doing and still he bore the burden of Seifer’s guilt as well. He would have to guard himself well.
"I-I couldn’t sleep." He responded, the husky sound of Seifer’s voice still pulling at the corners of his mind, making him slow to respond.
"Me either." Seifer admitted and he turned to glance at his empty bed, the shape of his body still evident among the tangled sheets.
Squall knew where his thoughts had turned, and he wasn’t ready to consider the possibility of traveling that road. Not yet, maybe never. Yet, how could he refuse when it was obvious what was in his heart? At least, to him it was obvious.
"You can share my bed if you want." Seifer offered, clearly not comfortable with the idea, but not for the reasons Squall imagined.
"Seifer, I don’t think…" He began to back away, eyes wary.
Seifer pursed his lips, fighting the urge to whack Squall right on his hard head.
"To sleep, Leonhart…nothing more." He informed him dryly.
Squall looked sheepish. "I didn’t…I wasn’t…"
Seifer raised an eyebrow at him and he looked away. I should have stayed in bed.
Seifer reached for him, took his wrist firmly in his grasp and pulled him into the room. Closing the door behind them, he led Squall to his bed, feeling his heartbeat as though it pounded within himself.
He released Squall’s wrist and climbed into the bed, moving to the far side, allowing Squall plenty of space. He watched him stand there, indecision in his eyes, his body tense and unsure.
"Come to bed, Squall. Maybe we’ll sleep this way, if nothing else."
Squall heard the resignation in his voice and knew he was near to collapsing with exhaustion. His reservations fled and he eased himself into the bed beside Seifer.
Neither of them moved, not daring to touch the other. Squall was so rigid that he looked like he might levitate eventually.
Seifer rolled his eyes in the darkness. Skittish as a cat, was this Lion of Balamb.
"Squall." Uttered in a monotone, irritation evident in his voice, Squall hesitated and then, "What?"
"Relax. Go to sleep." And then his eyes fluttered closed, his fatigue obviously getting the better of him. Squall relaxed slightly as he listened to Seifer’s breathing and heard it deepen, level out. He sighed. It wasn’t enough.
Moving closer to Seifer, afraid he would wake him, not daring to imagine the embarrassment that would accompany such an event, he reached out to trace one of the veins in Seifer’s forearm. He closed his eyes and reveled in the feel of Seifer’s skin. So soft, who would ever have imagined that?
Daring more, he moved closer still, wanting to feel his warmth, wanting to feel his strength before he could let sleep claim him finally.
Seifer’s arms reached for him automatically, drawing Squall into the circle of his embrace. His eyes remained closed. Squall exhaled. Just a little closer…
Nestling Squall’s head just under his chin, Seifer wrapped the smaller man against his chest and entwined their limbs together.
With the rise and fall of Seifer’s chest forming Squall’s own rhythm of breathing, he closed his eyes let go of his resolve. Now he could sleep, for the first time in months, he could sleep…he’d worry about the rest tomorrow. Goodnight Seifer…
Return to Archive | next | previous