Chapter 6 - Hakai no Hate
<thoughts in the dark>
Seifer had made sure that Squall was resting comfortably on the couch before tending his own injuries. Taking mental inventory of his latest battle scars, Seifer noted a pain in his ribcage that signaled that Squall had bruised, or more likely broken, a couple of his ribs more likely than not. The swelling was starting to go down from being cracked across the jaw more than once. His knuckles were bandaged and he'd managed to remove the glass from his knees and shins.
Squall had taken quite a bit more first aid. Seifer's remorse as he tended Squall's wounds was nearly unbearable. Squall's hands were slick with blood, both his and Seifer's. Ever so delicately Seifer had removed all the shards of glass, washing Squall's hands clean and bandaging them. Seifer knew instinctively that Squall wasn't going to be using them for a few days. There had been severe bruising across Squall's back, vicious welts from where he'd been thrown to the ground and into the shelf. Neither one had spoken a word after the ordeal was over. One more set of things they couldn't say.
A sick feeling spread through Seifer's gut. He felt all of eighteen again, not understanding what to make of himself. Insecurity and self loathing coiled themselves like vipers in his mind. Squall had been so kind to him, and once again Seifer had repaid him in blood. So frightened of his own mind, Seifer was. It felt like some parasite had taken residence within him, something he couldn't identify. There was nothing worse than not understanding your own mind. There was nothing he could ever say that would make up for all he had done. He was worthless. Even now, he still didn't understand why he had done it. It hadn't been the power, or the glory, or revenge. It hadn't been to stand by Matron, or to spite Rinoa, or best Squall. He had never known why he had done it, and that's what terrified him.
Walking back into the living room he checked on Squall, who was breathing softly, propped up on pillows and covered in blankets, sleeping. A sharp pang welled up in Seifer's chest as he walked over to the couch. Tears rimmed his eyes, and he blinked hastily to remove them. Hesitantly he brought his hand to Squall's cheek and ran the back of his hand across the soft skin.
"I'm so, so, sorry..." he sighed. "I'll never be able to express that enough and I'm a fool for it. A fool for everything." His hand dropped to his side, limp.
Seifer settled down in the old recliner near the couch. His ribs protested vehemently and the rest of him didn't seem too happy either. He wouldn't allow himself the comfort of his bed tonight. It wasn't as if he would have slept anyway. Grief ate at his mind and tore at his heart. He closed his eyes, listening intently to the steady sound of Squall's breathing. His lungs sounded clear, and Seifer was grateful for small miracles. It was amazing that they had both made it through more or less intact. Eventually Seifer drifted off into an uneasy sleep. Haunted images shadowed his dreams, his mind wandering in an area that he had sealed shut years ago. Screams echoed around him and he was unable to silence them. He wandered through a gray fog, hands pressed to his ears to silence the noise, not realizing the scream came from his own lips.
In vain he called for them. He was lost, so lost. The mist whipped around, blending against his battered trenchcoat. The ground was parched, cracked. He stumbled, pitching face first into the gray dirt. He spat blood onto the ground and the earth sucked it in, greedy. Time stretched out indefinitely. He could have been here seconds or years, he could no longer tell. Only his voice was growing hoarse and he didn't think that it would do that quickly. Half images blurred into the mist, and every so often he could identify them. Matron smiling as she tucked him in for bed. A young Squall smiling, showing him some new thing he'd found. His first view of Balamb Garden. The day he got Hyperion. Rinoa's gaze of adoration. Fuujin laughing as he'd given her a birthday gift. Zell's fury at being teased. Squall's eyes as their gazes met in Deling City. And everywhere, in every memory, the eyes of Ultimecia followed him. He didn't understand what was happening - Where was he? What was he? Who was he? Had he ever even existed? If he had done the things he thought he did he didn't deserve to. He wished he didn't exist. He didn't want to exist. He had no right to exist.
The pull, like an invisible vice, threw him into the gray void. Falling, tormented by screams and images. His soul violated and his mind unbelieving. Seifer was torn. Rent emotionally, physically, and mentally he could simply no longer cope. As his body impacted solid ground, it forced the breath from his lungs, and Seifer passed out.
Seifer bolted awake, biting off a yelp of pain. He had been asleep nearly four hours. His body shook, and his face was wet. The nightmare was already receding into the gauze fabric of dreams. His face twisted as he remembered some vague image of a very young Squall, smiling and tugging on his hand, leading him off somewhere. He'd never dreamed of that before. Somehow Seifer had been covered by a blanket while he dozed. Squall was asleep on the couch, but Seifer remembered covering Squall in the blanket that now covered him. Squall was the only person who could have covered him in the soft flannel. Seifer was touched by the small gesture. He didn't deserve any kindness from Squall after what he'd done. He set the blanket aside and walked to the kitchen to fetch some pain pills. He had given Squall medication earlier, and Seifer didn't want Squall to wake up in more pain than necessary. He took the pills and a glass of milk and knelt beside the couch.
"Squall. Squall. Come on, wake up," Seifer pleaded softly. He gently shook Squall by the shoulder, but Squall only muttered and pressed his face to Seifer's hand. "Squall, seriously. Wake up, please." Another shake, with a bit more vigor. More incoherent mumbling from Squall, but his eyes were opening up, his brow knit in confusion.
"Seif? Wassit? Imasleep." Squall muttered, jamming the sentences together in a near whine.
"Take this first, then you can. Otherwise you'll feel like shit in the morning. Well, more than you're already going to." Seifer pressed the small pills into Squall's hand. "Sit up just a bit for me."
Squall's eyes began to focus, narrowing in the dim light as he struggled to make sense out of the haze that clouded his senses. Seifer helped him sit up, and brought the glass to Squall's lips. "Drink some first, then take the pills. You haven't eaten in a while and I don't want you getting nauseous."
"Yeah." He sounded so trusting, reminding Seifer of when they were small. Squall took the pills and finished the milk. Seifer noticed he was asleep as soon as he settled back down on the couch. Seifer wished that sleep would come so easy for him.
Seifer stirred as the offensive afternoon sunlight made its way through the living room. The pain in his body assured that he'd get no extra rest, however. His first coherent thoughts were on Squall. His eyes focused on the prone figure, and Seifer was relieved to see that the medicine was still working. He had no idea what he would say to Squall when he woke up. He wanted to run away again. Only now he had nowhere to run to. Not that he'd had anywhere to go when he left Balamb, but that had been years ago. And, it wouldn't work anyway. Seifer couldn't run anymore. He was too tired, too hurt, too aware of everything. He may not know what to say, but he wasn't running again. He had learned that when the past finally catches up to you, the further you've run, the more it hurts.
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