The Secret

Chapter Four

By Kuttner

Zell felt a pain in his chest born of panic as Seifer fell unconscious. Without thinking he bundled the larger man quickly up into his arms and carried Seifer's inert form to Dr. Kadowaki's office. To Zell, Seifer actually felt surprisingly light, his muscular arms easily holding him. He may be small but he had real physical strength in his toned body, this fact still surprised people.

It still stunned the doctor as Zell entered, carrying Seifer as if he were light as a rag doll. Dr Kadowaki soon recovered her surprise and concentrated on the patient.

"Put him over here," she indicated the private room. "What happened?"

"T-Rexaur," Zell said simply, not wanting to tell his part in it, feeling guilty enough.

"Okay, leave him to me," the doctor said, bustling to get some medicines.

"Can I stay?" Zell asked quickly, not quite knowing why.

"All right," the doctor stated, after a brief hesitation. "Just wait in the office."

While Kadowaki was busy organising the medication, Zell leaned into the unconscious man's ear and whispered quickly:

"I'm sorry, Seifer."

He felt tears prick at his eyes and wiped them away before they could form, then he left for the outer office. Sitting heavily in a chair he looked down at himself to see that he was visibly shaking. He hugged his arms to his body. What was it? Fear? For Seifer? For himself? If Seifer died would Zell have to answer the hard questions about his personal involvement? What if Seifer died...?

"Oh, God," Zell groaned, burying his face in his hands. He choked back a sob, not sure if he felt sorrier for himself or for Seifer. He hadn't meant to kill him... Now that the thought was fully in his mind, the full realisation of the repercussions were hitting him. He didn't think of what they'd do to him if they found out about the beating, he thought instead of how he'd miss seeing the tall blond standing so majestic in the hallway with his posse, how he'd miss the taunts, yes, strangely it felt like part of his life and not having it would feel like something had been lost. It didn't make any sense, he knew, but he still couldn't help thinking it. Seifer's casually smirking face came to his mind then turning distressingly to the way he'd looked just before he fainted - so lost looking, so sad, so... what? Remorseful? Regretful? He had to pull himself together. Why was he so worried about Seifer? He hated Seifer, didn't he? Hated the endless taunting, but there had been so much else in the tall blond's eyes when Zell had put his arm around Seifer's shoulders to lift him up. He hadn't been able to read all the emotions there.

"He'll be all right," the doctor's voice made Zell jump slightly. He looked up to her kindly face. "You can see him now if you like."

Zell sniffed and rose from his chair.

"He's all right?" Zell asked even though he'd been told.

"Yes" the doctor reassured. "Some bruising; internal bleeding; a little shock; but I gave him some healing curagas and checked him. A little time, he'll be fine."

"Thank you," Zell said so softly the doctor could barely hear the words and he went into the other room alone.

Seifer's head was to the side, staring at the wall but obviously not seeing it. His eyes were full of desolation. To Zell it was heartbreaking to see a man he'd almost regarded as an enemy and who'd always seemed so confident and full of himself to look so extremely opposite.

Seifer's head moved as Zell entered. He'd expected the doctor again and looked instantly embarrassed to see it was Zell. He tried to gather himself and looks more his usual self, but it was a rather pitiful attempt. He just looked too pained.

"What do you want, chicken wuss?" he said trying to keep his voice both light and annoyed.

"I'm glad you're okay," Zell said.

"Are you?" Seifer scrutinised him for a moment, seeing the younger blond was indeed sincere. He was genuinely surprised by the concern and relief obvious in Zell's eyes, then he put it down to Zell's possibly getting into trouble for his part in this if it had turned fatal. He turned his face to the wall again, he didn't want to see the pity. "So why are you still here?"

"I don't know," Zell said honestly.

Seifer said nothing. He was conflicted. Something about the way Zell was looking at him; the soft, concerned way he was watching him made Seifer feel strangely drawn to him. Ridiculous thought - he'd never thought of Zell as that attractive before. The short blond always annoyed him too much, though he wasn't entirely sure why. It was nothing Zell did exactly - except maybe be too optimistic at times. Seifer was usually pessimistic, his fearlessness in battle mainly due to a disregard for himself rather than the confidence that he would win - even though that is what it often seemed to be and what he tried to show. Not that he wasn't brave, he was, but his was a bravery tempered by a carelessness for his own worth and life. He'd risk himself to save others - it was an easy decision - and if he succeeded the glory would be his. If he failed they would say at least he tried even though there was little chance. That is what he wanted them to say about him. Somehow it had all gotten twisted since the first failed SeeD exam and things had steadily gone downhill along with his sinking reputation.

Zell watched Seifer's turned away face for a moment unsure of what else to say. Seifer didn't seem willing to talk.

"I didn't mean... I didn't want to hurt you that badly," Zell stammered. "I mean I did, but I didn't want..."

"To kill me?" Seifer finished for him.

Zell felt a slight shock internally.

"I'm really sorry, Seifer, okay, I..."

"It's okay. I deserved it," Seifer said, still not looking at Zell.

"I'm sorry," Zell said again, then, suddenly overcome with guilt and not knowing what else to say he turned quickly and left. Seifer heard Zell's fast steps receding out of the room and he let out a long breath. He did feel he deserved Zell's beating. He knew he'd being constantly mean to the smaller blond, and here was Zell apologising. It made Seifer feel worse somehow and now he felt something else for Zell, another thing he'd been denying about himself. Some day he'd have to face these parts of himself he'd kept hidden, but just when he did not know.



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