if this world is wearing thin
and you're thinking of escape
i'll go anywhere with you
just wrap me up in chains
stay with me
stay with me
-- shakespear's sister
Fuujin was sitting at the self-appointed Disciplinary Committee’s cafeteria table, looking at nothing in particular, not drinking her mug of tea. Which meant, as anyone knew, that she wanted to be left alone. Not that this was unusual for her.
But Raijin, as usual, never grasped something so obvious. He straddled the chair opposite her and grinned hugely. "Oi! Fuujin-sama! Where’s your main man?"
Her fingers tightened imperceptibly on the plain white ceramic of her Balamb Garden issue mug, and she narrowed her one good eye just a fraction. Just when it was starting to dawn on Raijin that the silence was lasting a little uncomfortably long-- even for Fuujin-- she lifted a slender shoulder eloquently. The shrug could have meant "I don’t care," or "I just killed him, do you mind?" but above all it meant "Leave me the fuck alone."
Raijin got it. "Hey, man, sorry I asked. Just thought you might have seen ‘im, ya know? Was supposed to meet him at the training center for sparring practice. He’s been gone all morning."
Fuujin raised a silver eyebrow. Seifer, oversleeping again. "Unusual?" she said dryly.
Raijin chuckled. "Well, no, not really... but he normally does show up eventually. Doesn’t miss a chance to kick my ass, ya know?" Simple pride shone in his dark eyes, and she was almost moved to pity. As it was, she smiled, just the tiniest lift of her lips. "Good," she said, and raised her teacup to him.
He got the dismissal, snapping a hand in their group salute. "Later, Fuujin-sama." He winked. "Don’t be too hard on him, ya know?"
She stared icily at her cup, not watching his retreating back.
Seifer late was nothing out of the ordinary, these days. She let her eye slide closed, breathing the last steam from her cooling tea. Since he’d taken a bedmate, there was no telling how long he’d stay in his room.
Off-days like this one especially.
But Seifer not showing at all-- she hated to admit to herself that she was worried. Her eyebrows twitched, wanting to frown. Worried about Seifer. "Ridiculous," she murmured.
"What is?" There was the unexpected scrape of the chair across from hers being roughly dragged back from the table. She wouldn’t allow herself to jump-- bad, bad form to be snuck up on that way-- but she cringed inwardly, hearing Raijin’s jibe. "The mighty Fuujin shouldn’t let her guard down, ya know?" She pursed her lips disapprovingly, trying to look unstartled as she opened her eye.
Not as if she didn’t know who it would be.
Seifer took in her untouched tea, her hunted look, the twitch of her eyelashes, all in one sweeping glance. "Hey, Fuujin." He ran a hand through his blond hair, restlessly, sliding his chair closer to hers. "You waiting for me?" And he grinned.
She flinched. That smile-- she’d grown to recognize that smile, equal parts self-satisfied and angry. Even more she’d come to fear it... What it always meant. Not Raijin thoroughly beaten and beaming submissive on the grassy training center floor could earn such a smug look on their leader’s face; nor could Instructor Quistis, on her most excruciatingly honest days, get such a maddened rise out of him.
Forcing her face to remain expressionless, Fuujin said, "Leonhart." It was not a question.
Seifer showed teeth, both a smile and a grimace. Rising, of course, to the bait of his favorite topic of discussion. "Fuck yeah." His eyes shone for just an instant, with an emotion that Fuujin shuddered to think about. He caught her look, and waggled an eyebrow-- trying, as always, to make her blush. "That boy’s as hot under the sheets as he is on the training field."
But she was Fuujin, and if she had ever known how to blush, she had forgotten long ago. She rolled her eyes, hoping still that he would not notice her fingers gripping her mug more tightly. Speech had always been difficult for her-- and it had become easy to deliver sharp single words in response to Raijin’s inanities, or in the face of anyone else’s complete stupidity. But around Seifer it was a retreat, afraid to say too much, or, worse, to be unable to say anything at all. Distinctly uncomfortable beneath that blue-eyed scrutiny she murmured, more softly than sarcastically, "Well-taught."
Seifer heard it, as she knew he would, ears like a hound. And he heard the something underneath her word, too, lacing it in a way she had no control over. Frightening empathy. Until he winked, reaching out a hand to tease her fingers away from her mug. "Jealous, sweetheart?"
She snatched her hand away. Easier to be angry than grieving the loss of something she had never had. "Late," she spat, indicating his belated—and pointedly unwelcome-- appearance at their lunch table.
He didn’t even have the grace to look guilty, holding out his hands not in apology, but in victory. "I’m here now, aren’t I?" As if his presence alone could justify-- anything at all. Fuujin shivered. "Oh, yeah," Seifer acted as if he were just remembering. "I guess Raijin’s lookin’ for a fight? Heh. Without me to trash his sorry ass."
She said nothing, watching the steel strength behind his eyes begin to waver. He dropped his eyes to the table, voice actually quieting, with an introspection that frightened her. Maybe he saw her slow surprise, or maybe a memory brushed the wrong way against his consciousness, but he bristled. "Not my fault, Fuu." She inhaled involuntarily at the diminutive, the softness of his face... As well as she knew that face-- the aggressive lines of his cheekbones, the confrontational eyebrows-- she wanted to bite her lip as it grew unfamiliar before her. "Not my fault. It was the
Leonhart brat this morning--"
Desperately wanting not to hear, and yet burning to know, Fuujin tried to catch his eye. Had Leonhart snuck out on him again, leaving Seifer in his damp humiliating empty bed? Which, naturally, would have had Seifer out in the morning to find him and take it out of his hide-- such an odd combination of possessiveness and destructiveness--
"Left?" she lifted an eyebrow.
Seifer didn’t look away, actually silent for a long moment before he said, "No."
At that moment, had Seifer asked her to-- and maybe without even needing to be asked-- Fuujin would have hunted Squall Leonhart down and personally done him in. What the hell had the upstart done, to leak such-- uncertainty-- hurt?-- into Seifer’s voice?
"No. He didn’t sneak away again. He-- he stayed. I woke up with him--" he sneered, looking disgusted with himself. "--him all kind of wrapped around me and dreaming in my armpit."
Abruptly Fuujin realized that the mug she was clutching had gone cold.
His tone had changed again, more of the self-assured Seifer she knew. Only now she’d begun to realize what he was hiding and that only made his bluster more horrible to listen to. What was happening between them? Balamb Garden’s sharpest rivals, most tempestuous lovers-- She was only dimly aware of him talking. "Dunno what the fuck is wrong with him, all comatose where by rights he should be fearing for his life--"
Fuujin couldn’t help it, the word fell from her lips like it were on fire. "Love?" Ah, hells, what if Leonhart had fallen for--
Only when she saw the raw panic in Seifer’s eyes, that fraction of a second before he could disguise it, did she realize that she could have been misunderstood.
"Ah, shit, Fuujin," and his laugh was a bit too shaky to be believable, to her perceptive ears, "Have I gone and gotten the Leonhart brat to fall in love with me?"
She did not allow herself to wince, aimed her voice for teasing. "Impossible?" What, can no one love you, greedy arrogant lovely bastard you?
He made a face. "Next you know he’ll be following me around like a-- like a dog, or something. Hunting me all over the place, tracking me down all the time--" The corners of his mouth twisted a little as he shut up abruptly.
Fuujin felt her voice frosting over. "Familiar?"
"Shut up," he snarled, wrenching her mug from her fingers and knocking it over with a swift vicious backhand. "Just shut up." And though she knew he couldn't stay, he was gone just as quickly as he had come, leaving an upturned chair and a sopping mess in his wake.
For a long while she didn’t move, watching the chilly tea spilling from the corners of the cafeteria table, hitting the ground like tears.
Return to Archive | sequel | prequel