in the service of the queen
anywhere but in between
When he was a little boy, he used to dream of birds.
He wasn't so little any more, and hadn't remembered a dream in years.
But now, waiting for him there behind his eyelids, was a Woman, terribly beautiful, black Magic fluttering around Her like a murder of crows. Before he could even think, "Sorceress," he knew Her, with a kind of gleeful dread, recognizing that aura. Not merely crows, but more like the birds of his childhood dreams, those that could fly without ever moving a wing, or change time with a flick of their sleek heads. He knew that there was more in the darkness of Her eyes than in all of his sleepless nights, more in the angle of Her head perched on her slender neck than all his years.
And just as surely, he knew that he would serve Her. Who better? Hadn't he always said he was made for bigger things? The words on her lips-- even yet unspoken-- were grander by far than the thin watered-down words the other students lived by heart. Short-sighted fools.
He would belong to Her, drawn up to her heart like a Dark Mother, living on the razor's edge of Her service and pleasure. Watching Her smile down at he who knelt at the base of Her throne...
Descendent of Hyne… Hell, it felt fucking strange, the way that classroom trivia suddenly had a life, such a presence. Sorceress' blood. It made sense-- such a one, everything he had ever been drawn to. That same Sorceress echo he could feel, in feeble mockery, in the dark-haired girl with the wings on her dress-- that frail smile-- though there was little enough of strength in her flat eyes.
Suddenly he realized he could see a darkling shadow of it, too, in his second-in-command-- the quick haunted tilt of her head, the bird-brightness of her eye. What memory of sky did she cling to in her silence? He bet even she didn't know. Tantalizing.
But this one, this black-feathered Sorceress; She would fly.
And he would die to be by Her side.
With a start, he rubbed a drowsy hand across his eyes, not opening them quite yet, and wondering why in hell he should wake up feeling so... strange.
He thought he had been dreaming, but when he tried to remember anything at all, he could only think of-- crows, mostly, feathers oil-bright in that odd light of dreams, preening self-consciously, their elegant heads held arrogantly, like high-born women. And their eyes-- sharp, cold eyes, that could lift a dream into a nightmare, looking too closely.
And that, even now, prevented him from going back to sleep.
Fuck it all. When had he become a morning person? Opening his eyes to the bleary grey of summer predawn suffusing his room, he tried to roll over till his hips protested. He swore at the dorm mattress, knowing it hadn't been this lumpy at the beginning of the term.
Not that he could report it. There wouldn't be much sympathy for him, if they found it was Misconduct No. 82, Nonconsensual Sexual Activity. The slightest ripple of thought skidded through his mind, wondering-- purely technically, of course-- about the validity of those charges.
Well, consensual or no, no one had to know. There were advantages to being the Disciplinary Committee. He smiled tightly.
But just thinking about good old No. 82 made his body respond, in that sultry hot morning sort of way, coming sluggishly to life. He dragged a pillow down over his short burr of golden hair, squeezing his eyes shut. Damn. He didn't want to remember that he was alone.
He didn't remember how he was supposed to feel about that.
Alone before sunrise on a summer morning-- not just any summer morning, a SeeD exam morning. Sure, the Garden hadn't owned up to it yet, but he could smell a real rumor from a false one. There would be an exam that afternoon.
He surfaced from under his pillow, feeling clammy, the air too warm and close against his skin. The climate-control in his room must not have been working right, he felt the thinnest sheen of sweat forming on his upper lip. Impatiently he licked it away. The thought of venturing out into the cooler air in the hallways was distinctly unpleasant.
Not that half the Garden didn't know already, that this would be his umpteenth exam... but he didn’t feel the need to parade around announcing that fact with his presence.
It was just the sort of morning to take a cool shower and linger on top of the sheets with a lover. He caught himself chewing on the inside of his lip, feeling the little sparkles of pain his teeth caused. A lover. More affected than he would have liked to admit by his conversation with Fuujin, he had promised himself that he would not seek out his bedmate; he would let the brat come to him. Certainly, he rationalized, the sex is good, and he seems to have become attached. He will come to me.
And last night, for the first time, Leonhart hadn't.
He wasn't sure exactly what this proved, or why it left him feeling more than just unsatisfied. The slow burn between his thighs intensified, remembering the body-- never quite willing-- beneath his, the hot leather of his smell, the blade edge of his silence.
Wearing only flimsy sleeping shorts, there was no easy way to ignore his desire.
He swore and meant it, swinging slim legs out of bed and padding over to the heap he'd left his clothes in the night before. The sun seemed to be taking its time about rising; the light no brighter though the morning was creeping onward. So dark. So early.
Tugging on his gloves-- always first, the gloves before anything else, protective gauntlets to hide his naked hands-- he fumed quietly to himself. He'd go to the Training Center, blow off some steam. It was an exam day, after all. Got to be in top condition. He'd--
Raijin would be expecting him. They had a standing date-- Seifer snarled, vest dropping forgotten from his hand, punching uselessly at the wall. What the fuck kind of date was that? Useless Disciplinary Committee. If he were going to do his best this afternoon, he needed a real fight. His lips curled in a feral smile. Or a real fuck.
Not that his lackey wouldn't be willing, ready to be taken advantage of any and every day of the week-- Seifer shivered. He no more wanted Raijin in his bed than a wriggling Funguar. Ya know?
Ever so briefly, Fuujin flickered across his mind's eye, and he imagined her spread-- and so sweetly-- silver hair a corona around her delicate face, lifting those curved narrow boy-hips up into his touch--
He raised a gloved hand to his face, blocking the image. Admitting to himself that he respected her too much for that. Fuujin deserved more than his morning agitation. She was his second-in-command-- and much too dangerous to anger.
Besides, what his body hungered for was the partner it knew, a familiar battleground. Such a beautiful war-ravaged country, where he could scent the victory, knowing its every hollow and minefield. Where to plunder for riches, or how to linger, calculated deadliness. How to make Leonhart beg for release without ever having to say a thing, silent submission in that faint crease between his eyebrows--
Seifer had memorized that deepening frown across the bridge of Leonhart's nose, learned to watch for it-- his wordless surrender. Damn fine...
Shuddering, Seifer found he'd lifted Hyperion from its case and was stroking the length of the gunblade, from hilt to point, leather-sheathed fingertips dancing across the lethal metal surface of it.
And so hard he couldn't think straight.
Well, he supposed, he could always go about this the old-fashioned way.
No sooner had he freed himself from his sleeping-clothes than he realized this was not a morning for lingering, after all. His sex was burning against his gloved fingertips with just that simple motion. His hips braced against the wall, feet spread wide, he touched himself with both hands, head tilting back into the doorframe with the ruthless force of his rhythm. Body rocking into the warm leather of his palms, he could almost believe himself sheathed in the slick tightness of his rival-- sweet heat of muscle squeezing around him, milking him for the release he could never quite resist--
He was biting his lip, unwilling to surrender so quickly, but his body knew better than that, pride or no.
He gasped, coming all over his gloves.
His legs were so taut his thighs ached with it, the recognition of weakness bringing color to his cheeks, as he realized what he'd just done--
And what he'd just imagined, while doing it.
The rage was simmering, in the wake of his come, in the wake of his shame. How dare Leonhart take advantage of him like that? Not that the upstart couldn't have anything that he wanted. No one doubted he'd pass today's SeeD exam, and with flying colors--
Moving with dangerous precise slowness, he washed his gloves, sticky and stiff. Never would he confront Leonhart with the evidence of his lapse in self-control. He would have to have more style than that. He pulled on his clothes, fastening his boots, everything in place.
It would have to be a challenge.
The battle lines were drawn, and now, ready, he could no longer hold back, anger exploding in his head like lightning, luminous and deadly. He wasn't even sure what challenge he'd throw, what to incense his rival to fight. It didn't matter. All he knew was that he was tired of standing useless, waiting for Leonhart. If he wouldn't come, he would have to seek him out.
Whatever that meant. Fine. So be it.
Outside, thunder crashed and rolled, the sound dying away into the mountains of Balamb and beyond. Summer thunderstorm. No. 97, Fighting In Perilous Weather Conditions.
He hoisted his gunblade and ran out the door.
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