The Bleakest Silence
By fyre byrd
Squall woke slowly his lashes fluttering against a warm and solid presence which surrounded him securely. He smiled as he shifted slightly, nuzzling into the column of Seifer's throat. When Squall opened his eyes fully to meet with the sight of Seifer's sleeping face Squall's breath caught. The blonde-haired man was beautiful like this, the hard lines of his face melted into a soft, unguarded pouting expression. Seifer's arm was thrown over Squall's body and one of his legs was draped over both of Squall's. The feeling of being enveloped by a living, breathing warmth was unique and altogether too pleasant. It was easy to forget that Squall was here trying to help Seifer recover from an illness and nothing more. Squall closed his eyes and determined to bask in the pleasure of Seifer's embrace as log as he could. Seifer needed his rest and it would be terrible if Squall's shifting about to get up were to wake him, so he'd just stay here.
When Seifer awakened it was to that same giddy free feeling he'd fallen asleep with. It was as though he'd been crushed to the earth under the weight of Diablos' dark energy for months and was now able to stand again. No matter how depleted his reserves may be, at least now he was free for the moment. Seifer woke to Squall smiling at him more gloriously than any sunrise so that he could hardly regret having missed the actual sunrise by several hours. Seifer found himself entwined with the brunette beneath his blankets and briefly panicked at the sight they must make to an outside observer. Then Seifer stopped thinking and let his thoughts melt into the lopsided full-lipped smile that Squall was wearing all for him. It must be worn for Seifer's benefit since there was no one else in the room. If he let himself, Seifer could even imagine that it was a much brighter smile than any Rinoa has ever received from the beautiful man before him. "Good morning," Seifer was able to rasp out with more feeling than he ever had before perhaps.
"Good morning," Squall replied drawing his hand down Seifer's side in a casual caress. "Did you sleep well?" Seifer started a bit and said, "I haven't slept this well in, oh I don't know how long."
"Good, I'm glad," Squall said and looked it. "Well if we want to make your next session we had better hurry," As Seifer got out of bed and dressed he grew progressively more distant, until, by the time they were opening the infirmary door, he was miles away from Squall, only held to earth at all by Squall's hand on his arm. The two kept up their routine of training and infirmary visits for about a week before Dr. Kadowaki expressed her concern to Squall, having drawn him aside after their latest session together. "How does Seifer seem to you, outside of these sessions?" the doctor asked Squall.
"He's sleeping without the pills," Squall said mildly, keeping his poker face intact. Just how Seifer was managing to sleep well without those pills wasn't something Squall relished the thought of discussing with the doctor. This morning Seifer had stayed awhile, wrapped in Squall's arms before shifting from bed. Squall only hoped that when Seifer got better and Squall was sleeping alone again, he didn't have to go in for sleeping pills. Sleeping without the gorgeous blonde in his arms was probably going to kill him. Doctor Kadowaki's next words interrupted Squall's reverie.
"I've been asking questions to try and lead Seifer into discussing exactly what Ultimecia made him see in the visions she gave him, but he continues to remain evasive you'll notice," the doctor said, her brow furrowing with concern. Squall nodded his agreement, thinking about Seifer's confession that he was gay and the self-loathing he felt because of it. Squall had been considering telling the doctor, but he was still afraid that Seifer would hate him for revealing something told to him confidentially and in the midst of what Seifer saw as great weakness rather than illness. The doctor searched Squall's face carefully with her sharp gray eyes. "If you can think of anything, let me know please, Squall. Otherwise, I think that maybe I might have to ask you to leave Seifer with me by himself. This may be something he's unwilling to discuss in your presence." Squall nodded stoically. It was only logical that the doctor eliminate him from their meetings as a logical way of attempting to get more information from Seifer. Squall's presence, was, after all not really necessary. Squall had not really been pressing his green-eyed companion of almost a week for answers about his condition. As soon as they left the infirmary together they did what they could to forget that Seifer was ill at all.
"Could you allow me to sit in on a few more sessions?" Squall asked. "Maybe in that time I'll come up with something and meanwhile I'll watch him more closely." The doctor patted Squall on the shoulder as they walked back towards the room. "I know you're doing your best," she said kindly "Getting Seifer to open up is going to be hard and it might not happen right away. Things are going very well anyway." The doctor must have noticed some of the strain in Squall's face. He felt like he was being pulled apart inside. The desire to stay loyal to Seifer was at odds, it seemed, with Squall's desire to see Seifer well and whole. One would have to give way to the other and soon. Squall retrieved Seifer from the infirmary bed with no small amount of stress.
As they headed to the training centre to go through their daily routine Squall's mind was full of his dilemma. He had never really allowed himself to become distracted by his emotions much. Rinoa's brief entry into his life had broken down his barriers, however. Squall hefted his gunblade in both hands and faced his opponent, trying to focus on the rush of blood in his veins and the tiny shifts in Seifer's facial expression and body movement that would signal his next move. It was all too much though, looking into the sea green eyes Squall got lost. Seifer could have killed him if he wasn't so much a professional. As it was Squall was knocked so hard by the flat of Seifer's blade that he went down hard. It must have been shock that made Seifer over balance and tumble down on top of Squall, pressing him into the ground. Squall gasped as the contact made his body react in an unfortunate way to the closeness of a man he was very attracted to. Seifer's eyes were only inches away from his so when the taller man discovered the hard heated member pressing into his thigh Squall was able to watch a variety of emotions flicker across his face. Shock, longing, and finally fear raced through the brilliant green eyes like cloud shadows falling across a verdant field.
Squall opened his mouth to apologize for what had happened only to watch in silent fascination as a fist came crashing down at his face. It was lucky that Seifer was so dismayed, for the blow didn't come close to containing his full strength. It was a glancing knock to Squall's jaw, but it left his face aching and tears pricking is eyes. Whether they were caused by pain or by something more was too much to be contemplated at the moment. Seifer's eyes were wide with strong emotion as he got up quickly off of Squall's chest, his elbow jabbing Squall in the ribs. Seifer was as awkward and jerky as a wind up toy, getting away from Squall. Once he was several feet away, the green-eyed man just stood there, staring at Squall with empty eyes and saying nothing. Squall's face was burning and he didn't remember how to move. Slowly he recalled that it was done like this, you moved your back up off of the ground by pushing off with your hands and levering yourself up with your arms. Then you got your legs up under you and stood. Once Squall was standing he remembered other things, like how to run out of the Training Centre, leaving the man who had just punched you in the face standing there, looking disgusted.
Seifer fell to his knees as he saw Squall running. He was thoroughly disgusted with himself. Seifer wanted Squall so bad, but he was afraid he'd lose him, afraid it was all a joke, afraid that the erection he'd felt against his thigh wasn't for him, afraid that it was. Perhaps one of the terrible things Utlimecia had shown to Seifer would happen. Perhaps Seifer no longer knew how to really desire someone, it had been trained out of him very well and maybe he couldn't even have a relationship anymore, maybe he was worthless now in every way. Most likely though was that Squall didn't really want him at all and it was some sort of cruel joke. In all of his fear and confusion Seifer had lashed out and punched Squall and his clear blue eyes had become clouded with pain. Seifer never did anything but cause Squall pain. Squall had been worried ever since he'd learned about Seifer's problems, in fact, and that didn't even touch on the other worse things Seifer had done while the Sorceress had whispered in his mind. Now Squall probably thought Seifer was angry with him for some involuntary response of his body. Indeed, a little hard-on didn't mean a thing. Their bodies had brushed against one another as they fell against each other and Seifer knew that he had responded to smaller things in the same way himself. Probably Squall was just hurt that Seifer was reverting to his old mannerisms again. Pain and hurt were what it all came down to. Seifer had a special knack for causing people pain and he began to think it was all he had been made for.
Seifer trudged out of the Training Centre in a haze of distracted fear, convinced that his life was all a tragic mistake. As he walked, his breaths were short and he was trembling, his gunblade dragged behind him in the dirt until he pulled it up and sheathed it with an effort, walking dizzily to his room. Seifer kept a hand on the wall, trailing it along the reassuringly cool surface to steady himself as he made his way towards his room. Finally he reached the door and unlocking it stumbled inside, tripping over his own feet. From hands and knees he managed to close the door with his foot, preventing others from witnessing his incredible weakness as he lay there trembling so hard he could barely pick his key up off of the ground. Clearly, it had to stop. There was no way Seifer could allow himself to go on hurting people the way he had been. Groping across the floor for his key, his hand struck the table, hard enough to cause something that had been poised on its edge to fall off and roll along the floor coming to rest against Seifer's hand. It was the bottle of pills that Seifer had refused a few nights ago. Squall had been kind enough not to mention them again after his first offer and they'd just sat on the edge of this end table, waiting to serve a useful purpose.
Seifer struggled with the lid, lining up the arrows at last and opening it with a satisfying click. He'd learned to take his pills dry since in the field if you needed a pain killer you couldn't wait to find a water fountain. He swallowed his first pill as a sort of toast to the many useful skills learned by SeeDs, the next few were for the punch he'd thrown at Squall, the next few for provoking him in the cafeteria the other day. A whole handful went down as Seifer began to count up his sins during his service under the Sorceress. Some time after that he lost count and consciousness together.
Squall's mind had deserted him when he believed that Seifer had rejected him. He'd walked as quickly as he could through the gates of Balamb Garden and kept running. Squall had let his feet pound the earth and had raced the clouds as the wind whipped his shiny brown hair into his eyes. Soon he slowed his pace and simply walked steadily while his tumultuous thoughts sifted through his head like sand through spread fingers. He despised himself for having become aroused while training with Seifer. It was no wonder that Seifer had rejected his advances. It was no wonder the other SeeD had been so patently disgusted. Just because Seifer was gay didn't mean he had any feelings for Squall. After all, there was nothing special about Squall and he was antisocial and difficult to deal with.
As Squall angrily enumerated his shortcomings in his mind a sudden chill thought whipped across his mind much as the breeze curled about his body. Thinking back on the encounter in the Training Centre, Squall realized that Seifer had not actually expressed disgust. In fact, he'd simply stood frozen, his green eyes blazing with strong emotion. Seifer had punched him, but not hard, and it had been their always to deal with anything new through violence, being trained to it. Squall should not have presumed he knew what Seifer's actions meant, he realized belatedly. Deciding that he should have spoken to Seifer before running away like a child scolded by his parents, Squall began walking quickly back towards the Garden. By now, he had a lot of ground to cover. Soon Squall settled into a jog as his thoughts moved to what Seifer might have thought of the little disappearing act he'd performed in the Training Centre. Squall had thought he'd been able to put aside his own feelings in order to care for Seifer and he now saw that it was impossible. He should have been talking to Seifer more from the start. Breathing heavily, Squall strode quickly back through the gates and through the Garden walkways. Reaching the dormitories, Squall began to run again, ignoring the confused looks that were thrown his way. Squall hoped to find Seifer in his room, but when he flung open the door it met with physical resistance. Sliding through the space between door and obstructing object, Squall fell to his knees in shock. Seifer was stretched full length across the floor preventing the door from opening fully, a half empty bottle of pills in his hand.
Staring for a moment in shock, Squall stretched out a hand gingerly towards Seifer's face. When he felt breath against his skin Squall began to breathe again himself. He located Seifer's pulse and found it irregular, but present. Quickly, Squall got up and called the infirmary for direction. The doctor urged him to bring Seifer to her at once. Lifting Seifer's unresponsive body in his arms, Squall felt tears welling in his eyes. He choked them back angrily and walked as quickly as he could to the infirmary, drawing more stares than ever from the curious students. The trip to the infirmary had never seemed so long before. Squall stumbled through the door, breathing hard from his exertion and laid his precious burden carefully onto the bed.
"Will he live?" Squall asked, gripping the doctor's shoulder firmly.
"I have confidence that he will," she replied, stranding up straight after her close examination of Seifer. "The pills have already gone into his system, but he seems stable enough. Only time will tell." Doctor Kadowaki took Squall's hand, his eyes were focused on the still form in the bed, as though he were willing Seifer to survive. "Just between you and me though," she said, not sure if the blue-eyed man could even hear her so intent was he on the form of his fallen friend, "I think he'll make it. He has someone who cares about him a great deal and that makes all the difference." She left them alone then, calling her assistant to get an extra cot into the room so that Squall could spend the night more comfortably.
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