Dedicated to: Reia.
Notes: Anything within :: are flashbacks. Recent comments about the fight scene spawned the end of this fic. ^-^
Don't Make Him Cry
Chapter Nine - Rise Up
Tseng found him, lying by the tree. His eyes wide and unfocused. For a moment Tseng saw a glint of green in those predominantly blue eyes, but the moment passed and he shrugged it off as a trick of light. "Almasy?"
Seifer blinked, his eyes focusing. He looked up at Tseng, a blank expression on his face. It almost seemed as if he didn't recognize the dark man. "You ready to go?" Tseng questioned.
Seifer nodded, getting to his feet. "I'm ready."
The others were gone for the evening. They retreated to their respective rooms and Zell was left, once again, with that blasted gunblade. The body of the creature had been removed from his room, but even so, he could still feel it's presence.
He stood in the center of the room, staring at the gunblade. "Where are you?" He whispered, stepping over to the gunblade.
With a shaking hand he reached out and grabbed the handle. "Stupid bastard." He growled, lifting the gunblade and turning it uneasily.
"Had to go and get yourself lost, didn't you?"
With a sigh he put the gunblade back down and stumbled back to his bed. He collapsed on it and stared blankly at the ceiling. "Why do I care?"
/What do you want me to do?/
There was no response to his quiet query. He lifted his head, looking around with brilliant blue eyes narrow and hard. He glanced at the others, but they were in their own worlds. Focused only on their mission. Reno, the one with long, red hair was the only one who looked relaxed. Rufus looked troubled, lost in thought. Tseng looked much like Squall always did. Uncaring, and yet tense. Elena and Rude were walking side by side. Both looked lost in their own private thoughts.
/So now you're not speaking to me?/
"There's something to the north."
Tseng and Rufus looked back at him. "North?" Tseng's eyes narrowed, "Why do you say that?"
"I can feel it." Seifer shrugged.
"Let's go north then." Rufus commented quietly.
After a short pause, Tseng nodded roughly and turned north. The others followed without question.
With a startled scream Quistis awoke, only to find herself staring into familiar green eyes. "Woah there," Irvine held up his hands in a gesture of peace, "Didn't mean to startle you."
"Well what do you expect!" Quistis panted, "Coming in here while I'm sleeping and then ..."
"I was just sitting here." Irvine shifted on the edge of her bed and looked across the room, "Thinking, mostly."
Quistis sat up and reached up to brush back her hair. "About Seifer."
"None of it makes sense, y'know. It feels so wrong. Like... almost like.." Irvine's lips tilted up, "Ah hell."
Quistis placed her hand on his arm, "Almost like something more powerful were in control of it all. Like there's nothing we can do."
He looked over and met her gaze. Then he noticed her hair. His eyes widened a little and he reached out to brush his hands through the blond, silky mass. "I've never seen it down." He commented softly, "You should wear it down more often. It looks... really nice."
"Sh." Irvine placed his finger against her lips. He shook his head, a quirky smile curving his lips, "Sorry for waking you."
She grabbed his hand and pulled it away from her face, "It's all right."
They were silent for a few, long moments. And then, very softly, Irvine said, "I feel as if he's not coming back."
Quistis looked up, surprised to see tears in his eyes. "He is. We won't give up on him." She said, her voice strong and sure.
Irvine met her gaze. With a tired nod he got to his feet. "I've lost too much in my life Q. My parents. My friends to the war. My innocence. I don't want to lose anymore friends." He tilted his hat to her, then walked out of the room, closing the door softly behind him.
"Neither do I." Quistis laid back, pulling the covers up and shivering, "Neither do I."
It felt wrong. Rufus didn't understand why, but his skin was crawling. He stopped walking, to stare at the ominous looking trees before them. He'd never seen plants that looked quite like they did. It was almost as if.. they were alive. Watching him. Urging him forward, but to what means? So they could strangle the life out of him with their wooden limbs?
He shook his head, /Idiot./ He berated himself sharply. /What are you thinking?/
"What's your problem Shinra?" Reno's silky voice inquired.
He looked over his shoulder at the red-head, "Nothing." He responded.
"You feel it too, don't you?" Reno asked softly, his gaze turning to the trees.
Rufus didn't respond, after all, how could he respond to that? "I've only felt evil this thick once before," Reno continued, "in your father's office, that day he was murdered."
Rufus gasped, his eyes widening. This is what he was feeling. It wasn't the trees that were bothering him, it was the overwhelming scent of Jenova. He'd felt her presence only once before. He could still remember the putrid stench of decaying flesh and the thick air.
/Not dead... but then../
"Sephiroth." Reno voiced Rufus' next thought aloud. "He's here."
::"Stop holding back!"
With an angry shout Squall attacked, but Seifer blocked and eluded his fierce blows with little effort. "I know you're stronger than that! PROVE IT!"
Squall jumped back, panting from the exertion. Before him Seifer was intent only on pushing Squall to the breaking point. He wanted Squall to show him just how good he truly was. He knew Squall was better than this. As Squall advanced again, Seifer lifted his hand. /Show me your true strength!/
A flash of light, and heat.
Squall was thrown to the ground from the force of the blow and before he could stand Seifer was standing before him. "Prove to me you're better."::
Squall shook his head, shaking himself out of the memories. He looked to Rinoa, who was laying on the bed. Her face pale and her eyes troubled. "I feel... strange."
Squall leaned over and took her hand in his, "I'll get the doctor."
"No! Don't you feel it?" She cried, squeezing his hand tightly.
He met her gaze for a few moments and then, he did feel it. A strange aching in his heart. A sense that something was wrong. His body was.. on fire.
She nodded quickly, "He's going to die Squall." Her face fell and tears entered her eyes, "Squall! He's going to die! I can feel it!"
"Sh." He leaned closer, reaching up to cup her face with his hands, "You don't know that."
"I don't know it. I feel it."
Her tears touched his fingers and he stared at the wet trails with fascination.
"Why do you care?" He asked, not meaning to ask it aloud but unable to stop himself.
"Because he's my friend. He's your friend too..."
/Is he?/ Squall leaned back, taking Rinoa's hand in his own again, /He always pushed me to be better. He always had confidence in me... He../
His eyes widened, he glanced at Rinoa. In her eyes he could see love. Underneath the fear for Seifer, always love. She always looked at him with love. /He looked at me with... those eyes./
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