Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Final Fantasy series. They belong to Squaresoft.
Let Me Make It Alright
Chapter 22: Part of Your World
By Angry Angel
Feeling slightly anxious, Seifer walked into the infirmary's waiting room and made a young nurse call for the doctor. Kadowaki looked at him extremely pleased, smiling in her typical stern manner.
"Ah, Seifer. You're right on time."
"Is he ready?"
"Yes, he should be getting dressed right now. Do you want to go and check if he's done?"
Seifer curled an eyebrow at that suggestion, not exactly thrilled by the idea of a half naked Squall glaring or yelling him to pieces, but then again, they were roommates, so being shy was not an option.
Thus, he opened the door to Squall's room boldly, marching in like the president of Deling City himself. He had barely turned around, when a boot whipped sharply by his face and thudded against the wall behind him.
"Ever heard of knocking, you freak?!"
Seifer smirked at an angrily blushing Squall sitting on the edge of his bed in long black pants, socks and one boot. Chuckling, he bent down and picked up the missing match that the brunet had obviously launched at him in hot-headed fury. As he stepped closer to the bed, his eyes marvelled at milky pale skin stretching smoothly over supple, well defined muscles. Even though Squall slipped a shirt over his head as quickly as possible, Seifer still saw the bandages wrapped around the SeeD's chest and shoulder. His smirk faded slightly.
"Give me my boot."
Seifer blinked and adjusted his focus a little higher, to Squall's threatening face. Chunks of chocolaty brown hair were hanging askew into his eyes, but Squall didn't bother to flick them away. He never did. The blond thought that Squall looked quite cute that way, it gave him a wild and mutinous touch, despite the history movies piling in his movie racks.
Realizing that he had been staring, Seifer looked away immediately and tossed the boot into Squall's lap carelessly.
"You about ready, Leonhart?"
"I don't speak gibberish like some of us, so talk like a normal human being. At least pretend."
"Drop dead, Seifer."
Squall jerked his other foot into his boot and tied the laces loosely. Seifer watched him with interest, totally forgetting to retaliate the insult. Whenever the brunet bent over a little too far, he flinched ever so slightly, but there was not a sound from his lips.
'Hmph. Look who's acting tough.'
The brunet stood and slung a belt around his narrow waist, securing it in the front.
"What, just one belt today?" Seifer chuckled sarcastically.
He watched how Squall ignored him and peeled a silver chain necklace with the familiar griever pendant off his nightstand to slip it over his head and dangle from his neck. He had never quite understood the boy's lion-fetish, but he shrugged it off as yet another one of his quirks.
"Anything beside your gunblade here that needs to go?"
"No. My old clothes are in the laundry. They are probably ruined, anyway."
The tall blond let his gaze linger on Squall's faded blue short sleeved shirt for a moment, deciding that it fit the younger man quite well and made his eyes look less harsh, then glanced at LionHeart resting on the floor. His brows lowered distinctly at the sight. The blade had turned an unusual shade of indigo blue, much darker than any color the sword was usually emitting.
"What's with that weird thing anyway? Look at it, that can't be right."
Squall looked at his sword, and his eyes darkened momentarily.
"It's nothing," he replied, "that's normal."
"Why is it doing it, then?"
"I don't know."
His answer came just a little too fast to be believable, but Seifer decided that it wasn't the time and place to coax the truth out of the stubborn brunet. Instead, he bent down and picked the blade off the floor. It felt normal, but then again, he didn't have much of a clue how a sword could not feel normal to him.
At his side, Squall had turned and extended his hand.
"I'll carry it."
Seifer let his gaze travel up and down Squall's tense body in blatant judgement, then shook his head.
"You'll be busy carrying yourself. Don't be so uptight, I'm not going to break it."
The brunet pondered that remark for a moment, then decided that he was over-reacting. Seifer had found his sword in the first place, he would be too unfair acting touchy about it. On top of that, he really did not feel like argueing. Thus, he shrugged and turned to the door.
Seifer followed him into the waiting room holding LionHeart nonchalantly in one hand, watching closely how Squall in front of him was having slight problems walking. Apparently, laying in bed immobilized for over a week had paid its toll on him.
Outside, Kadowaki was already waiting for them.
"Ah, you're ready. Very well. Don't forget, Squall, I want you in here tomorrow for a check-up!"
"You do have some potions in your room?"
"Okay, good. If you are feeling strange, take one and come see me immediately. Seifer, you are going to keep an eye on him, right?"
The blond's sun bronzed features pulled into a wicked grin as he used his free hand to pat Squall over the head. The expected growl and Squall rocking away from his touch amused him even more.
"Why yes, I'll watch over the little one."
"Curse you, Seifer!"
"Now, now, boys! You have to get along."
The way the tall blond and his slightly shorter brunet rival were slitting their eyes at each other, though, Kadowaki started to have serious doubts concerning their plan. Seifer Almasy and Squall Leonhart could pose a threat for each other. On the other hand, Quistis and Edea had been very convinced of a success, so she was just going to sit back and watch, at least for a little while.
"Well. Squall, I will see you tomorrow then. Take it easy, your wounds still aren't fully healed."
Squall resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her telling him the same thing for the gazillionth time already. Instead, he nodded curtly and proceeded out of the infirmary, Seifer at his side.
Silently, they walked through the main hall and by some curious students that Squall skilfully managed to ignore. He was by far not in the mood for get-well wishes and useless conversations. He just wanted to get to his room as quickly as possible.
"I bet you are dying to see what I did to your apartment."
Squall cast an irritated side-glance at Seifer, who smirked evilly.
"I figured some flamingo pink and frog green would go down really well with those blue eyes of yours."
Squall turned on the heels in a flash, whipping around to pierce Seifer with the most virulent glare he could muster. His right hand lashed backwards in an aggressive gesture, typical sign for when the brunet was angry.
"I swear, if you did anything t..."
Suddenly, his stance swayed slightly, and he wobbled to his right helplessly, his shoulder connecting with the wall. Instinctively, Seifer jumped forward, his free hand grasping Squall's arm.
"Hey, slow down, killer."
He held on to the boy's arm for a moment longer, waiting for Squall to catch his breath and shake his head in an attempt to clear his bleary vision. Seifer cocked his head to the side, concern seeping into his features even though he tried to prevent it.
"You sure you are ready for this?"
Squall nodded, still slightly out of it, then freed himself from Seifer's grasp.
"Whatever you say, Leonhart, but you might want to consider not jumping around like Dincht on dope anymore. Just a thought."
"Keep your thoughts to yourself," the brunet replied wearily.
He drew up his shoulders, then pried himself off the wall. Seifer watched him out of narrow jade, but said nothing. If Squall wanted to be hurled right back to the infirmary that surely wasn't any of his concerns.
That was what he tried to tell himself, anyway.
They continued to their room, and Squall opened the door in uncomfortable anticipation. He was actually surprised to find everything neat and in good shape. The only things that had changed were the extra bed and another desk shoved up next to his own.
Seifer read his facial expression quite correctly, and he heaved a mock sigh as he dropped Squall's gunblade onto a dresser.
"Really, did you think I'd want to ruin that cosy, surgically clean feel? Not for all the chocobos in the world, Leonhart."
He tried his best to conjure up something like puppy eyes, but naturally, Squall saw right through his act and chose to carefully ignore the blond. Being in one room with Seifer was bad enough, he definitely had no desire to play along the other gunblader's little games.
Unsure of what else to do, Squall dropped into one of the chairs around his dining table and stared intently at the shiny black surface in front of him. The reflection of a good-looking, but somehow worn out pale brunet blinked back at him. Fascinated by the mere concept and suddenly entrapped in his thoughts, he marvelled at the image until someone in front of him gave a low chuckle.
"So this is what you do all day. You sit in your room, stare at your reflection and talk to yourself behind your forehead. Be still my beating heart, oh the joys of sharing this with you!"
Seifer threw his hands into the air theatrically, then brought them back down and leaned across the table into Squall, his face stopping mere inches before the brunet's, who edged back in his chair uneasily.
"This has to stop. I am not kidding. You get that creepy look on your face, like you are some fucking mental case. I am not going to room with a freak."
Squall jumped out of his chair and his features dragged into a venomous frown. For the length of a heartbeat, Seifer thought that he even saw something like hurt pass across the pale face, but the expression was gone before he could take a closer look at it.
"I didn't ask you to be my fucking roommate! In fact, I'd be the happiest damn person alive if you got the hell out of here!"
Slowly, Seifer retreated into his seat, then leaned back comfortably.
"If you want to be hurled back to the infirmary and Kadowaki's lovely paralysis potions, be my guest."
The brunet growled like a lion, then trudged sharply to his dresser and picked up his gunblade. Seifer's eyebrows shot upwards at the threatening reaction and his muscles prepared for an attack, but to his surprise, Squall didn't lunge at him in bloodlust. Instead, he went to his bed, opened a large container resting against it, and placed the blade inside. He shut the lid with a loud snap, then crossed his arms in front of his chest without turning back around to face the apprehensive Seifer.
"Did you have dinner yet?"
He saw Squall's tense body shift at the unexpected question. He didn't turn around, but at least Seifer could rest assured that he was listening.
"Yes or no?"
"Alright. I am starving, I'll cook us something."
That did have an effect on the younger blader. His body twirled slowly, his gaze nailed to Seifer's in leaden disbelief.
"You can cook?"
"Sure. Contrary to some of us, I enjoy eating. I'm a damn good cook, too."
One of Squall's thin dark eyebrows arched and he shifted his weight onto his right foot. He could picture Seifer Almasy doing a lot of strange things, but cooking wasn't one of them.
"Tss. You just wait and see."
Seifer pulled his sleeves up his tanned arms, revealing the bright white bandage covering one of them. Concern flashed through storm blue for just a second, but nowhere near long enough for emerald green to notice. The tall blond stood up and disappeared behind the counter of the kitchen, his rummaging through the cabinets soon filling the room.
Gingerly and uncertain, Squall went back to the table and sat down. He listened to the clattering of pots and knives for a while before he rested his head in his hand irritably and spoke up.
"What are you doing back there?"
"What does it sound like?"
"Don't break my pots."
"The ones you never use?"
The older man was right, but of course, Squall frowned darkly nonetheless. The way Seifer seemed to easily pick up on all of his habits scared him. He wasn't used to people seeing right through him, and the more he thought about it, the more it worried him. Seifer knew him far too well.
"Wipe that frown off your face. Talk to me."
Squall blinked past the kitchen counter and saw Seifer looking at him with a face that he couldn't quite describe. He seemed displeased, annoyed, worried, all at the same time. For some reason, it fascinated Squall.
"Hello? Anyone home?"
"Huh?" Squall snapped out of his stupor and returned his gaze to the table surface quickly.
Seifer rolled his eyes towards the sky pleadingly, then disappeared again as he crouched to go through some of the lower cabinets.
"Do you have a shallow... never mind, I found one."
"What the hell are you making?"
He could hear Seifer chuckle in amusement. Somehow, he liked the sound of the other guy's low voice tumbling from his chest like that. Then he paused.
'Hyne, pull yourself together.'
He folded his arms across his chest and brought one leg up on his chair, wincing slightly at the pain jabbing in his upper body. Sighing, he lowered the leg to the ground again and cast another restless look at the kitchen.
"Whatever you're making, if it looks disgusting, I am not eating it."
"Starve yourself all you want, stubborn brat. Means there will be more food for me."
Squall listened quietly to Seifer chopping food on a wooden board for a little while, before he grew antsy again. He couldn't believe himself, usually, nothing and nobody could break his stoic cool, and there he was feeling like a kid on Christmas eve, too nervous to sit still for longer than three minutes. Unfortunately, he was too proud to walk into the kitchen and watch Seifer, which was really the only thing he felt like doing.
Ten long minutes of moping around later, Seifer had pushed something into Squall's oven and returned to the living-room looking quite pleased with himself. The irritated and anxious look in Squall's slate blue eyes lifted his spirits even more.
"What are you making?"
"Be patient, princess."
"How come you have all that kitchen equipment anyway if you never use it?"
When he saw the nocturnal and slightly depressed expression dimming Squall's snowy features, Seifer knew that he had struck a chord.
"Oh, touchy subject, huh? Let me guess: Rinoa."
"Can we talk about something else?" Squall snarled immediately.
"Alright. Go ahead, you pick a subject."
Squall seemed slightly overwhelmed at the concept of having to hold a conversation, leave alone keep it going. He thought hard for a moment under Seifer's keen emerald gaze, then tapped his fingers on the table.
"What Guardian Forces are you using?"
Seifer blinked in surprise, then slapped his forehead roughly, groaning.
"Christ, you're hopeless, Leonhart."
Slightly offended, Squall's lower lip jutted into a pout, which was an odd contrast to the murder radiating from eyes that shifted hues from blue to grey. It melted something inside of Seifer, and he decided to answer, no matter how lame and evasive he found the question to begin with.
"Alexander. I'm only junctioned to Alexander."
"I don't like the side effects of GF's, so I try to keep them to a minimum. What about you?"
"Eden, Shiva and Bahamut."
"Kadowaki gave them back to you? I heard they stripped you."
"You got any spells?"
"You're ahead of me, then. They are probably doing that on purpose, afraid I will hurt their little commander." He laughed. "I am only junctioned but without a weapon or any spells. Not that I had any to begin with..."
"Still the same lazy spell collector?"
"You got it, Leonhart. I am too good with my sword, I don't need spells."
Squall twisted his gaze to the sky, but said nothing. Seifer was still oozing self-confidence from every pore, that hadn't changed. Yet, he seemed softer somehow, though it was hard for the brunet to put a finger on the impression. It was just a feeling, after all, and he didn't trust feelings all that much.
They sat quietly for a while, lost in thought and avoiding each other's eyes. The silence didn't exactly feel uncomfortable, but it was different from anything that Squall had ever experienced before. Usually, he was pushed to talk when quiet for longer than five minutes, but Seifer left him alone, at least this one time. It was odd, because Squall expected to be pushed, so everything about the situation was entirely new. He wasn't sure he could handle it.
"Well," Seifer suddenly interrupted, "it should just be about done."
The brunet's gaze zeroed in on his opposite in astonishment.
"It's been 30 minutes."
Glancing at the clock, Squall almost gasped in surprise. Indeed, they had been sitting like that for half an hour. Time had just flown by.
Seifer's lips curled into a good humored smirk at Squall's dumbfounded expression. Apparently, time had passed a lot faster for the brunet than for the blond. It had been difficult for Seifer to remain quiet for so long, but he had tried dearly not to force a conversation onto Squall, and he had succeeded. He couldn't understand why he was trying so hard in the first place, that boy was asking so much of his energy and patience, but he didn't mind a bit.
'You're definitely getting soft on your old days.'
He stood up and disappeared behind the counters again, returning with two plates, silver wear and two big glasses of water. Squall slid forward in his chair ever so slightly, anxiety almost burning from his eyes though he tried so hard to suppress it.
When Seifer walked back in holding a large, shallow brown dish between two towels to protect his hands from the heat, Squall's brows lowered.
"I don't eat-"
"It's vegetable lasagna."
Uncertainly, Squall blinked from the steaming dish to Seifer, who lowered himself into the chair across from Squall.
"Yeah. You are supposed to eat this, too, so I am not going to put any meat in it, silly. Wouldn't want to give you an excuse to skip dinner."
Truth was, he had wanted to make something that the younger boy would enjoy, and he had figured that vegetable lasagna would be a good choice. Judging by Squall's awestruck expression, he had picked rather wisely.
"Well, dig in already. I sure as hell ain't going to spoon feed you."
Hesitantly, as if the food was going to lunge at him and take a bite out of his throat, Squall used the spatula Seifer had brought to heave a tiny portion of lasagna onto his plate. Seifer watched him jab his fork at the cheesy peas and carrots for a few seconds, before he flung his fist onto the table with a loud thud, which made Squall jump in shock.
"For Hyne's sake Leonhart, I didn't poison it!"
Scowling, Squall pushed some food onto his fork and moved it into his mouth. His expression was vacant as he slowly started chewing, while Seifer didn't take his eyes off him, eager for a judgement. Very slowly, Squall's eyebrows raised, and his eyes found the blond's.
"This is good."
Seifer leaned back, wholly pleased with himself, and started to fill his own plate as well.
They continued to eat in silence, and Squall even helped himself to a second serving. Seifer acknowledged it in hidden satisfaction, but decided that Squall's first plate wouldn't have stilled a girl's hunger, anyway. Nevertheless, the SeeD was obviously enjoying it.
By the time they had finished, the clock at Squall's wall already displayed "9:10pm." It had gotten dark and Squall had turned on a couple of lights. Now, he pushed his plate a little further away from himself, signaling that he was done.
"Didn't kill you after all, did it?"
Squall ignored the comment and stood up, grabbing his plate and glass. He carried them inside the kitchen, Seifer following each of his steps. When he heard the sound of water rushing, he stood up immediately and bolted behind the counter. Squall was standing at the sink, sponge in hand.
"What do you think you're doing?"
He stepped up to the brunet and grabbed his wrist. Squall gave it an angry tug, but to no avail.
"Dishes," he finally growled.
"No shit, smartass. I'll do them tomorrow, you just got out of the damn hospital. Now get your ass out of here."
Squall first glared at Seifer, then at the knives, pots and cutting boards strung all over his kitchen. His face twitched painfully at the idea of leaving everything in that state for a whole night. The look in Seifer's disturbingly green eyes told him though that he was not going to get anything done without the blond holding on to his arm. Finally, he sighed and yanked his wrist out of Seifer's grasp.
Seifer watched him walk out of the kitchen with a graceful air that demanded attention. When he heard the sound of drawers being pulled out and slammed back into place, he followed him.
"What are you doing?"
Squall tossed Seifer a brief glance from his squatting position before he rose up, holding a bundle of clothes in his hand.
The blond leaned against the doorframe connecting kitchen and living room, arms crossing in front of his broad chest lazily.
Squall's cold gaze held enough chill to freeze fire over.
"I wasn't talking about scrubbing your back, freak. I meant with your bandages."
"Gee whiz, your lordship, sorry I asked," the taller man snarled and disappeared back into the kitchen.
Seifer finished stacking their dishes into the sink, and soon he heard the rush of water in the bathroom. It had seemed to him as if Squall had opened up briefly, just before their dinner, but apparently he had been mistaken. The SeeD commander was as distant as ever. It hurt him, somehow. He would have liked to see the guy smile at least once that night, but then again, he could not recall a real smile to ever grace the brunet's features.
Finally done, he realized that he had gotten quite tired. Sighing, he turned off some of the lights, peeled his clothes off his aching body and slipped into his bed, wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. The water was still running, and the sound made him so drowsy that he slid off into deep slumber, never seeing Squall walk out of the bathroom in a pair of shorts and a shirt that seemed slightly too big for him, toweling dry his wet hair.
Squall stared at Seifer's back raising gently up and down, and he stood frozen in awe for a moment, just watching the other man sleep. He had almost expected the blond to snore, but he was perfectly quiet.
Shrugging, he extinguished the last lights that Seifer had left on, lowered the blinds of his windows and lay down in bed, immediately curling to a ball under the covers. His mind returned to the blond cooking dinner for him, an excellent dinner at that, but he was too tired to hold the thought, and soon enough he slipped off into a thick, brooding dream.
Had he not locked it up into a container, he would have seen LionHeart shift hues to a void of nocturnal black...
=To be continued!=
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