Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Final Fantasy series. They belong to Squaresoft.
Let Me Make It Alright
Chapter 23: Moonlight Shadows
By Angry Angel
It was in the deep middle of the night, when all of Garden was asleep and even the crickets in the training hall had found a quiet place to rest, that Seifer Almasy was stirred from his leaden slumber by sounds still unidentified by his slowly waking conscience.
His body turned over underneath the tousled heap of sheets, grunting and trying to lock out whatever was cutting into his doze. Somehow, though, his mind must have decided on its own to not shut itself off again completely, so he was able to hazily perceive the muffled groans floating to his ears through the thick night air.
He did perceive them, but he really didn't want to. Every fibre of his body was crying for sleep. It wasn't until he heard a hitched, suppressed cry that sounded vaguely like a sob before his tangled mind snapped awake. His innate knightly, protective instincts told him that something just wasn't the way it was supposed to be.
Silently, Seifer lay still and listened for the sounds around him, soon hearing the familiar muffled weeping again.
He sat up, head still drowsy from his abruptly severed sleep. The room around him was dark, but he could see the dim outlines of Squall's bedframe against the shadows casted from behind the blinds covering their windows.
"Hey," he whispered, barely loud enough for the other to hear him, "you awake?"
There was more whimpering, but no concrete response. Sighing, Seifer kicked back his covers and put his naked feet on the cold floor, shuddering at the contact. He was only wearing a pair of boxer shorts, and Squall's room wasn't exactly well heated.
'That's what you get for rooming with our lordship the ice prince himself. Frost boils.'
Even at such low temperatures and the ungodly hour of the night, Seifer couldn't restrain his sarcasm, if only in his mind. The rest of him slowly lifted out of the blankets and stumbled over to the shadow that was Squall's bed. He towered above it for a moment, undetermined about what to do next. It was really too dark to see Squall's face, at least with his eyes still being fresh from sleep. He would need some time to adjust.
"Are you awake?" he asked again dozily, though not seriously expecting a response.
Below him, he could hear covers shift and somebody drawing erratic breaths.
More whimpering followed, Squall's voice sliding all the way from very high to very low. Sighing, Seifer decided to lower himself onto the edge of the mattress, and gingerly, his hands felt for the body entangled underneath the sheets.
He almost jumped at the contact of skin on skin. Apparently, Squall had turned on his side, and Seifer's hand had found the bare spot where his neck met his shoulders, uncovered by the fabric of his t-shirt. He shuddered without really knowing why, then realized that the body underneath his fingers was doing exactly the same.
Squall's skin was hot, but every muscle of his body appeared to be trembling.
Seifer asked hesitantly, almost crept out by the way that name sounded from his lips in the depth of the night. He had avoided calling the brunet by his first name for a long time, as if trying to prove a point.
The dark haired SeeD however didn't even hear him, totally entrapped in his dream world and unaware of anyone's presence. He merely kept on weeping.
Finally, Seifer's eyes got adjusted to the blackness of their room, and he could make out the contours of Squall's face and body. His legs were drawn closely to his chest, arms folded around his knees and holding on way too tight. It was too difficult to identify the look on Squall's face, but his features were unnaturally dragged, head rocking back and forth in the pillow.
Somehow, Seifer was glad that Squall was laying on his side facing him instead of with his back turned to him. Slightly overwhelmed by the situation, he really didn't feel like jerking the boy around more than was absolutely necessary.
The heat at the touch of his fingers paired with the heartbreaking shudders worried him. Squall had just left the infirmary mere hours ago, the possibility of him being sick was certainly given. After all, he hadn't fully recovered yet. Fever dreams were something that Squall had frequently had as a little child, that much he remembered only too well. Whatever the cause for his turmoil was that time, he was going to find out.
Slowly, Seifer slipped across the mattress, moving further up and turning around so he was actually looking down Squall's body instead of up. Gingerly, he laid one hand flat palmed against the skin of Squall's forehead, feeling the heat and dampness of sweat.
'This is not good.'
His hand found one trembling shoulder, and after a moment of hesitation, he firmed his grasp.
"Hey, you have to wake up," he tried, "come on."
Duelling the shivers that were already convulsing the frail body, Seifer started to shake him.
"Wake up," he said more urgently, a frown slanting his features.
All of a sudden, moonlight fell in streaks through the blinds that were obscuring the window, and with a jolt of his heart, Seifer saw that Squall was crying. Trails of tears were making their way from his closed eyes down his cheeks, glistening in the milky moonlight until they got lost in his hair or the pillow.
He held his breath for a moment, totally taken aback by the scene. He hadn't seen Squall shedding tears ever since their childhood days. In fact, the brunet had quit showing any emotions whatsoever shortly after Ellone had left the orphanage. All the same, there he was, trapped in a dream and crying like a little boy.
Seifer shifted around in the bed, leaning over Squall's body and shaking it more harshly now.
"You have to wake up! Squall!"
He almost rocked back when storm blue suddenly snapped open and glared at him wide in shock and wet from tears. They stared at each other, Seifer holding his breath and Squall's shoulders at the same time.
Finally, Seifer dared to relax.
Squall was pushing air through clenched teeth, staring up wide-eyed at the man hovering above him. The blond tried to muster something like a smile.
"Are you alright?"
When he received no response or reaction, realization struck Seifer. The boy beneath him wasn't really looking at him. His gaze was as blank as his bedsheets, eyes large but not seeing anything.
"Squall? Shit, Squall, wake up!"
Deepest concern started to overshadow his voice. Quickly, he took Squall's face in both hands and pressed his fingers into the nape of his neck harshly.
"Squall, come on, wake up! Don't... Squall...?"
The blond tilted his head immediately at the sound of Squall's croaky voice and loosened his firm grip. After all, he didn't mean to hurt Squall, but something told him that it was vital to tear the brunet out of his nightmare. Apparently, he was succeeding, and a relieved smile spread across his tense features.
"Sor... ceress... knight..."
The smile faded from Seifer's golden features like the light of a candle that had been blown out, and his skin paled a shade or two in the cold moonlight.
"What did you say...?" he asked, voice trembling.
Squall's void eyes were still fixed upon the blond creepily, his lips moving in endlessly slow rhythm.
"Lion... knight... here... it told..."
"Squall, you are dreaming, you..."
"It... talks... to me..."
"... What is talking to you?"
"Blood... here... obsidian... hands..."
Seifer drew a sharp breath and decided that it was enough. Whatever Squall was dreaming about, it wasn't good for him. In one fluid motion, he brought his left leg up on the bed and pulled the lithe body across it, crushing it against his own chest. He edged Squall's face away from himself, holding his body by the shoulders and looking at the younger one full of terror and resolution.
"You. Have. To. Wake. Up.!"
He put caustic emphasis on every single word, urging them into the brunet's foggy conscience with fierce determination. He was even considering to slap the smaller boy if that was what it took to return him to reality.
That, however, proved to be unnecessary.
Squall's blue eyes finally seemed to glaze over, before life slowly seeped back into them. For a moment, he merely stared into the apprehensive green that was Seifer's eyes, then, without a warning, he started to thrash around in Seifer's arms, screaming and trying to lash out at whatever was in his way.
Somehow, subconsciously, Seifer had anticipated an aggressive fit like that to uncoil sooner or later, so his muscles were prepared. He snaked one long arm around Squall's delicate upper body immediately, managing to pin both of his arms firmly to his side and pulling him into a securing embrace. His other hand steadied Squall's head against his chest, making sure that the boy didn't slam it against Seifer's chin in his violent seizure. With his legs, he pressed Squall's into the covers to ensure that the brunet would hurt neither himself nor Seifer.
"Calm down, Squall! Calm down!"
Seifer thanked Hyne quietly for Squall's lack of energy reserves. No matter how frail the boy looked at first sight, there were muscles hidden underneath his clothes, he just wasn't openly built like the blond. His blows and kicks hurt nonetheless, skilfully backed up by years of fighting and steeling every fibre of his body.
"Squall! It's just me! Calm down! Squall!"
Squall showed not the slightest sign of recognition. Fortunately, Seifer was not planning on giving in. He outweighed and outgrew the fighting brunet in his arms, and he made full use of his advantage. He counted on Squall's energy to give out eventually, and his expectation did not fail him.
After struggling for a good few minutes, Squall's body simply betrayed him and reminded him sharply of his healing injuries and his lack of power. Finally, he just went slack in Seifer's arms and let himself droop against the propped up chest.
Both remained tense and motionless for a moment, before Seifer loosened his ironclad grip and freed Squall's arms as well as his legs. His hand, however, still lingered on the SeeD's harshly rising back, eventually moving up and down very gingerly in an attempt of a soothing gesture. He recalled the T-rex inflicted injuries and knew that their little struggle had probably been quite painful for the smaller boy.
"I'm sorry if I hurt you..." he breathed softly into the hair covering the head he was still gently pressing against his body. "But you had to wake up."
He could feel Squall's chest heaving heavily against his own, but very slowly, it smoothed into a much gentler rhythm. The brunet's tension eased and he simply gave in to the comforting embrace.
Seifer couldn't suppress a sigh of relief. Squall's tantrum had shocked him no matter how much he had expected it. Even asleep, the SeeD commander could jump moods faster than the blond could blink, lethargy turning into aggression to finally die down to compliance. It had asked a lot of Seifer's strength to steady Squall through all of them.
His body was slumped heavily against the frame of Squall's bed, and now that his focus was free to adjust to whatever it wanted, he started to feel uncomfortable. At the same time, he didn't want to draw Squall off him. The usually forlorn and cold hearted teenager was laying in his arms for once, something he had never seriously expected to happen. It felt oddly comfortable to have the smaller boy resting against him, the heat of Squall's nightmare seeping through the ruffled layers of his loose white shirt.
'He feels so good. Fuck... we can't stay like this.'
He frowned at the thought, then ran his hand through Squall's slightly damp hair. He wanted to check on the boy's fever again, and slipped his fingers between Squall's forehead and his own chest. It felt warm, though nowhere near as hot as it had only minutes before. The brunet would be alright, and judging by the way his head was lolling against Seifer's broad chest, he had already gone back to sleep.
Reluctantly, Seifer made a half-hearted attempt at prying the boy out of his embrace, but much to his surprise, Squall nuzzled deeper into the warmth and comfort that Seifer's body was offering.
He stared down at the mess of mussed up chocolate brown hair shimmering faintly in the dying moonlight, eyes wide in disbelief. He was fascinated by the brown tresses washing against his tanned skin in harsh contrast, much like Squall's pale arms and hands did folded against his torso.
Heart pounding to his throat, Seifer came to the decision that sleeping in the same bed with the young SeeD probably wouldn't do much harm to either one of them. It didn't make much sense anymore to deny to himself that he did like Squall cuddled up close to him, so why break something that they both seemed to enjoy?
Carefully, Seifer slipped down into the bed from his odd seating position, all the while gently pulling Squall with him until they came to a halt in a close and comfortable manner. Squall's body was curled sideways against his own, his head resting in the crease of Seifer's shoulder and his left arm draped across the older man's stomach.
Ever so gently, Seifer used one arm to pull the covers over both of them, then wrapped the other around Squall's body in a protective, caring gesture.
He listened to the dark haired boy's quiet breathing, feeling the warm air from his mouth tingle across his bare chest. The feeling was so comforting and reassuring, so different from anything he had ever experienced before, that it made his heart ache. He craned his head around to marvel over Squall's still and peaceful features. That very sight and feeling was something Seifer had secretly desired for longer than he could remember, and he couldn't savor the moment enough.
He bit his lip, afraid of what his true feelings had turned out to look like. He knew, deep inside he had known all along, but suddenly being so close to the object of his longings flared the fear of losing him. For a moment, he had to fight down the tears that welled up in his dancing emerald green eyes.
He clenched his eyelids shut and brought his lips to Squall's forehead in a gentle kiss, tasting the salt and feeling the warmth of his porcelain skin. When his tired head settled back into the pillow and sleep slowly stretched its fingers out for him at last, he realized that if he would have died that very moment, he would have died happy and free of regrets.
It was comforting, somehow.
=To be continued!=
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